The individual soul which is born in this world is to understand itself and do away with all sufferings. But what happens normally is that instead of getting rid of his negative elements, he or she in fact collects and increases his or her evilness. Hinduism, Saivism more specifically, talks about three impurities, viz. anava (egoism), karma (actions) and maya (illusion) which readily cling to the soul once he is born in the world. These negative aspects encourage one to crave for worldly pleasures thereby forgetting the importance of worship and the realization of the Almighty. In other words, the soul is prevented from moving onwards the kingdom of God, but has been driven to a state of disrepute owing to the allegiance to the impurities. This pathetic situation paves the way for the soul to experience pleasures and pains alternatively and the karmas ensure repeated births and deaths. This process goes on and on. Hinduism explains how the soul could solve the problem and attain liberation. This world gives numerous opportunities for the soul to eradicate the impurities. Ego is diverted to feel proud as the devotee of God. Actions are performed as God-centered service and not self-centered. Fame and deeds are not lured by maya(illusion). Here the soul realizes its intuitive nature and pray for wisdom and love of God. This faith and intuitive wisdom treats human race as one and God as one.The above concept of malas or impurities is not fully understood by the Hindu folk.
Egoism never fails to exist in the life of an individual. The word ‘Anavam’ in Tamil is nothing but arrogance. It is egoism or self-assertion (Kathiresu, 1950:42). It is nothing but ignorance and darkness.When the person performs any function or establishes relationship with fellow human beings, he must avoid being egoistic. Words such as ‘I’, ‘Mine’, ‘Myself’ and so on should be eradicated from the mind of a Hindu. One must understand that egoism could engender lust, desire and hatred all evolving from the pride of status, birth, colour, caste, book-learning and wealth. Unfortunately, we do not see this happen in our everyday life. One of the reasons for mutual disrespect and misunderstanding is egoism.
The concept of karma is also very much wrongly interpreted. What does karma mean? Karma means ‘action’ or ‘deed’. Hindus believe that whatever their deeds are in this present birth, they will reap the fruits accordingly in the next birth. Rebirth is accepted widely in Hinduism and this indirectly encourages a Hindu to perform good and ethical deeds in order to have a better birth later. There is also the concept of heaven and hell which relatively directs the devotees to crave for heaven where life is bliss. The law of karma is often related to the cause and effect. According to the law, What we sow we shall reap in this or future lives. Good actions or punyakarma will bring loving reactions while selfish, hateful acts or papakarma will bring suffering. In brief, every action that we perform in life, every word we utter, even every thought that we think, has its reaction.
The law of karma is a divine, self-governing system of justice that automatically creates the appropriate future experience in response to the current action. Karma punishes misdeeds and rewards good deeds whether they are known or not. Through understanding the consequences of their reactions, individuals sooner or later learn to refrain from committing a particular misdeed. Any good system of justice does not want repeating offenders. It wants individuals to understand the error of their ways and reform their behaviour. Karma is our teacher. It teaches us to refine our behaviour.
Karma also refers to our individual karma that we carry from life to life, both the karma to be resolved in this life, and the karma to be resolved in a future life. The law of karma is slow. Consequences or fruits of actions may not come for a number of lifetimes. This means the karma we are born with is comprised of rewards and punishments from many past lives that have yet to manifest, and are yet to be resolved.
Our actions in the present are creating what we will experience in the future, even in future lives. The point here is that when we think of karma, we tend to think of the past. We re ect upon the rewards and punishments from the past that are now manifesting and what we must have done to create them. However, we must also think about our future in this life and lives to come. Our actions in the present are in uencing that future, making it pleasant or unpleasant. Therefore, before acting, one has to re ect on the action’s karmic consequences and thereby consciously mould his future.
The ultimate future to consider is liberation from the cycle of birth and death. As long as we have karmas to resolve, we will be reborn on Earth. Thus, individuals who are intent upon spiritual progress take the creation and resolution of karma quite seriously. Not only do they strive to act wisely in the present, they perform extra religious practices to rid themselves in this life of karmas that would normally only manifest in future lives. This is a profound practice performed by sagacious rishis especially.
Karma can be managed effectively by the following ways:
- Forget anger toward all who have offended you, for it gives rise to teeming troubles;
- Why should those who rejoice when destiny brings them good moan when that same destiny decrees misfortune?;
- If you return kindness for injuries received and forget both, those who harmed you will be punished by their own shame;
- All suffering recoils on the wrong doer himself. Thus, those desiring not to suffer refrain from causing others pain;
- What good is a man’s knowledge unless it prompts him to prevent the pain of others as if it were his own pain?;
- Draw near the Feet of Him who is free of desire and aversion, and live forever free of suffering;
- Be unremitting in the doing of good deeds; do them with all your might and by every possible means;
- Not allowing a day to pass without doing some good is a boulder that will block your passage on the path to rebirth;
- The highest principle is this: never knowingly harm anyone at any time in any way;
- As the intense fire of the furnace refines gold to brilliance, so does the burning suffering of austerity purify the soul to resplendence.
When all bad things happen to a Person, he blames karma. He says even if he strived harder to do better, it has no effect. Therefore he thinks it is futile to try again. Such a misconception must be totally rejected. Firstly, karma could be changed through the principle of effective karma management. Secondly, how we live in this life creates the karma you will face in your near future and also in your future lives. So why don’t we use the law of karma to create a future that is filled with pleasant experiences rather than painful ones? The second false concept is saying that my life is miserable. Everything goes wrong when my stars changed. So I must have special prayers to get rid of karma. This misconception should also be rejected that it attributes the cause of problems to the stars rather than our own actions in the past. We must remember that planets and stars do not determine our karma or the actions of others. It is self-created and we are the source for all good, bad and mixed deeds.
Maya is defined as pure and simple insentient matter consisting of bodies, organs, words and objects of enjoyments created from the elements which were and are in existence from eternity (Katiresu,1950:46). Many of us are unaware of maya that can obstruct an individual’s wish to be with God. Those who gain pleasure in worldly life and forget the effects of temporary pleasures will definitely find it difficult to have unison with God. Though maya is indestructible, but it could cause delusion. We must understand that maya is not a compulsory phenomenon but a result of ignorance, egoism and desire. The simplest way to get rid of bondage is just to understand the everlasting grace of the Lord and find ways to be with Him.