Some people have all the luck

One of the most recurrent thoughts in human history (other than “Why me?”) is probably, “Why does s/he have all the luck?” Think about it… at some stage or the other in our lives we have all thought it, struggled with it, fought it, and hopefully conquered the thought. A sibling, a friend, a colleague has at some time or the other been on the receiving end of this thought in our minds. And who knows, unknowingly perhaps we have also been the focus of such thoughts in other people.

As I walked into the elevator recently, one of our employees came running to catch it. She made it, and looked at me and said, “I am running late” and looked visibly worried. I on the other hand now start my office at 10 AM out of choice. She told me that she has a three year old son, who she had to drop at the day care centre before coming to office. Today she got delayed dropping him and hence she was running late. I thought about my wife who is at home bringing up our daughter. She has the luxury of making this choice without any stress about the workplace. It made me think… why does God give one person an easy life and another a difficult one?

Thoughts wander around in my mind trying to deconstruct this notion of luck. Because without understanding luck, we will forever be obsessed with other people’s situations and will find it difficult to focus on our own lives. Hindu philosophy gives us the concept of Prarabdha Karma:

“Prarabdha is that portion of the past karma which is responsible for the present body… human life in the present incarnation. It is ripe for reaping. It cannot be avoided or changed. It is only exhausted by being experienced. You pay your past debts. Prarabdha karma is that which has begun and is actually bearing fruit.”

“All About Hinduism” by Sri Swami Sivananda

Who we see as lucky may not really be and those who we see as unlucky may have aspects to their lives we have never considered. According to a story in the Bhagavatam (a famous Vedic text), Hiranyakashipu and his brother Hiranyaksha were Vishnu’s gatekeepers Jaya and Vijaya, who were born on earth because of a curse from the Four Kumaras. The story goes that the two guards of Vaikunth did not recognise the Four Kumaras and refused entry to them. As a result, the angry Kumaras cursed them to be born on earth thrice as villains with characteristics of “lust, anger and greed”. The gatekeepers accepted the curse and begged for forgiveness. They requested the Kumaras that they should be devoid of ‘moha’ (“infatuation”) lest they forget their Lord Vishnu. Vishnu who learnt of the incident, appeared before the Kumaras and also assured Jaya and Vijaya that they will born as demons on earth but will be released from all three births by an avatar of Vishnu. The two guards were dismissed by the lord to go and suffer the curse of the Kumaras on earth and then only return to his abode, after the end of the curse. The two banished guards were then born on earth, in their first life as Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha (in the Krita Yuga and released by Narasingha), as Ravana and Kumbhakarna (in the Treta Yuga and killed by Rama) in their second life, and in their third life as Dantavakra and Shishupala (in the Dwapara Yuga and were killed by Krishna). Therefore how we perceive lucky and unlucky is not real as Jaya and Vijaya ultimately went back to Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu after their three earthly life cycles.

Another example is from the Mahabharata (the longest epic in the world) of King Dhritarashtra. After the Kurukshetra war, Dhritrarashtra asked Krishna why all his hundred sons had to be killed in the war. Krishna then told him that fifty lifetimes previously, Dhritarashtra had been a hunter. While hunting, he had tried to shoot a male bird, but it flew away. In anger, he ruthlessly slaughtered the bird’s hundred baby birds in the nest. The father-bird watched in helpless agony. Because of the pain suffered by the father-bird, Dhritarashtra too had to bear the pain of a hundred sons dying. Dhritarastra accepted this but asked why he had to wait for fifty lifetimes for this. Krishna responded by saying that he had to spend those fifty lifetimes accumulating good deeds to get a hundred sons. It was only after that he had the requisite good deeds could he get the reaction for the sin he had committed fifty lifetimes ago.” The divine knows best which reaction has to be given at what time in what condition. Therefore, some reactions may come in this lifetime, some in the next and some in a birth in the distant future.

I have a corollary to add to the concept of Prarabdh Karma. Is it possible that in the course of a soul’s journey, difficult lives test our endurance? Is it possible that once we overcome these tough lives our souls gain in confidence? And that treasure of confidence allows us to succeed in the most difficult lives. Is it possible other than honesty and fearlessness we also need confidence, or are fearlessness and confidence twin sides of the same coin? I guess if one is fearless, confidence is the external ‘symptom’.

So what do you think? Is the concept of karma complicated? Does it explain life’s turbulence?

Post Navigation