For a spirit to acquire a body to work out its Karma, it needs a set of parents to pave the way. The mother has to provide a spirit with a womb and nurture it for months before birth, and years thereafter. The father, and often both parents, have to work hard to earn enough money to support the child. The food, shelter, clothing and teachings are a great Karma for the mother & father but a huge obligation on the child. The child has to accrue a lot of positive Karmas, or create new Kriyamana Karmas, that balance the obligation. Looking after one’s parents in their old age, paying for their needs, medical treatment, funeral arrangement, and after their death doing good deeds and dedicating the benefits to them, are some ways to achieve this goal.On the other hand being insulted, wrongfully scolded, physically punished, ill-treated, denied their family inheritance, are also some ways in which a child may get a reverse benefit, a parent may neutralize their receivable debt from their kids.
To the Cow
After mother’s milk a child for several years is brought up on cow’s milk and its milk products. To go to specifics, one consumes during one’s lifetime the supply of 12 cow’s lifetime production of milk. This consumption includes milk products as well. A debt of this magnitude is overbearing and hence the ancients in India worshipped the cow as a mark of gratitude. Even the cow-dung and cow’s urine have multiple uses for human beings. Cow’s urine is considered an elixir in ayurveda! One of the great charities (Daan) is said to be the Cow Daan, especially to the Brahmins or priests, in return for the prayers and religious ceremonies by them, in proxy, for an individual. The obligation naturally extends to other providers of milk.The way to nullify these obligations is to feed cows, give them shelter, look after them, in exchange for the milk they provide. Being a benefactor to the cow is a way out of this debt.
To the Green Kingdom
We consume about 35 truckloads of vegetables in our lifetimes and acres of rice, wheat and other cereals, herbs, flowers, etc.To be free from such a huge debt one has to develop either a green finger or have land cultivated to grow veggies, cereals, etc. and donate those to others. Greening spaces, getting tube wells or water resources to help green arid zones, or being a stakeholder in cultivation without any personal gain is a neutralizer.
Though plant life is the lowest form of life we consume, it is still a debt, though much lesser than a debt to animal life.
To the Animal Kingdom
Eating meat and fish may be a delicious experience but an expensive one. You pay for it in two currencies. Money in the physical one and debit in the spirit one.Animal life becomes more expensive the higher their evolution in the animal world. A goat’s meat accrues more debt than that of a chicken, pork even more, and beef goes beyond all others. The positive balance of Karma gets depleted with such negative Karma acquisition. In order to get rid of this debit, one has to do a lot of good counter deeds. Guessing using common sense, would you not have to feed at least 200-300 people to pay for the life and flesh of a goat? Wouldn’t you have to feed around 5000 people to counter balance 20 goats eaten in one life? What about the 5000 chickens consumed?
If a person eats only half a chicken a day, he consumes 175 a year, 1750 a decade and 5000 in less than 30 years of non-vegetarianism. If he consumes for 50 years, he has to payback the Karma for 8000 chickens! If consumption of one chicken’s negative life karma can be balanced by feeding say 50 people only, you still need to feed 400,000 people. Is that a doable number? Hence the saints call for vegetarianism.
To the Teachers and Guides in Life
The first Guru is the mother, the second the father, then come the teachers of education. Finally the spiritual Guru is the one who helps us attain Gyan or eternal knowledge, who makes one transcend perception and understand reality, and helps one to improve his/her Karma and add to his/her balance. The teachings of all are a debt. The spiritual teacher gets the cream of the credit because he has to help
you first unlearn all the delusions, before he can clean your slate to rewrite on it. The understanding of the Karma theory and acquiring its best practices is the result of his performance. It is an invaluable debt and cannot be measured.The only way to neutralize that debt is to work hard towards being a good student, giving your Guru his satisfaction. Thereafter, spreading the wisdom down-line and crediting that Karma to your Guru is an act of repayment. Tan, Man, Dhan or Body, Mind and Wealth are an offering the student makes to his preceptor as Guru Dakshina or repayment to Guru. Offering a coconut and 11 sets of clothes, utilities like bed, umbrella, etc. are ways in which people try to repay this debt. (Guru Dronacharya asked Eklavya to repay him by cutting off his right thumb). Ravan would offer his head to Lord Shiva, his Guru. These are not recommendations only bizarre examples to exaggerate a point.
Acts of Kindness
When people go out of their way to do us favours of any kind, including acts of kindness like giving us a glass of water to drink when we are thirsty, making us enjoy moments of laughter and fun or any other effort that makes us feel obliged, we become indebted to them and it adds to our negative Karma. Depending on the nature of the favour, the debt can be minor or large. We can repay this by giving them something small as a gift, even as small as a chewing gum, a movie ticket, anything which becomes a reverse acceptance regardless of its value.
Food, shelter, clothing, gifts, material products, household items, business items, etc. are a debt to Karma. Salt and cereal are considered to be a very big debt. In ancient times, people believed in not accepting anybody’s food especially cereal and salt. They believed salt spread to every cell in their bodies and so was a great obligation. Repaying a gift with a counter gift, not eating food paid for by others, paying for the food by giving them some token money, silver coin, etc, are ways to reduce the debt.Similarly, living in someone’s house is considered a big debt. You not only enjoy the comfort of a bed and sitting facility, you also use the toilet and leave your dirt in their home, albeit for a short period, till it is cleaned. Accepting this facility makes you indebted for the hospitality.
Accepting medical help gives you great relief both to body and mind and makes you grateful and hence indebted. Clothing makes you fit to be seen by others, besides helping you bear the vagaries of weather. This help from someone, is a debt.
To the Five Elements
The body is constructed of the five elements of Ether, Air, Fire , Water & Earth. An entity may not feel directly obligated to these elements, but one needs to acknowledge their inputs into our physical existence. We often misuse these elements for personal gains. Cutting of trees for making paper, cooking, burning in havans or holy fires; wasting water, contaminating it, not harnessing it for greening places, are some examples of misusing the elements. Nuclear testing, polluting air with industrial gasses, toxins, vehicular exhaust and water pollution are some of the ways in which humans ill-treat the elements.The elements are also mediums between one form of consciousness and another. Fire has been used as a carrier of offerings to the Demi-Gods or enlightened souls. Water can be energized into healing water. Earth is considered Mother Earth and has been worshipped by various civilizations. People purify the air as a gesture of self purification by burning essences. Most Hindu worship techniques are a use of the five elements as a witness. Keeping a lamp lit in a personal temple, during havans, where all the five elements are involved, greening the earth, worshiping fire and other elements vide their personifications in the form of Gods and Goddesses, are part of the program of reducing this obligation.