Dead or Alive ?

ReincarnationThe Gita says, ‘It (the self) is not born, and It does not die; nor is it ever that this One having been nonexistent becomes existent again. This One is birthless, eternal, undecaying, ancient; It is not killed when the body is killed.’

This is known as reincarnation. Reincarnation, literally “to be made flesh again”, is a doctrine or metaphysical belief that some essential part of a living being (in some variations only human beings) survives death to be reborn in a new body. This essential part is often referred to as the Spirit or Soul, the ‘Higher or True Self’, ‘Divine Spark’, ‘I’ or the ‘Ego’ (not to be confused with the ego as defined by psychology). According to such beliefs, a new personality is developed during each life in the physical world, but some part of the being remains constantly present throughout these successive lives as well.

People who believe in reincarnation believe that once one dies, one’s body decomposes, but something of oneself is reborn in another body. It is the belief that one has lived before and will live again in another body after death. The bodies one passes in and out of need not be human. One may have been a doberman in a past life, and one may be a mite or a carrot in a future life.

The belief in past lives used to be mainly a belief in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, but now is a central tenet of dianetics and channeling. In those ancient Eastern religions, reincarnation was not considered a good thing, rather a bad thing. To achieve the state of ultimate bliss (nirvana) is to escape from the wheel of rebirth. In most, if not all, ancient religions with a belief in reincarnation, the soul entering a body is seen as a metaphysical demotion, a sullying and impure rite of passage. In New Age religions, however, being born again seems to be a kind of perverse goal. Prepare yourself in this life for who or what you want to come back as in the next life. Belief in past lives also opens the door for New Age therapies such as past life regression therapy, which seeks the causes of today’s psychological problems in the experiences of previous lives.

Various religions have various genres of beliefs when it comes to the concept of reincarnation. Hinduism teaches that the soul goes on repeatedly being born and dying. One is reborn on account of desire: a person desires to be born because he or she wants to enjoy worldly pleasures, which can be enjoyed only through a body. Hinduism does not teach that all worldly pleasures are sinful, but it teaches that they can never bring deep, lasting happiness or peace (ānanda). According to the Hindu sage Adi Shankaracharya – the world as we ordinarily understand it – is like a dream: fleeting and illusory. To be trapped in Samsara is a result of ignorance of the true nature of being. In Jainism, particular reference is given to how devas (gods) also reincarnate after they die. A Jainist who accumulates enough good karma may become a deva, but this is generally seen as undesirable since devas eventually die and one might then come back as a lesser being. This belief is also exists in a number of other schools of Hinduism.

I am sure we have all seen Shahrukh Khan’s new movie, Om Shanti Om. Reincarnation plays a very significant role in the film. The film is around a very simple, poor yet ambitious junior artist who aims to be a superstar some day. He also aims to get married to this very famous actress. He is a witness when the actress’ lover tries to burn her to death and the magnitude of his love for he is so much that he dies in the process of saving her. Coincidentally or not, he is born again in the house of a very famous actor and he himself becomes a superstar. He remembers everything that happened in his last life and gets the actress’ lover to confess his crime.

It is true that this movie is replete with Bollywood drama but can such a thing can happen. Can we remember what happened with us in our past lives? It is believed that if a person dies with some unfinished business, his soul is born in another body in order to complete the task.

There have been many cases of reincarnation. People have actually been able to remember what happened with them in their previous lives and have even acted on it. Although Shahrukh in the movie looks alike to how he looked in his past life. But after all it is Bollywood we are talking about!

Anjuri Nayar