WHAT IS KARMA: Sanchita Karma and Prarabdha Karma
Hinduism classifies Karma as Sanchita Karma and Prarabdha Karma. In Vedanta, the following analogy is used to explain Karma.
A bowman stands aiming at a distant target. He takes out an arrow from the quiver and releases it. While the arrow is floating through the air, the bowman takes another arrow from the bundle of arrows in the quiver and fits it in the bow. He is ready to shoot another arrow even as the other arrow is going towards its target in one direction.
Vedanta says that you are the bowman in every birth. The quiver of arrows represents Sanchita Karma.
Sanchita Karma is the sum total of the good and bad deeds of all your past lives.
The arrows in the quiver are all the good and bad actions from your past life. All the good and bad actions from your past life reside in the quiver as residual effects for your future life.
Vedanta further explains that the arrow that you have shot is that portion of the sanchita or past karma that is responsible for your present body and destiny. This is called Prarabhdha karma.
Thus, the portion of the sanchita karma which influences human life in the present incarnation is called prarabdha karma.
In our life, a certain portion of the sanchita karma, most suited for the spiritual evolution at the time, is chosen to be worked out, during the course of our lifetime.
Subsequently the Prarabdha Karma creates circumstances which we are destined to experience in our present lifetime. It also places certain limitations via our physical family, body or life circumstances we are born into.
Thus Sanchita Karma and Prarabdha karma are colletively known as fate or destiny.
Fate or destiny is nothing but the effect of the past karma represented by the quiver holding the arrows. The arrows are the residual effects of all your good and bad actions of your past. The action of choosing and shooting a particular arrow from the choices given due to your past actions creates present karma which will decide your future birth.