Purusarthas And Karmas
By Promod Puri
Hinduism, in its liberal environment, endeavoured in objective exploration beyond reason and empiricism. The esoteric undertaking had metaphysical or philosophical convictions with a spiritual, intellectual and pragmatic approach.
In its theology, Hinduism generated a range of systematic ideologies covering various studies in ethical and metaphysical perceptions.
Within these profound discernments, Hinduism’s outstanding feature is the doctrine of “Purusarthas,” advocating four complementary engagements in an individual’s life.
These involvements are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
Dharma seeks conscious conduct of life on moral values of honesty, compassion, truthfulness, and purity of body and mind. In short, it is a behaviour toward ethical living.
Dharma involves austerity, saintliness, absence of anger and non-violence. Dharma-based actions, duties and responsibilities are the commitments toward moral and spiritual living.
Artha literary means securing all the means of life to achieve wealth and economic liberty or independence at an individual level. It involves the activities and resources to seek financial security and economic prosperity within the overall Purusarthas’ values of virtuous pursuits in life.
The Kama emphasizes the need for pleasures and enjoyments that are psychological necessities of life. It relates to desire, wish, passion, emotions, love, and joys within the aesthetic limits and without violating Dharma, Artha and Moksha (spiritual liberation) concepts.
Moksha or Mukti denotes freedom. It is a much-hyped Hindu traditional thought. In essence, it represents ardent purity to seek Oneness with the Supreme.
Moksha covers two philosophically allied doctrines but with different approaches under the faculty of Moksha-shastra.
The first one has its base on the concept of eternal salvation from the repeated cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. This rotation of advents is a popular notion among Hindus who believe in reincarnation.
Like soteriology, the salvation doctrine, the birth-rebirth cycle to achieve moksha is called Samsara in Sanskrit.
Life is an entanglement of sufferings. Moksha is considered as the ultimate goal to be relieved from miseries and afflictions in life.
A person can achieve the moksha emancipation thru dharma-inspired righteous actions and conscious detachment from worldly affairs.
Accumulation of wisdom is an imperative of moksha. It also seeks dispossession of earthly desires or cravings.
Moksha is a stage of “Braham-anubhav,” a vibe of Supreme within.
In this state of secured perfection, with a feeling of Oneness, that one gets into the moksha stage. The person feels eternally liberated from the wheels of birth, growth, and death.
The post-mortem of one or several cycles of birth and rebirth determines the qualifying criteria for how well one steps on the path of dharma before achieving moksha’s goal.
Consequently, once there, it is a point of no return as one gets let off from Samsara’s cyclic bondage.
The second and alternative school of thought in the moksha shastra lies in its evolutionary interpretation.
Referred to as jivanmukti, it is a state of transcendental consciousness which one receives within the present life. In that respect, moksha does not have to be liberation from Samsara or the life-rebirth wheel of “suffering.”
Dharma provides the route or ‘marg’ to get to the moksha destination.
In this journey, a significant emphasis is on discriminatory or critical studies to gain knowledge. The approach helps to dispel ignorance, as well it clears illusion.
The accentuation or emphasis on critical study involves evaluation to accumulate real education. And when proper education gets pursued, the knowledge gained helps in creating a rational Hindu mind.
Detachment from the outer world, lack of craving or desires for material possessions, self-restraint, the calmness of mind, dispassion, endurance and patience, faith and commitment are the other essentials to make a journey on the moksha marg.
The conscious activities in the pursuit of moksha transform the nature, attributes and behaviour of an individual where peace and bliss are the ultimate rewards and a feeling that the whole universe resides in the self.
Dharma is both a vehicle and route map to reach moksha’s goal.
However, the objective goes through to its practicality and worthy of its achievability. Sometimes or most times, the travel is challenging, captivating, and compensating, which offers equal joys or more than the destination.
Dharma involves actions, while moksha does not. Dharma means Karma; moksha is contrary to that. The latter is only a state of thought and consciousness.
The scriptures in Geeta emphasize Karma or action in its simplistic and literal meaning. Non-karma means the dead end.
Is the moksha stage the dead-end of life?
According to Osho (Rajneesh), yes, it is. He questions the worthiness of moksha. Seeking moksha is against the law of existence, Osho argues.
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.
Action, doer and result together 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 or is motivated 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 the nature of one’s destiny. Good Karma leads to a good or great future; bad Karma turns out to be rough and bitter. “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.
Since there exists a predestined plan and the related consequence, divine intervention and direction discourage an autonomous or self-governing approach to undertake an action.
But 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.
REALISM REJECTS DIVINE INTERVENTION
In contrast, arguing in favour of an unconditional release of Karma from divinity, the Mimamsa school unequivocally rejects the Supreme’s involvement in its creation and result.
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: Every action leads to a reaction, which applies to 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 triggers or initiates and directs an action as well as it 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 observational or noticeable evidence to see the doer’s good or bad Karma fallout.
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 justice, or the judgement may 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. Karma’s law does not involve a third party, the victim of a crime or the general public.
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 exploration, adventure and risk, alertness, 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 conscientious and meaningful living.
Karma helps in evolving our fate and destiny.