Hinduism is a very complex religion. It has been said there are tens of thousands of gods, and there are many greatly significant words with vast meanings. Although this is true of the religion, the core idea and main emphasis of Hinduism is not based on following the beliefs, but rather how to live one's life in the proper way. The twin doctrines are two complex concepts that deal with this idea. The doctrines are called the law of reincarnation and the law of karma. In this paper I will explain how the law of karma works, the multiple Hindu words and ideas that are associated with it, and how reincarnation plays into karma.
Karma can be explained or defined in many different ways. Houston Smith calls it "the moral law of cause and effect" (Smith 64), and while the literal meaning of the word as said in karma yoga means work Smith's definition generalizes the concept well. The idea behind karma is that for every action one takes there will be a reaction. If the work one is doing is positive then the reaction will in turn be positive. If one is doing negative things then that person will be repaid in a negative way. The logic behind karma in its most basic form nearly provable. By this I do not mean that it is a scientific fact, but rather that the logic that drives karma can be seen in our lives almost everyday. If a puts forth the time and effort to study and treat their body well they will most likely be smart and healthy. If one does the opposite they will not attain such positive results. When events take place that seem to reward negative work with positive outcomes is when the average person becomes confused. While we can not understand the justification, the theory of karma and the law of reincarnation are at work (Jayaram).
According to Hinduism the beginning of ones karma begins when the soul or jiva is mysteriously created and then transported to its physical form. The jiva is only a small part of the whole picture which is the one true self known as atman , but it governs what happens to that beings karma.