Karma means to do” or “to make” or more simply, “action”. The deeper meaning of Karma can be described as an infinite chain of the results of action that is perceived and performed. When we talk about “Our Karma” we’re talking about the actions we’ve “sown” or performed in the past (including our past lives) that are the cause of what we “reap” in our current life situation. This either becomes our Karmic Burden or Karmic Baggage or our Karmic Blessing depending on whether we’ve performed positive or negative actions in the past.
Every action, either physical, emotional or mental, every movement occurring either on the plane of gross matter or on the astral planes, causes an emission of Energy. In other words, it produces a Seed. Being a Seed, Karma fructifies or does not fructify immediately after it is sown. The innumerable Karmic Seeds we produce by our various actions – desire, aversion, love, hatred, happiness, etc. will undoubtedly produce, sooner or later, a positive or negative result according to the nature of the seed, if not in this life, then in some future one.
The Vedas propound, “Here they say that a person consists of desires. And as is his desire, so is his will. As is his will, so is his deed. Whatever deed he does, that he will reap.”
Karma should not be confused with Fate. Fate is the notion that man’s life is preplanned for him by some external power, and he has no control over his destiny. Karma on the other hand, can be corrected. Because man is a Conscious Being and he can be aware of his Karma and thus strive to change the course of events, with the help of superior powers.
Karma is primarily of four kinds…
1. Total Karma (Sum, Sanchita Karma or “Accumulated actions” or the Arrows in the Quiver)
Total Karma is the vast store of piled-up Karma accumulated in the preceding and in all other previous births and yet to be resolved. In other words, it is the aggregate sum of yet unseen Karma’s committed during innumerable previous existences. This is your total cosmic debt. Every moment of your every day, you are either adding to it or you are reducing this cosmic debt. It is waiting to be fulfilled in your future births. So unless and until the Total Karma of a Soul is zeroed, it keeps on birthing in new physical bodies, in order to exhaust it’s balance Total Karma.
2. Fructifying Karma (Praarabdha Karma or “Actions began; set in motion” or Arrows in Flight)
That portion of the Total Karma destined to influence human life in one or the present incarnation is called Fructifying. In other words, Fructifying Karma is Karmic Template (of that portion of Total Karma) that is ripe enough to be experienced by you and allotted for this lifetime for you to work on. If you work down your agreed upon debt in this lifetime, then more past debts will surface to be worked on. And that much Total Karma gets dissolved.
3. Current Karma (Instant, Kriyamana Karma or “Being made” or Arrows in Hand)
Current Karma is the daily, instant Karma created in this lifetime and that we create in our life because of our free actions. It refers to those which are currently in front of us to decide or act on. This contributes to our Future Karma in a big way. They can also be worked off immediately. These are debts that are created and worked off – i.e. for example, you park your vehicle in a ‘No Parking Space’, you get caught and you are fined (punished) immediately.
While some Current Karma’s bear fruit in the current life, others are stored for enjoying in future births. Thus the Current Karma is classified into two sub-categories: Arabdha Karma – literally, ‘begun, undertaken;’ the Karma that is ‘sprouting’ and Anarabdha Karma – ‘not commenced; dormant’ or ‘The Seed Karma’. An example : two persons commit a theft and one of them get caught – Arabdha Karma – and the other one got away – Anarabdha Karma. The thief who got caught, immediately starts to feel the effect of the cause or the reaction to his action; he gets caught and goes to jail. The other robber who escaped, will have to experience, in this life or in a future one, the effect of this wrongful action.
4. Future Karma (Aagami Karma)
Future Karma is the Karmic Map that is coming, as a result of the merits and demerits of the present actions of your current birth. In other words, it is the portion of Karma that is created because of the actions in the present life and that will be added to your Total Karma. If you fail to work off your debt, then more debts are added to Total Karma and they become more Karmic Seeds and are served to you in more future lives.
In Vedantic Literature, there is a beautiful analogy. The Archer has already sent an arrow and it has left his hands. He cannot recall it. He is about to shoot another arrow. The bundle of arrows in the quiver on his back is the Total Karma; the arrow he has shot is Fructifying Karma; and the arrow which he is about to shoot from his bow is Current Karma. The result of the arrow that he is about to shoot is the Future Karma.
Here is a modern example : You go on a motor bike ride and get into an accident. The accident is your Fructifying Karma – your allotted Karma for this life out of the entire Total Karma of your Soul. To bandage the wound in order to minimize your suffering would be your Current Karma. To set an intention to be more careful in the future would be your Future Karma. To buy a bike light and reflectors in order to avoid future accidents would also be your Current Karma.
Four Types of Karma & Soul Energy Correction By Janarrdhana Guptha, http://EzineArticles.com/174142