This article appeared on Thursday, September 14, 2006, On pg B16 Mid Day Mumbai
Karma in the practical world
Shakun Kimatrai, Women’s movement for peace and prosperity Chairperson
Shakun conducts Bhagwad Gita classes and aims at spreading religious awareness and Gita gyaan through her website, www.dalsabzi.com — an obviously Indianised version of the “chicken soup for the soul” series. She explains how the concept of karma is pertinent in the modern world. “There are two schools of thought followed by believers. The first doesn’t believe in free will. I subscribe to the second, which means that I allow room for the possibility that our actions, and hence, our destiny, lies in our hands to an extent.“
Shakun is of the firm belief that destiny is greatly affected by actions, prayers and deeds. “The results of your karma can be categorised into three groups,” says Shakun, who simplifies the definitions by means of metaphors. “The first is time bound, like a passing virus,” Shakun explains, adding that in this case, problems would last over a certain period of time and then disappear almost miraculously once that duration has passed. This can be seen in cases where relations that have been strained over lengths of time, suddenly improve.
Shakun compares the second type of results that one’s karam may result in, to a “bacterial infection.” In this case, she says, “just as medication would offer relief for an infection, so also would prayers or good deeds help ease the pain or problems a person is experiencing at the time.“
The third case is more serious, and can be compared to a serious illness; no amount of prayer may be able to tip the scales in one’s favour. But, Shakun insists, “As it is impossible make out which of these three categories one’s circumstances fall into while experiencing them, one can hope to find relief for the effects of their past karma, through prayers and good deeds through their lives.” Shakun adds, “In retrospect however, one can place almost every experience they have had in life into one of these three categories.“
Karma for a businessperson: According to Shakun, Hinduism is liberal — it allows for shades of grey, rather than viewing things as black or white. It allows room for actions that are required in order to achieve one’s dharma without being judged too harshly for it.
Although Shakun is very clear on the fact that bribing officials or “stealing” in any manner, way or form creates bad karma, she explains that every circumstance is different. “It would be wrong for a boy to steal food even if he was starving, but his circumstances and the fact that he was acting on his survival instinct, may result in him being judged less harshly for that crime, when compared to a person who steals out of greed.“
Karma for a partner: When one person in a relationship commits a “crime“, the other person may also have to account for the misdeed. Shakun explains, “In olden times, when women were not allowed to work, and had no way to contribute to the collective income of the household, or may not have had any say in what their husband did for a living, women would have been less accountable for their husband’s deeds.“
However, Shakun feels that the dharma of the modern woman has changed, and despite this, when a woman makes demands for jewellery or contributes to her husband’s greed, then, such a woman would definitely be judged as a partner in whatever crimes her husband commits in order to get her the lifestyle she wants.
Karma for the criminal lawyer: Shakun feels that some criminal lawyers are performing their dharma by defending even the guilty, and hence would not be accountable for that act. “It is then the dharma of the prosecuting attorney to present the argument.“
Karma in affairs of the heart: According to the Gita, it is the intention behind one’s deeds that separates the good from the bad. Shakun says that it important to be true to oneself and to strive to keep from hurting anyone. “If genuine love is the driving force behind the break-up of a relationship or marriage, the party responsible would only accrue bad karma if he or she has acted in a way to cause deliberate harm and hurt to others, without a thought for anyone but himself or herself.“
“If, however, a person is in a loveless marriage and finds himself/herself unable to control his/her feelings for another person, then it is better to release the spouse from the bonds of such a sad situation,” Shakun explains, cautiously adding, “But each case is relative and every set of circumstances is different. So, the only person who can really tell what the intention was behind any deed, and therefore, distinguish between good and bad deeds, is the person who commits them. Their heart is the best judge.“
To read what other personalities have to say about karma, click: