The answer is ‘yes’, but the term ‘punishment’ is not the right way to describe it. The term ‘punishment’ is just a word for human understanding. If you look at it from nature’s perspective, it’s more of a cause and effect thing. The universal forces are not ‘punishing’ us; rather, each of our actions has a specific effect, which we experience at a later time. We often term it as punishment, but it’s not an appropriate way to describe it. For example, if you fall from a height of 10-15 ft., you might experience some bruisesor a few broken bones. The fall and the subsequent injury is just the result of your carelessness. It would be wrong to say that the gravity punished you. Or that the laws that govern bone density punished you.
The laws of cause and effect have been explained in Vedic texts and they have also been proven through scientific experiments. As per Vedic wisdom, the laws of cause and effect are based on the three primary components of nature – goodness, passion and ignorance. Each of our actions is a mix of these three components of nature and they produce different results based on the ratio of each component. The things you experience, i.e. the effect, will depend on the proportion in which these three components are present.All our actions and the subsequent effects can be described as per the ratio of these three primary components of nature.
We are not free from the karma of our past lives since life is eternal. Once we die, our body is destroyed, but the soul continues its journey and is liable to experience the effects of its past karma. Our experiences and reactions of a lifetime are stored in the subconscious and they influence our consciousness when we enter this world in a new body. These experiences and reactions are different for every individual, and coupled with our desires, they create new experiences for us. Some of these would be bad experiences, based on the actions of our past lives.We can’t say that it’s punishment because the experiences can be good also if we had done some good deeds in our past lives. Or they can be indifferent, neither good nor bad.
The cause and effect principle becomes active at the time of conception and stays with us throughout our lifetime. We are liable to reap what we had sown in our past lives. The karma of our past lives impacts various aspects of our present life such as where we are born, male or female, physical features, intelligence, willpower, attitude, criminal tendencies, etc. Who will be our friends, who will we marry, how much pain and pleasure we will experience and other such things are also determined by the actions of our past lives.
The laws of cause and effect apply to our present life as well and they determine the things we will experience in our next life. If you are experiencing difficulties, distress and anxieties, you should try to make positive changes so that you can have better experiences in your next life. The pattern will continue for many lives, till the time you decide to quit the material world forever. When you reach this stage, you will need guidance to help your soul achieve true liberation. This is where religion and spirituality can show you the right path.