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Effects Of Good Deeds Done In Previous Births In This Birth

Effects of good deeds done in the previous births of an individual yield good results in this birth. This is known as purva punya. The concept of karma of previous birth affecting life in this birth came to be equated later with luck and fate.

The beneficial results in this birth due to previous birth good karmas are determined by worldly standards such as birth in a good family and lineage, absence of poverty, a good education, absence of physical and mental defects, a good temperament, and favorable circumstances to pursue the four ends of life.

In Hindu astrology, the stock of merit from previous births carried by an individual is estimated from the ninth, second and eleventh houses of the horoscope of the individual. The effect of purva punya on different aspects of life such as progeny, health and longevity can also be ascertained from these houses.

The karma theory of Puranas and Mimamsa look at purva punya in the following manner: the success or otherwise of an act depends upon a large number of factors.

According to the Bhagavad Gita, there are five sources for the initiation or fruition of any endeavor: the body, the doer, the instrumentalities of action like the senses, external circumstances of the agent and the instrumentalities, and other unforeseen factors such as accidents an divine dispensations called fate.

The fate is linked to the individual through the prarabdha karma and a good dharmic life enjoys good results.

The rules governing the operation of poorvapunya can be broadly grouped as: rules related to individuals (personal level of thought temperament, action and habits), rules for individuals at the vocational level, rules related to individuals following specific religious vows, rules for individuals based on their social status, status of religious cultural and spiritual evolution and the divine plan.

Briefly, is it the violation of dharma that leads to suffering and that suffering is relieved only by meritorious acts. Some of the meritorious acts with their results are – 
  • planting of trees brings good fortune and is good for one’s ancestors also, 
  • construction of public wells, lakes, and rest houses liberates one from suffering, 
  • planting of fragrant flower or fruit bearing trees bring good progeny, 
  • providing food to the needy, one never suffers from want of food and is born in a family of wise, good people, 
  • showing compassion and mercy brings compassion and mercy in return.
The list of meritorious deeds is endless, but those acts are meritorious that promote the general well being of people.

Notes taken from
Life in the Upanishads  (1985) Shubhra Sharma – Abhinav Publications Delhi
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VIII page – 345 – 46 - IHRF