Karma: Why Everything You Know About It Is Wrong authored by Acharya Prashant and published under Penguin Random House’s banner, starts with an ambitious title that challenges everything that’s hitherto been said about the ancient concept prevalent in Indian scriptures and embedded in Indian culture. The title seems not just ambitious but also provocative and makes one curious if there really is anything that is left to be said about such a popular concept like ‘Karma’?
Reading the book, one might – depending upon their own intellectual and spiritual orientations – not agree totally with the title, but can surely appreciate a newer perspective to ‘Karma’ that Acharya Prashant has put forth.
Fortunately, Karma is not a classic case of prolific and bestselling authors in self-help segment repackaging and remarketing their existing body of work with newer titles to cash on their existing brand value. Karma, it ought to be said, is strikingly original in its approach and in what it delivers to the reader.
Following the same pattern that has been observed in Acharya’s previous books, like Sambandh and Book of Myths, Karma also discusses the concept through various discourses that were given as a response to questions from seekers (a concept that was first observed with Osho’s I am The Gate.)
For such books, keeping the reader involved is challenging, since the book can go in any direction at any possible point of time. However, Karma does a brilliant job of sequencing these discourses appropriately so that there is a rhythm in reading.
The four parts of the book appear symbolic to the life journey starting from ‘Brahmacharya’ – where with a childlike curiosity, one may ask how to choose the right action; getting promoted to ‘Grihastha Ashram’ and being responsible and wiser, asking if the chosen right action would really give in the right result? And then to ‘Vanprastha’ – getting out of those questions and looking at it from the outside, realizing that the action and the one taking an action are not disassociated. Eventually, ‘Sanyas’, concluding on reflections and moving on.
Each section is well detailed and gets into the nuances of ‘Karma’, while responding to some fundamental and critical questions, which often get clouded under the mighty force of tradition.
The book had hit the Amazon best seller list within the first week of its pre-booking, and in August 2021, it also secured the first position. Nielsen Bookscan’s list alongside Ikigai, Rich Dad Poor Dad and became a national bestseller.
The credit of Karma’s success and impact goes equally to the seekers of Acharya Prashant, who have asked pragmatic questions without the fear of being labeled as ‘un-enlightened’ by their peers.
The book quotes Upanishads and the Srimad Bhagwad Gita quite extensively towards the end, linking what is being said to the original scriptures, and establishing that the book is a different interpretation and not an absolute contradiction to the Indic texts.