The Jivatman shares three types of karma due to ignorance: Samchita karma, Agamin karma and Prarabdha karma. The first gets stored up like a savings account book to bear fruits in the distant future; the second in the near future. The third is working itself out in the present body. The fire of knowledge- jnana agnih destroys the first to karmas and renders the third karma ineffective though operating. The jnani does not heed it, more than he is bothered about his shadow.
‘Sarva karmani bhasmasat’ -Jnana-agnih reduces sarva karmani- all actions and reactions to ashes – bhasmasat. A huge conflagration burns even wet firewood. ‘Edhamsi samiddhah’ means blazing firewood. This implies all karmas together with their karma phalas. ‘Kurute’ means turned to as in turn to ashes. Thus the solemnity of self-knowledge can never be over emphasized. In Gita 4.37, Sri Krishna states “As the blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge reduce all karma to ashes.”
KARMA TRANSMIGRATION: The concept of karma is fundamental to Vedanta. Karma means action, work; the work or function of a man; the power which by its continuity and development as a subjective and objective force determines the nature and eventuality of the soul's repeated existences. The theory of karma is deeply associated with transmigration of the atma. The Sastras mention fourteen lokas or worlds to which atma enters in successive janmas or births. Basically it means that the sukshma sarira in which cidabhasa, the reflected consciousness, survives the death of the sthoola sarira and transmigrates from one world to another.
Jivatmas and karma are beginningless. But the ‘punya papa account’ is a running current account. It is recurrent as additions are made by actions and thoughts and subtractions are made on account of enjoyment and suffering through further action and thought. Actions and thoughts of jivatmas as they incur are called “punya” or merit and “papa” or demerit. This is the basis for one to undergo enjoyment or suffering in future janmas. The merits and demerits are sometimes reflected in this janma itself. Usually four types of karma are said to operate simultaneously as follows:
People are with born diverse physical and mental equipment, health and wealth; benefits and shortcomings; enjoyments and sufferings. You see, the disparity is sometimes glaringly wide so much so it is difficult to compromise a philosophical answer. How can there be current karma without a previous janma? The theory of karma explains this previous and preceding karma. The Creator is impartial. The punya papa for actions and thoughts of a person will hang in the air without reward or retribution and He decides the varying patterns of rebirth.
SAMCHITA KARMA is the accumulated punya papa account meaning the sum total of the accumulated karma of previous lives. It is the burden of one’s past recorded in the account. This needs to be exhausted at some stage in one’s existence.
AGAMI KARMA is the punya papa incurred in the current janma meaning it is the karma that arises out of your current life activities, whose consequences will be experienced in the next janma. Karmic deeds and their returns are added and accounted as sanchita karma
PRARABHDA KARMA is the punya papa quota assigned to be exhausted in a particular janma. Transmigration of the jivatma into another loka with different kind of sthoola sarira, or any form of human being with superiority or defects, as plant, insect, animal etc is in accordance with prarabdha karma. In other words it is part of your sanchita karma which is currently activated in your present life and which influences the course of your present life. Depending upon the nature of your actions, you are either exhausting it or creating more karmic burden for yourself.
KRIYAMANA KARMA is the karma which befalls one right now, meaning karma whose consequences are experienced right now or in the near future. In any event this karma effect is seen in this life.
Brhadaranyaka Upanishad IV.4.vi: “Being attached, the transmigrating jivatma together with its karma attains that on which its subtle body or mind is set. It experiences in the other world the karma phalam or recompense for punya papa in the form of enjoyment and suffering for whatever karma it had done in this world. When it is exhausted, it comes again from that world to this world for new karma. Thus does the man with craving transmigrate”
Kathopanishad II.ii.7: “Some embodied ones enter after death into another womb for assuming bodies. The extremely inferior ones, after death attain the state of motionless things like trees etc., in accordance with each one’s work – i.e., under the impulsion of the fruits of the works they have accomplished in this life; similarly too, in conformity with the nature of knowledge acquired.” -
Prasnopanishad III.7: “Punyena punyam lokam papena papam ubobhyam eva manushyalokam.” ….leads to a virtuous world as a result of virtue, to a sinful world as a result of sin, and to the human world as a result of both.”
SWAPNA AVASTHA is remaining in the junction between the walking and the sleeping state. The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad IV.iii.9 says, “Remaining in the junction between waking and sleep, i.e., in the swapna avastha, the jivatma experiences this world and the other world.” This logical proof of transmigration is also explained by Adi Sankara’s commentaries. It explains the basis for strange dreams which circumstances one never experienced before. Dreams are based on impressions formed during the waking state, called ‘vasanas’. Taking the case of babies, what previous experience did it have to have formed vasanas? The commentary states the baby’s dreams are based on impression formed in the mind out of experiences or vasanas of its previous janma. There are many scriptural writings that state that on the eve of death, human have a glimpse of his next janma. Some say that his present good and bad dreams flash through the time the Atman departs the sthoola sarira. The karma theory is further enhanced by the fact that the mind, though conscious of consequences, wills evil; if there was no vasana of evil, since everybody wants only happiness, evil will not exist in the world at all.
by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi