Sunday, April 3, 2011

Small Wonders And Karma


A few years back a three year old child in Bangalore enchanted music experts in the city with his uncommon and exceptional understanding of Carnatic music and later won a handsome monthly stipend by the prestigious Madras Music Academy. This child could be considered a child prodigy who has a remarkable memory, an extremely keen sense of hearing and an effortless ability to acquire knowledge. Occurrences of such geniuses is rare but not ruled out. Several cases of child prodigies have been reported all over the world and these prodigies have left indelible footprints in the pages of history.

A child prodigy could be defined as a genius who exhibits in an exceptional manner some innate ability much before he or she reaches the age of 12. Most of them have shown their extraordinary skills by a phenomenal speed with which they mastered their knowledge at an age ranging from 6 to 8. Many of them have attained a level of proficiency in some fields for surpassing that of an average student twice their age.

Acharya Shankara [788-820A.D], the greatest exponent of Advaita Vedanta, lived just 32 years. At the age of 7 he mastered the Vedic literature. His erudite perception astonished even his Guru. At the age of 9, he embraced Sanyasa and attained Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the Apex of spiritual Realisatoion, before he was 12. Most of his literary works, the masterpieces of Advaita Vedanta, were completed by the time he was 16. A versatile genius, a seer, a philosopher, a religious reformer, teacher of the highest order—all these are marvels of the world achieved within a short span of 32 years, commencing right from the age of 7.

As stated earlier, occurrence of child prodigies is a universal phenomenon and every country has produced child prodigies in several and different fields. For example, in the field of Western music there are many prodigies in the West making their mark even when they are just less than 7 or 8. The most remarkable case is that of Mozart who published 4 sonatas at the age of 7 and who had demonstrated his skill in music before the most learned musicians of the West by playing on the harp, violin and organ before he was 8. Beethoven, another great musical prodigy, had written some of his famous compositions, sonatas and songs when he was only 13. His symphonies, 9 in number, rank as the greatest ever written and his piano sonatas and string quartets are unmatched in beauty.

On the literary side, the famous German poet Goethe is said to have begun writing his famous verses in German, Latin and Greek when he was just 7 years old.
Tennyson scribbled poems on his slate when he was barely 8. Englishman T.B. Macaulay who was responsible for the introduction of English education in India had started his distinguished career as a historian at the age of 7. It is said that at that young age he had drawn up a ‘Compendium of Universal History’ and a defence of Christian doctrines to convert the Hindu inhabitants of Travancore to Christianity.

Normally a prodigy has a one-track mind and is ignorant of subjects other than the one in which he is proficient or in which he is interested. However, an outstanding exception to this rule is found in Sir William Hamilton [1788-1856], the greatest Man of Science and Languages that Ireland has ever produced. It is said that he started to learn Hebrew at the age of 3. At 7 he was pronounced to have shown a greater knowledge than most other candidates for a Fellowship in the Trinity College, Dublin. At 13 he could speak 13 languages. Among these, besides the classical and modern European languages, were Sanskrit, Persia,. Arabic, Hindustani and Malayan. At 14 he wrote a Complimentary letter to the Persian Ambassador who happened to visit Dublin and the latter appears to have said that no one in Britain could have written such a document in the Persian language.

Hamilton’s interest included Physics and Mathematics. At 12, his interest in Mathematics and Physics was awakened by reading the works of Newton. While he was still an undergraduate he submitted a paper on ‘Light Rays’ to the Royal Irish Academy which prompted its President to pronounce “ This young man, I do not say, will be the first mathematician of the age; but I dare say that he is already the first mathematician of the age”. At 22 he was appointed Professor of Astronomy, defeating a much older candidate who shortly afterwards became Astronomer Royal.

What makes a kid a child prodigy? Is it a freak of nature? The answer is an emphatic no. Further, it should also be remembered that the extraordinary powers of the prodigies are not due either to heredity or to environment or their interaction. These powers must have been cultivated by the individuals themselves in their previous lives. The doctrine of incarnation maintains continuously the identity of the individual throughout the succession of births and deaths. One and the same individual [Self or Atman] appears in different physical garbs but all along retains the same mind and intellect which is responsible for the body. In this way, the continuity of the individual is maintained through succession of births and deaths. In fact, every individual’s present birth is actually a case of re-birth in a different body. This meaning is beautifully implied in the very Sanskrit term for birth ‘Janma’ which means‘re-appearance’. According to the Doctrine of Karma, nowhere in the world is their room for chance. Nothing happens without a cause. As is the cause so is the effect. The Law of Karma on which reincarnation is based is the Cosmic Cause of Law and Effect, functioning on the human plane as a moral law.

As we sow, so we reap. Neither heredity nor environment can explain the birth and growth of an individual. Moreover it is observed that geniuses or child prodigies are born of mediocre parents, morons are born of normal parents, sane children are born to insane parents, and wicked persons are born to saintly parents. It is only the Law of Karma that can account for all these anomalies. The point to be noted is that the child comes to the parents and is not begotten by them. The individual is the cause for himself; all else is subsidiary. This is particularly evident in the case of child prodigies.


Created: Friday, April 10, 2009 9:52 PM


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