A Basic Introduction to Karma

A Basic Introduction to Karma

This basic article gives us an introduction to some rudimentary concepts of Karma as taught in Hinduism. This article is nowhere near completion and I will be periodically adding more information as I progress in my understanding and research. Feel free to add in the comment section your personal understanding of Karma, and the way it was taught to you. 

As we all know, the word “Karma” is most commonly used to express the phrase, “what goes around, comes around”, and normally it is given as a warning to those who chose to do evil instead of good. But it is much, much deeper than that, as most Hindus treat Karma as a universal moral law even to the point of personifying it as a deity in itself, who is beyond the control of the Universal Creator.

And allow me to add that in most cases, Karma is used to curse those who have done you some wrong or to find meaning to some unfortunate incident or suffering in our lives. For example, if someone suffers a massive loss in business or is cheated by someone, they will usually say, “well, he must have cheated and stolen in his past life”. 

This idea of one paying for Bad Karma, not only their own but also of their forefathers, is not only a Hindu concept as it is questioned by some of the Disciples of Christ in the book of John chapter 9. Upon encountering a man who was born blind, they ask Jesus “who sinned in order for this man to be born blind, him or his parents?” Christ clearly answers that neither sinned for this to happen, but that God allowed it in order to do a miracle, and then Christ proceeds to heal the blind man.

We can understand a couple of things here that might have been common teaching amongst the Jews back then. First, that the original sin we are born into is the cause of all the suffering, mutations, and malfunction of mankind and nature, and second, that there can be consequences for the sins of the forefathers to fall upon the next generations.



Some Hindu Words To Keep in Mind

1. Karma or Karam: It’s not simple luck or even destiny. It’s a Sanskrit word that means “action,” “work,” or “deed,” and it really speaks of the spiritual cycle of cause and effect.

2. Two forms of karma — the phalas and the samskaras.

a. A phala is a karmic effect (visible or invisible) that’s immediate or within your current lifetime. (As you sow, you will reap, which is in accordance to the Biblical teachings)

b. Samskaras, on the other hand, are invisible effects, that are produced inside you, impacting your ability to be happy or unhappy. This extends both to this and future lives. (Founded on the idea or rebirth in order to continue to pay for one’s sins.)

This is clearly against what the Bible teaches us as there no second chances to do good once you are dead, no rebirth, no time for penitence….etc.

3. Samsara: means “wandering.” It refers to the belief that all living beings go through cycles of birth and rebirth, which may continue indefinitely. The frequency of this “wandering” is based on a spiritual system of accounting that adds or subtracts points from you based on your good or bad deeds (Karma/Karam)No one knows how many points are allocated to each deed, nor one’s total in any given Samsara. 


4. Moksha : means breaking this vicious cycle of rebirths. How do you escape samsara? By working towards achieving enlightenment, or “Nirvana.” Once you get there through good karmic deeds (Karams) and spiritual practices, your desires and sufferings will go away and you will find peace and happiness.

Of course, your physical body will die and you will no longer be reborn, but on the plus side, you will be awake to the true nature of reality and if you’re Hindu, you’d reunite with Brahman, the universal god or soul. Samsara is not taught in the Bible as it is written for all mankind to live once, die, and then judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) 

In the Bible, the way to escape eternal judgment or to be spiritually enlightened is not through good works, but by simply accepting and believing in the sacrifice on the cross by Jesus.  It is Christ who then gives us instantaneous “Nirvana” and sets us free, not only from slavery to sin but also instantaneous “Moksha”


5. We might use different words for defining becoming one with God our Creator and be able to exist in His presence. Mukti (Hindi), Moksh (Sanskrit), Nijaat (Urdu), Chittagong (Sindhi), Nirvana (Buddhism), and Salvation (English)

This salvation is a common goal for all religions and something that humanity strives for but there is only one person in the history of mankind who not only has claimed to be able to give it to us but actually has given us a taste of what that means. That’s right….Jesus. He said, ”I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”