The fundamental and basic jnana, knowledge and enlightenment, of every human being is clouded with ignorance. As a result, people are in a state of hypnosis and so they do sometimes good acts and sometimes unrighteous acts. This is the statement made in the Bhagavad Gita, when Sri Krishna says (5:15):
Naadatte kasyachit paapam na chaiva sukritam vibhuh;
Ajnaanenaavritam jnaanam tena muhyanti jantavah.
The Lord accepts neither the demerit nor even the merit of any;
knowledge is enveloped by ignorance, thereby beings are deluded.
One question remains to be solved. Who or what force makes us commit things and at the same time reap the consequences? That seems to be a reality. We do suffer. We are suffering and at the same time we are enjoying. Looking back, we see that we have had mixed experiences in life. Therefore, every experience should be a consequence, a result of some event, and on this basis the doctrine of karma is enunciated.
The doctrine of karma is the fundamental philosophy of the Gita and other scriptures that talk about the law of cause and effect. The law of cause and effect is something which is logical. It is not an irrational law. There is a cause, and so there is an effect.
What is the primary cause? There is a cause of my suffering, but that cause also has a cause and this is how the effect chain of cause and effect continues towards the past and towards the future. When you go back into the past, the cause becomes an effect. When you travel and talk about the future, the present- day effect becomes the cause. This is how cause and effect keep on changing. Cause and effect are inherent in one and the same action and event. An action is a cause of an event, which becomes a cause to some other event.
The Indian minds started to think about this particular concept in many ways. Sometimes people thought that there is only cause and effect. Sometimes they thought of cause and effect in relation to Prakriti and nature and they completely did away with God. This aspect of Indian philosophy is called Charvak philosophy, where the philosopher said that there is no God. They had the theory of cause and effect which confined itself to this life, because the philosophy of Charvak in India does not believe in rebirth, reincarnation or any type of evolution.
They talk of one life; that’s all, yet it was not very convincing. ‘There is no God, we believe in cause and effect but not in rebirth’, seems to me very illogical. As it did not convince the thinking people, they went on thinking and various philosophies came about. Out of six systems of philosophy, two stand out: Samkhya and Mimamsa.
Mimamsa is a Sanskrit word which means ‘analysis’. When you analyse a chemical or any other matter, it is called mimamsa, analysis. This analysis is divided into two: purva mimamsa, the earlier analysis, and uttara mimamsa, the later analysis. They belong to the same philosophy. The uttara mimamsa means Vedanta. The Vedanta philosophy is the later part of analysis. The previous part of analysis is called the Hindu dharma, where people believe in gods and goddesses and jivas, in trees and their divinity. Purva Mimamsa accepts the worship of gods and their realm of power just as a judge, a police officer, a secretary and an engineer has a power. There are zones of power and accomplishment, duties or work. Vishnu is the god responsible for maintenance, Shiva for disintegration, Brahma for creation. Besides these, they also thought of various other gods and goddesses, or powers of nature, powers of Prakriti.
In Samkhya, it was made very clear, ‘We do not believe in one God. We believe in two forces in the universe, which are in constant interaction with each other – Purusha and Prakriti’. These are the technical words they have used. These two forces are inherent and omnipresent in each and every speck of this universe, whether visible or invisible. This house is visible, the train, the mountain, human beings and animals, the sun, moon and the stars, Neptune and Haileys comet are all visible. However, there are invisible things also, in the sense that you cannot see them with your eyes. In this room there are atoms, electrons, electromagnetic waves and many more things which you cannot see. They are invisible, but if you can find a scientific process, you can burn all the electrons in this room, the whole atmosphere can be completely burnt – by God’s grace we cannot do that.
Samkhya philosophy says that these two forces, Purusha and Prakriti, are inherent and omnipresent, whether visible or invisible. What do Purusha and Prakriti represent? This is a very difficult question to answer because they are two opposite polarities, they are not the same. Purusha is opposite to Prakriti and Prakriti by nature is opposite to Purusha. Sometimes they are shown together like Shiva and Parvati, or Vishnu and Lakshmi, but their nature, quality, circuits and polarity are just opposite. When these two polarities are separate, there is no creation. Then everything is unmanifest, everything is dormant potential. When these two forces join each other, like when two wires, one positive and one negative, join at a point, then an explosion takes place. When Purusha and Prakriti meet each other anywhere in this universe, maybe in you and in me, then creation begins to take place.
The interaction of Purusha and Prakriti creates a stir in the universe. That stir, ripple or wave is called karma, action, movement, motion. This karma is known by various names. When you say Purusha and Prakriti join together and creation begins to take place – what do you mean by this creation? Not only the making of the sun, moon and stars; an action is also a creation, a thought is a creation, movement is a creation. You are happy or unhappy, you are laughing or crying, it is all action. You are attached to this person or you hate that person, that is action.
Creation does not merely mean the creation of a particular object, planet or a particular galaxy. Your day-to-day life is also a part of creation. According to Samkhya, Prakriti has certain illusory, deluding powers, like a magician. Prakriti has that guna or quality, whereby it puts everyone in a state of hypnosis, or primordial consciousness. Prakriti has primordial consciousness. Because of this the whole universe is acting in a particular way, according to the law of cause and effect – there is automatic dispensation.
According to Samkhya, there is nobody, no judge, no inspector, no God responsible for dispensation. You, your act, the dharma which you have created, the good or bad act in itself, is the cause of the effect. Cause becomes the effect, that effect becomes the cause and that cause becomes the effect. Just like the egg becomes the cause for the chicken and the chicken becomes the effect of an egg. Exactly in the same way, the dispensation of karma is inherent in the karma itself. There is no other God required.
This is a simple thing. If you take poison, you are going to die; God is not killing you. If you take a dagger and put it in your stomach, like the Japanese samurai, you are going to die; God is not killing you. Our actions are dispensed by individuals either in this life or another life.
Vedanta, uttara mimamsa, goes a little different and says, “Look here, there is no sin. You have a society, a culture, your own identification, moha, infatuation, and values, so according to that particular structure of society, some things are considered good and some bad. You have to suffer if you are going to do what your society, since your childhood, says is bad. It has been deeply implemented in your mind. You are going to suffer the consequences of those actions because you believe it is bad. You are creating an effect because you believe in the cause; and that is how one suffers.” Vedanta has made it very clear that because of your limited and ignorant mind, you have got certain beliefs and according to that you are the sufferer.
In purva mimamsa, the Hindu dharma, whichever karma we do is guided by a certain force in you. These forces are generally considered daivic or divine and asuric or rakshasik, demonic. These daivic or asuric propensities or qualities are guided by certain forces, known as Devi and Devata. They guide you, give you rewards and punish you. Somehow, this purva mimamsa philosophy was not very convincing even to Hindus and therefore it has failed. Today all Hindus believe that if you sow something wrong that is what you reap. Still they do not give it up, because they believe it intellectually but in reality nobody is afraid. People take bribes, commit murders, do all kind of unjust things even to members of their own family. So what about their belief? When you say some particular kind of devata is creating the situation and will be dispensing, you should be a little bit more careful. The mind of an individual is responsible, and that mind, unless it is evolved, is within the framework of avidya, ignorance. That’s all.