by Robert E. Svoboda
from the book Aghora III — The Law of Karma
Chapter One - STONEY
"Why do you think I own horses and come to the race track?"
Vimalananda and I sat, in March 1977, on his usual bench in the First Enclosure of the Bombay Racecourse. We had reached there well in advance of the first race, and while we awaited the arrival of his colleagues, the friendly gamblers with whom he would wrangle, wager and roar, the man who was my mentor sprang this question on me.
"I know you wonder about this all the time," he went on, "because your orthodox friends in Poona have taught you that good Hindus don't gamble. Do you have any idea at all why I come here?"
"No," I responded truthfully, "none at all."
He was right: gambling was anathema to my acquaintances among the orthodox of Poona, the city 100 miles southeast of Bombay where I was a student in a college of Ayurveda, India's traditional medical system.
"Sometimes I come here to gamble" he went on, "and at other times I come just to watch the races. But whatever my other reasons, I always come to study the karmas of the people who are here with me:'
"Yes. Do you know Newton's Third Law of Motion?"
"Er, yes: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction:"
"Yes. Newton's Third Law of Motion is the Law of Karma. We can also call it the Law of Cause and Effect, the law of "as you sow, so shall you reap." Any time you self-identify with an action — any time you act and think of yourself as the doer of that action — that action becomes a karma for you. All your self-identified actions, good and bad, act as causes which eventually produce effects, good and bad, which you will have to experience. The race track happens to be a great place to gain practice in knowing other peoples karmic accounts."
"You mean, to know who karmically owes what to whom?"
"Right. We call that rnanubandhana, the bondage of karmic debt. Let me give you a little illustration of my point so that you will know exactly what I mean. Suppose you want to predict the results of a horse race, like the race Stoney is running this afternoon." Stoney was his nickname for Stone Ice, who was his favorite mare. Today was to be the last race of her career.
"To know who will win a horse race you need to know about the luck— which means the sum of the karmas and rnanubandhanas — of many different beings. First, and foremost, the horse: is he or she destined to win? Next, the horse's syce (groom) and the jemadar (head groom): Are they destined to collect bonuses from the owner, which he awards them when his horse wins? Then, the trainer: is he destined to obtain his share of the stakes for saddling a winning horse? As for the jockey: is he destined for both a share of stake money and a big tip from the owner for winning? And what about the owner: Do the horse and the club owe him the stake money for the horse's victory? Is his horse meant to enhance his fame by a victory, or weaken his prestige by flopping miserably?
"Next to last comes the bookie: is he karmically meant to pay you, or to collect from you? Only now do we finally come to you, the gambler: Are you meant to win or lose money on that horse?"
"I can see that it is not so simple."
"My God! I should think not! If it were simple someone would have figured out a foolproof system to predict winners by now, and would be getting rich. Actually, it is fairly simple for the public. Most of the people who come to the track are debtors; they owe money either to the bookies or to the Club. They are the cannon fodder that provides the cash that pays those few people who are the horses' creditors, who are the only people destined to make money on the horses. These karmic debts get settled up on race days, when the public comes to play its favorites. The horses do the work, the creditors win, and the debtors lose. The horses themselves are mainly debtors: they work hard so that the others can make money. At best, if they win, they get some extra carrots and some sweet words; at worst, if they lose race after race—well, the worst can be pretty gruesome.
"I go to the race track to finish up a large number of rnanubandhanas all at once. I always race my animals to win. Knowing what I do about the Law of Karma, how can I do otherwise? I want to die with a clean karmic balance sheet. Every time my horse wins I pay off hundreds or thousands of bettors. The horse owes them the money, no doubt, but because I own the horse and am supporting him it is really me that is paying them off. Neat, isn't it?"
"It is for you," I responded, "but what about everyone else? Are all the other people who own horses automatically paying off their rnanubandhanas too?"
"They are if they are not creating some substantial new karmas in the process of paying off their previous ones."
"Look at it from this angle: when an owner races a horse to win and doesn't interfere in any way with how that horse runs the main effect of the race is to pay off existing rnanubandhanas. So far, so good. But things don't always work this way. Sometimes an owner, in cahoots with a trainer or a jockey, will try to do something to make sure that his horse wins or loses. That effort is a karma, which will either create a new rnanubandhana or perpetuate one that already exists.
"These consequences are not limited to the actions of owners, of course. Sometimes the trainer will be in cahoots with the jockey, and they keep the owner in the dark about it. Sometimes the bookies and the jockeys are in cahoots and leave everyone else in the dark. This sort of thing is unfortunate, but it happens all the time; the lure of easy money is too much for many people, and they become greedy.
"Many bookies get involved in conspiring with the jockeys to make extra money by fixing up races. When he can arrange for a favorite horse to lose a bookie can swallow all the money the public had bet on the favorite." As in Great Britain, licensed bookies operate legally at Indian racetracks.
"They can swallow the money, but will they be able to digest it?" I contributed sardonically.
"That is precisely my point," he responded with some vehemence. "Here is the creation of a new karma: the mare does her job for her creditors by trying to win, but the jockey and the bookie pocket the money when they stop her from winning. The members of the public who were the horse's creditors have still not been paid, so they now become creditors of the bookies and jockeys; the debts are transferred. The bookies and jockeys, who think they are getting something for nothing, are merely borrowing money which they will have to pay back later, with interest. Moreover, the jockeys will also have to be reborn so that the horses that they whip into exhaustion now will have am opportunity to work them to death in return. If these people ever realized how many millions of lives it will take to pay off all these debts they would never play dirty."
Also by Robert E. Svoboda:
- Aghora II: Kundalini (Book)
- Aghora: The Left Hand of God (Book)