The Four Kinds of Karma

The-Four-Types-of-Karma

Whatever deed he does, that he will reap…

“How can I help myself overcome difficult times” or “How can I overcome bad karma” is a question we hear often. Understanding our circumstances helps us take the right decisions. Often people say that it’s in their karma to suffer and they don’t know what they can do to overcome it. Understanding the various kinds of karma can help. The Vedas and Upanishads mention four main kinds of karma.

Think of a seed. Fruits will appear only after the seed matures into a grown plant. It takes years. The tree yields hundreds of fruits – sometimes thousands. Each fruit contains at least one seed. This in turn gives birth to more trees and many more fruits. Karma is that seed. It has multiple returns and it takes time to mature.

Karma 1

Prarabdha Karma or Matured Karma

This is karma which has ripened. When we do something, the record of that activity is registered in the universe. So when the fruit matures, it either needs to be plucked or it will drop on the ground automatically. Staying on the tree forever is not possible. This is the karma that has matured over time. Whatever we are going through life presently which is not in our control is Prarabdha Karma. However, it doesn’t mean our future can’t be changed.  Any karma that hasn’t yet matured is the second variety.

Karma 2

Sanchita Karma or Stored Karma

This is the karma which is stored up. All fruits don’t mature on the tree at the same time. It comes and goes in seasons. There are people who seem to have the same kinds of problems in life over and over again. Sometimes they’re up, then they’re down quickly, then they’re up again for a short time and so on. This is because of the stored up karma. If mango trees have been planted, then there will be lots of mangoes every year. But if cactus plants have been planted too, then they will also flourish repeatedly. This is why problems usually come all together. When it rains, it pours! Of course, it means that good times also come in a bunch. The good news is Sanchita Karma can be changed if we go to the root of the seed. We can either nurture the seed or we can destroy it. The main thing is in going to the root.

Karma 3

Agami Karma or Forthcoming Karma

Agami Karma is mandatory. It’s a result of having performed past karma. Based on this karma, if certain actions have been performed, then certain other actions will also have to be performed. For instance, if you see the mango tree, you will automatically be seeing the leaves, fruits and bark of the tree too. You’ll smell the mouth-watering mangoes and probably hear the rustling of the leaves in the wind. You’ll experience the ambient temperature. Eventually you’ll walk away and no longer be seeing the tree. All of these are automatic and implied from the moment you first saw the tree. This Karma is important because all the choices we make today have a direct bearing on our future tomorrow. What we do now determines what happens in the next moment. It’s only by being continuously aware of what we are doing in the present moment that we can take care of Agami or forthcoming karma.

Karma 4

Vartamana Karma or Present Karma

This is the karma that you’re going through right now. Suppose for some reason, you’re sick of mangoes. You can chop the trees off or uproot them. You still have to get rid of the wood, rotting fruits, the decomposing leaves and all that. It’s a huge effort, but it’s a one-time effort. Thereafter, there will be no more mangoes waiting for you every year. You can plant new seeds – maybe tomatoes – and harvest those every few months, clearing up your karmic field regularly.

Managing your stored up karma is the key towards managing your future. By planting positive seeds now, you ensure both your short-term and long-term future. According to Master Choa Kok Sui, the founder of modern Pranic Healing, doing service and tithing regularly cleans up a lot of past negative karma.

“The law of compassion and mercy supersedes the Law of Karma”

Master Choa Kok Sui

Karma should not be confused with Fate. Fate is the notion that man’s life is preplanned for him by some external power, and he has no control over his destiny. Karma on the other hand, can be corrected. Meditating regularly can help in becoming aware of one’s karma and thus strive to change the course of events, with the help of superior powers.

“Here they say that a person consists of desires. And as is his desire, so is his will. As is his will, so is his deed. Whatever deed he does, that he will reap.”

The Vedas

We are good people with beautiful stories and amazing experiences. We are also hiding away a lot of hurt, pain and confusion. We want to be better; it’s just that sometimes we struggle to understand ourselves. Everyone wants to be the best version of themselves. Everyone feels guilty for not being able to live up to their own expectations. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to fall down, just so long as we rise again.

karma book

6 Comments

  1. Ishma January 6, 2017 Reply

    Highly informative and insightful. We often talk about Karma and ‘what goes around, comes around’ but only on a very superficial level. Such a well lined piece on how to actually improve on our actions. Starred, noted and kept in mind from this very moment!

    • Arka January 10, 2017 Reply

      Thanks a lot, Ishma. Your insights have helped me go beyond the superficial and into the depths.

  2. Ayyi January 7, 2017 Reply

    Awesome! Clear and concise… Atma Namaste 🙏🏼

    • Arka January 10, 2017 Reply

      Atma, Namaste. Thank you dear Ayyi! ^_^

  3. asnah January 7, 2017 Reply

    Thanks a lot of sharing the info, arkadeb bhattacharya.
    According to this article we can work on nr 2..sanchit karma bij going to the roots.
    How do you go the roots?
    Looking forward to read your reply.
    Atma Namaste.

    • Arka January 10, 2017 Reply

      Atma, Namaste. Thank you so much for the encouragement :)
      Meditation is prolonged awareness. The more you meditate, the more you become aware of destructive patterns in your life. By addressing those, you can get to the root of your karma.

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