The 6th chapter of the Anushasana Parva (the Teaching Book), the 13th book of the Mahabharata, opens with Yudhishthira asking Bhishma: \"Is the course of a person's life already destined, or can human effort shape one's life\" The future, replies Bhishma, is both a function of current human effort derived from free will and past human actions that set the circumstances. Over and over again, the chapters of Mahabharata recite the key postulates of karma theory. That is: intent and action (karma) has consequences; karma lingers and doesn't disappear; and, all positive or negative experiences in life require effort and intent. For example:
Over time, various schools of Hinduism developed many different definitions of karma, some making karma appear quite deterministic, while others make room for free will and moral agency. Among the six most studied schools of Hinduism, the theory of karma evolved in different ways, as their respective scholars reasoned and attempted to address the internal inconsistencies, implications and issues of the karma doctrine. According to Professor Wilhelm Halbfass,
One of the significant controversies with the karma doctrine is whether it always implies destiny, and its implications on free will. This controversy is also referred to as the moral agency problem; the controversy is not unique to karma doctrine, but also found in some form in monotheistic religions.
The explanations and replies to the above free will problem vary by the specific school of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The schools of Hinduism, such as Yoga and Advaita Vedanta, that have emphasized current life over the dynamics of karma residue moving across past lives, allow free will. Their argument, as well of other schools, are threefold:
Other schools of Hinduism, as well as Buddhism and Jainism that do consider cycle of rebirths central to their beliefs and that karma from past lives affects one's present, believe that both free will (cetanā) and karma can co-exist; however, their answers have not persuaded all scholars.
This psychological indeterminacy problem is also not unique to the theory of karma; it is found in every religion adopting the premise that God has a plan, or in some way influences human events. As with the karma-and-free-will problem above, schools that insist on primacy of rebirths face the most controversy. Their answers to the psychological indeterminacy issue are the same as those for addressing the free will problem.
In Hinduism, Moksha is the greatest goal of life. It occasions salvation (being protected). When a Hindu accomplishes Moksha, he or she is free from the samsara loop. Hindus consider that accumulation of excellent karma, or doing wonderful deeds, will end the cycle of samsara. Moksha is emancipation from all enslavements and miseries. After searching everywhere, one eventually realizes that joy exists in the essence of the fact that lies concealed in the bottom of the heart.
For Hindus, Moksha is the greatest goal of life. It is in desperate need of salvation. When Hindus achieve moksha, they are free of the samsara cycle. Hindus consider the accumulation of big karma, or performing great activities and endeavors, will end the samsara cycle. Moksha is the liberation from all misery and despair. 1e1e36bf2d