Every birth of a jivatma is the result of past or accumulated
karma that is stored as sanchita karma. Prarabdha karma is the part of sanchita karma which has to be compulsorily experienced in every birth, whatever may be the spiritual credentials of a jivatma. The story of Bharata related in the
Bhagavata Purana illustrates this basic belief in karma and
the cycle of birth, said Sri Kesava Dikshitar in a discourse.
Bharata had renounced his kingdom and spent his lifetime
in austere yogic practices. If such a realised soul immersed
in total devotion to the Lord had been drawn by compassion
towards a deer cub, it can be accounted only by the theory of prarabdha karma. Bharata, who was steeped in atma jnana all these years, now shifted his entire attention to the welfare of the orphaned deer cub. It came to pass that he died with this concern and involvement towards the young deer. This led to his being born as a deer in his next birth. But during this life span as a deer, his past vasanas made him realise his true atma. He spent time in solitude. He had to undergo yet another birth as Jadabharata to attain realisation.
Prarabdha karma is perhaps the explanation for the
physical suferings, ailments and challenges that realised
souls have experienced during their lifetime. A jivanmukta is not above sufering; nor is he exempted from prarabdha
karma, which is a veritable reality and has to be undergone.
But his realised state keeps him detached from the pain and
sorrow of the experiences. Though austere living,meditation and other spiritual endeavours are all stages towards the goal of realisation, salvation is possible for the soul only when all karma against each one’s account is nullified.