Sunday, May 9, 2010

Arguments in Favor of the Theory of Reincarnation in Hinduism

Posted by Manju-Ganesh | Sunday, May 9, 2010 | Category: |

Metaphysical Arguments
Metaphysical arguments, as such, in favor of reincarnation do not exit, because no philosophical schools of Hinduism deny this doctrine79. It is, in fact, a question of faith that one tries to understand, without putting it to discussion or deny it. The karma-samsara is Original Sin for the Hindus and is one among the very few dogmas of faith, as we have mentioned above. Modern Hindu philosophers, however, propose a metaphysical argument, viz., that the soul (atman) is eternal, but the normal condition of the soul is that it is associated with a body. It is probable, therefore, that the soul in the past would have had and in the future will have a succession of bodies.
Empirical Arguments
From the empirical point of view, some facts that occur are considered to prove the truth of reincarnation. Thus for example, the existence of prodigious children (like Mozart or Menuhin) who with their instinctive capacity far superior and prodigious in every way goes to prove that they had a training (or knowledge) before they were born, or those, for example, Bridey Murphy, yogis and Buddhist saints, who claim to remember their previous births and lives, or again the deja vu experience of some people who have explicit knowledge of people and places without having had any previous contact with them, or, finally, the conception that since the soul is indivisible it cannot be derived from parents.
The Argument of Evolution
In the philosophical system of Sri Aurobindo, reincarnation is a necessary and indispensable mechanism for the dynamic process of evolution of the universe8°. According to him, the whole universe is a manifestation, an self-revelation of the Supreme Spirit, Saccidananda. The various grades of beings are similarly grades of involution or self-limitation of the Spirit. But then through various stages of evolution, the Spirit recovers his original nature; that is, matter evolves gradually in the Spirit. Involution is the decent of the Spirit, while evolution is ascent to the Spirit. Through the process of evolution, the human mind is still to evolve itself to become superman which will then finally culminate in SaccidCananda. Hence the soul did not begin its existence in human form, but in subhuman forms and is on the way to becoming superman8'.
Theological Arguments
In favor of reincarnation, from the theological point of view some reasonable and interesting observations are made by Hindu Theologians.
1. Faith in reincarnation is confirmed by the Vedas, which are revealed and therefore contain intuitions of rishis (sages, holy persons) that are true, precisely because they are expressions supported by authentic testimony.
2. Rebirth, associated with karma, offers a fitting solution to the great problem or mystery of evil (inequality, injustice, suffering: all results of past actions: karma). Justice demands, calls for reincarnation. So much of inequality exists among men: some are strong and healthy, others instead are weak and sick, deaf and dumb, blind, mentally and physically handicapped. Some are rich, others are poor, etc. What is the reason for all this? It cannot be from God, because He is goodness and love. It cannot be attributed to the responsibility of others (first parents, for example) which would be unjust. All these problems and diff'culties can be overcome by accepting the doctrine of karma-samsara or the transmigration of souls according to the inviolable law of retribution. Each one is responsible for his own destiny in his life.
3. The doctrine of transmigration offers the possibility of a long period of time for the process of self-purification and self-perfection. Everyone has the possibility of achieving his ultimate goal, moksha. No one is exempt from it.
4. God the Creator, good and merciful, cannot punish his creature (the soul) for all eternity in hell, but offers him always new chances so that he can arrive at his final goal, viz., to be united with Him (Atman is Brahman).
10. Conclusion
Practically all the religions speak of an intermediary existence, of a sort of purgatory, a place and a time to expiate one's sins, between the earthly existence and the final one of absolute happiness (salvation, liberation, makti, moksha, nirvana, beatific vision of God or union with God, the Absolute).
The reincarnation of the soul is one way of explaining or representing this intermediary existence.
The doctrine of reincarnation is considered to be fundamentally evil; it is like the doctrine of original sin (for Christians), which remains a mystery of faith and evades every sort of rational explanation.
At the same time all the religions propose ways and means to overcome or to escape from this intermediary state of existence so as to reach the ultimate scope of human existence, viz., eternal happiness or union with God.
The fundamental preoccupation of any religion, including Hinduism, is not so much to propose or to give solutions to the problem of this intermediary existence (including reincarnation) as such, but to bring all to final salvation (heaven, moksha, nirvana), by proposing ways and means to arrive at the final goal, which for Hinduism includes also the definitive liberation from the karma-samvara or the chain of reincarnation.