Rebirth and Transmigration-Explained

The theory of rebirth or multiple births of the same person is a moot philosophical topic. While some uphold it’s legitimacy to explain a number of philosophical and spiritual concepts, others reject it as absurd and baseless. In this post, we will be discussing about the concept of rebirth and transmigration.

  • Why should I accept rebirth and transmigration of soul?:
    • The proponents of rebirth give the argument of transmigration of soul as an argument to support their stand.
    • Soul is taken to be the ground of consciousness of a being. Soul is not material in nature and so it can never be destroyed.
    • Thus, death is related to body and not soul.
    • So, where does the soul go? The answer is transmigration. It transmigrates from one body to another over different lives.
    • This argument for transmigration of soul /rebirth is upheld by the Indian text. Bhagwad Gita and also by the Western Philosopher, Plato.

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  • Do we get the same body or a different one?:
    • This is decided by the Law of Karmaabout which we have explained earlier.
    • According to the Bhagwad Gita -We get our body according to our deeds.For example, if we justified our human life by human-like work or activities, then we would get a human body while if a human being develop qualities like laziness or stagnation, then he could get a body of a stagnant object or being such as a tree.
    • Also, it is said that if we are very ambitious for accomplishing something in this life but we die before doing that, we take birth in the circumstances conducive for the accomplishment of that desire.
  • What are some of the arguments for rebirth other than transmigration of soul?
    • Buddhism: due to ignorance or Avidya, the cycle of birth and death called Dvadasnidana keep on recurring.
    • Jainism: Ignorance, that is, indulgence in the material life leading to Ashrava and Bandha(bondage).
  • What is bondage and what is its relation with rebirth?:
    • Bondage results out of extreme indulgence of oneself in material aspects of life due to the desire for pleasure.
    • This leads to the cycle of birth and death. As desire moulds our karma and thus, governs our next life.
  • Is this cycle never-ending?
    • No, it is not.
    • The proponents of the rebirth explain the concept of liberation, that is, escape from this cycle of birth and death.
    • Bhagwad Gita: Bhakti Yoga or complete surrender to the Lord(Krsna) leads to liberation.
    • Jainism: Following the Panch Mahavrata(Satya, Ahimsa, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigriha).
    • Buddism: Following the Ashtangika Marg or the Eight-fold path.