aSri Adi Sankaracharya says in the crest jewel of distinguishing between the Self and not Self -Vivekachoodamani - that the result of past actions is alive only when there is identification with the body. Since it is not desirable to consider the body as the Self or I, the conditions of past impressions do not apply. These impressions are engraved in the cell memory of the body.
Even imagining a pattern of action that the body shall have to work out called the prarabdha is an imagination, nay a mere delusion. How can a superimposed imprint exist on the body which has no existence of its own?
Where is the question of birth for something that does not exist? For the thing that is not born, where is the possibility of destruction? How can a temporary phenomenon of the body have a long-lasting imprint called prarabdha?
If by right knowledge, the effect of ignorance called the identification with the body as Self is destroyed, how is it that the body of an enlightened master exists? This may be the question of some doubting and dull-witted student.
The Upanishads, with a view to explaining to such students, just speak of results of past actions from an external point of view - i.e. in the eyes of others. In the experience of the Master, there is no prarabdha. When Rama went to the forest, the people of Ayodhya and the royalty were sad.
Even we the people who read the Ramayana today feel sad. There was no experience of sorrow for Rama himself over this incident. In the same way, prarabdha exists for the enlightened person only from the point of view of the onlookers and not for the individual himself.
The Upanishads talk of prarabdha not to confirm the reality of the body as they have always been speaking of only the one Supreme Self and not multiple realities of the body, mind and intellect. Connecting with this thread of non-duality, the Master goes on a series of affirmations as if the verses were a marching tune.
The Brahman is one, it is not dual. There is no 'many-ness' here, even a bit in this complete, beginning-less, immeasurable and action-less Self. This Brahman is a mass of existence, a mass of consciousness and a mass of bliss.
This Atman is the very subject of all of us. It is of one essence - complete and endless - and expresses in all directions. It can neither be avoided nor pushed aside. It cannot also be gathered and accumulated. It does not seek the support of anything else.
(The writer is Sevika, Chinmaya Kripa, Coimbatore and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)