Does Karma of our previous lives determine the lifetime of our present birth?


Upon doing bad karmas the jeeva first suffers the torments in hell and then , with the remnant karmas, gets born into animal or plant's yoni. Or, if it gets a human birth, then the body or mind will be diseased or deformed.

A sin, committed in a previous birth, assails people in the shape of a disease after the termination of the sufferings in a hell. It is dissipated by recitation etc., (5)

Leprosy, consumption, gonorrhoea, diarrhea, ob- struction in urination, stone, cough, dysentery, fistula, obstinate ulcers, inflammation of the glands, paralysis, loss of eyes, these diseases, says the Smritis originate from the perpetration of heinous crimes. (6 7)

Dropsy, liver, spleen, colic, ulcer, short-breathing, dyspepsia, fever, cold, forgetfulness, distraction of the senses, Galagraha (a kind of disease), bloody tumour, dry spreading itch, are the diseases begotten of minor sins ;

convulsive fits, appearance of circular figures of various sizes on the body, trembling of the body, itches, elephantisis, Poondarika (a kind of leprosy), and other diseases, originate from Unupata-sins. The diseases of mankind, heard by [the name of] piles, originate from Atipapa (heinous crimes). (8 la)

Various other diseases originate from the combination of sins. Their symptoms and penitentiary rites should be spoken of in due order,

Satatapa Smriti, Chapter 1.

Now, that many of these diseases can shorten lives is well-known. So, most definitely bad karmas done in our previous lives affect or influence the longevity of our current life.

But determine is not entirely the correct word to use. Because, we can do many things in our present life itself that will affect our longevity in either ways.

For example, if an ignorant (unworthy of receiving gifts) person accepts gifts of food or gold he thereby shortens his life. Also it is well known (from various scriptures) that committing adultery with another person's wife also shortens once lifetime.

4.189. Gold and food destroy his longevity, land and a cow his body, a horse his eye (sight), a garment his skin, clarified butter his energy, sesamum-grains his offspring.

4.237. By falsehood a sacrifice becomes vain, by self-complacency (the reward for) austerities is lost, longevity by speaking evil of Brahmanas, and (the reward of) a gift by boasting

4.134. For in this world there is nothing so detrimental to long life as criminal conversation with another man’s wife.

Manu Smriti.

And, on the other hand, one can increase his longevity by following good conduct too.

Manu Smriti 4.156. Through virtuous conduct he obtains long life, through virtuous conduct desirable offspring, through virtuous conduct imperishable wealth; virtuous conduct destroys (the effect of) inauspicious mark

So, it is more appropriate to use influence or affect instead of determine.

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