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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Karma leads us to this endless cycle


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style="text-align: justify;">idea of the s'ukla and k@r@s@na karmas of the Yoga system was probably suggested by the Jaina view. But when a man is free from passions, and acts in strict compliance with the rules of conduct, his actions produce karma which lasts but for a moment and is then annihilated. Every karma that the sage has previously earned has its predestined limits within which it must take effect and be purged away. But when by contemplation and the strict adherence to the five great vows, no new karma is generated, and when all the karmas are exhausted the worldly existence of the person rapidly draws towards its end. Thus in the last stage of contemplation, all karma being annihilated, and all activities having ceased, the soul leaves the body and goes up to the top of the universe, where the liberated souls stay for ever.

Buddhism also contributes some new traits to the karma theory which however being intimately connected with their metaphysics will be treated later on.

2. _The Doctrine of Mukti_.

Not only do the Indian systems agree as to the cause of the inequalities in the share of sufferings and enjoyments in the case of different persons, and the manner in which the cycle of births and rebirths has been kept going from beginningless time, on the basis of the mysterious connection of one's actions with the happenings of the world, but they also agree in

believing that this beginningless chain of karma and its fruits, of births and rebirths, this running on from beginningless time has somewhere its end. This end was not to be attained at some distant time or in some distant kingdom, but was to be sought within us. Karma leads us to this endless cycle, and if we could divest ourselves of all such emotions, ideas or desires as lead us to action we should find within us the actionless self which neither suffers nor enjoys, neither works nor undergoes rebirth. When the Indians, wearied by the endless bustle and turmoil of worldly events, sought for and believed that somewhere a peaceful goal could be found, they generally hit upon the self of man. The belief that the soul could be realized in some stage as being permanently divested of all action, feelings or ideas, led logically to the conclusion that the connection of the soul with these worldly elements was extraneous, artificial or even illusory. In its true nature the soul is untouched by the impurities of our ordinary life, and it is through ignorance

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and passion as inherited from the cycle of karma from beginningless time that we connect it with these. The realization of this transcendent state is the goal and final achievement of this endless cycle of births and rebirths through karma. The Buddhists did not admit the existence of soul, but recognized that the final realization of the process of karma is to be found in the ultimate dissolution called Nirva@na, the nature of which we shall discuss later on.

3. _The Doctrine of Soul_.

All the Indian systems except Buddhism admit the existence of a permanent entity variously called atman, puru@sa or jiva. As to the exact nature of this soul there are indeed divergences of view. Thus while the Nyaya calls it absolutely qualityless and characterless, indeterminate unconscious entity, Sa@mkhya describes it as being of the nature of pure consciousness, the Vedanta says that it is that fundamental point of unity implied in pure consciousness (_cit_), pure bliss (_ananda_), and pure being (_sat_). But all agree in holding that it is pure and unsullied in its nature and that all impurities of action or passion do not form a real part of it. The _summum bonum_ of life is attained when all impurities are removed and the pure nature of the self is thoroughly and permanently apprehended and all other extraneous connections with it are absolutely dissociated.


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