Karma is that which should be done, Akarma is not doing and Vikarma is doing the wrong thing.
In today’s world.. it’s hard to determine what is karma because we no longer believe in caste, gender and age guidelines and the distinction between right and wrong blur as our planet is being forged into a global village. If I say do “this” you can point out a situation or time in which that specific thing is not good.
I have recently had an illuminating idea on this subject.
The entire “karma-kanda” of the Vedas is for Chitta Suddhi. (As we have already discussed., chitta is already pure.. here chitta refers to the conglomerate including manas, buddhi, dhi and citta.) (See Engaging your manas, dealing with pain and confusion, experiencing bliss and Chitta Suddhi and Chit Svaroopi and kRtsna karma kRt : one who has done the entire karma (work) that is to be done).
Since the entire purpose of karma is to purify the manas (the part of your mind linked to the senses) and to help it engage with the chitta (the divine consciousness)…
…the test of whether an action is karma is whether it purifies the manas.
So lets try this on a few examples.
- Eating cake : delights my tongue and makes me happy, if I eat once piece and makes me sick and unhealthy if I eat too many pieces. It gives me an inkling of bliss, but is not a route to keeping my manas engaged in the chitta. My manas is in the gnyana- indriya (a sense that percieves) of taste. At the end of eating a piece of cake, at my age, there will be a tinge of guilt for having disobeyed the doctors’ orders. So this is definitely not karma for the ageing, though it may be okay for small children.
- Looking at the sunrise or moon or stars or ocean or Himalayan Peaks : delights my eyes and makes me happy. It not only gives me an inkling of bliss but can also turn my mind to nature, the universe, the creator, God and fill me with a sense of wonder. This gives me a better shot at engaging my manas with the chitta and can count as karma therefore.
- Feeding hungry orphans or the destitute elderly or any act of kindness to living things : When you feel the pain of any life-form with your manas, even though it is not attached to your body, and when you act to relieve that life form of its pain, ie when you help or love another living thing, your mind is engaged with the chitta or universal consciousness and even though it hurts your body and manas, you feel sense of relief when that being is saved. It is said that the Devas feel the pain of other beings acutely, far more than even we do. Thats why they help us.
- Chanting Vedas or Gita or any text that YOU hold as divine : is karma.
- Adhyayana or studying the Puranas or anything you consider divine : is karma
Krishna says that ANY action you do with your manas engaged in the chitta, thinking that God is acting through nature, is karma, ie purifying action. That means I could be eating cake and still feel purified if I remembered that it was little Krishna eating the cake.!
In Hindu Practice, from conception to death, there are well-defined rituals, called samskaraas, to help the manas engage with the chitta and become pure.
Today, people follow very few of these practices, a good example being the vivaha or marriage samskara. But even then few focus on the divinity of the occasion or use the occasion to engage the manas with chitta. Instead its all about socializing, fun, ostentation and often even exploitation. Often even with the sacred fire lit and in presence of Veda Mantras, everyone is thoroughly distracted and treat the whole thing as a background sound. The manas of the key players is so very stressed out.
So I am thinking that a simple holding of hands (pani grahanam), in the presence of the divine rising sun, and a commitment or sankalpa (will/ decision) to share their lives.. should succeed in engaging the manas of the couple with their chitta, and qualify as a a samskara.
Akarma and Vikarma
If you do nothing that may or may not qualify as akarma, for eg the manas of a person sitting still may become purified and engaged in citta, then even sitting still is karma.
Tha manas of a soldier who kills the brave and noble soldiers of the enemy army may feel purified and engaged in the chitta, even though, as Arjuna put, ‘it it is a horrific action’. So it could count as karma and not as vikarma. Whereas the manas of a person who does nothing to defend an exploited child, could become guilt ridden and impure, then we know that person is engaged in vikarma.
Hope this helps.
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