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In Buddhism and Hinduism, “the endless round of birth, death, and rebirth to which all conditioned beings are subject.” Samsara refers to the process of passing from one body to another throughout all species of life. Hindus believe that consciousness is present in all life forms, even fish and plants. However, though the soul is present in all species, its potential is exhibited to different degrees. In aquatics and plants it is most "covered", practically asleep, whereas in humans it is most alert. This progression of consciousness is manifest throughout six broad "classes of life, "namely ---- 1- Aquatics 2- Plants 3- Reptiles and insects, 4- Birds, 5- Animals 6- Humans, including the residents of heaven. Most Hindus consider samsara essentially painful, a cycle of four recurring problems: birth, disease, old-age, and death. 12 FACTS------- Samsara or the Transmigration of Souls------ 1-The concept of Samsara is common to Hinduism and all the other religions of Indian origin. Samsara means course, passage, circuit of life, worldly or secular life, mundane existence, or the material world. In a philosophical sense, samsara means the cycle of births and deaths, transmigration, or the wandering of the souls from birth to birth in the mortal world. The way of the world is known as samsara-marg, whereas liberation from it is known as samsara-moksha or vimochana. 2-According to these traditions, the embodied souls (jivas) in the mortal world are subject to the impurities of ignorance, duality, desires, egoism, and delusion, whereby they indulge in desire-ridden actions and incur karma which keeps them bound to the cycle of births and deaths. They remain so until they overcome their delusion and ignorance through spiritual practice and righteous living and achieve liberation. 3-The concept of samsara is first mentioned in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. 4-The belief in samsara is connected with the Hindu belief in karma. The law of karma states that just as every action has a cause, so actions have reactions that are impossible to escape. Karma is the cause of our particular destiny, the law of nature that ensures that we become what we think or do. Misfortunes in our present life are the result of acts that we have committed in the past. Suicide, according to the law of karma, is not therefore an option: karma cannot be escaped or deferred and its effects will only be worse if we try to avoid it. 5-When a caterpillar has come to the end of a blade of grass, it reaches out to another blade, and draws itself over to it. In the same way the soul, having coming to the end of one life, reaches out to another body, and draws itself over to it. 6-A goldsmith takes an old ornament. and fashions it into a new and more beautiful one. In the same way the soul. as it leaves one body, looks for a new body which is more beautiful. 7-The soul is divine. But through ignorance people often identify the soul with the mind, the senses and the emotions. Some people even identify the soul with the elements of earth, water, air. space and fire. 8-As people act, so they become. If their actions are good. they become good; if their actions are bad, they become bad. Good deeds purify those who perform them; bad deeds pollute those who perform them. 9-Thus we may say that we are what we desire. Our will springs from our desires; our actions spring from our will; and what we are, springs from our actions. We may conclude, therefore, that the state of our desires at the time of death determines our next life; we return to earth in order to satisfy those desires. 10-Each religion prescribes various ways, by which one can cleanse the impurities and escape from samsara. Hinduism and Jainism hold that souls become subject to Samsara at the beginning of creation. Of them,,, some souls achieve liberation while some remain bound forever. The liberated souls live in the highest realm and will never enter the samsara. Buddhism does not believe in creation. Hence, it does not clarify when the souls become bound. However, it suggests that souls can overcome their bondage to Samsara through the practice of Dhamma on the Eightfold Path and attain Nirvana. 11-The idea of rebirth and karma are mentioned in several Upanishads. Many scholars hold that these ideas did not originate in Vedic tradition, but were adapted by it from the renunciant (the renunciation of all earthly pleasures )traditions which were popular and numerous in ancient India. However, there is no evidence to substantiate it. Since the Upanishads that we have are loose compilations of ancient texts and fragmentary in nature, and since each of the major Upanishads contain verses which were most likely composed in different time periods, we cannot be certain on mere literary evidence that the early Vedic people had no knowledge of rebirth, karma, or liberation. 12-There are numerous verses in the Vedas and the Upanishads which suggest how the souls may continue their existence in the ancestral heaven and strive to secure a good life in the next birth by taking birth in the same families where they were born before. The scriptures also specify gender specific roles, remedies, and duties to facilitate the birth of ancestors as progeny and continue their journey further. SOLUTIONS TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM OF SAMSARA------------ 1-Hinduism prescribes many solutions to deal with the problem of samsara. The following are a few important ones. 1-Right knowledge. 2-Celibacy. 3-Restraint of the senses. 4-Practice of virtue through rules and restraints. 5-Desireless actions. 6-Offering the fruit of actions to the Self or to God. 7-Yoga. 8-Detachment. 9-Renunciation. 10-Devotion 2-According to the Bhagavad Gita,--- 1-The soul assumes bodies, or sheaths, as long as it still yearns to live and act. Only by completely renouncing action and the external illusion of the world can we be free of karma, and thus find moksha, or release from reincarnation. 2-However, Bhagavad Gita also teaches that our actions need not necessarily produce a negative karmic result if we act disinterestedly, so that we are unconcerned about the fruits or rewards of our deeds. Disciplined action is the way of truth (dharma) and the path to brahman (the godhead). By offering our every action, thought, and word to brahman, the ill effects of karma are nullified and the atman (the soul) is free of egotistical desire. You cannot attain perfection by merely shirking action. Indeed it is impossible even for a moment to be utterly inactive. All living beings are driven to action by their own natures. 3-Those who withdraw from action, while allowing their minds to dwell on sensual pleasures, are deluding themselves; they can never follow the path to perfection. 4-Fulfill your duties; action is better than inaction. Indeed, you should strive to maintain the health and strength of your body. Yet selfish action will enslave you. Act selflessly, without any thought of personal gain. 5-When human beings were created, the obligation of selfless action was also created. God promised that through selfless action human beings would fulfill their deepest desires. 6-Good people, who share the fruits of their work, are freed from all their sins. But those who keep the fruits of their work for themselves, consume sin. Every selfless action is inspired by God; he is present in every good deed. All life turns on this truth. WHAT IS THE GOAL OF HUMAN LIFE ?-- 10 FACTS----- 1-All worldly existence is subject to the cycle of samsara, which is thought of as having neither beginning nor end. According to Hinduism the goal of human life is to be free or liberated from repeated births and deaths. Such liberation is called moksha or mukti in Sanskrit. Moksha can be attained only through God-realization. 2-Moksha is the end of the death and rebirth cycle and is classed as the fourth and ultimate artha (goal). It is the transcendence of all arthas. It is achieved by overcoming ignorance and desires. It is a paradox in the sense that overcoming desires also includes overcoming the desire for moksha itself. It can be achieved both in this life and after death. 3-Hinduism teaches that the ultimate solution to life's basic problems is to be released from karma and gain freedom from this cycle of rebirth. 4-Consider those who in the course of many lives on earth have become free from desire. By this we mean that all their desires have found fulfillment within the soul itself. They do not die as others do. Since they understand God, they merge with God. 5-'When all the desires clinging to the heart fall away, the mortal becomes immortal. When all the knots of desire strangling the heart are loosened, liberation occurs. 6-As the snake discards its skin, leaving it lifeless on an anthill, so the soul free from desire discards the body, and unites with God who is eternal life and boundless light. 7-In Hinduism, the prominent belief is that samsara is a feature of a life based on illusion (maya). Illusion enables a person to think s/he is an autonomous being instead of recognizing the connection between one's self and the rest of reality. Believing in the illusion of separateness that persists throughout samsara leads one to act in ways that generate karma and thus perpetuate (keep in existence) the cycle of action and rebirth. By fully grasping the unity or oneness of all things, the believer has the potential to break the illusion upon which samsara is based and achieve moksha—liberation from samsara. 8-Whereas moksha (liberation) acts as the positive motivation for Hindu religious practice, samsara is the negative motivation from which Hindus seek liberation. 9-The undesirable nature of samsara comes from its unpredictability—people are unaware of how the actions or karma in their present life will affect their future. Because past lives affect future ones, a person is never sure about their reincarnation and the suffering that might accompany it because of past actions. 10-As the Indian conception of human existence (prior to one’s enlightenment), samsara is a central component of all religions originating in India. Buddhists and Sikhs view samsara in much the same way as Hindus, and Buddhists particularly stress the concept that life is a form of suffering that is encountered and perpetuated through samsara. Jainism sees samsara as a base and mundane form of existence that one ought to renounce . REINCARNATION & SAMSARA IN NUTSHELL------ 08 FACTS------- 1-At death the soul passes into another body. 2-It is carried within the subtle body. 3-The next body is determined by the state of mind at death, and by the soul's desires and deserts. 4-The nature of the soul is the same, regardless of which body it resides in. ( passing through the six categories of lifeforms. ) 5-As the real self (atman) remains unchanged throughout life, it likewise continues after death. This soul is carried within the subtle (astral) body to its next destination. The precise nature of the new body is determined by the state of mind at death and is specifically influenced by 1- The person's desires, 2- His/Her karma. 6-This system is just like Replacing old clothes with new----- As the body wears clothes, the soul "wears" the body. We discard clothes when they become old and useless, and buy and put on new ones. 7-We buy clothes on the basis of-- 1- What we want, 2- What we can afford. Similarly, we get our next body according to 1- our desires 2-our karma. 8-Just as a person wears layers of clothing, the soul wears a number of material coverings. They are primarily two:---- 1-The subtle body, also called the astral or ghost body It consists largely of the mind and usually remains with the soul as it quits the gross body. 2-The gross or external body, which the soul (with the subtle body) discards at death. ...SHIVOHAM......