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Is the Paramatma Responsible for our Good and Bad Acts?
Sometimes people commit a crime and then say, "Well, not a blade of grass moves without the sanction of the Lord. So why do you blame me? God only did it. Why should I be punished?" The answer is that every activity is initiated by the jivatma by his desire. That is why he is held responsible - for his sinful desire. The Paramatma, on the other hand, only sanctions the desires of the jivatma according to his karma. He is thus neutral and so He is not responsible. Lord Krishna confirms this in the Bhagavad-gita (5.15),
na datte kasyacid papam na caiva sukrtam vibhuh
ajnanenavrtam jnanam tena muhyanti jantavah
"Nor does the Supreme Lord assume anyone's sinful or pious activities. Embodied beings, however, are bewildered because of the ignorance which covers their real knowledge."
Thus the Paramatma just fulfills our desire, whether it be good or bad. So we are punished for our wrong desire. But if we are working on behalf of the Paramatma, then we are no more liable, as can be understood from the following example. When an Indian soldier is fighting in the war against Pakistan, he may shoot and kill thousands of men. When he suc-Cessfully returns from the war, there are hundreds of people wait-lng to garland him and glorify him for this heroic act. Even the government of India glorifies him by giving him a bravery award. ecause he worked on behalf of Indian government, he was glo-1 led. But if the same person, on a normal day, fights; with his neighbor and murders him, then he will be liable to punishment, even to death sentence. Similarly, Arjuna killed so many soldiers in the battle of Kurukshetra. Yet his activities are considered glorious, because he fought for the pleasure of Krishna. Arjuna made his will one with Krishna's will. This is the meaning of the saying, "O Lord! Let Thy will be done, not mine." If we are working for Krishna, whether we are successful or unsuccessful, it doesn't matter, because the responsibility for everything goes to Krishna. But if we desire and work for our sense gratification, then we cannot blame the Paramatma; we will be held responsible. For example, if you are working for a company as a purchase manager, whether there is a profit or loss in the company, still you will get your salary, because you have done your duty for the company. But if you act independently, by taking a bribe, "You take 5%, give me 5%.", then when you are caught, you will be punished.
Thus if we work for our own enjoyment, then whether we do good or bad, we have to bear the reactions. The Paramatma desires that we become instruments in His hand, but He never forces us. If we do not cooperate with Him, we are like the malfunctioning instrument of a craftsman. Just as a craftsman is happy when his machine is well oiled and works nicely, similarly the Paramatma is happy when we surrender to Him and work according to His directions. Therefore whatever such a surrendered soul, a pure devotee, speaks and does is all actually done by Krishna. Hence a pure devotee is not liable for his actions. However this concept of non-liability for one's actions has to be carefully understood; otherwise it may be misused. Afew years ago in Bombay there was a serial killer, Raman Raghav, who murdered many people, who were lying on the footpaths. When he was caught and produced in the court, in his defense, he said, "God was urging me to kill those people from within my heart So I am not to be blamed: you should not punish me." Statements of this sort are utter nonsense. Whatever God wants us to do. He has told in the scriptures. He also sends his bona fide representatives, the pure devotees who descend from the spiritual world on-duty just to tell us, based on the revealed scriptures, what He wants us to do. Unless a person is connected through a bona fide guru to Krishna, he cannot know the will of the Lord. Therefore whatever he does is, not according to the will of the Lord, but according to the concoctions of his own mind.
A question may then be raised, "We sometimes hear a voice from within our heart. If it is not the voice of the Paramatma, then whose voice is it?" In the conditioned stage, there are so many voices of different intensities in our heart competing with each other. There are the voices of the impure desires of the mind, of the innumerable material desires, of the plans to cause trouble to others and so on. Of course there is the voice of the Paramatma also in this babble of voices. But how are we going to identify which is the voice of the Paramatma? We have to discriminate among the voices based on guru-sadhu-shastra (the words of the bona fide spiritual master, the words of the previous acharyas and the words of the revealed scriptures). The Paramatma is certainly speaking to us, but we are not pure enough to hear Him. So now we should seek the help of a guru coming in a bona fide disciplic succession, understand from him the will of the Lord and, under His direction, perform activities that will please the Lord. Then gradually when we become pure at heart, all the other voices will subside and only one voice will remain - the voice of the Paramatma.