Read this essay about the Doctrine of Karma (Hinduism) !
The law of karma is the counter-part in the moral world of the physical law of uniformity. It is the law of the conservation of moral energy.
The vision of law and order is revealed in the Rta of Rig-Veda.
According to the principle of karma there is nothing uncertain or capricious in the moral world. We reap what we sow.
Since the sense of individual responsibility is emphasised, there are critics who think that the karma doctrine is inconsistent with social service. It is said that there is no emphasis on the bearing of one another’s burdens.
As a matter of fact, the Upanishads hold that we can be free from karma only by social service. So long as we perform selfish work we are subject to the law of bondage.
When we perform disinterested work we reach freedom. “While thus you live there is no way by which karma clings to you”. What binds us to the chain of birth and death is not action as such but selfish action.
In an age when the individual was ever ready to shirk responsibility for what he did by throwing the burden on providence or stars or some other being than his own self, the doctrine of karma urged that a man “fetters himself by himself, like a bird by its nest”.
What looms over us is no dark fate but our own past. We are not the victims of a driving doom. Suffering is the wages of sin. There is no question that such an idea is a great incentive to good conduct. Man is not a mere product of nature. He is mightier than his karma.
If the law is all, then there is no real freedom possible. Man’s life is not the working of merely mechanical relations. There are different levels—the mechanical, the vital, the sentient, the intellectual and the spiritual—these currents cross and recross and inter-penetrate each other.
The law of karma, which rules the lower nature of man, has nothing to do with the spiritual in him. The infinite in man helps him to transcend the limitations of the finite. The essence of spirit is freedom. By its exercise man can check and control his natural impulses. That is why his life is something more than a succession of mechanically determined states.
Karma has a cosmic as well as a psychological aspect. Every deed must produce its natural effect in the world; at the same time it leaves in impression on or forms a tendency in the mind of man. It is this tendency or samskara or vasana that inclines us to repeat the deed we have once done. So all deeds have their fruits in the world and effects on the mind.
So far as the former are concerned, we cannot escape them, however, much we may try. But in regard to mental tendencies we can control them. Our future conduct holds all possibilities. By self-discipline we can strengthen the good impulses and weaken the bad ones.
The principle of karma is not inconsistent with the reality of the absolute Brahman. The moral law of karma is the expression of the nature of the absolute. Anthropomorphically we can say a divine power controls the process.
Rta is the law in the Vedas. Varuna is the lord of Rta. Karma refers to the unchanging action of the Gods. It is an expression of the nature of reality.
There is no doctrine that is as valuable in life and conduct as the karma theory. Whatever happens to us in this life we have to submit in meek resignation, for it is the result of our past doing. Yet the future is in our power, and we can work with hope and confidence. Karma inspires hope for the future and resignation to the past.