Captain of my Ship

Author:  Image of Pooja BaidPooja Baid
Published: 04.04.2015

Many of my friends, both Jain and non-Jain often ask me why I am studying ‘Karmagrantha’ and how it makes a difference to my life. A little insight into ‘Karmagrantha’ has made me curious to know more and understand better because it seems to be all pervasive and inescapable. 

The term 'karma' is so loosely used nowadays that it has become the simplest explanation for anybody's problems. Anything unfortunate that happens is because of "bad karma". Though at some level it is true, but it is a very skewed view of 'Karma'. 

'Karma' is not the act of doing something but a tangible substance that determines (in time) every aspect of an individual or ‘jiva’[1]. From its physical form, shape and life span to its mental faculties, thought processes and intrinsic nature. It sums up everything, leaving nothing to chance or some higher power. How else can such differences occur? Why would a higher power or God like to differentiate and be biased? So, whether someone is intelligent or dumb, rich or poor, a flower or a frog, it is the fruits of its 'karmas'. 

Every single moment our thoughts, words and actions attract karma particles or 'pudgalas' from its immediate vicinity[2]. It might help to imagine ourselves as a magnet that has an invisible magnetic field around it. Now, depending upon its strength and polarity (positive or negative) it attracts particles, which in this case are 'karma' particles. The definite nature (‘prakriti’), duration (‘sthiti’), fruition (‘anubhaga’), and mass (‘pradesa’) of these karma particles are determined by our present frame of mind and actions[3]. Depending upon their duration, they remain dormant for some time (also known as ‘Abadha’) and then mature to produce results. 

Since, actions of the past cannot be undone, does it imply that ongoing efforts go vain? Why would someone try to better a situation if 'karma' will decide the future? Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Past 'karmas' (with the exception of few) are not absolute and until they ripen to deliver results they can be altered by 'purusharta' or constructive effort [4]. Moreover, the Karmic chain is a vicious circle where bad ‘karma’ leads to bad results which may stimulate inappropriate reactions, yet again attracting bad ‘karma’ particles and so on. Breaking free from this circle requires persistent efforts, making it evident that the control remains in our hands and quite literally, "we make our own destiny". 

A basic understanding of 'karma' has helped me replace fear with righteousness. Since childhood we are conditioned to behave in a certain way because someone is watching and we will eventually be punished. Fear keeps us away from doing what is accepted to be wrong. But, what happens when no one is watching? Do we refrain from doing what’s wrong? And once it is done, can we get away from the consequences? Certainly not. Karma particles will be attracted irrespective of who's watching and who's not. Since, the consequences are inevitable, isn't it better to let righteousness lead the way instead of fear? 

What could be a better navigation tool to direct the way, than a Karmic compass that always points north or towards “righteousness”? It serves as an unbiased instrument or ideology, that when used appropriately can guide us to the destination of our choice. Personally, I feel very empowered by this philosophy because it makes me the “captain of my own ship”. Whether the ship steers safely to the port or sinks in high seas, it totally depends on me. 

Om Arham!

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Mahapragya
  3. Arham
  4. Fear
  5. JAINA
  6. Jaina
  7. Jeeva
  8. Jiva
  9. Karma
  10. Mahapragya
  11. OM
  12. Pandit
  13. Pradesa
  14. Prakriti
  15. Ramjee Singh
  16. Sthiti
  17. Yuvacharya
  18. Yuvacharya Mahapragya
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