Difference Between Karma & Dharma

Dharma and Karma are two of the four principal duties of a person born on this planet, according to ancient Hindu scriptures. The other two duties are Kama and Moksha. Karma pertains to a person’s actions or deeds, while Dharma represents their duty towards society and religion. Some individuals believe that adhering to the laws of Dharma is sufficient and that one should not act according to their free will to create their own destiny. Others argue that there is a constant struggle between Dharma, which addresses life and the afterlife, and Karma, which deals with actions in real life only. Let’s delve deeper into the intertwined concepts of Dharma and Karma.


Dharma is a central concept in understanding the Hindu way of life. Every society has moral values and concepts of right and wrong that seem to come from the heavens, as if ordained by a deity. In Hinduism, natural laws or behaviors necessary for maintaining peace and order are considered part of a person’s Dharma or duty, which they must follow through a cycle of births and deaths to ultimately attain Moksha.

Everything in life that is considered right by society is part of a person’s Dharma. In contrast, Adharma represents everything that is wrong and immoral. A person’s Dharma is determined by factors such as age, gender, caste, and occupation. This means that a child’s Dharma differs from that of their grandparents, and a man’s Dharma differs from that of a woman.

A warrior’s Dharma is to fight and protect their land, while a priest’s Dharma is to preach and impart knowledge. A brother’s Dharma is to protect his sister, and a wife’s Dharma is to obey her husband in both good and bad times. In modern times, Dharma has been inaccurately equated with a person’s religion.


Karma is a concept roughly equivalent to the Western notion of actions and deeds. There are both good and bad Karma, and as long as one acts according to their Dharma, they are performing good Karma, which will have positive consequences for them in later life and the afterlife. This concept encourages people to be righteous and consistently perform good Karma.

In India, people aspire to do something for their afterlife to receive a call from paradise, and they fear that bad Karma will lead to hell after death. Pain and suffering in one’s life are often attributed to their earlier Karma or Karma from previous lives.

Key Takeaways

  • Dharma and Karma are central concepts in the lives of Indian people who believe in the cycle of births and deaths to ultimately attain nirvana, which is the ultimate goal of life.
  • Dharma represents everything that is right and moral, descending from religious scriptures and encompassing behaviors expected of a person in society.
  • Karma refers to the concept of action or deed and determines whether one will reach nirvana based on their actions; pain and suffering in life are explained by Karma, and those following their Dharma are at peace with themselves, assured of a place in heaven after liberation.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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