14 November, 2005

The Human Genome & the Theory of Karma -Dharanidhar Sahu (TOI)

Time for some spiritual stuff. This is the first non-technical article on the blog, and I will be putting up more soon..

Scientists decoding the human genome may persuade us to re-examine our belief in fate, predestination, free will and the law of karma. Some genes, we are told, determine our mood swings, some predispose us to diseases, some determine how faithful we are to our companions, while others the intensity of our religiosity. If genes predetermine our behaviour, if karmic destiny is encoded in our genes, do we have a choice?

By exercising our free will, we could change the nature or quality of our genes. Through our effort dormant genes could get activated. For example, the creativity gene can lie dormant till a person is past her middle age. At a later stage, she might have found time and suitable circumstances to activate her dormant creati-vity gene. Similarly, the spirituality gene (VMAT2 or God Gene) gets activated when a person feels an inner need for God and devotes herself wholeheartedly to spiritual pursuits.

Krishna assures Arjuna in the Gita that the deeds of a person are never annulled even when they are disconti-nued; that in his next birth the negligent seeker of excellence recollects his unfinished project and resumes where he had left off; that he is born again in such house-holds that are congenial to his inclinations.

Our free will and dedicated efforts could be guided by what is encoded in our genes, what the religious call as "latencies". The karma theory only attempts to make sense of the mysterious; to systematise the randomness of happenings and to give a sense of purpose to life.

Our ideas of heaven and hell will make sense if we situate them not in an imaginary elsewhere but here on earth. We see people living in conditions that surpass our idea of a hell; likewise, we find people living in conditions that surpass our idea of heaven.

It is not poverty or wealth, disease or good health, old age or youth and external circumstances alone which give people hell or heaven, but our proneness to envy and anger, propensity for evil, pleasure, power, money and fame, and our desire to possess what rightfully belongs to others by neglecting what we possess, give us hell sooner or later.

No comments: