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As seen in the Mahabharata, and subsequently the Bhagavata Puarana, the relationship between karma, destiny, time, and the will of God is very complex. Though each of these terms have completely different meanings, they are linked by their ability to answer one common question: Why is their evil if there is a God? Their response to suffering, while similar, is varied between the ways in which suffering is affected by either karma, destiny, time, or the will of God.
By definition, karma is the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence and it ultimately decides their fate in all future existences. Since a person’s actions decide what will happen to them, this could be the reason for suffering. If a person is constantly causing others to suffer, then they too will suffer later on. If karma is the reason for suffering, then people are themselves to blame when they suffer.
While karma decides suffering based on one’s actions, destiny is purely chance. However, one’s destiny may be a result of karma, based off of their actions; a result of time, an inevitable force; or the will of God and his perfect plan. Destiny does not allow people to control their own fate. Destiny is not always part of a plan, but instead it naturally occurs, unfortunately causing some innocent people to suffer. Though destiny can cause some to suffer that may not deserve it, it plays an important role in making things happen.
Time can only lead to the end of things. Though it may be a process of deterioration, time can ruin all efforts of man. Time is often seen as a creator, bringing in new beginnings. However, when looked at as a destructive force, time will change things until they are gone. Time is a force that we are not able to fend off. The grip that it has on the earth is unavoidable, yet necessary. Without the end of some things, we would not have new beginnings.
Though God may put us through immediate suffering, it could be only part of his greater plan. Many also wonder why if Bhisma knew that Krishna was the cause of the Pandava’s suffering, why he did not say that from the beginning. Since Krishna was present before the Pandava’s, why did they not ask him of his plan? No one can begin to comprehend the plan of the Lord, but Visvanatha reminds us that we should trust it anyway because it is the perfect plan. While it may be puzzling that God would allow us to suffer, if we understood the reasoning behind what he does and how that is part of the plan, we would see it differently.
The Mahabharata helps us see the effect of karma, destiny, time, and the will of God on the earth and lets us see ways in which suffering can occur from each of these reasons. Karma, destiny, time, and the will of God are all an explanation of the problem of evil and can help us understand why suffering occurs.
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