by Promod Puri
Karma is one of the most fundamentals of Hinduism.
The actual word is ‘Karm’ with a firm stop at the last letter ‘m’. As usual, many Sanskrit or Hindi words, for some reason or without reason, are stretched by hooking up with the letter ‘a’: for example, Krishna, Rama, Ayurveda etc.
In any case, Karma or Karm represents action, deed or work. It is an act of doing something. And that involves two more factors, the doer and the result(s) of work performed. Together, action, doer and result, constitute Karma, which starts with a verb and ends in a noun. So Karma is not merely an action but implies its rebounding influence as well.
A cause gets created as a first event followed by another event, which is the effect. The sequence is called causation. Cause and effect, or action and reaction, are generated by our thoughts and performing acts or those instructed by others. In short, everything one thinks about and done to create a cause and effect is Karma.
Karma and consciousness find a meaningful relationship in Hinduism.
Karma is an intelligent and conscious act leading toward more Karma, influencing and determining destiny’s nature. Good Karma leads to a promising future; bad Karma leads to evil. “As you sow, so you reap” is right in the working of Karma.
Does God play a role in assigning karmas in an individual’s life?
If He does, then Karma gets classified as fate or a predetermined destiny. In that case, our freedom to create events is either restricted or controlled. Both in its predestined agenda and producing consequence, the divine intervention and direction discourage an autonomous approach to undertake an action.
According to Advaita Vedanta, a school of Hindu studies, only the result or harvest of action is governed by Him based on the merits and demerits of the activity. The outcome of an effort may be instant or delayed. This rebound could be anytime during the life span of an individual. Or, for those who believe in reincarnation, the next life can experience the karmic reaction.
As per this theology, whereas God is responsible for selecting and delivering rewards, the principal responsibility to create an event and execute it lies with an individual.
NEWTON’S LAW OF MOTION
In contrast, arguing about the unconditional release of Karma from divinity, the Mimamsa school unequivocally rejects the involvement of the Supreme.
Known for its philosophies based on hermeneutics, meaning critical interpretation, the Mimamsa is a pioneer of Hindu thought of realism and is a forerunner to Vedanta.
Mimamsa argues the causation is natural. And it is sufficient to induce the ultimate result. Accordingly, it is a futile exercise to engage divinity to initiate the cause and determine its outcome.
The ancient Mimamsa school of thought finds common ground and relevancy in contemporary Hindu thought on the concept of Karma. Moreover, it identifies its logical relationship with science.
Newton’s law of motion: that every action leads to a reaction applying the Karma law.
Karma is going on in an atom, molecule, and nature. The entire universe is in a state of Karma.
However, narrowing it down to the human level and succinctly put it, Karma is a doer’s consciousness that initiates and directs an action, as well as registers its aftermath.
It is an infallible fact that consciousness after inducing an action always acquires its reaction.
Osho says, “there are no books which God is keeping, that are an old way, not that somebody is writing it, you being the book.” He adds, “every moment, you are creating yourself; either a grace will arise in your being or a disgrace: this is the law of karma. Nobody can avoid it”.
Karma is not a profound philosophy. It is a working assignment for the thinker of thought, or doer of a deed, and accepting the outcome of that executed assignment.
With its productive nature, Karma emphasizes psychological implications in influencing an individual’s character while delivering its gratifying or stigmatic rewards or punishments in the realm of consciousness.
As consciousness receives consequences, the law of Karma gets defined as the law of consequences. And that gives us a better perception of Karma to understand its relevancy and practicality in our lives.
Karma is unerring that, without fail, it delivers its judgement. Sooner or later, the verdict gets registered in our consciousness or sub-consciousness. The intensity of that verdict can be felt only by the performer of the Karma. The general public may seek empirical evidence to see the result of the doer’s good or bad Karma.
For example, in bad Karma, the ruling from the law of consequences may differ from a civilian court’s verdict. In this case, Karma’s punishment could be a constant pounding of remorse for the rest of life on the consciousness of the person who committed the crime.
The crime victim might not get the customary justice, and it may not be contrary to civil society’s expectations. But the law of consequences is not replacing or competing with society’s justice system. Its impact is only on two entities, the doer of a crime and his or her consciousness. The law of Karma does not involve a third party.
Besides deliberating on the morality of crime and perceiving the subsequent consequences, Karma’s concept and totality need to be realized more in our day-to-day activities and practices.
Actions and reactions produced by Karmas infuse the management and dynamics of our lives. In this regime, there are good karmas, bad karmas, naive karmas, and induced karmas. There are karmas of adventure and risk, alert, and guidance.
Karma is what most life is all about with rewards, remunerations, honours, penalties and damages, discipline and lessons. Karma is one of those aspects of Hinduism where besides being an operation to act, it alerts and guides us toward righteous and meaningful living.
Karma helps in evolving our fate and destiny.