कर्म, as we all know, is an oft used word for many occasions both seriously and sometimes in a jovial sense to lighten the mood. But what exactly is कर्म? And why is it such an important aspect of each of us or rather the only aspect of us? The mystery of कर्म is deep & intriguing.
Loosely translated it can be called ‘action’, but this English word does no justice to the mystery & the aftermaths in which it is shrouded with. So how does one begin to unravel this mystery? As the heading suggests we can use the tripod or the trinity as the basis to try to do so.
This article will try to discuss about 3 Tripods to explain as we move ahead. The first is the definition, then the classification & finally the aftermath.

For definition we can use this mathematical equation;
कर्म = कार्य + कारण + कर्तुत्व.
So, any कर्म or action is composed of 3 parts as explained here;
कार्य: – When any thought arises in mind or any plan gets developed by our cognitive faculties, the Manas (Intellect + Mind) assesses the same and gives a go-ahead to our sensory (5 sense organs or पंच ज्ञानेन्द्रीय)
& actionable (पंच कर्मेन्द्रीय) organs to achieve that Goal or Target. Based on this instruction, the action that these organs undertake is called कार्य.
कारण: – It is that Target or Goal for which the कार्य is initiated by the organs.
कर्तुत्व: – This is the completion of the कार्य in achieving the कारण.

Now let’s look at the classifications of कर्म. Again, we have 3 major classifications;
कर्म : – It is defined as the action one performs or is supposed to do or is recommended to undertake.
विकर्म: – It can be translated as either some special action which one performs or can also be defined as an avoidable action or a non-recommended action.
अकर्म: – It is Inaction or something which is when one opts not to perform action. Rather let go or let the situation pass without taking any action / decision.

The Third aspect which is the most important is the aftermath or results;
This aspect can also be defined by 3 parts;
संचित कर्म: – This is the backlog of कर्म attributed to us in past so many births.
प्रारब्ध कर्म: – This is the portion of our संचित कर्म granted to us to enjoy in the current birth. प्रारब्ध literally means ‘to-begin’. So, प्रारब्ध कर्म defines our entire personality right from our birth. प्रारब्ध कर्म is something that keeps happening to us for which we may not have answers at times. This is also called destiny, so to speak.
क्रियमान कर्म: – This is the कर्म or action which we perform in our current birth. This is the free-will which we opt to exercise & which gets added in our संचित कर्म the results of which will be obtained as प्रारब्ध कर्म in the next birth.

The article cannot end without quoting a verse from Bhagvad Geeta’s Chapter 4, Verse 17;

कर्मणो ह्यपि बोद्धव्यं बोद्धव्यं च विकर्मणः।
अकर्मणश्च बोद्धव्यं गहना कर्मणो गतिः।।
– “You must understand the nature of all three actions—recommended action, wrong action, and inaction. The truth about these is profound and difficult to understand because the repercussions of कर्म are गहन or mysterious.”

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