Workings of Karma
In the Devi Bhagavata Purana, the truths pertaining to the workings of ‘karma phala’ are explained in detail by Vasudeva to Devaki to make her understand that she has to give the newborn infant to Kamsa, pointed out Sri K. Srinivasan in a discourse. Whatever good and bad actions done in the past are preserved in the form of a seed and is inherent in the human soul.
Generally, Karma is grouped under three categories. The first is ‘Sanchita’, the entire past karma stored in each one’s account. Therefore, the collective effect of Karma done in previous births always exists in the jiva’s body. But the fruits of Sanchita are not given according to the chronological order of the individual’s good and bad deeds. From this stored karma, some get bunched together, with priority given to those that are most powerful. The next is ‘Prarabdha,’ which constitutes the effects of those acts that are ripened and ready to yield their fruits. An individual enters the world at every birth with this already drafted life plan and has to experience the effects. The happy or unhappy experiences cannot be averted. Vasudeva also explains that just as Karma controls the birth and human experiences of joy and sorrow, Kala, Time is equally powerful. The Lord describes Himself as Kala in the Bhagavad Gita. All beings are subject to Time or Kala and they also have to enjoy the merits and demerits of their past deeds. Under God’s sway Kala distributes the fruits.
The third type is ‘Agami or Vartamana’ karma and refers to one’s actions in the present birth. The jiva is given some space to understand that samsara, though fleeting, is also the only way for his salvation. With the knowledge of karma phala, he can try to control his acts and free himself from this cycle. So, Vasudeva tells Devaki that the infant has to face its destiny.