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Hinduism Key Terms

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Karma literally means “act” or “deed” and more broadly means the universal principle of cause and effect that governs all life. Karma is not fate, for man acts with free will creating his own destiny. According to the Vedas, One of the first and most dramatic illustrations of karma can be found in the epic Mahabharata. In this poem, Arjuna the protagonist is preparing for battle when he realizes that the enemy consists of members of his own family and decides not to fight. His charioteer, Krishna вЂ" one of the incarnations of God (Vishnu) вЂ" explains to Arjuna the concept of "duty" among other things and makes him see that it is his duty to fight. The whole of the Bhagavad Gita within the Mahabharata, is a dialogue between these two on aspects of life including morality and a host of other philosophical themes. The original Hindu concept of karma was later enhanced by several other movements within the religion, most notably Vedanta, and Tantra.

Karma literally means "deed" or "act" and more broadly names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction that governs all life. Karma is not fate, for man acts with free will creating his own destiny. According to the Vedas, if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil. Karma refers to the totality of our actions and their concomitant reactions in this and previous lives, all of which determines our future. The conquest of karma lies in intelligent action and dispassionate response.

Karma is considered to be a spiritually originated law. Many Hindus see God's direct involvement in this process, while others consider the natural laws of causation sufficient to explain the effects of karma.[10][11][12] Karma is not punishment or retribution, but simply an extended expression or consequences, of natural acts. The effects experienced are also able to be mitigated by actions and are not necessarily fated. That is to say, a particular action now is not binding to some particular, pre-determined future experience or reaction; it is not a simple, one-to-one correspondence of reward or punishment.

Hindu scriptures divide karma into three kinds: Sanchita (accumulated), Prarabdha (fruit-bearing) and Kriyamana (current) karma. All kriyamana karmas become sanchita karma upon completion. From this stock of sanchita karma, a handful is taken out to serve one lifetime and this handful of actions, which has begun to bear fruit and which will be exhausted only on their fruit being enjoyed and not otherwise, is known as prarabdha karma. In this way, so long as the stock of sanchita karma lasts, a part of it continues to be taken out as prarabdha karma for being enjoyed in one lifetime, leading to the cycle of birth and death. A jiva cannot attain moksha until the accumulated sanchita karmas are completely exhausted.[13]

Moksha refers to liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth and all of the suffering and limitation of worldly existence. It is seen as a transcendence of phenomenal being, of any sense of material consciousness, time, space, and causation (karma) and occurs when the individual soul (human mind/spirit) recognizes its identity with the Ground of all being - the Source of all phenomenal existence known as Brahman.


In some types of Hinduism, Saбâ„-Ñ"sÐ"Ѓra is seen as ignorance of the True Self, Brahman, and thus the soul is led to believe in the reality of the temporal, phenomenal world. In Hinduism, it is avidya, or ignorance, of one's true self, that leads to ego-consciousness of the body and the phenomenal world. This grounds one in desire and the perpetual chain of karma and reincarnation. The state of illusion is known as Maya. Hinduism has many terms for the state of liberation like moksha, mukti, nirvana, and mahasamadhi. The Hindu Yoga traditions hold various beliefs. Moksha may be achieved by love of Ishwar/God (see bhakti movement), by psycho-physical meditation (Raja Yoga), by discrimination of what is real and unreal through intense contemplation (Jnana Yoga) and through Karma Yoga, the path of selfless action that subverts the ego and enforces understanding of the



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