The concepts of the passage of time, of the world and its infinite variety, etc come within the grasp of man’s intelligence. He is able to guess the idea of immortality and knows that he can even strive to attain it. But the search for the Self is not active in many and the Upanishads teach this knowledge through stories, anecdotes and analogies, pointed out Sri Mani Dravid Sastrigal in a lecture. For instance, when the Aitareya Upanishad states that the Supreme Brahman created the entire universe and entered into all beings, it provides a clue to turn the search (for the Self) inward. If He is already all-pervading, why is He entering into the created objects and beings? If we are told that the person whom we are looking out for has entered a specific house, our focus would turn into the house rather than searching for him all around in a vague fashion.

There are various types of beings in creation — the animals, birds, etc, human beings and the celestial beings — and all these have to sustain themselves. In this effort, they face both good and bad effects. Sometimes what is expected happens; sometimes it doesn’t. Our efforts may not succeed or without any effort we may obtain gains. This shows that karma creates opportunities for enjoying its effects, both good and bad, and is the cause of an unbreakable chain in every being’s existence. This karma does not exhaust. There always remains a residue. In trying to get rid of this, a further residue is generated. How to shed this residue?

Some may argue that the best way to get rid of karma is to ignore it. Even by ignoring karma, we incur its fruit as much as we reap by accepting it. The best option to get rid of karma is to cultivate detachment (vairagya) and discrimination (viveka), say the scriptures. One should learn to perform one’s ordained duties with no desire for personal gain and also with no sense of ego. Lord Krishna is the best role model in this regard. Though solely responsible for creation, sustenance and dissolution of the universe, He says: “I don’t have the feeling I am doing this. I am not going to attain anything further either. I am not doing it to attain anything at all.”

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