Difference Between Dharma and Karma

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Dharma and Karma

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Every religion and belief system focuses on the idea of supporting human civilization and paving a better way for the divine. The same is true of Indian culture, which is distinguished by various myths and beliefs. This comprises, among other things, Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism. Every religion offers a different path to the holy. The only guaranteed path to eternal is to adhere to the set of obligations and duties.

But spirituality is not just a Hindu phenomenon. Therefore, it is crucial to remember that every religion and belief places a high value on moral ideals. This is because Dharma and Karma, two fundamental concepts, form the foundation of human life.

Inherent in every person's birth are several obligations and responsibilities imposed by the social structure. These obligations and liabilities are fundamental cosmic rules that must be followed. You will have your agreements and deeds as a person.

Dharma vs. Karma

The primary distinction between Dharma and Karma is that the former only pertains to birth, whilst the latter concentrates on the acts of human life. But they both lead down the same road—the road to redemption.

Difference Between Dharma and Karma in Tabular Form

Parameter Dharma Karma
Sense Depending on your views, it may have a varied definition. Universal (one meaning for all)
Fruit Considering the present Occasionally based on previous life
Rules There are some guidelines. There are no set guidelines.
Division Based on birth Based on actions
Impacts on Affects society limited to the person

What is Dharma?

Dharma is seen to be a collection of obligations and laws that contribute to the development of a healthy, balanced way of life. The concept of dharma will be greatly influenced by many ideas, including:

  • Dharma, according to Hinduism, is the acceptance of the natural order that guarantees life functions as it should.
  • According to Jainism, Dharma is significantly influenced by non-violent or non-harming ideals.
  • According to Sikhism, Dharma is following the correct road or the path of justice.
  • Buddhism holds that Dharma is the preservation of both spiritual and liberation teachings.

The idea of dharma will therefore vary from one religion or person to another, as well as from one culture to another. What one group may view as dharma may occasionally be considered adharma by another community or individual.

One illustration is consuming meat. Eating animal flesh to keep the food chain in balance is seen by certain people or communities as their dharma. However, as killing animals is against humanity, the same act may be considered Adharma by another person or culture.

The pursuit of spiritual wisdom is, therefore, the ultimate kind of dharma. Dharma is hence readily regarded as the road leading to devise pathways. Dharma, however, also contains limitations that people are not meant to go beyond. Extending these bounds is what is seen as dharma.

Dharma offers life purpose and a justification for why it is necessary.

The concept of dharma is addressed in Hindu sacred texts, and the Mahabharata epic highlights Lord Krishna as one of the finest dharma lecturers. Being on the proper divine path is the primary objective of dharma teaching. A pure soul is someone who walks the proper dharma path.

Dharma is founded on moral principles that promote nonviolence, honesty, and charity together with the fundamentals of spirituality that make a person a greater contributor to society.

However, the majority of people frequently believe that dharma creates societal divides. Regardless of how a person or society chooses their dharma path, the end goal is always the same: to become the finest possible human with a pure spirit to achieve divinity. Dharma is more frequently linked to spirituality than to humanitarian ideas in Kalyug.

Dharma Has No Single-word English Translation

Early Vedic literature explains dharma as the principles that bring order to a cosmos that would otherwise be in disorder. Dharma is derived from the Sanskrit root, which means "to sustain," "to keep," or "to maintain."

Sacred scriptures and tales further reinforce dharma as the activities that are most helpful in preserving family and society, both of which would otherwise disintegrate. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that many academics have sought to translate dharma into one word in English, using concepts like "law," "obligation," "custom," and "model," all of which ultimately help to maintain or keep together the framework of an ordered system.

Dharma Is One Of The Four Goals Of Life

According to the Vedas, the holistic pursuit of moral behavior (dharma), material stability (artha), material enjoyment (kama), and spiritual emancipation is often necessary for the route to a healthy and meaningful existence (moksha). The first three can also be regarded more linearly, even though they are designed to harmoniously combine to provide a fabric of support for the path of emancipation. When one takes the right steps, one can become wealthy, which then opens the door to material luxuries. People are better able to create the calmness needed to concentrate on pursuing their spiritual activities and progress when they are materially content.

But What Makes Something Dharmic?

How do you tell whether an actor is genuinely dharmic since dharma doesn't have a singular meaning that endures regardless of context? What is the greatest way for people to realize their full potential?

Understanding a thing's nature will help you find the answers to these questions. Nature appears as necessary and irreplaceable properties or attributes in the structure of a certain object. An object's dharma, which is defined as its purpose, is determined by these characteristics. For instance, fire's nature is to burn while also emitting heat and light. As a result, fire's dharma is to give forth heat, light, and the power to burn.

Time, Place, And Circumstance Matter

The rules of ethics and principles, such as "patience" or "truthfulness," are only deemed dharmic to the extent that they encourage spiritually uplifting efforts, as dharma is the way of behavior most favorable to spiritual progress.

Such principles may turn into adharmic, or harmful, deeds if they ever inadvertently interfere with such objectives.

In the Indian epic, the Mahabharata, Krishna tells Arjuna a tale of a saint who swore never to lie. This is an excellent illustration of a traditionally dharmic ideal being used adharmically.

There Are Different Types Of Dharma

If achieving spiritual progress is the ultimate goal of life, then it is the responsibility of each person acting in accordance with dharma to contribute to the development of peaceful, functional communities that encourage spiritual aspiration. Successful families are the foundation of strong societies, and strong families are headed by people of high moral character who have developed into their best selves by using their gifts for the benefit of others.

What is Karma?

Karma simply refers to a person's deeds or consequences. Karma is thereby linked to a person's present life, past life, and future existence. Since everything counts, there are no rules or a set route that must be followed. Also without an instructor is karma.

In reality, karma is the ongoing cycle of birth and death. Therefore, it signifies that there is no prospect of freedom until the soul is pure and has settled all accounts of both good and negative karma. Every benefit and harm is the result of karma. Additionally, karma is not limited to simply terrible actions.

Moksha, or liberation, is only possible once all of one's karma has been resolved. This is because your karma is solely based on the needs you have during your lifetime.

The results of your inner goals, not punishment, are the fruit of karma. Karma includes your intentions as well as your actions, whether they are good or evil. It is also crucial to remember that human actions are solely intended to benefit people and other living creatures, such as animals.

Only a select few may truly liberate themselves since karma is a human life cycle. Nevertheless, the cycle of life and death will endure for a long time. However, according to Hindu mythology, you can stop the cycle by pleading with God to pardon your past karma.

Therefore, regardless of belief or even religion, karma has a singular meaning. This proves that there is no misunderstanding of the idea of karma.

Is Karma The Basis Of Your Physical Existence?

Is Karma a cunning scheme to keep everything in pain? We are informed by Sadhguru that Karma is not evil. The basic foundation of our physical existence is Karma. Karma is a protective barrier we have put up to protect ourselves. But this wall has also come to serve as our prison. There is a part of you that is constantly seeking growth and expansion. That same wall now serves as a barrier that confines the person to themselves. The most fundamental thing Sadhguru teaches us is that "this moment's karma is always in your control, no matter what sort of karma you have."

What Is Collective Karma?

Beyond personal karma, there is also "collective" karma, often known as karmic memory. The recollection of life is karma. Therefore, everything that is done around you will affect you. You impart your karmic memory to your family, neighborhood, and country. Many people may experience great misery and pain without being at all connected to what is going on around them. Although collective karma may cause you to experience certain outcomes, how you see life is totally up to you.

How is Karma Created?

In essence, karma is concerned with the motivation behind an action. "Karma is solely in terms of your urge to accomplish anything," explains Sadhguru. There is no karmic connection to anything when all that has to be done is what needs to be done. There won't be any karma if the ability to choose is removed. Without acceptance and unrestricted accountability, you would just carry out your obligations without exercising any free will.

Are Habits & Karma Connected?

According to Sadhguru, we develop habits—which are predetermined patterns—to make our lives easier and to ensure our survival. As individuals mature, those who seek excitement will easily give up their habits, whilst others who are afraid and wish to protect themselves will cling to them. Sadhguru declares: "This is also what we mean when we talk about karma. According to karma, you unknowingly set patterns for yourself about both your actions and how things go in your life."

How Can I Get Free of My Karma?

Your internal fight will be exacerbated if your thoughts are moving downhill while your energies are moving higher. Thoughts and thinking are different things. Though your karma has a big impact on how you think, if you're willing, your intellect can think through it. To fully benefit from any sadhana, you must cultivate the appropriate psychological environment inside yourself. Sadhguru provides a brief, 20-second "crash course" on how to open up and separate from your karmic system.

Difference Between Dharma and Karma in Points

  • While karma factors influence prior lives as well, dharma is only centered on this incarnation in particular.
  • While karma is essentially neutral, dharma may readily cause social conflict.
  • Dharma is tied to spirituality, but karma affects everyone regardless of belief.
  • Dharma does not mention any particular fruit, although the karma theory holds that "what goes around, comes around."
  • Karma lacks limits and norms, whereas dharma does.
  • While karma is a lesson in and of itself, dharma may be taught by a teacher.
  • While karma is never misinterpreted, dharma frequently is.


Both dharma and karma are regarded as essential elements of human existence. Salvation would not be possible without them. They are consequently linked, which means they are reliant on one another. An individual must follow their karma while also staying on the dharmic path.

Despite having differing ideas, they both support the same overarching objective of finding the holy path. Both of them emphasize kindness, honesty, humanism, and nonviolence. Heaven's gate will be opened without difficulty by adhering to dharma and having a higher karma score. The purpose of human life would be lost without dharma and karma.


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"Difference Between Dharma and Karma." Diffzy.com, 2023. Tue. 06 Jun. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-dharma-and-karma-823>.

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