Karma and Sanatana Dharma

Krishnan and I have been attending the webinar series on “Foundations of Sanatana Dharma” being offered through Vyoma Labs. I am not sure if the live sessions have any open slots but the repeat telecast that happens on Sunday mornings allows 5000 people to join. Here is the link to the website – https://www.sanskritfromhome.in/course/foundation-sanatana-dharma.

We missed the saturday live session on the 27th and hence joined sunday repeat telecast. This is the sixth session and it was mind blowing to say the least. Prof Mahadevan who is conducting this webinar is a professor of Operations Management at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore since 1992. He gives very simple examples to explain difficult spiritual concepts and that makes his webinars really interesting. 

The 6th session was about how the Karma theory is central to Sanatana Dharma. Actually at the end of the session, Krishnan and I felt, we were doing a great disservice to our children by not making this a part of our school curriculum. If a child understands the Karma theory, there is no way that they will grow up to be senselessly materialistic or crazily competitive. The Karma theory is very logical and provides a great framework for anyone to lead a good life. 

The screenshot below speaks to the different types of Karma – 


Karma and Santana Dharma

The types of Karma –

The Karma theory is based on rebirth and a life and death cycle. I do believe in rebirth because if human beings have just one life, Osama never pays for his wanton barbarism, Dr. Pachauri got away with sexual harassment and there is hardly any motivation for me to do good. Anyway, when I die I will get away with it. Part of the reason why we have terrorism and crazy consumerism is because most of the world population believes that they have just one life. If Osama knew Karma theory, it would have been difficult for him to kill wantonly. The tiny voice of conscience would have pricked him and reminded him that he will pay for his sins.

“Accumulated (Sañcita) Karma” – Over several lives we have accumulated a lot of good and bad karma. The account books stay open for many lives till one exhausts all their credits and debits. When I do that, I get Moksha !

“Ongoing (prārabdha) Karma” – Actually there is no God who sits around and doles out a soul, nor does he/she/it blow life into any womb. The soul decides the circumstances of its birth in order to exhaust some entries under the karma-debit column. Since this life has begun, the events that unfold are chosen by you and they will unfold at the time that you chose. What appears as destiny, is infact chosen by you before birth. Its no wonder man created a crutch called God !! This is too much responsibility :). BLOT – For anything that’s happening or that happens in the future, you can’t blame anyone else. You asked for these happenings, so grin and bear.

“Future (Āgami) Karma” – In this current life, we have complete free will to accumulate any kind of Karma we wish to. What that means is we get multiple opportunities to learn, evolve and to make good on the mistakes we commit. These are the new entries we make on our Master ledger of life. Add with awareness and use every lifetime to gain credit rather than make further debits.

The screenshot below clarifies the Karma theory even more lucidly –

Karma and Santana Dharma

The Karma theory in simple words –

You go on accumulating karma over multiple lives in a large storage bin. Just before being born, you take a shopping trolley and load up some of accumulated karma that you want to expiate or exhaust in this life. You use up this life and accumulate fresh Karma that the soul carries in a shopping bag and deposits back into the large storage bin.

All that this theory says is keep accumulating good karma even as you exhaust your bad karma. The cycle of life and death keeps happening over and over again, till the storage bin is empty. Then the soul merges with the universal consciousness.

Why teach this theory in school ?

It is so easy to put a child on the path of spiritual growth using the Karma theory. This is no religious discourse. If I knew early on, that I am responsible for every action of mine and the consequences it brings, I might have made fewer mistakes ! I wouldn’t have been rude to some people, I wouldn’t have tried to get that promotion “at any cost”, I wouldn’t have hoarded things just to prove that I am richer etc etc etc … I would have spent time with my family, I would have still strived to do my best, without any stress. I would have stopped to smell the roses and not plucked them roughly just to put them into a vase. I would have certainly lived a better life.

Food for thought? You bet.

Do read some of my other blogs on similar lines – What leg did you lift today ?; Are you a “practising” Hindu ?

12 thoughts on “Karma and Sanatana Dharma”

  1. Lovely post. I keep talking to a lot people from other faiths about why rebirth and Karma makes sense and their thinking is incomplete. But they don’t budge. Pseudo seculars and people of other faith would not allow these teachings in schools, despite the fact you are not asking them to pray to a specific God or do a special ritual. For them their truth is ultimate truth, and rest all is gibberish.

    • Thanks Sandeep. It’s unfortunate but we need to keep trying to change things. Especially when we have such a tremendous body of knowledge with us as a gift. We need the UCC and we need to remove the word secular from the constitution because our culture is inherently secular. That word is being mis-used.

      • Have you read ‘Yogasutras of Patanjali’. It is so amazing. I read it again and again to absorb the whole essence. You would be surprised to know, how other religions of the world have copied concepts from this 5000 years old manuscript.

  2. Nice one Bindu … I am myself interested in reading these scriptures and did learn during my yoga training… we sure need to teach accountability to children at the very young age but I doubt if Karma and birth rebirth logics can be made understood … also remember that there’s an age or a situation or a circumstance which opens us up to accept these learnings, which gets us to the higher calling and we happen to read these … others who are ignorant would never get, even if we give right logical reasoning…. so as you say there’s a past life karma which works here as a blessing to get us closer to these truths and awareness … we are blessed 🙏

    • Totally Anu – we may not be able to explain the concept rebirth to young children but the law of Karma as taking responsibility for your actions is important to teach. Basically I think our scriptures are so rich with knowledge on how to lead our lives, it’s important to share that through the school system. 👍


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