Law of Karma: Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism

Although the idea of karma originated in Hinduism , all three religions ,Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism believe that every action or deed has it's own consequences

Wikimedia Commons. By Shree Diwakar Prakashan (Owner Mr. Sanjay Surana) (Website: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The notion of karma, the belief that the actions people do in their lifetime accumulate and determine the fate of their next life. Every action we take creates the genesis, which in time will bear its consequences and repercussions.

The law of karma and “akarma” in Sanskrit is similar to the Newton’s law of action and reaction. The notion of karma emerged out of an ancient Indian wisdom tradition known as Advaita Vedanta, which translates into English as ‘nonduality’. Karma is a law in itself, which exists in its own field without the involvement of any external force.

Doctrine of Karma in different religions
Wikimedia Commons

Although the idea of karma originated in the Vedic religion(Hinduism) where it was related to the performance of rituals, all three religions (Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism) believe that what people do to others, comes back at them.

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Karma could be both the actions of the body or mind. Every action – deed, expression or even a thought may produce an effect in this life or the next since all these three religions believe in death and rebirth cycle.


In Hindu texts, karma was first learnt in the ancient Rig Veda and the Brahmana, but it is not until the Upanishads that karma was manifested as the principle of cause and effect based on deeds or actions.

Hindu philosophy, which believes in rebirth cycle, holds the view that if the karma of an individual is good, the next birth will be fulfilling, and if not, the person may actually devolve and degenerate into the lower chain of evolution. In order to avoid this, it is important to live the life of right conscience ie, the life shown by dharma or what is right.

And this cyclical cause of death and rebirth generates the concept of samsara. It is the nature of a human being or the jivatman, along with his actions that cause karma. The ultimate goal of Hindus is to attain liberation by evading samsara or the cycle of death and rebirth called moksha.


The theory of karma holds a firm doctrine in Buddhism. Although this notion was prevalent in India way before the arrival of Buddha. Nevertheless, it was the Buddha who explained the notion in its complete form.

“All living beings have actions (Karma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is Karma that differentiates beings into low and high states.”

                                                – Buddha

According to the Buddhist notion of Karma, one must never be compelled to which he helplessly concede and follows blindly. But it should be driven by intention which leads to future consequences. unlike that of the Jains, Buddha’s teaching of karma is not strictly deterministic but incorporated circumstantial factors. Buddhism teaches that there are other forces besides karma that shapes our lives. These include natural forces like the changing seasons and gravity.

Thus, When the unexpected happens, the Buddhist believes that he is reaping what he has sown, and he is wiping off a past debt.


Jain doctrine of Karma is distinctive. An unlike the Hindus view of Karma which purely is the law of nature, Jains believe that deeds and thoughts attract karma and that a person’s actions from past decide the quality of life he has now. Karma in Jainism is a physical matter present throughout the universe. The soul, called the jiva, carries these karma particles from one life to the next which adhere to it. Jains seek liberation by freeing themselves from the rebirth cycle by ridding all karma attached to the jiva. They do so by following their vows and living in the right mental and physical state.

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The purpose of life in all religion is thus to minimize bad karma in order to enjoy better rebirth in the next. The ultimate spiritual goal is to achieve release (moksha) from the cycle of samsara altogether. The person who has attained moksha creates no more new karma during the present lifetime and is not reborn after death.

– by Yajush Gupta of NewsGram.



  • Enakshi Roy Chowdhury

    do good you ll get good, do bad and u ll get back what u have done the same way!