PUNYA AND PAP
Why are some people in more favorable situations then others?. Why are
some rich, while others struggle? Why do some suffer more sickness than
others? Why is science unable to explain all of these questions? The
answer to such disparity lies in the understanding of punya and pap.
What are punya and pap? Punya is earned when our activities are good
while pap is earned when our activities are bad. When punya matures or
gives its result it brings happiness and comfort and when pap matures
or gives its result, it brings nothing but suffering.
Now, it is obvious that what we see in the world is nothing other than
the result of our past actions. Knowing this will remind us that our
activities should be wholesome if we want happiness and comfort in
life, otherwise we should be ready to accept unhappiness as well as
discomfort. When speaking about activities people mostly think of
physical activities, but we should not forget that what we express
verbally as well as what we think mentally, are also considered
activities. For this reason, not only should our physical activities
should be wholesome, but our speech and thoughts should also be pure.
We should remember, that not only do we accumulate punya and pap from
our actions , but also from asking someone else to do something for us
or from encouraging someone else to do something.
Lord Mahavira’s message is "Live and let live". Everybody desires to
live and enjoy the comforts of life. Therefore, we should not come in
the way of anyone seeking the same. If we can properly understand the
implications of this message, it will go long way in molding our
attitude. Around us we see and hear that many people hunt or fish; they
eat meat, chicken, fish, eggs, etc. Some people argue that while eating
meat we ourselves are not killing, so it should not affect us. However,
they do not realize that by eating meat, even though they are not
directly killing animals, birds, fish, etc., they are instrumental in
killing. The more they eat the more killing there will be. Just like
us, those animals also want to live. We should remember that not only
do our actions bring karmas, but even our actions which are indirectly
or directly the cause of other’s actions also bring karmas to us.
People also use harsh words against each other and plan destruction.
Unfortunately, because some karmas do not produce their results
immediately, people do not care what may happen in the future, but
these actions also produce karmas.
We also hear about riots in which people plunder, hit, and/or kill
others and set fire to shops, homes, and other buildings. By doing so,
they put a lot of people through unnecessary suffering. These people
undertaking such heinous activities may think that they are getting
even. However, they fail to realize that by causing suffering to others
they themselves will have to suffer the consequences of their evil acts
at some point, if not in this life, then in coming lives.
Consequently, our objective should not involve disturbing the comforts
of other beings, hurting them in any way, and killing or being in any
way instrumental in taking their lives. By providing comfort and
security to others we can gain good karmas also known as Punya. Punya
brings forth happiness in this or coming lives. On the other hand, if
we cause suffering or unhappiness to others then, we have committed a
sin and we acquire bad karmas, also known as Päp. Such Päp brings forth
unhappiness in this or in future lives.
Jain scripture describes that even though punya or pap, on surface, may
look as if their only effect is to cause comfort or discomfort, there
is more to it.
Punya is sub-divided into two categories:
1) Punyanubandhu punya
2) Papanubandhu Punya
Pap is sub-divided into two categories:
1) Papanubandhu pap
2) Punyanubandhu pap
1) Punyanubandhu punya - punya which we accumulate now will bring us
comforts and leads to a life where we will accumulate punya again.
2) Papanubandhu punya - punya which we accumulate now, also will bring
us comforts, and leads to a life where we will accumulate pap instead
3) Papanubandhu pap - pap which we accumulate now will bring us
discomfort, and leads to a life where we will accumulate pap again.
4) Punyanubandhu pap - pap which we accumulate now will bring us
discomforts but leads to a life where we will accumulate punya instead
A long time ago, a poor widow had a young son. She had to work hard to
maintain herself and her son. Once there was a day of great festival
and neighboring families prepared a tasteful pudding of milk and rice
called kheer in order to celebrate. The neighborhood kids were enjoying
the kheer and on seeing this poor boy went to his mother and asked her
to make kheer for him too. He did not realize that his mother did not
have enough money to buy the milk, rice, and sugar needed for making
kheer. The mother tried to explain the situation but the boy started
crying for kheer.
The mother could not tolerate his crying, so she said, "Don't cry, my
boy, I will cook kheer for you." She went to the neighbors and borrowed
some milk, sugar and rice and made kheer. She served him in a earthen
plate and told him to wait until it cooled. She then left to get water
from the well.
While the kheer was cooling, a monk came to the boy’s home to ask for
alms (to get a food). The boy felt very happy and invited monk to come
in. He served all his kheer to the monk and felt very happy to offer
food to the monk. After the monk left, he ate whatever kheer was stuck
to the plate and the pot. His thoughts did not change. He had offered
the kheer to the monk willingly, thereby, he earned tremendous
wholesome karma or punya. As a result of this action, in his next life,
he was known as Shalibhadra born into a very wealthy family with all
luxuries. During this life he realized what life is all about. He
renounced the luxuries of life and uplifted his soul by becoming a monk
of Lord Mahävira.
There lived a man who one day offered ladoos (sweet balls) to a monk who
came to his house for alms. Later, he sat down to eat the left over
ladoos and realized how sweet those ladoos were. He felt sorry for
giving away such ladoos. He left to track down a monk to ask back those
ladoos. Harboring such thoughts, he sought out to find the monk in
order to get the ladoos back. By the time he found the monk the ladoos
had already been eaten. He kept regretting offering the ladoos to the
As a result of giving alms to the monk, he was reborn as a rich man in
his next life, but because he had regrets about his offerings he became
miser in this life. He could not use his wealth and lived unhappy. In
fact, he risked his life in order to collect more money. For this
reasons, he died and went to hell.
It should be realized that even though both the boy and the man should
have been happier because of their offering, the second one was not.
These stories remind us of a very important fact: anytime we offer
something not only should we offer it happily, but we should never have
regrets about offering it. Otherwise the offering turns sour. In
retrospect, punya accumulated in the first example are called
Punyanubandhu punya and those accumulated in the second example are
called Papanubandhu punya.
There lived a butcher in Magadh city. He enjoyed his job. One day, King
Shrenik decided that there would be no more killing in the city. All
killing in the city halted except for this butcher’s killing. As to
when he was asked why he did not observe King Shrenik’s command, he
said he loved killing and could not stop. King Shrenik decided to put
him in an almost dry well so that there would be nothing to kill. To
everyone’s surprise, the killing did not stop there either. The butcher
made animals with wet clay and then pretended to kill them. Since he
was enjoying killing so much, he accumulated pap (bad karmas) which
gave rise to a situation where he could do nothing other than continue
There was a robber named Rohini during Lord Mahavira’s time. At his
father’s death, Rohini promised that he would not go and to listen to
Lord Mahavira at any time. He kept on robbing and he avoided Lord
Mahavira to keep his promise. He would help the poor from what he
collected from robbery. But one day, things were not favorable for him
and when he was on his way to commit a robbery, he learned that Lord
Mahavira was giving a sermon on his path. He thought about changing his
route. But he realized that it would take longer putting him at risk of
being caught. He was puzzled because if he went on the first path he
would be unable to keep the promise he gave to his father and if he
went on the second path he might get caught. After some thought, he
decided to go on the path where Lord Mahavir was preaching, but he also
decided that he would cover his ears with his hands so that he would be
unable to hear. While he was passing the area where Lord Mahavir was
giving a sermon a thorn pocked into his leg. He decided that he would
rather bear the pain than let go with his hands. As he walked further
the pain became unbearable and he decided to pull the thorn quickly out
of his leg. He thought to himself, "How much can I hear in a few
seconds any way?" While pulling the thorn he heard the following words:
"Angels do not walk on the ground, do not cast a shadow, and do not
blink. Flowers they wear do not whither." He figured that these words
would not affect his profession.
Rohini continued on his pursuit of the robbery. Somehow, he got caught
but would not admit to committing any crime. Abhaykumar, the chief
minister of King Shrenik, decided to trick Rohini by getting him drunk
and creating an environment of being born in heaven. He put Rohini in a
bed in a highly decorated palace with lots of young girls acting as
angels. When he awoke, they asked him, "Beloved, what kind of good
karmas did you accumulate that entitled you to became our master?" For
a moment, Rohini was confused. He did not know what was going on or
whether he really was an angel. Contemplating deeply, he suddenly
noticed that all the angels had a shadow, they all walked on the
ground, their eyes blinked, and their flowers were withering. He
realized what was truly going on and recognized that it was a trap. So
he went along with them. He said, "He was a very nice and righteous
person and had helped many people." Since Abhaykumar did not get the
confession he was looking for, he let Rohini go free. Rohini was amazed
at what a few words of Lord Mahavira had done for him. After some
thinking, he decided to go and listen to the words of Lord Mahavira.
After listening Lord Mahavira’s sermon, he renounced his life and began
on the path to spiritual uplift.
>From these last two examples, we would not expect either the butcher or
Rohini to become spiritually elevated. For the butcher the expected
outcome prevailed because all that was on his mind was killing. Rohini,
on the other hand, defied the expected outcome because he had more on
his mind than just robbing. Rohini did not have a callous heart for he
helped the poor and so, while he was accumulating pap from robbing he
also left a window open through which punya could enter. Ultimately,
the effect of the punya led Rohini in the right direction. There is a
lesson to be learned here: if we have to indulge in bad activities, for
whatever reasons, then we should not enjoy them. In fact, we should
regret committing such acts and try to do anything good if possible. We
must remember that pap will lead us to more pap, leaving us no chance
to improve and therefore, we should try, with our fullest efforts, to
avoid accumulation of papanubandhu pap. In the other scenario we have
at least some chances for improvement and therefore, if it is necessary
to accumulate pap, we should try to accumulate punyanubandhu pap.
We should now understand that if we want to have happiness and comforts,
then we should be careful what we do and how we do it.
The following is a list of some activities which can bring comfort to
others and can ultimately provide the same for us. They are:
1) offering food to the needy (Only vegetarian food).
2) offering clothes to the needy.
3) helping the sick.
4) helping others to acquire knowledge.
5) giving charity (Be sure that the money is used for a good cause).
6) helping parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and others in need.
7) helping animals or organizations that help animals.
8) studying religion and following its precepts in our daily lives.
9) worshipping Tirthankaras like Lord Mahävira.
Here is a list of some of the activities which cause discomfort to
others and can ultimately cause discomfort to us. They are:
1) being cruel or violent towards others including of humans, animals,
bugs, and other living beings.
2) killing humans, animals, birds, bugs, etc.
3) showing disrespect to parents, teachers, and other respectable
4) speaking harsh words or planning violence.
5) not following religious principles in daily life.
6) being angry or greedy;
7) showing arrogance
8) being deceptive.
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