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RE: Karma and transmigration

From: Krishna Kalale (
Date: Mon Sep 13 1999 - 13:59:49 PDT

Srivanshatagopa sri vedanta desika yatindra mahadesikaya namah
Srimathe Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha divya paduka sevaka srivan shatagopa sri 
narayana yatindra maha desikaya namaha.
Sri lakshmi nrisimha parabrahmane namaha.

Dear friends,

Thanks  to Sri Chris Bauch who has initiated this question on the net in a 
very objective manner.  The idea of vedantic system is this as follows :

It does not matter what the particular case is: whether it is blindness or 
any particular instance of being born as a mad person or a mentally 
handicapped person or some such case.  Yes, one can argue that blindness 
may be more an advantage rather than a disadvantage towards attaining God. 
 The problem does not go away here.  In that case one can ask why did God 
not give everyone blindness rather than favouring a few born blind people? 
 The real question is the idea of difference or discrimination at birth. 
 Why was such differentiation done?  if it were God's will then why does he 
do it?  Is he a tyrannical ruler who pushes jivas into wombs of different 
sorts at will and gives them bondage of whatever type he imagines or is 
their some order to this apparently chaotic world?  The vedantic system 
does not fully base the answer to this question on a scriptural statement. 
 Of course the scriptural answer to this is given in the brahmasutras :

vaishamya nairghnyena sapekshatvat..  (please refer to text for actual 
na karma vibhagad it chet na - anaditvat

What this means is that God is not the cause of differentiation or 
discrimination of any sort.  He only facilitates the rewards and 
punishments to a person based on a divine law.  In that sense he does not 
discriminate against any jiva.  Jiva gets benefits of right body or mind or 
wealth or any environmental advantage or disadvantage based on its karma. 
 God is retained as sin-less and the sins or merits transferred to Jivas in 
this system.  God is retained as the friend and well wisher of all without 
any discrimination.

In the semitic view the discrimination has to be somehow ascribed to God 
since jivas do not have a chance to do anything at birth to cause such 
differentiation at birth. This is what is the main point.  The next 
question raised is here below:

-----Original Message-----
From:	Chris Bauch []
Sent:	Monday, September 13, 1999 12:03 PM
Subject:	Re: Karma and transmigration

dear friends,

>Of course, the Vedanta, which maintains transmigration, answers it
>quite simply: the jiva reaps the fruits of his past karma in this
>birth. At first sight, this answer seemed adequate and satisfying.
>However let's intrapolate the question further back - what caused the
>jivas to do different kinds of karmas in the past birth reaping
>different kinds of fruits in this birth? The Vedantic answer is: the
>vasanas (samskaras) accumulated by the jivas in the previous births
>impelled them to perform different kinds of karmas in the last
>(previous) birth. So here we have a karma-vasana-karma cycle. Extending
>it further backwards, if originally all jivas were alike, what caused
>them to perform different karmas resulting in different vasanas and
>fruits? I truly don't know the answer to his question. I have heard
>that karma is anAdi - beginningless. But the question remains: what
>causes the difference in the karmas of jivas? I feel that, in this
>issue, the current Vedantic answer is not *substantially* better than
>the semitic answer. I request our members to give some clarity on this
[Krishna Kalale]

The true nature of beginningless aspect of time answers the question by 
introducing the cyclic nature of karma and avidya;  This view, makes the 
distinction among jivas more logical by introducing another concept ie. the 
concept of karma- avidya anadi chakra.    Note that the question-  what 
causes the difference in the karmas of jivas ?can be answered as below:

 the karma - avidya cycle is anadi or beginningless.  There is this 
"ignorance" and karmas or actions that can cause either ignorance or 
enlightenment to a certain extent.  wrong karmas create ignorance and 
bondage (of higher extent).  right karmas create enlightenment in a person. 
 enlightenment influences a person to do right things to work out his 
escape from this cycle.  Ignorance makes this person do things which 
basically bind him more to this cycle of birth and death. This eternal flow 
of a mixture of prior karmas and inbuilt ignorance of an individual at any 
given point of time,  gives a disposition to that individual to continue to 
work out and develop one's individuality in terms of mind, personality and 
bodies of different kinds.  Even here the question comes up, does karma 
create ignorance first or ignorance create wrong karmas?  This logical 
question is answered with a sort of enigmatic answer :  it does not matter, 
since there is no beginning.  The concept of beginninglessness of jiva a 
crucial concept in vedantic systems.  By this concept of nityatva or 
"eternality" a logical question of which came first ? ignorance or bad 
karma to an individual soul? - is answered in a sort of enigmatic way since 
the person who is asking the question is basically silenced by such a 
concept of eternality of soul.  That means that at any given point of time 
(say for example 10000 billion years ago), one can always logically get 
away by stating that prior karmas caused this bondage or body.  and prior 
karmas were resulted by this unending ever existent cycle of karma- avidya 
cycle.  God is also left alone untainted by this concept.

I am sure even though this is a logical answer carefully putforth by the 
vedantic system to calm down a questioning mind . Some may agree that the 
answer is sufficient.  Some may think that this answer is not sufficient. 
 One needs to realize this only by real experience. No amount of shastraic 
or logical jugglery can make one know a supra-sensory concept.  We are 
talking about a soul which is beyond sensual realization.

For this exact same reason,  Lord Krishna states that a true yogi can 
realize "truth of reincarnation" by actual experience,  in Bhagavadgita 
verse :

"utkramantam stitham vaapi bhunjanam va gunanvitam vimooda nanu pashyati 
pashyanti jnana chaksushah"

A person who is deluded cannot see this soul, which ,  is transmigrating 
from one body to another body at death and is the agent which is the 
experiencer in the living body, .... Only a realized person who is equipped 
with the sight of knowledge (obtained through yogic meditation) can see 
such a soul which transmigrates and experiences here in a body.

This means that transmigration is based on experiential knowledge also.

[Krishna Kalale]
[Krishna Kalale]
The bottom line is that,  one cannot compare semitic and vedantic systems 
in any logical way.  They are two different systems vedantic systems 
believe in the vedas. Semitic systems do not.  Logically one can never 
argue for one or the other.  One needs a common basis for comparison and 
the real fact is that there is no common basis.  Hence ... the summary 
is..... maha jano yena gathah sa panthah....  follow the leaders whomever 
you feel comfortable with.   that is the real path.....  This proves one 
other important fact :

" A true Vedantin is one who believes in the word of Vedas - shastra 
yonitvat".  Without trust in shastras nothing can be established even the 
existence of God or the Individual Soul  !!"  And our vedantic system 
upholds the vedas - veda shastrat param naasti - ie. there is no shastra 
(scripture) higher than the vedas.".

Having said this,  one has to come to one's own conclusion as to whether 
the vedantic theory of re-incarnation or the semitic one-birth-death system 
makes sense.


chris bauch

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[Krishna Kalale]
adiyen  Krishna Kalale