Answers to common questions people have about reincarnation.
Common questions people have with the concept of reincarnation
- How many people believe in reincarnation?Statistics world-wide are difficult to obtain, but in the US the Gallup Organization made a survey in October 2001 of Americans’ belief in psychic and paranormal phenomena. For this survey, they asked adults 18 and over amongst other things if they believed in “Reincarnation, that is, the rebirth of the soul in a new body after death”. In the results, 25% said they did believe in reincarnation, 20% didn’t know, 54% didn’t believe in it and 1% had no opinion. Belief was only slightly higher among males than females, while it varied significantly between age groups: belief amongst 28-29 year-olds was at 25%, 30-49 year-olds were at 22%, while people 50 and over were at 28%
- Is there any evidence at all suggesting life after death?Scientists investigating ‘near-death’ experiences say they have found evidence to suggest that consciousness can continue to exist after the brain has ceased to function.
More details: news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/986177.stm
- Is there a scientific basis for reincarnation?Any biologist can tell that our body’s cells are constantly dying and being replaced by new ones and every seven years we change the complete set of cells that means we change our body every seven years but this change is so gradual that it’s imperceptible. So, each of us has a number of “different” bodies in this very life. The body of an adult is completely different from the body the same person had as an infant. Yet despite bodily changes, the person within remains the same. In other words, we reincarnate even in the course of one lifetime. Something similar happens at the time of death, when this body cannot be worked any more, the self undergoes a final change of body.
Therefore Krsna says:
“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth, and then to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death” (Bhagavad-gita 2.13)
He further says:
“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones” (< ahref=http://www.asitis.com/2/22.html>Bhagavad-gita 2.22)
Forensic Evidence of Reincarnation: Indian forensic scientist Vikram Raj Singh Chauhan is trying to prove reincarnation is real. He has presented his findings at the National Conference of Forensic Scientists in India. More details: http://science.krishna.org/Articles/2002/10/025.html
- So why can’t everyone believe in reincarnation?Lord Krsna explicitly says- “Some look at the soul as amazing, some describe him as amazing, and some hear of him as amazing, while others, even after hearing about him, cannot understand him at all. The foolish cannot understand how a living entity can quit his body, nor can they understand what sort of body he enjoys under the spell of the modes of nature. But one whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see all this. The endeavoring transcendentalists, can see all this clearly. But those whose minds are not developed cannot see what is taking place, though they may try to” (Bhagavad-gita 2.29, 15.8-10)
- If people remember a past life as a foreigner, why can’t they remember their past life language?A Russian woman who claims to be able to speak 120 languages says many of them are from her previous lives.Linguists claim to have identified that she speaks 16th century English,Chinese, Persian, Egyptian, Mongolian, Vietnamese, Korean and Swahili, reports Komsomol’skaya Pravda.
- If there’s only a fixed number of souls, how has the world population increased?This is often heard from people who don’t believe in reincarnation. why such people really expect that there is a limit to life in the universe. It is interesting to note that as man’s population has increased, the animal kingdom has gradually been decimated – and that is where some mystics say human souls gradually evolve upwards from. Also of note, highly advanced Yogis state that life exists on many other places in the unlimited expanse of the universe, in which case the planet Earth would be only one of many places for souls to inhabit. In the Vedic literature, our universe with innumerable planets throughout the galaxies is comparable to a grain of mustard seed in a bag full of mustard seeds.
- Do people reincarnate as animals and vice-versa?An popular reincarnation myth posits that the soul, once attaining a human form, always comes back in a human body in the next life and never reincarnates in a lower species. We may reincarnate as humans, but we could come back as dogs, cats, hogs, or lower species. There is no scientific or scriptural evidence anywhere for this fanciful “once a human, always a human” notion, which runs contrary to the true principles of reincarnation, principles that have been understood and followed by millions of people since time immemorial.
So Lord Krsna says:
“When one dies in the mode of goodness, he attains to the pure higher planets. When one dies in the mode of passion, he takes birth among those engaged in fruitive activities; and when he dies in the mode of ignorance, he takes birth in the animal kingdom”(Bhagavad-gita 14.14-15)
- What factors decide the type of body in the next incarnation?The type of body one gets in his next life will be determined by the type of consciousness he develops in this life and by the immutable law of karma. Krsna Says —
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail”(Bhagavad-gita 8.6)
- So do people undergo sex changes in next birth?Sex Change Without Surgery: As already explained, a person gets his next life’s birth according to what he thinks of at the time of death. If someone is too attached to his wife, naturally he thinks of his wife at the time of death, and in his next life he takes the body of a woman. Similarly, if a woman thinks of her husband at the time of death, naturally she gets the body of a man in her next life. —Srimad Bhagavatam (3.31.41)
- Does everyone just keep reincarnating forever?The sages of ancient India tell us that the goal of human life is to escape from the endless cycle of reincarnation. Don’t come back, they warn. One can break the cycle of rebirth by breaking free of the bonds of karma. Karma is what entangles us and continues the soul’s revolving in the cycle of repeated birth and death. Piety and its rewards are bound to make us inadvertently commit some act of impiety, because that is the nature of this material world which is full of inebrieties. Only pure spiritual activity frees us from the cycle of repeated birth and death. In bhagavad gita (14.20), Lord Krsna tells that one has to transcend even the mode of goodness to become free from birth and death” . He tells us how to transcend the modes of matarial nature– Those engaged in full devotional service, at once transcends the modes of material nature. Thus being engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, who has fixed his mind upon Me, for him I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death, but those who are not faithful on the path of devotional service cannot attain Me, but return to birth and death in this material world (bhagavad gita 14.26,9.3,12.6-7).
- But what is the problem if one keeps reincarnating forever?The real goal of understanding reincarnation is to become free from the painful cycle of birth and death. This is not a very good business–to die and take birth again.
The great sage Kapila Muni informs his mother about the true nature of the death experience: “In that diseased condition, one’s eyes bulge due to the pressure of air from within, and his glands become congested with mucus. He has difficulty breathing, and there is a rattling sound within the throat. He dies most pathetically, in great pain and without consciousness.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.30.16–18)
But taking birth in the material world is no picnic either. For months the human fetus lies cramped within the darkness of the womb, suffering severely, scorched by the mother’s gastric fire, continually jolted by sudden movements, and feeling constant pressure from being contained in the small amnion, or sack, which surrounds the body in the womb. This tight, constricting pocket forces the child’s back to arch constantly like a bow. Further, the unborn child is tormented by hunger and thirst and is bitten again and again all over the body by hungry worms in the abdominal cavity, and what makes the situation even worse, when mother kills the children within the womb, which is not uncommon nowadays. Birth is so excruciating, the Vedic literatures say, that the process eradicates any past-life memories one may have retained.
- So after we die, there’s no eternal heaven?There is certainly a eternal spiritual sky. This information is there in Bhagavad Gita. Krsna says:
Yet there is another nature, which is eternal and when all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is, and that is the supreme destination (Bhagavad-gita 8.20)
But to reach that place, requires certain qualification — Just like we require the same qualification as prime minister to enter PMO, so we need godly qualities to enter the kingdom of God. We can acquire such godly qualities by living in association of saintly persons, discussing about God and chanting His holy name, the way iron rod acquire all the qualities of fire when placed in fire. This is the secret. Therefore Krsna says:
He, who practice to remember Me, undeviated from the path, and at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. After attaining Me, the great souls never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries- wherein repeated birth and death take place, because they have attained the highest perfection — (Bhagavad-gita 8.5,7,15)
- How do I know that someone, after death, has reincarnated or gone to spiritual world?There are two ways of passing from this world–one in the light and one in darkness. When one passes in light, he does not come back; but when one passes in darkness, he returns. Those who pass away from the world during the influence of the fiery god, in the light, at an auspicious moment, during the fortnight of the moon and the six months when the sun travels in the north, don’t come back, but who passes away from this world during the smoke, the night, the moonless fortnight, or in the six months when the sun passes to the south, again comes back — (Bhagavad gita 8.24-26)