What is law of Karma?

What is law of Karma? Do we know that the fruit of the karma depends on our intention?

The word karma has been given many negative meanings. In common language, most people almost always relate it to suffering, but the simplest meaning of karma is action. Newton’s Third Law of Physics (every action has an equal and opposite reaction) is a physical law of motion.

The Law of Karma is the metaphysical (non-physical) equivalent of the Newton’s Third Law – it refers to action and its result (fruit) or, simply, cause and effect. The quality of my actions, thoughts more specifically, determines my personal level of happiness. Our natures today are the result of everything we have thought; they are formed by our thoughts.

The Role of My Intentions in Shaping My Future

Some examples from my book Rajputana Chronicles: Guns and Glories, which relate to the theory of Karma.

What happens in a battle? In the task of killing the enemy, the intention can be different in the case to different people:

  • I need to kill the enemy; it is an urgent need to protect my innocent countrymen (Concern & Duty).
    • Raja Sagar o9f Delwara fought alongside Rana Jaitra Singh (1213-53) of Mewar to ward off Muslim invaders.
  • I have killed the enemy (soldiers and civilians); I need to wash off my sins (Repentance).
    • Vimal Shah (12th century), the Minister and Senapati (commander in chief) of Bhima Dev I, Solanki ruler of Gujarat was remorseful for the sins perpetrated in the battle fields and hence wanted to construct temple as charity.
  • I need to kill enemy (non-believers of my faith) as this will help me rule the world (Ego and misplaced faith).
    • Muslim invaders began entering India in the early 8th century, on the orders of Hajjaj, the governor of what is now Iraq. Starting in 712 AD, the raiders demolished temples, shattered sculptures, plundered palaces, killed thousands of men. Hajjaj adds, “Great God says in the Koran [47.4]: 0 True believers, when you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads”.

It’s not so much the act that determines the return or fruit but the quality of the motive or intention behind it. For example, in the simple task of buying a new car, the intention can be different in the case of three different people:

  • I need to buy a good car; it’s an urgent need of my family. (Concern)
  • What if I am not able to buy that car model which my wife so badly wants? (Worry)
  • With me at the wheel of the brand new car, I will be the talk of the town, my office colleagues will really be jealous of me! (Ego)

Although the action is the same in each case, each of these attitudes will lead to a different result. This role of intentions become clear when analysing the difference in guilt between an army officer who kills another while protecting his country and another person who plans for months to commit a murder out of personal enmity and hatred. The karma of taking the life of someone is the same in both cases, but the return or fruit of the karma depends on the intention.

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