From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Karmāśaya literally means ‘the potential result of karma that resides in the mind’.

Karmāśaya is a technical word that has been used in the yoga philosophy.[1] When a particular karma either good or bad is performed, its unseen result ‘lie’ (śete) in the mind in a subtle form until it gets a suitable opportunity to be manifested. Such residual karma is called ‘karmāśaya’. It is born out of:

  • Kāma - desire
  • Lobha - greed
  • Moha - delusion
  • Krodha - anger and hatred

For instance, those desiring to attain svarga or heaven, perform sacrifices like Jyotiṣṭoma. Thereby they accumulate good karmāśaya. Those who commit sins like cheating or murder, due to greed or anger accumulate bad karmāśaya. If karmāśaya is very intense, it can produce its effect in this life itself. If not, it manifests in future births. The results will be be good or bad according to the merit or demerit of the actions done. Karmāśaya is sometimes termed as ‘kārmaśarīra’ also.


  1. Yogasutras of Pataṇjali 2.12
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore