What is Karma?

10.11.2017 Bangalore, India

What is Karma?

There are billions and billions of living creatures and so many kinds of feelings arise within each of them. All of these feelings propel or cause some action. That feeling is called Karma, and the (resultant) action is also called Karma.

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Sukshma Karma and Sthula Karma

When a desire to create arises from within you, then that desire or feeling is Karma. It is Sukshma Karma (action at the subtle level). The moment a desire arises in your mind, let us say to build a new building, then that’s it – the work or the action has already happened. For example, when the architect has made the blueprint of the house, then the construction of the house has already happened.
Then there is Sthula Karma (action at the material level), such as bringing the bricks, stones, mortar, and constructing the house with them.

So, the subtle desires or feelings that arise beyond the realm of the five elements is also called Karma, and the action that takes place in the realm of the five principle elements is also called Karma. Further to this, whatever impressions (as a result of the action) get imprinted upon the mind also becomes Karma that one must go through.

Karma That Is Created Through Impressions

Certain activities and actions imprint certain impressions on the mind, creating Karma. And certain activities do not imprint any impression on the mind; in this case, there is no Karma.
You must have heard people say that one must remain detached and dispassionate while performing any action. Have you all heard this? What does it mean? It means that you must act, but do not attach yourself to it and harbour it in your mind. Do not get stuck to it.
See, you cannot exist without doing something or the other. Everyone has to do something. But if you take an action too much to heart and drag it as a burden on the mind, then it becomes a different kind of Karma altogether (that creates bondage).

So, there are two categories of Karma:

  • Karma due to the impressions embedded in the mind
  • Karma that takes place through the five elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether

Karma That Does Not Carry Any Impressions

There is another type of action that just happens out of one's nature, where you don't even call it an action. It happens spontaneously, like an involuntary action. A child suddenly falls down and you spontaneously go and pick up the child because it is in your nature – it is built in you to help somebody when they are in trouble. Don't you do that? You don't have to learn in school that whenever someone trips from the steps, you have to go and help them. It is but natural. In that state, your action is akin to God's action – there is spontaneity there. An action done spontaneously does not form any Karma because it is coming out of your own nature. That's why when a tiger or a lion preys, it doesn't get any Karma. If a cat kills a rat, it doesn't get Karma because it is in its nature.

Everything is Karma, and everyone has to do some or the other Karma.


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Here is the transcript of what Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said at the Youth Meet on 7th November 2017 at Chitkara University



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