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Ashtottaram 11: OṀ KARMABHŨMYAI NAMAH

"Karma" is one of the most widely used words in Hinduism

Nowadays, it seems westerners are caught up with the word ‘karma’ and you hear that word in every popular TV shows like Seinfeld, movies and documentaries. They understand it as ‘what goes around, comes around.’ In Vedic culture, the concept of karma existed for millennia. Karma is attributed to the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara).

Ashtottaram 11

11) OṀ KARMABHŨMYAI NAMAH:                

OṀ (AUM) –KAR-MA-BHOO-MYAI– NA-MA-HA

ॐ कर्मभूम्यै नमः

(Karma: “That which is done”, action and result, law of duty)

“Karma” is one of the most widely used words in Hinduism. Derived from the root-verb “kṛ” – to do, its general meaning is anything that is done. In this sense, it means work, profession, and duty. More often than not, it is used in a technical sense, as an action that binds one to saṃsāra or “the cycle of death and rebirth”. This type of karma can be accomplished either by the body (kāyika), speech (vāchika) or the mind (mānasa).

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Hindus believe that the most superior life is that of a human being. God gave us free will, with which comes responsibility. At the same time, based on your actions, the fruits of this free will, karma will be either good or bad. You have a choice in your actions but have no choice in the results your actions produce. Based on the cumulative fruits of your actions (karma phala) your next life will be determined. All this is built into the law of nature.

Karma is attributed to the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara).
Hindus believe that the most superior life is that of a human being. Pexels

Karma can be classified as sanchita (accumulated over millions of lives), prārabdha (begun to bear fruit in this life) and āgāmī (being performed now and in the future). All the darśhanās or philosophies that accept this theory of karma concede that:  1) the effect of karmas done in one life cannot be expected to be exhausted in that life itself. Hence rebirth or punarjanma has to be accepted. 2) Jnāna or spiritual wisdom resulting in the realization of one’s nature as the immortal soul destroys sanchitakarma completely and makes āgāmī incapable of producing its results just as a burnt seed cannot sprout. However, prārabdhakarma, since it has already started giving its results, has to be exhausted (by experiencing it).

In relation to actions, karma is of two main types: nishiddhakarma or prohibited/ sinful actions that must be avoided, and vihita-karma or actions ordained by the scriptures as duty, which are to be performed. Vihita-karma is of three types: kāmyakarma (desire-motivated actions); nityakarma (daily duties); and naimittika-karma (occasional duties).

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Sometimes, karmas are classified according to their nature, good or bad. Actions done without being tainted by likes, dislikes or selfish motives, (and with noble intent) are called sāttvika (good). If done with selfish motives, they become rājasika (mixed). If they are motivated by evil designs, to harm others, they are dubbed as tāmasika (dark or evil). Occasionally the word “karma” is also used to indicate samskāras or sacraments.

The only country to explain that the fruits of one’s actions bind one to saṃsāra (transmigratory existence) is our Hindu nation, our “Karma Bhūmi”.

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