What is Karma
In understanding the Laws of Karma, there is more to it, than meets the eye. Although there are three types of Karma which we shall discuss, it is important to imbibe the philosophy of Karma so that one is conscious of Karma and is able to sail through it with humility, gratitude and Knowledge. Karma is to be dealt with total understanding at its very molecular level, in order to be able to surf across the waves of untold Karmic waves that keep hitting across us, as we sail through the ocean of life on the life-boat of principles and value systems. Karma is very demanding. What it needs from us, is not only to be equipped with a non-leaky life-boat of principles and value systems but also be blessed with the skill and finesse to deal with Life situations appropriately, rather than trying to avoid it. If someone tries to avoid Karma and push it aside or tries to tackle it with insincerity, one simply needs to wait for the next big wave of Karma to arrive that shall eventually smash to the ground one’s cheeky attempts to cheat Karma. Punishment can never be discounted in the dealings of Karma. Karma is the order of the Supreme that is driven with the single point program of establishing Truth in the heart of the living entity, although it may take trillions of lifetimes before the job gets finally done and the living entity is relieved from the stringent laws of Karma. In this article only Bad Karmas are kept in mind because it is Bad Karma alone that open up possibilities towards a thorough spiritual life.
Three Types of Karma
There are three types of Karmas that affect a living entity, verily, a human form of life. They are Sanchita, Prarabdha and Aprarabdha or Agami Karma. These three Karmas represent Karmas carried over from previous life times or old Karmas from the current lifetime, Karmas that are about to fructify and Karmas that have remained unresolved and hence carried over for the future as well as Karmas being manufactured through current actions and intentions which shall become Sanchita Karma of a fresh lifetime.
When man gets enmeshed in the cause and effect cycle, there remain too many unresolved intentions and desires. It is to be understood that Karma is driven by intention of Actions and has not so much to do with the Actions themselves. The unresolved, unsatisfied buildup of intentions and desires turn themselves into a reservoir battery of potential action and experiences and transferred to the living entity at an appropriate time in the future. If the accumulated activities were bad and ill-intentioned, they shall fructify at a very uncomfortable time, place and circumstance which shall result in suffering. Not only will there be suffering but the Karma can spawn a new thread of Karmas, which if, not paid attention to and understood, would turn into an avalanche set of actions, desires and intentions that will free-wheel into a whirligig of serious future Karma. Thus unresolved Sanchita Karma shall have two bifurcations as time progresses. Depending on the mental-make up, capability and capacity of the living entity, some of the Sanchita Karma shall come into fruition as Prarabdha and most of it shall be carried forward into the future as Agami or Aprarabdha Karma waiting to be resolved sometime in the future within this lifetime or to be carried forward into a future lifetime. All said, when there is a tendency to build Karma, the possibility of liberation is for certain nil.
Karma and Surrender
The hand of the Supreme is to be seen in the Karmic Cycle. This is essential. Seeing Karma in silos, separating the Supreme Being from it, is like trying to study painting without colors. The hand of the Supreme Being manages Karma through the agent of Maya or Mother Nature as She is known, in layman’s language. Nature’s intention behind strategizing the Law of Karma is only to bring to the notice of the living entity that there is a superior order that needs attention at all times. If this fact is neglected, one has to go on paying the price, till one learns one’s lessons. Sanchita Karma is a concept whereby the capacity and capability of the individual is taken into account. Many times, an individual is vile and vicious and performs bad Karma from time to time encouraged by ill-intentions. However the individual may also be weak and stressed owing to his previous Karma. In such a particular case, if he is held accountable for, in the present, for all his past deeds, he would have to get his body broken or have his mind in tartars for having been so ill-intentioned, right away. But this is never the case. Nature understands possibilities, capacities and capabilities. It gives only that much, which can be borne, by the living entity, although the living entity continues to be vicious. This is why the concept of Sanchita has been existing, so that whenever the living entity is in a better frame or position to take in some load of Bad Karma to exhaust it sometime in the near or far-away future, equivalent Karmic effects are released at a time when the time, place or circumstances are not conducive although the living entity is internally competent to take in the ill-effects and capable of learning from it. If the learning does not occur, an ill-intention, ill-will or ill-action remains which branches out as a new Karmic cycle. New Karma is also free-wheeled when free-will is misused towards some atrocious act. This also contributes to future Karma or Agami Karma.
Getting rid of all Karma, Right Away
Having said that Sanchita Karma is like a reservoir shed of loads of future Karma, there exists a mechanism that can burn up all past Karma, even if they are millions of lifetimes old, in a moment. Sanchita Karma is burnt to ashes, when realization sets in, within the living entity that the struggle for power, money and worldly control is a myth. When the living entity simply accepts this fact and releases all attempts to pursue worldly motives and intentions by accepting the Supremacy of the Lord, through the Guru and undertakes spiritual initiation into a mantra and leaves behind all worldly pursuits, it becomes the single-most top priority of the Lord to reduce the balance of the individual’s Sanchita Karma to zero, right when this fact is simply accepted within the depths of the devotee’s heart. When one accepts one’s position as the lover of Truth, one need not change one’s occupation or situations, changes will gush forth through the very process of deep understanding and realization. It becomes vital that at this stage, spiritual discipline is taken up, austerities are pursued so that the seeds of un-fructified Karma are roasted and the last remains of all unresolved Karma is threshed out of one’s heart. Only when there is clarity of vision and higher intention, can it be safely regarded that Sanchita Karma is over. This realization shall easily dawn on the spiritual practitioner when the Supreme Being broadcasts the news, in one’s heart.
Whatever Sanchita Karma has come into fruition and is manifesting as life situations, circumstances, time, place and events, is Prarabdha. Once Sanchita Karma has come into fruition, it cannot be stopped from manifesting. Just like when the seed which has developed into a shoot, cannot go back into the soil once again, Prarabdha too, cannot be reversed. Prarabdha is the continuous manifestation of Sanchita transforming into living experience. For example, owing to the fact that I had committed a crime in my previous lifetime and the time has come to atone for that crime, this process can now, not be interfered with, as was the case in Sanchita Karma. Suppose a night before, I have undergone tremendous spiritual realization and have accepted all my past errors and confessed before the Lord in the heart, and become cleansed of Sanchita Karma, yet that Karma which is about to happen the next morning can never be reversed because it has already been released from the womb of Nature. It may come to me as a loss of a very dear one or suddenly being accused of money embezzlement, something which I have not done. Now, this should not be seen in conjunction with last night’s event of atoning for the sins and surrendering to God. The leveling of allegations was in response to Prarabdha and not a response to Sanchita since Sanchita Karma has already been burnt through spiritual initiation. Prarabdha Karma is the very basis of having taken up a physical body. Prarabdha Karma is handled and juggled to the maximum if one has become a devotee, but it can never be avoided because we have already attained a body to undergo it. For a devotee, sometimes, the Lord may juggle Karmic events so that one may be well-prepared to handle it. The Lord is always partial to the surrendered ones, who have left behind material intentions and taken to a spiritual way of life. Prarabdha Karma is also modified for the benefit of devotees. That Karma which would have, in the normal circumstance severed my head, simply gives me a scratch on the arm. This is the power of surrender to the Supreme Being. Nevertheless, Prarabdha Karma can never be totally avoided, although its intensity maybe modified by the will of the Supreme Being.
Aprarabdha or Agami Karma
That Karma which is still pending during this lifetime that is produced freshly through current actions, is postponed for a future time within this lifetime or for a future lifetime. This becomes Agami or Aprarabdha Karma. Many times current actions and intentions are freshly carried out under influence of the three modes of material nature. This Karma too comes into being because of Intentions and desires. When a devotee takes up spiritual practice after realizing the shallowness of material pursuit, within the heart, by the power of Divine grace even Agami Karma can be reduced to ashes and there is no possibility of its fruition. However it takes time for the living entity to deliberate on his spiritual intentions and follow practices. After his true intentions are tested by Material Nature, he is completely absolved from the ill-effects of Agami Karma.
Karma in the Spiritual Mode
It should be understood that free-will is always an option for the thinking-living-entity. Karma cannot be thrust or avoided by force but can be altered and removed through sincerity, courage and by positive use of free-will. If one realizes that Karma is meant for reformation, one shall develop humility and gratitude. Free-will shall be used not for personal selfish pursuits but for a cause larger than oneself. This then, shall be the acceptance of a spiritual mode of Karma. True spirituality has the power to burn to ashes, Sanchita and Agami Karma and to a great extent even modify Prarabdha for the benefit of the living entity. All said, it should be noted that Law of Karma has been designed by Nature to educate the living entity towards higher possibilities of evolution. As Buddhism says “All Karma is Bad Karma” Karma itself is not desirable although it cannot be consciously avoided. Karma Yoga can put an end to Karma. Yoga happens when the living entity directs his goals, ambitions and intentions towards the higher purpose, not necessarily to serve humanity or aspects relating to Maya, but towards the Supreme Being who is beyond Maya and the perpetrator of Maya. Karma is endless and unceasing in the normal course. It is also beginningless. However it has an end and that end is in the living entity’s hands, in the womb of his free-will. When intentions are directed towards the service of the Supreme Being alone, all actions become acts of worship. They become causeless and seedless. They become an offering. Unless the mind and heart is purified, even this feeling or intention to serve the Supreme cannot emerge. If these emotions cannot emerge, Karma shall continue and proliferate unabated presenting liberation as a chapter in the Book of Fairy Tales.