Karta-bhav – The Illusion of Doership (Blog 59)

Karta-bhav – The Illusion of Doership (Blog 59)

The concept of karta-bhav (the sense of doership of works) has been spelled out elaborately in chapters number three, four, five and thirteen of the Bhagavad Gita. The question as to who carries out all the activities of the world – the soul or the body, has been answered there convincingly. It has been clarified that all kinds of works are performed by the material nature and its modes, which comprise of one’s mind-body complex. Thus, one’s senses, mind and the  intelligence are responsible for all of his actions and the consequences of those actions. The embodied soul (jivatman – the self) is not the doer.

But the self, deluded by ignorance, attributes the acts of the material nature to itself. Due to its identification with the body and the mind etc., it becomes ego and considers itself to be the doer of everything. Bewildered by the self-sense,  the soul believes ‘I am the doer – I do this, I do that.’ Due to the ego of being the body and the pride of being the doer, the soul gets entangled with the affairs of the phenomenal world. As a result, it goes through the pleasures and pains, arising out of the works done by the mind-body complex. In other words, it experiences the joys and sorrows of life through the medium of the senses, mind and the intellect.

Thus, the body is responsible for the material causes and their effects ; but the soul experiences the resultant pleasures and pains. In this manner, the self accumulates for itself the karmas of the deeds done by the body. Such stockpile of karmas becomes the cause for the jivatman’s good and evil births.

But the one who remains aware of the distinction between the two i. e. between the soul and the material nature, he understands that it is only the modes in the form of the senses and the mind etc. which are moving among the modes in the form of the objects of perception ; and the self is immobile. The self of such a realised person overcomes ignorance and wakes up to his true spiritual identity. One realises that he, as the self, is not the doer of works but only an impartial and detached witness. He is, thus, freed from the sense of pride of doership. Since he sees himself as distinct from the mind-body complex, he does not attribute his bodily actions to himself. Even while remaining vigorously engaged in action externally, he renounces all actions inwardly.

One’s mind-body complex is the psychophysical equipment with which one is born, as a result of his past deeds. One is inclined to act in accordance with his inherent nature. No one can change it by force. Spiritual advancement lies in gladly accepting the truth of his inborn nature and improving upon it through enhanced understanding. One attains highest success when his actions are determined by intelligence permeated with the illumination from beyond i. e. from the self.

Regarding the doership role of God, it has been stated that though as creator and sustainer of the universe, the Supreme Lord is in the invisible background of all works ; yet He is not the doer of those works. Works (of creating and maintaining the world) do not taint Him, because He is unattached. As the movements of the waves do not alter the overall state of the ocean, similarly the actions of the individual souls do not impact the Supreme Lord. Works do not affect His changeless being.

The all-pervading Ishvara does not create actions for the people. He does not dictate as to whether one would do or not do a particular deed. He neither creates results of actions nor connects works with their fruits. All these are determined by the laws of nature which are impartial and infallible. However, when one strives to overcome ignorance, God helps him in getting the illumination of wisdom. He guides and supports man in doing noble deeds, in a detached manner. One has the freedom to heed or not to heed to the divine advice. He is free to do virtuous or vicious deeds by the exercise of his own will. One performs actions as impelled by his likes and dislikes ; and is, therefore, responsible for all the consequences. The Divine cannot be blamed for one’s sufferings. Hence, renunciating the sense of doership and thereby getting freedom from the miseries of the world is one’s own responsibility.

Bhagavad Gita has advised man to free himself from egoism, fix his consciousness in the self ; and work with full vigour forsaking all claims of proprietorship. The one who is fully devoted to God and has completely surrendered all works to Him, his false ego arising out of pride of doership disappears ; and the self realises its identity with the Supreme Self. After attaining such an immortal state of being, one works from that divine centre only.  He performs all his worldly duties with the understanding that he is merely an instrument in the hands of Ishvara. All his misgivings get melted away by the devouring fire of wisdom.

To conclude, when one becomes aware that only his senses, mind and the intelligence were doing all physical activities and he himself, as the jivatman, was not doing anything ; he is freed from the worldly pleasures and pains. He, then, enjoys a blissful life.

Vijay Singal

Vijay Singal, a former bureaucrat, is an eminent author in the field of spirituality, philosophy, psychology and religion. He writes both in Hindi and in English. His first book 'Behind Psychology : Searching for the Roots' was published in the year 2002. Since then, he has authored many books on various subjects.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top