The serpent painfully bound with the cord, sighing a little and maintaining its composure with great difficulty, then uttered these words slowly in human voice.
There was an old lady of the name of Gautami who was remarkable for her patience and tranquility of mind. One day she found her son dead in consequence of having been bitten by a serpent. A fowler, by name Arjunaka, bound the serpent with a string, brought it before Gautami and said, “This wicked serpent has been the cause of your son’s death. O blessed lady, tell me quickly how this wretch is to be destroyed! Shall I throw it into the fire or shall I hack it into pieces? This infamous killer of a child does not deserve to live longer.” Continue reading “A fowler and a serpent”
We cannot withdraw from the work of the world without, like Arjuna, being guilty of cowardice. Besides, however eager we may be to retire from a life of action, we cannot, in reality, pass outside the region of activity. If we cease to work with our bodies, our minds still remain active, and our only hope of freedom is in learning the secret of work.
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि — To work thou hast the right, but never to the fruits. Be not actuated by thirst for the results of action, nor be thou pleased in inaction. —Bhagavad Gita, Ch.2, 47.
“None verily, even for an instant, ever remain doing no action; for every one is driven helpless to action by the energies born of nature.” Therefore, unable to resist the inner force, we are bound to do that which we are doing. Each of our actions, furthermore, must inevitably produce some result. Every action is followed by a corresponding reaction, which returns to the point from which it started; hence the reaction of each action must come back to the soul itself and influence the doer. Further study also shows that the character of action and reaction must be the same.
It is when, on account of our imperfect knowledge, we identify our true Self or Atman with the limitations of mind and body, we become selfish and are ready to do the things which brings us suffering and misery.
किं कर्म किमकर्मेति कवयोऽप्यत्र मोहिताः तत्ते कर्म प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात् — Even wise men are deluded on this point, what is action and what is inaction. I shall tell thee the philosophy of work, by knowing which thou shalt attain to absolute freedom from all imperfections. — Bhagavad Gita, Ch.4, 16.
Karma Yoga means literally “skill or dexterity in work”, and deals with all activity whether of body or mind. Recognizing that activity is an inevitable condition of life, that no human being can live without performing some kind of work , either mental or physical, it seeks through its teaching to show how this constant output of energy may be utilized to acquire the greatest spiritual enlightenment and to attain to perfection and absolute freedom.
There are five conditions necessary for the accomplishment of all mental or physical labor:
We must have a physical body, it is the storehouse of energy.
There must be present the sense of the ego as the doer or actor.
Emerson says, “Every act rewards itself first in our own soul, then in circumstance. People call the circumstance retribution.”
रागद्वेषवियुक्तैस्तु विषयानिन्द्रियैश्चरन् आत्मवश्यैर्विधेयात्मा प्रसादमधिगच्छति — A wise man moves about the objects of senses free from love and hatred keeping the tranquil state of mind absolutely controlled by his true Self. — Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 2, 64.
As every act brings its own reward by the law of compensation, so every crime brings its own punishment by the law of retribution, whether it is found in this life or in the next.
The soul perceives the causal retribution, but the people call the change of external circumstances as retribution which comes after some time. This law manifests itself in the soul long before the external changes appear. Emerson says, “Every act rewards itself first in our own soul, then in circumstance. People call the circumstance retribution.” Continue reading “Doctrine of Karma – Law of Retribution”
Suppose our life begins each morning and lasts for twenty-four hours. If we disconnect the life of today from the past of yesterday and of the future of tomorrow, and judge each day by its results, we shall find very poor compensation for our daily labor.
न मां कर्माणि लिम्पन्ति न मे कर्मफले स्पृहा इति मां योभिजानाति कर्मभिर्न स वध्यते — Actions do not bind Me, nor have I any longing for the result of action. Whoever knows Me thus is not fettered by action. — Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 4, 14.
As every effect must have a cause, every consequence must have an antecedent, so also there must be equal balance between a cause and its effect, between an antecedent and a consequence. A cause must always produce an effect of similar nature both in quality and quantity and a reaction must be similar to action. The forces of nature operate neither for profit nor for loss but for a perfect balance or harmony. If there be a surging of a high wave in the ocean there must be a deep hollow at its sides. It produces what we understand by the word compensation. Continue reading “Doctrine of Karma – Law of Compensation”
It is our own Karma that produces its results in the form of joy or sorrow, pleasure or pain, happiness or unhappiness. It is compensation.
नादत्ते कश्यचित् पापं न चैव सूकृतं विमुः– God never rewards the virtuous nor punishes the wicked. — Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 5, 15.
The law of causation, or law of Karma includes the law that the like produces the like, or that every action must be followed by a reaction of similar nature. If I strike a blow on the table, the table will react upon me with similar force. If I strike harder, I shall receive harder blow in return.
In the chain of cause and effect, it can be shown that each effect is latent in the cause and each cause is latent in the effect.
Under the sway of this all-pervading law of Karma , there is no room left for a chance or accident. What we call happening by chance or accidental is in reality the product of some definite causes which we may not know or cannot trace on account of our limited knowledge.
सर्वारम्भा हि दोशेण धुमेनाग्निरिवावृताः — Works are always followed by their defects and demerits just as the fire is enveloped with smokes. — Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 18, 48.
No event can occur without having a definite cause behind it. To trace the causes of events and to become familiar with the conditions under which an effect is produced have always been the aim of the various branches of science and philosophy.
It can be shown that every action however minute or trivial it may appear to us, being conditioned by the universal law of causation, produces different effects visible and invisible and affects the whole world of phenomena either directly or indirectly. Continue reading “Doctrine of Karma – Law of Causation”