Karma is the most used and often misunderstood word. Karma is action. Action could be latent, could be in the form of tendency, could be a future happening.
And accordingly, there are three types of karma — Prarabdha, Sanchita and Agami. Prarabdha means the action that is already manifesting and yielding its effect right now. You cannot avoid it or change it as it is already happening. On the other hand, Sanchita karma is the ‘gathered up’, or ‘piled up’ karma. It is latent or manifested in the form of a tendency.
An impression in the mind is a latent action. Sanchita karma can be burned off, changed by spiritual practices before it becomes manifest. And finally, Agami literally means ‘not come’. Agami karma is the karma that has not yet come, one that will take effect in the future. If you commit a crime, you may not get caught today, but will live with the possibility that one day you may get caught. This is the future karma of the action.
Certain impressions, strong impressions in the mind, remain and they form the future karma. Animals have got only Prarabdha karma. Nature runs them so they don’t accumulate a future karma. As a human being, this is impossible because our mind gets impressions.
Karma is not a grain written on rock; it is fluid. And karma is always bound by time, because every action has only a limited reaction, not infinite. Suppose someone commits a crime, they get imprisonment in jail. That too, there is a time limit: 5 years, 10 years, 20 years.
So, every karma has only a limited sphere of its effect, good or bad. Every habit is a sort of karma. There is one thing that can erase the karma: Gyana — awareness, knowledge. Gyana has the strength to dissolve and destroy any karma. That frees you because knowledge is Divinity, i.e the totality of existence, and when you live in knowledge and become aware of a tendency in you, it will help to overcome tendency.