ASTROLOGY IN RELATION TO KARMA

Karma is a very powerful concept in Hindu tradition. Whether someone is happy or sad, we immediately attribute it to Karma. Karma is understood today more in the reactionary sense than in the “sense of action” in which it has to be really understood. While both Action and Reaction come under the definition of karma, it is mostly the “Reactionary” effect that people find it difficult to comprehend. “You are the product of the past and the producer of the future” – this is karma theory in a nutshell. Prior to India’s independence, the Bhagavad Gita was understood to be a book of renunciation preaching the Gospel of Inaction. Mostly people understood it to be message of leaving everything to God and leading a life of Inaction. Noticing this disturbing trend, Bal Gangadhar Tilak wrote a masterly commentary on Gita explaining that it is actually a  book recommending Action thereby rejecting the Theory of Inaction. “Gita Rahasya” of  Tilak was read by lots of people who took its message in right earnest and embarked on a courageous mission to liberate the subcontinent from colonial oppression.

The karma theory corresponds very loosely to Newton’s Third Law of Motion: “Every Action has an equal and opposite reaction”. Take the simple act of doing charity. There is an element of loss in terms of money or materials in acts of benevolence. The law of karma aims to correct this imbalance by making the ­­­­­­­donor a potential recipient of money or materials  or some other benefit to compensate for this loss.

The theory of karma bears a close link with the theory of reincarnation. Take the earlier example. If the donor were to be compensated in a future birth, what is the primary requisite? That person should be born again. Assuming that the person who did that charity had instead committed a crime;then  instead of a reward, what awaits that person in the next birth would be punishment. Both good and bad karmas bind us to the transmigratory cycle of births and deaths. Punya is compared to a fetter of gold, while Papa is comparable to an iron chain; overlooking the quality of the metal, what is common to an iron or a golden chain, is its propensity to restrict a person’s freedom of movement.

We can classify all karmas into three categories: (a) Sanchita (b) Prarabdha and (c) Agami. Sanchita Karma is similar to potential energy. It indicates the stored karma of earlier births. Prarabdha Karma is comparable to kinetic energy. It refers to that portion of accumulated karma, whose results are felt in the present birth. Let us assume, that a man takes four births A,B,C,D. In birth A, he commits a murder. In birth B, he does an act of charity. Now when he arrives at the point of taking birth in C, he has one good karma and one bad karma behind him. In births C and D, any of the two karmas can get activated. For what he did in birth A, he may have to suffer in birth C, if the Sanchita Karma of birth A gets activated. In birth C he will enjoy, if on the other hand, the karma of birth B gets activated.

Let us now talk about his birth C; whatever he does in that birth is known as Kriyamana Karma. Assuming that in birth C, he constructs a Siva temple and also digs a temple tank for the devotees, then the positive karma at the at the start of birth D, will be what Punya he has acquired in births A, B and C minus what suffering he has undergone in C. Let us say someone takes a loan which he will repay after two years. This is Agami Karma, a deed which refers to the future. Agami refers to an act which needs to be performed in future

Most people have a doubt. Why do predictions go wrong? The answer is Agami Karma. Whatever deeds have been done in the present birth is a grey area, which can elude the calculation of even the best of astrologers. . In the previous example let us assume that the good deeds done in birth C, germinate and yield results in the same birth itself. That will undo the prediction of even the most knowledgeable among Astrologers who make predictions to C based on his birth chart. Agami Karma is the bane of any Astrologer; it threatens the very foundation of predictions.

Please note that I am neither defending quack astrologers nor am I finding lame excuses for one’s inability to predict the future with accuracy. My only submission here is that Agami karma is at times so powerful a force, which can undo the functioning of the laws of Astrology based on natal charts and produce results contrary to those mentioned in textbooks on Astrology.The reason which I would attribute to for this phenomenon is the fact that in the natal charts the role of Agami karma cannot be anticipated with any measure of accuracy.Why Astrology is still regarded as True science is due to the fact that Past Karma is a so formidable a force that unless Agami karma is even more powerful,it cannot dislodge the karma of the Past so as to topple the Laws of Astrology.

The most powerful tool available to a person born in this world is Kriyamana Karma or deeds of current birth. He enjoys freedom of action in this area. He can use this freedom either to liquidate the karma of earlier births and obtain liberation or he can create fresh karma which will germinate in future which further bind him to the birth – death cycle.

Some learned scholars have given an excellent piece of salutary advice to those embarking on Spiritual Sadhana. The message is threefold.

1) Live in this life like a lotus leaf in water. Do good deeds, charitable acts, actions without vested interests or selfish motives but at the same time perform all karma (other than Kamya karma or selfish karma) as prescribed by Dharma Sastras.

2) Whatever good or bad, you are forced to undergo owing to the law of karma, do so ungrudgingly. The law of karma is a divine law; so you express your faith in the divine by allowing the law of karma to reign Supreme.

3) Aspire for Karma Mukti or Mukti in a gradual way rather than aspire for it in the present birth. Allow the cosmic power to choose when to end your misery rather than opt for it now, thereby circumventing the law of karma.

Terms like Yogakaraka Dasha, Jupiter Dasha, Shani Dasha, Sade Sathi, Janma Guru etc are all only an extension to the Karma theory. When a man is enjoying his life, the Karma Siddhantin says, his Sanchita Karma of good deeds is now giving its effects as Prarabdha. The same is reflected in the Natal chart as Jupiter Dasha, Venus dasha, Yogakaraka Dasha, so on and so forth.Whether freewill can negate the effects of Karma is a subject of constant debate with the rival groups claiming superiority over the other.

The sequence of events is Adi Shankaracharya’s life culminating in the composition of the Kanakadhara Stotram and the resultant “rain of gold” is a case in point. In his younger days Shankara, while on his daily rounds seeking alms as part of his routine life of a Sannyasin went to a lady’s house. It so happened that the lady of the household was so poverty stricken that all that she could ­muster and give as alms was a solitary “Amla” fruit. Touched by the grief inflicted by poverty, Shankara implored Goddess Mahalakshmi, who obliges Shankara and there ensues a “rain of gold coins” ameliorating the financial condition of the lady.

I have heard three conflicting versions on how the sequence of events led to this grand finale. When Goddess Mahalakshmi appeared, she initially refused to give her assent to Shankara’s request as the lady in her previous births was not charitable and therefore the law of karma stood against her. Shankara put forth a counter argument by which he said that this lady in this birth, had given him an “Amla” fruit in charity, at a time when she had nothing with her; this single act (as Kriyamana Karma ) was enough to neutralize the Prarabdha of the past.When this argument was placed before her, Goddess Mahalakshmi relented and there was a shower of gold.

The second version I have heard is that when Goddess Mahalakshmi put forth the karma theory as detrimental to the lady getting her blessings, Shankara countered her argument saying, “If you are there and karma theory is also there and karma theory can override your grace, then where is the necessity for your existence?” In a nutshell, Shankara’s argument was that nobody will pray to God if the Karma theory can topple God’s will. All prayers will prove to be ineffective. When Shankara advanced this argument ,Goddess Mahalakshmi appeared satisfied and the karma theory was neutralized then and there.There is also a third theory which says that prior to the “shower of gold”, the lady’s prarabdha karma had come to an end.

Among obligatory karmas, there are three categories. Nitya karma refers to activities like daily pooja, Sandhya worship and Brahma Yajna which are mandatory. Naimittika karma refer to the functions associated with birth, marriage etc., which though mandatory are not done on a daily basis. Kamya Karma refers to ­­­­Havans like Putrakameshti yagna, which are done with an eye on the fruits. After composing great works like Viveka Choodamani and Drik Drisya Viveka, Shankara’s view was that performance of karma is not opposed to Adwaita Philosophy, as propounded by some scholars. What one has to do is to refrain from performance of Kamya Karma and perform Nitya and Naimittika karmas which come under the “Nishkamya Karma” category. Karma with an eye on reward is fatal to Moksha, while “Nishkamya Karma” facilitates the process of Moksha.

When you throw a stone on the placid waters of the lake, you see the ripples, when the stone hits the water, moving in a circular way away from the point of contact. This motion continues for a while before the lake becomes placid once again. Throwing the stone constitutes your “action”. It is done through exercise of free will. At the beginning you have two options – enjoy the serenity of the lake or disturb it by throwing a stone. Once you choose to disturb the lake, the ripples are an inevitable consequence. Placidity of the lake is attained through efflux of time which is not more than a few minutes. The ripples constitute the working of law of karma. Likewise Brahman is a silent observer; if the mind were to be still, the law of karma would have practically zero effect. Through the constant activity of the mind, the law of karma gets invoked. This is why many spiritual gurus advocate meditation as a powerful tool to silence the law of karma.

Once action is performed, the consequences become inevitable. It is here that the planetary effects – good or bad-are felt.Assuming that a good deed, say giving scholarship to a poor boy is the cause. The planet which gets activated is say, Mercury; then the resultant effects are conferred through Mercury. Please note that actions can refer to actions of either current birth or previous births. Assume that you have denied scholarship to a boy who had sought your help. Then the afflicted planet is Mercury,who gets empowered to give its effects which can harm you in one way or the other. Your children may do badly in studies or they may fail to get admission to foreign universities.

I will briefly explain how Vedic remedies work. Donation of green gram appeases Mercury. When you donate something you lose that thing, is it not? Here loss of green gram is the effect which can immediately be attributed to Mercury’s displeasure. Thereby, the sinner is saved from other serious consequences such as affliction to children’s education.

The dasha of the twelfth house can give rise to suffering on account of sins of earlier births. The twelfth house rules over expenditure, financial loss, imprisonment, separation, meditation, spiritual sadhana, charity, Pilgrimages, so on and so forth. You have a choice here; if you spend money on charity and spend time on meditation, you will escape imprisonment or separation.You can voluntarily give money on charity, but if you get a demand notice from Income tax department, you have to cough out money, much against your Will. Hence all Vedic remedies involve voluntary giving up of things or spending money on charity, rituals and expenditure related to propitiation of planets, which if left undone would result in our undergoing hardships on account of planets, triggered by the adverse consequences of the karmic law.

The moment you are born the process of dissolution of Prarabdha karma starts.Human birth is a boon. Without understanding this basic principle, people feel human birth is a curse, where one is condemned to suffering. Life when properly lived leads to dissolution of karma. According to Vedic traditions chanting of the great Vedic hymn Rudram along with Chamakam and recital of Gayatri Mantra 1008 times are time tested practices which lead to eradication of karma. If human birth leads to dissolution of karma, then where does the problem lie? The problem lies with creation of fresh karma. Some people exercise to lose 100 calories but when they start to eat, they gain 1000 calories. When life is wearing out past karma, in the present birth we are incessantly creating fresh karma with our thoughts, words and deeds.

I will briefly summarise the views on Karma in Prasna Marga.A man is born in this world to enjoy or suffer the consequence of his deeds from his past birth. A portion of this he reaps in heaven or hell but for the remnant he has to take a new birth.(Stanza 33) There are two kinds of Karma, viz., Sanchita and Prarabdha. The effects of Sanchita will be exhausted in heaven or hell. The result of the Prarabdha karma will be lessened only by experiencing them.( Stanza 34). According to Dr B V Raman,” In stanzas 33 and 34, the theory of Karma is cryptically expounded. The subject of Karma is so vast that it would be impossible to make justice to it by way of a short note.Karma has its philosophical as well as astrological aspects. The author of this work has tried to explain that sanchita karma can be exhausted by our sojourn in heaven or hell, whereas prarabdha karma must be experienced in this life. Prarabdha karma, at the end of this life, will result in our re-birth, this cycle of births and deaths going on till the attainment of gnana or true knowledge.” Souls take fresh births for reaping the fruits «f previous lives. This cycle of births goes on until the attainment of Moksha ( Stanza 35). Just as a lamp illumines objects in darkness, Astrology reveals to us the effects of our previous Karma, good or bad. All the planets indicate clearly whether we are enjoying or suffering now as a result of our actions in our previous birth.( Stanzas 36 and 37)

While stressing the importance of Muhurtha,Prasna Marga states;” What is done at an auspicious moment results in happiness. What is done at an inauspicious time, begets evil. However remote our deeds, the results are bound to be experienced in the family.( Stanza 38) The balance of good or bad Karma brought forward from the previous birth is Prarabdha, and it is the reading of this that goes under the name of Jataka or Astrology.( Stanza 39) One undergoes the consequences of one’s previous Karma from birth to death and this can be known from his horoscope.( Stanza 40)

Dr B V Raman, in his learned commentary to these verses says .” According to stanza 36 Astrology merely indicates the results of past Karma. Planets are only an index of things to happen and they do not cause the events. The same idea is expressed by almost all classical writers. This definition must enable us to appreciate the real significance and scope of Astrology and its relation to the theory of Karma. Stanzas 37 and 38 repeat the same idea. It is also suggested in stanza 38 that accumulated Karma during the past birth may be experienced not only by the person concerned but also by his descendants”.

According to Prasna Marga,” Prasna reveals to us whether a man reaps the fruits of his deeds in his previous birth or the fruits of his actions in this birth. Here a question arises. How can we distinguish whether it is the result of our previous Karma or present Karma that is yielding its result now? If the horoscope has bene6cial planetary patterns and the Prasna chart malefic ones, then it is to be understood that the native is experiencing the fruits of evil Karma done in this birth. If vice versa, then also the native is experiencing the effects of good Karma done in this birth. If the planetary patterns in the horoscope as well as in the Prasna chart are similar, then a clever astrologer should divine that the native is experiencing the fruits of his past Karma only.( Stanzas 41 to 44)

According to Dr B V Raman”In stanzas 41 to 44, the author explains the relative utilities of the Prasna and the birth charts. There is repeated emphasis on the influences of Karma and the importance of Prasna in finding out the nature of Karma to be enjoyed in this birth. The horoscope by itself reveals the nature of past Karma and the Prasna chart acts as some sort of a supplement to the birth chart. Suppose we see in a man’s horoscope a good period and in a query of his (Prasna chart) a very bad time, then we have to assume that the person is reaping the bad effects of his Karma done in this life. Suppose we see in his horoscope a bad period and in his Prasna chart a good period, it is to be inferred that the person is reaping the favourable effects of good deeds done in this birth only. If the horoscope and Prasna are similar in positions and combinations, then the person is reaping the result of Karma done in his previous birth. Since some sort of a balancing of the birth and Prasna charts is involved, it is clear that the current indications in the birth chart, i.e., the indications obtaining at the time of a query — the benefic and malefic dispositions of current Dasa lords, Yogakarakas, etc., have to be studied along with the Prasna chart to know the nature of Karma now being experienced.

Regarding the similarity between prasna and jataka ,Prasna Marga says:— The Prasna chart should be read just as the horoscope is examined with reference to its relative merits and demerits. A person goes to an Astrologer prompted by Providence to know his future.Therefore there is a close similarity between Prasna and Jataka.As Prasna Lagna is similar to Janma Lagna, all events should be read from Prasna as you would do in a horoscope. (Stanzas  45 to 47)

According to Dr B V Raman “The sum and substance of these three stanzas is that the time of question (Prasna) should be given the same importance as the time of birth. Human births are regulated according to the law of Karma and hence the time of birth is significant. Similarly a person proceeds to an Astrologer to ascertain his future prompted by a Divine force and hence the time of question is equally important. There are no doubt certain points of difference in reading Prasna charts and horoscopes. ……….But unless otherwise implied, all events revealed in a horoscope can also be read from a Prasna chart.

Much of the doubts both laymen and Astrologers have about Astrology and Destiny finds expression in Chapter 16 of the book ,” Autobiography of a Yogi” written by Paramahamsa Yogananda titled “ Outwitting the stars” .This chapter is brilliantly written wherein the Yogi makes a case for Astrology but at the same time maintains a view that the impact of planets can either be felt in full or mitigated and cancelled depending upon our response to the cosmic influences. 

The topic starts with a dialogue between Yogananda and his Guru Yukteswar.It runs as follows:

“Mukunda, why don’t you get an astrological amulet?”

“Should I, Master? I don’t believe in astrology.”

In response to Yogananda’s response reflecting his lack of faith in Astrology ,Yukteswar gives a detailed sermon which runs as follows’

“It is never a question of belief; the only scientific attitude one can take on any subject is whether it is true. The law of gravitation worked as efficiently before Newton as after him. The cosmos would be fairly chaotic if its laws could not operate without the sanction of human belief.

“Charlatans have brought the stellar science to its present state of disrepute. Astrology is too vast, both mathematically1and philosophically, to be rightly grasped except by men of profound understanding. If ignoramuses misread the heavens, and see there a scrawl instead of a script, that is to be expected in this imperfect world. One should not dismiss the wisdom with the ‘wise.’

“All parts of creation are linked together and interchange their influences. The balanced rhythm of the universe is rooted in reciprocity,” my guru continued. “Man, in his human aspect, has to combat two sets of forces—first, the tumults within his being, caused by the admixture of earth, water, fire, air, and ethereal elements; second, the outer disintegrating powers of nature. So long as man struggles with his mortality, he is affected by the myriad mutations of heaven and earth.

“Astrology is the study of man’s response to planetary stimuli. The stars have no conscious benevolence or animosity; they merely send forth positive and negative radiations. Of themselves, these do not help or harm humanity, but offer a lawful channel for the outward operation of cause-effect equilibriums which each man has set into motion in the past.

“A child is born on that day and at that hour when the celestial rays are in mathematical harmony with his individual karma. His horoscope is a challenging portrait, revealing his unalterable past and its probable future results. But the natal chart can be rightly interpreted only by men of intuitive wisdom: these are few.

“The message boldly blazoned across the heavens at the moment of birth is not meant to emphasize fate the result of past good and evil but to arouse man’s will to escape from his universal thralldom. What he has done, he can undo. None other than himself was the instigator of the causes of whatever effects are now prevalent in his life. He can overcome any limitation, because he created it by his own actions in the first place, and because he has spiritual resources which are not subject to planetary pressure.

“Superstitious awe of astrology makes one an automaton, slavishly dependent on mechanical guidance. The wise man defeats his planets which is to say, his past by transferring his allegiance from the creation to the Creator. The more he realizes his unity with Spirit, the less he can be dominated by matter. The soul is ever-free; it is deathless because birthless. It cannot be regimented by stars.

“Man is a soul, and has a body. When he properly places his sense of identity, he leaves behind all compulsive patterns. So long as he remains confused in his ordinary state of spiritual amnesia, he will know the subtle fetters of environmental law.

“God is harmony; the devotee who attunes himself will never perform any action amiss. His activities will be correctly and naturally timed to accord with astrological law. After deep prayer and meditation he is in touch with his divine consciousness; there is no greater power than that inward protection.”( Autoboigraphy of a Yogi,Chapter 16) 

About his own horoscope Yogananda has mentioned certain events wherein he had made a conscious attempt to overcome the karmic consequences he had to suffer through the malefic effects of planets.He writes “I had been prejudiced against astrology from my childhood, partly because I observed that many people are sequaciously attached to it, and partly because of a prediction made by our family astrologer: “You will marry three times, being twice a widower.” I brooded over the matter, feeling like a goat awaiting sacrifice before the temple of triple matrimony.”You may as well be resigned to your fate,” my brother Ananta had remarked. “Your written horoscope has correctly stated that you would fly from home toward the Himalayas during your early years, but would be forcibly returned. The forecast of your marriages is also bound to be true.”A clear intuition came to me one night that the prophecy was wholly false. I set fire to the horoscope scroll, placing the ashes in a paper bag on which I wrote: “Seeds of past karma cannot germinate if they are roasted in the divine fires of wisdom.” I put the bag in a conspicuous spot; Ananta immediately read my defiant comment.”You cannot destroy truth as easily as you have burnt this paper scroll.” My brother laughed scornfully.( Ibid,Chapter 16)

As we read earlier this conversation between Yogananda and Yukteswar started after the Guru had requested Yogananda to wear an amulet.This point is clarified here wherein he clearly explains at what level the Laws of Astrology can be transcended.

Here is the excerpt of that conversation;

“Then, dear Master, why do you want me to wear an astrological bangle?” I ventured this question after a long silence, during which I had tried to assimilate Sri Yukteswar’s noble exposition.

“It is only when a traveler has reached his goal that he is justified in discarding his maps. During the journey, he takes advantage of any convenient short cut. The ancient rishis discovered many ways to curtail the period of man’s exile in delusion. There are certain mechanical features in the law of karma which can be skillfully adjusted by the fingers of wisdom.

“All human ills arise from some transgression of universal law. The scriptures point out that man must satisfy the laws of nature, while not discrediting the divine omnipotence. He should say: ‘Lord, I trust in Thee, and know Thou canst help me, but I too will do my best to undo any wrong I have done.’ By a number of means, by prayer, by will power, by Yoga meditation, by consultation with saints, by use of astrological bangles, the adverse effects of past wrongs can be minimized or nullified.

“Just as a house can be fitted with a copper rod to absorb the shock of lightning, so the bodily temple can be benefited by various protective measures.”( Ibid,Chapter 16) 

Not everyone can become a Yogi. Not everyone can become a renunciate. Not everyone can become a Jnani. But everyone can do deeds with no eye on the reward. Everyone can work for the well being of society.Everyone can do acts borne out of selflessness. This is why Sri Krishna advocated performance of Nishkamya karma in Bhagawad Gita. The Karma theory as explained in Gita is a profound doctrine. At, once, it is a panacea for all ills now troubling mankind.

The Vimshottari dasha system makes sense, when read in tandem with the karma theory. We have the dasha of Rahu, where our Prarabdha karma gets worn out, through suffering. In moments of grief, we remember God, do noble deeds, repent for our past sins and give ourselves to service. This generates sufficient Agami karma and we are bountifully rewarded in Jupiter dasha. In good times, we experience joy, forget God, do evil deeds, become selfish, create fresh karma.Jupiter dasha is immediately followed by Saturn. This is far more evil than Rahu and suffering continues till the onset of Mercury dasha. This is a cyclical process; pleasure is an interval between two pains while pain is an interval between two pleasures.

Bhartṛhari was a 5th century Sanskrit author, considered to have written two influential texts: The Śatakatraya, (“Trilogy of a Century of Verses” which go under the names Nitisatakam,Sringara Satakam and Vairagya Satakam); and Vākyapadīya, a grammatical treatise. I present here a few verses from Nitisatakam ,which reveal his profound understanding of the Law of Karma.

Indra, though guided by Brihaspati, and armed with the thunderbolt; though the deities were his soldiers and Vishnu his ally; though Svarga was his citadel and the elephant Airasvata his steed, was defeated. How resistless is the power of fate! How vain are human efforts!

A bald-headed man was scorched by the rays of the sun on his head, and seeking a shady place, went, under the guidance of fate, to the foot of the palm tree. While resting there, the fruit of the tree fell with a loud noise on his head and broke it. Even so, whenever the unfortunate man goes, he generally meets with disaster.

When I see the sun and the moon exposed in the eclipse to the assaults of the demon; when I behold the bonds which hold a serpent or an elephant; when I behold the wise man in poverty, then the thought strikes me, “How mighty is the power of fate!”

It is not the fault of the spring that the leafless tree does not produce leaves; it is not the fault of the sun that the owl cannot see by day; it is not the fault of the rain-cloud that drops do not fall into the cuckoo’s mouth. Who shall reverse that which fate has written on the forehead of each?

We worship the gods, but are they not in the power of fate? Destiny must be worshipped, for that is the sole giver of rewards to man proportioned to the acts of their former state. But the fruit of those acts depends upon the acts themselves; why, then, should we worship either the god or destiny? Let us pay adoration to those works over which fate has no power.

By means of destiny Brahma was constrained to work like an artificer in the interior of his egg; by means of destiny Vishnu was compelled to pass through ten incarnations of great difficulty; by means of destiny Siva was forced to live as a mendicant, bearing the skull in his hands for a pot; by means of destiny the sun is compelled to travel his daily course in the heaven. Adoration, therefore, be to works.

Once a client living abroad went to meet a renowned Astrologer in Chennai seeking his guidance on a problem faced by his wife;whenever she used to board a plane she would be mortally scared fearing that the aircraft would crash.It is commonsense knowledge that a heavier-than-air device flying in the sky is always dangerous no matter how advanced the technology may be.The Astrologer requested the client to read Verse 97 of Nitisatakam wherein Bhartrhari says:-

A man may be in a forest, or in war, or in the midst of fire, or among a host of enemies, or in the ocean, or upon a high mountain; he may be asleep ; or he may be surrounded by difficulties; yet the good actions performed in a former state will protect him.

So it is possible to get Cent Percent protection only when past karma is favourable.Bad karma exposes a Man to all kinds of hazards,risks,uncertainties and suffering.People pray to God to protect them from all forms of risks and some recite mantras such as “ Narayana Kavacham “ to ensure that the Almighty throws a Protective Armour over his devotee.But here Bhartrhari says that only( good) karma can shield a Man from all calamities.In other words Good Karma of the past has the same effect as God’s grace.

“Genes determine the bodily features of a person whereas the soul and its features get their characteristics through Karma. This is why, some western scholars have chosen to term karma as the “DNA of the soul”. The birth chart of a person at birth reveals the karmic code of the soul. The unfolding of this karmic code is reflected through dasha, bhuktis, transits, varshpal and the yogas. If we function in accordance with the will of God or the cosmic power, then our actions become selfless and not selfish; such actions tend to be liberating, not binding. We then tend to act with unity; we see ourselves as part of the whole universe and do not see ourselves as individual entities, separate from the universe.

Karma, means that we are architects not only of our good fortune but also of our misfortune. There is a misperception that karma binds us. We are the creators of karma, so we bind ourselves by our past actions. The karma theory never seeks to destroy individual liberty. If we understand karma to be something that is both binding as well as liberating, then we would be careful not to get ourselves bound by karma. Through ignorance and selfishness, we succumb to the binding effects of Karma. So in that sense karma is the law of natural justice; not reward and punishment but cause and effect. Karma is therefore not synonymous with predestination.

We are living in an orderly universe but the workings of the universe are pretty complex when the underlying harmony is disturbed, there is an equal but overwhelming force which is invoked and which in turn restores harmony. There is a law of compensation at work in this universe – all evil doing has its own retribution through acts of nature. Karma is a law of unerring, never –failing justice, workings of which stretch from the atom to the outermost regions of the universe.