Bhagavan Mahavira ► 07 ► [07.14] The Doctrine of Karma

Posted: 15.09.2005

Chapter 7

The Relevance Of The Jaina Religion To Modern Problems


hagavan Mahavira propounded the doctrine of freedom of soul.

  • The soul is not a part of paramatma, God or Supreme Soul.
  • It does not dissolve into paramatma after it has become emancipated.
  • It maintains its independent existence in the state of bondage as well as liberation.

In the 20th Century, the intelligentsia are now considering Bhagavan Mahavira as a Saviour of mankind in the sense that he liberated the mankind from the mirage of dependence on others.

He endowed man with the insight to tread the path of self, dependence and spiritual exertion. People, who believed in God as the creator and controller of man's fate, sought his grace. Then, there were those who believed nature to be the controlling force, and depended on it.

Bhagavan Mahavira did not deny the existence of paramatma, but he did not accept him to be the creator and controller of man's fate.

He said,

  • Man himself is the maker of his own fate; nobody else is.
  • Even karma is not such a controlling force, for man himself is the maker of karma. Man is bound to suffer the consequences of his karma, but not to the extent that he cannot change its course.
  • One who enjoys an independent existence is also free to enjoy the freedom of action.
  • The ultimate cause lies wholly within him.
  • Forces other than himself do influence his actions, but they cannot completely emasculate him.”

Several forces like Time (kala), Nature, universal laws, and karma influence man's capacity to act. Karma is the most powerful among them, and is closely connected with man. But karma itself is created by man's own exertion. The effects of punya give pleasure and those of papa produce adversity. Man must bear the consequences of his karma in this or the next life. He cannot get rid of the effects of his karma until they have been separated from the soul.

Bhagavan Mahavira accepted the power of karma, but he did not accept it as the supreme power. Had he done so, he would not have been in the position to deny the existence of God as the Creator or Controller. It would have simply meant substituting karma in place of God without making any difference. Then there would have been a controlling force over soul, whether it be God or karma.

Bhagavan Mahavira accepted the concept of a supreme force in a limited sense only.

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