The belief in Karma and Samsara form the basis for the Hindus religious worldview. It has been central to Hinduism for thousands of years, and as a result forms a major part in the philosophical thinking of many Hindus today. The ideas of Karma and Samsara are evident in almost all of the great Hindu scriptures, being touched on in the Vedas, but first properly introduced in the Upanishads. When the idea of Samsara was first introduced it led to a quest for liberation through the practice of austerity or meditation or both. To be released form this life the Hindus needed to wipe out the effects of their past actions or Karma. It is this set of beliefs that formed the background of many of Hindus religious movements and beliefs. Karma is the belief according to which a persons future life is determined by past and present actions. Every action, bodily, intellectual or ethical, good or bad, big or small will have its effect. Nothing other than the effects of earlier actions has determined the present state of affairs and nothing other than the present actions will determine the future circumstances. The law of Karma allows no room for chance or divine intervention as everything is inevitably determined by it. The Brhardaranyaka Upanisad simply sates By good actions one becomes good, by bad actions one becomes bad(4.4.5) (Koller 1982: 59). Intertwined with belief in Karma is the idea of Samsara, which is the cycle of repeated births and deaths that subjects an individual not merely to one death but to innumerable deaths (Koller 1982:9). Hindus believe that as a person dies the Atman (the unconscious, immaterial part of a human) carries the results of their good and bad actions (Karma) into their next existence. This previous Karma will determine what sort of position a Hindu will occupy in their new existence, for example, if a person in a low caste has been very good in their past existence they wi…
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