These days I’ve been walking around sporting an amulet of sorts around my neck. It’s a piece of wood shaped into the Buddhist symbol of ‘Karma’. I confess I do not particularly brood a lot about the consequences of my actions. A prerequisite for a strong belief in Karmic influences on your life. Or is it? I don’t know. The point is, I don’t know much about ‘Karma’. Even though It’s a central tenet of the Dharmic bigwig: Hinduism, the religion I was born into. Despite that, I didn’t know what the ideogram stood for when I bought this piece of wood attached to a string for forty rupees from Majnu Ka Tila. Neither (and I say this with a certain sense of shame) was I very keen on knowing the meaning behind it. The reason why I searched for the meaning of what was then to me this ‘weird but sort of pretty Buddhist thingy’ was that I didn’t want to look stupid when asked what it represents.
Now, even though I am a staunch atheist, I’ve got a soft spot for Buddhism. I like their pacifist ideology and their clergy: the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. I like the way they (as John Oliver puts it) play a cosmic game of Tag. It’s a cute faith. The idea of rebirth is comforting and proselytising the philosophy of Karma can’t hurt. God knows the world needs to own up to its faults.
Coming back to the amulet. For me, it fulfils two rather shallow desires: A strange want to accessorise myself and a reminder that life sometimes needs a little harmless mysticism, even if you’re a rationalist to the core.
“We are not rational creatures who feel; we are emotional creatures who rationalize.” – Devdutt Pattanaik
So I’ve got two accessories now: A watch and a talisman. And as motifs, they represent two diametrically opposite philosophies. One always goading you to live by the cliched maxim of time being money and the other telling you to take a break, to step back, to deliberate and only then, to actuate. Because you’ll be back. Now you don’t want to come back as a cockroach do you?
Fal ki chinta = Concern for the fruits of your labour.
Derived from the Hindu adage “karm karo fal ki chinta mat karo” which, I think, means one should do good work without thinking of the fruits of their labour.