പുണ്യാപുണ്യ ഫലപ്രദാ – Devi Dispenses Fruits of Actions

When life is lived in obedience to Vedic dharma, happiness is gained. It leads to punya (merit gained by good deeds).

We understood the meaning of the mantra

Om nijājñā rūpa nigamāyai namaḥ
(whose commands take the form of the Vedas.)

We must follow and obey the cosmic laws laid down in the Vedas. We shall hear a detailed explanation of this mantra.

nijājñā rūpa nigamā – puṇyāpuṇya phala pradā”.

The meaning of “puṇyāpuṇya phala pradā” is ‘She who dispenses the fruits of actions that are meritorious, and of actions that are not’. When life is lived in obedience to Vedic dharma, happiness is gained. It leads to punya (merit gained by good deeds).

Sometimes we knowingly commit bad deeds that are called “prajñāparādham” in Sanskrit. Our intelligence and our memory warn us to refrain from certain actions. But, in spite of it, we perform the action.

A perfect example is drinking hard liquor. It is wrong whichever way we look at it. It destroys our memory and brings us disrepute. But even though we know of the harm it does, we continue to drink.

We call such actions “prajñāparādham”. Devi gives sorrow, or demerits to those who knowingly perform sinful actions. The simplest meaning of this mantra is “She who dispenses the fruits of actions that are meritorious and not meritorious”.

Devi will give us birth in accordance with the karma of our previous lives. She gives auspicious lives to those who have performed good actions and sorrow and distress to those who have committed evil, in their previous lives. Devi is a witness to all our actions.

There is something we will understand when we listen to this mantra. Lalita Sahasranama was composed by Vashini and the other Vagdevetas. They stand near Devi, their palms joined in devotion, and chant Lalita Sahasranama in Her praise.

They are standing very near to Amma. Standing so close to her, they cannot say that results are dispensed in accordance with the performance of good and bad deeds.

In Amma’s eyes, there are no sinners. They are standing in close proximity to Her and chanting the mantras. They are the deities of Speech. Words are under their command. They could very easily have chanted “puṇyāpāpa phala pradā”. But they did not do so.

We will understand why, when we go near Amma. We cannot go near Amma and say, “he is cruel, he is evil, etc.” Because we are all the children of Amma. Very rarely, thieves enter the ashram. We are unable to say anything negative, even about them to Amma.

Amma calls them Her “thief children” everybody is Her children. In Lalita Sahasranama, there is a mantra, “heyopādeya varjitā”. The meaning is “She who has nothing to accept or reject”. “dharmādharma vivarjitā” She who transcends both virtue and vice”.

In mantra “puṇyāpuṇya phala pradā”, because Vashini and other deities of the word were standing next to Devi, they did not utter the word “papa” (sin). They said Devi is one who gives results in accordance with the merits and demerits of the deed done.

There is an incident that happened in the life of Sri Sankaracharya. He understood that his mother was on her death bed. He had taken Sanyas only after making a vow to his mother. That he would be there on her death bed.

He transported himself through the skies to reach the bedside of his mother Aryamba. She reached the adobe of Lord Vishnu, as she breathed her last with her mind fixed upon the lord.

As Shankaracharya started the preparations to perform her last rites, the Brahmins objected. They raised objections, “How could a renunciate, who was above the four varnas, participate in cremation, the burning of the body? ”

Shankaracharya replied, “I have nothing to reject or accept as I have transcended the gunas”. I have transcended the result of actions. I have given my word to my mother”. He performed her cremation with a lit log from the plantain tree.

Therefore, in the mantra “puṇyāpuṇya phala pradā” Devi stands as the witness to all actions, either meritorious or not, and dispenses the results for such actions. She remains a witness, as the fruits of actions are dispensed in accordance with Karmic rules, and guides her children towards spiritual growth.

Devi transcends both virtue and unrighteousness. She transcends rejection and acceptance. She transcends good and evil. Because She pervades the whole and dwells in everything. Devi is the ultimate cause of the universe, as it was Her will that created this universe. Therefore, Devi transcends virtue and vice.

But even though She transcends virtue and vice, good and evil, it is only through the meritorious deeds of countless previous lives that humanity is able to attain Devi. Only such people will be able to realize Devi.

In “Soundarya Lahari”, Adi Shankara describes Devi as

शिवः शक्त्या युक्तो यदि भवति शक्तः प्रभवितुं
न चेदेवं देवो न खलु कुशलः स्पन्दितुमपि ।
अतस्त्वामाराध्यां हरिहरविरिञ्चादिभिरपि
प्रणन्तुं स्तोतुं वा कथमकृतपुण्यः प्रभवति ॥ – Soundarya Lahari 1

Lord Shiva, only becomes able to do the creation in this world along with Shakthi. Without her, Even an inch he cannot move, And so how can, one who does not do good deeds, Or one who does not sing your praise, Become adequate to worship you, Oh, goddess of mine, Who is worshipped by the trinity.

The power of action (Shakti), latent in the undivided consciousness, devoid of all attributes (Shiva) “O mother, though of infinite glory, how can ordinary mortals prostrate before you, sing hymns in your praise, or meditate upon you?”

“How is it possible for those who have not accrued merit from their previous lives?” It is only through the merit gained from countless lives that one is able to prostrate before Devi, worship Her through music, and meditate upon Her effulgent form.

It is only through Her infinite grace and blessings that we are able to bow down, with palms joined in devotion, before her glorious form.