The concept of karma, or the idea that one’s actions and deeds will have consequence on their future, is a central belief in Hinduism. Karma is one way of understanding how human beings and their lives function within the Hindu understanding of the world. A belief in karma is foundational to how Hinduism understands the world to function.
The Hindu belief in karma is the belief in cause and effect, or the idea that our actions in this moment will impact what happens to us in another moment. In other words, good deeds will have a beneficial impact on an individual’s life, and bad deeds will have negative consequences for an individual’s life. An important aspect of the Hindu belief in karma is that the consequences of the action are not immediate, but might manifest much later, or even in a future lifetime. For Hindus who believe in karma, the idea is not that if you get angry at a friend, you will immediately suffer some setback due to that action. Rather, the idea is that when you act in a negative way, that negative action is being weighed into the balance of actions, good and bad, from this life and other lifetimes, that encompass the spiritual reality of your soul. You now have more spiritual baggage to process before your soul can move on in its path towards enlightenment. As a result, the Hindu belief in karma has important implications for the Hindu system of moral and ethical beliefs.
The role of divine powers in mediating the cause and effect varies by Hindu tradition. In some Hindu denominations, the belief is that a god, such as Vishnu or Shiva, depending on the tradition, directly oversee and decide the fate of the soul. Other traditions remove the role of divine beings entirely, and understand karma to be a system that operates on its own. The Hindu belief in karma is widely known, and is one of the beliefs most commonly associated with Hinduism, even by those outside the world of practicing Hindus. The notion of karma is often evoked in broader society, though sometimes it is discussed inaccurately, or used to mean payback of a very immediate source. The colloquial use of karma doesn’t always match up with the theological sense of karma which is so deeply embedded in Hindu teachings about how the world functions, and how the human soul functions with that world.
Not every Hindu, of course, believes in karma in the way it is described in every Hindu religious text.
Hinduism is comprised of many different denominations and sects, and belief systems can vary widely. Even within Hinduism, there is less of a concept of mandated belief than in other religions. So it’s hard to say if all Hindus believe in karma! But karma is one of the basic Hindu beliefs about the world.
To learn more about Hindu beliefs, click here.
2/5/2021 8:35:00 PM