Beyond Logic: The Law of Karma

Question: It seems to me that the law of karma does not adequately explain individuality and differences in phenomenal existence. We need to invoke the events of the previous life, and so on, ad infinitum, which leads to the logical flaw of infinite regress. But how did the karmic process begin? How do we explain what went wrong and why we begin to suffer? The typical reply in Hindu religion is that the process is simply beginningless (anādi), that the karmic process extends back infinitely in time. But this does not adequately explain the matter but simply pushes the problem back.

Answer: The basic principle is that cause and effect relation can never give a satisfactory answer unless one accepts that it has to come to an end at some point. That point is God. God is beyond cause-effect relation. It does not matter how this person explains the phenomenon of the world, he will still run into the same problem which he is pointing out about the anādi principle.

The basic fact is that ultimate reality cannot be explained by logic alone. It is beyond logic, tarko’pratiṣṭhānāt (Vedanta Sūtra). Logic can be used to explain reality, but it is not sufficient. That is why there is need for śabda pramāna. Unless one accepts this one can argue with anything. He is arguing, but whatever solution I may give, he can find flaw with it.

So in India we do not have philosophy, we have darśana. You see the truth and then you explain it logically, as far as possible. But ultimately logic has its limitations. So there is no point in arguing if he does not accept that śabda is beyond logic.

Without accepting God and accepting that He is anādi, there is no solution. It is not a matter of pushing it back but explaining what is real. If it is beginningless then what else can you say about. Why do you think it is pushing it back when it is a fact. Beginingless, however, does not mean that each individual karma is beginningless. Karma is perpetual.

Question:  Could we perhaps say that our material predicament is not logical, but translogical and not illogical? That said, I would like to refer to the important distinction between causes and reasons. If something is outside cause and effect, it can still be within reason. From the individual point of view, the individual carries the moral responsibility and the karmic implications of that in the present moment. So even though there was
no initial cause, there have always been personal reasons.

Answer:  I agree. The karma theory is not to give an ultimate explanation logically. It is translogical. This is how Jīva Gosvāmi begins his Tattva Sandarbha. He outrightly rejects pratyaksa and anumāna in favor of śabda when it comes to explaining the Tattva, the Reality. Nonetheless, the karma theory is a more logical explanation than that of original sin, because it puts the onus on the individual for our plight. It means we cannot blame God or someone else for our suffering, or just feel frustrated (why the heck does Adam’s sin have to make me suffer?). So there is personal reason when we analyze the present situation, and that is important to know.

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Question:  I recently heard a sādhu say that slaughtered cows will continue to be reborn as cows because their deaths did not occur naturally, and therefore, their karma as cows was not extinguished. When the devotee inquired how to rectify the situation, the sādhu replied, “more cow protection.”  Can a jīva in the human condition influence the reincarnation of other jīvas?

Answer: I do not agree with this. What if the karma of the cow was such that it had to be slaughtered and not die a natural death? Not everybody is destined to die a natural death. There are many who are destined to die an unnatural death. So, by this logic, all those people who die in an accident should all be born again as humans.

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Comments ( 18 )
  1. acyutananda das

    Karma is eternally attached to the baddha jivas It is like asking ‘when did water first get its wetness?’

  2. Indira dasi

    I just translated Journey of the Soul. Those jivas who emerged from Karanodakasayi Visnu are tatastha-sakti, marginal energy, They landed for an instant on the tata, demarcation line, between the spiritual world and the material world. Those who looked at Yogamaya were taken to the spiritual world (no karma). Those who looked at Mahamaya fell into the material world, where they began to generate karma because they misused their independence and turned away from Krsna. But since this is an extremely long time ago, the point in time cannot be measured. Therefore it’s called “since immemorial time” or “since a time without a beginning” – anadi. This is based on Bhaktivinoda Thakura and spoken by Narayana Maharaja.
    The PDF of Journey of the Soul: http://www.purebhakti.com/resources/ebooks-magazines/bhakti-books/english?limit=15&limitstart=30

    • Malatimanjari Post author

      This is a controversial topic on which we have a different view. We are working on a book where these views about Jiva Tattva will be explained in detail.

    • Indira dasi

      Malatimanjari,
      With all respect: who are “we”?

    • Malatimanjari Post author

      “We” are the people studying from Babaji Maharaja in the disciplic succession of the Gadadhara Parivara, and more specifically, the people who are involved with the book productions of Jiva Institute.

    • Indira dasi

      Malatimanjari, please accept my pranama,
      Could you please tell in short in what way your view differs on this controversial topic?

    • Malatimanjari Post author

      Pranam Indira. Ok, but I don’t want to get into any debate here. Please wait until our book is released. We will announce it here on the website.
      All jivas are the tatastha-sakti of Paramatma. The conditioning of the jivas here in the material world is anadi, it has literally no beginning. Therefore also their karma has no beginning. After one cycle of creation is over, they are withdrawn into Paramatma (Mahavisnu) and emerge from Him when the next creation starts. So there is no choice because this jivas have always been in this material world, and they are in ignorance. The only choice the jivas have is to turn to Bhagavan.

    • No other Vaishnava sampradaya (e.g. Sri Vaisnavas) accepts the idea that the Jiva made a choice to be in the material world at some point back in time. Anadi implies that there is no cause for the jiva’s being in the material world. This is not the view of the Gadadhara parivara alone.

    • Indira dasi

      Malatimanjari, Thank you!
      I’ve read “In Vaikuntha not even the leaves fall”. Jiva Gosvami says “anadi” which implies “no choice” beforehand. I’ve no problem with that.

  3. Svayambhu Dasa

    I have two questions. It is said in sastra that a conditioned soul meets a devotee of the Lord by chance. Is the word “chance” here in the context of translogical reality or in terms of our conditioned understanding? A follow-up to this question is : does everyone( i am aware there is unlimited jivas in the material sphere) get a chance in meeting a devotee of the Lord by “chance”? Last question: If karma is beginingless then is it incorrect to say that everyone begins from Lord Brahma’s planet and then goes further down as time progresses ?

    • Babaji Post author

      Q: It is said in sastra that a conditioned soul meets a devotee of the Lord by chance. Is the word “chance” here in the context of translogical reality or in terms of our conditioned understanding?

      A: It is translogical, acintya. It means that no material cause can be traced for it.

      Q: Does everyone (i am aware there is unlimited jivas in the material sphere) get a chance in meeting a devotee of the Lord by “chance”?

      A: This question is being asked due to not understanding the meaning of the word “unlimited”. Please deliberate onn it.

      Q: Last question …

      A: You said you have two question. Now this is the third one!!

      Q: If karma is beginingless then is it incorrect to say that everyone begins from Lord Brahma’s planet and then goes further down as time progresses ?

      A: Yes, you are right. If karma is beginningless, there cannot be a beginning point.

  4. Parikshit Vats Chauhan

    The Abrahamics conceived stories, as did the Purāṇas, about creation; appealing to those primarily driven by emotion. The Vedāntin in “tarko’pratiṣṭhānāt” settled the issue employing minimum words and zero fantasy, in line with Gīta’s: “Among speeches, I’m conclusive reasoning”. The then wisest man of Greece along similar line stated that he knew, that he knew not.

  5. acyutananda das

    even the Bible’s Adam and Eve were created on Earth not fallen from heaven

  6. acyutananda das

    Krishna says in the Gita ”abrahma bhuvana loka purnaravatirn’orjuna” From brahma loka down, one can fall again” He doesn’t say from Vaikuntha down

  7. Kala Atita das

    What is Nyaya definition of proof?

    • Babaji Post author

      pramā-karaṇam pramāṇam – That which gives valid cognition is pramāna.

  8. acyutananda das

    The first 3 paramanas (Pratyaksa Anuman Upaman) may only be accepted
    if they are in concordance with the 4th praman–Sabda (sastra) Further
    conviction is when combined as Sadhu Sastra Guru.

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