The term Karma (action, activity) has a wide number of meanings in Hindu philosophy and religion.
Firstly, Karma can refer to any action, be it physical, mental, moral, etc.
Secondly, it can be understood as any form of mental activity – the intentions underlying actions.
Thirdly, it can be understood as the ‘accumulation’ of all actions during one’s life to date. A central premise of the doctrine of Karma is that all actions have moral consequences and that ‘good’ actions are rewarded and ‘bad’ actions are punished. ‘Good’ actions are those which are performed in accordance with one’s Dharma. Moreover, Karma is both action and the ‘fruits’ of action. The concept of Karma is related to the doctrine of rebirth. However, in the Vedic period, Karma was primarily related to the correct performance of ritual. According to some scholars, it was the Jains who widened the doctrine of Karma to include all actions, and the Buddha who shifted the goalposts further to include intentions.
A number of scholars have examined the way that Karma functions between individuals. Jonathan S Walters for example, has coined the term sociokarma in order to examine how karma binds individuals together in networks of interdependence and responsibility (see Communal Karma and Karmic Community in Theravada Buddhist History in Constituting Communities (SUNY 2003). See also Peter Hershock’s Family Matters: Dramatic Interdependence and the Intimate Realization of Buddhist Liberation.