August 14, 2006


asked me what my personal views on reincarnation were. Like all Hindus, I grew up with the concept of reincarnation, right from Krishna's words as he gave the Bhagavath Geetha to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra... "parithrANAya sAdhoonAm vinAshAyacha dushhkrithAm ddharma sansthApanArtthAya sambhavAmi yugey yugey"

(To save good souls and destroy evildoers, and to re-establish the moral order "dharmA", I will be born from age to age.) Even our everyday conversations are peppered with phrases like "intha janmatthuley nadakkAthu"(that's not going to happen in this birth") and "ettu janmathukku marakkAthu" (won't forget for 8 births) and "entha janmatthuley varapporey?" (in which birth are you going to come?).... But I realize that my rational belief in the indesctructability of matter sort of conflicts with my ideas about reincarnation. I *think* that with the right effort, following the "right" path of non-attachment, one can be freed from the cycle of rebirth...but can the number of souls decrease like that? If they do, how does one account for the vastly increased human population in the world? And what about other forms of life? The jAtakA tales of Buddhism and our own mythology are full of tales of people who are born as other life-forms...I have heard an elderly grandaunt scolding, "If you persist in wrondoing you will be born as a worm!" Traditional Tambram belief holds that several million good-doing births are required before a soul takes birth as a human being, and  an apparently contradictory  belief holds that only sinning souls HAVE to be born in "the world of death" or maraNa lokA, and that the gods in Heaven often undergo the "punishment" or "trial" of being born on earth. The shorter the life-span on earth, the less evil the soul has accumulated.....all this is confusing to me. How can the SOUL accumulate evil or good if it is above all of it and eternal? So....*I* don't go into root causes. I look at my life right now, and feel that I am far, far, far more lucky than I have done anything to deserve..therefore (modest simper) I must have been a real SAINT in my last birth...and I (almost all the time) believe that I must conquer my attachments, my baser passions (esp that TEMPER of mine!!) and I will be freed from the cycle, and become a liberated soul....but at the same time, there is the nihilist in me that says that everything is random and there is not going to be any reincarnation, for me, is a subject about which my thoughts are still evolving.... What do YOU think? If ALL Americans (I chose them because they, more than any other country, are associated in my mind with their automobiles) get into their automobilies once again...that's re in car nation..... I can hear your groans!