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Hinduism: Karma
One of the Four Central Beliefs

There are four central beliefs in Hinduism:

  • Dharma (ethics and duties)
  • Samsara (rebirth)
  • Karma (right action)
  • Moksha (liberation from the cycle of Samsara)

The Importance of Karma (right action)

Karma or "right action" is one of the four basic tenets of Hinduism. It means actions or deeds. Since Hinduism believes in rebirth and reincarnation, it holds that the karma of a person in the present birth decides his life after death. A person has to undergo seven cycles of birth before he achieves liberation or "moksha". Karma can be called the "moral law of cause and effect".

Karma is intrinsically related to reincarnation and in its essence it binds together the concepts of both free will and destiny. It is the personality of the human being which causes karma through positive or negative actions.

The law of cause and effect forms the core of Hindu philosophy and Karma is the concept of cyclical cause and effect. Every time an individual thinks or does something, he is creating a cause which will eventually show its effects. Karma involves the activities of both the body and mind disregarding the time taken to bear its fruition.

Hinduism says that every person is responsible for his own karma, so, each person's karma is entirely his own doing. The tenet of karma holds that if you do good deeds in the present birth, you will be rewarded in the next birth and if not, you may degenerate into a lower life form. Thus, for good karma, it is important to lead one's life according to the principles of another tenet of Hindu religion, the "dharma" which means the path of righteousness.

According to the Hindu scriptures, the individual should remain detached while carrying out his duties in life as this unattached action is the way to salvation or moksha. The Bhagvad Gita says that "the self-controlled person, moving among objects, with his senses free from attachment and malevolence and brought under his own control, attains tranquility." Karma means "volitional action that is undertaken deliberately or knowingly" and it is the differentiating factor which sets apart human beings from other creatures of the world.

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