Reincarnation in Hinduism | HowStuffWorks
The Hindu religion is vast and varied. Its adherents worship an array of gods and celebrate diverse traditions. Yet Hinduism, the world's oldest surviving religion. Oriental Philosophy Hinduism: The Caste System, Reincarnation, and Karma (The world was formed from Purusa whose body is described as follows .). Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that an aspect of a living being starts a . Hinduism's Rigveda makes references to reincarnation in the Brahmanas and Jainism share the concepts and terminology related to reincarnation. Rudolf Steiner described both the general principles he believed to be.Hinduism: Understanding Karma and Reincarnation
Over the centuries there has been discussion about which goal was most important. Towards the end of the Mahabharata Shantiparvan Vidura claims that dharma is most important because through it the sages enter the absolute reality, on dharma the universe rests, and through dharma wealth is acquired.
One of the brothers, Arjuna, disagrees, claiming that dharma and pleasure rest on profit. Another brother, Bhima, argues for pleasure or desire being the most important goal, as only through desire have the sages attained liberation.
This discussion recognises the complexity and varied nature of human purposes and meanings in life. Brahman and God Brahman Brahman is a Sanskrit word which refers to a transcendent power beyond the universe.
As such, it is sometimes translated as 'God' although the two concepts are not identical. Brahman is the power which upholds and supports everything.
According to some Hindus this power is identified with the self atman while others regard it as distinct from the self. Most Hindus agree that Brahman pervades everything although they do not worship Brahman. Some Hindus regard a particular deity or deities as manifestations of Brahman. God Most Hindus believe in God but what this means varies in different traditions. The Sanskrit words Bhagavan and Ishvara mean 'Lord' or 'God' and indicate an absolute reality who creates, sustains and destroys the universe over and over again.
It is too simplistic to define Hinduism as belief in many gods or 'polytheism'. Most Hindus believe in a Supreme God, whose qualities and forms are represented by the multitude of deities which emanate from him.
God, being unlimited, can have unlimited forms and expressions. God can be approached in a number of ways and a devoted person can relate to God as a majestic king, as a parent figure, as a friend, as a child, as a beautiful woman, or even as a ferocious Goddess. Each person can relate to God in a particular form, the ishta devata or desired form of God. Thus, one person might be drawn towards Shiva, another towards Krishna, and another towards Kali. Many Hindus believe that all the different deities are aspects of a single, transcendent power.
In the history of Hinduism, God is conceptualised in different ways, as an all knowing and all pervading spirit, as the creator and force within all beings, their 'inner controller' antaryamin and as wholly transcendent. There are two main ideas about Bhagavan or Ishvara: Bhagavan is an impersonal energy.
Ultimately God is beyond language and anything that can be said about God cannot capture the reality.
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Followers of the Advaita Vedanta tradition based on the teachings of Adi Shankara maintain that the soul and God are ultimately identical and liberation is achieved once this has been realised. This teaching is called non-dualism or advaita because it claims there is no distinction between the soul and the ultimate reality.
Bhagavan is a person. God can be understood as a supreme person with qualities of love and compassion towards creatures. On this theistic view the soul remains distinct from the Lord even in liberation. The supreme Lord expresses himself through the many gods and goddesses. The theologian Ramanuja also in the wider Vedanta tradition as Shankara makes a distinction between the essence of God and his energies.
We can know the energies of God but not his essence. Devotion bhakti is the best way to understand God in this teaching. This concept is summarily described in the following verse of the Bhagavad gita: The Hindu theory of creation suggests that creation begins when the individual souls become separated from the undifferentiated One.
It continues as the evolution of life and consciousness in matter progresses upon earth in phases. During this process some souls manage to return to God, their source, through the transformation of matter or Prakriti in which they remain hidden and bound.
The remaining souls continue their existence and return to Him in the end, not through transformation but through the great destruction that happens at the end of each time cycle. Thus the great cycle of creation, stretching over millions of years, comes to its logical end. Once the creative process begins, each individual soul is drawn and bound to a false personality called jiva living being. This jiva, which stands for all living forms, not just humans, is also known as the embodied self or the elemental self.
It has an inner subtle body and an outer gross body. The soul remains encased within the subtle body.
The subtle body linga sarira is made up of the subtle senses, the subtle mind, breath, ego and intelligence. The gross body is made up of the gross mind animal mind the elemental body and its organs.
The Belief of Reincarnation of Soul in Hinduism
Each jiva being has an ego-sense anava or self-sense arising from perceptions, knowledge, memories, desires, attachments and the notion of diversity and separation. Because of the ego-sense, the jiva remains ignorant about its true identity and experiences delusion mohaduality dvanda and attraction raga and aversion dvesa to the pairs of opposites such as heat and cold, or pain and pleasure.
As a result of attachments pasas and delusion, the jivas acts selfishly as if they are different from the rest of creation. Due to egoism, desire-ridden actions and selfishness, they end up suffering, caught hopelessly in the phenomenal world. Technically, the body is the prison and the soul is held in it as the prisoner for the sins of the physical self.
At the time of death, the physical body and the gross mind return to the elements of the earth. But part of the subtle body survives and accompanies the soul to the next world. Depending upon the nature of their past deeds, and the extent of subtle bodies they develop, the jivas either ascend to the ancestral heaven pitr lok or descend into the hell. Hiding the indwelling spirit in its core, the subtle being stays in these worlds until the fruits of its good or bad actions are fully exhausted.
Having squared off the karma and learned new lessons, it then returns to the earth to take another birth and repeat the process. Thus the Jivas living beings undergo innumerable births and deaths in the mortal world. They remain bound to the mortal world and the laws of nature due to desires and attachments. Death gives them temporary relief from the earthly suffering, but exposes them to the risk of falling into greater depths of sorrow and suffering since each birth bring them newer challenges and opens them to innumerable possibilities and opportunities, both good and bad.
This goes on until they achieve liberation and enter into the immortal world of Brahman where they remain liberated forever in a state of unity with the Supreme Self. Even the Buddha who founded Buddhism did not refute reincarnation, although he was silent about the existence of God and proposed the non-existence of an eternal soul.
He preached that there was nothing like an eternal and indestructible soul. What incarnated from birth to birth was but only the subtle body, the vestige of a being in the form of a temporary construct, or the residue of an ever changing individual personality or character, which moved from one birth to another birth, until all changing and becoming came to an end, by virtue of right living on the Eightfold Path and the practice of Dharma.
Hinduism speaks of the existence of multiple heavens above and hells below. The former are sun filled, inhabited by gods devascelestial beings, forever immortal souls anityas who would never be subject to mortal life, besides innumerable freed souls muktas who were once bound to the mortal world but liberated by the grace of God or the merit of their actions.
The hells are dark and demonic worlds asurya lokaspopulated by evil and demonic beings who are forever intent upon creating chaos and disturbing the order and regularity of the worlds. The individual souls enter these worlds according to their deeds. But they do not stay there permanently. They go to them as a consequence or the fruit karma phalam of their actions, either to enjoy heavenly pleasures or suffer from the consequences of their misdeeds.
Thus, according to Hinduism, life in the ancestral heaven lasts longer, but it still is a temporary because eventually every soul that goes there has to return to the earth to continue its mortal existence. A soul may enjoy great pleasures in the ancestral heaven, but eventually its enjoyment has to end like any pleasant dream. Once its karma is exhausted, the individual soul falls down from the heights of heaven through rain and returns to the earth to participate once again in the turmoil of the unstable earthly phenomena and the ocean of births and deaths samsara.
The suggested return journey starts with the falling down of the individual souls to the earth along with rain drops from the ancestral heaven, which is located in the moon.
When they fall upon earth along with rain, each soul becomes deposited in the earth along with the seeping rainwater. There, they enter plants or trees through the water they absorb and become part of their sap. By the subject could be satirised in popular children's books. Later Jung would emphasise the importance of the persistence of memory and ego in psychological study of reincarnation: Religions and philosophies[ edit ] Further information: There is no permanent heaven or hell in Hinduism.
Just as in the body childhood, adulthood and old age happen to an embodied being. So also he the embodied being acquires another body. The wise one is not deluded about this. So after casting away worn out bodies, the embodied Self encounters other new ones. Released from birth, death, old age and pain, he attains immortality. For example, the dualistic devotional traditions such as Madhvacharya 's Dvaita Vedanta tradition of Hinduism champion a theistic premise, assert that human soul and Brahman are different, loving devotion to Brahman god Vishnu in Madhvacharya's theology is the means to release from Samsara, it is the grace of God which leads to moksha, and spiritual liberation is achievable only in after-life videhamukti.
According to various Buddhist scriptures, Gautama Buddha believed in the existence of an afterlife in another world and in reincarnation, Since there actually is another world any world other than the present human one, i.
One theory suggests that it occurs through consciousness Pali: This process, states this theory, is similar to the flame of a dying candle lighting up another. Transmigration is influenced by a being's past karma kamma. Theravada Buddhists assert that rebirth is immediate while the Tibetan schools hold to the notion of a bardo intermediate state that can last up to 49 days.
A distinction can be drawn between "folk Zen", as in the Zen practiced by devotional lay people, and "philosophical Zen". Folk Zen generally accepts the various supernatural elements of Buddhism such as rebirth.
Philosophical Zen, however, places more emphasis on the present moment. For the Sautrantika school, each act "perfumes" the individual or "plants a seed" that later germinates.
Tibetan Buddhism stresses the state of mind at the time of death. To die with a peaceful mind will stimulate a virtuous seed and a fortunate rebirth; a disturbed mind will stimulate a non-virtuous seed and an unfortunate rebirth.
Left panel depicts the demi-god and his animal vehicle presiding over each hell. Actions are seen to have consequences: So the doctrine of karma is not considered simply in relation to one life-time, but also in relation to both future incarnations and past lives.
Sometimes it acquires the body of a demon ; all this happens on account of its karma. The souls bound by karma go round and round in the cycle of existence. For example, a good and virtuous life indicates a latent desire to experience good and virtuous themes of life.
Therefore, such a person attracts karma that ensures that his future births will allow him to experience and manifest his virtues and good feelings unhindered. On the other hand, a person who has indulged in immoral deeds, or with a cruel disposition, indicates a latent desire to experience cruel themes of life.