Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 4:39 AM
All souls are not able to achieve this happy state even after death. On the other hand most of us die only to be born again and again. This cycle of birth, death and rebirth is called Samsara, and every soul must go through this cycle of births and deaths before it attains moksha or liberation. Only the soul which reaches perfection in this life becomes one with the Brahman and is not born again.
Hindus believe in Samsara as we do not accept that the Great God would be cruel enough to create the great inequalities that exist in the world. He would not create one child beloved of happy parents, another who is handicapped or blind and a third who is unwanted, born to impoverished parents and left hungry. The inequalities of life are understandable only when we realise that they are of Man's own Karma or actions and not of God's creation. Each one of us at birth is the result of our past life. Our birth in this life is determined by the good and bad thoughts, words and deeds of a previous birth. This doctrine of samsara or rebirth is also called the theory of reincarnation or the transmigration of the soul and is a basic tenet of Hinduism. The Upanishads compare the passage of the soul to a caterpillar which climbs a blade of grass, leaves it and jumps on to a new one. Just as a man changes worn-out garments and wears new ones, so does the soul cast away one body and take on another.
However, we do not carry the burden of our previous lives in our consciousness, though we do in our sub-conscious minds. The birth of a musical genius in an unmusical family, or of great scholars and artistes whose education and environment do not explain their achievements, are a few evidences of the spill-over from previous births.
There are many such cases. One worth mentioning is of a young man who was a waster who could not even complete school. Suddenly one morning he was transformed into an erudite and knowledgeable mystic, and became a Sanyasi. His refined manners, wisdom and knowledge of the scriptures (without study or training) acquired overnight as it were, had no connection with his earlier life. It was as if, all of a sudden, some door in his inner being had been unlocked from a previous birth and illuminated his mind.
One of the basic beliefs of Hinduism is the law of Karma or Action, the law of cause and effect. It is explained by the saying, 'As we sow, so shall we reap.' A farmer cannot leave his fields fallow and expect a crop of wheat. Nor can he sow wheat and expect a field of rice. Similarly every good thought, word or deed begets a similar reaction which affects our next lives and every unkind thought, harsh word and evil deed comes back to harm us in this life or the next.
Often Indians are called fatalists on the grounds that it is the law of Karma that makes us accept Fate and not fight misfortune. This is not so as Karma is far from being a fatalistic doctrine.
There are three stages of Karma. The only Karma that is beyond our control is Prarabdha Karma. According to this, the body or tenement the soul chooses to be born in is not under human control. The choice of parents, the environment of the home, and the physical condition of the new-born are the result of the sum total of favorable and unfavorable acts performed in a previous life. These cannot be changed. They are predetermined by the quality of the previous life. So also the time of death. Our scriptures aver that even a thousand spears will not kill you if your time on earth is not yet over, but when your end is near, even a blade of kusa grass could bring about your end. When each one of us has finished enjoying the good and paying for the bad deeds of the previous life, the time on earth is over. The soul leaves this body and goes into another to work out its destiny afresh, arising out of the good and bad deeds of this life.
The second stage is that of Samchita Karma which is the accumulated Karma of all our previous births which gives us our characteristics, tendencies, aptitudes and interests. This is why two children born of the same parents and given the same environment, for example, turn out to be very different in their capabilities and characteristics.
Samchita Karma is, however, changeable. With wisdom a man can change himself, improve his habits and get rid of evil thoughts and desires. Similarly one born with good characteristics could descend to a life of evil, setting aside his naturally good inclinations. Samchita Karma is therefore alterable by Man himself.
The third, Agami Karma, consists of the actions in our present life which determine our future in the later years of this life and in the next. It is entirely within our hands and our own free will. Man cannot change his past or birth, but he can mould his future. By evil thoughts, words or deeds, we mar our days to come. By purity of thought, compassionate words and deeds, righteous action without thought of the fruits thereof, we pave the way for a better life for all our tomorrows in this birth and the next.
Therefore Karma is not a fatalistic doctrine. It is a logical theory which explains differences in our births and temperaments and guides us in molding our future lives.
Writer Name:- Shakunthala Jagannathan