Role of chitta in Vedic model of causality

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  • #14793
    Agrahya Das
    Participant

    Hello Sir You discuss the vedic model of causality in your book Moral Materialism and also on your blog for e.g., here. As far as I have been able to understand from these sources, guna and karma are sufficient to fully explain all events. But in your recent articles, you are also mentioning the role of chitta apart from guna and karma. Can you please explain the role of chitta? Is this a further refinement of the causal model you have discussed earlier? From my understanding, by practice of yoga, we are able to change guna and thereby subsequently also our karma. What control do we have over changing chitta. Kindly clarify these points.

    #14794
    Ashish Dalela
    Keymaster

    Different things are emphasized in different contexts. It doesn’t mean the other things are irrelevant. This is a general pattern everywhere. Context determines what is emphasized or not.

    Chitta is ability or inability; guna is likes and dislikes; karma is the opportunity or lack thereof. In one sense, chitta is the least important because if you have a strong liking and an opportunity, then you can develop the ability. This is how chitta is purified by our effort. In another sense, chitta is most important because if you are incapable of doing something then even if you want the results of that ability, and there is an opportunity to get those results, you may not get quick results and abandon the effort. Accordingly, we emphasize or deemphasize different things in different places.

    A good example is learning music. Someone may enjoy listening to music, may want to play music themselves, and there is an opportunity to learn music, but they may not have the ability to play music. So, if someone persists long enough, they can learn how to play music. In this case, they will use the desire to play the music, and the opportunity to learn music, to develop their ability. But another person may want to play and has the opportunity to learn, but that desire is not strong. So, he may make a little effort and then stop, because they get frustrated with their inability.

    Similarly, many people want to learn spiritual knowledge, and there is an opportunity to learn. But they don’t have the ability. If they persist, then they can get the ability. But they will persist only if there is a strong desire. If the desire is weak, and the ability is absent, then they will try a little, and then abandon the effort. If they don’t understand something due to their inability, they might even blame the books, teachers, or circumstances. They want quick success, not realizing that it takes time to become a good musician, sportsperson, or surgeon if one doesn’t have the inborn talent for it, so the same thing applies to spiritual knowledge as well. They are all different kinds of abilities.

    Since talent can be acquired by practice, hence, chitta is the least important. But since most people don’t have the talent, and they are not prepared to struggle, hence they abandon the path, and it becomes most important. There are also people who don’t have a liking for spiritual knowledge and practice. So, even if they have the ability, they will never try to understand and practice it.

    It is said that a chain breaks at the weakest link. Chitta, guna, and karma can all be the weakest link. If there is a desire, and there is an opportunity, but there is no ability, then chitta is the weakest link. If there is ability and opportunity, but no desire, then guna is the weakest link. Finally, if there is ability and desire, but no opportunity, then karma is the weakest link. So, depending on the context we can speak about one, two, or three different factors. They are all important in different cases.

    Time is also an additional factor that mixes chitta, guna, and karma. Sometimes, time is the weak link because we may have the ability, opportunity, and desire, but we might say: “I am too young to learn about spiritual knowledge; right now, I will focus on earning money and enjoying life, and when I am old and not able to do these things then I will focus on spiritual knowledge”. That is because the chitta, guna, and karma are not being combined appropriately due to the effect of time.

    The greatest impact is by the change in guna, or likes and dislikes. If we have a strong desire or liking then we will acquire the ability, even if there are few opportunities. We will seek the opportunity to acquire the ability to fulfill the desire. So, desire is the most important, because everything else can and will be arranged in due course of time. But if there is no desire, even if the time is right, the opportunity is present, and there is an ability, nothing of consequence will be achieved.

    #14795
    Agrahya Das
    Participant

    Thank you for your elaboration Sir. You may have uncovered holes in my understanding which I request you to provide help with. My understanding was that if we have the desire (guna) for a result and if we are deserving (karma) of the result, then we will get that result. That is what I understood from teachings such as this.

    Prahlāda Mahārāja continued: My dear friends born of demoniac families, the happiness perceived with reference to the sense objects by contact with the body can be obtained in any form of life, according to one’s past fruitive activities. Such happiness is automatically obtained without endeavor, just as we obtain distress.

    If persistent effort is required to build ability to get the result, how do we reconcile it with the de-emphasis on endeavour in teachings such as the above. Kindly clarify.

    #14796
    Ashish Dalela
    Keymaster

    When talking about “obtained without endeavor” we should not forget the previous statement “according to one’s past fruitive activities”. If you have earned money in the past, then you can buy clothes easily without endeavor just by swiping your debit card. Obtaining without endeavor means it is as easy as swiping the debit card. But you must have some money in the bank for that to work. Endeavor is required to earn money, and put it in the bank so that you can enjoy it in the future.

    Prahalada Maharaja is talking about how animals get to eat grass without sowing seeds, watering the grass, or ensuring that weeds are not growing. So, if someone doesn’t endeavor, then they become animals due to laziness. They don’t get to eat delicious meals served on a plate and they have to chew grass in a field. But they give something more valuable like milk, which the humans can take and make something delicious out of it. So by this process of eating grass and giving milk, they are building some bank balance which they can use in the future.

    #14797
    Rekha Shastry
    Participant

    Hare Krishna Prabhu

    Please forgive me if I am asking this under a wrong topic. Continuing on the topic of guna, karma and chitta, I have a particular query on the nature of bodies.

    The type of bodies we get is a combination of guna and karma but our bodies also resembles our parents and in turn the entire ancestors. Does that mean we have some similar gunas of that of our parents and we get a similar body like theirs?

    In short why do we have some resemblance to our parents or ancestors yet develop unique characteristics?

    #14798
    Ashish Dalela
    Keymaster

    The type of bodies we get is a combination of guna and karma but our bodies also resembles our parents and in turn the entire ancestors. Does that mean we have some similar gunas of that of our parents and we get a similar body like theirs?

    Based on our guna and karma, and the guna and karma of the parents, a match is created by nature. It is not necessary that we are like or unlike our parents. If the parents are devotees, and in their destiny there is happiness from the child, then they will get devotee children. If they are devotees, and in their destiny there is unhappiness from the child, then they will get non-devotee children.

    For example, in Hiranyakasipu’s destiny, there is unhappiness from the child, so he gets a devotee child. Hiranyakasipu wanted his child to be demoniac like him, but he turned out to be a devotee. Hiranyakasipu is also fortunate because he was killed by Lord Narasimha. But Prahalada is unlike his father, and both father and son suffer because of that. So it is not guaranteed that the parents and children are similar or dissimilar. Generally, there is a similarity but it is not always like that.

    #14799
    Rekha Shastry
    Participant

    Hare Krishna Prabhu

    Thank you for the clarity.

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