What is reincarnation in Hinduism? Before finding an answer to reincarnation in Hinduism, let us understand the concept of reincarnation. Reincarnation is known as the rebirth of the soul in another body. That is after biological death only the physical body is disintegrated, but the soul or the spirit leaves the body and enters a new body and starts a new life. Reincarnation is a crucial concept in Hinduism along with Karma. In fact, reincarnation is very much misunderstood by the people, especially in the west. It is a shining jewel in the quest towards knowledge, enlightenment, and liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. This article attempts to explain this concept in easy to understand terms.
Hindu religion believes in cycles of births and deaths and transmigration of the soul. It believes that it is only the human body made up of elements that get destroyed at death while the soul of the body migrates and finds a place in another body. This process goes on until the soul becomes mature and ready to leave the cycle of births and deaths. Your karma or your actions and behaviour shape your present as well as future lives.
Reincarnation in Hinduism – Facts
Cycle of births and deaths continues till soul becomes perfect
The doctrine of reincarnation in Hinduism is also known as transmigration of soul and rebirth. For the learned, it is as simple as the passage of the soul from one body into another. Soul is imperfect and it has to move from one body to another until it attains perfection. Till then, it has to spend time on earth. It is only when immature soul becomes perfect that it can expect to reunite with the universal soul or God. This can take several hundred or even thousands of years and the soul enters into many bodies and takes the shape of a living thing. Upon the death of one body, soul migrates into another body and the process goes on till it attains liberation.
Bhagavad Gita gives an explanation
The sacred text Bhagavad Gita explains the concept of reincarnation in one of its verses. Translated into English, it says, ‘Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul discards worn out bodies and wears new ones.’ Thus, soul wears bodies just as we wear clothes upon our bodies. The soul leaves the body when it becomes old and useless and goes in search of a new body. The body that the soul gets after one body is destroyed depends upon karma and desires in the last birth.
Potential of soul can be best realized in human form
Hinduism believes that a human being has to endure life on earth and face all the sufferings in many life forms. It has to experience everything before it is ready to reunite with the universal soul. According to Hinduism, soul is present in all life forms, even in plants and fish. However, the potential of this soul is exhibited in various degrees in different life forms. While this potential is uncovered as a human being, it remains covered when soul takes the body of a plant or a small insect. Soul is most alert when it is inside a human being. This is why according to Hinduism, one should make conscious efforts to attain nirvana or enlightenment when he gets life as a human being.
Your life as a human being is not a single event that gets over upon your death. It represents just a single episode in a long play. You have to make several appearances on this earth in different life forms until your soul becomes perfect and ready for unification with the universal soul.