(Skt. deed, action, work). Term used in Hindu doctrine of reward and punishment, combined with the doctrine of reincarnation*; designed to explain inequalities in human conditions. Brahmanic in origin. Souls have been transmigrating for ages; whatever happiness or sorrow an individual experiences is the unalterable recompense for good or evil deeds in former incarnations; whatever good or evil an individual does will result in happiness or sorrow in future existences. Reincarnations continue till all acts of the present and past have worked out their consequences. All ways to release from karma suggested by Indian religions amount to salvation by works. See also Brahmanism, 3, 4; Buddhism, 2, 3; Jainism; Transmigration of Souls.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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