Apr 2, 2013

The Resurrection of the Karma Kanda

Happy Easter to all.
Is it better to have a fundamentally progressive or hidebound Constitutional framework for civilization, law, spiritual life, etc.? In what matters does one adopt a liberal Policy, and in what is conservatism better sense? When are permissive and draconian Acts justified? Can a permissive or draconian Act telescope into a conservative or liberal Policy respectively? And can all relevant combinations of these be used to serve a fundamentally progressive (or alternatively a fundamentally hidebound) Constitution?

The proposal here is that the Semantics of any Data depends on the Condition or Phase of the 'organism' relative to Time, and so the Action taken on Data depends on the Condition. (An 'organism' here can be the individual, family, clan, organization, portion of an organization, nation, civilization, the Earth taken as a whole - or any stream of data, etc..)

In understanding Constitutional purpose, one could consider Prakriti and Purusha and their interrelationship. Purusha may have considerable residual knowledge of its own...but the knowledge in which an 'organism' is interested is information concerning the Laws of Purusha and Prakriti as they apply to the composite 'organism'. The Laws of this interaction are known as Maya, which spans the gamut of Realism, from empiricism to magical realism. Each and every organism develops in the ratio that it understands and utilizes these laws correctly. All Learning of these laws springs from a disorderly entanglement where Purusha has impinged too suddenly or sharply on Prakriti with little regard for the advice of Time. As Purusha withdraws and frees itself of this entanglement, the Data of Prakriti's virginal states and its effects upon those becomes observable - and thereby converted to Experience. In the process, entrapped Life-force is also freed - and so Learning of these Laws occurs. Further, all of the philosophical reasoning behind Policy (the use of these Laws in proper order relative to Time) is made when Purusha returns over Prakriti for an orderly and harmonious winning over.

Very few knowledge-cultures have tried to model these organismic Laws via a Purusha-Prakriti model. This ought to be an area of special interest to observers of trends in world affairs today, its problems and proposed solutions from different cultures. Islam models its Laws via its own science of jurisprudence (usool ul fiqh), and the laws of what it considers the "subjugation" (taskheer) of Prakriti by Purusha. Therefore, the priesthood of fiqh and shari'ah proposes and disposes along the lines of this model, and the semantics of the Islamic model gives an indication of its purpose and Constitutional tone. Western jurisprudence, and in particular Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence, is of a different Constitutional tone from Islamic shari'ah, but due to a particularly painful and confused historical experience with religion, it has shied away from boldly including certain metaphysical angles in its co-ordinates, and therefore it lacks 'altitude' and relies on compartmentalization. What does the Veda say of the laws of Policy and Activity, and what is the wingspan of its semantics?

Since Vedic sound is fundamentally a stream of Data, its Semantics and therefore its application would change based on the Condition of the organism in question. But for over a millennia in India, the Vedic stem of Acts (कर्मकाण्ड) has come to mean solely the acts of ceremonial and sacrificial rite. That's from Vedic commentators like Sayana (14th c. AD), Mahidhara (16th c. AD) and Uvata (11th c. AD), who were all very recent interpreters from the 'medieval' era. External shocks to India's body politic had begun by the 5th century AD. By their times, key centers and flows of Vedic civilization were already under occupation and continuous life-threatening attack, and it was in political retreat, fighting deep on its own home turf for survival. It was, as explained below, in a condition of Non-existence in several parts of the subcontinent, a condition of Treachery in several crucial areas, even co-opted into a condition of Covert Liability or Active Enmity in key areas, and generally in a condition of Danger in the subcontinent as a whole. Therefore, that medieval assignment of meanings to Veda must be seen as very contextual - for a lockdown of Veda into words and action, or the lockdown of political economic organization into hereditary caste duties, could be an appropriate mechanism in one or two of those Conditions, but not most others.

Ethics (Dharma) itself is unconditional and therefore eternal, sanatana. But its ethical laws of application depends on time, place, and the cultural maturity of stakeholders. A wrong-headed application is unethical, because it doesn't benefit the greatest number of stakeholders in the greatest number of ways (in a given circumstance), and therefore endangers personal or social integrity.

Wrong-headed applications are fundamentally due to improper understanding, though an incomplete understanding is often most eager to take an entrenched 'principled' stand. Wrong-headed applications can be due to venality and corruption. Here, opportunity, expediency, threats and worries aren't entities that come knocking - rather, they occupy the castle and inform it. Wrong-headed applications can be due to ignorance or apathy. "'Tis is not ours to question why," they say. Or a fatalistic misunderstanding of 'Karma' and other metaphysical angles.

In all cases wrong-headedness is a crooked combination of all three above. Set right, real Karma can be performed with true purpose - for Karma Yoga is the enactment of Dharma, and is always a felicitous joy [BG 9.2], a spirited challenge and a love affair. Its primary components are Spiritual sacrifice (यज्ञ), Material giving (दान), and Psychological annealing (तपस्) [BG 18.5].

I've heard that over 2000 years ago there was a massive shift from from the Vedic to Pauranic Hinduism in Greater India - probably following the divorce of the Iranic stem from the Indic core. I've heard some knowledgeable people think aloud that the time is come for a shift back to the Vedic. Therefore, the significance of the theory and application of the Karma-kanda of Purva Mimamsa as given in the Vedangas must be revitalized, reinterpreted in its broadest sense, and made a foundation for nation-building. For a few centuries, it had become fashionable in populist Pauranic schools to deride it publicly and keep it as the preserve of the priesthood. Almost 2 centuries ago, the first sentiments for modern Indian freedom and internal reform began when Swami Dayananda gave the call 'Back to the Vedas'. Even before that, Sikhism took some decisive steps in that direction that changed India's history as well as the Middle East / C. Asia. (It would be an interesting exercise to see in which Conditions below both these movements succeeded and in which they faltered.)

The following is a series of Conditions of the ethical integrity of the 'organism'. As given by the rules of shiksha and other Vedangas, the basic task is to be able to:
1. First estimate (ऊहा) the current ethical Condition and trend-line of the 'organism' in question.
2. Apply the correct formula for that Condition thoroughly, until it ceases to be applicable and there is a change in Condition.

One can estimate what Condition formula to apply only by closely observing trends. This is done by inspecting stats over time. (A single stat is meaningless.) If the correct Condition is not estimated and some wrong formula is applied, or the correct formula is misapplied, then the organism drops one Condition lower.

The Conditional formula is the Code of Conduct to be used to stay healthy and maintain the integrity of the 'organism' under that Condition, and prevent it from going into a dwindling spiral. The steps of the formula are to be applied energetically, in the same exact order and sequence, and without adding needless or redundant steps. Cease to apply when stats indicate it.

One can wreak an organism by applying the wrong formula in the wrong Condition. The universe is made that way. An example of this would be Arjuna's pseudo-wisdom in the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, which K. dismisses as प्रज्ञावादांश्च भाषसे, and "not a heaven-bound" (अस्वर्ग्यं) code of action in the present circumstance. Arjuna was about to fall into a dwindling spiral. Conditional formulae are part and parcel of the Activity of the universe.

Applying the right formula always works, no matter how dull or stupid the person who is applying it. Intelligence and brilliance can change the speed of recovery or expansion, but the end phenomenon itself is an inevitable product of acting on the formula and nothing else. The humble idiot who applies it correctly is better than the blooming genius who deviates from the laws of Action due to his egotistical fancy. This is the essence of karma-kanda philosophy as I understand it. Of course, the dull one who is unable to estimate the Condition and apply the formula exactly will naturally be remiss.

If the organism lacks the ability to observe its own Conditions and use the formulae, then expansion and survival is entirely a matter of chance or fate - regardless of how good its ideas are. Ideas alone do not attract Grace and Mercy.

An attempt to list the Conditions in ascending order, from lower to higher. In another sense, all 12 Conditions or Phases are equal, especially in Meditation. Corrections and feedback is welcome:


(as opposed to
·  Total chaos and dispersion.
·  Any set of factors or circumstances which do not seem to have any immediate solution.
·  Random motion of all ‘particles’ of the system. No factor is clearly understood.
·  Unpatterned flows. All particles randomly interact and stay in the area. No particle leaves the area and hence there is no product.
· It is a basic cause of dullness and stupidity.

Control resolves Confusion.

1. Locate oneself in Present Time and Space.
“Realize where you are and what space you deserve to occupy.”

To be able to fix attention on even one factor or particle of the system, and then seeing other particles in some relation to it is enough to remove this condition.

Confusion can be conflated with Treachery (below). First apply group formula for Confusion, then apply Treachery formula (below) and continue on all the way up.

Treachery by Inaction

·  Betrayal after trust - by inaction.
·  A failure due to lack of will to fulfill the roles and responsibilities one has within the organism, and betrayal of the functions and purposes of the group.

1. Remedy criminal inaction by finding a sense of being.

“Realize that you are.” Asmita  is Sanskrit for “I am-ness” and signals pride and identity.

Active Enemy


·  Avowed and knowing enemy to survival of an individual, group, project or organization.
1. Focus and resolution of identity and othering. “Find out who you really are.”

Would include political defections, religious conversions, etc to remove this condition.

·  Crisis of belonging.
·  Cannot make up one’s mind about an individual, group, project, etc.
·  Being a cause of uncertainty, which complicates decisive action with cloudy details or sham profundity.
1. Inform oneself honestly of the actual intentions and activities of that group or person, without bias or rumours.
2. Examine the stats of that person or group.
3. Based on the greatest good for the greatest number of universal purushaarthas, decide whether it is best to attack, harm, contain or help that person or group.
4. Evaluate oneself or one’s own group as to intentions and objectives.
5. Evaluate one’s own stats and group stats.
6. Join or remain in or befriend the one which progresses towards the purushaarthic summum bonum. Announce the fact publicly to both sides.
7. Do everything possible to improve the stats of the person or group one has remained in or joined.
8. तपस् - Suffer on up the Conditions in the chosen group if wavering in it or harming it earlier has lowered its status.

Covert Liability


·  The being has ceased to simply be Non-existent and irrelevant (below), and has taken on the colour of an enemy.
·  Careless or malicious and knowing damage caused to projects, activities, etc.
·  This Condition is assigned after a long, unchanging pattern of conduct is detected and observed.
·  Often covert. Being cannot be trusted.

1. Have that being decide who its real friends are.
2. Offer that being the opportunity deliver an effective blow to enemies of the group it has been pretending to be part of - despite personal danger in taking this action.
3. Make up the damage one has done by personal contribution far beyond the ordinary demands of a group member.
4. Apply for re-admission to the group by asking personal permission of each member, and rejoining only by majority permission. If refused, repeat steps 1-4 until one is allowed to join again.


·  Not mattering. Not affecting matter, energy, space and time. Becoming non-existent or fossilized or merely nominal.
·  Every new appointee begins in this Condition. He tries to start off in a Condition of Power because he is self-aware of the position he holds - but other terminals have no reality on this yet.

1. Find all communication channels related to one’s post.
2. Make oneself known on all comm channels. Find out from other terminals what’s going on, limited by security pledges and NTK rules.
3. Study the system and discover what is needed or wanted. Do a detail survey and appraisal.
4. Do, produce or present, as the case may require.

If formula is applied intelligently, one enters the Bypass zone of the Condition of Danger. Then one must apply that formula.

The inhale and exhale of an organism is the give and take of vital particles such as information, skills, leadership roles, wealth, research knowledge, and genetic heritage – in decreasing order of velocity.


·  Danger is assigned when a Condition of Emergency (below) has lasted for too long.
·  Or a statistic plunges very steeply.
·  Or a senior post finds itself wearing the hat of another activity because it is in trouble.
1. Bypass – ignore the agencies normally in charge and handle under direct control.
2. Handle situ and any danger in it.
3. Publicly assign Danger condition to the area.
4. Assign each individual in the Danger area a personal Danger condition and have them apply the individual Danger formula (derived below) in their personal spheres.
5. Reform - reorganize the activity so that condition does not recur.
6. Recommend firm Policy so that in future the condition will be better detected and/or prevented.

Personal Danger formula:
1. Bypass habits and normal routines.
2. Handle the situ and any dangers in it.
3. Consciously assign self a Danger condition.
4. Examine personal ethics, identify out-points, use self-discipline to straighten it out. Write-up a confessional of out-points searching proper memory of time, place, form of deviation, and actual event. This action usually produces a small to medium miracle in life – and one becomes acutely and ecstatically aware of all-pervading metaphysical powers and forces of ethics in the universe.
5. Reorganize your life so that Danger condition is not continually happening to you.
6. Formulate and adopt a firm policy that can detect and prevent in future.

·  Stats are declining. OR Stats are not changing.
1. Promote the group/organization. In case of individual – produce more efficiently.
2. Change the operating basis. Working harder on same operating basis and expecting change is Lahori logic. If one promotes one’s group and idea but does not change operating basis, one will head for another Emergency condition. Another positive example: Over the past 1000 years, Indian civilization changed one aspect of its operating basis by moving to Prakrits, and later even assimilated foreign Prakrits to some extent (Persian, English). That was in a different Condition. Today the Condition is again changing, and it is time to create a new operating basis again and bring in Sanskrit 2.0.
3. Economize.
4. Prepare to deliver.
5. Stiffen discipline/ethics against corruption, improve work culture and commitment. Ultimately life itself will discipline the individual, so might as well save oneself and one’s dependents some trouble.


·  Routine or gradual increase in stats.
·  It comes close to “stability” (निर्विकार), but static stability (no increase, no decrease) does not exist in the universe. Therefore, if there is no gradual increase, there will be no stability.
1. Don’t change anything. Monitor stats and maintain system.
2. Justice factor is mild and reasonable. No draconian action.
3. Everytime a stat changes for the better, find out what caused it. Then incorporate that without abandoning anything else that was being done before.
4. Everytime a stat worsens slightly, find out why and remedy it systemically.
5. Keep jockeying between 3 and 4 – when some change happens, get the change factor off the lines.


·  Positive statistical line goes steeply up.
·  Affluence in isolation or in partnership or as subordinate to another.
·  Prosperity is the most risky of all Conditions. If one does not spot it and apply the formula, one can fall off the roof and fall splat on the street below. Spotted and handled well, it can be a leap over the moon.
1. Economize. Don’t buy or devote any money, time, energy or faith to anything that has a future commitment to it.
a. Remove all needless or dispersed actions that did not contribute to present Condition.
2. Pay off every bill and debt possible. Fulfill as many obligations as possible reasonably.
3. Invest the remainder in service facilities, service readiness. Make it more possible to deliver.
a. Make every action count and don’t engage in useless actions. Every new action must be of the same kind as those that did contribute. Consolidate gains, don’t let complacency set in. No downhill or roller-coaster.
4. Discover what caused the Condition of Prosperity and strengthen it for the time being.


·  Stats in a very high range - a Normal trend in a higher octave, so to speak.
·  Power is not a short-term stat . It is a trend that can be relied upon.
·  It is a Normal in such high range, that it is total abundance.
·  In this range, there may be a slight dip here and there, but it is still Power.
·  Creates leisure and security.

1. Don’t disconnect from past associations from previous Conditions. Take ownership and responsibility for one’s past friends, family, mates, caste, inter-caste buddies and acquaintances, and all other connections.
2. Write up one’s record of one’s service role and its details. This is essential for the next incumbent in same role. Next incumbent for the post must know what not to change.
3. Make the post occupiable by someone else who is qualified.

This is the Condition for Relinquishment (त्याग / संन्यास).

Transfer of Power

·  Handing over power or being overtaken by another in a mutually beneficial transaction.
·  Only 2 circumstances require transfer of power – very successful or very unsuccessful. This Condition is for the very successful case. One takes over a new or collapsed post in a Condition of Non-existence. But a going concern is taken over in Transfer of Power.

·  This is the Condition for Meditation (ध्यान) and Devotion to the Supreme Being (भक्ति).
1. Don’t change anything. All pressure points may come in on the new incumbent at once. Resist them in the same way the predecessor did (appropriate varnic शमो दम). Don’t do anything.
2. Keep learning and observing. Apply Normal Condition formula if necessary.
3. Study the Policy docs and Admin record. Learn and follow patterns and activity.
4. Issue no orders that are not instructed as routine by predecessors.
5. Innovate nothing, change nothing.
6. Write up one’s own record of observations.

“Change nothing until you are thoroughly familiar with your new zone of power.”

Special Note:
A Danger Condition can occur by a violation of the Transfer formula. To remedy it:
1. Observe, question, and draw up a list of what was previously successful in one’s zone of control.
2. Observe, question, and draw up a list of what was unsuccessful in one’s zone of control.
3. Get the successful actions in.
4. Knock off all unsuccessful actions.
5. Shrug off all tendencies to frantically cope or “defend”.
6. Sensible get back into a working structure.


  1. Namaste, I came across your blog via a link to your Sanskrit post on a google group called Samskrita.
    I have enjoyed perusing your other posts, and I have a common question regarding them.

    My knowledge in Indology is at a very nascent stage.
    I remember some phrases in various articles which refer directly or indirectly about the Indian perspective, or insight or outlook when talking about different areas. Here, I refer to articles by Rajiv Malhotra, Devdutt Patnaik, and now on your blog.

    I would really like to dive deep, but at this point, sadly, the only language that I have the required grip to be able to imbibe, is English. I am working on bringing my Hindi to the same level. While Sanskrit is at the beginning stage.

    Having said that, is it possible that you could provide pointers on how to go about this ?
    I would rather not spend time on biased/fragmented knowledge, & finding my way, sifting the wheat from the chaff, over a long period of time.

    So if you could tell me or direct me to other people or sites on how to get started, that would be wonderful. Please email me or reply here for the benefit of others who may have the same question like me.

    Dhanyavaad !

    1. vishal ji, namaste. I am also relatively a beginner, just getting a feel for it. What area of Indic philosophy or culture do you want to explore? Depending on that, there are various resources. If you are looking at the philosophical perspective, you can start with an institutional source, such as Arya Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission, Iskcon, etc. Use those as finite "portals" to the broader and more diverse tradition of "Hinduism".


      Knowing English is quite enough to start learning about Indic culture. Many Westerners have been very good students of Dharma and have written about it lucidly, and so have English-speaking Indians. There will be some terminology that is from Sanskrit, such as 'karma', 'dharma', etc that are untranslatable, but in any literature these will be explained.

      Your name sounds Indian, do you speak any other Indian language? If your intention is to learn Sanskrit, then check out Samskrita Bharati and find a study circle close to wherever you are located.