As a man himself sows, so he himself reaps; no man inherits the good or evil deeds of another. The outcome of any action is of the same quality as the action.

— Mahabharata, xii.291.22

The Indian concept of karma developed and evolved over centuries. The earliest Upanishads (Indian Classical Texts) began with questions about how and why man is born, and what happens after death. This led to theories of cause and effect. These theories then evolved into the diverse concepts of karma

Over time, various ideas developed as did many different definitions of karma. Central to all these definitions was the relationship between karma and causality. Karma – was described as action, deeds, intention as well as the outcome of ones action. Hence karma was both cause and effect.

Some Indian schools of philosophy described karma as deterministic – which meant that you were bound to past actions with no ability to change the outcome. These schools seem to claim that you are determined by your DNA with no option to improve your circumstances.

Others, made room for free will, moral agency and human effort in enabling you to mitigate the effects of past deeds. These schools of Indian thought seem to have pre-empted the modern concept of epigenetics.

The Yoga school of Indian philosophy was one such school – it claimed that human effort could overcome biological and physiological constraints. In Yoga, karma from past lives (akin to modern concepts of Genetics – DNA or conditioning) is of secondary value. The Yoga system proposes that it is one’s current actions and practices that alter behaviour, physiology, and psychology. Regular actions or practices may lead one to entanglement or enlightenment.

There is more to your downward dog or Vriksasana than you think. Body reconditioning is the motivating force. And reconditioning can alter karma.

An important point to understand is that there is no essentially good or bad karma. It is about acting appropriately in every given moment.

For more information about responding appropriately to life – read the article on dharma.

Dr Nitasha Buldeo is an Integrated Medical Practitioner, Entrepreneur, Scientist and Yogi. She created  I-Yoga & Organic Apoteke and is Director of the Centre for Exceptional Human Performance. She researches human potential and delivers programs that encourage you to live exceptionally. Nitasha believes that every one of us is striving to be the best we can. Her passion is bringing you experiences that inspire you. Her intention is for you to unlock your genius.

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