It is karma operating through the law of cause and effect, action and reaction, that governs all life and binds the atman (the Self) to the wheel of saṃsara (birth and death). The process of action and reaction on all levels — physical, mental and spiritual – is karma. God does not give us karma. We create our own. Karma is not fate; humans are believed to act with free will, creating their own destinies. According to the Vedas, if an individual sows goodness, he or she will reap goodness; if one sows evil, he or she will reap evil. Karma refers to the totality of mankind’s actions and their concomitant reactions in current and previous lives, all of which determine the future. However, many karmas do not have an immediate effect; some accumulate and return unexpectedly in an individual’s later lives. The conquest of karma is believed to lie in intelligent action and dispassionate reaction.
Unkindness yields spoiled fruits, called papa, and good deeds bring forth sweet fruits, called punya. As one acts, so does he become: one becomes virtuous by virtuous action, and evil by evil action.
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