कर्म, action

Initially, in the Vedic hymns the word «karma» denoted any action in general, including ritual action in the form of sacrifices to the gods. With the development of philosophy of karma, it was divided into akarma (inaction), actual actions in accordance with dharma (karma) and wrong actions (vikarma) against dharma – adharmic actions, that accordingly can lead to good merits (punya) or to adverse (papa).

Even later in the concept of «karma» a division into four categories appeared: sanchita-karma, prarabdha-karma, kriyamana-karma and agama-karma.

  1. Sanchita-karma (literally «karma brought together») is the sum of all past karmas, known and unknown, committed by the living being that are manifested in this life or will be manifested in the future.
  2. Prarabdha-karma is a part of sanchita-karma, which must be experienced by the living being in the current incarnation. It is a combination of the consequences of past actions that have already occurred or will manifest themselves in the future, subjectively perceived as manifestations of "fate".
  3. Kriyamana-karma is the sum of all possible consequences created by the person's current actions. It’s the closest to the concept of «free will».
  4. Agama-karma is produced by those actions that are planned to take place in the future. To attribute this or other action to a certain type of karma is not always easy, because the «cause-effect» bundle is essentially an inseparable whole.

Nowadays karma is understood as the total sum of right and wrong actions accumulated in past lives, as well as actions in the current life performed by a person through body, senses, thoughts and desires that have a good and harmful effect on his or her life. Their psychological and moral effects determine the course of his future life, and even the upcoming birth.

At the same time, karma is not a destiny, because a person acts with some free will and creates his own future by his actions.

Principle of cause and effect. Neutral and self-sustaining law, just as gravity is an impersonal law of the cosmos, so karma is an absolute law beyond the control of the gods, the law that governs the universe.

In Shaivism, karma along with anava-mala and maya are the three ties that keep the individual consciousness from moksha. It is also worth noting that in Hinduism there are philosophical schools (lokayata, also known as charvaka), that completely reject the principle of karma, but they have never had any significant influence.

In yogic traditions, including Natha Tradition, it is believed that the yogi must bring his consciousness to a level higher than the conditionality of the law of karma. At the same time, karma does not stop its existence, but it acts in such a way that it does not influence yogi neither physically nor spiritually.

Gorakshanath lists the five qualities of karma in "Siddha-siddhanta paddhati":

Shubha (goodness) – good actions, bringing good consequences to the person.
Ashubha (ignominy) – bad actions, which bring negative consequences to the person.
Yashas (glory) – actions that are approved and glorified by others, bring temporary or long-lasting glory to the performer.
Apakirti (censure) – actions that are blamed and condemned by others, create a bad reputation or bad name.
Adrishtaphala-sadhana are just and unjust acts that produce moral and religious dignities (punya) and flaws (papa) of the person, and which thus, invisibly become the causes of happiness or suffering, favorable or unfavorable conditions in the future, in the existing body. Also these fruits of karma are manifested in those bodies in which the living entity can reincarnate after the death of the currently existing body.

Patanjali has similar thoughts about karma (chapter 4, shloka 7-9):

The karma of the yogi is neither white nor black; the rest have three types of karma: [white, black and white, and black] As a result, manifestations of only those vasanas [which] are qualitatively correlative with the tendencies of maturing [of karma].
Because of the correspondence between memory and samskaras, there is a continuous connection [of vasanas], although they are separated by existences, space and time.