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Karta Bhokta – Doer – Enjoyer In Hindu Philosophy

Karta (doer) becomes the bhokta (enjoyer), since one reaps as one sows as per Hindu philosophy. In other words, one’s good as well as bad deeds yield corresponding fruits, which one has to experience necessarily. Thus bound to the transmigratory cycle, one undergoes a series of births and deaths. To escape this, one has to separate action from effect by performing what the Bhagavad Gita describes as “dispassionate, disinterested action.”

When one is tired of this repetitive cycle of birth and death, one realizes oneself in essence as the eternal and changeless soul; the ‘doing’ as well as ‘enjoying’ are superimposed due to avidya (ignorance). One then begins the momentous journey towards moksha (liberation).

Bhokta literally means the one who eats or consumes or enjoys. Hence it broadly refers to the bhoktrtva (state of enjoying) of the jiva. Mundaka Upanishad describes the jiva vividly as a bird that eats the delicious papal fruit. Here papal fruit denotes the result, good or bad, of one’s own actions (karmaphala). The enjoyment represents the direct experiencing of joy or sorrow that in turn requires a body, gross or subtle. Hence the bhokta is described as one who has a physical body, sense organs and the mind, which make the experience possible.

In Vedantic view, the self encased in the body-mind complex is the bhokta. He has three different types of enjoyment in the three states of his existence, viz., jagrat (the wakeful state), swapna (the dream state) and sushupti (the dreamless state). In the first state, he is outward orientated and enjoys gross objects and is known as Vishwa. In the second state, he enjoys subtle objects in his inner world and is termed as taijasa. In the third state, where the sense organs as well as mind retire for rest, he enjoys in his unified nature the bliss itself and is known as prajna. When the jiva is beyond the three states, he is known to be in turiya (the transcendental state)..