Reincarnation is the religious orphilosophical concept that the soul orspirit, after biological death, begins anew life in a new body that may behuman, animal or spiritual depending onthe moral quality of the previous lifesactions.
This doctrine is a central tenet of theIndian religions and is a belief that washeld by such historic figures asPythagoras, Plato and Socrates.
It is also a common belief of pagan religions such as Druidism, Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar and is found in many tribal societies around the world, in places such as Siberia, West Africa, North America, and Australia.
In recent decades, many Europeans and North Americans have developed an interest in reincarnation. Contemporary films, books, and popular songs frequently mention reincarnation. In the last decades, academic researchers have begun to explore reincarnation and published reports of childrens memories of earlier lives in peer-reviewed journals and books. Skeptics are generally incredulous about this and any other claims of life after death.
Reincarnation is the natural process ofbirth, death and rebirth. Indians believethat the Jiva or Atman(soul) is intrinsicallypure.
The early Buddhist texts make it clear thatthere is no permanent consciousnessthat moves from life to life. GautamaBuddha taught a distinct concept ofrebirth constrained by the concepts ofanattā, that there is no irreducibleātman or "self" tying these lives together,which serves as a contrast to Hinduism,where everything is connected, and in asense, "everything is everything.
Though the major Christiandenominations reject the concept ofreincarnation, a large number ofChristians profess the belief. GeddesMacGregor, an Episcopalian priestdemonstrates in his book Reincarnationin Christianity that Christian doctrine andreincarnation are not mutually exclusivebelief systems.
The idea of reincarnation is accepted bya few Muslim sects. Historically, SouthAsian Ismailis performed chantas yearly,one of which is for sins committed in pastlives.
Reincarnation is not an essential tenet oftraditional Judaism. It is a common beliefin contemporary Hasidic Judaism, whichregards the Kabbalah as sacred andauthoritative, though unstressed infavour of a more innate psychologicalmysticism.