[Advaita-l] puNya for mentally challenged individuals

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Dec 16 00:37:00 CST 2013

On Sun, Dec 15, 2013 at 2:48 PM, Raghav Kumar <raghavkumar00 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Om
> Does a mentally challenged individual get the result of a karma like dAna
> or a pUja or other karma done in his name by some other person like a
> guardian. Is there any sAshtra reference to such cases. Or any purANic
> anecdote which clarifies this.
> (To elaborate: Performance of karma needs a sankalpa on the part of the
> individual. Even a yajamAna initiates karma by his own sankalpa and so the
> purohita who is appointed to execute vaidika karma does not get the karma
> phala - rather the yajamAna gets the karma phala. There the situation is
> clear. And Jaimini Dharma Sutras etc make this quite clear.
> But in the case of a mentally challenged individual (or even an infant for
> that matter), the situation is different. Will dAnam or some other karmas
> done in their name accrue to them - that is the question. Intuitively we
> may say 'yes.'.  But are there any clear sAshtra or purAna reference which
> deal with this question - specifically of dAnam done in the name of a
> mentally challenged individual or an infant. There is also another
> aspect,i.e.,  popular notion is that a child below five years does not
> incur any pApa for vidhi infringements. Does this have any implications for
> the question raised above.)

We have what are known as 48 samskaras.


The first few are with reference to the child, even before its conception,
from the parental union itself.  In these early samskaras undoubtedly the
child is not even aware of these being done.  It certainly does not have
the kartRtva bhAva.  Yet they are meant for the child.  The parents alone
do the sankalpa but the benefit of the karma, the samskara, is addressed to
the child.

Regarding the case of mentally retarded, here is an incident:

// A goshAla worker working in the Mutt (Sringeri) had  a large family to
support and he was finding it difficult to make  ends meet.  Added to all
this, his second son was deaf, dumb, blind, lame, etc.  He was just a ball
of mud, the worker felt.  Everything for the boy had to be done by somebody
else.  The worker did not know whether the Upanayanam should be performed
for him or not.  Some Pandits whom he consulted were not able o give a
definite answer and so he decided to consult Acharyal Himself.  The
Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha SwamigaL patiently listened to his tale
of woe and said, 'Upanayanam should be performed, but because the boy
cannot perform his nityakarma, it will be suffice if you do some extra
Gayatri Japam daily on his behalf.'  Not stopping with this, Acharyal went
out of His way  to see that the Upanayanam was conducted at the Mutt
itself.  He arranged for a priest, and provided a place, pelf and even food
for the conduct of the function.  He did despite His busy schedule during
the Sri Shankara Jayanti celebration. //

Quoted from the book 'Divine Discourses'.

I have also noticed a case where the sandhyavandanam itself in its entirety
being performed by a shishya for a Guru who was laid up in Hospital.

Underlying all this is the role of prArabdha too.  If the person involved
is endowed with favourable prArabdha, despite the mental retardation or
other disability, the good that is destined to come to him can and will
come through the agency of others.  He will be endowed with good parents,
well wishers, source of appropriate guidance, etc. all of which help this
jIva in its spiritual journey.


> I request your clarification.
> Thank you
> Raghav Kumar
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