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Karma (also karman, kamma) has been a foundational concept in Indian religions since the Vedic period (1500 BCE), appearing in various Hindu schools of thought as well as in Buddhism and Jainism. The term shifts in meaning between these traditions (and, indeed, between various streams of Hinduism). As a result, understanding karma requires situating it in specific historical, cultural, and philosophical contexts.

There is no clear origination to the concept of karma. The term comes from the Sanskrit root kr(“to do or make”). In the Vedic context (1500–500 BCE), karma refers specifically to sacrificial action, ritual work. An individual performs ritual action, and the consequences are automatic, governed by cosmic laws of cause and effect. It is important to note that the laws governing karma ...

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