कर्म दिव्यम् – Divine Actions
Divinity of Ordinary Actions
Life starts at birth. Life is swamped with karmas. We are continually doing something – speaking, walking, sitting, standing, seeing, thinking… one action follows another. Even if we sleep, karmas continue in our dreams.
Generally, when a jiva does something, it does so bound by its nature for some self-centred reason. It does karmas to attain something it does not have. It does karmas to prevent someone taking away what it has attained. It does karmas out of fear. It does karmas instigated by its vãsanã. It does karmas incited by ego and vanity. Paramãtmã’s actions are not as such, they are different. His actions are not self-centred, but are performed only out of compassion. His actions are to liberate us and to please us. Thus, his actions are divine.
Furthermore, the actions of ordinary jivas that have received a body are dependent on their senses. Without these senses, they cannot perform any action. For example, they cannot see without eyes, they cannot taste without a tongue, they cannot feel without skin. Thus, a jiva’s actions are dependent on other factors. When Paramãtmã assumes a body, he does not have these limitations. His actions are not dependent on the senses. Indeed, it is true that he sees through his eyes and hears through his ears, but he is not dependent on them. With him, it is not the case that he can see only if he has eyes and hear only if he has ears. He is all-knowing. Thus, his actions are divine in this manner. A jiva’s actions are limited. It cannot do many things at the same time. That is not the case with Paramãtmã. He is able to do countless actions simultaneously. Thus, his actions are divine in this manner.
Divinity in Human-like Actions
There is another side to the divinity of Paramãtmã’s actions. That is, recognizing the divinity of even his human-like actions. When Paramãtmã shows human traits, we say he has performed a human-like action. Both good and bad traits can be found in humans. For example, truthfulness, celibacy, tranquillity, forgiveness, etc. are good traits. Whereas lust, anger, greed, jealousy, ego, prejudice, ignorance, etc. are bad traits. When Paramãtmã assumes a human form, he takes on these traits. When he shows good traits, we do not feel that he has shown human-like traits, but when he shows traits of lust, anger, greed, etc. divyabhãv is left aside and we see him as human. In such circumstances, if we truly believe him to be divine, then we can be said to have understood divinity in all his actions.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan explains this divya-bhãv with the analogy of the ‘mãyã’ of a magician. He says that just as the form of Paramãtmã in Akshardhãm is resplendent with countless divine powers and divine light, one should realize exactly the same regarding the manifest form of Paramãtmã in human form. One who realizes this is said to have known Paramãtmã perfectly. The phases of childhood, youth and old age apparent in Paramãtmã, as well as his birth and death are all perceived due to his yogic powers of creating an illusion. In reality, Paramãtmã remains absolutely unchanged. For example, an adept magician arms himself with weapons and ascends to the sky to fight against the warriors of the demons – the enemies of Indra. Then, having been cut to pieces, he falls to the ground. Thereafter, the magician’s wife gathers those pieces together and burns herself on his funeral pyre. After a short while, the magician appears out of the sky, armed with weapons, exactly as he had appeared before. He then asks the king for a reward and requests, “Please return my wife.” Having seen such an astonishing performance, if one is unable to comprehend the ‘mãyã’ of even a magician, how then can the yogic powers of Paramãtmã possibly be comprehended? However, one who does comprehend the ‘mãyã’ of the magician, realizes, ‘That magician has not died, nor has he been burnt; in reality, he is exactly the same as he was before.’ In a similar manner, one who is said to have realized the form of Paramãtmã perfectly understands Paramãtmã to be eternal and imperishable – absolutely unchanging (Vachanãmrut Panchãlã 7).
Bhagwan Swaminarayan has described the sthitapragna defined in the second adhyãya of the Gitã on the basis of divyabhãv. For example, he says that a devotee of Paramãtmã who, entertaining no doubts at all regarding the nature of Paramãtmã, praises Paramãtmã’s weaknesses in exactly the same way that he glorifies his strengths; and also praises those actions and incidents of Paramãtmã that appear to be inappropriate, in exactly the same way that he glorifies actions and incidents that are appropriate – without harbouring any doubts about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of those actions and incidents. Such a devotee should be known as being ‘sthitapragna’ with regards to the nature of Purushottam (Vachanãmrut Gadhadã II 17).
Furthermore, quoting the shloka, ‘जन्म कर्म च मे दिव्यम्’ Bhagwan Swaminarayan has called divya- bhãv true bhakti. He says that when God assumes a form like a human for the sake of the liberation of the jivas and travels on this earth, many of God’s actions are divine and many appear to be mãyik. Even a sinner would perceive divinity in the divine actions of God; a true devotee of God, however, would perceive divinity even when God performs human-like actions (Vachanãmrut Gadhadã II 10).
Here, we should understand that when Paramãtmã and the satpurush show noble virtues, we feel as though we have divyabhãv in them. But if those feelings do not incorporate realizing them to be Paramãtmã, and just incorporates thinking them to be a good or noble person, then that too is not divyabhãv, it is also a type of manushya- bhãv. The qualities and actions of Paramãtmã and the satpurush are above the three gunas, divine and unmatchable to anything mundane. If one has such feelings without any sort of comparison, then one can be said to have found the true direction of divyabhãv.