Recently I gave a workshop on Karma at Buddhabyoga center in Washington DC http://buddhabyoga.com/
.I prepared a whole workshop .But I realized it was way to heavy for someone new to the concept of Karma.So I focused on the aspects of karma that can be understood by the layman, and even things like being a vegetarian is a hard one for many to understand what to speak of becoming a "Krsna tarian" offering food to Krsna before eating so it becomes prasadam. If we look at the encyclopedia online
,We see that in different cultures and religions the definition is somewhat different .The new age understanding is just do everything in mode of goodness, and that is beneficial. But it does not give the proper understanding as given in the Vedic scriptures.
In the Bhagavad Gita 2.39 Krsna states:
Thus far I have described this knowledge to you through analytical study. Now listen as I explain it in terms of working without fruitive results. O son of Pṛthā
, when you act in such knowledge you can free yourself from the bondage of works.
This is after He has carefully explained Sankya yoga and Buddhi yoga http://vedabase.net/bg/2/39/
, Krsna will then start to explain about Karma and akarma in chapter 3 of Bhagavad Gita.
In Bhagavad Gita
Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, resultant good birth, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this.
There is a huge part of the Vedas that talks so much about pious deeds and worship of the demigods like Siva, Brahma, Indra.But these pious acts are not recommended by Lord Krishna.
In India , most young people learn one sloka of Bhagavad Gita that is :
You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.
But what that duty is , is not specified by the most parents of India, as they fail to understand some of the most important verses in Bhagavad Gita:
such as Bhagavad Gita 18-65-66:
: Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
One does not become free from Karma , unless surrendering to the Supreme Lord: Krsna has described the laws of karma very nicely in the 3th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita:
: The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O sinless Arjuna
, I have already explained that there are two classes of men who try to realize the self. Some are inclined to understand it by empirical, philosophical speculation, and others by devotional service.
: Not by merely abstaining from work can one achieve freedom from reaction, nor by renunciation alone can one attain perfection.
: Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.
: One who restrains the senses of action but whose mind dwells on sense objects certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.
: On the other hand, if a sincere person tries to control the active senses by the mind and begins karma
consciousness] without attachment, he is by far superior.
: Perform your prescribed duty, for doing so is better than not working. One cannot even maintain one's physical body without work.
: Work done as a sacrifice for Viṣṇu
has to be performed, otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kuntī
, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain free from bondage.
Another important vers is explained by Krsna in the 2 chapter of Bhagavad Gita:
By thus engaging in devotional service to the Lord, great sages or devotees free themselves from the results of work in the material world. In this way they become free from the cycle of birth and death and attain the state beyond all miseries [by going back to Godhead].
This is real Akarma ,actually the activities of devotional service Bhakti , gradually purifies the subtle covering of the soul, the subtle body.At the time of death this subtle body transfers one to another material body, but a pure devotee has de solved the the influence of the astral body.
In the Vedanta Sutra and the Sandarbhas by Srila Jiva Goswami ,he has explained how Karma becomes purified and this cycle of birth and death becomes finished as Krsna promises that those fully surrendered to Him attains the spiritual world,
In order to fully describe Vikarma (really bad karma) that has to be avoided, one has to expose the student with no illicit sex, no gambling, no meat eating and no intoxication.
Karma is very complex and not so easy to explain to those who have no faith and knowledge of Bhagavad Gita and devotional service, but in the association of Bhakti Yogis,
one can gradually understand this concept properly.