What does karma mean?
The literal meaning of karma is action.
Strange are the ways of karma. The more you understand it, the more amazed you become. It brings people together and also separates them. It causes some to be weak and some to be strong. It makes some rich and some poor. All the struggles in the world, whatever it may be, are the bondage of karma.
Karma cuts across all logic and reasoning. This understanding will lift you from getting stuck to events and personalities and help you in your journey to the Self.
Three types of karma
Good or bad things happen based on karma. When times are good, even enemies behave like friends. Sometimes, people for whom you have done so much good become your enemies. And there are people who help you whom you have not done any good for. Time has its role to play.
Only humans have the ability to change the effect of time and be free of karma. And only a few thousand aim to be free from it.
Some karma can be changed while others cannot.
The first step towards this is to know the different types of karma: Prarabdha, Sanchita and Agami.
Prarabdha means ‘begun’- the action that is already manifesting. Prarabdha is the karma that is yielding its effect right now. You cannot avoid or change it as it is already happening.
Sanchita karma is the ‘gathered’ or ‘piled up’ karma—what we have brought with us. Sanchita is collected karma that can be cleared by spiritual practices like meditation.
We can also eliminate our Sanchita karma, which we have as stored tendencies, through prayers, service, and sharing our love and joy with people around us in nature. Satsang (the company of the truth – essentially the company of the wise and compassionate, in whose presence we feel uplifted and joyful) burns the seed of all negative karma.
‘Agami’ literally means
, ‘not come’. Agami karma is the karma that has not yet come: one that will take effect in the future. If you commit a crime , you may not get caught today, but will live with thoughts of the possibility that you may get caught one day. This is the future karma of the action. Certain impressions, strong impressions in the mind, remain, and they form future karma.
Anything, which you do to someone, comes back to you. This is the karma principle.
Hence karma can be good or bad depending on our action.
They are the good things you do for others and then you get stuck with them, expecting praise or some result from it. “I have done so much seva or I have meditated for ten years, so I should get some material benefit or advance spiritually.” Sometimes people become unhappier after doing good things because they expect people to praise them. Then that becomes karma. Do good for people because that is your nature. When you do not get attached to the results of your actions, you become free from karma. That is why Krishna says in The Bhagavad Gita: surrender the results of your actions to Me. When you wish good for others, good things come back to you. That is the law of nature.
Anything done with the intention to harm others, it might be an action or thought is a bad karma. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar beautifully explains why bad karma should be avoided. He says: “Why should you not do something wrong? Let us understand this first.
If you do something wrong, it will take away your sleep, your peace of mind and it will destroy your health. Something will prick the mind. When something keeps pricking the mind, then you are unable to do anything creative, and you become unhappy.
Why should you not cheat others? It is because you don’t want anyone to cheat you, isn’t it? Anything, which you do to someone, comes back to you. This is the karma principle. Very simple.”
Did You Know?
When you praise someone, you take on their good Karma. When you blame someone, you take on their bad Karma.
Relation between karma and meditation
Meditation brings equanimity and centeredness; it helps reduce expectations, your sense of guilt, shame and a tendency to blame. It brings dispassion, a sense of detachment. Hence as said by Lord Krishna in The Bhagavad Gita, even though you act, it does not translate to karma.
Loving dispassionately, free from expectations, there is no rebirth and no cycle of karma.
Similarly, when you stop blaming others or yourself and when feeling of guilt, sorrow or shame no longer clouds your conscience, you become free.
That freedom comes only when you realize your higher self, the Guru, through meditation.
Listen to Gurudev unlocking the secrets of karma.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says: some karma can be changed and some cannot.
When you prepare a dessert, if sugar or ghee (clarified butter) is too little at the pre-cooking stage, you can add more. If some other ingredient is too much, it can all be adjusted and repaired. But once it is cooked, it cannot be reversed.
Milk can become sweet yoghurt or sour yoghurt, and sour yoghurt can be sweetened. But neither can be reverted to milk. Prarabdha karma cannot be changed. Sanchita karma can be changed through spiritual practices.
Getting rid of karma means getting rid of impressions. Sanchita karma manifests as a tendency or an impression in the mind. As human beings, we have the ability to erase impression and fear through meditation. Meditation is there to rectify painful karma, at least reduce their impact or effect.
The inward journey (of meditation) nullifies our negative Karma. You are just washing out everything when you meditate. Then there is nothing. You become so hollow and empty that whatever fear is there will just dissolve and disappear. This is very precious.
Through meditation, bad Karma can be washed off right now, here. Before the body drops, get rid of karma and erase the sheets of ignorance that surrounds you.
Compiled by Ravisha Kathuria, based on wisdom talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar