“Driven by a virtuous or evil purpose, each living entity performs some work, which has consequences associated with it. After death, the same person steadily reaps all those auspicious and inauspicious results.” (Hanuman speaking to Tara, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 21.2)
गुणदोषकृतं जन्तुस्स्वकर्म फलहेतुकम्।
अव्यग्रस्तदवाप्नोति सर्वं प्रेत्य शुभाशुभम्।।
guṇadoṣakṛtaṃ jantussvakarma phalahetukam।
avyagrastadavāpnoti sarvaṃ pretya śubhāśubham।।
1. The criminal background check
“I never thought about it before. That was years ago. I was young and immature. I did not know what I was doing. But there it is; stuck on my permanent record. I should have gotten it expunged, but I never gave it a thought.
“I honestly forgot about the entire episode, but today it is front and center. It might cost me my dream job. I passed the interviewing stage. The human resources department was excited to bring me in. There was that last remaining piece: the background check.”
2. The job application
“You know, I completely forgot about my time in college. I am not one of those people who determine their self-worth based on credentials. To me, they don’t mean much. They may help to get you in the door to a place otherwise restricted, but they do not establish credibility with me.
“Well, it turns out that earning the advanced degree has helped me. Years later, when I have forgotten the year that I completed the coursework, the new job I applied for is happy to see the credential on my resume. This advanced degree helped me to stand out against the competition.”
3. The return favor
“Years ago I helped a friend. They were in dire need of assistance. They were too embarrassed to ask me. I only found out through a mutual associate. I forced my way into their situation. I insisted that they accept the donation. They were not to pay it back.
“I forgot about the entire episode. I never held it against them. It was not a cloud over their head, where I expected them to treat me any differently. Well, recently that same person was there for me. During a time of difficulty, they were unexpectedly generous. They reminded me of that kind act I had done, and they were now repaying the favor.”
4. The move out of the city
“We moved out of the city a few years ago. It was at my wife’s insistence. I was not ready to pick up and go, to figure out a way to keep my job while extending the commute time. Whatever the difficulties, we managed to make the shift.
“I can’t tell you how fortunate we are. The city we lived in has deteriorated significantly since that time. Crime is up. Businesses are closed. Hospitals claim they are overwhelmed. We would have been miserable staying there. Just because I followed a woman’s intuition, we were spared so much pain and heartache.”
5. The broken down car
“They say to keep up with the maintenance on a new car. Change the oil regularly. Rotate the tires. Replace the belts and hoses, when necessary. Honestly, it is always a little too much for me. If I could pay someone to come to my house, pick up the car, and then return it all ready to go, I would do it.
“Alas, the neglect finally caught up with me. On a recent trip out of state, the car completely broke down. I was stranded on the side of the road. I could try to explain to you what went wrong, but then I am still not entirely sure myself. Next time, I will be more diligent.”
The entire Vedic culture is based on the idea of continuation. Seeing things from a distance – the view from thirty-thousand feet. Not being fooled by the illusion of the temporary. Today, a certain issue is on my mind. It is all I think about.
In the coming days, something else replaces the interest. I have forgotten about the previous issue. The concerns change so frequently that I cannot even remember what I was worried about a year ago, five years ago, during childhood, and so forth.
The intelligent person sees both short and long term, but especially beyond the current lifetime. Therefore, following the path of dharma is important. This is righteousness, duty, honor, propriety, religion, or whatever the preferred term that equates with behaving in the proper way.
The Vedic culture is meant for elevating a person from the mentality of shudra to that of brahmana, and beyond. As His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains, one of the characteristics of the shudra, or fourth-class person, is to easily lament.
This is a qualification based on specific behavior. Injecting a certain stimulus into the equation and noticing an effect. The proper designation is not based on jati, or birth. It is not a caste to be draped on someone, a stigma from which they can never be free.
The shudra by quality specifically laments over the body and loss ultimately caused by the passage of time. The brahmana, meanwhile, understands the gradual changing of bodies and how the living being inside is unaffected.
न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन्
नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतो ऽयं पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)
Shri Hanuman explains that the good and bad we do in this lifetime continues into the afterlife. There isn’t a stoppage to the time continuum. The living being does not cease to exist once the body gets left behind. There is a meaning to an eternal existence; there is continuation both forwards and backwards.
If I have to continue living, if death is not the end, if there will be a future birth, then it only makes sense to give priority to the long-term picture. If decisions within this temporary lifetime can have a lasting impact, both positive and negative, then the same is true of the afterlife.
The most auspicious destination is the Vaikuntha realm. This is the place free of anxieties, precisely because there is no birth and death. Time operates, but lacking a debilitating influence. Shri Hanuman is the gatekeeper to the spiritual kingdom of Sita and Rama, and those following in his footsteps, honoring but not imitating, are on the best course, with auspicious consequences to last into eternity.
Though improperly done,
Sometimes later to come.
That consequence hitting,
Of action befitting.
The same into next life extending,
The foolish in ignorance pretending.
That death into nothingness the same,
But Hanuman the truth to explain.
Categories: the five