If karma works, why are so many evil or corrupted people successful?


This is not difficult to explain from the Karma and rebirth doctrine of Hinduism.

When you say a person is corrupt, you are only seeing the conducts and acts of the person in the current life.

This in the scriptures is known as the Vartamana Karma.

But, there are Sanchita Karmas (accumulated over previous births) as well as Prarabdha (which are commenced or ready to bear fruits).

Both these two Karmas were done by the Jiva in it's previous births, so we don't have any clue as to how they were (good or bad).

If you say a visibly bad person is leading a good life then that only means his Vartamana Karma is bad but he is carrying very good Sanchita and Prarabdha Karmas which are bearing their fruits in his current life.

See, the various relevant verses from the Devi Bhagavatam given below:

36-38. No soul is independent; every one is under the effects of one’s own Karma. The Pundits that have realised the Truth, say that Karma is of three kinds, Accumulated, Present, and Prârabdha? This whole world is due to Kâla (Time), Karma (action) and Svabhâva (Nature); unless the proper time comes, even the Devas cannot kill men. The men are killed on account of some cause, immediate; but the Great Time is the real Destroy


  1. The Karmas done by Jîvas are of three kinds :-- auspicious, inauspicious and mixed (partly auspicious and partly inauspicious); of which the auspicious is the Sattvik Karma, the inauspicious is the Tamasik Karma and the mixed, is the Râjasic Karma. Thus have been said by the Sages.
  2. These three again are subdivided into three. They are Sanchita (accumulated), Bhavisya (impending in future) and Prârabdha (commenced). All these Karmas are in dwelling always with the body


  1. Vâsudeva said :-- O blessed one! I now tell you what is truth and the matters connected with truth. 19-20. Effort, application and manifestation of energy are certainly the duties of man; but their effects are all under the Great Destiny or Fate. The Pundits knowing the ancient lore say that there are three kinds of Karma mentioned in the Purânas and Âgamas :-- First, the Sanchita Karma (done in past births); the Prârabdha Karma, the Karma already done; and the Vartamân Karma (Karma in hand).
  2. The Karma, auspicious and inauspicious, done in many previous lives and preserved in seed forms, remains always inherent in a human soul. Urged on by this Karma, the Jîvas quitting their previous bodies, enjoy Heaven or Hell as effects of these, their own acts. 22-23. According to their good or bad works, the Jîvas acquire the higher happy body and enjoy various pleasures in the Heavens, or they take up very painful vicious bodies and suffer various pains in hell.

  3. The Prârabdha Karma, those acts out of all the previous acts done in previous births that are fully mature and ready to yield their fruits, cannot be averted; their effects must have to be experienced and then they can die away; they cannot be expiated by penances or any other remedial measures. Therefore you must hand over unconditionally your new born babe unto the hands of Kamsa.


So, the Hindu concept of rebirth and the three different kinds of Karmas well explain the situations like "good people but still facing troubles in life" or the opposite scenario.

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