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HINDUISM MYTHOLOGY
 
 

Law of Karma

Law of Karma

Karma is a concept in Hinduism which explains causality through a system where beneficial effects are derived from past beneficial actions and harmful effects from past harmful actions, creating a system of actions and reactions throughout a soul's reincarnated lives forming a cycle of rebirth. The causality is said to be applicable not only to the material world but also to our thoughts, words, actions and actions that others do under our instructions. When the cycle of rebirth comes to an end, a person is said to have attained moksha, or salvation from samsara. Not all incarnations are human. The cycle of birth and death on earth is said to be formed from 8.4 million forms of life, but only in human life is an exit from this cycle possible.

    Law of Karma --the moral law of action and reaction.

      1. The present condition of your soul (confusion or serenity) is a product of your past decisions. You have made yourself what you are.

      2. Your present thoughts, decisions, and actions determine your future states. ("Unsettled state" = "bad karma.")  Karma can be altered through natural and moral decision and action.

      3. Every person gets what that person deserves--even though decisions are freely arrived at, there is no chance in the universe. Karma is the middle way between determinism and indeterminism.

      4. The assumption is that we will not change the world in any significant way--the world is the training ground for Atman-Brahman.

      5. There is no randomness or accident in the universe. "There are no lost traces."  Karma is not fate or strict causality.

 

The Sanskrit word karma means "actions" or "deeds." As a religious term, karma refers to intentional (usually moral) actions that affect one's fortunes in this life and the next. Karma (or kamma in Pali) is a concept common to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, but interpreted in different ways. This article focuses specifically on Hindu beliefs about karma.

The concept of karma or "law of karma" is the broader principle that all of life is governed by a system of cause and effect, action and reaction, in which one's deeds have corresponding effects on the future. Karma is thus a way of explaining evil and misfortune in the world, even for those who do not appear to deserve it - their misfortune must be due to wrong actions in their previous life.

In Hindu texts , the word karma first appears in the ancient Rig Veda , but there it simply means religious action and animal sacrifice. There is some hint of the later meaning of karma in the Brahmanas , but it is not until the Upanishads that karma is expressed as a principle of cause and effect based on actions. One example is in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.5.

Karma is regarded as a fundamental law of nature that is automatic and mechanical. It is not something that is imposed by God or a god as a system of punishment or reward, nor something that the gods can interfere with.

The word karma refers primarily to " bad karma " - that which is accumulated as a result of wrong actions. Bad karma binds a person's soul ( atman ) to the cycle of rebirth ( samsara ) and leads to misfortune in this life and poor conditions in the next. The moral energy of a particular moral act bears fruit automatically in the next life, manifested in one's class, disposition, and character.

Hindu texts also prescribe a number of activities, such as pilgrimages to holy places and acts of devotion, that can wipe out the effects of bad karma . Such positive actions are sometimes referred to as " good karma ." Some versions of the theory of karma also say that morally good acts have positive consequences (as opposed to simply neutral).

In Vedanta and Yoga teachings, there are three types of karma :

  1. Prarabdha karma - karma experienced during the present lifetime
  2. Sancita karma - the store of karma that has not yet reached fruition
  3. Agamin or sanciyama karma - karma sown in the present life that will come to fruition in a future life

The process by which karma is understood to work through various rebirths is as follows:

  1. Good or bad actions create impressions ( samskaras ) or tendencies ( vasanas ) in the mind, which in time will come to fruition in further action (more karma).
  2. The seeds of karma are carried in the subtle body ( linga ), in which the soul transmigrates.
  3. The physical body ( sthula sarira ) is the field in which the fruit of karma is experienced and more karma is created.

The purpose of life in Hinduism is thus to minimize bad karma in order to enjoy better fortune in this life and achieve a better rebirth in the next. The ultimate spiritual goal is to achieve release ( moksha ) from the cycle of samsara altogether. It may take hundreds or thousands of rebirths to get rid of all of one's accumulated karma and achieve moksha. The person who has become liberated (attained moksha) creates no more new karma during the present lifetime and is not reborn after death.

Various methods to attain moksha are taught by different schools, but most include avoiding attachment to impermanent things, carrying out one's duties, and realizing the ultimate unity between one's soul or self (atman) and ultimate reality ( Brahman ).

 

 

"Karma" literally means "deed" or "act", and more broadly names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, which Hindus believe governs all consciousness. Karma is not fate , for we act with what can be described as a conditioned free will creating our own destinies. According to the Vedas, if we sow goodness , we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil . Karma refers to the totality of our actions and their concomitant reactions in this and previous lives, all of which determine our future. The conquest of karma lies in intelligent action and dispassionate reaction. Not all karmas rebound immediately. Some accumulate and return unexpectedly in this or other lifetimes. Human beings are said to produce karma in four ways:

  • through thoughts
  • through words
  • through actions that we perform ourselves
  • through actions others perform under our instructions

Everything that we have ever thought, spoken, done or caused is karma, as is also that which we think, speak or do this very moment.Hindu scriptures divide karma into three kinds:

  • Sanchita is the accumulated karma. It would be impossible to experience and endure all karmas in one lifetime. From this stock of sanchita karma , a handful is taken out to serve one lifetime and this handful of actions, which have begun to bear fruit and which will be exhausted only on their fruit being enjoyed and not otherwise, is known as prarabdha karma .
  • Prarabdha Fruit-bearing karma is the portion of accumulated karma that has "ripened" and appears as a particular problem in the present life.
  • Kriyamana is everything that we produce in the current life. All kriyamana karmas flow in to sanchita karma and consequently shape our future. Only in human life we can change our future destiny. After death we lose Kriya Shakti (ability to act) and do (kriyamana) karma until we are born again in another human body.

Actions performed consciously are weighted more heavily than those done unconsciously. On this basis some believe that only human beings who can distinguish right from wrong can do (kriyamana) karma.Therefore animals and young children are considered incapable of creating new karma (and thus cannot affect their future destinies) as they are incapable of discriminating between right and wrong. This view is explained by the concepts of a Karma-deha ('action' body) and a Bhoga-deha ('completion' body).

Tulsidas , a Hindu saint, said: "Our destiny was shaped long before the body came into being."As long as the stock of sanchita karma lasts, a part of it continues to be taken out as prarabdha karma for being enjoyed in one lifetime, leading to the cycle of birth and death. A Jiva cannot attain moksha (liberation) from the cycle of birth and death, until the accumulated sanchita karmas are completely exhausted.

The cycle of birth and death on earth is formed from 8.4 million forms of life, only one of which is human. Only as humans are we in position to do something about our destiny by doing the right thing at the right time. Through positive actions, pure thoughts, prayer, mantras and meditation, we can resolve the influence of karma in the present life and turn our destiny for the better. A spiritual master knowing the sequence in which our karma will bear fruit can help us. As humans we have the opportunity to speed up our spiritual progress with the practice of good karma. We produce negative karma because we lack knowledge and clarity.

Unkindness yields spoiled fruits, called paap , and good deeds bring forth sweet fruits, called punya . As one acts, so does one become: one becomes virtuous by virtuous action, and evil by evil action.



 
 


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