Tag Archives: buddhism

Theory of Karma to gain liberation or moksha

A look at the karma theory in the 4 religions

We all believe that we have some kind of permanent residence here on earth. We plan, prepare, hoard and organize plans for a long overhaul forgetting that we have all come with a return ticket. Life is often compared to a journey and all our relatives and friends are like the fellow travelers we meet on the journey. Some get off before we reach our destination point, still others continue even after we get down. Our Indian religions keep pointing out to this so often. Still we tend to forget this simple truth. Karma, reincarnation, liberation are words that we across in all the four religions that have had their origins in India.

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To the followers of Vedic Hindu scriptures’ based lifestyle, the law of karma is a fundamental belief. ‘As we sow, so shall we reap.’ We go on accumulating results for our action and keep reincarnating or taking so many lives until the soul obtains moksha or liberation. Krushna describes in Bhagwad Geeta to keep doing the work and leave the fruit of the Karma on him. He says that we always belonged to him. We have come to this material world due to some karmic results and it is our duty to perform karma which can lead us back to him. The only way to escape this karmic bond is by offering everything to god, to do nishkama karma- which essentially means, doing an action without looking at its fruits.

sikhism

The youngest religion Sikhism asserts that our lives are connected to karmic debt. The more karmic debt we have, the more number of times we will come back to earth and as we make an effort to reduce the karmic debt, then we are a step closer to God. A good Sikh is one who has got rid of the karmic debt completely after which he will reunite with the creator.

Jainism explains karma in an interesting manner. Karma is not an immaterial concept there. It is said to exist in the form of subtle particles. When the jiva is overcome with passions, then these particles enter the jiva and it acquires a body. In order to get disembodied again, the jiva has to go back to the pure state again. Only then can the jiva get freed. It is for this that every jiva has to follow the sadacharana or observance of ethical discipline.

The Buddha himself is supposed to have reincarnated many times. The Buddha made use of the powerful analogy of taking birth as an animal in the next birth to caution simple laymen to lead a life of virtue. This fear of being born as a lower life, that is as an animal, kept people away from mischief. But it cannot be taken too literally. The entire process of change from one life to the next is called “becoming again”. Karma operates as a moral law in the universe according to Buddhism as a continuous chain reaction of cause and effect. The Dhammapada says, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought, it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts.” So we can change our Karma with our good thoughts, good words and good actions. We can reach the enlightened state of the Buddha by raising ourselves with our goodness thus escaping the clutches of karma.

We thus see that these 4 religions speak of reaching god or achieving reunion with god by progressing with our own self effort and transcending the cycle of birth and death, by finally merging in the ultimate being. This is referred to as achieving liberation or moksha or nirvana.

I generally prefer to write in few words to explain any points to keep up the interest of the people. If any of you want to know more about any of these theories feel free to ask me. OR you may go through our website www.indianscriptures.com

 

 

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Theories of Moksha in various vedic beliefs in Bharat- part 2

I was thinking about the statement that ‘India is a cradle of many religions’. Well, that means India must have always been a tolerant country that has welcomed newer thoughts getting infused into existing religion and breaking out into new religions. That speaks volumes about the nature of its people who were ready to embrace any new thought, invention, discovery fully aware that nothing can ever shake the mother tree which can withstand any great storm without getting affected. Thus our country with its ancient religion has seen the birth of religions like Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

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Hinduism speaks about pluralism that is- all paths lead to the same goal ‘ekam sat viprah bahudah vadanti’– Truth is one; the wise call it by different names. There is no rigidity here. You can have sadhus sitting in the icy perch of the Himalayas or you can have karm yogis going about their dharm without any other care except to do what is ordained to be theirs. In between you can also have the mad frenzy of those rushing to temples to participate in community worship. And then there is the silent seeker who goes about his quest quietly and finds peace in the silence of his being. Oh, the wide variety that our religion offers, there is such a basket of options you can choose what suits you best. I love this pluralism that is accepted here.

Fascinatingly, this pluralism is also there in Jainism. It was Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and philosopher who said famously, ‘everything we hear is an opinion not a fact; everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.’ Reality is always dependent on one’s perspective and this certainly cannot be considered as the absolute truth. The Jains accept that reality can comprise of many truths as seen from each one’s perspective and are willing to accept that premise.

Buddhism is also amazingly pluralistic. Sikhism also seems to extol the same thing. Sikhs are always advised to follow the path shown by the great gurus and prophets. The holy book of the Sikhs (the Sri Guru Granth Sahib) says, “Do not say that the Vedas, the Bible and the Koran are false. Those who do not contemplate them are false.”

The thought expressed in each of these is so true that I feel enthused to delve more so I can learn more. I started reading on the various rituals observed by these four religions and was quite startled to see there is a string that runs through all of them even in this aspect. The fire ritual, havan, yagnas are terms not just restricted to Hinduism but I learnt that Mahayana Buddhism in Japan, Tibetan Buddhism and some other branches of Buddhism adopted them and absorbed it in their respective cultures. So also, the prayers to the ancestors- This too seems to be there in these religions. In Jainism the likeness is even more similar. Prayers for a good baby soon after conception, celebrating the new born, naming ceremony, offering the first solid food to the infant, beginning of the education process, ceremonies connected to marriage, death, building a new house, initiating new year, starting the financial year – all these bear close resemblance to Hindu customs but of course with a distinctive Jain slant like the recitation of the Navakar mantras and chanting the peace mantra. Hinduism speaks of Jiva karunya or compassion to all living beings and this can be seen fully fulfilled in Jainism and Buddhism.

I found Sikhism also to be speaking of many of the same things – the importance of consecrated water Amrit, prayers for the newborn, naming ceremony, importance to the soul and not the ephemeral body all seem to have a common thread running through them. It is only when we understand these features we can appreciate the beauty of every religion or sect. These theories state that most of the religion or sects originated in Bharat have many similarities and believe in growing on the common grounds of reincarnations, liberation, cycle of birth and death, karma and strong family bonding. Isn’t this amazing?