Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | Dictionary


Home | Rel-Dictionary | Dictionary


Back to K | Next

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P-Q  R  S  T-U  V-W-X  Y-Z
See also    Uses of Tantra  Under Tantra

Act.  Actions.  Duty.  Work.
The Sanskrit word Karm has been derived from the root word "kri" which means "to do". The plain meaning of the word Karm is action or deed. Karm is also being used by some to indicate Destiny. Karm Phal means effect of the Karm. Karm comprises the entire cycle of cause and effect. We can say that Karm is a sum total of what a Jeev has done, is currently doing and will do and their resultant reactions. Present and future experiences are the effect of all past deeds. This makes one responsible for one's one life. Karm extends through not only one's present life but also through past and future lives, according to the religions which talk of rebirth. All religions which were either native in Bhaarat viz Hinduism or were conceived in India, viz Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism contain law of Karm.

The concept of Karm is an integral part of Hinduism. Action and reaction govern all life. Karm is not fate, as man acts with free will creating his own Destiny. "If you sow Goodness, you will reap Goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil". Conquest of Karm lies in intelligent and detached action and dispassionate reaction. Not all Karm rebound immediately. While some Karm show their reaction in this very birth itself, others accumulate and return unexpectedly in this or other future births.

The Law of Karm is considered to be a Spiritually oriented law that can not be abrogated by any person but can be mitigated by God - the Karm Phal Daataa. Karm is not punishment or retribution, it is an extended expression of natural acts. The Bhagwad Geetaa sings eloquently on action and reaction and also about Nish-Kaamya Karm or Selfless action ie action without expecting any fruit in return.

Karm are eternal, no beginning is conceivable. What a person is receiving now is the fruit of what he has done in his past lives and so far in his present life. What one will do in his present life together with the accumulation of what has not been accounted for from the past actions, will determine what he will experience in the future.

Karm is the main and basic philosophy of Hindoo religion. Everything rests on Karm. Even our existence in this world is because of our Karm only. Nobody in this world can escape from performing Karm, not even God when He comes in the form of human being in this world, and the same Karm is the cause of the cycle of birth and death, joy and sorrow, profit and loss, fame and defame - means everything. According to Karm philosophy, law of Karm (law of actions and their reactions) pervades throughout our life. It is the driving force of our present and future. According to Yog tradition, Karm performed with selfish motive brings about bondage; while performing the same Karm selflessly or for the sake of duty alone, brings freedom from the cycle of birth and death.

Thus we have two paths to be free from the birth and death cycle - one, not to perform any Karm, which is almost impossible; two, to perform Karm selflessly without any self desire or indulging ourselves in worldly matters, pleasures, enjoyments etc. One should aspire for that.

Karm is governed by Gun - Saatwik, Raajasik and Taamasik. Karm can give its Phal (result) immediately or in other Janm (life). When a Karm gets ripe, it cannot be wiped off it can only be wiped off in case it is not riped, with your Tap, Saadhanaa, Dhyaan. If it is ripen then even God also cannot wiped it out and one has to bear its Phal. It is advisable to burn bad Karm, when they are not ripen by Tap, Dhyaan, Saadhanaa, Jap.

Types of Karm
This is very simple classification of Karm -
(1) Voluntary Karm - These Karm are those which are done knowingly and intentionally, such as doing Yagya, lying, donating, go on pilgrimage etc, their list is endless
(2) Involuntary Karm - These Karm are those which are done unknowingly or automatically or without doing intentionally, or without doing them we cannot survive on this Earth, such as breathing, blinking eyes, excretion, eating and drinking (but what we are eating and drinking is intentional) etc - although they are very few, but everybody has to do them; and in my opinion they should not be counted as Karm, because they are essential for our survival.

Now remain Voluntary Karm. they may be divided in several types.

Another Simple Classification
(1) Dainik Karm (daily chores) - These Karm are done by everybody every day, such as bathing, brushing the teeth, eating drinking, sleeping. There is no escape from these Karm and they are not counted as Karm also.
(2) Naimittik Karm (done with some objective)
(3) Kaamya Karm (done to fulfill some desire) - They are optional duties. By doing the same Karm without desiring anything, they can free a man from the bondage of birth and death. In this Karm lower Devee or Devtaa are pleased to achieve some desired results. While Vihit Karm earn Punya, Nishiddh Karm earn Paap Kaamya Karm have no such Paap or curses.
(4) Praayashchit Karm (done to cleanse oneself for a mistake committed) - Done once in a while, for example Yagya, fasts, vows, etc

According to Shaastra
There are three types of Karm -
--Karm (Vihit Karm) - Prescribed actions. Which is normal and prescribe according to Varn and Aashram
--A-Karm - Those Karm which are opposite to normal Karm, such as to tell lies, to steal; because our normal Karm is to speak truth, but we are telling lies, it means we are doing A-Karm;    while
--Vi-Karm (Nishiddh Karnm) - Vi-Karm means non-prescribed Karm, such as Shoodra is prescribed with "service" Karm; if he starts doing Yagya which is Braahman's Karm, it is Vi-Karm for him; OR if a student marries and starts living in Grihasth Aashram, it will be called Vi-Dharm for him.

According to Three Gun
Saatwik Karm, Raajas Karm, and Taamasik Karm.

Natural Karm, or Swa-Dharm, or Sahaj Karm, or Niyat Karm, or Swabhaav Niyat Karm

According to Varn
Braahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shoodra. Geetaa 18/43 describes them like this - Sham, Dam, Shauch, Tap, Kshamaa, Saralataa, Aastikataa and Vigyaan are Braahman's natural Karm. (see also Braahman's Karm) Bravery, Tej, Dhriti (patience), cleverness, not running away from battlefield, Daan (donation), taking care of everybody like a master are Kshatriya's natural Karm. Farming, cattle rearing, trading are the natural Karm of Vaishya; and to serve all other Varn is the natural Karm of Shoodra.

According to Four Aashram
Karm for Brahmchaaree, Grihasth, Vaanprasthee, and Sanyaasee

Yet Another Classification of Karm
(1) Sanchit (stored) Karm - Sanchit means collected or stored. Sanchit Karm are referred to those past Karm which we have already done in our previous lives, but have not started enjoying or suffering of their fruits. They are stored for the future to bear fruits. When these Karm start bearing the fruits, they become Praarabdh.

(2) Praarabdh (destiny) - Praarabdh refers to that part of Sanchit Karm which has already been performed in the previous lives and now they have to be exhausted or consumed in this life. We are enjoying or suffering because of those Karm. Such actions begin to germinate fruits in this life time. That is why people say "Whatever we get in this lifetime, we get through our Praarabdh only". So even if a person is Gyaanee, due to his Praarabdh Karm, he will have to live on Prithvi for some time.

(3) Aagaamee (future) Karm - Aagaamee Karm are referred to those Karm which we accumulate in our present time or lives to be consumed in future.

Among these Sanchit Karm and Praarabdh Karm are our those Karm which we have stored by doing them in our previous lives.

Karm is a very complex topic - Read the NEXT PAGE also to read about various types of Karm explained by examples.

Karm Kaand
Ved's knowledge is divided in two parts - Gyaan Kaand and Karm Kaand. The portion of the Ved concerning ritual performance, as opposed to Brahm Vidyaa or Brahm Gyaan or the knowledge of Brahm is called Karm Kaand.

Karm Yog and Karm Yogee
The path of selflessness. Who takes this path disciplines himself to perform all actions selflessly without any personal gain. In fact, in this way he cuts back on the number of new impressions (the seeds of future action and thus the cause of rebirth). This is gradually achieved as actions are purified with the help of meditation. Who follows this path is called Karm Yogee.

Agni Puraan, p 573 says that whichever Karm is done with these six purposes - Mantra, Dhyaan (Meditation), Aushadhi (medicine), Kathaa, Mudraa (pose), and Yagya - they all are good Karm and help to attain Dharm, Arth, Kaam and Moksh.


Home | Rel-Dictionary | Dictionary


Back to K | Next

Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 01/05/12