Monday, 21 April 2008

15. Law of Karma

15. Law of Karma

In the last few sessions, we saw the central teaching of the Vedanta – namely Jīva Ātmā and Parama Ātmā Aikyam. Through this, I am given to understand that I am not the Reflected Consciousness which is the Distorted Consciousness through the medium. But I am the original Consciousness which is none other than Brahman. The distortions will be there as long as the medium continues to distort. But whether medium distorts or not, I in my original nature is undistorted Consciousness. And this is not only true with regards to me, this is true with regards to every individual. Therefore every one of us is nothing but Original Consciousness and not Reflected Consciousness.

And this is not only true with regard to me the Jīvāhā, it is true with regards to Īshvara also. Īshvara is also another form of distorted consciousness only because Īshvara also has certain superior Gunāhā and presence of Gunāhā is a distortion. Because the original consciousness does not have positive virtues also. So in the case of Īshvara, positive virtues is distortion, in the case of Jīva negative virtues or vices or properties are distortions.

And these two distortions are caused by the reflecting media (RM) and when we look at ourselves from the standpoint of ourselves, we are all Original Consciousness. This is Jīva Ātmā Parama Ātmā Aikya Jnānam given by the Vedanta. Having seen this knowledge, we will now see the Jnāna Phalam – what is the benefit of gaining this knowledge ? What do I get out of it ? What practically benefit can I derive out of gaining this knowledge.

In the Shāstram and in the Tattvabodha the benefit is presented as Jīvan Muktihi and Videha Muktihi. The knowledge is that I am not Reflected (limited distorted) Consciousness – otherwise called Ego - but I am Original Consciousness – unlimited and undistorted consciousness.

15.1. Jīvan Muktihi

How do I accomplish the freedom as to be derived from Jīvan Muktihi ?

All the problems and challenges of life belong to the Reflected Consciousness alone – the Jīva alone has all the challenges of life. They belong to the Ego alone – because every situation will affect either Reflecting Media 1 (Physical body) or RM2 or RM3. Through the Reflecting medium, the reflected consciousness may be affected but not the original. Therefore all problems belong to Reflected Consciousness and no problems belong to Original Consciousness. We know that Reflected Consciousness is insignificant compared to Original Consciousness because Reflected Consciousness is an incidental aspect of mind who am nothing but Original Consciousness.

Therefore when I go on invoking my higher nature, Original Consciousness nature, the Reflected Consciousness and the problems of Reflected Consciousness become insignificant. Not that they go away, but from a higher perspective, these will become insignificant. Like during the freedom struggle, when they invoked the patriot in themselves, the freedom of the country became so important and other miseries and going to jail were not significant at all. When we invoke a higher “I”, the lower “I” and its problems will not disappear but will become insignificant. In Sanskrit we call it Abhibhāvaha . So when the sun rises, the candle light is overshadowed but though it continues, the candle light is as good as not being there. Similarly in the discovery of the higher I, all the problems of Samsara are as good as not there. This inner freedom or immunity or shock absorber is given by the discovery of the higher “I”. This immunity enjoyed is called Jīvan Muktihi which is the benefit enjoyed while living. Jnānam serves as an armour against unhealthy responses.

15.2. Videha Muktihi

The second benefit is Videha Muktihi. This means freedom from Punar Janma or rebirth. To understand this freedom from rebirth, we should know the Law of Karma. Because Law of Karma is the principle behind rebirth as well as Freedom from rebirth. Videha Muktihi is understood only when the Law of Karma is understood. We will study the Law of Karma as an Anga of Videha Muktihi.

15.2.1. Law of Karma

The Law of Karma is one of the most important laws of Vedic teaching and is the unique to Vedic teaching. First Principle

The first principle that we should remember in understanding the Law of Karma is that every deliberate or wilful action that we do, the Shāstram point out, produces two forms of result. One is called the Visible result – Drushta Phalam - and the other is the invisible result – Adrushta Phalam.

And if the action is a good action, there is a good visible and invisible result, and if there is a bad action, there is a bad visible and invisible result. E.g. if I do something for a charitable cause, firstly the visible result is that someone is benefited from it. The second result is that since I have done a noble action of helping others, it produces an invisible result called Adrushtam. And since the action is good, it is called Su-Adrushtam – good invisible result.

On the other hand, when I cheat someone to earn money, the visible result is quite evident-increase in bank balance. The invisible result is negative arising from this is called Dur-Adrushtam - negative invisible result.

The Su-Adrushtam is called Punyam and the Dur-Adrushtam is called Pāpam. Thus every deliberate action in addition to visible result produces Punyam and Pāpam. One won’t see Punyam and Pāpam because they are invisible. This is the first principle of the Law of Karma – Punyam and Pāpam. Second Principle

The next principle to be remembered is what produces Punyam and Pāpam. This is determined based on two norms.

The first norm is the scriptural injunction. Whatever the scriptures promote or enjoin – those actions will produce Punyam. Whatever the scriptures prohibit – such actions will produce Pāpam. Supposing an action produces visible good result and suppose that action is prohibited by the scriptures, then we say such an action will produce Pāpam even though it may produce a visible good result.

The second norms : Suppose I am doing an action which is not discussed in the scriptures at all – travelling by train – what would be the norms for judgement of such activities ? The norm is based on the motive. What is the motive of my actions ? If my motive is good and noble, that Karma will produce Punyam and if it is ignoble it produces Pāpam.

Therefore based on the norm of Shāstrik injunction and motive, we decide whether a Karma is Punyam or Pāpam. Third Principle

All the invisible Punyam and Pāpam in due course will be converted into visible Sukham and Duhkham – Drushta Sukham and Drushta Duhkham respectively.

In this we can never say, how long a particular Punyam will take to get converted into Sukham. The duration for conversion is not uniform. Today’s Punyam can become tomorrow’s Sukham or day-after-tomorrow’s Sukham or next decade’s Sukham or it can become even in the next Janma. The duration will never be known by us. Some Punyams can give immediate Sukham while some Punyams can give delayed Sukham.

The example given in the Shāstram is the different types of seeds that are planted on the same day. A papaya seed or mango seed and coconut seed. Even though the date of planting is the same, different seeds take different duration of time to become full-fledged results.

Because of this, we have to derive another corollary. Since the Punyam and Pāpam can fructify at different duration, some of the Punya Pāpam may not fructify in this Janma itself. This means that un-fructified Punya Pāpams remain in the case of every Jīva. And because of the un-fructified Punya Pāpam, we will have to take Punar Janma and an appropriate for the fructification of these un-fructified ones for reaping the result of our actions.

The scriptures say that nobody can escape from the moral Law of the Lord. One can escape from the criminal law of the country but never from the cosmic Moral Order and Law of the Lord.

Therefore the Law of Karma necessitates repeated Birth and Death and therefore the preset birth is one of the long chain of birth and death. Thus the cycle of birth and death is caused by the law of Karma.

Our scriptures point out that this has to be very clearly understood and assimilated by every individual. This is even more fundamental than self-knowledge. The more we assimilate this law, the more healthy will be our attitude towards problems of life.

15.2.2. Advantages of Law of Karma

If I assimilate the Law of Karma, what are the advantages? What attitudinal changes will it bring. The assimilation of the Law of Karma will bring some healthy attitudinal changes.

First advantage is that the Law of Karma explains the disparity and differences in the living being. Why are living being born differently. Some are animal while some are plants and some human beings. And among human beings, some born with silver spoon or some in the slums. This is because of the Law of Karma.

If this Law of Karma is not accepted, then people will have to resort to the principle of chance. I see the creation being orderly. Science proves everyday that the creation is governed by laws and wherever law is there, there is order. Then how can I say that the disparity alone is chance?

Second advantage, Law of Karma helps in accepting the inexplicable sufferings. When I am not able to accept my problems and go on asking “Why me?”, Law of Karma helps in accepting. I know that I am responsible for every one of my suffering through my immediate past action or through my remote past action. I may not remember which remote past action for my current state – good or bad. I will not blame anyone in the world. Blaming is the most natural tendency. Thus, resistance and not taking responsibility is sorrow.

Third advantage is that the Faith in God will not be shaken if I accept the Law of Karma. This is because I know that even though I am a good person now, if I suffer my suffering is not because of an unjust God. The suffering is because of my remote past actions which I don’t remember now. God can never be unjust. There is no injustice in the world. There seems to be injustice because we do not recollect the past Pāpam Karma.

Otherwise when I suffer I begin to question the Lord’s sense of justice. There have been many religious people who did not understand the Law of Karma and therefore blame God for their suffering and turn atheists.

Fourth advantage is if I accept the Law of Karma, I can take responsibility for my future. I can take charge of my life. This is because the Law of Karma says my present situation is the result of my past action. You can extend this and say that my future situation will depend on my present action. Therefore if I can intelligently live in the present, I can influence my future. If I cannot totally control, I can greatly influence my future. Thus I can avert fatalism. I can accept my freewill. I have a freedom to choose my future because my future is dependent on my present Karma. Therefore Law of Karma restores my freewill and averts fatalistic tendencies.

People think Law of Karma leads to fatalism. In fact, Law of Karma alone is the antidote to fatalism because Law of Karma tells me I am responsible for my present situation by my past action and therefore am responsible for my future. If I don’t accept the Law of Karma, my conclusion will be that somebody is responsible for my present situation. And if somebody else is responsible for my present situation, then somebody else will be responsible for my future situation.

Therefore if I don’t accept the Law of Karma, I give my life to chance and fatalism. If I accept Law of Karma I am accepting my will and freedom to shape my future.

Fifth advantage is this answers one of the fundamental questions asked by many questions – especially youngsters. When we talk about ethical way of life or good way of life, one of the questions asked by youngsters is – if you say ethical life is a blessing and unethical life is harmful, how come many good people are suffering and how come many corrupt people are having a good time. You can restore morality in society only if you bring in Law of Karma. Law of Karma will explain this phenomenon properly. It will say – the present ethical person is suffering because of past unethical action. Therefore the universal rule that Unethical Actions hurt is true irrespective of whether you are good in the preset Janma or not. Even the current corrupt person enjoys because of past ethical actions. Therefore the rule is that Ethical Action Blesses and Unethical Action Hurts.

Thus Law of Karma is required for moral order in society.

We have to come back to Videha Muktihi. The Punya Pāpam or Adrushtam that a person acquires is divided in to three types.

All the Punya Pāpams accumulated in the past Janma are called Sanchita Punya Pāpam or Sanchita Adrushtam. Sanchita means accumulated. And of all those accumulated, a portion alone is ready for fructification at a particular time. That maturing Adrushtam – Punya Pāpam - is called Prārabdha. Sanchitam will not affect you now because it is not matured. Whereas Prārabdha being matured, it is responsible for the present physical body. Your present body is determined by Prārabdha – human or animal, male or female, healthy or with congenital diseases, parentage, place of birth. And when Prārabdha gives you a human body, not only you reap your Prārabdha, but while reaping your Prārabdha, you are doing fresh actions. As a human being you do a lot of deliberate actions which will produces fresh Punya Pāpams. That fresh acquisitions or earning are called Āgāmi.

Therefore your present life is a result of your Āgāmi and Prārabdha. Because Āgāmi also produce result in this Janma. Prārabdha also produces result. Āgāmi and Prārabdha produced together will give you experiences. And some of the Āgāmi are not reaped in this Janma - so at the end of the Janma , Prārabdha is exhausted, some Āgāmi are exhausted, some Āgāmi Karma remain. They will join the Sanchitam and out of the Sanchitam, the next one gets ready giving you Punar Janma. There also you exhaust the Prārabdha and acquire Āgāmi, some of them are exhausted while some of them are kept back and they join Sanchita – the cycle will go on and on and on. This is the case of an ignorant person.

In the case of a wise person, the Shāstram point out, Jnānam is such a powerful radiation that it destroys all the Sanchita Karmāni.

Sanchita Pāpa Vināshana Lingam
Tat Pranamāmi Sadāshiva Lingam.

Because the Jnani, does not have identification with Reflected Consciousness – as he invokes the Original Consciousness all the time – Jnani does not acquire Āgāmi. Since he does not have Ahankāra or Abhimānam, he does not acquire Āgāmi. Hence even when Sanchitam is gone and Āgāmi does not come, only one remains which is the Prārabdha. Since it has started, it will continue to give pleasurable and painful experiences but these experiences will affect only the Reflecting Medium and Reflected Consciousness but Jnani being established in the highest “I” or Original Consciousness he does not bother much about these insignificant problems and therefore he does not have any unhealthy response. Therefore he is immunised against Prārabdha.

Once Prārabdha is exhausted : Sanchita is gone, Prārabdha is exhausted and Āgāmi avoided and therefore there is no Karma. Since there is neither Punyam nor Pāpam, he does not acquire a new birth. This called Videha Muktihi. Thus Jnani as a result of Jnānam enjoys Jīvan Mukti and Videha Mukti. This is Jnāna Phalam and with this Jnānam Phalam, Tattvabodha completes its teaching.

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