Hindu Of Universe

“God’s light is within you, It never leaves you.”


The term Karma refers to the deeds performed by an individual, which ultimately decides his destiny. Thus, Karma and destiny are associated with each other.

The kind of karma that a person carries out tells a lot about his character and personality.

A person is not born great or small, it is his deeds or the karmas that make him noble or criminal.

The God maintains an account of our karmas and accordingly we get the fruit, which can be good or bad.

Well, in this article, we will give you a clear idea about the meaning of Karma. Read on to know about the effects of Karma.

There are basically three types of Karmas:

  • Sukarma: it refers to the good deeds or the positive actions that a man performs for the goodness and welfare of mankind. It is an act, in which both the parties, as in the one who is performing the act and the one for whom the deed is carried out, both derive pleasure and happiness. It is based on the concept that if I do something for you, you feel thrilled and seeing you happy and cheerful, I derive pleasure and contentment.
  • Vikarma: It refers to the selfish acts that are performed to cause harm to others or to pose hindrances in the success and prosperity of others. Well, these kinds of karmas are usually performed by crooks, who can’t see others happy and their gladness lies in the sorrows of others.
  • Akarma: it refers to the neutral actions. It means the activities that you are carrying out neither cause any kind of harm to the other person nor do they bring any sort of happiness to others.

 Karma and Reincarnation

Many people are in a habit of cribbing their fate for the bad things that happen to them. Well, the law of Karma instead emphasizes that it is not your luck that gives you happiness or suffering, but it is your own Karmas that decide your destiny.

The happy moments that we get to see are a result of the good deeds that we have performed and the sufferings we go through are the resultant of the negative or the wrongful deeds that we have performed in the past.

Karma decides whether you will be given liberation or reincarnation.

Read on to know more about law of Karma and reincarnation.

People who indulge in good deeds and carry out activities for righteousness, their souls rest in peace after their death.

They get freedom from the vicious circle of rebirth.

A deed is said to be good, when it is done for a noble cause, in which the person carrying out the task does not have any selfish interest.

When the act is performed in an honest manner and that too for the welfare of other beings, the person is said to have performed good karmas.

On the contrary, if a person engages in activities that are meant to or are likely to cause harm to others, then he is said to perform bad karmas, which will ultimately lead to reincarnation and the person will have to bear the brunt of his past life karmas in his next birth also.

When a person dies, it is basically the physical body that gets destroyed and not the soul. In the next birth, the body is new but the soul is the same.

The person is sent back to earth in some new form of life, to face the consequences of his past karmas and thus make up for the loss he has caused to others.

This is the God’s way of doing justice. People who do good to others get liberation.

It happens to those who attain enlightenment and have a realization of the Self.

When a person becomes aware of himself and the power of God lying within, he understands the prime goal for which he is sent to earth and this paves way for bliss.

Karma in Hindu Religion

Numerous mentions have been made about the concept of Karma in the Indian epic Mahabharta.

In the Mahabharta, when Arjun gets to know that his own family members are a part of the enemy side and he has to fight a battle with his own people, he thought of withdrawing from the battle.

At that point of time, Lord Krishna made him realize that he must perform his Karma.

Thus, the theory of Karma is given high importance in the Hindu religion.

To know more about Karma in Hinduism, read on.

There have been many philosophies that have focused on the performance of karma like the Vedanta philosophy.

Vedanta philosophy has a strong faith in the Karma and it stresses on the fact that, it is the Karma that governs life and not the fate.

Karma determines a man’s fate.

A man creates his own destiny by the performance of deeds.

Whatever you give to life, it will return it back to you.

If you give happiness, you will be blessed with happiness.

If you occupy yourself in fraudulent activities and misdeeds, you will also be deceived by someone or the other.

Law of Karma

The law of karma is based on the concept of cause and effect relationship.

It says that, every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

The kind of deeds an individual performs, determines his fate.

Karmas are performed only in the human life.

It is the karmas that will ultimately decide that a person after his death will head his way for heaven or hell.

To know more about the Karma law of cause and effect, read on.

If you perform good karmas, you will attain moksha and get free from this vicious circle of rebirth.

All living beings, except for humans are burning their bad karmas and slowly and steadily rising above, to live the life of a human being.

But, we human beings are wasting our lives, by performing bad karmas.

The inhabitants of the heavenly planets are also making full use of their good karmas.

Good souls attain bliss (nirvana) from the cycle of rebirth and depart for heaven.

All living beings are subject to the law of Karma.

The karma law is based on the philosophy of ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’.

It says that if you give happiness to others, they will also try to bring a smile on your face by making you feel happy.

It also holds true in the vice versa situation.

If you do wrong to others, they will also indulge in wrongful activities.

Life is like a mirror, it reflects what you do. So, treat it with a smile and a smile will come back to you.

Law of Karma in Hinduism

The Law of Karma: How it Works

The Law of Karma is essentially cause and effect.

What a person does comes back to him or her.

Hindus regard it as a mechanistic process that must be simply acknowledged.

But it is also complicated because there is no clear-cut measure of what actions are right and which are wrong.

All schools of Hinduism have three central truthskarma (action), dharma (duty), and atman (soul) — that work together to regulate the cycle of rebirth.

The Srivatsa is an ancient Indian symbol of karmic rebirth

Types of Karma

Karma does not have immediate effects.

Things done in this life may change one’s present situation, but karmic cause and effects are delayed until the next cycle.

The karma a person makes adheres to their atman and transmigrates through time causing future rebirths.

Because of its relation to time and causation, karma comes in three types: Sanchita, Kriyamana, and Parabdha.


Sanchita means ‘actions that have accumulated’.

It is all the karma, both positive and negative, that has attached to an atman over its past lives.

It is the complete record of a person’s previous actions and includes both the karma that will determine future births and the karma that has determined the present birth.

Karma and the Three Paths of Hinduism

Hinduism’s foundations are the concepts of karma, dharma, and atman.

Any religious path that incorporates and respects these three concepts falls within the broad umbrella of Hindu belief.

This latitude has resulted in very many interpretations of how karma works with dharma and atman.

Three great paths have emerged over time with the oldest ideas persisting as new ideas emerge.

These are karma-marga, jnana-marga, and bhakti-marga.


Karma-marga, the path of action, is the oldest of the Hindu paths and is associated with the Vedas, early Hindu scriptures composed from 1500 BCE to 900 BCE.

The focus of this path is to gain the greatest future life possible, perhaps rising from a laborer to a householder, to a priest, and to then a god.

This was done by making the most positive and least negative karma during one’s lifetime.

Vedic sacrifice was a way to make a lot of positive karma, both for the person sponsoring it and the priest performing it, so performing sacrifices small and large became the primary religious activities.

In karma-marga, producing karma was just a means to an end.


Bhakti-marga, the way of devotion, also accepts the basic notion that people must escape the cycle of rebirth or be trapped forever.

However, the rigorous lifestyle that Jnana-marga demands is not feasible for common people.

A more accessible path to liberation from rebirth had to be possible.

In the 1200 years from the development of the path of knowledge to the rise of bhakti-marga, new and marvelous stories were fashioned about the Hindu deities.

They were not just ravenous gods craving sacrifice but had individual personalities and quirks who would take action in the world.

Significance of Karma in the Hindu Religion

To really understand the significance of karma in Hinduism, it must be clear that karma has never been a tenet or article of faith for Hindus.

It is a mechanism; a law of the universe that is undisputed and so natural that questioning it seems absurd, much like gravity is for us.

The common-sense nature of karma as a way of tallying one’s positive and negative actions and determining one’s rebirth makes it the bedrock of Hinduism along with dharma and the atman.

From the first singing of the Vedas to the present day, every Hindu path and sect begins with the question, ‘karma is here, what do we do with it now?’

Lesson Summary

Karma means action, and in Hinduism, it is what determines a person’s rebirths. Positive karma will result in better rebirth and negative karma in worse.

Hinduism contains varied ways to interpret the role of karma, along with dharma (duty) and atman (the soul that gets reborn).

Even though the interpretations differ widely, karma is non-negotiable.

For Hindus, karma is a fact and the bedrock that separates Hindu from non-Hindu traditions.

Karma and Dharma

“As you sow, so shall you reap” is a common phrase in life which concisely sums up the law of karma.

Karma is the universal Hindu law of cause and effect which holds a person responsible for his or her actions and effects.

According to one’s good or bad actions, Bhagwan rewards or punishes.

The word ‘karma’ means human action or deed; we are constantly performing karmas whether physically, mentally, or emotionally.

A person’s karma is responsible for good or bad consequences in his or her life.

Nothing in this world happens accidentally or coincidentally; there is a reason behind everything though it may not be clear to us at that time.

Good actions produce happiness and bad actions lead to suffering and misery in the present or next life.

A person’s past actions govern his present, and his present actions have an effect on his future.

This means that every person is, to a certain degree, the creator of his own destiny.

All of our karmas are performed in one of two ways.

The first way is called nishkãm karma, when actions are performed without any expectation of material gain, ego, or material desires.

Nishkãm karmas are only performed to fulfill one’s duties and please God.

The second way is called sakãm karma, when actions are performed with an expectation of material desire or purpose.

Bhagwan Swaminarayan taught the ideal of performing one’s karmas without the expectation of material gain.

He stressed the need for an aspirant to have one desire – to please God even while performing nishkãm karma.

In Hindu Dharma there are 3 types of karmas:

Kriyamãn karma are karmas being acquired every moment.

The fruits of these karmas can be attained in this life, the next, or after many births.

Sanchit karma is an accumulation of karmas containing the sum total of all a person’s karmas from one or many past lives.

The fruits of these karmas are being experienced or have yet to be experienced.

Prãrabdha karma is a part of one’s sanchit karma that is being experienced in this birth.

For example, the attributes and conditions of one’s physical body and mental capacities are due to one’s prãrabdha karmas.

Bhagwan Swãminãrãyan has explained in His discourses that God has given every person the freedom of action, and therefore, he or she is responsible for performing karmas that either result in punya (merits) or pãp (sins).

Furthermore, Bhagwan is the giver of the fruits of one’s good and bad karmas when He determines the consequences of one’s karmas.

No karma by itself can produce or give results, but when Bhagwan so decides, only then can one experience its good or bad effects.

The karma principle is not a self-operating system in which karmas automatically bring or give one results.

This is because karmas by themselves are inanimate.


Dharma is the very foundation of life.

It is moral law combined with spiritual discipline that guides one’s life.

Dharma means ‘that which holds,’ i.e., the people of this world and the whole of creation cannot exist without dharma to hold them in place.

Dharma is an all-inclusive term used to mean righteousness, morality, religion, responsibility, and duty.

Dharma includes the practice of religious disciplines and duties, such as honesty, brahmacharya, and non-violence.

The purpose of dharma is not only to help one’s jiva come closer with Bhagwan, but it also suggests a code of conduct that is intended to secure both worldly joys and eternal bliss.

The practice of dharma gives an experience of happiness, strength, and tranquility within one’s self and makes life disciplined.

Karma: We Are What We Do

According as one acts,

according as one conducts himself,

so does he become.

The doer of good becomes good.

The doer of evil becomes evil.

—Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad 4.4.5

The term “karma” literally means “deeds,” and has become a commonly used word even among people who are not Hindus or Buddhists.

Clichés such as “You reap what you sow” and “What goes around comes around” are often repeated to explain karma, but they capture only a fragment of what the idea of karma is meant to teach in Hindu and Buddha dharma.

To gain a more complete and deeper understanding of karma, we need to study it against the background of Hindu history.

After all, it is an idea first developed in India.

Karma, Rebirth and the Caste System

After the Aryan people migrated to the Indian subcontinent, they set up the Caste system to consolidate their rule over the indigenous people in the Indus Valley.

The rigid and unjust system caused tremendous suffering among people in the lower castes.

Had you been born as a member of the lower castes or, worse, as an untouchable, not only would you have had a hard life, but your children,

grandchildren and great-grandchildren would also have been members of the same caste or outcaste with no hope of improving their lot.

It would be no surprise that the question of “Why me?” would cross your mind at some point in time.

Wondering why you were born as an untouchable while others were born as princes or princesses would fill you with anguish and fury.

What would you do if you found yourself born into such a bondage?

Would you be willing to just accept your fate and toil all your life for a meager subsistence?

We can imagine the agony and wretchedness of such a life due to despair.

There would be no hope that things would get better for you and your offspring.

Thus, it is quite understandable that Hindus would turn to religion to find a way out.

There is truth in the aphorism that religion gives people hope.

One way to understand various spiritual traditions and religions is to see how they help their followers answer basic questions, address common concerns and cope with hardships in life.

1 By looking into how the idea of karma and the belief in rebirth helped people of the lower classes cope with the injustice and brutality of the Caste system,

we can gain a deeper appreciation of their significance in the Indian spiritual traditions.

At first glance, the doctrine of how karma affects rebirth seems to give the lower castes and the untouchable hope to escape the iron grip of the Caste system through good karma.

Allegedly, by accumulating good karma in this life one could be reborn into a higher caste in the next life.

Moreover, it seems to provide an explanation of why people are born into different castes.

It is claimed that people are born into lower castes because of bad karma from previous lives.

However, this doctrine, widely attributed to the religious teachings of India, is a corrupted understanding of karma and rebirth that could be used to sustain the unjust Caste system.

Hindu dharma is antithetical to the blatant unfairness, brutality and cruelty of the Case system.

2 Alas, the teaching of karma and rebirth is perverted by such a commonly repeated view to justify the status quo and add insult to injury.

“You are born into a low caste because of your bad karma from the previous life.

You deserve your lot in this life! It is all your own fault!” So instead of questioning the legitimacy of the Caste system and fighting against its injustice and cruelty, people in the lower castes were brainwashed into putting blame on their bad karma from their previous lives and accepting their lot as punishment.

They were told that if they wanted to have a better next life, then they should slave away in this life to accumulate good karma.

3 By telling members of the lower castes to place their hope in the next life, the corrupted teaching weakens their motivation to revolt against the cruel and inhumane system.

In addition, it masks the fact that the Caste system was what cast them into such a miserable lot in the first place.

Also, the belief that bad people will be punished in the next life drills fear into people’s hearts and serves as a deterrent so that they dare not rebel.

This way, the ruling classes can minimize the likelihood of an uprising.

Religions can give people hope and inspire people to strive for a better future, but they can also be turned into a powerful system of reward and punishment to control people and keep them subjugated.

4 The view that good karma will result in a higher rebirth and bad karma, a lower one should be rejected for three reasons.

First, it is perverted to maintain the status quo.

Second, the stance that the lower castes and the outcastes deserve their lot is detestable.

Third, and more importantly, it is inconsistent with both Hindu and Buddha dharma.

Atman, Anatta and Rebirth

First of all, rebirth according to both Hindu and Buddha dharma is not the transmigration of an individual soul from body to body.

The transmigration view presupposes a metaphysical dualism that claims that a person consists of a physical body and a non-physical soul.

5 Upon death, a person’s soul would leave the body.

Later on, the soul would enter a new body and result in the rebirth of the person.

This view is widespread and commonly held, but it is not what rebirth really is according to both spiritual traditions.

In Hindu dharma, a person, together with every other maya6 in the cosmos, is an appearance of Brahman.

Since we humans are appearances of Brahman, Brahman is what each of us truly is.

Your atman, i.e., your true self, is Brahman.

7 A person’s birth is the beginning of Brahman appearing as her—as a person and maya.

Her death is the end of such an appearance.

Once Brahman ceases to appear as a particular person, that person would cease to exist as maya.

But her true self, Brahman, would continue to exist.

Brahman may appear in the future as someone very similar to that person, but it is not the same person returning to live another life.

Rather, it is Brahman that is reborn (that is, reappears).

8 Since Brahman is what a person truly is, in this sense it can be said that the person is reborn.

The Buddhist view on rebirth differs from the Hindu’s.

Buddha dharma refrains from metaphysical speculations and avoids asserting the existence of Brahman.

Instead, it focuses on the impermanence of the world and the dependent arising (co-conditioning and interacting) of karma.

As a result, Buddha dharma counsels us not to see each other as individual beings.

(This is the gist of the teaching of anatta.)

Instead, we should learn to recognize the interbeing9 of all. Rebirth then is understood as the continuation of karma.

A person’s karma is who she is and is constantly reverberating in the ocean of karma.

Because of dependent arising, her karma can be emulated and carried on by others in the future.

These future patterns of karma would be her rebirth.

In this sense, a person who truly embodies the teachings of the Buddha would be his rebirth, and a person exemplifies Jesus’ spirituality would be the reincarnation of Jesus.

For people who long for a continuing existence after death, these proper understandings of rebirth can be a letdown.

However, not clinging to individual existence is the key to moksha in Hindu dharma and nirvana in Buddha dharma.

It is also worth pointing out that the popular saying “Good karma leads to good rebirths” is nonetheless correct under these proper understandings.

In both Hindu and Buddha dharma, a person is reborn when her good karma inspires and gives rise to new manifestations of such a legacy.

10 What should be rejected is the view that a person with good karma will return in the next life as the same person and live a good life as the reward.

Transcending Reward and Punishment

The popular view that karma determines whether a person has a good or a bad rebirth is at odds with the proper understandings of rebirth.

It is misguided and should be rebuffed.

Another reason for rejecting such a view is that its tunnel-vision in seeing everything in terms of reward and punishment stifles spiritual growth.

It turns the spiritual teaching of karma into a scrooge’s obsession with the balance sheet of merits and demerits.

It taints spiritual pursuit with the impure and self-serving motivation of avoiding punishment and getting reward.

This distorted view leads many people to think of karma in terms of the worn-out saying “What goes around comes around.”

This kind of thinking can suffocate one’s spiritual growth. Instead of being inspired and empowered to be more prudent, considerate and caring, a person is consumed with constant anxiety over her individual sum of karma and the fear of bad karma catching up with her.

It is clear that such a view does not sit well with Hindu and Buddha dharma.

Both spiritual traditions aim to inspire people to be selfless and transcend the worldly concern of reward and punishment.

The what-goes-around-comes-around view of karma is inadequate and misguided.

It is too individualistic and goes against an important insight in the teaching of karma—one’s intentions and deeds affect not only oneself but also other people.

Accounting for a person’s fortune or misfortune solely in terms of what she did in the past has at least two shortcomings.

First of all, this would make it seem as if my karma has effects only on myself.

This would lead to the wrongheaded thinking that since what I do affects only myself, I can do whatever I want in life.

After all, it is my life. This mindset would promote self-centeredness.

Second, such a narrow and individualistic view leaves out how other people’s karma affects a person, and hence is lacking in helping us make sense of the fortune and misfortune in life.

A more comprehensive explanation of why someone was born into servitude in the Caste system has to take into account many things other people did before her birth such as the deeds of the Aryan people who set up the system, the deeds of the upper castes who continued to uphold the unjust system, the fact that her parents were born into the Shudras caste, and so on.11

Karma and Fairness in Life

Some may object that it is unfair that other people’s deeds impact their lives.

It does not address the questions of “Why me?” and “Why not me?”.

It does not settle the unfairness of some people being born with disabilities or as slaves while others being born with talents or as nobles.

12 Even though it is not acknowledged enough, it is undeniable that the inequality at birth is unfair.

But it is unfair because of the value system and the socio-economic structure a person is born into.

In a world that favors people born with talents, good looks and so on, people born with lesser degrees of the desirable traits would suffer discrimination.

We shouldn’t judge fairness in terms of a person’s merits or demerits.

Otherwise we would fall into the mind trap that if a person gets what she deserves, then all is fair.

How could a baby deserve to be born blind?

Don’t we say that babies are innocent?

This individualistic, you-deserve-it thinking is exactly the wrong kind of mindset the Hindu teaching of karma is meant to help us break away from.

Instead, you were who you were at birth because you were your parents’ child, and you were born into a certain family, area, society and culture at a certain time in history.

Your parents’ genes and what they and other people did before your birth affected you one way or another, and contributed to the physical and mental conditions, what kind of family and socio-economic class you were born into.

So whether you were born healthy or not, into a good family with loving parents or not, and so on, is beyond your control and should not be seen as somehow a result of your own doing so that you either deserve or don’t deserve it.

We should not accept the what-goes-around-comes-around understanding of karma.

It promotes the it’s-all-your-own-fault mentality and tries to satisfy our twisted sense of fairness based on the crude conception that all is fair if everyone gets what she deserves.

Indeed, it is unfair if some are born as princes and princesses while others as servants and maids.

A person born as a prince cannot in good conscience uses the superficial understanding of karma to justify his privileges and entitlements.

It is wrong to think that everyone deserves his or her lot due to past karma.

Rather, if he is spiritual, he would want to reform the socio-political system into a more equitable one.

It is also unfair that some are born with talents and others, disabilities.

Realizing this, a spiritual person should shun using her advantages for personal gains in life.

Instead, she should use it to benefit the world and commit her life to serve others.

Isn’t this what the Buddha, Jesus and Gandhi did in their lives?

The Spiritual Teaching of Karma

Another reason the questions of “Why me?” and “Why not me?” arise is we see each other as individuals.

When we compare individual lives and notice the inequality, we tend to demand an answer to why some people seem to be better off than others.

In Hindu dharma, the teaching of “We are Brahman” aims to inspire us to transcend individualism and see spiritually that we are one and share one life together.

This point is depicted movingly in the prison scene in the movie Gandhi when Gandhi said to Rev.

Charlie Andrews “If I want to be one with them, I have to live like them.”

The Hindu spiritual teaching can be encapsulated as this: Take other people’s joy as our joy and their suffering as our suffering.

In this way, the inequality in life would dissolve in the ocean of love.

When we all strive to better each other’s life, life would be fairer.

Many may find the teaching of taking other people’s joy as our joy and their suffering as our suffering unfathomable.

They would decry “

Oh, for crying out loud,

what are you talking about?

With separate consciousness,

how can one person feel another person’s joy or sorrow.

I don’t feel what others feel.”

or “Why would I do that?

I have my own life to deal with.”

But not being able to or not wanting to feel what others feel is exactly where the difficulty and challenge lies.

We would rather be numb about others’ feeling because we are more or less self-absorbed.

Self-centeredness blinds us and blocks our empathy.

It is only through the expansion of empathy can we feel what others feel and merge our lives with their lives.

This is why without empathy there cannot be compassion.

The teaching of karma is really fairly simple, straightforward and commonsensical.

It says that our intentions and deeds affect ourselves and other people, so we should nourish good wills and do our best to make everyone’s life better.

It is in this way the idea of karma promotes universal, spiritual loving kindness, and is a cornerstone of Hindu and Buddha dharma.

Karma is not some mysterious metaphysical, supernatural force or power that somehow comes back to haunt you.

Karma is simply what we do. Learning to do better is just part of growing up.

And growing up is just life.

The story of Exodus is another example that illustrates how a religion helped its followers overcome the bondage of slavery.

Gandhi is truly an embodiment of Hindu spirituality.

He adamantly opposed the Caste system and insisted that it be outlawed after India gained independence from Britain.

This begs for comparison with the use of divine right in Europe to justify the feudal hierarchy.

One cannot help but wonder what Christianity would have been like if it had not become the state religion of the Roman Empire.

In addition to its traditional difficulties such as the mind-body problem and the problem of personal identity, metaphysical dualism has been severely undermined by the advance of neuroscience and brain research.

The Sanskrit term maya means “that which appears for a while and then disappears.”

It is commonly translated as “illusion,” but a better translation should be “phenomenon.”

The term “atman” is oftentimes translated as “soul”, and “Brahman” as “the divine” or “God.”

Accordingly, the Hindu doctrine that your atman is Brahman could be read as “your soul is God.”

This clearly is at odds with the transmigration view of rebirth, whose prerequisite is that each of us has an individual and distinctive soul.

The problem of personal identity has been a very challenging issue for Western philosophy and religious traditions.

It also undermines the plausibility of the transmigration view.

A common question is why most people, if not all, do not remember their previous lives.

If the soul retains a person’s memory, shouldn’t the memory get passed along from one life to the next?

Moreover, if a person does not remember what she did in the previous life, in what sense can we say that she is being rewarded or punished in the present life?

Once rebirth is understood correctly in Hindu dharma as the reappearance of Brahman, then it would become clear that these questions are pseudo-questions stemming from the error in the transmigration view.

“Interbeing” is a term coined by Thich Nhat Hanh.

I have learned a great deal from his writings and been moved and inspired by his spirituality.

“What man does in life echoes in eternity.”

This well-known line uttered by Maximus in the movie Gladiator is fitting here.

It is small wonder that epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana are so important in the Indian traditions.

This is not unique to India. Humans are always fascinated by stories.

By the same token, we should reject the simplistic explanation that a baby’s death in a drunk-driving accident must be due to her bad karma from the previous life.

One can also ask the same question in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The commonly proposed answers such as “It is God’s will that one is born in a certain way so as to overcome the difficulties, become stronger spiritually and serve as an inspiration for others” need to be critically examined.

Doing so can help us gain insights in assessing the plausibility of these stock answers.

Karma and Reincarnation

Insights on Two Fundamental Hindu Concepts From the Teachings of Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

Our wise Rishis of long ago desired to know the mysteries of life and death.

What happens after death?

Why is there so much happiness for some and suffering for others in a lifetime?

The Gods revealed to the rishis in their deepest meditations the answers to these puzzling questions.

They revealed the laws of karma and reincarnation which are now two of Hinduism’s most central beliefs.

They capsulize our ancient religion’s view of life, death and immortality.

All Hindus know that they take many births and receive the results of their own actions in this and future lives.

Karma is the law of action and reaction which governs life.

The soul carries with it the mental impressions it received during its earthly life.

These characteristics are collectively called the karma of the soul.

Karma literally means “deed or act”, and more broadly describes the principle of cause and effect.

Karma is not fate, for God endowed his children with the power to act with free will.

Esoterically, karma refers to the totality of our actions and their concomitant reactions in this and all previous lives, all of which determine our future.

Try striking the top of a table with your bare knuckles?

It would hurt, wouldn’t it?

The harder you strike, the more the pain.

Action is followed by reaction.

And, the reaction is equal to the action.

In a similar way, if you cause pain to someone else, you can be certain that the same pain will come back to you. It may not return immediately, maybe not even during this lifetime.

But it will return in your next life, or even in some life after that.

When the reaction to your previous action of causing pain to another being does return to you, you will feel the same pain.

If the pain inflicted was mental, mental pain will return. If the pain inflicted was emotional, emotional pain will return.

If the pain inflicted was physical, physical pain will return.

 Be it mental, emotional or physical.

That is why even good people suffer.

They may be paying for some action that was done in a past life. If you do good, too, the good will be returned to you somehow.

Yes! Karma is the law of action and reaction which governs life.

The soul reaps the effects of its own actions.

 If we cause others to suffer, then the experience of suffering will come to us.

If we love and give, we will be loved and given to.

Thus does each soul create its own destiny through thought, feeling and action.

Karma is a natural law of the mind, just as gravity is a law of matter.

Karma is movement in the mind.

When the mind remains motionless, there is no karma.

Every action has a reaction.

If you plant eggplant, you can pluck eggplant.

If you sow goodness, you can reap goodness.

If you sow evil, you will reap evil.

You can only reap the fruit, bitter or sweet, of your own actions.

Since each action has a corresponding reaction, the effects of karma-action and reaction-can be helpfully invigorating or fearfully devastating.

Therefore the wise govern their lives anticipating the results of their actions, for they know that in causing an action they necessarily cause a reaction.

They want to know what the reaction will be before causing the action.

They know that not all reactions are immediate; that they are cumulative and in some cases rebound unexpectedly.

The wise understand penance as a self-inflicted karma or prepayment of a reaction expected because of a previous action caused.

Penance well performed intercedes between the action and the reaction, counterbalancing both and smoothing out the karma.


Life does not end at the death of the physical body.

The body dies but the soul does not.

It lives on in a counterpart of the physical body which is called the astral body.

The astral body is made of astral matter and resides in a world not unlike this one, called the Devaloka or Second world.

In other words, in order to perfect itself, to spiritually unfold and evolve, the soul lives on in another body after death, the astral body.

At the right time, according to its karma, it is reborn into a flesh body.

Thus the astral body, with the soul within it, enters a new physical body.

This same cycle is repeated many times until the soul spiritually unfolds and reaches a certain state of perfection or mature evolution.

These repeated cycles of births and deaths are known as samsara.

The soul passes from one physical body to another.

Each time it does so, the Hindu says, the soul has reincarnated.

This is the process to which the name “reincarnation” is given.

Therefore, the Hindu does not believe in a single life on earth, followed by eternal joy or pain.

Hindus know that all souls reincarnate, take one body and then another, evolving through experience over long periods of time.

To a Hindu death is not fearsome.

Like the caterpillar’s metamorphosis into the delicate butterfly, death does not end our existence but frees us to pursue an even greater development.

The soul never dies. It is immortal.

Physical death is a most natural transition for the soul, which survives and, guided by karma, continues its long pilgrimage until it is one with its creator, God.

Reincarnation is the natural cycle of birth, death & rebirth, called samsara.

When we die, the soul leaves the first world physical body, it lives for a while in the Devaloka, the Second World, before returning again to earth, the Bhuloka or First World.


Reincarnation is many-faceted.

Through the ages it has been the great consoling belief within our religion, eliminating the inborn fear of death. Hindus do not fear death, nor do they look forward to it.

Each one knows being is eternal.

In stepping out of the physical body, consciousness continues in unbroken continuity in the astral body, its exact duplicate.

In the Devaloka, mind continues, emotions continue, associations continue.

There is no escape from life’s experiences.

We must re-experience the karma that we have created, be it joyous, painful or mixed.

Suicide, for instance, only accelerates the intensity of one’s karma, bringing a series of immediate lesser births and requiring several lives for the soul to return to the exact evolutionary point that existed at the moment of suicide, at which time the still-existing karmic entanglements must again be faced and resolved.

Thus turns the slow wheel of samsara.


The next question the rishis asked the Gods:

What must a person do if he wishes to reach the blissful state of union with God?

Is there a state that not only confers upon us supreme, unbroken bliss, but also puts an end to pain, sorrow and suffering?

Does this process of reincarnation go on forever?

The Gods explained: No.

Each time the soul takes on a new body, it get closer and closer to becoming perfect.

To gain a better birth each time, one must live according to the natural laws that Hinduism proclaims and live out the karma in this life positively and fully while at the same time refraining from creating painful new karmas.

After a number of such excellent incarnations, and after God-realization has been attained, the soul body becomes mature enough that it no longer needs to take a physical incarnation.

Instead, it continues its evolution on inner planes of consciousness.

This release from samsara is called Moksha.

The soul is said to be freed from the bondage of birth and death.

So, we can see that the goal of a Hindu’s life is to halt the process of births and death. Life’s ultimate goal is not money, not clothes, not sex, not power, not food or any other of the instinctive needs.

These are natural pursuits, to be sure, but our real purpose on this earth is to know, to love and to serve God and the Gods.

This will eventually lead us to the rare and priceless object of life which is now called by many names” enlightenment, liberation, Self-Realization, God-Realization, nirvikalpa samadhi and finally Moksha.

After many lifetimes of wisely controlling the creation of karma and resolving past karmas when they return, the soul is fully matured in this love and trust in God and the Gods and their goodness, and in the knowledge of these divine laws and the wise use of them.

Therefore there is no longer a need for physical birth, for all lessons have been learned and all karmas fulfilled.

That individual soul is then naturally liberated, freed from the cycle of birth, death & rebirth on this planet.

After Moksha, it was revealed to our rishis, our soul continues its evolution in the inner worlds, eventually to merge into God as a drop of water merges with its source, the ocean.


Moksha comes when all extraneous karmas have been resolved and God has been fully realized.

This means that before Moksha, the soul must have gone through all the experiences of life in the physical world.

Once having faced in the spirit of love and understanding all of these various and varies experiences, Moksha comes and marks the way-station where the liberated soul is free from rebirth.

When our soul has sufficiently evolved and undergone all necessary karmas in this physical universe and God-Realization has been attained, it will not return to the First World.

All the worlds rejoice when an old soul is freed from samsara, the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

Moksha is sought for and is expected to be attained by every Hindu.

But every Hindu does not expect that it will necessarily come in this present life, even though it is sought for as the ultimate goal.

Hindus know this and do not delude themselves that this life is the last.

Seeking and attaining profound spiritual realizations, they nevertheless know that there is much to be accomplished on the earth and that only a rare few attain Moksha.

One can know past and future births.

By getting rid of desire, one can put an end to birth altogether; this great truth all Hindus know. “In all my births with me God stayed.

My present birth God will terminate.

To make me free of future births God gave His grace to me.”


Hindus know that because of the law of karma we will have to be born again and again to reap the fruits of all actions, good, bad and mixed.

How then do we stop the process? Understanding the way karma works, the Hindu naturally seeks to live a good and virtuous life through right thought, right speech and right action.

When one thinks, speaks and act correctly, one feels good about oneself, for we are then living in harmony with the whole of creation, expressing the higher qualities of our own divine soul.

We perform an action without expecting or wanting anything in return.

When all actions are mentally surrendered to God, one will not be affected by their reaction.

By maintaining this attitude, Hindus attain purity of heart and mind.

A devout Hindu will always affirm: “I am not doing anything. God is acting through me.

It is all His Will.”

 In this way, actions and their reactions, good, bad or mixed, dissolve, and mental freedom and inner peace is maintained; and the mind occasionally merges in the ocean of God.

Thus one of the goals of life is experienced, and painful karmas are not created to be re-experienced at a later time.

You cannot get rid of mental pain simply by exposing it.

But if you try to be good, loving and honest, mental pain will disappear.

Invoke the grace of God and restrain the mind from wandering along the path of the senses.

Repeat mantras so when your past karmas come they will not overpower you.

Events take place in life according to parabdha karma – the karmas brought with us into this life.

But, these really do not affect the soul unless by mere habit or ignorance one identifies oneself with these events, then one becomes subject to pain and pleasure.

The Hindu religion is the law of God, and it has built within it the actions and interactions to dissolve painful karmas and refine joyous karmas.

The Hindu religion advises all of its members to perform some kind of sadhana regularly; to make a pilgrimage once a year to a holy place; to see to the needs of relatives, guests, holy persons and the poor; to invoke the divine energies and direct the mind toward useful thoughts, thus circumventing the creation of new burdensome and painful karmas.

In following some or all of these religious observances, the Hindu finds emancipation from the heavy bondage of unseemly karmas.


There are many men and women in the world today who naturally understand and appreciate the laws of karma and reincarnation.

They recognize that the Hindu view of the soul’s evolution answers many otherwise bewildering questions, removing the fear of death while giving assurance that each soul is evolving toward the same spiritual destiny.

Yes, Hindus believe in reincarnation.

They believe that they are not their physical body but live within it as a divine and perfect immortal soul.

Hindus believe that the process of God-realization and the end of birth does not begin and end in a single life, but that this process is continuous, reaching beyond the limits that one life may impose.

Of course, the law of karma assures one of a better birth if life has been lives virtuously.

The Hindu also knows that if one does not live an ethical life, suffering will come in a future life.

The belief in karma and reincarnation brings to each Hindu inner peace and self-assurance.

The Hindu knows that the maturing of the soul takes many lives, and that if the soul is immature in the present birth, then there is hope, for there will be many opportunities for learning and growing in future lives.

Yes, these beliefs and the attitudes they produce eliminate anxiety, giving the serene perception that everything is all right as it is.

There is no sense of a time limit, of impending judgment of actions and attitudes, in a Hindu’s mind.

And, there is also a remarkable insight into the human condition and appreciation for all men in all stages of spiritual unfoldment.

Hinduism affirms that is possible for every person on earth to reach Moksha – to be free from rebirth.

The great beauty of Hinduism lies in professing hope and promise for all, regardless of their differences.

There is no terrifying state such as “eternal damnation” in Hindu doctrine. No one is damned.

We have the glorious example of Rishi Valmiki, who was once a plunderer and murderer of the vilest type.

He changed his ways for the good.

Through the power of God he became a sage and gave to the world the immortal Ramayana, one of the great epic poems of Hinduism.

Hinduism is so broad. Within it there is a place for the insane.

There is a place for the saint.

There is a place for the beggar and for those who support beggars.

There is a place for the intelligent person and plenty of room for the fool.

The beauty of Hinduism is that it does not demand of every soul perfection in this life, a necessary conclusion for those who believe in a single lifetime during which human perfection or grace must be achieved or all is lost.

Belief in reincarnation gives the Hindu an acceptance of every level of humanity.

Belief in karma gives the Hindu caution, foresight and wisdom in handling the affairs of life.

There are one billion Hindus in the world today. Hinduism attends to the needs of each one.

It is the only religion in the world today that has such breadth, such depth.

Hinduism contains the Deities and the sanctified temples, the esoteric knowledge of inner states of consciousness, yoga and the disciplines of meditation.

It possesses a gentle compassion and a genuine tolerance and appreciation for all religions.

It believes in a just world in which every soul is guided by karma to the ultimate goal of Moksha.

It rests content in the knowledge of the Divine origin of the soul, its passage through one life and another until maturity has been reached.

It offers guidance to all who take refuge in it, from the non-believer to the most evolved rishi.

It cherishes the largest storehouse of scripture and philosophy on the earth, and the oldest.

It is endowed with a tradition of saints and sages, of realized men and women, unrivaled on the earth.

It is the sum of these, and more which makes us boldly declare that Hinduism is the greatest religion in all the world.

Karma and Reincarnation

The twin beliefs of karma and reincarnation are among Hinduism’s many jewels of knowledge.

Others include dharma or our pattern of religious conduct, worshipful communion with God and Gods, the necessary guidance of the Sat Guru, and finally enlightenment through personal realization of our identity in and with God.

So the strong-shouldered and keen-minded rishis knew and stated in the Vedas.

And these are not mere assumptions of probing, brilliant minds.

They are laws of the cosmos.

As God’s force of gravity shapes cosmic order, karma shapes experiential order.

Our long sequence of lives is a tapestry of creating and resolving karmas-positive, negative and an amalgam of the two.

During the succession of a soul’s lives-through the mysteries of our higher chakras and God’s and Guru’s Grace-no karmic situation will arise that exceeds an individual’s ability to resolve it in love and understanding.

Many people are very curious about their past lives and expend great time, effort and money to explore them.

Actually, this curious probing into past lives is unnecessary. Indeed it is a natural protection from reliving past trauma or becoming infatuated more with our past lives that our present life that the inner recesses of the muladhara memory chakra are not easily accessed.

For, as we exist now is a sum total of all our past lives.

In our present moment, our mind and body state is the cumulative result of the entire spectrum of our past lives.

So, no matter how great the intellectual knowing of these two key principles, it is how we currently live that positively shapes karma and unfolds us spiritually.

Knowing the laws, we are responsible to resolve blossoming karmas from past lives and create karma that, projected into the future, will advance, not hinder, us.

Karma literally means “deed or act,” but more broadly describes the principle of cause and effect.

Simply stated, karma is the law of action and reaction which governs consciousness.

In physics-the study of energy and matter-Sir Isaac Newton postulated that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Push against a wall. Its material is molecularly pushing back with a force exactly equal to yours.

In metaphysics, karma is the law that states that every mental, emotional and physical act, no matter how insignificant, is projected out into the psychic mind substance and eventually returns to the individual with equal impact.

The akashic memory in our higher chakras faithfully records the soul’s impressions during its series of earthly lives, and in the astral/mental worlds in-between earth existences.

Ancient yogis, in psychically studying the time line of cause/effect, assigned three categories to karma.

The first is sanchita, the sum total of past karma yet to be resolved.

The second category is prarabdha, that portion of sanchita karma being experienced in the present life.

Kriyamana, the third type, is karma you are presently creating.

However, it must be understood that your past negative karma can be altered into a smoother, easier state through the loving, heart-chakra nature, through dharma and sadhana.

That is the key of karmic wisdom.

Live religiously well and you will create positive karma for the future and soften negative karma of the past.

Truths and Myths About Karma

Karma operates not only individually, but also in ever-enlarging circles of group karma where we participate in the sum karma of multiple souls.

This includes family, community, nation, race and religion, even planetary group karma.

So if we, individually or collectively, unconditionally love and give, we will be loved and given to.

The individuals or groups who act soulfully or maliciously toward us are the vehicle of our own karmic creation.

The people who manifest your karma are also living through past karma and simultaneously creating future karma.

For example, if their karmic pattern did not include miserliness, they would not be involved in your karma of selfishness. Another person may express some generosity toward you, fulfilling the gifting karma of your past experience.

Imagine how intricately interconnected all the cycles of karma are for our planet’s life forms.

Many people believe in the principle of karma, but don’t apply its laws to their daily life or even to life’s peak experiences.

There is a tendency to cry during times of personal crisis, “Why has God done this to me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” While God is the creator and sustainer of the cosmic law of karma, He does not dispense individual karma.

He does not produce cancer in one person’s body and develop Olympic athletic prowess in another’s.

We create our own experiences.

It is really an exercising of our soul’s powers of creation.

Karma, then, is our best spiritual teacher. We spiritually learn and grow as our actions return to us to be resolved and dissolved.

In this highest sense, there is no good and bad karma; there is self-created experience that presents opportunities for spiritual advancement.

If we can’t draw lessons from the karma, then we resist and/or resent it, lashing out with mental, emotional or physical force.

The original substance of that karmic event is spent and no longer exists, but the current reaction creates a new condition of harsh karma.

Responsibility resolving karma is among the most important reasons that a Sat Guru is necessary in a sincere seeker’s life.

The Guru helps the devotee to hold his mind in focus, to become pointedly conscious of thought, word and deed.

Without the guidance and grace of the Guru, the devotee’s mind will be splintered between instinctive and intellectual forces, making it very difficult to resolve karma.

Only when karma is wisely harnessed can the mind become still enough to experience its own superconscious depths.

Karma is also misunderstood as fate, an unchangeable destiny decreed long ago by agencies or forces external to us such as the planet and stars, or Gods. Karma is neither fate nor predetermination.

Each soul has absolute free will Its only boundary is karma.

God and Gods do not dictate the experiential events of our lives, nor do they test us.

And there is no cosmic force that molds our life.

Indeed, when beseeched through deep prayer and worship, the Supreme Being and His great Gods may intercede within our karma, lightening its impact or shifting its location in time to a period when we are better prepared to resolve it.

Hindu astrology, or Jyotisha, details a real relation between ourselves and the geography of the solar system and certain star clusters, but it is not a cause-effect relation.

Planets and stars don’t cause or dictate karma.

Their orbital relationships establish proper conditions for karmas to activate and a particular type of personality nature to develop.

Jyotisha describes a relation of revealment: it reveals prarabdha karmic patterns for a given birth and how we will generally react to them (kriyamana karma).

This is like a pattern of different colored windows allowing sunlight in to reveal and color a house’s arrangement of furniture.

With astrological knowledge we are aware of our life’s karmic pattern and can thereby anticipate it wisely. Reincarnation:

A Soul’s Path to Godness

The soul dwells as the inmost body of light and superconscious, universal mind of a series of nested bodies, each more refined than the next: physical, pranic, astral, mental.

In our conscious mind we think and feel ourselves to be a physical body with some intangible spirit within it.

Yet, right now our real identity is the soul that is sensing through its multiple bodies physical, emotional and mental experience.

Recognizing this as reality, we powerfully know that life doesn’t end with the death of the biological body.

The soul continues to occupy the astral body, a subtle, luminous duplicate of the physical body.

This subtle body is made of higher-energy astral matter and dwells in a dimension called the astral plane.

If the soul body itself is highly evolved, it will occupy the astral/mental bodies on a very refined plane of the astral known as the Devaloka, “the world of light-shining beings.”

At death, the soul slowly becomes totally aware in its astral/mental bodies and it predominantly lives through those bodies in the astral dimension.

The soul functions with complete continuity in its astral/mental bodies.

It is with these sensitive vehicles that we experience dream or “astral” worlds during sleep every night. The astral world is equally as solid and beautiful, as varied and comprehensive as the earth dimension-if not much more so.

Spiritual growth, psychic development, guidance in matters of governance and commerce, artistic cultivation, inventions and discoveries of medicine, science and technology all continue by astral people who are “in-between” earthly lives.

Many of the Veda hymns entreat the assistance of devas: advanced astral or mental people.

Yet, also in the grey, lower regions of this vast, invisible dimension exist astral people whose present pursuits are base, selfish, even sadistic.

Where the person goes in the astral plane at sleep or death is dependent upon his earthly pursuits and the quality of his mind.

Because certain seed karmas can only be resolved in earth consciousness and because the soul’s initial realizations of Absolute Reality are only achieved in a physical body, our soul joyously enters another biological body.

At the right time, it is reborn into a flesh body that will best fulfill its karmic pattern.

In this process, the current astral body-which is a duplicate of the last physical form-is sluffed off as a lifeless shell that in due course disintegrates, and a new astral body develops as the new physical body grows.

This entering into another body is called reincarnation: “re-occupying the flesh.”

During our thousands of earth lives, a remarkable variety of life patterns are experienced.

We exist as male and female, often switching back and forth from life to life as the nature becomes more harmonized into a person exhibiting both feminine nurturing and masculine intrepidness.

We come to earth as princesses and presidents, as paupers and pirates, as tribals and scientists, as murderers and healers, as atheists and, ultimately, God-Realized sages.

We take bodies of every race and live the many religions, faiths and philosophies as the soul gains more knowledge and evolutionary experience.

Therefore, the Hindu knows that the belief in a single life on earth, followed by eternal joy or pain is utterly wrong and causes great anxiety, confusion and fear.

Hindus know that all souls reincarnate, take one body and then another, evolving through experience over long periods of time.

Like the caterpillar’s metamorphosis into the butterfly, death doesn’t end our existence but frees us to pursue an even greater development.

Understanding the laws of the death process, the Hindu is vigilant of his thoughts and mental loyalties.

He knows that the contents of his mind at the point of death in large part dictate where he will function in the astral plane and the quality of his next birth.

Secret questionings and doubt of Hindu belief, and associations with other belief systems will automatically place him among like-minded people whose beliefs are alien to Hinduism.

A nominal Hindu on earth could be a selfish materialist in the astral world.

The Hindu also knows that death must come naturally,

in its own course, and that suicide only accelerates the intensity of one’s karma,

bringing a series of immediate lesser births and requiring several lives for the soul to return to the exact evolutionary point that existed at the moment of suicide, at which time the still-existing karmic entanglements must again be faced and resolved.

Two other karmically sensitive processes are:

1.) artificially sustaining life in a wholly incapacitated physical body through mechanical devices, drugs or intravenous feeding; and

2.) euthanasia, “mercy killing.”

There is a critical timing in the death transition.

The dying process can involve long suffering or be peaceful or painfully sudden: all dependent on the karma involved.

To keep a person on life support with the sole intent of continuing the body’s biological functions nullifies the natural timing of death.

It also keeps the person’s astral body earthbound, tethered to a lower astral region rather than being released into higher astral levels.

An important lesson to learn here is that karma is conditioned by intent.

When the medical staff receives a dangerously ill or injured person and they place him on life support as part of an immediate life-saving procedure, their intent is pure healing.

If their attempts are unsuccessful, then the life-support devices are turned off, the person dies naturally and there is no karma involved and it does not constitute euthanasia. However, if the doctors, family or patient decide to continue life support indefinitely to prolong biological processes, (usually motivated by a Western belief of a single life) then the intent carries full karmic consequences.

When a person is put on long-term life support, he must be left on it until some natural biological or environmental event brings death.

If he is killed through euthanasia, this again further disturbs the timing of the death.

As a result, the timing of future births would be drastically altered.

Euthanasia, the willful destruction of a physical body, is a very serious karma.

This applies to all cases including someone experiencing long-term, intolerable pain.

Even such difficult life experiences must be allowed to resolve themselves naturally.

Dying may be painful, but death itself is not.

All those involved (directly or indirectly) in euthanasia will proportionately take on the remaining prarabdha karma of the dying person. And the euthanasia participants will,

to the degree contributed, face a similar karmic situation in this or a future life.

Finally, there is exercising wisdom-which is knowing and using divine law-in the overall context of any situation For example,

a vegetative person in a coma is on long-term life support in a hospital when a patient is brought in for emergency treatment requiring that same life support equipment.

Weighing the two karmas, a doctor could dharmically unplug the comatose patient in order to save the other’s life.

Moksha: Freedom From Rebirth

Life’s real attainment is not money, not material luxury, not sexual or eating pleasure, not intellectual, business or political power, or any other of the instinctive or intellectual needs.

These are natural pursuits, to be sure, but our divine purpose on this earth is to personally realize our identity in and with God.

This is now called by many names: enlightenment, Self-Realization, God-Realization and Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

After many lifetimes of wisely controlling the creation of karma and resolving past karmas when they return, the soul is fully matured in the knowledge of these divine laws and the highest use of them.

Through the practice of yoga, the Hindu bursts into God’s superconscious Mind, the experience of bliss, all-knowingness, perfect silence.

His intellect is transmuted, and he soars into the Absolute Reality of God.

He is a jnani, a knower of the Known.

When the jnani is stable in repeating his realization of the Absolute, there is no longer a need for physical birth, for all lessons have been learned, all karmas fulfilled and Godness is his natural mind state.

That individual soul is then naturally liberated, freed from the cycle of birth, death & rebirth on this planet.

After Moksha, our soul continues its evolution in the inner worlds, eventually to merge back into its origin: God, the Primal Soul.

Every Hindu expects to seek for and attain moksha.

But he or she does not expect that it will necessarily come in this present life. Hindus know this and do not delude themselves that this life is the last.

Seeking and attaining profound spiritual relizations, they nevertheless know that there is much to be accomplished on earth and that only mature,

God-Realized souls attain Moksha.

God may seem distant and remote as the experience of our self-created karmas cloud our mind.

Yet, in reality, the Supreme Being is always closer to you than the beat of your heart.

His Mind pervades the totality of your karmic experience and lifetimes.

As karma is God’s cosmic law of cause and effect, dharma is God’s law of Being, including the pattern of Hindu religiousness.

Through following dharma and controlling thought, word and deed, karma is harnessed and wisely created. You become the master, the knowing creator, not a helpless victim.

Through being consistent in our religiousness, following the yamas and niyamas (Hindu restraints and observances), performing the pancha nitya karmas (five constant duties), seeing God everywhere and in everyone, our past karma will soften.

We may experience the karma indirectly through seeing someone else going through a situation that we intuitively know was a karma we also were to face.

But because of devout religiousness, we may experience it vicariously or in lesser intensity.

For example, a physical karma may manifest as a mental experience or a realistic dream; an emotional karmic storm may just barely touch our mind before dying out.

The belief in karma and reincarnation brings to each Hindu inner peace and self-assurance.

The Hindu knows that the maturing of the soul takes many lives, and that if the soul is immature in the present birth, then there is hope, for there will be many opportunities for learning and growing in future lives.

Yes, these beliefs and the attitudes they produce eliminate anxiety, giving the serene perception that everything is all right as it is.

And, there is also a keen insight into the human condition and appreciation for people in all stages of spiritual unfoldment. 

What Are the 12 Laws of Karma?

Everything is energy, including your thoughts and emotions, which are energy in motion.

So, in essence, everything you do creates a corresponding energy that comes back to you in some form, Patel explains.

“Simply, everything you do creates either a positive or negative consequence,” she says.

Using karma as a set of powerful guidelines for your life can incentivize you to be more mindful of your thoughts, actions, and deeds before you make decisions.

With that in mind, think of the laws of karma as guidelines to follow as you go through daily life.

The 12 laws of karma can help you understand how karma really works and how to create good karma in your life.

Let’s look at each of these laws in more detail.

1. The great law or the law of cause and effect

When most people talk about karma, they’re likely referring to the great law of cause and effect, Patel says.

According to this law, whatever thoughts or energy you put out, you get back — good or bad.

In order to get what you want, you have to embody and be worthy of those things. It’s the concept of what you reap, you sow.

“For example, if you want love in your life, be loving to yourself,” she says.

2. The law of creation

The law of creation underscores the importance that life doesn’t just happen to us.

To make things happen in your life, you need to take action, instead of waiting for something to magically come your way.

“You are the co-creator of making what you want, based on your intentions,” Patel says.

She recommends asking yourself what you need to release so you can create space for the thing you desire to show up.

Also consider how you can use your skills, talents, and strengths to create something that not only benefits you but others, too.

3. The law of humility

According to Paul Harrison, creator of The Daily Meditation, the law of humility is based on the principle that you must be humble enough to accept that your current reality is the result of your past actions.

For example, if you’re blaming your colleagues for your poor performance at work, Harrison says you must accept that you created this reality by not performing as well as you could have.

4. The law of growth

Growth starts within us.

To positively shape the world, you need to start with yourself.

That’s because real change or personal growth begins with what you have control over, which is yourself, not others.

The law of growth also looks at the things you can’t control and how you deal with accepting this fate.

Ultimately, your focus should be on you, not trying to control the people or things around you.

5. The law of responsibility

Alex Tran, a yoga instructor based in Seattle, Washington, says the law of responsibility is her favorite law to teach in class.

“It’s a reminder that you own what happens to you in life. It’s a great reminder that what happens to you is because of you.

This eliminates the opportunity for you to look outward to find the cause of your problems,” Tran explains.

She likes to use this to describe the karma law of responsibility: “You are the product of the choices you make.”

6. The law of connection

This law is based on the principle that everything in your life, including your past, present, and future, are connected.

“Who you are today is the result of your previous actions,” Harrisons says.

And who you will be tomorrow will be the result of your actions today.

7. The law of focus

Focusing on too many things at once can slow you down and lead to frustration and negativity.

That’s why the law of focus encourages you to concentrate on one thing at a time.

“If you focus on higher values like love and peace, then you’re less likely to be distracted by heavy feelings of resentment, greed, or anger,” Patel says.

8. The law of giving and hospitality

You must give to the things you believe in.

This law helps you understand the importance of your actions, reflecting your deeper beliefs.

For example, if you want to live in a peaceful world, you need to focus on cultivating peace for others, Harrison explains.

9. The law of here and now

To experience peace of mind, you have to embrace the present.

This can only happen when you let go of negative thoughts or behaviors from your past.

If you get too focused on past events, you’ll keep reliving them.

One exercise Patel recommends to get in touch with the here and now is to get rooted into your senses.

“Look around the room you are in, focus your eyes on something, blink, and say ‘I am here,’” she says.

10. The law of change

According to this principle, history will continue to repeat itself until you learn from the experience and take steps to do something differently to stop the cycle.

Change gives you a new path so that you can create a new future and a better version of yourself, free from the patterns of the past.

11. The law of patience and reward

To generate change in the future, Harrison says we must be consistent in our karmic deeds today.

“It’s no good living healthily for one day and then sabotaging it in the next,” he says.

Be consistent in your goals, and they will come to fruition.

12. The law of significance and inspiration

We all play a part and have something to contribute to this world.

What we share may sometimes seem small to us but can make an enormous difference in someone else’s life.

Patel says the law of significance and inspiration is a great law to focus on when you need a motivational boost or begin to feel like you don’t have a purpose or matter.

According to this law, every contribution you make will affect the world.

You have been born with a specific gift, mission, and purpose that only you can bring into the world with your uniqueness.

Authentically sharing your skills and gifts is why you’re here.

The bottom line

The 12 laws of karma can serve as a guideline or road map to follow as you go through your daily life.

These laws can help you understand how karma really works, and the effect that your thoughts and actions can have on you and the world around you.

Using karma as a set of guidelines in your life can incentivize you to be more mindful of your thoughts, actions, and deeds before you make a decision.

Hinduism is a world religion that has fused together various traditions and beliefs of the cultures of India throughout history. Starting in ancient history, the Hindu faith developed a series of sacred texts.

These sacred texts are known as the Vedas, and they are made up of:

  • The Rig Veda
  • The Samaveda
  • Yajurveda
  • Atharvaveda

Hindu people also have a series of fundamental concepts that are laid out in the sacred texts and show believers how to live their lives.

These concepts are:

  • Dharma (the overarching moral law of Hinduism)
  • Purushartha (the main goals for life)
  • Varna (the Hindu social classes)
  • Atman (the soul)
  • Karma (cause and effect of your actions)
  • Samsara (reincarnation)
  • Moksha (becoming one with the Brahma)
  • Brahman (the ultimate power in the universe)

A Brief History of Hindu Religion

Hinduism is one of the oldest surviving world religion and has been worshipped in India uninterrupted for more than 4,000 years.

The roots, customs and traditions of the Hindu faith developed at different periods during those 4 millennia and created what we know as modern Hinduism.

Unlike other religions, Hinduism has no single founder (such as Jesus Christ for Christianity).

It is instead the fusion of many schools of thought from many cultures.

Around 1500 BC, the Indo-Aryan people migrated into the Indus Valley, and their language and culture blended with that of the indigenous people living in the region.

It is believed that the blend of culture was effective for both cultures.

This early period, from 1500 BC to 500 BC, is the period when the sacred texts – Vedas – were first composed.

It is now know as the ‘Vedic Period’ for modern Hindu people.

Rituals such as sacrifices, chanting and dancing were common in the Vedic Period.

Throughout the following centuries, more eras and periods added new information, and traditions to the Hindu faith.

The Epic, Puranic, and Classic Periods took place between 500 BC and 500 AD.

During these periods, Hindus began to emphasize the worship of deities, especially Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi.

What is Dharma in Hinduism?

Dharma means duty, virtue, truth and morality.

It outlines a moral law of right and wrong that Hindus follow in everyday life, behaving correctly and taking their duties seriously.

This Hindu belief brings stability to a person’s life.

Dharma is a universal concept, but outlines a slightly different law for everyone depending on their age, gender and social position.

For example, a child’s dharma is to work hard at school.

The dharma of a parent, is to raise their children and support their family.

Every person’s dharma is called sva-dharma.

To act against your dharma is known as adharma.

All Hindu beliefs and concepts are founded on living in accordance to dharma.

Dharma is also an important concept in Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.


Purushartha refers to the four main goals of life within Hinduism.

These are:

  • Dharma – moral values;
  • Artha – economic values;
  • Kama – pleasure;
  • Moksha – liberation.

Using the Purushartha to provide structure to your life will allow a person to live a meaningful life.

Working with the Purushartha allows a person to make good decisions and live a meaningful life.

Artha refers to having the materials you need to support yourself and your family.

It’s the basis for dharma and kama.

Kama relates to pleasure in general.

To practice kama, a person’s pleasures, such as art, music or kindness, must align with that person’s life purpose and duty.

Moksha is a liberation achieved when dharma is lived by and artha and kama are practised correctly.


Varna refers to social classes within Hinduism.

A part of Dharma, Hindu’s also believe in Varna, which outlines the different social classes, and their duties.

The Four Varnas are:

  • Shudras – workers;
  • Vaishyas – merchants;
  • Kshatriyas – protectors or society;
  • Brahmanas – provide education and leadership.

This Lesson Pack can offer you a helping hand when teaching your children about the duties within the Hindu belief system.

Related to Varna is Ashrama – the four stages of life stated in ancient Indian texts. People in the top three classes, Vaishyas, Kshatriyas and Brahmanas, are known as ‘twice-born’.

This refers to them being born once, then born again when males receive a sacred thread as a symbol of their status.

They will go through the Ashramas, these are:

  • Brahmacarya – student;
  • Grihastha – householder;
  • Vanaprastha – retired;
  • Samsara – reincarnate.


Atman refers to a person’s ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’

Hindus believe that atman is part of the spirit of Brahman, their ultimate God.

Hindus also believe the atman is eternal, meaning it never dies.


Karma means ‘action’, and refers to the Hindu law of cause and effect.

This is where the actions of a person, influence the future of that person.

Within Hinduism, Hindu’s believe that good behaviour that corresponds with dharma will have positive outcomes.

Poor behaviour, against dharma, will result in bad outcomes.

Karma has also become an important spiritual concept to many people, regardless of what religion they belong to.


Karma is central to samsara, which means ‘reincarnation’.

This is a core Hindu belief and is defined as a continuing cycle where the soul (atman) is reborn and life renews over and over as a result of karma.

If you behave in accordance with dharma, this will result in positive outcomes that allow your soul to be reborn.

A soul can be reborn into a physical body, or an animal.


Moksha is the ultimate goal within Hinduism, to leave this cycle of rebirth (samsara) and become one with the god Brahma. Hindu’s believe that in order to achieve moksha, Hindus must follow one of the three paths, the path of duty, the path of knowledge, or the path of devotion.


Brahman is a Sanskrit word meaning transcendent power.

The Hindu belief in Brahman is the belief in a power that upholds the world.

Particular Hindu deities are manifestations of Brahman. 

Brahma is the Hindu creator god and creator of the Vedas.