Karma is perhaps the most famous concept in Indian philosophy, but there is no comprehensive study of its various meanings or philosophical implications. Under the sponsorship of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council, leading American Indologists met on several occasions to discuss their ideas about karma. The result is this volume. This book will have a considerable impact on the teaching of Indian philosophy. At the very least, it demonstrates the impossibility of speaking of "the theory of karma," as is so often done. It also supplies the basis for a full study of this important theory. Finally, it raises basic methodological problems about the study of a non-Western system of soteriology and rebirth, questions regarding the interaction of medical and philosophical models of the human body, the incorporation of philosophical theories into practical religions with which they are logically incompatible, and the problem of historical reconstruction of a complex theory of human life.
List of Contributors, Introduction, PART I: Hinduism and its Roots: Karma and Rebirth in the Vedas and Puranas, The Concepts of Human action and Rebirth in the Mahabharata, Karma and Rebirth in Dharmasastras, Caraka Samhita on the Doctrine of Karma, The Theory of Reincarnation among the Tamils, PART II: Buddhism and Jainism: The rebirth Eschatology and its Transformations: A Contribution to the Sociology of Early Buddhism, Karma and Rebirth in Early Buddhism, The Medical Soteriology of Karma in the Buddhist Tantric Tradition, Karma and the Problem of Rebirth in Jainism, PART III. Philosophical Traditions: The Karma Theory and Its Interpretation in Some Indian Philosophical Systems, Karma, Apurva, and "Natural" Causes: Observations on the Growth and Limits of the Theory of Samsara, Karma as a "Sociology of Knowledge" or "Social Psychology" of Process, List of Participants in the First two American Council of learned societies-Social Science Research Council karma Conferences, Bibliography, Index and Glossary.