The awareness Program on Karma is a two full-day (8 am – 6 pm) workshop. The Vedicology team explains the concept of Karma by comparing it with the other Sanskrit term Kriya. The word kriya is the activity along with the steps and effort in action. At the same time, Karma is:-
(1) the implemented action as a consequence of that activity and
(2) the actor’s intention behind an executed activity or a planned action (described by some scholars as the metaphysical residue left in the actor. A fantastic action generates good karma, as does great intent. A bad action generates bad karma, as does poor intent.
Various philosophies in Hinduism derive different definitions for the karma concept from early Indian texts; their definition is a combination of:-
(1) causality, which may be ethical or non-ethical;
(2 ) ethicization, that is, good or bad actions have impacts; and
Other Indologists include in the definition of karma hypothesis what explains a person’s present circumstances concerning his or her actions in the past. These actions may be those in a person’s present life or, in certain schools of Indian customs, possibly actions in their past lives; moreover, the consequences may result in the present lifetime or an individual’s future lives. The law of karma operates independently of any deity or practice of divine judgment.
According to Vedicology India experts, the Karma concept as a notion across different Indian spiritual traditions shares certain common topics: causality, ethnicization and rebirth.
Karma – Causality
Lotus symbolically represents karma in many Asian customs. A blooming lotus blossom is one of the few flowers that simultaneously carries seeds within itself while it blooms. The seed is symbolically viewed as the “cause”, the flower “effect”. Lotus can also be considered as a reminder that someone may grow, share good karma and stay unstained in muddy circumstances.
One of the earliest associations of karma to causality occurs in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad of Hinduism. For example, at 4.4.5-6, it states:
Now, as a man is like this or like that,
according as he acts and according as he behaves, so will he be;
a man of good acts will become good, a man of bad acts, bad;
he becomes pure by pure deeds, bad by bad deeds;
And here they say that a person consists of desires,
and as is his desire, so is his will;
and as is his will, so is his deed;
and whatever deed he does, that he will reap.
— Brihadaranyaka Upanishad,
The theory of karma as causality holds that (1) implemented actions of an individual influence the individual and the lifestyle he or she lives, and (2) the intentions of an individual affect the person and the life he or she lives.
Another causality characteristic shared with Karmic concepts is that such deeds contribute to such effects. Thus good karma produces a great influence on the person, while bad karma produces a poor effect. This effect may be material, moral or emotional — that is, one’s karma affects happiness and unhappiness. The impact of karma need not be immediate; the impact of karma can be later in one’s present life, and in some cases, it goes to future lives.
The consequence or impacts of someone’s karma can be clarified in two forms: Phalas and Samskaras. A phala (actually, fruit or result) is the visible or invisible effect that’s typically instantaneous or within the current life. By comparison, Samskaras are invisible effects produced within the actor due to karma, changing the broker and affecting his or her capacity to be happy or unhappy in this life and future ones. The theory of karma is frequently presented in the context of samskaras.
Karma and Ethicization
The next motif common to karma concepts is ethicization. This starts with the premise that each action has a result, which will come to fruition in this or a future life; consequently, morally good acts will have favourable consequences, whereas bad acts will create negative results. An individual’s present situation is explained concerning activities in his current or prior lifetimes.
Karma and Rebirth
The next common theme of karma theories is the idea of reincarnation or the cycle of rebirths (saṃsāra).
Rebirth, or saṃsāra, is the notion that all life forms go through a cycle of reincarnation, a succession of births and rebirths. The rebirths and consequent life may be in different realms, forms or conditions. The karma theories indicate that the kingdom, condition and form depend on the quality and quantity of karma. In schools that believe in rebirth, each living being’s spirit transmigrates (recycles) after death, carrying the seeds of Karmic impulses from existence just completed into a different life and lifetime of karmas. This cycle lasts indefinitely, except for those who knowingly break this cycle by attaining moksha. People who break the cycle get to the realm of gods, and those who don’t continue in the cycle.
In the thirteenth book of the Mahabharata, also referred to as the Teaching Book (Anushasana Parva), the sixth chapter opens with Yudhishthira requesting Bhishma: “Is the course of a person’s life already destined, or can human effort shape one’s life?” The future, replies Bhishma, is equally a part of the current human attempt derived from free will and past human activities that set the circumstances. Over and repeatedly, the chapters of Mahabharata recite the key postulates of the karma concept. That’s: aim and activity (karma) have impacts; karma lingers and doesn’t disappear, and all positive or negative experiences in life require effort and goal. For instance:
Happiness comes due to good actions; suffering results from evil actions,
by actions, all things are obtained, by inaction, nothing whatsoever is enjoyed.
If one’s action bore no fruit, then everything would be of no avail,
if the world worked from fate alone, it would be neutralized.
— Mahabharata, xiii.6.10 & 19
The awareness program on Karma by Vedicology subject experts is exhaustive, and the participants would be required to spend at least 12-14 hours daily understanding the various philosophies embedded in this doctrine.