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Spring 1994 · Vol. 23 No. 1 · pp. 27–28 

Salvation as Release from Karma

Response to “Salvation according to Hinduism” by R. S. Lemuel 23/1 (1994): 22–26.

Santos L. Raj

R. S. Lemuel is right: Hinduism and the caste system are inseparable. Although caste plays an important part in the life of an individual, the individual alone is responsible for his salvation. As the fruit of his karma cannot be imparted to anybody but himself, so the results of his evil deeds are also for himself. As such the salvation becomes a very private affair.

In Hinduism there is no repentance or forgiveness, yet there is talk of salvation.

It is also true that the Indian mind accepts all other religions and faiths as a journey toward the same God. All roads lead to him. Badrinath Chaturvedi, the author of a major work on Indian civilization explains, “Its [Hinduism] great strength is its ideological flexibility. One of the principles of Indian thought has been that all ideas are only an approximation to the Truth. Therefore no idea represents the whole truth. . . .

So the question was not between truth and untruth, or what was right or wrong, but between incomplete perceptions and relatively speaking, more complete perceptions.” 1

A person’s next birth will be based on the merits of deeds done in this life. Salvation is not by faith but is based on actions. The Bhagavad Gita, a song celestial, promotes one’s duty within the caste system to one’s family and community without attachment and attention to the result. As such it was all right for Arguna, a warrior, to kill his own kinsman and relatives and still {28} achieve the Moksa (salvation). Do your duty without attachment and sentiments in the real dharma (religion).

The Hindus assert and long for final release from the cycle of birth and death (the human birth was possible after the soul had already gone through the lower birth forms for 8.4 million times). The final release comes as a result of merging one’s soul in the One Soul (losing its identity) which is Brahma, the creator of the world. One’s lot in life now is the result of past karmas (fates) and the unrewarded present will be taken care of in the next life. You are what you did in the past life and what you are doing now will have a definite bearing in the next life. “The decree of Karma is unalterable” is a popular Hindu saying. In my ministry among the Sikhs, I met a Sikh who did not report his son’s murderer to the authorities because he wanted to break the cycle of Karma. He believed that in the past life he must have murdered someone in the family of the murderer and in this life it was paid back to him and that if he left it right here without seeking justice or retribution, it would be the end of it.

All events in life are predetermined; nothing extraordinary is going to happen and as such one must face the unfolding drama of life with surrender and resignation. I have often witnessed tragedies borne by Indians (irrespective of their religion) with calm, dignity, and quietness but also with resignation as it was their appointed lot. The fact remains that karma and its consequences (both reward and punishment) cannot be modified. Even gods could not do it. There is no repentance and forgiveness in Hinduism. There is penance and good deeds (dharma) to overcome the evil but not repentance and forgiveness. The gods of Hinduism are more to be feared than loved although in Bhakti (devotion) marg, the gods are adored, loved, fed, bathed, put to bed, and awakened in the morning.

Can the decree of Karma be changed? To my Hindu friends, I refer to Colossians 2:13-15 (NIV), “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”


  1. (Badrinath Chaturvedi, Indian Civilization. Delhi: Viking, pp. 76-77).
Rev. Santosh K. Raj is the pastor of the Hindi Punjab Gospel Chapel in Vancouver, BC.

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