The Sanskrit word “karma”, literally translated, means action. It comes from the root “kri”, meaning, to act. Karma refers to actions or deeds, in the past, present and future. Karma includes physical as well as mental or psychological acts.
In the yoga world, there are three types of karma.
These are the accumulated works and actions that you have completed in the past. These cannot be changed but can only wait to come into fruition. This is the vast accumulation of karma that encompasses our countless past lifetimes. This comprises every action that you have ever made in your past and present lives.
Prarabdha is that portion of the past karma that is responsible for the present. These are the ripe and fructuous actions and reactions. The things that you did in the past make you what you are today. It cannot be avoided or changed, but only exhausted by being experienced.
Agami Karma is the Karma we are creating for ourselves right here in the current moment. It is the action that we create and the choices we make right now, as we live this present lifetime.
All these three aspects of karma blend into each other. “As you think so shall you be” – our choices and actions of the present moment will become our karma in the future.
The benefits of understanding Karma are that it discourages one from performing unwholesome actions as it will bring about suffering. Instead, it encourages one to perform goodness and kindness, in order to bring happiness as their fruit.
By taking full responsibility for our thoughts and actions, we create our reality. Everything we think or do right now create the kind of future that is related to those thoughts and actions.