The Karma of Individuality

“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”
-       An old proverb

This world belongs to those that have won and not those that have lost. A history teacher I once knew had pointed out a very relevant fact to me which was basically that history had been written by those that had won, therefore it was not a definite that history was not going to be skewed towards them. The winner would rewrite history in order to make them seem favourable and the better lot. I’ve thought about this quite often and wondered what if Hitler had won the world war? Would we be still condemning the holocaust? Or had the Kauravas won the battle of Kurukshetra, would the Bhagwad Gita still be our holy text? What if the Mahabharata had been written from the point of view of the Kauravas? Maybe the Pandavas would have been portrayed as the evil cousins who came again and again to snatch away the kingdom that rightfully belonged to the Kauravas till they were finally defeated in the battle of Kurukshetra? Would Karma have still meant what it does today or what it was intended to ?

The philosophy of Karma yoga states that we carry forward all our Karma through all our lifetimes and reap the results of what we sow from our past and present lives. The Bhagwad Gita says that we must fulfill our moral duty towards God through action and not inaction. Karma should renounce desire of the fruit of one’s actions and be free of all attachments.  

I don’t wish to contest what the Bhagwad Gita says as I don’t proclaim myself to be an expert on this magnificent piece of intellect. But somewhere when I consider Karma I am forced to think. In my very small and microscopic view of life as I have seen it as I have not seen a previous life and am not aware of what happened in which life. Those that believe in Karma from previous lives as well might have seen their previous incarnations and that is what has convinced them into believing that their present condition in life is not due to what they have done in this life but what they might have done in another life.

While I vehemently believe in the theory of Karma and that you reap what you sow, I also believe and hope that you do so in this life and not carry forward or bring forth balance from others. The Bhagwad Gita is a way of life that lays down moral guidelines to help us charter our own paths. With many different interpretations of the Gita that exist today I like to think that there should be some personal involvement while interpreting it as well as that will help us apply the principles better to our individual situations. Duality is the life sustaining force in our existence. Action or inaction, dharma or adharma, good or evil, action and reaction, male and female, life and death, sun and moon, hot and cold, yin and yang and so on are all defining aspects of this duality. Their very existence is inter-dependent and as they cease to exist without each other this duality becomes a single interaction. Therefore as every action has an equal and opposite reaction every Karma has a reaction attached to it.

Practice what you preach. Many things are easier said than done and while reading the Bhagwad Gita I realized that the way to the eternal truth is also paved in being sinless. In the world that we live in today, sin has reached different meanings altogether and many things that are morally and ethically wrong are being accepted as part of life. In short, they are not seen as sin any longer. The standards for wrongdoing have become higher and people actually work hard to achieve those. Honesty and integrity are seen as faults that simpletons are supposed to possess as opposed to the righteous lot. With the sort of corruption and evil that exists around our very center of being in this world where being human or moral is seen as a fault, how does one exist without committing some sin or the other? Sometimes I feel it is impossible. I haven’t seen an after or before life and in my very limited view and experience of this life petty crimes, lying cheating and being unethical are seen as practical ways to live and move up the ladder.

While I struggle to explore these many thoughts and truths the one thing that stays untouched and stands forth is that the whole is greater than the individual manifestations. The Bhagwad Gita along with the existence of duality somewhere puts back faith in Karma and that even if the Kauravas had won the battle of Kurukshetra, and history been written with a different perspective, the balance that duality seeks to establish naturally would have remained and the Bhagwad Gita have survived as the eternal truth. There for the taking and understanding for those that wish to. Shadow will not exist without light and that which is false will not exist without the truth.

As individuals and young people it is our moral and ethical responsibility to use our capacity for thought and judgment in order to decide what we want in our lives and what we don’t want. Accepting anything on a platter whether right or wrong without applying one’s own judgment may be the deciding factor in what paths we choose to travel to what end. History could be written to glorify the hunter but if we start to question and apply our moral and ethical compass to chart our roadmaps, somewhere the eternal truth shall prevail.

About the author: Neha Parmar is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist with some tolerable talent for writing. If you liked, connected or have a contrary perspective with anything that you read please feel to share your feedback. 

To see more work by Neha Parmar  

Disclaimer: This article remains copyright of the author and is her individual perspective. If you wish to give any feedback please get in touch with the author

Change begins at home

Sometimes I wonder. What is the cost that we are paying for progress? Can progress come hand in hand with preservation? By preservation I don’t mean just preservation of our natural heritage but also our traditions, our historical heritage and our culture. In the enthusiasm to embrace a more modern or progressive approach and thought process, with each passing generation are we losing touch with who we really are? This is a very highly debatable topic and much can be said about it, so I shall try to address but fragments of it.

Many believe that tradition and preservation cannot go hand in hand with progress. I’m not sure if I agree. To overlook traditions in our race to move ahead is to take the easy way out. It is definitely a far shorter route that will yield quick results and help many earn the quick green buck. But as a young nation are we going to just sit back and watch our future destroyed in this race while our natural and traditional heritage is being pillaged and deformed?

While I ponder in my thoughts over this issue I can think of many examples that can prove the necessity to maintain our traditions. The most primary purpose served by our traditions is that they define who we are and give us a sense of belonging. While many will call our traditions a detrimental factor to progress they seem to forget that most customs have a very logical and sometimes scientific reason behind them being formed. Take a simple thing as fasting. The only thing people focus on is that a person is fasting for a religious purpose therefore it is useless and he or she is caught in the mental depravity of rituals. Why don’t you stop and think that maybe getting people to fast through the medium of religion was actually just a simple way of getting them to give a break to their bodies from over indulging and allow their bodies time to heal. This is what naturopathy is all about isn’t it? While we continue to belittle these simple traditions and customs there is an increasingly large number of our own populace and that of foreign countries that is slowly turning back towards either naturopathy or Ayurveda as a form of healing as compared to more modern medicine. Maybe there is a good reason for us to allow our traditions to remain.

The thought process associated with modernity has turned it’s back on who we are and where we come from. Traditions and preservation are seen as road blocks in achieving success. Well if short-term monetary gain with no regard for the future and for others is what is in mind then Yes ! letting go of your ideals is the best way forward. The other route forward might be a slightly longer one with maybe a higher gestation period but the fruits will last longer and preserve our heritage.

Somewhere the need to hoard has aided consumerism and this ravenous appetite for development at the cost of depleting our natural heritage and resources. The daily wage earner does the least amount of wastage and damage as he only buys what he can consume and is not the driver of this humongous need to hoard.

Coming to conservation, which is very close to my heart. One of the most successful conservation projects, that has ever been launched in the world was Project Tiger under Indira Gandhi. The success rate of the project was phenomenal initially, as the tiger populace in the country was significantly revived. Once again the government due to it’s lack of vision and ability to try and take progress and conservation hand in hand gave into economic greed and let the project and the tiger population deteriorate after it’s initial success.  At this point in time, with a new government in-charge, we stand at a crossroads waiting for them to decide which way to take our country. What price are we going to pay for progress this time? Will the downfall come at an even more accelerated rate in their race to prove how successful they can make our country economically as compared to their predecessors? Or will there be an effort to ensure that progress and preservation go hand in hand? The bigger question that comes to my mind is that, are we the people, going to once again sit quietly and watch and complaint to each other about the state of affairs or are we willing to take the initiative in raising our voices?

“Do not cut down the forest with its tigers and do not banish the tigers from the forest; the tiger perishes without the forest and the forest perishes without its tigers”
- Mahabharata, 400 BCE, Udyogaparva.

And we perish without our forests.

A very famous comedian by the name of George Carlin had once said in one of his routines. The earth doesn’t need us to heal it. The earth will heal itself and the earth will remain. What will go is the human race.

Change begins at home. To state a small example, when my father was building our home many years ago, the land was originally a mango orchard. When the time for construction came I put my nine-year-old foot down and refused to allow him to cut trees in order to build the house. As a result only one tree was cut and the rest of the trees were incorporated into the designing of the house. Today even in the sweltering summer heat there is much life that has survived due to this and these trees continue to house many different species of birds and insect lives and allow us to live in harmony with nature. We still have a home without having destroyed what gives us life. Change does not have to be at a very large magnitude. If only such things can be done at an individual level then much can still be saved. All we need is to be that catalyst towards change and progress needn’t come at a price that is unaffordable.  

About the author: Neha Parmar is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist with some tolerable talent for writing. If you liked, connected or have a contrary perspective with anything that you read please feel to share your feedback. 

To see more work by Neha Parmar 

Disclaimer: This article remains copyright of the author and is her individual perspective. If you wish to give any feedback please get in touch with the author. 

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