Theory of Karma - Chapter 31


In the matter of suffering or enjoying pre-destined fruits of one's past actions, a person is helpless, therefore his mind mechanically and instinctively follows the natural consequences of his past actions. Whatever destiny (Prarabdha) has thus been carved out of his own actions, his mind becomes pre-disposed to manifest precisely such destiny. Even his intelligence and special skills perforce drive him in the direction of realising his destiny, shaped as it is by his Prarabdha Karmas.

We sometimes come across amazing examples of people with sharp and incorruptible intellect falling a prey to apparently trivial temptations or lapses of mind, which ultimately bring them great misery and anguish. Unbelievable and mind boggling as these mental indiscretions appear to be, they are merely illustrative, perhaps dramatically, of the irrefutable and compelling force of Prarabdha chasing the intellect for its fruition.

As an example, suppose a mouse, in the course of its nocturnal hunt, chase for food, comes upon a tantalizing fruit basket Iying in a dark corner of the house. Driven by irresistible desire for enjoying a sumptuous feast of various fruits, the poor mouse spends the whole night applying all its God-given skills in carving out a big hole through the basket. But no sooner has the mouse managed to penetrate its mouth through the layers of cane and grass than lo ! a snake, trapped since seven days inside the basket, snaps at the mouse and swallows it down as if just waiting for this opportunity to satisfy its hunger. Thus the inevitable Prarabdha (fate) of the mouse goads it to use all its sharp vision and intellect, as well as its specialised skill, only to drive itself headlong into the mouth of death. At the same time, the snake enjoys its good fortune (Prarabdha) of a sumptuous feast, without any effort whatsoever, to satisfy its hunger with a relish.

As another example, when a rabbit or skunk predestined to die a crushing death, sees a car passing by while crossing a country road, instinctively it rushes headlong straight into the wheels of the speeding car, impelled though he is by a desire to save himself. Thus the very effort (Purushartha) motivated by his desire to save his life, instead becomes the cause of his destiny driven death. If he had refrained from making any effort to cross the road, his life would have been spared. But at that moment his instinct would inevitably predispose him to making the fateful run for his death. Such is the compulsive force of destiny (Prarabdha) in its predeterminence over mental faculties. Let us take one more example of how mind and intellect become, as it were, a slave to bring about the inescapable fruits of one's past actions. Suppose a rich and prominent businessman is confronted with an urgent mission to make an overnight trip to negotiate a lucrative business deal. Upon inquiry with the local airlines he finds that the only flight to his destination that evening is already fully booked. Being both resourceful and determined to carry out his mission, he spends the major part of his day making several phone calls, using the full weight of his wide influence to obtain a seat on the same flight at any price. Finally to his great satisfaction, he persuaded the airlines manager to get himself replaced for another passenger by offering to pay double the normal fare and also to compensate the passenger thus deprived of his reservation. Within minutes after the plane takes off into the air, it crashes down with a fierce explosion leaving no survivors. Thus the very assets of the businessman, his material affluence and his social influence which would normally become the means for his well-being instead became instrumental in his tragic and violent destruction. Such is the absolute supremacy of Prarabdha over the mind and intellect.

Whatever is pre-destined for you, either your Prarabdha will drag you to the right place at the right moment to make it a reality for you, or it will come running on its feet to wherever you are hiding. In any event until your pre-destined fate has become a reality for you, you cannot escape from the clutches of Prarabdha.

Even the most exalted souls of pure impeccable character and intellect become victims of convoluted thinking when it comes to reaping the consequences of their Prarabdha Karma.

Even Shri Rama, the incarnation of Vishnu, became enamoured of the extremely improbable sight of a golden deer. Indeed, when adversity born out of fateful destiny comes knocking at the door, even the most astute mind develops a confused and fuzzy intellect. In the entire creation of all the myriad species, nobody has even heard of nor seen a golden deer. Notwithstanding this, Shri Rama succumbed to the temptation of chasing the golden deer. Indeed when the moment of downfall arrives, the intellect becomes perverted.

Ravana was a very learned king. He was accomplished in the knowledge of all the four Vedas, and also was the supreme devotee of Lord Shiva. He was so powerful that all the nine planets were under his sway and subjugation. Even such a learned and mighty king became the victim of warped and twisted thinking. It was his Prarabdha Karma which led him to the self-destructive temptation of scheming for the abduction of Rama's wife, Sita. This fatal lapse on the part of Ravana again graphically illustrates the principle that when the moment of downfall arrives, the intellect of a wise man indeed becomes perverted.