The Karma Doctrine:
Footprints on the journey of life
Several youth groups have asked me to explain the karma theory in simple terms. And here is an attempt to do so. Before I proceed to explain the karma theory, I would like to say that the credit of giving the world the most profound, rational and scientific answer to man's questions as below goes to India. The questions are:
1) Why some are born poor or rich?
2) Why some are born handicapped?
3) Can we do wrong and get away with it?
4) Why should we be good to our parents, neighbors, friends, society, country etc.?
5) Why should not we be selfish?
Only the karma theory explains these matters in a logical manner. The word karma comes from the root ‘kr’, which means “action", “doing", or “acting". In philosophic and spiritual thought the Doctrine of Karma has come to mean cause and effect, action and reaction to which all human conduct is subjected to.
The" Gita "(see References at the bottom) says: “No creature remains even for a moment without being engaged in karma . Thus, all the actions which a man performs (e.g. breathing, eating, drinking, sleeping, desiring etc..) are included in the word karma.
Newton’s Third Law
Like Newton’s third law of motion that every action (karma) has its reaction which is equal and opposite. In other words every cause results in effect and in turn that effect becomes a further cause resulting in a further effect and so on. As no cause remains without its due effect and as like produces like, the doctrine of karma is that unseen law adjusting itself wisely, intelligently, and equitably, each effect to its cause, tracing the latter back to its producer.
Although mind-created karma acts on the mental, and the physical planes, its effect takes place in three ways:
1) It boomerangs on the doer:
A harmful action done to another person eventually harms the perpetrator.
2) It reflects in retribution:
A man eating more than his share may die of a weak stomach.
3) It acts in a symbolic way:
A man killing an innocent creature may be infected with a wasting disease like anemia.
Our karma may be done in the immediate past or the remote past. We may remember it or not. It survives in the form of a seed with us and manifests at the appropriate time.
In the " Mahabharatha " it is said, " karma follows man like his shadow. It sits with him while he sits, moves with him while he moves. It works on even while he is working. Just as fruits and flowers come to the trees in their appointed time unimpelled by any one, one's past karma never transgresses its appointed time ". The reaction to good or bad karma seldom begins immediately. It takes time for the karmic seed to sprout and come to fruition. How and when are not known but it is a fact that no one can escape from his karma. The Lord Buddha (see References) has said " Not In the sky, not in the midst of the sea, not if we enter into the clefts of the mountain, is there known a spot in the whole world, where a man be freed from his deeds".
Birth to Rebirth
Now the obvious question: “Does karma pass on from birth to rebirth and if it does, then are we free to change the effect of past life karma in this life "? The answer according to Hindu Scriptures is that what we did in the past life remains latent and continues with us manifesting at the appropriate time. For example: If you did an act of kindness Just before you died, will be returned to you as an act of kindness in your next life. An act of cruelty will come back to you as an act of cruelty. In fact karma is the cause of the round of births or you may say it is the rebirth latent.
Freedom of Action and Karma
Regarding freedom of action and karma, Dr. Radhakrishnan has said: "They are two aspects of the same reality. We are all the time making our own karma and thus determining the character of our next birth ". As Pascal puts it “though we are slaves of the past we are master of the future ".
In my opinion karma accumulated in the present life can modify the karma inherited from past lives. It is a simple arithmetic of debit and credit. If you have acquired sufficient credit by doing good karma, it may wipe out the effect of bad deeds, the debit you were born with. Thus, knowledge of the Doctrine of Karma destroys the cause of hate, envy and jealousy and the ill - will we may have for our neighbor, our friend or any other fellow being. It makes us realize that we are punished by our bad deeds and not for them. It removes impatience from our mind and places infinite time before us for our evolution. It makes us realize that no effort of ours is ever wasted and at every stage we are surpassing ourselves and not others.
This is a very short treatise in the doctrine of karma because as the "Gita” says.
"Gahana Karmano Gatih” (Gita 4:17)"
The effects of karma are unfathomable".
Also known as Shri Mad Bhagvad-Gita. The songs of the Blessed Lord. Sanskrit theosophical poems of 700 verses. Regarded by Hindus as their Bible.
One of the two great epics of Hindu religion consisting of 18 voluminous chapters. The Gita is a small part of this epic believed to be composed about 1360 BCE.
(624-544 BCE.) Also known as Slddhartha Gautam Buddha. Founder of Buddhism. Buddha meaning " Enlightened One ".
(1888-1975) Indian writer/ philosopher. Also became President of India
-- by Gyan Rajhans
Gyan Rajhans, an internationally recognized heath and safety professional has been broadcasting the only non-commercial Vedic religion radio program in North America since 1981 and worldwide web cast on Bhajanawali.com since 1999. Mr. Rajhans has published extensively on religious and spiritual matters. Some articles are available on the Bhajanawali website. He has translated Sri Mad Bhagvad Gita in English for the younger generation. Mr. Rajhans has been conferred various titles, including that of Rishi by Hindu Prarthana Samaj of Toronto, and Hindu Ratna by Hindu Federation of Toronto. He is also the recipient of Bharat Gaurav Award , 2005 by India International Friendship Society..