Table of Contents
In the article on What are merits and sins, we have explained that a sin is the consequence of an act that is responsible for someone else’s decline.
In this article we explain the consequences or punishment faced by those who commit a sin.
2. Why are people who sin not punished?
We see criminals, corrupt people or officials and politicians etc. performing many sinful acts and yet enjoying the luxuries of life. Why do these people not get punished for their sins, is a question that upsets many.
These people are happy because of the merits of their previous birth. Even God can do nothing until the stock of their merit is over. However once the stock of their merits is over, they have to face the consequences of their sinful acts in the form of diseases, poverty, suffering in Hell (Pātāl) after death etc. In short, no one can escape sins.
Despite the merits from the previous births, since their tendencies are evil, negative energies gain control over their mind and intellect and reinforce personality defects in them. Consequently they commit more and more sins, thereby exhausting their merits very quickly. Once their merits are exhausted, negative energies surround them from all sides, take them under their control and inflict different kinds of distress on them. Even after death, such individuals suffer in Hell for many years.
3. Sufferings in Hell
Information about the suffering experienced in the different planes of Hell in the afterlife is provided in our article on ‘Where do we go after death?‘.
4. Suffering after death and the onward journey
Once the sufferings in Hell of sinners are over, does it mark the end of their suffering?
The answer is that the journey of such sinners continues in two ways, as mentioned below.
4.1 If fewer sins were committed
After several years of suffering and dire poverty, the attitude of the sinner undergoes change. They become sympathetic towards the poor. Their conscience is filled with love for others. After several births, their selfishness diminishes and they become very loving. Hence, such individuals begin to evolve spiritually in the true sense on the strength of virtues of courteousness and humanity.
Here, the suffering people undergo ultimately has the purpose of their changing for the better.
4.2 If many sins were committed
Extreme sinners who have misused their human birth do not get human birth again for a few thousand years. After undergoing punishment in Hell, some individuals get birth as mentioned below.
- Having to lead a life as a tree or a stone
- Birth as insects
- Birth in species such as fish, vultures, bats, etc.
- Birth as beasts used for carrying burden (if the quantum of sin is very high, then they are required to take birth in species of such animals thirty to forty times, and then a birth in a very poor family, where everyone has to toil for a living)
- Birth as an ugly, disabled or diseased person
- Suffering from a rare incurable disease like some forms of cancer
- Becoming a beggar
From the above one can understand that individuals who commit crimes as human beings are certainly penalised, and facing punishment is the only way of exhausting the penalty. Through this process they are also given an opportunity to change and, provided they do not commit more sins, free themselves from the circle of punishment.
5. Illnesses and difficulties faced as a consequence of sinful acts
The table below gives a selection of various sins and their consequences in future births or the afterlife.
The table below gives a more detailed example and insight into the consequences of sins incurred due to stealing.
6. In summary – consequences of sin
The consequences of sin have to be faced by the individual who has committed the sin. If we do not face them in this life, we will have to face them in the afterlife or one of our next lives. When we keep a positive perspective towards the hardships we undergo as a consequence of sin, we can change for the better and evolve spiritually. Atoning for sins can also help us in this process.