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The philosophical significance of the doctrine of Karma in Indian philosophy.

The Vedic Literature has been divided into two parts Jnana Kanda and Karma Kanda. Spiritual speculation and prayer form the subject matter of Jnana Kanda and Karma Kanda respectively. Different sorts of prayers have been suggested for different sorts of people in accordance with their deserts. All and Sunday are not entitled for each and every prayer (Upanasa). Upasana by an uninitiated person proves abortive and foments trouble. So the Vedas enjoin us to perform prayer and rituals according to our merit. Consideration for innocuous deeds and pure Conduct is also as necessary as knowledge. The Vedic Rishi (Sage)  were fully alive towards the worldly miseries.

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The doctrine of karma is the ethical background of Indian philosophy. Shiva Swami Ayyar holds that there are three major elements in the doctrine of Karma – (1) Every human activity entails result. It may take any of the following forms-physical, mental or ethical. It effects the person’s nature, character and tendencies. Man reaps the harvest of past life is the form of lust and Sankaras. (2) Karma (Action) necessitates another life because man cannot reap the reward of his actions in one life. (3) The diversities, i.e., poor or rich, happy or sorrowful, intelligent or foolish etc. are all the result of the actions of previous births. The doctrine of Karma makes indispensable a belief in the immortality of self. To reap the rewards of actions of this life the Jiva should be reborn just as the Karmas of this life prove the previous existence of Jiva.

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Faith in Karma is not fatalism:

The doctrine of Karma prevents people from bad actions. It does not encourage fatalism. A. B. Keith holds that it encourages fatalism and hinders moral progress, and this criticism is valid for the present distorted from of the doctrine. But in its pure philosophical form it preaches purushartha instead of fatalism and morality in place of immorality. According to this doctrine, although man’s present state is due to past actions, his future still depends on him. Every person can improve his future by good actions. Actually, the doctrine is based on real facts and its message to the people is to improve their lives by making use of natural laws.

The Veda propound the theory of karma. Epithets like protector of good deeds, protector of Dharma, seer of good and evil actions, master of all Karma have been used for the Gods in the Vedas. That good actions lead to immortality has been explicitly mentioned in many a mantra. Soul undergoes many a cycle of birth and death according to its deeds. Vamadeva alludes to many of his previous life terms. The Vedas trace the evil propensities of the present life to the evil actions committed in the previous life. According to the Vedas, man in this life has to suffer the consequences of the actions of his previous life. Some of the Veda Mantras pray for the condonation of their misdeeds of the  previous life. They also refers to Sanchita and Prarabdha Karma. People doing ordinary deeds go to Brahmaloka via Devayana while those doing ordinary deeds go to Chandraloka via Pitrayana. Some enter inanimate bodies like those as trees, creepers etc., to reap the consequences of their sins. Sometimes soul is punished vicariously also for the sins of others. Thus the doctrine of Karma has been discussed in all its manifold aspects in the Vedas.

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