According to various dharmic religions, karma is a transcendent (invisible and immeasurable) energy that derives from the acts of the people. According to the laws of karma, each of the successive reincarnations would be conditioned by the acts performed in previous lives. It is a central belief in the doctrine of Hinduism that would later take on Buddhism, Jainism, and Ayyavazhi.

Although these religions express differences in the very meaning of the word karma, they have a common basis of interpretation. Generally, karma is interpreted as a cosmic law of retribution, or of cause and effect. It refers to the concept of action or activity understood as that which causes the beginning of the cycle of cause and effect.

In Indian believe, that the effects of karma of all events are seen as actively changing experiences in the past, present, and future. According to this doctrine, people have the freedom to choose between doing good and evil. However, they have to assume the consequences derived.

Karma and Reincarnation

Usually, karma is associated with reincarnation since a single human life would not reach to experience all the effects of the actions performed. In theistic religions (such as Hinduism or Christianity) there is the concept of soul.

So, in thi sense, reincarnation would be the new incarnation of the soul in a new physical body, in future time, in the womb of a new mother.

In Hinduism, the concept of the individual soul, or jiva-atmaa, is a spark of the Divine Spirit (Atmaa) that we all have, unlike Buddhism, in which the object of reincarnation corresponds to a record of the mind.

The reincarnation or transmigration of souls is the step to the next physical existence. Karma determines the conditions under which the individual returns to life. However, the latent purity and wisdom remains intact and slowly and progressively develop the afterlife in a kind of spiritual evolution of the soul.

So, through numerous physical bodies and characters, a long journey from our inferior or animal nature To our higher or divine nature.

Memories of previous lives

The guru Paramahansa Yogananda believed that all realized beings, among whom he told Jesus Christ or Buddha Gautama, could remember their lives. He also stated that he could remember his previous lives at will.

In contrast, the ordinary human being would not help remember them, because of the emotional weight that would bring. Therefore, the memory of those lives is hidden. But kept in the memory of the soul or in the mind until the person is prepared to remember them without emotional damage.

Most Buddhist schools teach that through meditation you can reach a state of superconsciousness call nirvana (samadhi in yoga), which is the end of existence. Therefore, Buddhist practice tries to bring people to a state of peace and absolute happiness in this very life.

Some minority currents, such as Nichiren Buddhism, understand that it is not possible to escape the cycle of reincarnation.

Karma in Hinduism

In Hinduism,  each action committed corresponds to an equal and opposite reaction. The enforcer of this law would be the omniscient invisible god Yama Rash (the king of prohibition) and his monstrous invisible servants, the Yamadutas (messengers of Yama).

After a person abandons his body at the moment of death, the Yamadutas would drag him to the abode of iamarásh. So, there he is judged harshly according to the actions, recorded one by one in the book of life recited by Chitra Gupta, The secretary of Iamarash.

For Hinduism, punishment for wrongdoing can be received:

  • During this same life (if the person performed many sins).
  • In the next births (on various infernal planets). It should be remembered that in Hinduism, the stay in hell is not eternal (since hell itself is not eternal).

Likewise, the prize for good deeds can be received:

  • In this same life (if the person performed many good deeds).
  • In the next births (on various celestial planets). It should be remembered that in Hinduism, the stay in paradise is not eternal (since the material paradise itself is not eternal).

The Four Main Types of Karma

Karma is the universal law of cause and effect. So, that is generated by each and every one of our actions performed consciously or voluntarily. So, whether our actions are good or bad, they will generate positive or negative effects respectively in the future. 

There are basically 4 types of karma:

1-Sanchita Karma: It is the karma that has accumulated in all the past incarnations. Also, is still waiting to have its effects in the incarnation and propitious moment.

2-Prarabdha Karma: It refers to the part of the Sanchita karma that will be experienced at some point in the present life. So, this is clearly indicated by the stars in the Vedic birth horoscope. Then, this depends on the place, date and time of birth.

3-Kriyamana Karma: The actions that are performed in the present life generate this type of karma. However, the effect generated by this type of karma will be experienced only in this very incarnation.

4- Agami Karma: This karma will not reach to experience itself in the present incarnation. So, that is the reason why it will become part of the Sanchita karma to be experienced in future lives.

In conclusion, karma is the set of actions that we perform in both past and present lives. This set of good and bad actions from our karma (destiny). The result of all our actions, conscious and unconscious, has repercussions in our current life. This is how we are the forgers of our own destiny.


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