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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 427-428
Web-of-rebirths: the 'karma' principle of Indian philosophy

Senior Resident, Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, Erragadda, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

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Date of Web Publication15-Dec-2015

How to cite this article:
Sanivarapu S. Web-of-rebirths: the 'karma' principle of Indian philosophy. Indian J Psychiatry 2015;57:427-8

How to cite this URL:
Sanivarapu S. Web-of-rebirths: the 'karma' principle of Indian philosophy. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Jul 7];57:427-8. Available from:

By Dr. Sravanti Sanivarapu

Background: We often use concepts of philosophy in psychiatric practice. From theories to therapies - Maslow's hierarchy of needs[1] to Frankl's logotherapy,[2] from Graham and Stephen's concepts of applied philosophy of mind[3] to neurobiology of spirituality,[4] there is a fine overlap between the two disciplines. Various questions are arising as to - what philosophy can do for psychiatry and 'Philosophy and Psychiatry' is developing into an exclusive interdisciplinary field. The role of 'karma' principle of Indian philosophy in positive psychology has also been well elucidated.[5] Often the first question posed in an attempt to realize self is - “Who am I?” and a flurry of other questions follow next “Why am I here?”, “What is the purpose of my life?”, and so on. The doctrine of 'karma', which explains individual's actions as determinants of one's fate, also governs the path to salvation.[6] The cycle of rebirths and the need to break free from it has been elaborated using a painting, titled 'Web of rebirths'.

Web-of-rebirths: In the picture, the fine outline of a human figure in the background of spider-web of numerous projections signifying rebirths is of the man who is the root cause of it - like a spider weaving the web but eventually getting caught up in it.

Have you ever pondered over what the ultimate goal of life is? The only reason we are in this world is to grow and evolve at a soul level. This stands true for each and every one of us as human beings on this planet. Other species lack the insight. They are not the ones to be blamed. It is the law of nature.

If we spend time analyzing our deeds and ourselves, we realize that we could have acted in a more 'humane' way on many occasions. If not it simply reflects that the animal instincts buried within us are driving us away from our destination. Unleashing them at any point of time would eventually lead to undesirable consequences and ultimately the human target would suffer a serious injury. And what is in the pipeline? Do you really want to know? A web of rebirths, which is actually the result of our own doings. It therefore is never too late to cast off the skin of the untamed beast, wake up the dormant spirit, expand the vision and adorn the robe of sanctity.

The level of growth that the soul achieves depends entirely on how well we handle the experiences that arise in our course of life. Thus the fate of our soul rests in our very own hands. Now with a new understanding of our existence, don't the trials of life seem far simpler already?

   References Top

Ventegodt S, Merrick J, Andersen NJ. Quality of life theory III. Maslow revisited. ScientificWorldJournal 2003;3:1050-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
Frankl VE. The Concept of Man in Psychotherapy. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 1954;47(11):975-980.  Back to cited text no. 2
Graham G, Stephens GL, editors. Philosophical Psychopathology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; 1994.  Back to cited text no. 3
Mohandas E. Neurobiology of Spirituality. Mens Sana Monographs 2008;6(1):63-80. doi:10.4103/0973-1229.33001.  Back to cited text no. 4
Kumar A, Kumar S. Karma yoga: A path towards work in positive psychology. Indian J Psychiatry 2013;55, Suppl S2:150-2.  Back to cited text no. 5
Olivelle P. Karma. In: Encyclopædia Britannica [Internet]. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc.; 2014. [last modified 2014 Feb; cited 2014 Dec 18]. Available from:  Back to cited text no. 6

Correspondence Address:
Sravanti Sanivarapu
Senior Resident, Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, Erragadda, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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