Part 5 – Understanding Karm-Kand and Gyan
Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj’s keertan ‘jo piya ruchi mahaṁ ruchi rākhē’ begins with the knowledge of surrendering to God. Shree Maharajji puts down the first condition for traversing the path of Divine Love and says, “Only that soul who keeps his or her desire in the desire of the Beloved shall attain Divine Love”. We souls have only witnessed the false love of material realm where love is more of a business transaction and each person seeks his/her own happiness alone.
But in the spiritual realm a soul finds true happiness only in serving God and Guru.
The first stanza of the keertan is as follows:
jehi karma na nekahuṁ bhāvē rē
jehi gyānahum nāhiṁ suhāvē rē
jo yoga dūri kari rākhē, prēma rasa soī chakhē rē
One who does not relish the practices of rites and rituals and who is not interested in the practice of the Gyan Yog philosophy Such a person, who stays away from the practice of the Ashtang Yog path, tastes the Bliss of Divine Love.
The above lines instruct us very clearly that if we wish to attain Prema Ras we will have to be wary of ‘karm’ or ‘karm kand’ and ‘gyan’. This instruction therefore requires us to first understand the true meaning of these.
Our Scriptures cater to people of varied spiritual inclinations and their ritualistic portion is called ‘Karm’ or ‘Karm Kand’. There are numerous rituals listed for people to follow, e.g. there is a matra that you say when you put your foot on the Earth or some other ritual you follow when there is a solar eclipse or a lunar eclipse. Most often people identify Hinduism only with ‘karm-kand’ and countless mystifying rituals in the modern age. They however need to understand that ‘Karm Kand’ is only a part of the larger Vedic philosophy and is a means prescribed for masses to begin their spiritual journey, but is not an end in itself.
In fact people who themselves engage in ‘Karm Kand’ fail to appreciate the spiritual knowledge far beyond the rituals they religiously follow and also are to a large extent oblivious of the proper knowledge to perform those rituals in the approved manner. Firstly six rules need to be fulfilled in order to perform those rituals:
1) Desh, the place where the ritual is being performed must be correct.
2) Kāl, the time of the day must be proper.
3) Padārth, the material being used must be absolutely pure and decontaminated.
4) Kartā, the Brahmin who is executing the ritual must be perfect.
5) Mantra, the mantras that he is reciting must be perfect and in proper scales.
6) Karm, the procedure of the ritual must be perfect.
It is impossible in today’s time to perform the rituals perfectly as prescribed since one or more rules will surely be neglected. And moreover only if one meets each one of these conditions will he/she obtain the fruits of the ritual performed. For e.g. someone is performing a ‘Shat Chandi Yagya’ (a Vedic ritual of 100 fire sacrifices), and stops at 99, do you think he will get the fruits of the Yagya? Absolutely not! Since the proper rituals were not performed, the person will not derive any benefits or fruits from the yagya.
Let us assume that somebody put in all efforts and went through the arduous task of performing the rituals perfectly. We would expect such a person to benefit greatly. The truth is however quite the opposite of what we expect because the person will still remain in the clutches of Maya and continue revolving in the 8.4 million species of the material realm. There is no question of attaining God let alone Divine Love.
tapasvino dāna-parā yasasvino
manasvino mantra-vidah sumangalāh
ksemam na vindanti vinā yad-arpanam
tasmai subhadra-sravase namo namah
The Bhagavatam says that even if you follow the ritual perfectly, it will still not help you get released from Maya, or attain God – because you have not yet made that inner connection with God.
You may be wondering by now that if ‘Karm Kand’ is not helping us souls, why has it been mentioned in our Scriptures in the first place. The reason these rituals have been prescribed is because it is very difficult to create an inner connection with God. You don’t expect the masses to engage in Bhakti where they have to connect their mind with God. They will be more comfortable with the idea of a tangible means of associating with God. So most people would prefer going to the temple than doing Roopdhyan meditation.
The Vedas understand the practicality of the situation, and so they have tied people up in rituals and instruct them to do something or the other for their own progress. They direct souls to perform rituals with the principle that something is better than nothing. Even if people begin with the external form of worship, the internal devotional sentiments will gradually develop. It is essential here that a person hereafter advances to building an internal connection with God, once this happens the importance of rituals will slip out of the mind naturally.