karma or karman (kär´mə, kär´mən), [Skt.,=action, work, or ritual], basic concept common to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The doctrine of karma states that one's state in this life is a result of actions (both physical and mental) in past incarnations, and action in this life can determine one's destiny in future incarnations. Karma is a natural, impersonal law of moral cause and effect and has no connection with the idea of a supreme power that decrees punishment or forgiveness of sins. Karmic law is universally applicable, and only those who have attained liberation from rebirth, called mukti (or moksha) or nirvana, can transcend it. Karma yoga (see yoga), the spiritual discipline of detachment from the results of action, is a famous teaching of the Bhagavad-Gita.
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Publication information: Article title: karma. Encyclopedia title: The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. © 2012 The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia © 2012, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. Used with the permission of Columbia University Press. All Rights Reserved. Publisher: The Columbia University Press. Place of publication: Not available. Publication year: 2013.
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