This paper was presented at the
National Seminar on
Indian Psychology: Theories and Models

SVYASA, Bangalore,
December 26 - 28, 2007


 Faith in the doctrine of karma: effect on psychological well-being and life satisfaction

Kuldeep Kumar — Jammu


The Doctrine of Karma is a direct outcome of the extension of the age-old and well-established principle “as you sow, so you reap” to the spiritual sphere. In other words, this doctrine is nothing but the extension of the physical phenomenon observed in every day experience in nature that every action has a reaction, every effect has a cause and vice versa. The present study is an effort to delineate its role in the psychological well-being and life satisfaction of an individual.

The meaning of the word Karma commonly accepted in Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. is activity, work, deed or act. It also implies sacrifices or yagyas performed as a part of Bhramanic rituals as well as the prescribed formalities like fasting and other forms of worship called Karma-Kand. According to the karma doctrine the course of life of every living being here and hereafter is determined by his Karma or his deeds and a pious life leads to comforts, contentment and general well-being in the present life and rebirth in higher and better forms of existence. Evil actions result in birth in lower forms of existence in future life and unhappiness or misery in the present existence. Upon study and reflection, many of us would conclude that the theory of karma does not have relevance even in today world. Basically it implies a strong cause/effect relationship. And it is the same cause/effect relationship on which the scientific and technological world is based. The question then is: if the cause and effect relationship is so powerful in the material world we live in, why should it not be just as powerful in the psychological world? If we accept this line of reasoning the theory of karma will be easier to accept because it is nothing but a cause/effect psychological phenomenon.

To understand the role of faith in psychological well being and life satisfaction of an individual using matched group design and two groups were matched on age and socio-economic status. An empirical study was done on two group of age group 25-35 years: one who has the faith in the doctrine of karma and other who do not have the faith in the doctrine of karma. These two groups were formed on the basis of response to a questioner developed to assess the faith in the doctrine of karma. Then psychological well-being and life satisfaction of these two groups was measured. Results indicated that there was a significant difference in the psychological well-being and life satisfaction of these two groups with higher scores obtained by those who have faith in the doctrine of karma.

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