Karma – the Law of Cause and Effect
Karma is an integral part of Hinduism. Karma literally means ‘to act’. Basically, it means that a man’s deliberate actions decide his future state of existence. This law differentiates human beings from other creatures.
A Natural Law
Newton said “Every action produces an equal and opposite reaction”. Each time we do something, a cause is created, which will bear a corresponding effect in the future. This law of cause and effect creates the cycle of birth and death. So, a human being’s personality and positive and negative actions, create karma. Reflex or involuntary actions do not constitute karma.
Karma is Your Responsibility
This law puts the onus of responsibility squarely on an individual’s shoulders. He or she is responsible for his or her present fate and future. Some people opine that the concept of karma is fatalistic. But, the future depends on an individual’s present actions, so fatalism has no place in the law of karma. Hindus believe that a person’s next life is dictated by his actions in the present. So, the onus is on the individual to lead a dharmic or righteous life.
Three Types of Karma :
These are satvik karma, which is selfless, without attachment and primarily benefits others; rajasik karma – here the gains are for oneself and is therefore selfish; and tamasik karma, which is savage and selfish with no heed for the consequences. Mahatma Gandhi said the satvik works peacefully, the rajasik is always restless and the tamasik works mechanically.
Nishkama Karma (Unattached Action)
The soul can reach salvation if one acts in a disciplined manner without expectation of reward. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that one should carry out one’s duties while remaining detached as to the results. In fact, one should surrender the fruits and results of one’s actions to God to attain supreme peace of mind.