Transmigration of Soul and Theory of Rebirth

Hari Om

The glimpses of this metaphysical concept are found in Vedas, Upanishads and even other scriptures of Hindus. The scriptures of other religions also refer to it but with minor variations. Holy Koran says,” Allah-the merciful and compassionate God, makes you in gradual stages. He created seven heavens one above the other and brings you to this earth like a plant out of a germ and to earth, He will restore you. He will again bring you back.” In Katha Upanishad Nachi-keta, a nine years old child on the path of knowledge (Jnan marga), tells his highly learned but selfish father,” like a corn a man ripens, falls to the ground, like a corn he springs up again in his season.” Apart from scriptures metaphysicists like Plato, Pythagoras, ethical metaphysicists like Buddha and Mahavira and many others refer to rebirth in different kinds of families. Garuda Purana CXIII links the rebirth to man’s own actions.” A frightened mouse runs to its hole, a scared serpent to a well, a terrified elephant to its slake, but where a man can fly from his karma (good or bad actions). Thus man creates his own fate even in his foetal life and can not escape from its past existence.”

While these scriptural and metaphysical truths do indicate that there is a transmigration of soul and rebirth not necessarily in the same religion or even country or region, Yajur Veda 3-54,55 tells us that the purpose behind this concept- rather truth is to create love for the entire mankind and to ensure that the human beings follow righteous path. Rebirth and transmigration of soul continues till there is salvation or what Vedas describe as Moksha. It is the stage of the merging of the soul or nearness of the soul to the Supreme SoulParmatma. Lord Buddha did not consider it necessary to include the concept of soul and God and so used the word Nirvana for salvation and liberation against Vedic Moksha. He described this as state of bliss and enlightenment. However, he agreed till Nirvana is achieved, re-birth continues owing to one’s Karma of good and bad actions, deeds and desires and also the mighty Flux in Nature. The holy Bible refers to this law of Nature,” as you sow, so shall you reap.”

If we analyze in-depth this Vedic concept of rebirth and transmigration of soul, it would mean that a person could be reborn with the same soul but different gross body in his / her next birth in any religion, region and country of the entire world. He could also be born as male or female as soul has no sex or any caste, creed or cult. It could also mean that in our earlier births and previous lives we could have been Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists or even Brahamin, Kshatriya,Vaish or Shudras, male or female and even non divine vritras, avarnas etc. Belief in this divine concept will make a person love the entire mankind. A firm belief can lead to harmony, cooperation, love, respect and equality amongst all religions, sexes, caste, creed etc.

In view of its social, ethical and divine implications the concept of transmigration of soul and rebirth is described as multiform. It aims at universal Brotherhood and Friendship. It teaches spread love and not hatred, enlightened liberalism and not naked self-ishness based on Idd Nan Mmam-nothing for self all for society. This rebirth is not only due to Karma, but also those individuals who owe any kind of debt to society, parents, children, friends and others are also born again and again to discharge their debts(A.V.6-117-2). Holy Bible also advises do not resort to debts, temptations and evils.” Pray for leading us not to temptations, evils and forgive us for all our debts.”(Mathew Gospel 6-2,10-17). Human beings should always keep it mind that Kingdom of God is within you and also it is without you ( gospel according to Thomas Log-3).

When human beings no longer moves towards perfection degenerartion starts and the process towards the death of gross body gets precipitated. When Pranas, Kundalini, Buddhi, Manas, Indriyas leave the body, only consciousness remains owing to immortal Atma. Sankra charya says that the real self is capable of having unlimited con-sciousness and bliss in its shuniya sattava state when a person goes beyond gunas of purity, activity and passivity. In other states when gunas subtle particles get accumulated on the soul, the quantum of consciousness reduces but it still remains. This consciousness is the real cause of transmigration of soul from one body to another. Briha-darnyaka Upanishad 4-334 and 4-4-4 explains the rebirth as a man passes from dream to wakefulness, so does from this life to next life. At old age or during the stage of degeneration even during young age, the self separates from the limbs like ripe mango, fig or banayan fruit separates itself from the trunk. The same way the self hastens to his new abode based on past karma and begins a new life in a new body. The “self” i.e. Vedic atma departs through eye, or gate of the skull or some other apertures of the body. The deeds of the entire life and the impressions those deeds created to the manifested soul before leaving the body follow the individual in the next birth.

As earlier brought out Yajur Veda 39-6 describes in detail the journey of soul for the first 12 days after death. It goes to moon, Sun and other Prakrti devas-the beings of light particularly Indra, Mitra, Varun and Agni to acquire noble qualities, traits and being washed of impurities. But the effects of Karma remain intact. It becomes fierce, calm, terrible, fearless, ignorant, enlightened, passionate or ascetic dependent on the past deeds, desires and thoughts (Y.V.39-7). In the womb it becomes lovely through various virtuous deeds, chastiseable through ignoble deeds, supreme through divine knowledge, noble through spiritual force and protector of all bodily organs and the pericardium enclosing the heart. It is for this reason that most of the scriptures mention the soul dwelling in the heart of all individuals. Apart from Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, Bible, Koran, Adi Grantha Gaund M-5 and Katha Upanishad 1-2-20 to 22 also mention the soul residing in the heart.

Going beyond scriptures, metaphysicists like Lu Hsiang Shan (1139-93) of China have described the soul as “liang chih” i.e. having intuitive knowledge without cognition, “liang nang” intuitive capacity without exercise of study, “ku yu” innate qualities given to self by heaven, “pen hsin” original inward looking traits more like Vedic manas. The soul for the Chinese metaphysicists is our inner self and always provides us innate intuitive knowledge and is the controller of our body. Tao Te Ching appears more like a Vedic rsi or seer when he says, ” knowing others is wisdom, knowing self is enlightenment. Seek within and know thy self”. How closely he resembles Socrates?

Even those souls which have achieved Moksha and have become one with God also take birth after centuries to guide the harassed humanity. Some time they take birth through divine potency like Krishna or Rama or Jesus Christ and most often as human beings with normal birth like Buddha, Mahavira, Socrates, Sankracharya and many others. However Vedas differ from Bhagavad Gita in one important aspect regarding incarnation of God as a human beings. In Bhagavad Gita lord Krishna says, ”when ever sin spreads, there is decline of righteousness and un-righteousness is in the ascendant, then “ I ” body Myself forth”(B.G.4-6, 7). In Bhagavad Gita this manifestation of God through divine potency is for the protection of virtuous, destruction of evil doers and for establishing Dharma on firm footing. Dharma is described differently in Hindu scriptures as spiritual science or religion like Hindu Dharma, also as righteousness and some times a noble code of conduct based on laws of God- Rta. Many places there is a mention that Dharma and Rta are synonymous. While in the Vedas liberated souls take births from time to time to guide the harassed humanity and not God Himself, in Bhagavad Gita God Himself takes birth from age to age (B.G.4-8).

Sankracharya has explained the concept of transmigration of soul for human beings as the continuous movement of the wheel. According to him actions both enjoined and prohibited by scriptures bring about one’s connection with the body. Whenever the body performs any action, pleasure and pain follow resulting in attraction or repulsion, from which further action follows relating to love or hatred. The ignorant person having only material and intellec-tual knowledge considers both the merits and demerits of such ac-tions. This merit and demerit is followed similarly by connection with body and the “wheel of sansara” continues. The individuals trapped in this “wheel” with continuous motion do not know where to stop an action. The sense of discrimination between right or wrong, good or bad, virtue and evil gets blurred. Transmigratory existence is thus going on continuously for ever like a moving wheel and so the human Karma, thoughts and desires. Only after getting Vedic knowledge what he describes as Vidya, one can get out of this wheel. (Excerpt from “Glimpses of Vedic Metaphysics” by Prem Sabhlok)

GF’ Blessings.