Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Religion,Spirituality and Fate

Part III : My Questions to Karma Theorists

The Basic premise of Karma theory is that complete phenomenon of the world can be explained as actions and effects of actions. That is, when we do a certain action, we incur certain Karma. So what is Karma? Karma is effect of actions. This is further interpreted that when you are born in this world, you are already having the baggage of your previous birth and by good deeds in this birth, we can mitigate the effects of bad deeds of last birth and also we can ensure that we are reborn in a better state in our next birth.

Firstly, before embarking on any dialectic to question this belief, I must say what I interpret from this Karma Theory. I feel it is a beautiful way to explain the unfairness and anomalies of a random world by attaching a baggage of bad karmas incurred in our last birth that defines the state and disposition of our present birth. You are born with a disease because probably you would have sinned way too much and incurred bad karma during your last birth. Beautiful, comprehensive and irrefutable argument, irrefutable because it leaves man with no space to refute, by placing this reasoning beyond his reason itself, blaming his own actions albeit of his previous birth for what he is now and finally debilitating him to do anything about it by telling him that he was infact destined for it. Now by keeping a carrot of rebirth in front of man it forces men to try to be a happy individual by following the right and eschewing the wrong and who is also a virtuous social animal. As a matter of fact, in this process, it defines what is right and wrong based on the general direction of ensuring man’s happiness both as an individual and a social animal, for which purpose it was created in the first place. So, two birds in one stone, explain the anamoly and unfairness and motivate and guide men to be happy. Bulls Eye.

Now I have my arguments for all those who extrapolate this karma theory and argue that infact karma and rebirth does exist.

Is there only one god or many gods controlling people born in under respective religions? If yes then no arguments. If no, then, is your karma and rebirth limited to being born again and again as hindus, hindu dogs, hindu donkeys?? If yes, then no arguments. If no then, Is your sin list universal to mankind? I feel not.

For example, slaughtering a cow is a sin in Hinduism but acceptable for all other religions. Why go that far, we can even draw an analogy in Hinduism itself. There are various castes and subcastes in Hinduism. Killing is not a sin for a Kshatriya but it is a sin for a Brahmin. And if that be so, they would incur a different karma for same action of killing! As per previous example of slaughtering a cow, for performing the same act of killing a cow, a Hindu man accumulates bad karma and a Muslim, at the least accumulates no karma at all, which according to karma theory, will decide about his sin total and therefore his disposition in the next birth?? Is value of life different when killed by different people?

OK. In your rebirth, there is every possibility of being born as an animal. What are the karmas for an animal? Does it also have a effect for its actions? Is it fair to assign effects when it cannot think logically and reason out and that’s why its an animal in the first place? So how would one calculate the karmas for an animal and how it is reborn as ?

Hindus are at the maximum, 1/6th of the population of the world. The rest of world is believing and practicing a different set of rules, many of which supposedly yields bad karma when done by a Hindu!!! So, if there is one creator, karmas and therefore your rebirth sin totals must be equally applicable to one and all which is not the case. So, I feel karma theory falls flat on this argument. To summarise my questions as follows:-

1. What does one mean by karma, what constitutes a bad karma, what is a good karma and finally who has formulated them?? Who has decided what is bad and good karma??

2. Who controls, calculates, decides how many good karma you have done and bad karma you have done and where and under what conditions you are to be re born as? Is it that fate/god is a self sustaining computer program that keeps a check on all your deeds and finally spells out the result and mechanically redirects your souls to the next place of birth???

3. Finally as per karma theory, is fate and god separate? If yes then what is fate? And what is god?

My Proposition

Man in search of harmony and happiness and to make himself a social animal by peaceful coexistence, formulated religion and karmas, what to do and not to do, what is right and wrong, good karma and bad karma. Hindu society believed in division of labour and it formulated caste system as a means of coexisting in a social group. Here the anomalies were much more to be explained, for many lower caste people were denied basic human rights in the name of castes. If indeed, performance of good deeds were all that was intended by karmas, then, people who are educated and enlightened are in a much better position to perform good deeds. Unfortunately, Hinduism has consistently denied education to more than 50% percent of its population who were born in lower castes, practiced untouchability and created inequality in birth. And I feel that this karma theory was best suited to cover itself up from assault from many fronts.

“Do your Duty. Don’t bother about the results”

Last but not the least, this single statement of Karma theory puts everything into clear perspective. What does Your Duty mean? How did this word originate? I feel that Our Duty means to be virtuous in all your dealings, which will lead to your self-harmony and in effect contribute to peaceful coexistence in a society. But Combined with the division of labour aspect, does it explain itself that, each man has to do what is intended out of him from the society also without questioning??


Prophet of Doom said...

Any particular reason for all your blogs being social or spiritual in nature?

Muthukumar Puranam said...

all these questions must have been answere as these question should have been raised by several others from dates immemorial. There is a religion called 'Meemamsa' which denies any spiritual attainment and says karma itself is finite. Adi shankara established advaitha vedhantha by defeating mandana misra.
NO theory went unchallenged. One has to do research by themselves to know the answers.

The Soul Doctor said...

@ ram

Its a process of soul searching and testing my values and my thought process.In a bigger and grander picture of my final goals, these fit in somewhere and its going to be the most important piece in the jigsaw:)

@ Muthu

Agreed. Would be glad if you could post some links that you know where you think i may find some answers. This is a search for answers and am open minded as much as i appear rebellious:)

Barath said...

Nice post again!!

Karma theory....!

I belive in Karma in the same birth...not necessarily the next birth..! or the baggage from the previous birth...May be Newtons 2nd law holds good for even non-physical forces...Every action has an equal and opposite reaction!

On the other hand as you talk...there are a whole of questions that cannot be answered in Karma theory...the answers that you mit find convincing will be convincing to a specific hindhu dharma et wonder I consider that humanity as a religion and hinduism as my culture!

Prophet of Doom said...

Karthik, honestly I'm a total zero when it comes to spiritual matters. I fail to understand the way things are supposed to work. Any effort to understand such things results in me getting throughly muddled up. For example, if a Hindu kills a cow, he commits a sin, which is carried forward to his next re-birth. However, in the instance that he is a non-Hindu in that re-birth, the original sin ceases to be a sin in the very context it was supposed to be a sin in the first place !!!

So I guess only the last principle of Karma Theory appeals to me (since I am able to comprehend only that one ...) .. "Do your duty without thinking about the fruits"

An outstanding blog, though ... Keep it up!!

The Soul Doctor said...



Nice angle to this karma. If you do believe in karma in the same birth, ie the consequences of your actions, then you indeed have to learn to accept responsiblity for each of your actions because it is the consequence or part of the consequence of one of your previous actions. This one single quality is what all i am harping about. Its not fate or destiny, its the consequence of your previous choices.

what you are today is because of what you chose to do yesterday and what you will choose to do today will dictate your tommorrow!!

Once we learn to take responsibility for our actions, unconconsciously we have placed ourselves in the centre of everything including our problems and we shall be more happier by this way:)

@ ram

When grazing in the high fields of philosophy, one needs to have a lot of tolerance to ambiguity!

Its also a nice way to pick up things enroute that you feel will help you in your life. That way, You are on the right track.

Thanks for your compliments:)

And lastly, i dont think anyone has found anything substantive til now about the three most profound questions...

who are we?
where did we come from?
where are we going?

so u are not far behind:)

Prophet of Doom said...

@ Karthik

Well I'm not certain about whether I'm far behind or not, but I'm surely nowhere in the forefront, which is where I like and strive to be ...