Hinduism in one of the most ancient known religions and it has been practiced for more than 8000 years. It has various evidences in terms of scriptures, sculptures which have been scattered in the whole world and its holy books – Veda, Upanishad, Bhagavad-Gita, even the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Consequently new religions like Jainism, originating 3000 BC, Buddhism originating 600 BC, and in around the 16th century, another religion Sikhism originated, parallel with Hinduism. In the 18th century, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the leader of the modern Bengal renaissance movement in India, had started another religion – Brahmo-Samaj along with other renowned social workers such as Keshab Chandra Sen, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Dayananda Saraswati, Debendranath Tagore, Dwarknath Tagore and many more based in the Calcutta city. This has been continued for about two centuries, and still a group is present that believes in this practice.
On this earth, every living being is mortal but its soul is immortal. In Hinduism, we have a belief of reincarnation and transmigration of soul or spirit after the biological death depending upon the quality of work that a person has done in their past life. To attain Moksha is the aim in life of all human beings so that the almighty would send them back to the earth again and it is an endless continuous process until one achieves Moksha or liberation of life. Most Hindus believe that birth – death and rebirth is a cycle of life that may be in different forms either as human beings or animals or insects or as even plants on the earth. According to Hinduism, the soul after clinical death either goes to Swarga Loka (Heavenly abode) or Narak Loka (Hell) depending upon the lifestyle, set of circumstances, standard of living, way of acting or how much time it had devoted for mankind or worshipped the creator in their life span. Always we have to follow a sensible path in life because life provides us with huge possibilities and opportunities.
The lifestyle determines the Karma or the internal action, and hence, the Hindus believe that the good or bad actions of life foster the positive or negative merits for the rebirth of the soul. If our actions are good as humans, then there may be a chance to have rebirth as human again or if we failed to do good Karma, then the soul may come back as animal or even as tiny insects or plants, and the process of rebirth goes on until and unless the taste of life is completed. It is believed that the process of rebirth may take place as a plant even. We have different plants, some known as Amrita Brikhha, whose fruits are offered for the worship of God, and some plants are poisonous. Behind these, it is again the Karma or action of life. In Hinduism, it is commonly believed that if you are committing the most serious offence either to your parents or Guru or any form of life, then we may come back to the lowest form of insects that is feces beetle.
According to Professor Lutloski – “Rebirth is certain, until all human experiences become male and female, wealthy and poor, free and enslaved, generally having experienced all conditions of human existence.”
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Srila Praphupada once said in an interview – “If we do not accept the reincarnation and transmigration of the soul, and then we will be unable to go beyond the conception of believing we are physical bodies.”
Aldous Huxley, the scientist has written in his religious treatise ‘Evolution and Ethics’ – “None but the very hasty will reject reincarnation on the grounds of inherent absurdity”. The Bhagavad Gita and all the Vedic scriptures have explained soul as a subatomic sentience, the mind as atomic sentience and the physical body as being gross matter.
Plato explains reality either as matter which is visible or immaterial which is invisible. Plato is indicating the soul as invisible in reality.
Mahapurusha Srimanta Sankaradeva, a saint scholar, poet, social religious reformer of the 15th – 16th century, is believed as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Krishna or Lord Vishnu exists outside of material space but their Avatar or incarnation appears in the material universe like Saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu of the 16th century.
Different philosophers from ancient times have got different opinions. In the seventeenth century, Rene Descartes, a French philosopher believed that soul is identical to mind and when a person dies, their mind survives in a ghostly state perhaps around us.
So that in Hinduism, we offer fruits, milk, etc, as food to this soul after death for a few days at least and even we believe mortal soul will be happy and free to go to its heavenly abode after Pinda Daan at Gaya for the peace and escape to the departed soul of our ancestors.
But in several religions also, other than Hinduism, it is believed that good souls, that is the human beings and living animals, those who have served mankind during their life tenure, become the mercy of God, and a member of the house of God forever.
“Jibe Prem Kore Jei Jon, Sei Jon Sebiche Ishwar” – “Those who serve others serve the Lord in the true sense,” Swami Vivekananda had said. The escape of souls depends upon the works offered to mankind and living animals as the way to be the guest of God or to come back to earth again as human beings.
Behind this, we have some predictions and some theories based on predictions only. A star in the sky shines because of the photon coming out of the sun existing far away from us. The speed of this photon is the speed of light and the stars that we viewing today, perhaps, started their journey thousands of years ago! We have never seen the birth of those stars but its effect has reached us and this way they are inaccessible to us. The energetic photon as an effect of the death stars may be considered as the soul of the stars!! Hinduism is a practical combination of science, mathematics and spiritualism. The Bhagavad-Gita is the source of many modern scientific explanations and predictions and the Slokas written in the Vedic scriptures are the sources of modern mathematics. Even NASA cannot disagree with the scientific explanation written in the Bhagavad-Gita. In many scientific articles, souls have been explained as energy. In physics as definition of energy, we know that energy can neither be created nor can be destroyed; only physical changes occurred. And this has been depicted in Hinduism that souls as energy take rebirth or transmigration occurs what we know as reincarnation.
So, after death, the soul, what we believe is accessible? Maybe, as one group of intellectuals believe that until gravity is there, soul after death also exists.
Hinduism is universal, flexible and one of the most ancient religions. The time span after the creation of life on earth has been divided into four yugas or eras in the Yuga Cycle and these are known as Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and the present age is called Kali Yuga. In the cycle of yugas, the Satya Yuga, also known as Kriti Yuga, is the age of purity, truth and may be called the age of God. Subsequently with the change of time and cycle, the Avatar or incarnation of God started changing, and appearing as human beings in this universe to teach the lesson of Moksha and Karma of life, as the complexity of life escalated in the society. Therefore, according to Hinduism, we can say the soul comes back to this materialistic earth as a process of reincarnation.
Written by – Mongal Saha
Mongal Saha is a National Teacher’s Awardee-2009 (RASHTRAPATI PURUSKAR)
M.SC (MATHS), M.SC (DISATER MITIGATION), B-ED
PGT (MATHS), HOD (MATHS) ARMY PUBLIC SCHOOL BASISTHA, GUWAHATI
FORMER VICE PRINCIPAL, ARMY PUBLIC SCHOOL NARANGI