The Law of Karma
(The following is a small excerpt of a lecture on audio cassette given by a learned Doctor from Bombay describing about the law of Karma. The translation has been done by Hitesh Lalchandani)
What is Karma?
First of all - defining Karma. It is any activity which results in a material gain or loss to the physical body. Which means that any action or activity which has a material gain or results in material loss, or basically any activity which gets this physical body into material entanglement is called Karma.
This law of Karma, is not as easy as one expects. Many great saints have come across their downfall as they thought that they had mastered the law of Karma, but the Law of Karma spares no one, and no one at all. Whether one believes in this law, or whether he is ignorant of this law, this law spares virtually no one, not even God Himself in Human Form.
One example cited here is King Dasratha, Father of Lord Rama. He was not spared when he unknowingly killed Shravana Kumar. Please note, he unknowingly did this act. One may think that since he did it unknowingly, or he was the father of God Himself, so he could be spared, but no, the law of Karma does not care who the person is, and will act on that person irrespective of who that person is. King Dasratha was cursed by the parents of Shravan Kumar that he would die in despair of his son parting from him, and that is what actually happened.
Another very important aspect of the Law of Karma is that there is a common belief that we may do one bad deed, and then to cover it up we may do five good deeds and think that actually we have a balance of four good deeds to enjoy the fruits of, but this is totally a wrong notion.
The Law of Karma acts as follows : You may have done one bad deed for which you will have to suffer and for the five good deeds you will enjoy the fruits of all the five good deeds, there is no such accounting in which you can add or subtract good and bad deeds (karma) - As you sow, so shall you reap.
Had the above common belief been true, we would come across thousands of people who have a balance of good deeds and hence would never come across any misfortune or sadness. But this is not true. In fact it is very difficult, almost impossible to come across one single person who does not have any difficulties, or any misfortunes or any sadness, and this is all a result of bad deeds done either in this birth or in previous births.
Having said this, we come across another concept and that is reincarnation - does a human soul take birth and re birth? We come across loads of people who say that there is nothing like reincarnation and what is there, is in this life itself. To explain to our friends with these ideas, let me say that there is an institute in Florida, U.S.A. who have done years and years of research and have finally proven the concept of reincarnation with loads of proof. These friends of ours would surely accept any other discovery done by American institutes, so they have to now accept and can check for themselves that reincarnation is now a proven fact.
(Hitesh's Guruji always says that this human birth is totally God's gift and who knows what form will we take in our next birth - whether human or dog or snake or tiger or any of the 84 lakhs of different forms of life. He also accepts and preaches that this soul of ours definitely comes again and again in this world in different forms and it should be our aim in this human birth to make such a relation with God, so that we can rid ourselves of this cycle of birth and death.)
Categories of Karma
GOOD KARMA : This is very easy to understand. Any good deed performed by an individual whether physically or financially or in any form whatsoever is Good Karma.
BAD KARMA : This is exactly the opposite of the above. Any bad deed which harms fellow beings in any way whatsoever is Bad Karma.
INSTANT KARMA : This also is not a difficult concept. Basically this is what we generally think that Karma is, meaning that if you slap a big hurly strong man, he immediately slaps you back, because you performed a deed to which he returned back the result. When one is thirsty, he drinks water and quenches his thirst, when one is hungry, he eats to satisfy his feeling of hunger. All these are examples of Instant Karma where you immediately enjoy/suffer the fruit of your action.
DELAYED KARMA : This is definitely the most important category of Karma, if we can understand this concept, then we actually understand what the Law of Karma actually is. Delayed Karma is a deed which when performed now, gives fruit after a certain indefinite period of time. You may do one good deed, but the fruit of that deed may be enjoyed at any time later than the deed is done. For instance planting of a seed. If awheat grain is planted, the crop will be ready in 90 days whereas if a millet is planted, the crop is ready after 120 days, or if a mango seed is planted, it gives fruit after 5 years and if a jackfruit is planted, it gives fruit after 10 years. So the same deed is done but fruits are borne after different periods of time.
A case to prove the above is hereby mentioned. King Dhritrashtra, the father of the Kauravas, once asked Lord Krishna, why has he gone through such misfortune in his life - firstly he was born blind and secondly, losing one son in your lifetime is horrible enough, but King Dhritrashtra lost the lives of all his one hundred sons in front of him, it was really a horrible misfortune he had come upon. He begged Lord Krishna, to explain why.
To this Lord Krishna answered that King Dhritrashtra had one hundred lives ago, (please note - one hundred lives ago) unknowingly got the hundred children of a set of birds killed and while the parents tried to rescue their hundred children, they were blinded. So those set of birds cursed Dhritrashtra that he too would go through the same torture, these birds went through, and that is why - 100 lives later, Dhritrashtra had to go through this life of misfortune as his fruit of his bad karma had materialised a hundred lives later.
To this again Dhritrashtra asked that why did he not suffer the misfortunes immediately or within 1 or 2 lives after, why after a huge gap of 100 lives ??
Lord Krishna answers that to get one son is basically a fruit of some good deeds so in order for Dhritrashtra to get 100 sons, all his good deeds of his last 100 lives had to be accumulated and after 100 lives, when God saw that he had enough good deeds to have 100 sons, he gave him the birth of Dhritrashtra and that too in a blind form and then made him suffer for his wrongdoings.
This is a great example of delayed karma.
There may be a question cropping up as to why do we have to bear the consequences of an act which we do not even remember to have done as it could have been done many births ago. But dear devotees, this is a blessing in disguise that we cannot remember our past births. In this very birth one goes through so many miseries that he prefers to forget those incidents in this very life itself. So just imagine if we were to remember all miserable incidents of our previous innumerable births, we would probably go mad.
So we must never consider the judgement of God as wrong or unjust, God is definitely all perfect and His decisions towards the universe can never be wrong, we may or may not understand His judgement, but He can never be wrong.
In fact if something bad happens to us, we must actually celebrate that day, that we have gone through the suffering of some bad deed done maybe many births ago, similarly if some good fortune has befallen you, in your mind actually you must be sad that you have used up some good deeds you had done maybe a few years ago, or in the last birth or maybe even a few births ago.
MANIFEST KARMA : This is also known as "PRAARABDHA". In other words these are the karmas which have already manifested, like if you are the child of a certain set of parents, you cannot change it no matter what you do, but the basic fact still remains that you are a child of that particular set of parents. Similarly if you are born a male, that's final, you cannot change this, which means that you had done some deeds as a result of which you are born as either a male or female and to a particular family and a particular community, so some earlier karma of yours has manifested, or has taken form now. This is Manifest Karma.
Another simple example to understand this is 'A' plants a mango seed and 'B' plants a lime seed, after 5 years or so, A gets mango fruits on his plantation and B gets lime. B can go do what he wants, but his lime will never turn as sweet as A's mango fruit, so this is B's PRAARABDHA. Similarly, in life we are all doing some action at any given time which can be compared to the seeds planted by A and B and what fruit it bears depends on the seeds you are planting, and when it bears fruit, it is called Praarabdha or manifest Karma.
MASS KARMA : By creating this Law of Karma, God shows what excellent managerial skills He has. Mass Karma means that when God sees that a particular number of souls have reached a same level of karmas (whether good or bad), he cuts it all in one effect - for instance a certain number of souls may be on a similar level of good karmas and now its time for them to enjoy, so he will make them countrymen of a country who is enjoying huge prosperity, happiness and wealth. Similarly if a number of souls have done enough bad karma and it is time for that set of souls to suffer, he creates disasters like famine or floods, plane crashes or earthquakes. Here we clearly see that in any of the mentioned events, nature does not see age or quality of a soul, it just effects a huge number of souls whether they are rich or poor, whether they are just new born or whether they are at the end of their old age, there is just no distinction.
Very often we read of natural calamities and wonder that what wrong could the small, tender and innocent children have done that they have to go through all this, well, this is the effect of Mass Karma, for what they have done in their previous births.
War is another example of Mass Karma, and sometimes it is connected with meat eating, probably a huge number of people have really crossed the limit killing animals for the pleasure of their tongue, so God probably creates them in a country which faces war and bloodshed and death of hundreds and thousands of the so called "innocent" people.
Sometimes, it so happens that people try to use their smartness or science and think that they can change the results of their karmas or change their "kismat" or "bhaagya". To this here is a very heartbreaking story.
There was a doctor who had two daughters and thought that they would go for a third child and when his wife would be expecting, he would use all his contacts, and the best of equipment to test the sex of the baby. And if they found out that it was a female, they would abort the child.
So it happened that when the doctor's wife was expecting their third baby, this doctor carried out all the various tests and after confirming and reconfirming they got the result that the third child in the making was a female. The doctor, as he had made up his mind, had that child aborted. When the process was carried out and the dead child was dragged out of the womb, the doctor who was also present, saw that it was a male child. The doctor had killed his own son!!
Dear Devotees, let us learn from this incident that whatever is happening to us in our lives, whether good or bad, is all a result of our previous karmas and no matter what we do, we have to go through the enjoyments or sufferings of our karmas. While suffering or enjoying, again we are undergoing and creating some more karmas.
So how do we get out of this?
Very simple - Total surrender at the feet of your Sadguru or the Lord. Once this is achieved, then all karmas performed would be surrendered wholly to our Sadguru and it is Him who will then take all our responsibilities and see to it that we are freed from this cycle. The point to remember here is TOTAL surrender, not just surrender. (POORN SHARANAAGATI)
To conclude, another story to highlight the law of karma.
There was this Indian man in the U.S.A. He was drunk and was driving and was over speeding. A policeman spotted him and chased him. The drunk man was afraid and in his fear, sped even faster and pushed the police vehicle off the road. Messages were sent and there came a stage where 5-7 policemen were standing on the road with guns pointed at the drunk man, who was finally forced to stop, was arrested and put into prison.
After a few months of his term, he was released and came back to India, a very good friend of his met him and asked, "So how was the prison in the U.S.?"
To this the person replied " Better than my home in India, there we had 24 hrs cold and hot flowing water, it was fully air conditioned, it had a bigger T.V. set than the one I have here in India, it had so many indoor games, a library with more books than any one in India, it was so comfortable that when my term ended, I left the prison with a feeling of regret".
Dear Devotees, the comparison we are hinting here is that this world (this life) is a prison cell and we are all prisoners. Now what type of cell we are put in, depends on our crime committed or so called "karmas" of this birth as well as previous births. We may be put in an A class cell, with all the money and facilities of life, or a B class cell, which corresponds to middle class families or a C class cell, which corresponds to the poor class.
If we are a part of the rich, we are in A class cells, where we have all the comforts of life and somehow start to love this life and feel horrible at the time of parting with this life and can go to any extent to save ourselves from losing our lives.
But after all we must not forget that this is a prison cell, whether A class or C class, and our main aim must be to get out of this prison cell.
By trying to make connections with the wardens or jailors, all we can do is improve our quality of stay in the cell, but cannot get out of it, so these jailors/wardens are compared to the Devi/Devtaas, whom we can pray to for a better lifestyle and solutions to our problems, but they cannot give us liberation. The only way we can get liberation is by a Presidential Pardon. Now how can a prisoner approach the President for a Pardon ?? It has to be with the help of a lawyer. A lawyer is a person who can come in and out of the prison but the prison rules do not apply on Him, so the lawyer here corresponds to a Spiritual Leader or a Guru and it is this Lawyer (Guru) who will prepare the application to the President (God) for our pardon so that we can get liberated out of this prison cell (Moksha)
This in short, very clearly explains the importance of a Guru and also proves that no one can achieve oneness with God (Moksha) without the help or without the following of a Guru.
In conclusion, there is one more thing which we must never forget and often it is misunderstood, which is that when anything bad happens to us, we think that it is happening to us due to some bad karma performed in the past and so it is a lesson for us to only try and do good karmas so that nothing bad happens to us, but this is not the correct way of thinking, actually when something bad happens to us - it is for us to realize that we are not in the right place. This world is not a place for us, it is just a prison cell, and we have to find a way to get out of this place - once again, the only way to do it is to surrender to your lawyer, in other words total surrender at the feet of your Guru or the Lord and leave it on Him to take you out permanently from this cycle of birth and death.
Dal Sabzi for the Aatman
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