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is there any proof of law of karma and other writings of the scriptures. I have read another answer which says you have to experience it but is there a place/temple where I can get solid proof?

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    Throw a stone straight up and don't move. The proof will become self-evident in a few sec. Sep 28, 2022 at 19:46
  • The devi bhagwat and many scriptures state that everything happens is pre planned and is wish of the mother, so there is no karma at all because it was done by the mother. For example this message was the wish of mother Sep 29, 2022 at 5:33

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The doctrine of Karma and rebirth or reincarnation are linked together in Indic religions and philosophies. Karma works across lives, which renders it impossible to show it's validity through scientific process without first proving the existence of rebirth and the system which leads to consistent death and rebirth (saṁsāra). There is lack of a scientific way currently to verify of how one's previous life (if even there is) may have an effect on present life.

But just because the doctrine of karma can't be proven scientifically, that doesn't mean there aren't any means to assert it's validity in Indian philosophy. Validity of knowledge in this context is shown through the use of pramāṇas (means of valid knowledge). Different schools accept different no. of pramāṇas. We would take Advaita Vedānta here, which accepts six pramāṇas: pratyakṣa (perception), anumāna (inference), upamāna (comparison/analogy), arthāpatti (postulation), anupalabdhi (non-cognition) and śabda (verbal or scriptural testimony). We would analyze which pramāṇas can be applied and the school of Advaita used to demonstrate the validity of karma. I am presuming, here that the reader is familiar with the basic definitions and usage of six pramāṇas because if I include that, the answer would become much longer.

(i) Pratyakṣa (perception) : External perception is useful in yielding knowledge of qualities (such as color, size, texture) of objects (such as table) and the relations that constitute it (such as universal 'tableness') but it doesn't and cannot yield knowledge of law-like (such as law of Karma) relations b/w objects in nature. Just to clarify, law, here doesn't mean scientific law. Karma operates in the world through merit (puṇya) and demerit (pāpa). Although, these two states are modes of antaḥkaraṇa (mind as internal organ), but they aren't internally perceivable such as pain and pleasure because they lack of perceivability. (Hiriyanna, 2005, p. 346)

(ii) Upamāna (comparison) : Karma can't be proved by upamāna either. If we use the analogy of say, an apple that is sown, ripens, dies and grows again through it's seeds (reincarnates) and apply it to the case of reincarnation of humans, it only generates a probabilistic knowledge (yukti) but not certain knowledge which a pramāṇa which should be able to confer.

(iii) Anupalabdhi (non-cognition) : Clearly non-cognition of an object or phenomenon doesn't always imply that it's non-existent. (one can't judge the non-existence of chair in dark room because we don't have any visual knowledge of it). The rāja yogins claim that by bringing saṁskāras (residual tendencies) into consciousness through saṁyama (controlled concentration), the knowledge of previous lives is obtained (Yogasūtra, II, 18). Although Advaitins don't use this as a support for karma or rebirth, but they do support the claim that such knowledge can be acquired. And if they do use it as support of karma and rebirth then they would fall in the same difficulty as that of the adherers parapsychology, of establishing new empirical laws of nature on the basis of the extra-sensory perception of priviliged few (in this case, the jīvanmuktas). Without access to data of the previous life and confirming it with karma, karma is undemonstratable. So, Karma can't be proved by anupalabdhi.

(iv) Anumāna (inference) : As we know a valid inferential cognition is only obtained if there is vyāpti b/w sādhya and hetu, from which the inference is made. Karma cannot be a genuine vyāpti because the consequences of moral action, as affecting over a period of innumerable births, is largely unseen, and hence they cannot be seen to be in uncontradicted relatedness to the actions. For Advaita, inference depends on perception and cannot extend further than drawing out the implications of the relations based on perception. Advaitic tradition itself concedes that truths about dharma and Brāhmaṇa are non-inferential in nature. So, Karma cannot be proved by anumāna either.

According to Advaita, Brāhmaṇa or ātman isn't subject to karma. In it's true nature Self is eternal and hence untouched by anything that pertains to the jiva of the empirical world of names and forms(nāmarūpa). Karma, so becomes a 'relative' idea, and it doesn't follow from the real nature of the Self. It's necessity isn't logically implied by the Advaitic metaphysics and its denial doesn't lead to consequences that are self-contradictory. Karma, therefore, when looked upon as a rational concept or idea as distinct from empirical, scientific theory, is not demonstrated, and within Advaita Vedānta, it's rationally undemonstrable.

(v) Arthāpatti (postulation) : According to some interpreters of Advaita such as Dharmarāja in his work Vedāntaparibhāṣā, Karma can be justified by arthāpatti. Advaitins use this pramāṇa in supposing some unperceived facts and principles for explaining experienced facts. They may argue that the assumption becomes justified and is valid knowledge if the fact assumed is the only one that can explain all necessary and indispensable suppositions, such as the law of Karma is necessary to explain the otherwise inexplicable good and bad lucks, and existence of God for explaining the distribution of fruits in accordance with an individual's actions etc. These are cases of arthāpatti often used. (Datta, 1972, p. 246)

However, this view can be refuted in the way that, by justifying karma using this pramāṇa, in the way above, it doesn't fulfill the requirement of uniqueness. Karma is surely not the only supposition that accounts for the good and bad lucks of persons (such as differences in their moral, intellectual or spiritual capacities) as indeed many others (e.g., divine predestination or natural hereditary factors) have been put forward and have been capable of generating strong belief. Karma is thus not established by arthāpatti as it's not the only way by which inequalities can be made intelligible.

(vi) Śabda (scriptural authority or verbal testimony) : This pramāṇa is often used to justify Karma by advaitins. But this also has it's problems. Deustch argues that experience of ultimate reality in advaita is defined to be 'of identity', devoid of sequential time-past, present, future, and when one is in such a state (samādhi, turīya, nirvikalpa) which transcends all categories of time, how can Karma really be a content of spiritual experience. Although the above argument is sound, it overlooks the fact that śruti is a source of knowledge, not just of Brāhmaṇa but also dharma, and dharma transcends reasons and senses, here. Secondly, the Veda proclaim the doctrine of Brāhmaṇa, but they are themselves part of Māyā.

In Māṇḍūkyakārikā IV.73, Śaṅkara says that, "the existence of objects such as scripture etc. , is due to empirical existence which is illusory... Scripture[and the distinction b/w] teacher and taught is illusory and exists only as a means to the realization of reality.". So, a scripture in the domain of Māyā, can surely be a source of valid knowledge of what is valid within Māya, the realm within which the doctrine of Karma falls and that's clearly upheld in the mukhya Upaniṣads. In this way, karma can be established by śruti by the means of śabda.

As above, we have shown how karma could not be established rationally or empirically as in Deustch (1969) and it's review by Sharma (1990) which points out some of the problems with the former's view that is included in my analysis. A traditional advaitin may use arthāpatti and śabda, śabda being given more emphasis, since it's shown to hold rationally. A modern Advaitin will probably concur with Karl Potter though (the excerpt is modified on scientific exploration by make sense for current research in physics),

One major criticism of karma theory is that it's untestable, but similar criticism can be made of theories in physics, for e.g. , string theory or multiverse scenarios etc. Defenders of the theories in question respond that that these difficulties are technical or technological, that in principle the theories are testable at least within broad limits or at a certain point of time in the future. But surely the same can be said of karma theory. It's not in principle untestable, though in practice it is because of technical difficulties. The difficulties arise from our inability to determine with precision which person alive inherits which person's past karmic residues. If one complains that is precisely the responsibility of the karma theorist to convince us that that rebirth takes place at all, that there are any karmic residues, the parallel complaint may be recorded against the physicist who postulates unobservable particles. In both cases, it is clear enough that what is to be explained is observable; in both cases the explanation involves postulation of unobservables. Technological advances may in time make possible testing of both type of theories- we may build bigger and better better experiement or observational tools such as LIGO and find theoretical ways probably of discovering strings at higher orders of energy, and likewise we may possibly discover ways of identifying karmic residues and vāsanās and so of re-identifying them in another body at a later time. (Potter, 1980, p.259-260)

References

  • Deutsch, E. (1969). 5 Karma. In Advaita Vedānta: A Philosophical Reconstruction (p. 67-80). Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9780824841690-007
  • Sharma, A. (1990). Karma and Reincarnation in Advaita Vedānta. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 18(3), 219–236. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23445563
  • Hiriyanna, M. (2005). XIII. Vedānta. (A) Advaita. In Outlines of Indian Philosophy. (p. 336-382) Motilal Banarsidass
  • Datta, D.M. (1972). The Six Ways of Knowing. University of Calcutta
  • Murty, K.S. (1959). Revelation and Reason in Advaita Vedānta. Columbia University Press
  • Potter K.H. (1980). The Karma Theory and Its Interpretation in Some Indian Philosophical Systems. In W. D. O’Flaherty (Ed.) Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian traditions (p. 241-267). University of California Press.

The Buddhist perspective on Karma and rebirth would be very interesting but the answer is already quite big. The notion of karma is not exactly the same in the Buddhist schools and the Vedic schools, and it's worth pondering over the Buddhist notions, because those are also very reasonable, especially on rebirth, they have offered more stronger arguments. I would recommend you to check out Dharmakīrti's proof for rebirth and how he argues for it in his work Pramāṇavārtikka.

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    good analysis . upvoted. yet few comments. (In section shabda pramana) Tattva drishti and Vyavaharika drishti are mutually exclusive, and must not be enjoined. If seen in tattva drishti , then the context (of karma and frutition) is lost. Broad spectrum of truth is beyond human scrutiny , hence shabda pramana takes precedence over other pramanas. Arthapathi also inturn relies on shabda pramana only .(here as rationale is insufficient to establish any proof for law of karma)
    – Athrey
    Nov 26, 2022 at 8:23
  • I hope (I'm nt sure) , Buddhists may only have few discords , like, they may not accept- Atma, the antaryami is not tainted by Karma(as they don't agree with atma). Secondly they may not accept , God , the sole subduer of Maya is the only dispenser of fruits of Karma.Looks like their karma theory does not rely either on verbal testimony or on rationale
    – Athrey
    Nov 26, 2022 at 8:24
  • @Athrey Yes, karma theory in Buddhism is not the same and it doesn't depend on śabda. Dharmakīrti accepts only anumāna and pratyakṣa as pramāṇas as Dignāga, and according to him all other ways are reducible to those two. But it's rational.
    – Bingming
    Nov 26, 2022 at 8:41
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Yes.

The modern scientific domain of Complex Systems Theory has a detailed treatment of how karma works. After all, humanity is a complex system with many agents.

Within Complex Systems is the concept of Chaos. And in Chaos Theory, there is the concept of what is simply referred to as the "butterfly effect".

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

Karma works in a similar way. It is the nonlinear or disproportional effect perpetuated by agents in a complex system. Essentially, it is cause and effect.

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