Reincarnation is one of the central beliefs of Hinduism. Most Hindus believe in reincarnation, and the Hindu belief in reincarnation is an important foundation for a number of Hindu rituals, holidays, and life cycle practices. The belief in reincarnation includes the belief that this life on earth is not the only life for our souls. Rather, the belief in reincarnation states that the soul will return in a different body, through a series and cycle of death and rebirths until ultimately the soul is liberated from this cycle. When the soul is liberated from this cycle of death and rebirth, it means the soul has attained moksha, the status of being liberated from the cycle of birth and death. The cycle of birth and death is known as samsara, which is the process of reincarnation in Hinduism. The Hindu belief in reincarnation, therefore, is also known as the Hindu belief in samsara.
The Hindu belief in karma, or the accumulated merit and demerits of actions done by the person in his or her lifetime, is important to the Hindu belief in reincarnation. Karma is the force and consequences of human actions that fuel their process of reincarnation, and ultimately determines how long and varied that process will be. Negative actions must be atoned for, and sometimes that can happen in a person’s lifetime, either through suffering or ritual, and sometimes it must happen through the process of reincarnation. A person with many bad deeds, for example, might be reborn into a difficult life, in order to further purify his or her soul. A person with many great deeds might be reborn as a Brahmin, the highest caste of the Hindu social system. The soul might also get reincarnated as another form of life, such as an animal, if that is the right reflection of their actions. The Upanishads describe this process in more detail, and there are a variety of ways in which Hindu beliefs today reflect this process. But the belief in karma, or the acts and deeds of an individual, is the belief in the system which will determine the destiny of the soul in future iterations of their physical existence.
The process of reincarnation ends with the attainment of moksha. This is the level at which one is no longer attached to the physical world, or enmeshed in the slights, praises, rewards, and other day-to-day feelings that motivate the human lived experience in a physical universe. At this state, the person is aware that the world is united with the eternal universal world, and no longer feels separate from that existence. For many Hindus, the belief in reincarnation motivates their life goals, as they are motivated to live in such a way that will be reflected in a good life in their next lives. The most praiseworthy ways to pursue the right path include devotion to the deities, the pursuit of higher knowledge, and the pursuit of good deeds.
To learn more about Hindu beliefs, click here.
2/5/2021 8:35:00 PM