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Karma is a word well-known not only in India, but beyond it, far and wide, in all countries of the world, where Oriental Philosophy is studied or talked of.
It was only a few years ago, that a talking picture, with an Indian back-ground was prepared and exhibited in all English-speaking countries and in India, and was called Karma.
Every villager and every citizen in India uses the word Karma in daily parlance as signifying destiny, fate, happening, or event, for which he does not find, or to which he fails to ascribe an immediate cause.
“My karma is bad” is the cry of woe and despair, which is uttered when one is overtaken by a sudden calamity, or is the victim of a fraud, perfidy or swindle. With the majority of people Karma is the unknown factor in life, quantity X.
In all systems of Indian Philosophy the word has been used with profusion.
Shri. Krishna is styled the Great Karma-Yogi, the superman of action. According to Hindu tradition it was on the battlefield of Kurukshetra that Lord Krishna preached the Philosophy of Action, and raised the drooping spirits of Arjun, who hesitated to draw the bow against his respected elders, and near and dear relations arrayed in battle against him.
The Great Warrior, the incomparable Archer, the bravest of the brave, had at that moment been overtaken by the weakness of inaction, indecision, incapacity to act, a sort of mental stupor; and to drag him out from that lethargic condition, the advice given was: “Do what is your duty in the circumstances in which you are placed, and be indifferent to the result.” Desire and expectation are sinful. No sin attaches to the more commission of an act, which does not proceed form, or is not based on desire, or expectation, or any ill-will; but is merely a performance of duty, and is not a wanton or negligent act. This Discourse is called the Bhagwat Geeta—Song Celestial. It consists of 700 verses and is divided in to 18 Chapters.
In verse 3 of Chapter VIII, it is said that Karma is the emanation (\from the eternal) that gives rise to ideas, which taking shape or form, come to be.
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Stated in simple and clear language, Karma is there said to be the resultant of the vibrations proceeding from Eternal Life; which vibrations take shape and have a duration; an existence for a definite period.
Some sages meant by Karma the acts enjoined by the sacred scriptures; and others considered it as synonymous with a submission to the duties and responsibilities of normal life.
In a modern sense, a Karma-Yogi is a purposeful man or woman, who has settled views, a house-holder practicing Yoga, while actively engaged in the world’s turmoil, who calls himself unattached.
In Jaina Philosophy, however, the word karma has quite a different and unique significance. The starting principle of Jainism is that there is an eternal beginningless union between soul and matter. This union though without a beginning is not without an end. When once the union is entirely broken, when once the soul is free from the slightest vestige of a contract with matter, noting can bind it again. It is liberated.
The activity of the soul which invites and enables mater of an exceptionally subtle form of flow into it, as also the matter which actually does flow into the soul, is called karma. The thought-activity is called Bhava-karma; and the actual matter flowing into the Soul and binding it is called Dravya-Karma. It is a substance. It is matter, in itself inert, lifeless, like a pebble, but in combination with Jiva, Life, its potency is immense, beyond calculation, beyond measure. It then keeps the Jiva itself bound and fettered, a prisoner, dancing constantly at Karma’s beck and gesture. At each step, the momentum for a new movement is gained. At each embrace of matter, the delighted deluded soul throbs and vibrates for a fresh embrace. Wily matter is ever ready to attack the soul and to flow into it with its million insinuations, and to keep alive and vigorous the bondage of the living by non-living. It is so very fine, so very subtle, that it cannot be perceived, recognised, discerned by any the most highly developed sense organ, or by the most perfected, the highest magnifying microscope. It eluded all efforts of the Chemist and the Physicist to calculate, measure, graph, photograph, utilise, harness or control it. It is millions of times finer and subtler than the waves of sound, light, or electricity, or the electrons, protons, conceived by man. And yet this matter is ever and anon surrounding us on all sides, and permeating through and through every particle of our body and soul. There in no space where is not. And it is perceivable, appreciable, knowable by the Omniscience; and its workings, metamorphoses, make-ups and changes, are explained by Achaaryas, who have heard the letter-less Voice of the Omniscient, and who have transmitted the knowledge thus directly acquired from the Omniscient to others through the pat milleniums, by word, and in writings.
Karma is the Cause, the first, the ultimate, the original Cause which keeps the Universe going. All phenomena, all changes, all manifestations are due to Karmic effects.
And Jaina saints, the Masters of wisdom, have analyzed the workings of Karma in the most minutest details. And what would be a marvel and a miracle to the Modern Man is that they did so without the use of pen, pencil, or paper, without any of the modern resources and appliances. Mind and Memory were the only two instruments they used for researches into the workings and inter-actions of Soul and Matter, with an accuracy and a wealth of details which would command the admiration of the modern scientist.
The Jaina Saints did all this wonderful research work without any selfish motive, without expectation of praise or worship, or service in any shape or kind whatsoever from their admirers, worshippers of devotees. They thought deeply because it was a joy to think, they entered into intricate and far-reaching arithmetical and algebraically calculations because it was a pleasure to do so, because it was the natural, effortless exercise of their exalted, purified, refined intelligence and consciousness. They spoke, they uttered, not from desire but involuntarily, as an inherent, natural physical urge, being stimulated thereto by the intense desire of the seekers after truth.
In the learned and exhaustive introduction to Gommatsara, Karma Kanda Part I, Mr. J. L. Jaini of sacred memory has described the different kinds of substances which compose the Universe, their attributes, modifications, the conditions in which the embodied souls are found, the rules which regulate the combination of Soul and Matter, Jiva and Karma, the Bondage, Inflow, Stoppage, and Dissolution of Karmic connection with Soul; and the ways and means of obtaining deliverance, Moksha, Liberation from Karmic contact.
Part II deals with the same subject in details, more minute, more exhaustive and more extensive.
To give, however, a brief idea of the subject-matter by way of introduction, a little recapitulation would be pardonable.
It has already been stated that molecules having the capacity to adopt the Karmic form, take shape in what have been termed 8 main classes, and 148 sub-classes of Karmas. This division into 8 main and 148 sub-classes has been made for the sake of facility of comprehension, and discussion of the subject. Speaking from an absolute point of view, the classes and the sub-classes are innumerable and even infinite. They vary, and no two are alike in every particular. The divisions into classes and sub-classes are based on points of preponderating similarity.
Karmic matter never remains in an isolated condition. As soon as it takes form, it combines with the physical or fluid body, which stimulates it into activity. The stimulation into activity is called Asrava, Inflow, and the combination Bandha, Bondage. The Karmic molecules produce their effect after a certain period. This duration is called Aabaadhaa, quiescence. The action or effect is called Udaya, Operation. The period for which it continues to operate is called Sthiti, duration, and this varies with the mildness or intensity of passions. The natural siddance, falling, or shedding off, of Karmic molecules in due course during the period of duration is called Nirjara, shedding. This can also be effected earlier, and the operation and duration period can be shortened, by austerities. As regards natural shedding of Karmas, it commences immediately at the moment operation begins and it is gradual, regular, and methodical by a fixed rule of Arithmetical progression. The highest number of molecules shed off in the first instant of duration, and the lowest number in the last instant, while the number goes on decreasing by a common difference at every instant. This has been illustrated in the Chart Annexure A.
The operation may be tangible, the result may be apparent, appreciable, felt, or it may not be so. That would depend on circumstances ever varying in their nature. Every ordinary mundane soul, every one of us, so to say, binds Karmic matter of all the four passions-Anger, Pride, Deceit, and Greed-at every instant, while it suffers from the action of only one of them, at an instant and the others shed off in the manner shown in Annexure A, without producing any result, without being felt.
For example, take the case of a person engaged in pinots meditation, or in deep study of the Sacred philosophy. The operation of evil and pain-producing Karmas will not affect him and they will continue to shed off in due course. He has a pious desire, and there will be the effect and bondage good Karmas only.
Again Karmas of one sub-class can be transformed into those of another sub-class. Consider again the just-above-stated case of a person engaged in deep pious study. He will not mind, or feel or be affected by the inclemencies of the weather, by thirst, hunger, sleep, lassitude, etc., but will be enjoying the pleasure of acquisition of knowledge. The pain producing Karma will thus be transformed into pleasure producing one.
Duration and effect or fruition of Karmas can also be similarly increased or decreased. A person is thus the maker and master of his destiny, he can make himself happy or miserable, he can rise above circumstances, and can make a hell heaven and a heaven of hell.
A Karma bound in one life may produce its effect in the same life, in the next, or in a life thereafter.
In this second Part of Karma Kanda will be found a rich detail of the various groups of sub-classes of each of the eight main classes, which are bound by a soul, which operate, and which simply remain in existence, at various spiritual stages. For example, a soul in the first stage-wrong belief-binds 22 out of the 28 sub-classes of Deluding Karma-wrong belief, 16 kinds of passion, one of the 3 sexes, fear, disgust, and one from each of the two pairs of indulgence and ennui, laughter and sorrow. Only 10 will be in operation-only one out of the four kinds of each of the 4 passions can operate at one time, and hence 12 kinds of passion fall out of calculation, and only 10 out of the 22 which are bound can operate. Existence there is of a11 the 28.
The object of all this travail is to purify the Soul, to evolve it to its inherent perfection, to remove all the possible Karmic contamination’s which obstruct the full and complete enjoyment and exercise of Omniscience, and Omnipotence. And how to attain this end is the subject discussed in Karma Kanda, Parts and II.
The knowledge and analysis of the various forms and workings of Karma is helpful in all stages of life, to the child, the student, the householder, the man of business, the admiral, the general, the warrior, the soldier, on land, water and air, the teacher, the preceptor, the protector of the people, the king, the politician, the administrator, the ascetic, the recluse, the saint, and the super-saint. It is a general panacea. May it prove beneficial to the reader.
June 13, 1937.