Bhagavadgita Pages, Chapters 1 to 18
Veeraswamy Krishnaraj: Tolerance with love is to speak in tongues of all faiths, hold in the heart the Truth of all faiths and see all faiths in the face of humanity.
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Article by Swami Rama Tirtha (1873-1906)
Swami Rama Tirtha (1873-1906) was great Advaitin who was also equally at ease with Persian, Arabic as well as Sanskrit literature. He happened to be in Lucknow in 1905 when Muslim Maulanas came to him to get enlightened on Hinduism and their own religion.
He had a dialog with them about God.
Here is an explanation of transmigration of soul, Karma and its consequences.
Query :- We are very thankful to you for clearing our doubts about Avtar. We would now request you to kindly enlighten us on the theory of Ava-gawan or rebirth. Are you also convinced of it?
Rama :- The theory of Ava-gavan (transmigration of soul) is based on the philosophy of Karma or action. This is not a matter of mere belief but is proved by logic.
Rama has already told you that a man has not reached his present stage of evolution all at once. He is here today by his gradual development, through the process of what the scientists call the Law of "Evolution." This Law is based on convincing experiments and has been proved to the hilt by Darwin only in the 19th century. But the Hindus Seers had realized this natural Law thousands of years ago. Even in the oldest scriptures of the Hindus, we find this Law having been mentioned.
According to this "Law of Evolution" the microscopic bacteria or Amoeba gradually passes through various stages of the lower animals to develop finally into the form of a human being. The modern science has proved it very beautifully and logically with the help of convincing experiments. Up to the stage of the animals below the human beings, this evolution goes on automatically in a natural way. The lower animals possess only the instinct. But the human beings have rationalism in them. In other words, man develops in him, the power of discrimination. Since he has developed rationalism and the power of discrimination in him, he tries to act according to his own wisdom, as dictated by his own individual intellect. As such, he is held responsible for his own actions or deeds.
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From this state onwards, the "Law of Action" begins to work. As you sow, so shall you reap. This law is immutable and infallible. Even in our daily life we find it as proved. Nobody should hesitate to accept or deny this Natural Law. This Law is quite obvious and self-evident. We will be punished or rewarded, according to our bad or good deeds. It is according to this very Law that a man can rise or fall. It is according to this very Law that a man makes or mars his destiny. If a man's actions are good, he would be rewarded. He will also get further chances to raise himself higher and higher. If, however, his deeds are bad, i.e. not in conformity with the Law of Nature, he is sure to be punished, he cannot escape it. Despite this, Nature continues to present opportunities to him to do good deeds, so that he may reform himself and continue to evolve himself.
Man, as you know, is free to act in any way he likes. But, he is bound to face the consequences of his past deeds. So long as a man does not put his hand in the fire, he will remain unscathed. It is up to him to put his hand in the fire or not. So long as you have not signed the loan deed, you are not responsible to repay it (loan). To sign or not to sign such a deed depends upon you. But if you have signed such a deed, you are bound to make the payment. If you have taken the purgative, you are forced to run to the toilet again and again. You cannot avoid doing this.
All this means that you are free to do or not to do any work. But, once you have done it, you can never escape its consequences, good or bad. Nobody's recommendation can work here. You must reap the fruits of your actions, sooner or later. There are certain medicines which act immediately, while, the effect of some others is experienced only after some time. The effect of certain other medicines is seen after days or weeks. Similarly, there are certain actions, the result of which is awarded immediately, while there are others which are rewarded later on. This is the Law.
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God is not only just, but He is also kind and merciful. He repeatedly offers opportunities to the misguided or misled persons to reform themselves, so that they may continue to advance on the path to progress. They must not stop til the goal is reached. It is on these principles that the theory of rebirth is based. They who do not admit the theory of "rebirth", accuse God of being unjust, wrong and tyrant. They, thus, ignore one of the most important laws of Nature. You see, there is heterogenous differences among various persons in this world. Why should there be so much of dissimilarity and variance, as to cause divergent and incongruous characters? Have you ever given any thought to it? Some are narrow-minded, while others have a broad out-look. Some are greedy, while some others are benevolent. Some are angelic, while others are Saitan personified. Some are afflicted with sorrow, while others are gifted with happiness and prosperity. Some are sickly, while others enjoy perfect health. After all, why should there be so much of disparity and inequality. If you reflect seriously, you cannot give any satisfactory explanation for this except that it is all due to one's past actions.
A man can live for seventy, eighty or hundred years in this world. According to the Muslim's faith, after his death, he will, so to say, remain imprisoned in his grave for millions and millions of years, till the day of judgment. He will, then, go to heaven or hell for good, to suffer the results of his past actions, as judged by God. He will not thus be allowed any opportunity to reform himself or to make any fresh or renewed efforts for his evolution. This is what the Christians or the Muslims are said to believe. For a period of seventy or even hundred years of his worldly life, the poor man will have to face the imprisonment of millions of years in the grave, before the judgment is pronounced by God. How can God perpetrate such acts of injustice, when He is said to be most reasonable, fair and just?
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A baby is born in a rich family and he lives with comfort, pleasure and delight. Why so? Why is God so pleased with him from his very birth, as to allow him this life-long comfort and ease? There must be, after all, some cause for His preconception and kindness for him. There is another side to it. Here, a baby is born in a beggar's family with practically no chance to progress. He is born a beggar and dies a beggar. He has to pass his whole life in pain, affliction, worries and woes. Why? What was his fault? What sin had he committed for which he has been punished, since his very birth? Why is God so cruel to him? What has made Him so revengeful against him? What sort of justice is this?
A man is very wise, intelligent and also efficient. Even then, he is unable to get an employment anywhere. At times, he thinks of committing suicide for his failure to earn his livelihood, simply because he belongs to a poor family with no recommendation for himself. On the other hand, there is another man, who is welcomed everywhere, even though he is dull-headed and inefficient. Why? Why was he born with a silver spoon in his mouth? Why does he monopolize all pleasures and enjoyments? After all, there must be some reason behind it.
A child, since his birth has been suffering from boils, fever, dysentery and other painful diseases. Why? What sin had he committed to have to face the wrath of God in this way? Why has he been punished, at all? Some people argue that the ailments of the parents have been transmitted to the child. But Why? Why was this child made to take birth in a family, where the parents were sickly and unhealthy? There are other children as well, born of the same parents. Why did they not inherit the diseases of their parents? All these facts combine to prove that all this is not a mere coincidence. There is some cogent and valid reason at the root of it.
Let another example be quoted. A poor father has four sons. They are all poverty stricken and with great difficulty
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manage to make two ends meet. All of a sudden, one of the sons gets a lottery of a million rupees. He separates himself from his parents and brothers. He leads a luxurious life with all possible comforts and dissipation. Can you please explain why God was so much pleased with him as to make him a king out of a beggar? You might say, "It is God's will. The man has no right to question His will. He is free to do anything, He likes. Who are we to question Him"? You may or may not be right in your thinking, but, if you are satisfied with such a God, Rama has nothing to say. But, a rational and intelligent person will not accept such an arbitrary despotism of God. God is, then, more of a tyrant than kind or merciful. Is He really so unreasonable and arrogant as to make one a king and the other a beggar to be insulted and abused by his own fellow men?
Dear friends, God is neither a tyrant nor unjust. The entire show of this universe is going on, according to definite and set Laws of Nature. Everybody has, therefore, to reap the harvest of his past actions, consistent with His infallible Laws. Accordingly, one is sickly and the other is healthy, one has to sit on thorns with pain and worries, while the other is rolling in wealth with a care-free and luxurious life. You will agree with Rama that the entire universe is nothing but a show of cause and effect. Therefore, nothing occurs without some definite cause. You may or may not be aware of these causes, but they must exist there. And, if you reflect seriously, you can also discover them at the back of any incident. It is only this Law of 'cause and effect', which is at the root of 'rebirth after death.' Therefore, you have to recognize and accept this Law. This explanation is quite simple and logical. It is also in agreement with the various aspects of human life. It gives repeated opportunities to man to reform himself. And, as such, it is in the interest of the man himself. It gives him ample incentives to do good and benevolent deeds, so as to be born in a good family in future, which will further help him in the process of evolution to limitlessness.
A Session With Muslim Representatives (Part-1)
183 Query:- If there is a previous life of a man, he should remember the incidents and affairs of his past. But, as we see, he is unable to conjure up any remembrance of them. Why?
Rama:- It is not so, always. There have been a few cases when a few children were able to recollect some of the incidents of their past lives. On verification of their authenticity and veracity, they were found to be correct. But it is neither possible nor necessary for every man to recollect all the events of his past life. You might have observed that the children often forget that they were given milk while asleep the previous night. Even in our own present life, we do not remember all the events of the past. We forget quite a number of the events of ours this very life. It is, therefore, very difficult to remember the events of our past life. It is not unnatural.
As a matter of fact, it is in our own interest that we fail to recollect the events of our past life. Had we remembered them, we would have been pained to recollect the bad relations and the sad affairs of our past life. If we could recollect the enemies of our past life, we would have been brooding over their enmity and injustice. This would have made our present life very unhappy. We would also have tried to retaliate in our present life. All such emotional considerations would have certainly proved as impediments and stumbling blocks in the process of our evolution.
We have to advance forward and not backward to retrace our steps. One who wants to advance onwards but is in the habit of looking backwards is sure to stumble. Such a person will not be successful in making any appreciable progress. You will please mark that our peace of mind is disturbed and we feel dejected and grieved when we remember any unfortunate, ominous or adverse incident of our present life. That is why, it is very kind of the merciful God that He made us forget the incidents of our past life. Now, in our present life, we can begin
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our career afresh with renewed efforts, ways and means and resources, so as to reform ourselves. It will help us advance on the path of progress and evolution. Had we remembered the distressing conflicts, depressing strifes and irksome struggles of our various past lives, we would have made our present life miserable and unhappy. We must now view the events of our present life in an unattached way, like an unconcerned witness. We must surrender ourselves whole-heartedly to be lost in the discharge of our present duties, without caring for the result. Our work will, then, become easy, pleasant, and untiring. Such an attitude of ours will maintain our equanimity and help us preserve our peace of mind. Do not please forget that peace is the most needed factor for success in every sphere of your life. This is the most essential means for achieving the goal of the life. Without peace of mind you cannot successfully make progress. That is why, the Hindu religion repeatedly stresses peace and equanimity in all possible ways in all the circumstances.