Definitions of Karma
The root of the word Karma comes from the Sanskrit word kri: कृ. It means “to do” or “to act”.
The Buddha explained karma as “this arises, that becomes.” It is not exactly the same as cause and effect. It is more circular. Take for example life and death. Cause and effect would have us think that we die because we are born. It is almost as if these 2 concepts can are separated. As though they are polar opposites. Karma teaches us that life and death involve each other and are connected. Linked. Life implies death. Death implies life.
- Just like many words in English vocabulary that gives different meanings when used in different sentences, the meaning of karma also varies with context or ways it is used. Sometimes karma means prescribed duty. For instance: if someone says, “It’s my karma”. It means it’s his responsibility or duty. Karma sometimes also simply means work or job or activity. Just like someone says good work or bad work. Karma is also good and bad i.e. right and wrong. Bad karma is called ‘Paap’ or sin and good karma is called ‘Dharma’. Outcome of good karma i.e. dharma is good and outcome of bad karma .i.e. Sin is bad. Simply it’s called fruits of karma. So believing in karma means believing that good thing comes to good person and bad things comes to those who is bad.
- In another context or sense karma also means perpetual succession of cause and effect where every effect is a new cause. When someone says, “Nature has to obey karma”. It doesn’t means that there is some all powerful creature named Karma. It simply means anything that happens in nature is due to a cause which could be anything. So believing in karma also means believing in cause and effect i.e. nothing happens on its own.
- And another meaning of karma which is usually connected to reincarnation is “someone’s own need for growth”. If you hear someone say, “Since you are so filthy, you’ll be a pig because of karma”. It actually means that person will be a pig because of his own need for growth. Being a Hindu, believing in reincarnation is a package deal. It is believed when an atman or soul leaves a body; it finds body that suits the person’s need that just died. Similarly, a lazy person who spends most of his life lying around may become a tree or a koala bear. It happens so that the person can realize for himself that it’s not what he wants and move on to next. This happens again and again until the he achieves illumination or Self-realization which is the ultimate goal of life. It’s believed that there’s no other way than this. So wanna be a human again? Just don’t act like animals and do what a wise human would do? But if you wanna be free from cycle of birth and death, a person needs to rise above his material desires and meditate in a right way in disciplined manner.
“Far beyond their eyes hypnotized by their sense, opens the way to immortality. ‘I am my body, when my body dies, I die’. Living in this superstition they fall life after life under my(death) sway”.- Katha upanisad (1.2.6)
“Of those unaware of the self some are born as embodied creatures while other stays in the lower stage of evolution as determined by their own need for growth(Karma)” – Katha upanisad (2.2.7)