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Patanjali Yoga Sutras

Te hlada-paritapa-phalah punyapunya hetutvat. (II-14)

Te = They; hlada = joy; paritapa = sorrow;phalah = fruit; punya = virtue; apunya = vice; hetut-vat = on account of.

Depending upon whether their cause is virtue or vice, the karmas (actions) fructify into pleasure and pain.

'As you sow so you reap' goes the saying. The law of karma acts with mathematical precision. If we want to lead a happy peaceful life, we cannot afford to commit sinful acts.

Many times we doubt this fact because apparently the corrupt people seem to enjoy life with all material comforts while the simple god fearing people appear to suffer in poverty. But what is apparent is not always real. Many times the rich with all the material comforts at their disposal cannot enjoy a peaceful sleep without pills. A man who commits sins can never be at peace. Such people often take to drugs so that they do not feel the prick of their own conscience. On the contrary a poor man may not be getting a square meal a day but if he is pious, he may lead a very peaceful life.

What is sin? And what is virtue? The idea of virtue and vice vary from tradition to tradition and from culture to culture. Idol worship may be virtuous act in one culture while breaking the idols may be equally virtuous in another culture! So, what is virtue? Drinking wine may be a sin according to one faith and may from a part of religious ceremony in another. What is sin then?

In this sutra, the words virtue and vice are not used in traditional sense. Whatever takes one away from the spiritual path is a sin. One can feel a kind of uneasiness, a prick, each time he commits a sin. But, if in spite of such pricks one continues to commit the sin, slowly he gets used to that and fails to recognize the pricks after sufficient practice! Such people suffer but fail to recognize the cause of their suffering and hence fail to correct their behaviour. Virtue takes one more towards silence and peace.

Again the idea of pain and pleasure may vary from individual to individual. A saint may willingly suffer innumerable miseries for the sake of others. Somewhere deep within however he has tremendous satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment. Some people may go after temporary pleasures which turn in to sorrows or boredom in the long run.

The real spiritual aspirant, however, tries to go beyond both pleasure and pain.

This article appears in the Yoga Magazine, Yoga Sudha March, 1991 edition. This article has been published courtesy www.yogasudha.com

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