Why does law of Karma not apply to absolute incarnation?


1. Special features of absolute incarnation

Characteristics of an absolute incarnation (purnavtar) in the context of The Supreme God, God and deities are discussed here. Krushna is the only absolute incarnation. Since Krushna is an absolute incarnation of The Supreme God He possesses the qualities of both The Supreme God and God. Apart from this since He has assumed a physical form He also has some special features related to the physical body. No matter which form an incarnation assumes it is only in the context of the physical body. The subtle, causal and supracausal bodies are absent. Krushna was not an incarnation but actually Lord Vishnu incarnate.

1.1 Qualities of The Supreme God in an absolute incarnation

A. Omniscience: This is because of its spiritual knowledge and not frequencies.

B. Bestower of Serenity or gratification.

C. Existence in the form of society: Refer point ‘Existence in the form of society’.

1.2 Qualities of God in an absolute incarnation

A. Complete manifestation of energy: The ten supernatural powers (dashasiddhi) and eight great supernatural powers (ashtamahasiddhi) of God are fully active in this incarnation. Divine Energy is of two kinds – saviour and destroyer. It is used to protect devotees or destroy evildoers respectively. (Information on supernatural powers is given in ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 42 – The Spiritually Evolved’.)

B. Supporter of the three components (triguns): Refer to the first footnote at the end of the table in point ‘Percentage of characteristics of The Supreme God and the three components in animate and inanimate creation’.

C. Omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence without ego

D. Religion (Dharma) – The eternal Sanatan religion: Refer point ‘Religion (Dharma)’.

E. Spiritual love (priti): Refer point ‘Spiritual love (priti)’.

F. Fond of praise: Refer point ‘Fond of praise’.

G. The one who likes stories on God’s divine play: Refer point ‘The one who likes stories on God’s divine play’. Here the word ‘play’ means an act (kriya) not an action (karma).

H. The one who loves His devotees: Since God is fond of His devotees He says –

  • O Uddhav, I cannot bear to wait even for a moment
    Once I hear the call of My dear devotees.
    My grace is showered upon them only when they really repent.
                                        – Shri Eknathi Bhagvat 20:357

  • न मे भक्‍त: प्रणश्‍यति । – श्रीमद्‌भगवद्‌गीता ९:३१

    Meaning: My devotees shall not perish. – Shrimadbhagvadgita 9:31

  • योगक्षेमं वहाम्‍यहम्‌ । – श्रीमद्‌भगवद्‌गीता ९:२२

    Implied meaning: I shall take care of My devotees. If I am unable to fulfill the desires of My devotees then what is the use of My omnipotence? One has to wish for fulfillment of desires with other deities, not with Me. – Shrimadbhagvadgita 9:22

    Even if a man sits under a wish-fulfilling tree (kalpavruksha), he does not acquire the desired object unless he wishes for it. But with Me it is not so. Since My devotee is engrossed in serving Me he does not have to wish for anything. Since his desires pose as obstacles in his devotion unto Me I perceive and fulfill them Myself. Apart from this, fulfilling his desires is a part of My duty of taking care of his needs. Saints too have given the following assurance about His love for His devotees –

    ‘I have not heard, says Tuka, of anyone who has been neglected by The Lord’.

  • सर्वधर्मान्‌ परित्‍यज्‍य मामेकं शरणं व्रज ।
    अहं त्‍वा सर्वपापेभ्‍यो मोक्षयिष्‍यामि मा शुच: ।। – श्रीमद्‌भगवद्‌गीता १८:६६

    Meaning: Sacrifice all your codes of Righteousness (Dharma) [that is ignorance which is responsible for right and wrong] only unto Me (with the spiritual emotion of non-duality) and surrender unto Me, (so that) I will liberate you from all sins; do not grieve. – Shrimadbhagvadgita 18:66 (This is what incarnations and not what The Supreme God says.)

I. The one who bestows His grace: Refer point ‘The one who bestows His grace’.

J. Compassionate: Refer point ‘Compassionate’.

K. Servitor of devotees: During Yudhishthir’s royal sacrificial fire (yadnya) Shrikrushna cleared up the leftovers after the people had eaten their meals. He was Arjun’s charioteer in the Mahabharat war.

L. The one who works secretly: Krushna secretly helped the Pandavs when Droupadi was being stripped off her sari and on several other occasions.

M. The one who considers His devotees more important than Himself: To prevent the devotee from feeling inferior the incarnation displays that He is inferior. This will give an idea of how great His love for others is. To fulfill Bhishma’s resolve that ‘He would make Krushna use a weapon’ Shrikrushna broke His own resolve that ‘I will not wield a weapon in the Bharatiya war’ for the sake of Bhishma who was a great devotee of His. He became Arjun’s charioteer in the same war, cleared up the leftovers after people had eaten their meals at Dharmaraj’s royal sacrificial fire (yadnya) and performed and is still performing household chores for several saints.

N. Possessor of the six qualities: Refer point ‘Possessor of the six qualities’.

1.3 Characteristics of the physical body

A. The one who is untouched by happiness or unhappiness: Happiness and unhappiness respectively arise from merits and sins in one’s destiny. Since the birth of an absolute incarnation is not governed by destiny it is beyond both happiness and unhappiness.

B. The one to whom the law of karma is not applicable: The law of karma is not applicable to an absolute incarnation due to the following reasons.

  • An action without a motive is called a non-action (akarma karma) or an act (kriya) which occurs according to the principle of reflex action.

  • Some rules are not applicable to the one who frames them. For instance the rule ‘No admission without permission’ is not applicable for the one who has put up such a notice. Similarly rules such as the result of an action, etc. are not applicable to The Lord who Himself has framed them.

C. The one who has no norms to follow: Norms decide which behaviour is right or wrong. They are applicable to those within the three components; not to those beyond them. Hence issues like marrying 16,008 women is not wrong in the context of Krushna.

D. Aloofness: The following quote of The Lord illustrates that though He does everything, He is untouched by anything.

  • न मे पार्थास्‍ति कर्तव्‍यं त्रिषु लोकेषु किंचन । – श्रीमद्‌भगवद्‌गीता ३:२२

    Meaning: O Partha (Arjun), I have no duties in these three regions (loks). – Shrimadbhagvadgita 3:22

  • Devotion beyond Liberation is the power of My incarnation. With this power I create, sustain and annihilate; yet I am untouched by them.

    One who does not realise this eternal form
    finds worldly life sorrowful.
    I am always in this eternal form and am untouched by this
    worldly life. – Shri Eknathi Bhagvat (29:759 and 761)

    Meaning: O Uddhav, the devotion of My devotees unto Me to attain the Final Liberation (Mukti) itself is the energy behind My incarnations; hence despite creating, sustaining and destroying creation I remain aloof from it all. The one who fails to comprehend this path (yoga) that is this state of indifference of Mine sees the sorrowful state of the world. However I being perpetually indifferent despite existing in the world, do not get trapped in it.

  • Inspite of being present in everything in different hues
    I am still not in anything.
    Inspite of being trapped in bondage I am still free.

E. Behaviour like human beings: Incarnations like Rama, Krushna, etc. who assumed human bodies also lived with Their Gurus, served Them and acquired Their grace. Obviously this was an exemplary act done for the sake of others. When Ravan abducted Sita, Rama pretended to be aggrieved and wept uttering ‘O Sita, O Sita’. An incarnation behaves thus to develop a closeness with and to make man for whose spiritual progress He has assumed an incarnation feel He is one of them. The following verse (shloka) in this context is quoted in the Ramayan (6.5.5) as –

न मे दु:खं प्रिया दूरे न मे दु:खं हृतेति च ।
एतदेवानुशोचामि वयोऽस्‍या ह्यतिवर्तते ।। – रामायण ६.५.५

     Meaning: (Rama tells Lakshman) I do not grieve because My wife has parted from Me or because She has been kidnapped by the enemy but because Her life is being wasted.

     The saint tells the disciple, how shall I describe Their state to you? Long ago Vasishtha became the Guru of Shri Ragunath (Lord Rama). – 12:102

     The eighth incarnation of Vishnu, Shrikrushna surrendered to Sandipani, His Guru. When an incarnation assumes a human form it has to behave accordingly. – 12:103 – Shri Gurucharitra

1.4 Special features of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu

Date of birth
according to
the Hindu
gy (%)
of the
Ability (%)
1. Matsya
  (The fish)
Third day
(trutiya) of the
bright fortnight
of Chaitra
(Matsya Puran)
Eleventh day
(ekadashi) of
the bright
fortnight of
(Varaha Puran)
Satya 20 20 40 50 10
2. Kurma
Full moon day
(pournima) of
Satya 30 30 30 50 20
3. Varaha
Third day
(trutiya) of the
bright fortnight
of Bhadrapad
Satya 40 40 20 50 30
4. Narsinha
Fourteenth day
of the bright
fortnight of
Satya 45 45 Sarasvati 20 50 30
5. Vaman
Twelfth day
(dvadashi) of
the bright
fortnight of
Satya 50 50 Brahm-
20 50 30
6. Parshu-
Third day
(trutiya) of the
bright fortnight
of Vaishakh
Treta 65 65 Bhumi 20 50 30
7. Rama Ninth day
(navami) of the
bright fortnight
of Chaitra
Treta 75 75 Sita 20 50 30
8. Krushna
Eighth day
(ashtami) of the
bright fortnight
of Shravan
Dvapar 100 100 The
eight and
ten great
20 50 30
9. Buddha Ninth day
(navami) of the
bright fortnight
of Ashvin
Kali 50 70 25 50 25
10. Kalki        * Kali 80 100 15 50 35

* At the end of the Kaliyug on the third day of the bright fortnight of Shravan the incarnation, Kalki will be born (Kalki Puran).

More information on these incarnations is given in ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 12 – Vishnu, point – The ten incarnations (dashavatar)’.

Some of the incarnations that Vishnu’s Divine Energy, Lakshmi assumed when He incarnated are given in the table below.

Incarnation of Vishnu Incarnations of Lakshmi
1. Vaman Kamalasambhav Lakshmi
2. Parshuram Bhumi
3. Rama Sita
4. Krushna Rukmini

2. Spiritual experiences obtained by others

Spiritual experiences depend upon the spiritual emotion. Since Kansa, Jarasandha, etc. hated Lord Krushna they got the death penalty while devotees actually realised Him. The glory of the incarnations of God on the earth (bhulok) spreads even upto the Satya region (Satyalok) so that becomes their spiritual experience.

3. Effect on God due to His assumption of an incarnation

The Lord incarnates to restore deteriorated Righteousness (Dharma). His internal or external opulence serves only people, not Himself; hence incarnations are eternally liberated and the state of further exaltation of the embodied soul is absent in them. Therefore their independence and Liberation are eternal.

4. Incarnations and rebirth of the spiritually evolved

The spiritually evolved too assume incarnations like The Lord. Often a saint is said to be the reincarnation of another saint. This may create confusion regarding the incarnations of The Lord and of saints in the minds of some people. To avoid this, the table below gives the differences between them.

  Incarnation Rebirth of a saint
1. Is the birth
Yes No
2. Reasons for
    the birth
A. To protect the righteous
     and destroy the evildoers
     and thus to reinstate
B. Own wish*
For spiritual
evolvement of self
and / or others

Destiny / own wish

3. Birth of other
Occurs Does not occur
4. Direction of
    the spiritual
From a higher to a lower
From a lower to a
higher level
5. Particular signs
    on the feet
Present Absent
6. Supernatural
    control over
    the Great
Present since birth Are acquired after
spiritual practice
7. Law of karma Not applicable

Applicable till
(purnatva) is

8. Rebirth Does not occur Occurs till spiritual
progress upto 80%
is attained
9. Liberation Eternal Liberated during
embodiment only
after attainment of
Absoluteness and
liberated without a
body only after its

* Incarnations are not assumed according to destiny. Inspite of this ‘How is it that Rama had to take birth again as the incarnation Krushna in which He had to renounce His body after He was shot at with an arrow by Vali who was reborn as a hunter and whom He had slain with an arrow in the previous birth?’ is what some people wonder. Such examples are given only to emphasise the point that ‘one should not trouble another’. In reality in case of incarnations the concept of destiny does not hold good at all because throughout their lives their actions are non-actions (akarma karma).

5. Celebrating the birth anniversaries of incarnations

The birth anniversaries of incarnations like Rama, Krushna, etc. are celebrated because the renunciation of Their bodies does not mean death. At any moment They can assume a body for the sake of Their devotees. This implies that They are immortal. The death anniversaries of saints like Saint Dnyaneshvar are celebrated because at birth They are usually only average persons or seekers but later with spiritual progress They attain sainthood. After renunciation of the body They attain the Final Liberation (Moksha). Then Their mission is augmented as the energy expended by the body when alive is conserved and utilised for the mission. Their death anniversaries are celebrated as a mark of remembrance of such great souls. In case of average persons however the rite for the departed (shraddha) is performed on the death anniversary.

6. Idols

Idols of deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Parvati, Lakshmi, etc. are existent since the beginning of the universe. Those of incarnations however, are made after completion of their mission.






‘Supreme God, God, Incarnations and Deities’, published by Sanatan Sanstha.

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