Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Tattvabodha - Part 26

Notes on Tattvabodha
Dr. Vishnu Bapat

Dr. Bapat (72) was the co-founder of an Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Industry and served as its Managing Director for 26 years until retirement. He is associated with several professional and spiritual bodies. He is now fully engaged in the study and practice of Vedanta.




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51. What are the types of actions?

५१. कर्माणि कतिविधानि सन्तीति चेत् आगामिसञ्चित ।

प्रारभ्धभेदेन त्रिविधानि सन्ति । ।

कर्माणि – actions कतिविधानि – how many types सन्ति – are there इति-चेत् – if asked thus आगामि - agami सञ्चित - sanchita प्रारभ्ध - prarabdha भेदेन - divided into त्रिविधानि – सन्ति - are of three types.

If one asks, “How many types of karmas are there; the answer is there are three kinds of karmas viz. Agami, sanchita, and prarabdha.

What is karma कर्म?

In Sanskrit any activity or कार्य is called karma. It is an object and the subject or the doer of activity is called कर्ता. The word karma should be distinguished from a similar sounding word Kriya (क्रिया) which also means an activity.  Kriya is an activity with self effort, while karma is an execution of an action by the body and mind either by self-volition or by forces.  Karma comes from the root क्र् (Kr) means to do, to make, to perform to accomplish. Karma refers to all actions done by the body and mind.


According to Vedantic law of cause and effect, every effect must have a cause. Good deed and good intent contribute to a good karma and present and future happiness while bad deed and bad intent contribute to bad karma and suffering.


Sometimes the word karma is also loosely used as fruits of action although the correct word should be karmaphala (कर्मफल). 

Karmaphala or fruit of action are of two types.

1. द्रिष्ट् फल –Visible result.

2. अद्रिष्ट फल – invisible result.

If the deed is of good intent and motive the result would be of good visible or invisible nature. For example if I give money for a charitable cause the visible action is the help caused to the recipient and the invisible action is my good karma. Similarly if I cheat someone the visible action is an increase in my bank balance and the invisible action is my accumulated sin. A meritorious deed is called punya (पुण्य) and a sinful deed is called papa (पाप).

कर्माणि कतिविधानि  सन्ति – How many types of karmas are there. Karmas are of three types:

1. आगामि – the coming one. It is the karmaphala that arises out of our present life activities. Its consequences will be experienced by us in the coming lives. It is usually added to the account head of our sanchita karma. Agami karma is responsible for our next births. Agami is also called Kriyamana (क्रियमाण), the acts being done in the present life.

2. सञ्चित – the accumulated one. It is the sum total of accumulated karmas of previous lives. It is the burden of our pasts which is maintained in our current account and which needs to be exhausted at some stage of our existence. Sanchita karma will not so much affect us in the present life because the vasanas fructify at staggered periods.

3. प्रारभ्ध - the fructified one. It is that part of our sanchita karma which is activated and influences the course of our present life. Our prarabdha karma is responsible for our getting human or animal body, our parentage and social position. Depending upon the nature and intent of our actions we are either depleting or adding to our karmic burden. If something untoward happens to us despite our good intentions and effort; it is due to the prarabdha or consequences of some actions done in previous lives. There is nothing much we can do about it except seeking divine intervention.


52. āgāmi karma

आगामि कर्म

ज्ञानॊत्पत्यनन्तरं ज्ञानिदेहक्रतं पुण्यपापरूपं कर्म ।

यदस्ति तदगामित्यभिधीयते ।।

ज्ञानॊत्पत्यनन्तरम् – after the dawn of knowledge ज्ञानिदेहक्रतम् - done by the body of the realized soul पुण्यपापरूपम् - of the nature of merit and demerit , good or evil कर्म – action यत् – whatever अस्ति – are there तद् – that आगामि – agami इति – thus अभिदीयते – is called.

The results of actions in the form of sin or virtue done by the body of a realized person after the awakening of self-knowledge, is known as agami karma.

पुण्यपापरूपम् कर्म - meritorious and sinful deeds. आगामि – It is the karma that arises out of our present life activities. Its consequences will be experienced by us in the coming lives. It is usually added to the account head of our sanchita karma. What you sow today, is what you reap tomorrow. The results of our present good or bad actions may fructify immediately or later in our life or in next births.


“Animals too are identified with their body but perform actions without a sense of doer-ship. They have no choice of actions. Their actions are programmed according to their instincts”. However a man has a choice of action. He may do or elect not to do an action. In both cases he identifies with his body and doer-ship. A jnyani or wise man for instance may also do or elect not do an action, but he has no identity with his body or doer-ship of action. So his actions do not add up to his vasana stock. All actions have reactions. Good or meritorious actions produce punya and bad or sinful actions produce demerit or papa.


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Page last updated: 10-Jun-2017