I could see her grazing peacefully. She had come away from her group, not too far away but enough for me to handle separately. I moved – just an inch. She could smell me I guess. Her ears popped up alert and ready to flee. It was now or never. In one leap I covered half the distance. The rest of the group had sensed me and had begun to run. But the one I stalked was too close to me to escape. It was all over – for her I mean, in under a minute. It had been several days since I had such a wonderful meal. As a predator of the jungle, I had no qualms about being a non-vegetarian. Yet her eyes haunted me with that quaint expression of fear and acceptance. Her beautiful face was etched into my mind as Mriganayani…
I looked around with a start. Something was definitely wrong. I felt an extra pair of eyes on me. I am the lord of the jungle. Who would dare to watch over me? The sound was loud and perhaps if I had had the time, I might have been frightened. As it was, I never had time to react. There was that blasting sound and almost immediately I was plunged in pain followed by a peaceful darkness. It took me several lifetimes to comprehend that the gunshot that killed me belonged to the hunter – Kaal. The predator had become the prey.
I was visiting my friend when she breezed into my life. What sheer magic to be in her presence! Somewhere Mriganayani had stolen my heart in just a few coy smiles. We met – by accident or destiny I’m not sure. But I was slowly and surely falling in love with her. I had a well-established business and was sure we would have a great life together. I was sure she would accept my marriage proposal.
My friend Kaal invited me to meet more often. Something was not right. He was a good friend yet I never felt at ease with him. There was a sense of competition I was not too comfortable with. I had made up my mind I would keep a distance from him. Well, after the wedding for I should thank him for bringing Mriganayani into my life…
Just one unexpected visit and all my dreams were shattered. I arrived with a ring and a bunch of flowers to woo my girl – till that moment Mriganayani was my girl – And there he was already placing his engagement ring on her finger. Kaal had hunted me!
Somewhere I needed to know ‘why’ fate had decreed so. I visited my past, came face to face with Mriganayani the doe I had killed several lifetimes ago. Perhaps it was her revenge on me to deny me the pleasure of her company this life. Kaal – Time had once again out run me in this race called life. Is this called destiny – to be punished for a crime I committed as an animal? Does Kaal need so much time to reap his revenge? Would I never escape the laws of Karma for every action done in immaturity? Can I never outrun my past?!?
Sri Rama, the hero of our Indian epic Ramayana, was approached by Sugreeva to kill his brother Vaali. Rama agreed to help and from behind a tree shot an arrow at Vaali even as he was in combat with Sugreeva. A dying Vaali cried out to Rama –
“Why O Prince, Protector of Dharma,
did you hide behind a tree to fight?
Is it right to interfere and slay me
when no harm to Thee I’ve ever been?”
Rama replied, holding Vaali on his lap
“Why dear friend did you usurp the wife
of your brother Sugreeva, the virtuous Ruma
Is it your dharma to take another’s spouse?”
“O Rama” said Vaali, “We are not men
to be bound by laws of single consort
As a monkey I may keep as many wives
my dharma doesn’t forbid me Ruma’s life”
“O brave monkey” replied Rama to Vaali
“So too have I not failed my dharma.
A man I would fight only face to face,
Yet animal like thee I shall hunt from behind a tree.”
As an animal it was my survival instinct to make a meal of the doe called Mriganayani. Perhaps when I felt the bullet shear my heart, I evolved from an animal skin to a human one. Today’s rejection of my ring by Mriganayani, can not be my past catching up with me. No God or Dharma can make me pay for a then acceptable act – now treated a crime. My hard earned maturity of today cannot take retrospective claim to judge my past. How easy it is to relegate all that happens now to an action from my past catching up in time. Karma can never be punishment to a man for his actions as an animal. If today things are not the way I would like them to be, it is because today my thinking and actions have probably attracted such a response.
Rukmani had sent several letters to Krishna requesting him to carry her away and wed her before she is forced into a political marriage to Sisupala. When she hears no word of promise from Krishna, she pours her heart out to Shaibya who is visiting from Dwaraka. At the end of her tale of woe, Shaibya smiles and asks Rukmani – “You have expressed rather vividly of your desire to elope with Krishna. But dear girl, you haven’t once addressed what you might have done to deserve him!” Taken by surprise, Rukmani replies automatically “Why! Here I am the princess of Vidarbha asking Krishna who is a mere cowherd…!” Even as she utters the word Rukmani realizes her mistake. All along her invitation to Krishna had remained from a princess to a cowherd. She wrote one last letter as a beloved to her chosen husband and Krishna fought a battle to carry away his beautiful bride!
Embedded in the forward direction of time, popular perspectives on Karma iterates that past actions cause the future. However, if time is revisited with modern understanding that the future is no more open than the past, Karma will no longer be just past actions setting up our future, but also future necessities contriving to have a present happen. To elaborate, if time is no longer one-dimensional, we will begin to accept that the first ape had to develop a flaw of a straight spinal column for the entire humanity to happen. Time as we believed till now, always fell under the category of cause and effect – one event caused the other. But understanding the new perspective for time it makes us believe that the cause and effect happen simultaneously. Rukmani can wed Krishna only when she learns to step aways form the title of ‘Princess’. Equally true, as Rukmani is destined to marry Krishna, she has to learn to step away from the title of ‘Princess’. Is the past catching up with you by way of a punishment or is the future beckoning you by way of a choice today?
In a public interaction recently, a person proposed to our revered Mahatria – “As Karmic laws are in play, when something wrong happens because of my action to someone else, isn’t it also because they probably deserve that as part of their Karma? Then am I not doing God’s work in releasing their Karma? Why should I be punished?” I realised, if I blame you – that your Karma prompts me to cheat you – that very same karma I am building from my present action, will surely come back with exponential growth to take its revenge on me! Perhaps your karma has given you this punishment. Perhaps it is my karma, that is giving me the opportunity to square up some past wrong done by you to me. But equally true, may be it is the future me giving me an opportunity to end this right here, right now – to teach me to simply walk away! If I ignorantly believe I am doing God’s work in effecting that punishment on you, I am simply transferring your bad karma into my own life! I cannot claim that I became a predator because you were meant to be the prey!
Existence is one big magnetic field. Any thought that passes through the mind attracts the corresponding action into our field. A thought of positive empathy creates a wave of positive magnetism while every negative thought attracts into our field waves of negativity. Karma is not really my past catching up with me, but my present staying attractive to everything I feel. Therefore if I can learn from another’s actions, I don’t even need to experience those lessons in my life. Not everyman discovered that fire burns his skin. Yet that knowledge has changed all of humanity. Not everyone needs to lose an arm and a leg in drunken driving to learn to never mix the two. If another’s experience can truly guide me to understand that situation, I need never learn it experientially in my life. It is today’s thinking that attracts a response from existence. Therefore Karma is not something on which I have no control. Karma is the magnet in-built into my present life.
Jung said ‘I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become’. I would like to rephrase it as ”Karma is not really about what happened to me as a consequence of my past. It is an opportunity provided in my present for what I choose to become.’
As long as I am a predator, Mriganayani will remain the doe protected by Kaal. Only when I learn to love her as life, can she ever become my wife.
Written by Gita Krishna Raj | Published in infinithoughts in January 2015