Today, let us understand how it is possible for us to commit sins or incur bad karma when God exists in each one of us as the soul. For this, we must first become aware of the five sheaths that envelop our soul. Our soul is protected by the filtering system of the pancha koshas just like an engine or any other gadget is fitted with an efficient filtering system.
What are these sheaths? It is our physical body or annamaya kosha; sheath of vital airs or pranamaya kosha; sheath of mind or manonmaya kosha; sheath of intellect or vignanamaya kosha; and sheath of bliss or anandamaya kosha. How do these protect the soul?
When we generate karmic reactions pertaining to the food we eat, this is stored in the physical body. For instance, if we eat food without first offering it to god and praying for the welfare of all the beings that have worked hard to bring it to us, we incur the sin of ingratitude. This enters and establishes itself in the physical sheath.
If we contribute to the breathing problems of others by unnecessarily polluting the air or if we help someone to increase their vitality or breathe better, this karmic residue is accordingly stored in the sheath of vital airs as negative or positive energy. Next comes the sheath of mind.
The karma generated by the negative or positive thoughts and feelings of the mind is deposited here. The beneficial and harmful ideas or decisions of the intellect produce their own karmic reactions, which enter the sheath of intellect. When we perform acts that bring great joy to others, this karma is stored in the sheath of bliss.
When the karmic residues we generate are not periodically cleared up, it completely clogs the filter, filling our life with problems. However, because of this wonderful filtering system, our soul always retains its pristine purity. It can never be tainted. Neither can it be contaminated by the good or bad karma.
Now we come to the most important aspect of all: How do we keep our filtering system clean? When we take our car for servicing, the engineer cleans the filter by removing all the carbon that is deposited there. Similarly, the karmic residues that are deposited in the five sheaths are washed away when we go on pilgrimages, practise meditation, celebrate festivals to purge all the residues out. Our ancestors, Vedas, Upanishads and Tantric treatises emphasise this again and again.
That is why all of us should periodically undertake pilgrimages and perform sadhana using the vital names of different forms of divinity to purify our five sheaths. This is extremely crucial if we want to reap peace, happiness and success in all our endeavours.
Like the Rig Veda 10.191.2 proclaims: “O citizens of the world! Live in harmony and concord. Be organised and co-operative. Speak with one voice and make your resolutions with one mind. As our ancient saints and seers, spiritual leaders and preceptors have performed their duties righteously, similarly you will not falter to execute your duties if you follow the path prescribed by them.”