Monday, 9 November 2009

Divine bookkeeping

I suppose the whole cause-and-effect cycle of karma was devised by the wise sages of ancient times as a rule-of-thumb to guide our actions and inspire us to do good. Sounds fine on paper. But here are some critical points:
  • The devout among those who suffer in their present life accept it as unavoidable chastisement for past actions - which, undoubtedly, must be a good consolation. However, it also does away with the will to protest, and demand change. Quite often poor living and medical conditions are a result of bad laws and bad governance (regulations on free-trade, unfair taxation and monumental wastage of tax-money etc.). These are matters that may be changed slowly with awareness and social/political activism.
  • The lucky ones accept that their fortune is a result of previous good deeds, resulting in a crippling complacency in thought and action. That, according to the karmic theory, they will suffer again in next life gets drowned out in ennui.
  • In my opinion, there is a certain amount of unfairness in this whole matter. Suppose X kills Y. X gets away with it because he has better lawyers than Y's family. Should Y's family console themselves with the fact that X will be punished in some life after? Also, think of this: X is born again and has no recollections of his crime at all. Does he still deserve punishment? Can't he start anew in his next life?
All of this, mind, is argued from the POV of a believer. The final point is, however, this: why can't I live just for the sake of living? Can't I look forward to a pleasant stroll in the hills of Mussoorie without worrying about consequences?

P.S. - In the absence of a karmic code, how do you govern your actions? Simple: the democratic rule ("sway your stick while you walk, if you please, but take care it stops an inch short of my nose") and plain human conscience.


Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri said...

There is one benefit of this code, it helps people to accept their suffering when there is no hope and no chance of emancipation.

I am sure in India it was one major reason why tyrants generally found it easy to maintain their stranglehold on their subjects. The oppressed people accepted suffering as something inevitable.

Is it possible, Sudipto, that the recent upheaval of the marginalized people that we are seeing is partly because the Karmic code has lost its grip? You have given me new food for thought!

Sudipto Basu said...

Isn't a absence of faith in God embedded in the very basics of Leftism? The Naxalites/Maoists have always believed they could take things into their own hands.

It's a different thing their fight hasn't worked out in the past.