This is a translated part of Acharya Mahapragya’s book Ateet ko pado, bhavishye ko dekho
Who is free and who is bonded? We cannot say we are completely free. We can also not say we are completely bonded. Both are relative terms. We are both ,free and bonded.
Time, one’s nature, karma and destiny – these elements cause bondage while consciousness which is the basis of existence, makes us free.
A prani possesses consciousness. Where there is consciousness, there complete bondage is impossible. The other point to be noted is that elements which cause bondage have limited power. People assume that karma is the most powerful. That everything happens because of it. This is a delusion which should be broken. If everything happened because of karma, liberation wouldn’t have been possible. Karma has a limitation to it. It bears fruit within that limit.
A person collects good and bad karma. They give fruits according to some limits or rules. These limitations are – dravya (i.e. matter) , chetra(ie place) , kaal(ie time) , and bhaav(ie emotion).Every action has a fruit or a result.It is assumed that darshanavarniye karma fructifies when one falls asleep. Now this karma is present in our entire lives but it needs mediums such as time and place to manifest or fructify. For example, during a specific kaal or time sleep is present (during night, for example) while during another time sleep disappears. The creatures of hell are unable to sleep. This is so because of the intense pain they go through. Does this mean darshanavarniye karma for them does not exist?-No, it does exist but the effect of place is such that it does not manifest.
Therefore every karma fructifies because of certain conditions. These are limitations to karma. Karma does not do everything. When a person is awake, even the impression of the karma just performed is erased. A karma goes through so much change, this needs to be understood. The darshan of karma given by Lord Mahaveer has not been understood fully. If this was not the case, so many false notions around karma would not have existed. Such false notions have caused people to suffer diseases, difficulties and poverty. A poor man thinks since it is written in fate, I shall have to live like this. People excuse their situations through their false notions and suffer misery.
Karma and fate have become big excuses. When one’s point of view, beliefs and concepts are false then nobody can overcome the resultant problems.
Karma does everything – this is a very false notion.
Time, one’s nature, destiny, purakrit (done by us) and purusharth – these are five elements. If we give prime importance to anyone of these, problems will arise. Time is an element of nature. Every matter has a unique behavior which gives it its nature .Destiny or law of nature applies to everyone in this world. Whatever a man does knowingly or unknowingly , through speech or thought, in a subtle or gross way- everything is written. Every doing is written and has a counteraction as well. Just as a sound wave has an echo. An image has a reflection. Actions of every person have results. Karma is performed by the person himself and the result comes in the form of a krit or deed. Since it comes as a counter action it is called purakrit.It means what was done before. The fifth element is purusharth. Karma and purusharth are not different.The first moment of someone’s purusharth or self-effort is called purusharth and when this moment passes, it is called karma. Basically karma is the purusharth done in the past and self-effort done this moment is purusharth.
These are five elements. Neither of these is most powerful. Each of these have limitations. On this basis we can say that we are free as well as bonded. The second question is- Who is responsible? Time, one’s nature, destiny and karma – all of these affect us but neither of these can be held responsible for our lives. A person’s self effort or purusharth is responsible. A person cannot be free of his responsibility towards his conduct and behavior. This excuse cannot be made- ‘since it was karma/yog this happened.’ We need to accept our responsibility. We need to tell ourselves that all responsibility of conduct and behavior rests upon us.
Different people from different walks of life consider different elements as responsible. Psychologists, physicians and the philosophers of karma, according to their subject consider different elements as causal. But all answers are relative. The biochemicals in our body affect us and so does our environment and situation. All these affect us but none of them alone can be said to be a responsible entity.
This is because time does not possess consciousness. Neither does matter. Neither karma. Neither destiny. Neither our naditantra. Neither our surroundings. Neither our situation in life.The whole system is unconscious. Then who can be help responsible?The unconscious cannot be held responsible.It does not have the ability to know responsibility.The question of responsibility is conjoined with consciousness.Where there is knowledge, there the question of responsibility comes up.The ability to undertake responsibilities is where there is knowingness of consciousness.Our self effort is the rays from the consciousness with which the ability to know and fulfill our responsibility is also attached.
Our self effort in the present or purusharth is responsible.We cannot deny this.We should not hesitate to take responsibility for our conduct in life.Unless we don’t feel responsible we will not be able to refine our behaviour and conduct.It will stay brutish and unrefined. It will never be able to become free from the boundary of selfishness.
Ordinary man only knows that he is bound by karma or past.Mahaveer said-“One has to experience the fruits of karma performed by him.”This is an ordinary law.It has a remedy law as well. He also said –“Karma can be changed.It can be broken.If one’s purusharth is active and awake then we can change karma in whatever way we want .”For example, if someone creates a bond for a demeritful action, but later if he does meritful self-effort (purusharth) ,the fruit for his previous demerit can change into a meritful fruit. A story can illustrate this fact clearly.
There were two brothers. Both went to an astrologer and asked about their future. The astrologer told the elder brother that he will be hung on the gallow while told the younger brother that he will get a kingdom to rule. After this incident the elder brother started living with awareness. He changed his behavior. Improved his conduct. He saw death in front of him. Everybody changes on seeing death. The younger brother thought – Oh, Since I’m going be a king shortly, what is there to worry?He filled himself with ego.One by one he developed several vices.The intoxicant of authority indeed makes many mad.
A few days passed.The elder brother was walking somewhere.His feet got injured by a pin while the younger brother found a bag of gold coins.
The brothers went to the astrologer after four months.Both said-“your foretellings never saw daylight.”The astrologer was a knowledgeable figure.He explained to the elder brother that his meritorious conduct caused the foretold gallow to be replaced with pin.He explained to the younger brother that his unmeritorius conduct replaced the foretold kingdom to be replaced with a bag of coins.
This illustrates that collected merit is transformed into demerit by bad purusharth while collected demerit can be changed to merit by good purusharth.
We find a corroborating stance in the Sthanang sutra-
चउविहे कमे पण्णते तं जहा –
सुभ नाम मेगे सुभ विवागे,
सुभे नाम मेगे असुभ विवागे,
असुभे नाम मेगे सुभ विवागे,
असुभे नाम मेगे असुभ विवागे |
A meritful karma is bonded and its fruit is merit,
A meritful karma is bonded but its fruit is demerit,
A demeritful karma is bonded but its fruit is merit,
A demeritful karma is bonded and its fruit is demerit
The second and third lines give the principle of transformation.When one’s purusharth is as such that demerit turns into merit and vice-a-versa.
Once upon a time, a man asked Sukrat to show his birth chart.Sukrat replied- “The birth chart was prepared when I was born and now I have wronged it.What will you see now?”
Through self-effort or purusharth one can change their birth chart and fate too. From this viewpoint only a person is responsible for her/himself. Mahaveer weighed on the principle of self-effort but did not establish a one-sided view. He accepted the influence of all the elements.
Self effort has its own importance. No one can excuse themselves in the name of destiny or niyati. We need to experience the truth. Let our purusharth go in the right direction and let its propensity to go in the wrong direction break.