I have been writing on the theory of karma in my last few blogs. This is my last blog on this topic. In this blog , I would outline true significance of the theory of karma. There are two aspects of this theory that I would discuss in this blog. First aspect is that of collective wisdom of our sages that could crystallize out such a fine tuned theory. The second aspect is that of inherent wisdom of the theory itself. Both these aspects are connected to one another, but more importantly , they collectively demonstrate the depth of insights into human nature and the nature of reality available at that time. Let me begin with the collective wisdom behind the theory of karma.

           Considering the fact that this theory was articulated at a time when nothing much was known about psychology and natural sciences , it is indeed awe inspiring that we collectively could think of such a theory. Today , we might find fault with it and comment on its shortcomings( at least I do it ) , but we forget that we are able to do so because we have access to knowledge that was not available to them. In spite of this , the sages have been able to create a formal body of thought that is still relevant.  There are two possible reasons for this. Firstly , by the time this theory was articulated , we must have had a  very well developed value system . This value system must have been comprised of fine cultural  ethos, sense of  justice, notion of  good  and bad  and even knowledge  of  psychology.  To create   an elaborate  theory of such intricacy , the  prevalent  value  system must have had intellectual  depth of immense  magnitude. The sages who articulated  this  theory  did realise that these fundamental principles  must be  absolute.  They also  must have  realised that  their own  ability to  grasp  the finer nuances of the theory could not have been  a  matter of random  chance.  Therefore , in their  collective  wisdom, they created an explanation that even their own  understanding  of the  theory  must be a  consequence of  their own  individual  karma .This resulted in two consequences.  Firstly, they realised that they could not  claim  any credit for  understanding and interpreting the  theory of  karma.  Therefore , like most of our scriptures  ,  the theory of  karma has no authorship.  It is , like most of our  scriptures, a given wisdom. There is a beautiful  term in Sanskrit  for wisdom  not derived from  individual  authorship.  It is  called  “Apaurusheya” . While normally  this  term  is  usually  employed to denote absolute  and therefore  divine knowledge,  it’s  correct  usage is to denote  the non authorship of the  knowledge. The second consequence of this realization was that the notion of  karma was elevated from being a subjective entity to the level of being the objective truth. It is  the  cognition  of  this  objective  karma by individual  soul that alters it’s fate. We , rationalists, sometimes  argue that since  we do not  remember  our karmas of our  past births , the theory of karma is wrong.  However, it is  not  as simple as that.  What if  what psychologists call subconscious  mind is nothing but  those memories of  our  past  births ? I agree that  this is  not a  scientific  hypothesis  but  it  can not be  denied  right  away.  I can think of  one of the  pioneers of modern  psychology ,  Carl Yung who had similar  ideas. Irrespective of our belief  in  such arguments, the fact remains that  theory of karma  offers an alternative  explanation of  human  predicament. 

               From  this perspective, one can see why the  theory of karma  is still relevant. It is  relevant  because  it refers to basic  nature of  human mind. The basic  fact , that  we often  overlook , is that  human  nature  has not changed.  What  has changed  is its mode of  expressions.  Every  age finds its own  way of expressing  itself.  If it was scriptures  and theory of  karma  in ancient times  ,  it is science and  jurisprudence  in present  times.  The common link in all these ages is the constancy  of human nature. This is  true of not only  religious  texts , but  also  of all forms of  art.  A great writer finds her/his readers several  centuries  later. This is  again  because of  constancy of human nature.  Today  ,  we can identify ourselves with  the pathos of Greek tragedies  because  we share the emotions  experienced by those  characters  at a very  fundamental  level.  Similarly,  when Goethe was overwhelmed  with joy after  reading  “Abhigyan Shakuntal “ , it was the  same  constancy  of  human nature.  The credit  , of course , goes to the  genius of the  writers who could  express human  predicament  in such universal terms  but  the underlying  fact is that  human  nature  has not changed.

         Therefore one is tempted to view the  theory of  karma  as a psychological  theory .  In a sense , this is  true.  However  ,  there is a  possibility that  the  theory of  karma  is something  more than  that.  This  brings me to the  last point  that  I  wish to  make. The theory of  karma  hints at  something  deeper than its mere psychological  efficacy. It suggests that  the notion of  karma  is at par with  physical  actions.  By postulating  such an  equivalence  ,  the theory of  karma  is suggesting that  realm  in which  human  mind  exists is the same as the realm in which  physical  objects  exist. In other words , the whole  universe is  one single  entity. Human mind  is entwined  with  material  universe. The  science , however, does not  agree with  this possibility.This is  because  science  began by separating mind from the matter. I would  want all of you to think about  this  difference between  science and  the theory of  karma.  I think both paradigms  are only partly correct.  I am not sure  how to  reconcile  both.

          With this  observations  , I would  conclude my series of  blogs on the  theory of  karma.  In my  next  blog  ,  I  would  focus on  my second novel  which is  half way through. 


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