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Karma and Its Types

Everything in the universe is designed to fulfill its duties, which is also known as karma. Karma includes not only one's duties, but also the daily activities one engages in. Karma operates on the principle of action and reaction, similar to Newton's third law, where the energy you put out comes back to you, whether it is positive or negative. This cycle allows for self-reflection and growth towards enlightenment. Each birth is an opportunity to complete your unfinished karma, through which you may also accumulate new karma, based on the free will. It is a misconception that karma only refers to one's duties. In reality, karma encompasses all activities, whether past, present, or future. Thoughts, words, and actions are the three modes through which you perform your karma, which can also be classified as mental, verbal, and physical actions.

The Vedic knowledge passed down to us by our ancestors have provided us with an understanding of what karma is and how it operates. However, as time has passed, the true meaning of karma has been distorted through various misinterpretations. It is only by approaching this concept with an unbiased perspective that one can gain a genuine understanding of its true nature.


snake eating its own tail

The principles of karma are expounded in Shaiva Siddhanta, states that the soul (atma/consciousness) becomes bound by attachments and falls into a state of oblivion before the inception of time and the universe. Once ensnared by the bondage, the soul sinks deeper into it, ultimately leading to its own destruction. At this juncture, the soul becomes acutely aware of its plight and yearns to break free from the bondage, but this cannot be achieved on its own. Therefore, God creates Maya, the illusory universe or simulation, to help the soul gradually detach itself from the bondage and eventually attach itself to the God (Param atma). The reason why the soul becomes attached to the bondage in the first place is difficult to ascertain. According to enlightened Gurus or Siddhas, the attachment to the bondage of a soul is beyond time, and the concept of time is elusive which can only be understood by transcending the time cycle (enlightenment).

The crux of the karma principle is that "bondage compels us to perform actions that create repercussions and perpetuate the cycle of birth and death." According to the enlightened gurus of Shaiva Siddhanta, there are three immortal entities. The first is Paramatma (Supreme Soul aka God). The second is the individual soul, also known as atma and the third is the bondage, which is the state of attachment that traps the soul in the cycle of birth and death.

Types of Karma

  1. Sanchita Karma: This type of karma refers to the collection of all the karma accumulated by your soul throughout all the lives you have lived so far.

  2. Prarabdha Karma: Prarabdha karma is based on the idea of fate. Since the collection of Sanchita is vast, it cannot be completed in one lifetime. Therefore, a part of it will be bestowed to the soul in this life, which we call fate. Different karma mature at different stages of time, and only those matured karma will be given to the soul, which is called Prarabdha karma.

  3. Agámi Karma: This type of karma is based on how you perform your duties, as well as the expectations and desires that come out of it.

Some scholars use the term "Kriyamana karma" to refer to action and reaction, and "Agámi" to refer to desires and expectations arising from them, Siddhanta considers desires to be included in actions. Therefore, according to Siddhanta, "Agámi" is sufficient to explain both actions and desires.

To illustrate, Sanchita can be compared to the total amount of money in your bank account, Prarabdha to the portion of that money allotted to you for spending, and Agámi to how you use that money. A matured soul will simply spend the money, whereas a young soul may invest and accumulate more that furthers the cycle of birth. Your fate can be interpreted through your birth chart (D1) and Navamsha (D9) itself. In the D1 and D9, the 12th house represents Sanchita, the 6th house represents Prarabdha, and the 10th house represents Agámi.

Maturity of Karma and The Cycle of Birth

It is common to hear people ask why they must take another birth to complete a pending karma instead of fulfilling it within the same lifetime. While this question may seem reasonable at first, it becomes clear that it is not once you delve deeper into the matter. In the above section, you were introduced to the fundamental concepts of karma which included the idea that you are the creator, preserver, and destroyer of your karma while God provides you with a platform (the 3D world) and a physical body made up of the five elements (Pancha Bhutas). Additionally, you learned that your fate and free will are determined by your matured karma. So, what exactly are matured karma? Matured karma are those that manifest at the appropriate time and under the appropriate circumstances. This manifestation can occur within a matter of seconds, a few years, or even across several lifetimes. Let's find out how with some hypothetical scenarios.

The following scenarios are imaginary and intended to illustrate karmic patterns based on my understanding of the principles.

Scenario 1: Reason for Next Birth

Suppose Person A kills Person B, leaving B's parents in extreme mental agony. B was their only son and just 20 years old, but he was brutally murdered by A. As a result, A has accumulated a lot of negative karma by inflicting sudden, violent, and painful death upon B and causing lifelong pain to his parents. According to the principles of karma, A is now destined to undergo a similar experience. However, A is already 70 years old and has no family. What do you think will happen next?

Scenario 2: Reason for Multiple Births

Person X is the owner of a pesticide company that kills countless insects, birds, and animals, and sometimes even humans. X has created a tool that causes painful death to multiple lives. According to the principles of karma, X is now meant to experience the same pain repeatedly to compensate for what he has started. However, it is not possible to go through all of it in one lifetime. What do you think will happen next?

Scenario 3: Multiple Births vs Single Birth

Person Q has worked as a prison executioner and has been responsible for carrying out multiple executions in his career. This means that he has caused the painful death of numerous individuals although these individuals were convicted criminals. According to the principles of karma, Q would need to experience a similar amount of pain in return for his actions. However, since the underlying motive for Q's actions was to uphold justice, it's possible that instead of experiencing the same pain in multiple births, Q may experience a prolonged but less intense pain in one lifetime.

Scenario 4: Births through Desires

Person M betrayed his girlfriend P, which she discovered and wanted to get revenge on M in the same way. However, she died suddenly due to an accident before she could do so. M lived on for the next 20 years and eventually died at the hands of his wife. In order to fulfill her desire for revenge, P's soul would have to wait for 20 years to be reborn. However, during that time, the universe allowed her to take birth and live a short life span of 18 years to fulfill her previous life's desire of becoming a famous actor. After her short life as an actor, she died and was reborn once again, ready to seek revenge on M in his next life, who had now forgotten everything.

As you can see, this is how you fulfill your past karma when the appropriate time and conditions arise. It becomes a little more complicated and tricky as you add more new karma every day.

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