Karmic Astrology—a Study

by Sunita Anant Chavan | 2017 | 68,707 words

This page relates ‘Classification of Karma’ of the study on Karmic Astrology and its presentation in Vedic and the later Sanskrit literature. Astrology (in Sanskrit: Jyotish-shastra) is based upon perceptive natural phenomenon of cosmic light forms while the Concept of Karman basically means “action according to Vedic injunction” such as the performance of meritorious sacrificial work.

Part 3.5 - Classification of Karma

Karma is broadly classified in the literature as Daiva and Puruṣakāra. Daiva[1] is defined as one’s own Karma, accumulated in the past lives in the cycle of transmigration and rebirths. Life and death sufferings. pleasure and pain result from accumulated past actions and are thereby said to be attributes of daiva.[2] In this sense Daiva carries a ‘passive’ aspect. The efficacy of Karma from this pessimistic view point as against its effectiveness in case of present human actions is skeptically mentioned as deva-guhyāni[3] (the mysteries of the gods.)

Puruṣakāra (self effort) as action in the sense of actively pursued present human actions is also termed as Karma[4] in its very simple sense. The superiority amongst Daiva and Puruṣakāra is enquired (Mahābhārata 13.6.1). They are equated with each other (Matsyapurāṇa 30.12) and also contrasted as regards rebirth[5] which depends on niyati or daiva and is beyond reach of one’s deeds. Yet Puruṣakāra in terms of importance of present actions and their results is rendered superior.[6] The Epics accord ‘the shaping of Daiva through human actions’ as Puruṣakāra[7] and with relation to Āyurveda, Puruṣakāra carried the meaning of therapeutic measures to be followed to cure diseases which are results of past actions. Ātreya mentions life span dependent on both Daiva and Puruṣakāra[8] whereas the accomplishment of a deed is said to be dependent on both Daiva and Puruṣārtha (effort) by Mārkaṇḍeyapurāṇa XXIII.26 which is reiterated by Agnipurāṇa.[9]

The fruition of action is also dependent on time along with Daiva and Puruṣakāra.[10] To this extent the time related classification of Karma on the basis of their maturation as ‘niyatavipāka’ and ‘aniyatavipāka’ occurs,[11] as well the Karma which begins with one’s birth and determines one’s present existence the ‘Prārabdha’ (Ārabdha)[12] Karma, is also a classification of Karma operating for a single lifetime.

Karmas are also classified according to the qualities,[13] on the basis of body mechanism[14] and also on the basis of their consequences.

Footnotes and references:


Caraka Saṃhitā (Śārirasthāna) IV. 1.116. Matsyapurāṇa CCXXI. 1. 5 Mahābhārata 3.33.18.


Rāmāyaṇa 2.19.20.


Mahābhārata 3.32.33; Daiva etymoloically means ‘that which pertain to the gods’ (devas).


Karma as an ‘action requiring some effort’ Caraka 1.1.49-56.


Dīgha II. 19-20.


Mahābhārata 13.6.14; Matsyapurāṇa CCXX1.2.


Mahābhārata 13.6.22.


Caraka Saṃhitā III. 3.29, 36.


Agni Purāṇa CCXX VI.1.3.


Matsyapurāṇa (221.8).


Yogasūtra II. 12, 13.


Brahmasūtra 4.1.19.


Gītā 14. 5-9.


Kāya, Vācī, Manokamma, Majjhimanikāya 56.

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