Karma philosophy

  • By Munisri Nyayavijayaji
  • October 2002

Natural Law       

This chapter covers about rebirth, natural law & paraloka.

Thirteen        About Rebirth 
Every birth of a soul is a rebirth in view of its previous birth. There can never be any birth, which is not connected with the previous birth. The series of a soul’s birth has no beginning. If we were to assume that a soul is borne for the first time, then it would lead us to believe that it is possible that even a pure soul that has freed itself from the birth-cycle on account of its attainment of purity will have to take birth sometime. This would render eternal, absolute & perfect liberation impossible. It would be quite illogical to believe that the soul remains free from births for sometime starts to assume birth again. It is logical to hold that the series of birth continues, if it continues at all, without interruption and that once it is snapped it is snapped forever.

We find differences among the sons & daughters of the same parents, why?

Though parents pay considerable attention to their bringing up & training, they differ in learning, education, wisdom, experience & conduct. This shows that the difference in blood, semen & environment is not a sufficient ground to account for this difference. Influence of the impressions of past births too have their place in causing the difference & inequality. Worldly causes do produce their effects, but this consideration need not stop here only. Even these causes themselves beg some further cause governing them all. Underlying them there is some secret unseen driving force that brings these causes together and impels them to operate at proper time. In order to find out this original, fundamental cause, we shall have to go far beyond the circumstances of the present life or birth.

We find that persons who indulge in immoral & cruel activities roll in riches whereas those who follow the path of morality & righteousness remain poor & miserable?

If we think of the connection between the past & present births we can find an answer. According to the impressions of the activities performed in the past births, the course of the present life is determined and special circumstances are generated. So also in accordance with the present life or birth, the future life is going to be molded. Meaning that effects or influences of impressions of the past birth manifest themselves in the present birth and effects or influences of impressions in the present birth manifest themselves in the future birth.

Persons who have accumulated wealth through fraudulent means will not be tolerated by any good government or society for long. If such a situation is tolerated the fault lies with the government first and with the lazy & slumbering society next. It is the responsibility of the govt to ensure that wealth is properly distributed. If a govt does not check this it encourages immorality & cruelty. The first good quality of a householder is to earn wealth honestly & in a just way. If wealth is earned honestly in a just way & only such wealth is used in dharmic or religious activities, then it has good influence and impact on the society & on the public.

Another point to be noted is that crooks, murderers etc whom the govt cannot catch or punish have to experience the fruits of their evil acts inevitably & invariably according to the relentless law of karma (moral causation).

Coming back to the main point. Twin brothers, born at the same time of the same parents have different intellects & personalities. The intelligence & memory of one is sharp as compared to the other, one learns science & the other commerce. Though both are brought up in the same way one develops faculties of poetry, music while the other remains destitute of all those facilities. Can all this be possible or explained without the awakening of the powers lying dormant in the impressions accumulated through past births?

Why do we not remember our previous births, if it really existed?
Do all of us remember all the events that happened in this birth? No. If we forget events of the present birth then what to talk of the previous birth. And yet we do hear instances of the great saints remembering their previous birth. Details of such instances have also been published in reputed Indian journals.

Let me share a different view on this question from the article FAQ Karma by Pandit Rajmani Tugnait, pl see answer to question number 26 “Occupying itself with these thoughts, feelings and prayers, the jiva completes the period of gestation. But when the infant emerges from the womb, it touches a pranic force known as Vaishnava Prana, which wipes away all memories. The amnesia is so total that the infant does not even remember its birth. The thoughts and feelings it had in the womb, its prayers everything-vanishes, and the infant’s conscious mind is like a clean slate. The body must relearn everything by means of its environments, its parents and its teachers, and later on, through self-study and personal experience. The vaishnava prana cleans up the mess of the past and grants you freedom from the animosity, revenge and remorse, which would otherwise follow you from life to life”.

Rule of the law of karma (moral causation) is so universal, so sure, so exact and so just that it gives each & every human being right fruits for its acts. Thus, the law of karma, from which naturally flows the belief in rebirth is extremely useful in improving the human society and making it righteous. The only object of the law is to make man refrain from evil acts and to perform good acts so that he may make gradual progress on the path of perfection and ultimately attain that perfection.

Moreover, one who is convinced of the fact of rebirth is not afraid of death. One who considers soul to be eternal & indestructible understands death to be nothing more than transfer of body. For him an event like death is like an act of removing one coat & putting on another. Such a person thinks ‘To do evil to others is to do evil to yourself’. Such a person believes that all souls are alike. So there is distinction of caste, creed or race. In this way, his feeling of equanimity and equality is fostered and his universal love goes on developing. He lives up to the great dictum ‘panditah samadarsinah’ i.e. the learned treat all men equally. Thus he believes in doing well to others all the time, in the process does well to himself too.

Many men claiming to be given to logic and reason have doubts about the existence of God & soul. But when a terrible calamity befalls them logic & reason give way and their heart becomes inclined towards Him. And an impending death is the greatest calamity. At that time even a hard-core atheists becomes soft and his atheism withers away, and his eyes roll in search of some Supreme Soul whom he can beseech to free him from the jaws of misery, the one who can him shelter and mental peace.

If we do not accept the existence of soul, rebirth & God and regard auspicious / inauspicious karmas as mental figment, then we will be deprived of the best motivating force of spiritual development and the order of the world will lose its basis. The pilgrim of spiritual progress declares on the strength of his experience that man is robbed of his inner happiness and dark clouds of disappointment & despondency surrounded his mind as soon as he thinks that there is no soul, no God.

Once the existence of soul is accepted, rebirth stands automatically accepted followed invariably auspicious & inauspicious karmas. Liberation is nothing but perfect purity of the soul itself. And so with the acceptance of soul goes also the acceptance of liberation. And liberation is identical with God. In other words, God is nothing but the pure & liberated soul. So theism is implicit in the doctrine of the soul.

Fourteen        Natural Law 
It is not that this world was created at a certain point of time; it from exists from beginningless time. It constantly undergoes change, some brought together by sentient agency and others are such that they do need a sentient agency for their origination, they are natural. The natural changes come into existence owing to the diverse combination of material atoms, molecules & aggregates. For e.g. hills or mountains are a combination of earth & stones.

It is rightly said that though karma is material, there is generated in it such a power owing to its peculiar association with the soul that it manifests its fruits on that soul at the due time. Every soul is sentient, and without its association with that sentient substance, the material karma is not capable of bearing its fruits. As are the acts performed by the soul, so are generated the thoughts in it. So, though the soul does not want bitter fruits of evil acts, it performs evil acts under the influence of ignorance or delusion and consequently experiences their bitter fruits. Impressions of the nature of diverse material particles are imprinted on the soul according to its mental states, which is called the bondage of karma. The bound karmas acquire capacity on account of their association with the sentient soul, as a result they manifests their fruits on the soul at due time. Thus, the soul impelled by its own karmas experiences their fruits.

This being the view of the upholders of the karma doctrine, they are not required to believe in God as a force impelling the soul to experience the fruits of its karmas. The Samkhyas & Mimamsakas also do not believe in God as the impeller. The Sramana culture surely does not accept God as the impeller.

Auspicious & inauspicious activities of mind, body & speech leave on the soul relevant material traces called karma. So based on the universal law of karma if a person does good acts, says good things, helps others he makes his future bright, good & happy. The opposite is true if he speaks bitter, tells lies etc. If a donation is given with the desire of earning fame, the charm of donation disappears. What is important is selfless service done quietly. Sometimes an innocent person is trapped in a grave crime but ultimately he is saved. It is because no court is capable of punishing him for the crime which he has not committed in this or the past birth. The powerful law of karma protects him. When someone is held guilty of a crime he has not committed it surely relates to a crime committed by him in previous birth.

Law of Karma is the law of action and reaction (counter-action). This is called the Natural Law. It does not command man to do this or to do that. It simply lays down that if he wants to reap a particular result, he should perform a particular act. Nature has given us the freedom of choice from the very beginning. So if a man performs good acts he gets good results. A person who does not care for his children will become barren in the next birth. One who misuse’s one’s wealth thoughtlessly and extravagantly invites poverty in the future. Like this examples are galore. He lives for his own self to the utter neglect of the interest of others will be abandoned by all in the future. So a wise man should always be vigilant to see to it that the given opportunities & means are not misused and are properly used for the good of his own self & others for worldly happiness.

When an individual hates someone, he binds inauspicious karma. So also when a family hates another it too binds inauspicious karma. And individual hatred gives rise to family hatred. So we can say that individual karma generates family karma. Thus auspicious & inauspicious individual karmas of the members of one family with respect to the members of another family, and vice versa rise to auspicious & inauspicious family karmas. This is called ‘collective karma’. In the same way, the entire country binds the corporate karma in accordance with the practice of good or bad customs, cherishing of right or wrong beliefs, following right or wrong business practices. Again if one country maintains good or bad relations with other countries or nations with other countries or nations, then as a result it binds auspicious or inauspicious karma, which can be called international karmic bondage & consequently will have to experience its good or bad results.

Collective or corporate karmas are ultimately generated by individual karmas. So the improvement of the society depends on the improvement of its individual members. Paying heed to the power of the law of karma, one should sincerely try to be good in thought, speech & action. Therein lies the prosperity of all.

Fifteen         Paraloka 
The Sanskrit term ‘paraloka’ is generally taken to mean ‘the birth, after death in any one of the main classes of living beings,’ and we are asked to improve it. But, if the society or the class in which one is to be born in future is not cultured, then one cannot be happy in taking birth in such a society, however good one may be.

We are normally not able to establish in the present birth any contact with the celestial beings of the celestial class or the infernal beings of the infernal class. Hence if we want to undertake reform activities, we can undertake them in connection with the human class & the animal class, living among human & animal beings. By doing so we gain benefits of the reformation or improvement in the present birth as also in the next birth. So far as it concerns us, the term paraloka should, therefore, be taken in such special sense that we may become aware of our duty towards the human society & the animal world, perform it sincerely & thereby improve our birth as well as the next birth. From that standpoint we present the following idea or thought.

The term paraloka literally means another world that is living beings other than one’s own self. Improving paraloka therefore, means improving those other beings. For every man there is the human & animal world. An attempt to improve them is to improve paraloka. If every man firmly understands that our visible paraloka is this human society and hence to improve our paraloka means to improve human society then this society would undergo a radical transformation and become progressive, prosperous & happy. Similarly he must make arrangements to generate & foster good feelings in society for animals and urge it to provide it with fodder, drinking water & shelter. They have contributed greatly to the comforts of human society.

It is not certain where a man would be born in his next birth. So he should always bear in mind that if the animal class is living in a bad state with diseases etc, then he would have to be a victim of that bad state when he is born in the animal class. Therefore, it becomes necessary for man to do good for both human & animal societies. Readiness to improve these two worlds is but the readiness to improve one’s paraloka.

There is also another paraloka. It is one’s own progeny. The live impressions of good or bad bodily activities performed by man are transmitted to his progeny through his blood & semen. Evil impressions of vices like drunkenness are transferred to the progeny through blood & semen and this will ultimately lead to the grave degeneration & ruin of the whole human society. The meaning of improving one’s paraloka is therefore, improving one’s progeny which necessarily implies improving one’s own self.

The right knowledge of the real nature of the life force or conscious mind principle is the supreme light. Once it flashes in the human mind, it removes all the defilements & ignorance from it, enlightens it and leads man on the all-auspicious and blissful path.

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