Karma, Heaven and Moksha

How every action leads to an effect and how bad actions will return to haunt you - Anil Bhanot conti

Hindus believe that God cannot be monopolised or limited to one way or the other. The Hindu concept of God is one of love, indeed God is considered to be beyond love and in Hinduism when a person reaches the state of Moksha or Nirvana the experience is one of utter bliss which no word can describe.

Moksha is the ultimate stage of salvation where the Atma, the divine body of Man, merges with Brahman, the ultimate reality. We have 3 bodies, Atma the divine body; Sthula the fine body of mind, intellect and ego; and Physical body. The physical body dies and the elements go back to earth but the fine body and the Atma live on and go to heaven until there is time for the Atma and the fine body to take rebirth on earth again to continue its journey towards the ultimate salvation of Moksha. Heaven is a transitional stage, it is not the ultimate one, and there is a higher sphere of the one God, Brahman, which is beyond words or descriptions.

Hindus have several commandments from the Vedas and many Shastras (Law Books), as those were the times of civilising the race. But those commandments are seldom highlighted as the Hindu way of life grew on that basis and as a result a deeper understanding of good v bad. The underlying concept that is woven through, this way of life, is that we are all connected, through the entire creation including animals and plants. Therefore the commandments became redundant as the emphasis shifted simply to the idea of “not hurting another soul” - even the plants have a soul in Hinduism.

There is an evolutionary element to the soul even in the Hindu creation story. The main guidance on how best to live your life now is taken through the theory of Karma, that every action will lead to an effect and that effect will become a cause for another effect.

It is a chain reaction with the proviso that your actions will in the end lead to having an effect on you so that if you do bad action their effect will return to haunt you but if you always walk on the straight and narrow, truthfully, which may take longer to achieve your goal but you will continue to evolve and perfect your soul towards God for the ultimate goal of Moksha.

The theory of Karma is intrinsically linked to the theory of reincarnation. It is not that there is an eternal heaven or an eternal hell – a Hindu God could never be so vindictive to Mankind or any of His creation. Lord Krishna says in the Gita that he sees all with an equal eye but those who worship me are dear to Him and he further says that even those who worship other Gods or worship Him by other names or forms, “they too will surely come to me” – this was when Krishna said, “I am Brahman”, i.e., the ultimate reality.

Krishna said that it is the substance of prayer that mattered to him, not the form, that it was the purity of the thought and actions that mattered to him not the methodologies, though he said he rewards those seeking paradise also but “verily they return on earth after exhuming the fruits of their actions”.

Hindus have a vast number of holy books. The first and foremost are the Vedas accompanied by the Upnishads, then there are the Puranas, there are epics like Ramayana and Mahabharta and the most complete spiritual compendium the Bhagwad Gita. There are Yoga treatises; there are six systems of philosophy, stretching the science of metaphysics to the limits. There are Shastras and Samritis like that of Manu and so on.

Equally there are several festivals. Every month of the year will have a few major festivals but in the UK the main ones being celebrated are Lohdi, Holi, Mahashivratri, Ramnaumi, various Rathayatras, Durga ashtami, Krishna Janam Ashtami, Rakhi, Ganesh Chauth, Dushehra, Vijay Dashmi, Diwali and so on.

Anil Bhanot read Actuarial Science at university but then qualified as a chartered accountant. He was one of the founding members of Hindu Council UK in 1994 and was first elected as general secretary in 2003.
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Let's face it: supporting Spurs is basically a form of charity

Now, for my biggest donation yet . . .

I gazed in awe at the new stadium, the future home of Spurs, wondering where my treasures will go. It is going to be one of the architectural wonders of the modern world (football stadia division), yet at the same time it seems ancient, archaic, a Roman ruin, very much like an amphitheatre I once saw in Croatia. It’s at the stage in a new construction when you can see all the bones and none of the flesh, with huge tiers soaring up into the sky. You can’t tell if it’s going or coming, a past perfect ruin or a perfect future model.

It has been so annoying at White Hart Lane this past year or so, having to walk round walkways and under awnings and dodge fences and hoardings, losing all sense of direction. Millions of pounds were being poured into what appeared to be a hole in the ground. The new stadium will replace part of one end of the present one, which was built in 1898. It has been hard not to be unaware of what’s going on, continually asking ourselves, as we take our seats: did the earth move for you?

Now, at long last, you can see what will be there, when it emerges from the scaffolding in another year. Awesome, of course. And, har, har, it will hold more people than Arsenal’s new home by 1,000 (61,000, as opposed to the puny Emirates, with only 60,000). At each home game, I am thinking about the future, wondering how my treasures will fare: will they be happy there?

No, I don’t mean Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker – local as well as national treasures. Not many Prem teams these days can boast quite as many English persons in their ranks. I mean my treasures, stuff wot I have been collecting these past 50 years.

About ten years ago, I went to a shareholders’ meeting at White Hart Lane when the embryonic plans for the new stadium were being announced. I stood up when questions were called for and asked the chairman, Daniel Levy, about having a museum in the new stadium. I told him that Man United had made £1m the previous year from their museum. Surely Spurs should make room for one in the brave new mega-stadium – to show off our long and proud history, delight the fans and all those interested in football history and make a few bob.

He mumbled something – fluent enough, as he did go to Cambridge – but gave nothing away, like the PM caught at Prime Minister’s Questions with an unexpected question.

But now it is going to happen. The people who are designing the museum are coming from Manchester to look at my treasures. They asked for a list but I said, “No chance.” I must have 2,000 items of Spurs memorabilia. I could be dead by the time I finish listing them. They’ll have to see them, in the flesh, and then they’ll be free to take away whatever they might consider worth having in the new museum.

I’m awfully kind that way, partly because I have always looked on supporting Spurs as a form of charity. You don’t expect any reward. Nor could you expect a great deal of pleasure, these past few decades, and certainly not the other day at Liverpool when they were shite. But you do want to help them, poor things.

I have been downsizing since my wife died, and since we sold our Loweswater house, and I’m now clearing out some of my treasures. I’ve donated a very rare Wordsworth book to Dove Cottage, five letters from Beatrix Potter to the Armitt Library in Ambleside, and handwritten Beatles lyrics to the British Library. If Beckham and I don’t get a knighthood in the next honours list, I will be spitting.

My Spurs stuff includes programmes going back to 1910, plus recent stuff like the Opus book, that monster publication, about the size of a black cab. Limited editions cost £8,000 a copy in 2007. I got mine free, as I did the introduction and loaned them photographs. I will be glad to get rid of it. It’s blocking the light in my room.

Perhaps, depending on what they want, and they might take nothing, I will ask for a small pourboire in return. Two free tickets in the new stadium. For life. Or longer . . . 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 16 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times