Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Karma and Evolution

Shankaracarya (788-820 A.D) of course had no idea of Darwinian evolution. Extracting the implication of the doctrine of karma he declares that the transmigratory state has no beginning. Rebirth is on the basis of karma so there will always have to be prior births for the whole machinery to operate, it can’t just suddenly start up. In reply to an objection :

From Brahma-Sutra-Bhasya II.i.35

It is only after creation that results of work, depending on the diversification into bodies etc., could be possible by depending on the result of work........

Reply:

That is no defect, since the transmigratory state has no beginning, This defect would have arisen if transmigration had a beginning. But if that state had no beginning, there is nothing contradictory for the fruits of work and the variety in creation to ac t as cause and effect of each other on the analogy of the seed and the sprout.

In that view of the cosmos man and all the species were always there. It’s interesting that some Hindus find themselves aligned with Christian fundamentalists in the denial of evolution. Others seem not to have a coherent position on the matter. Probably they are waiting for some authoritative pronouncement.

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