Karma or Kamma (from Skt. Karman - "deed", "action"; translated from the Pali language, kamma - "action", "rite", "retribution") is one of the key concepts in Indian religious traditions and philosophical movements.
Karma is the law of cause and effect that underlies samsara (the cycle of births and deaths, during which a person performs certain deeds and receives rewards in the form of good or bad fate).
The term "karma" was first mentioned in the early Upanishads (ancient philosophical and religious treatises that are part of the religious writings of India; according to scientists, they were written in the 8th century BC). It is also found in later Vedic texts.
In the ancient world, belief in karma and reincarnation was widespread. This is not entirely true. The most ancient beliefs (for example, totemism, which consists in the worship of a person or a group of people to a certain class of animals, natural phenomena, etc.) say that, firstly, certain animals were the ancestor of people of a certain tribe. Secondly, after death, a person either goes to the country of his ancestors, or returns to his fellow tribesmen in the guise of an animal (which is why the killing of totem animals was strictly prohibited).
Later beliefs described not reincarnation into a totem animal, but a happy afterlife existence in the worlds of happiness (in Ancient Egypt - in the Fields of Ialu ("Fields of the reeds")). If a person led an unrighteous life, then he did not receive retribution for his sins in the next incarnation, and, according to the beliefs of many ancient peoples, he held an answer only to the deities and could be either punished or forgiven.
Also in ancient times it was believed that after death the soul of a person for a long time (sometimes calculated for centuries) is associated with the body it abandoned. Moreover: the soul exists as long as the body shell, abandoned by it, is intact. Therefore, for example, in Ancient Egypt they made considerable efforts in order to preserve (mummify) the bodies of the pharaohs and nobility, and, wishing to harm the soul of the hated deceased pharaoh, his mummy was decapitated or burned.
The term "karma" is common to all philosophical systems of Hinduism. The idea of retribution for good and evil deeds and the fundamental universal law is characteristic of almost all philosophical systems in India (with the exception of lokayata), but the term "karma" is not used in all cases. For example, in nyaya (from Sankt. "Method") - one of the rationalistic Indian philosophical systems, its synonym is the word "adrishta" (Skt. "Invisible", "inaccessible to perception"). Followers of the orthodox school of the Indian philosophy of mimamsa (from Sanskrit "reflection", "research") prefer to use the term "apurva" (from Sanskrit "arising after", "not the first"), etc.
All people in India believe in karma. No, even in ancient India there was the doctrine of lokayata (also called charvaka), which was considered materialistic and related to unorthodox schools (nastika). The followers of lokayata did not consider the Veda an indisputable authority, and believed that the creation of the universe is the result of the natural interaction of 5 elements (air, water, fire, earth, metal) - the fundamental principle of everything that exists in the world. In their opinion, neither God nor the law of karma has anything to do with the creation and existence of the Universe.
There are several types of karma. It really is. Moreover, karma is classified according to different criteria, as a result of which the list of types of karma can vary greatly in different philosophical systems. Hindus, for example, distinguish these types of karma:
1. Sanchita (or nirupakrama) karma - collected and not yet worked out results of activity for all past lives of an individual. In turn, it is subdivided into: - prarabdha (or sopahrama) karma, which includes that part of the accumulations from past incarnations that a person will have to work out in the current life; - agami karma - those fruits of activity that are to be reaped in subsequent incarnations.
2. Kriyaman karma, created by those deeds and actions that a person performs in this incarnation. Influences both current life and future incarnations.
According to Buddhist theorists, karma can be:
1. White - good actions (for example, yogic concentration practices) performed in the world of forms;
2. Black - negative actions performed in the world of forms (evil deeds, unrighteous deeds, etc.);
3. Black and white - good actions that take place in the world of feelings and attractions;
4. Not black and not white - the actions of a person whose feelings are not fixed on physical or sensory objects.
In addition, they distinguish personal and social karma (karma of the clan, nation, etc.), gross karma (both deeds and retribution are in physical impact) and subtle (karmic results of mental activity and sensual impulses).
Also, representatives of various philosophical movements classify in different ways the types of human activities that destroy or multiply certain karmic accumulations. For example, the Vedas mention several types of such activities, and there is a close connection with the gunas. Guna - Skt. "Rope" or "property" - a type of maya (illusory energy), the fundamental principle of the material world; there are 3 gunas: the guna of goodness - sattva-guna, the guna of passion - raja-guna and the guna of ignorance - tamo-guna. It is the modes that form the thinking, way of life and activities of an individual who has come under their influence. As a result, the classification looks like this:
vikarma - activities dictated by selfish motives, multiplying the sins of the individual. By performing such acts, a person is first guided by the mode of passion, and eventually falls into the mode of ignorance;
karma - activities carried out in accordance with the postulates of the scriptures, contributing to the purification of sins, associated with the mode of passion;
akarma is an activity aimed at cognizing the soul and God, as well as comprehending their eternal relationship, which frees a person from the influence of the gunas.
There is another classification. According to the Hindus, the following actions should be performed for cleansing from sins:
Nitya karma are the daily pious duties of everyone.
Nadmittika karma - the observance of rituals and duties that allow you to improve the relationship between relatives, both living and long-dead (for example, the ceremony of remembrance of the dead Shraddha);
Kamya karma - mastering various ways to improve one's own financial situation (including getting an education and distributing alms and food to the hungry, and the latter, according to the Hindus, helps to get rid of the karma of losing property);
Prayaschita karma - activities that contribute to the purification of sins and enlightenment of the mind (fasting, pilgrimage, visiting temples, bathing in holy reservoirs, etc.);
Kartavya karma - performing various actions to improve health and prolong life (yoga, hardening, massages, walks, using medicinal oils, etc.) Sometimes the above list of actions is called Pancha nitya karma ("5 permanent duties").
Agami karma cannot be worked out. The division of sanchita karma into prarabdhu and agami is very conditional, since much depends on the guna in which a person lives and acts. For example, being in the mode of goodness, he can greatly accelerate his progress and in one incarnation work out much of what is planned for future lives (although in some cases this can be prevented by the absence in the world of some living individuals connected with a person by karmic ties). And, living in ignorance, on the contrary, he may not even fulfill prarabdhi (that part of karma that was planned for working off in this incarnation).
To be purified from sins, it is enough to diligently perform Panca nitya karma. Yes it is. But some peculiarities should be taken into account. All actions described in Panca nitya karma contribute to the purification of sins only when they are performed in goodness (i.e. in accordance with the postulates enshrined in the scriptures). If a person is in passion or, worse, in ignorance, the same actions will only lead to an increase in sins and a worsening of karma. For example, remembering relatives, people often drink alcoholic beverages, thereby insulting the memory of the deceased. As a result, Naimittika Karma, designed to harmonize interpersonal relationships in the family, acts exactly the opposite. Nitya karma will not bring purification, for example, provided that a person considers himself to be God, and replaces traditional rituals with self-aggrandizement. Kartavya karma, performed in order to achieve record indicators (for example, in any kind of sport), can contribute to poor health and significantly shorten life (instead of prolonging it), and excessive zeal in Prayaschita karma (say, prolonged fasting) can lead to mental damage. health of the individual.
God can completely cleanse a person from karma. There is no consensus on this issue. In the early Upanishads, one can find information that only the incarnating beings themselves are responsible for creating and working off karma, nothing outside influences this process. Vedanta, however, assigns the role of distributing karmic tasks to God. Today, representatives of various schools of Hinduism have their own opinions on this matter. For example, the representatives of Vaisesika (from Skt. "Stand out") and Nyayas - the philosophical systems of India, according to which the main goal of any incarnate is to liberate the individual "I", argue that it is God, who created the world, controls karma, distributing with her the sorrows and joys that fell to the lot of people. Karma itself (adrishta) is the beginning, devoid of consciousness, and is completely subordinated to the will of the Higher powers. Therefore, both God and the Guru (as the representative of God in the manifested world) can in some cases facilitate or completely annul the karma of an individual. The followers of other currents of Hinduism, for example, Mimansa (Skt. "Research" - an orthodox school that devoted itself to clarifying the nature of Dharma) or Samkhya (from Skt. "Enumeration" - a philosophical system that seeks to distract the spirit from the material world) believe that the law of karma does not obey the will of God, and acts by itself, being the cause of the universe and the basis of its structure.
The location of heavenly bodies influences the formation of karma. The connection between the location of celestial objects (stars, constellations and planets) does exist, but it does not have a formative effect on karma (more precisely, prarabdha karma). According to astrologers, cosmic bodies have individual characteristics, a certain combination of which (it is she who later becomes the basis for building a horoscope) activates certain desires, motives (unfavorable, favorable or mixed) and moods formed by a person in past incarnations. And it is the aforementioned attitude that affects the stars under which the individual will be conceived and born. Celestial objects cannot change anything in a person's karma.
Sometimes the law of karma does not work, otherwise how to explain that sometimes very pious and kind people endure illness and deprivation, while others who do evil deeds and show an unbearable character, on the contrary, are extremely lucky. Representatives of Tibetan Buddhism explain this state of affairs differently. They believe that in some cases, people who commit negative deeds and are full of anger, hatred and envy, by precisely this kind of behavior, bring to life all the good karma accumulated in previous incarnations. As a result, their positive developments are quickly exhausted, and the next incarnations will proceed in completely different conditions (in the lower worlds, in the bodies of the sick or crippled, in hardships and hardships). While people who have dedicated their lives to self-improvement and selfless service to God, they get the opportunity to quickly work off all negative karma (which was designed for many lives), and it is for this reason that they suffer illnesses and troubles.
A person who intends to improve his karma must abandon intimate relationships with members of the opposite sex. Not necessary. Representatives of some schools of Tibetan Buddhism (for example, Karma Kagyu) believe that sexual relationships, like any others, are subject to the law of karma. Moreover, in the case when in the process of intercourse, both partners give each other happiness and joy, good karma is formed. If one of them seeks to harm a partner or others, he forms negative karma.
You can go beyond the wheel of samsara only by multiplying good karma. This is not true. Buddhists believe that one should completely get rid of the shackles of karma, and for this one must perform actions, without becoming attached to either the action itself or its fruits. Followers of Hinduism pay a lot of attention to the motivation of actions, highlighting:
After all, the motives of actions can be different. Allocate:
1) impure unfavorable - actions, the results of which lead only to a deeper immersion of the individual in ignorance;
2) impure beneficial - bad deeds, the result of which is suffering and repentance, which can lead a person to the beginning of the true path;
3) pure unfavorable ones that arise when happiness is understood correctly, but the process of comprehending it is very far from the recommendations set forth in the sacred texts;
4) pure auspicious (formed as a result of a true understanding of happiness, which is based on the correct comprehension of the meaning of the scriptures);
5) spiritual (arising during enlightenment).
Moreover, only actions dictated by the last of the above-mentioned motives can help in the matter of liberation from reincarnation. Jainists claim that one can get out of the circle of rebirths only by gaining knowledge and peace, throwing away passions, thereby freeing oneself from attachments to worldly life and the material world in general.
Representatives of the Samkhya school believe that liberation from the wheel of samsara will come only after the linga (false self-concept, carrier of karma) realizes that the true, not material soul (true self-concept, which does not incarnate, but only dispassionately observes actions linga) is actually free from material bonds and ties with the linga. This long path of self-improvement should begin with the rejection of base desires and the achievement of tranquility through the use of a light and unclouded beginning (sattva).
In order not to accumulate the burden of bad karma, one should always do only good. There is no single point of view on this matter. Some ancient texts (for example, the Bhagavad Gita) indicate that actions are not divided into good or bad. Any work is beneficial to someone, and harm to someone, being, in fact, a symbiosis of good and evil. Only activities to which a person does not feel attachment can make him free.All other actions, regardless of whether good or evil prevailed in them, are fetters for the soul.
In many schools of Hinduism and Buddhism, it is believed that karma (both bad (akusala) and good (kusala)) a person earns not only and not so much by activities in the physical world, but also on a more subtle plane, observing (or not observing) morally - ethical norms and producing a certain kind of expression of will.
And the point of view of the followers of Jainism (from Sanskrit "winner" - a religious movement that considers the main goal to be the perfection of the soul and urges not to harm any living beings) is somewhat different. They believe that a person will experience the action of the law of karma on himself under any conditions - whether he performs actions or not, makes an independent choice in favor of good or evil, or does not make any choice at all.
Almost all diseases are karmic. Misconception. Karmic diseases can confidently include congenital ailments, both of the physical body (congenital heart disease, malfunctioning of internal organs, blindness, deafness, disability, cosmetic defects (such as a cleft lip or cleft palate), etc.) and the psyche ( e.g. Down syndrome). The rest of the diseases can be caused by a wrong way of life, overwork, hypothermia, nervous situation and other factors that have no direct relation to karmic retribution.