March 12, 2007

Gita XVI----Karma and Destiny

Nature does not absolutely determine. Karma is a condition, not a destiny. It is only one of the five factors involved in the accomplishment of any act, which are adhisthana or the basis or centre from which we work, kartr or doer, Karana or the instrumentation of nature, chesta or effort and daiva or fate. The last is the power or powers of other than human, the cosmic principle which stands behind, modifying the work and disposing of its reward. There are certain factors in our lives which are determined for us forces beyond our control. We do not choose how or when or where and in what condition of life we are born. On the theory of rebirth even these are not chosen by us. It is part of our Karma that determines our ancestry, heredity and environment. But when we look from the stand point of this life, we can say that we were not consulted about our nationality, race, parentage or social status. But subject those limitations, we have freedom of choice. Life is like a game of bridge. We did not invent the game or design the cards. Our life is a mixture of necessity, and freedom, chance and choice. By exercising our choice properly, we can control steadily all the elements and eliminate altogether the determinism of nature. While the movements of matter, the growth of plants and acts of animals are controlled more completely, man has understanding which enables him to co-operate consciously with the work of the world. He can approve or disapprove, give or withhold his consent to certain acts. If he does not exercise his intelligent will, he is acting in a way contrary to his humanity. If he acts blindly according to his impulses and passions and passions, he acts more like an animal than a man. Being human he justifies his actions.

The individual should become transparent to himself and different elements should reach a fundamental integration for spontaneous or creative activity to be possible. It is mans duty to control his rajas (material desires) and tamas (physical desires) by means of his sattva (spiritual desire) nature which seeks for the truth of things and the right law of action. But even when we act under the influence or our sattva nature we are not entirely free. Sattva binds us as much as rajas and tamas. Only our desires for truth and virtue are nobler. The sense of ego is still operative. We must raise our ego and grow into the Supreme Self of which the ego is an expression. When we make our individual being into one with the Supreme, we rise above nature with its modes and freed from the bonds of the world.

March 01, 2007

Gita XV---Individual’s freedom of choice

Every act of self is a creative one, while all acts of the not self are truly passive. It is in our inner life that we confront primary reality, the deeps of being. The law of Karma holds in the realms of the not-self where heredity, biological and social holds, but in the subject is possibility of freedom, of triumph over the determinism of nature, over the compulsion of the world. Man, the subject, should gain mastery over man, the object. Object indicates determinism from without; subject means freedom, indeterminism. The ego in its self-confinement, in its automatism, psychical and social, is a distortion of the true subject. The law of karma can be overcome by the affirmation of the freedom of spirit. The Gita affirms that there is no radical dualism between the supernatural and the natural. Through struggle and suffering, man can pass from his freedom that abides in the steadfastly chosen good. Liberation is a return to inward being, to subjectivity; bondage is enslavement to the object world, to necessity, to dependence.

Neither nature nor society can invade our inner being without permission. Even God acts with a peculiar delicacy in regard to human beings. He woos out consent but never compels. Human individuals have distinctive beings of their development. The world is not fulfilling a prearranged plan in a mechanical way. We are asked to control our impulses, shake off our confusions and wanderings, rise above the current of nature and regulate our conduct by reference to buddhi or understanding, as otherwise, we will become the victims of ‘lust which the enemy of man on earth’. The Gita lays stress on the individual’s freedom of choice and the way he exercises it. Man’s struggles, his sense of frustration and self accusation are not to be dismissed as errors of the mortal mind or mere phases of a dialectic process. This would be to deny the moral urgency of life.

(to be contd.)