The concept of reincarnation in Hinduism is as ancient as Hinduism itself. According to Hinduism, a soul reincarnates itself till it’s pure and reunites with its maker. Hindu mythologies and literature are full of such instances where reincarnation is spoken of various times. The Bhagwad Gita summarizes this concept in the following verse:
“jatasya hi dhruvo mrtyur dhruvam janma mrtasya ca
tasmad apariharye’rthe na tvam socitum arhasi”
For one who has taken birth, death is certain and for one who has died, birth is certain. Therefore in an inevitable situation understanding should prevail.
Hinduism believes that a soul has to go through multiple experiences before it achieves perfection and becomes one with the ultimate Divine. While being created; an individual’s soul is separated from the undifferentiated One. As it evolves, and as it progresses on Earth, some manage to go back to the Creator, their source, while some continue their existence and take a little while.
But why do we reincarnate? According to Hinduism, our unfulfilled motives and desires are liable for rebirth. When people with forte unfulfilled desires pass away, desires which can only be fulfilled on Earth; while they are in another world, they strongly long for their fulfilment. These desires bring them back to earth, causing reincarnation or rebirth. Every Jiva (being) has an anava (self-sense) which comes from memories, knowledge, desires, diversity and separation. The jiva remains ignorant to its true self and gets caught up in moha (experiences), dvanda (duality), dvesa (aversion), pain or pleasure. As a result of these attachments, the jiva turns selfish, and it ends up in suffering, getting caught up in this phenomenal world.
The soul is the prisoner of the body. When a person dies, the physical body becomes one with the earth elements, while the subtle body accompanies the soul in the next life. And according to ones karma or past deeds, the jivas either descend to hell or ascend to heaven. The subtle being stays in this world until it has paid off its sins or been awarded for the good deeds. Having paid off the debts of its karma, it returns to the earth as another jiva and repeats the process.
The jiva, thus undergoes a myriad of births and deaths in the immortal world. Death gives them a momentary relief from earthly sufferings, but gives them more sorrow and suffering from each new birth. This cycle is only complete when they attain liberation and find themselves in the immortal world being liberated forever, united with their creator.
Today this ancient Hindu belief of reincarnation is getting more recognition from people from various cultures around the world. This concept is based on the notion that life evolved slowly, and just did not appear suddenly, involving a long period of time and a great multitude of jivas.
Each jiva struggles and strives, until it merits finding a way to the immortal world. All of this is not possible in just one single life span. The soul has to be purified of its impurities until it can shine again with all its effulgence.
Reincarnation is the heart of Hinduism. Jivas reincarnate, travelling from one body to another as a part of their spiritual, mentaland physical evolution. The theories of reincarnation and karma emphasize every jiva has a destiny which is solely rests on self-effort. There have been countless instances which have come forward, which re-establish the fact that reincarnation and rebirth or the soul transmigration is indeed a fact and not just a mere theory.
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