Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Karma. Always.

1. When chased, a serpent escapes into a well, an elephant to the trunk (to which it can be tethered); a mouse to its hole............... but who can fly from karma which is quicker than all these?

Garuda Purana.


2. There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions. In a little while the servant came back, pale and shivering, and said, "Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd. When I turned I saw it was Death herself that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture! I pray you lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will flee to Samarra and Death will not find me there".
The merchant gave him his horse, and the servant mounted it. He dug his spurs in furiously and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. The merchant then went down to the market and he saw Death standing in the crowd. He came to Death and asked," Why did you make a threating getsture to my servant when you saw him this morning?" "That was no threatening gesture...", Death said, " was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra".

Appointment in Samarra.
Babylonian folktale, popularised by Somerset Maugham.


Duryodhana and his vulnerable thigh.
Gandhari's one-shot Yogic power, gained through a lifetime of devotion would have made her firstborn impervious to anything the Pandavas could muster, and carried the day for the Kurus. But it took Lord Krishna's briefest taunt to sow a dragon seed of unnecessary shame in the mind of Duryodhana..... the Kuru prince signed his own death certificate that night.


The very virtuous, but doomed (by his own vanity) Emperor Pareekshith in his "secure" fortress...... vainly trying to hide from Takshak, the instrument of his Karma.


The mighty Achilles with his vulnerable heel.
The Goddess Styx herself becomes the unwtting instrument of her son's Karma.


Sinnerman where you gunna run to,
Sinnerman where you gunna run to,
Where you gunna run to,
All on that day?.....

Sinnerman, by Nina Simone


Hoichi was a blind mistrel in medieval Japan, a man so gifted in the arts of the Biwa ( Japanese Lute) that even the demons couldn't refrain from tears. He was particularly skilled at playing the Tale of the Heike, the saga of the fall of the Antoku Emperor and the Taira clan..... the Emperor being buried in the Amidaji shrine cemetery where Hoichi lived.
One night a Samurai visits him and asks Hoichi to play for his master, a powerful lord. Hoichi agrees and follows the Samurai to the palace of the nobleman, a realm of much splendour and gaiety (from the sound of things) where the assembled guests asked him to play the Tale of the Heike. The performance moved the audience to tears and amidst thunderous applause the nobleman requested Hoichi to make a follow up performance the next night. Before the retainer returned him to his temple, Hoichi was warned not to speak of the evening's events as his master was travelling incognito.

The following evening, the samurai returned to Hoichi's quarters and led him back to the nobleman..... and this continued for a few days. However, Hoichi's absences were soon discovered by his friend, the priest of the Temple. The priest grew suspicious and instructed his servants to keep an eye on Hoichi. It was not just his bouts of absence, Hoichi seemed to be turning weaker, paler and drained these days..... it seemed he was being slowly erased out of existence. When they saw him leaving the temple the servants followed and eventually found Hoichi playing his biwa in the middle of the cemetery! The servants dragged him back to the temple and Hoichi explained the previous night's events to the priest.

Realizing that Hoichi had been marked and bound by the restless Hungry Ghosts who tried to relive their mortal days and listen to their own tale.... and (perhaps unwittingly) were draining Hoichi of his life-force, the priest vowed to save his friend from further harm. He painted Hoichi's whole body with the sacred text of the Heart Sutra and instructed him to remain silent and motionless when he is called upon by his ghostly escort. But the priest forgot something.......

That evening the ghost of the samurai retainer called for Hoichi as before, and was angered when he received no response. The ghostly samurai approached Hoichi but was unable to see anything but his ears. The holy sutra had rendered the rest of Hoichi's body invisible to the retainer but the priest had forgotten Hoichi's ears! Attempting to comply with his orders, the samurai ripped Hoichi's ears off as proof that they had been the only portion of the lute player that was available.

The Legend of Hoichi the Earless,
Japanese Folklore


It always gets you, right?
In Eastern, non-semitic religions, Karma is the perhaps the greatest cosmic truth. IMO, it is the measure of what you have done if your lifetimes........ plus what's "ordained" for you. Yea, the latter is a factor too. Some cultures say karma is entirely tangible..... like the Ancient Egyptian funda where your heart is weighed against an ostrich feather by Anubis. It binds both humans and Gods, even if the intent was "noble".... from Lord Shiva himself doing intense penance for Brahmahatya to the King of Qin paying for his "tyranny" at the bitter end. It will visit you and/or your progeny...... and anyone or anything can be an insrument of this cosmic force. You might attempt to deflect it or escape it altogether, but it *always* comes around. Wise are the ways of Karma.

Notice how the religions of the world try to tackle this CORE issue? Some seek an attenuation of bad Karma through life-cycles among other paths, some promise offsetting it through various means..... sometimes even corporal mortification, some apparently "skirt" the whole issue by providing grace based relief and salvation.... with a simple leap of faith and some provide eternal, but material bounties in return for simple, unwavering assosciation and adherence.
This might sound too simplistic and somewhat reductionist, but don't they ALL boil down to Karma-Causality?

PS: Extremely tangential and spin-off thoughts after seeing (for the nth time) that scene where a dying Captain Miller says "Earn This!" to Private Ryan. In a rare philosphical mode.... damn! Don't worry, tiger...... it's nothing that can't be cured by any one of the seven sins you are so familiar with! I think I'll do some gluttony and envy today. ;)

PPS: I don't exactly remember how I reached Karmic concepts from that point.... maybe I should reconstruct it sometime later. Some train of thought, eh? Now you know why I chose the title, The Wanderer? :P


At 7:28 AM, Blogger Rockus said...

Karma and effect...
Something faster than light...
I believe your karma is bound to get to you no matter how long it takes or how far you run...

Nice Article ...

At 9:23 AM, Blogger ~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...


i believe in karma .....

what u do will definitely get back at you ... no doubts about it

nice post
and thanx for the stories

Cheers !

At 9:39 AM, Blogger calvin said...

Thats no train of thought . Its the path of a Zeppelin blown about in the wind.

There is this saying "What goes around , comes around " (it was something like that :D )

I think we know in our hearts about what we are doing and what its repurcussions are gonna be. So its like we know our karma Ok ? Shit happens when we ignore the feeling.

At 5:23 PM, Blogger Jithu said...

that was a deluge of stories and folklores. to sum it up, everyone will succumb to his fate, no matter whatever he does!

At 8:53 PM, Blogger quills said...

Love the song, Sinnerman. That's what stood out as I quickly glanced through your latest post.

I'll be back to write a more detailed comment. :)

At 8:53 PM, Blogger quills said...

Ps: Where do you get those changing images? :)) On your side bar.

At 9:18 PM, Blogger Anand K said...

@ Rockus: Thanx Rockus. The concept of Kaalapasham (The Rope of Yama) which binds you to your fate and judgement is an important motif..... I guess Stephen King borrowed that concept when he wrote about the aura-thread of every person extending into the high heavens in his novel Insomnia. (Read it?) You ain't never away from Karmic jurisdiction. :)

@ Deepa: Thanx Deepa! I always loved folklore and myths ertaining to these topics.... but its only recently that I started reading East Asian folklore. I must say it simply blew me away......

@ Aashik: Zepplin blown about by the wind? LOL.
Many people have an agnostic take on Karma, myself included.... to a large extent. More than social norms and laws it is perhaps this fear that keeps the animal in you on a tight leash, right?

@ Jithu: Amen!

@ Quills: I loved that song.... especially the remix by Felix the Housecat which was used as the theme in the movie Cellular. Downloaded 2 whole albums of Nina Simone but couldn't find the original Sinnerman..... some voice she got!

The changing images? Google image search plus my unending trawls through the internet fora. :)

At 11:00 PM, Blogger Rockus said...

Nope! have'nt read that...
which book?
I have lot of ebooks of King (which I have never read:P) so I could read this one.

At 1:30 AM, Blogger Jiby said...

niyativada, akrittavada...ithellaam historykke payatti thelinjittaano nee post ezhuthiyathe???

i think karma doesnt work for all... but yeah i believe i am gonna get it back some day for all the pranks i play on u!!! hehe.

At 11:01 PM, Blogger venus said...

I've been reading your post in pieces, since v busy this week and working late... will comment in detail once i finish it :)

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Maya Cassis said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Maya Cassis said...

ah yes!great a post on something I always wanted to learn more about but never had the thing to look it up.
can't fly away from it,can't hide from it.
practically whatever you are doing this minute is being accounted for in hours somewhere else to be faced by you,right.

And ah!'yes'.to realising why the wanderer speaks.;)

thanks for the enlightenment and karmic consciousness.I await my future for the death of a hundred red ants by my hands*sob*
hey!nice compilation.

(and yup the comment deleted was me...some erroneous stuff)

At 10:55 PM, Blogger Mind Curry said...

i think i was born around 15th century last time..and was a scientist..but discovered nothing :)

it was some nice insight into the travelogues of the wanderer..hope more is on the way.

i got NS's sinnerman if you are looking for that. its a great song alright..which reminds me have you seen the Assassin with Bridget Fonda? am sure you would have..still..

At 11:22 PM, Blogger Anand K said...

@ Rockus: Insomnia.... it is a part of The Dark Tower universe,but can hold out as a stand alone work too.

@ Jiby: Njaan ancient religion kaiyozhinjede! No hope!
BTW, for your misdeeds towards me.... you are going swimming in the Vembanad Lake, dressed in a refridgerator. :P

@ Venus: Waiting for Goddess Venus's blessings.... ;)

@ Maya: You murdered a hundred red ants? Hailaaaa!
Maya Cassis, for sins commited during your mortal life, you are going to spend 100000 yeras in the 6th realm of hell... in a vat of concentrated Formic Acid secreted by the souls of those ants you butchered! Feel free to scream your head off.... :P

@ Mind Curry: You! I remember you.... you were the nutjob I executed for sheer incompetence in my past life as the Ottoman Emperor. :P
Yes, I've seen that movie, it had an alternate title "No Way Out".... pretty good movie, I say! It's got the always dependable Gabriel Bryne in it! The storyline was lifted and Bollywood remade it into Kartoos with Sunjay Dutt as the protagonist, Jackie Shroff taking Bryne's role and Manisha as the love interest of the assassin. It's got a nice soundtrack too... Ishq Ka Rutba is excellent plus Dediya and Oh Rabba.

PS: BTW, did the movie soundtrack feature Sinnerman?

PPS: Can you mail the song to anand dot karthikeyan at gmail dot com?
TIA. KOdi Punyam Kittun!

At 5:53 AM, Blogger Maya Cassis said...

Anand,DON't do this toooo meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!...that was my scream by the way....formic acid...ouch ouch ouch !!!
save me from this 6th hell!someone??!!!
er..prince charming...??

ps- my excuse for killing them...woh hai nah!hamara 'kundi' katt-thi thi,isiliye hamne un sabko mar dala

ok that statement has been made with 1,2,3,4...10 witnesses so don't make any lafdas in the upar ka court!aisa bolta hai.

pps- Maya aaj peeke aaya hai!bahut mushkil mein hun re
*hick* *hick*
bathroom kiddhar hai re?;)

At 11:23 PM, Blogger venus said...

there is a caravaran of so many Gods from all around the world, religions here that Goddess Venus is feeling too crowded here to shower AK with her blessings;):P

btw, I didn't imagine that you could were this deep into philosophy too..
(it's a compliment>)

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Pinkbury said...

Nice article!
The question is
"If everything in your life is decided before you were born, then why make any effort to make your life better?"

The answer is in Back to Future series part 2.....
Every action determines your fate. Any deviation will alter your existence. The theory of infinite pararell futures running simultaneously.....determined by every action.

Wow!! some software at work there!!

At 4:04 PM, Blogger silverine said...

I think Karma is nothing but a religious explanation of the recylcing of atoms of every living thing after death and decomposition. What your particulate reassemble into is explained as the fruits of your sins/good deeds in your last physical life.
I agree with Pink Berry that "If everything in your life is decided before you were born, then why make any effort to make your life better?"

At 1:36 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

I believe in karma... what goes around comes around
beautifully writteb post.

At 8:26 AM, Blogger Anand K said...

Sorry guys, I wasn't able to access this comments page for a day. Thirdtime it's happening!

@ Maya: What, a Bharatiya Nari drinking liquor?! Ailaa.... you are going to swim in Vaitharini, the river of Hell for this. PS: Check out what this river is made up off! If you thought the Yamuna was polluted....

@ Venus: Woot.
Thanx, Oh Goddess! :P

@ Pink Berry: There's this saying in Malayalam "ThAan PAathi, Daivam PAathi">... translates to something like "Trust in God, but lock your car!"
There's a whole corpus of literature debating on this quesion you have mentioned.... "If everything is preordained, why bother?
You've mentioned one of the takes here. Thanx. :)

@ Silverine: There's the funda that the only thing the soul carries over in transmigration/rebirth is the Karmic effect.... not the "humors" and memories (in most cases). That the soul is not tangible or can be defined by any human notions.......
Now this is against a "theory" brought out b some western scientist who claimed that she found a person loses 21 grams the moment he/she expires.... and this 21 grams is the weight of the soul. (This also alludes to the certain religious concepts of perishable, damnable and discrete souls as against the "unknown" extension or part-of-godhead concept in the some religions/sects...)

PS: Seen the movie 21 grams starring Sean penn and Del Toro and Naomi Watts?

PPS: Played the Doom 3 game? The Soul Cube which captured the souls of the entire race of the Ancients is described to be totally weightless, of indeterminable composition and origin.... and nothing in the 24th century could tell what exactly it was. ;)

@ Immigrant in Canada: Thanx Sarah. PS:Thats your name, right? :) The Immigrant in Canada handle is too long.. :)

BTW, I always liked the saying "What goes around, comes around.".... Sort of scares you, right?

At 8:13 PM, Blogger 日月神教-任我行 said...



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