Reincarnation is the religious or philosophical conceptthat the soul or spirit, after biological death, begins anew life in a new body that may be human, animal orspiritual depending on the moral quality of the previouslifes actions. This doctrine is a central tenet of theIndian religions and is a belief that was held by suchhistoric figures as Pythagoras, Plato and Socrates. It isalso a common belief of pagan religions such asDruidism, Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar and isfound in many tribal societies around the world, inplaces such as Siberia, West Africa, North America,and Australia.
Although the majority of sects within theAbrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity andIslam do not believe that individuals reincarnate, particular groups within these religions do refer to reincarnation; these groups include the mainstream historical and contemporaryfollowers of Kabbalah, the Cathars, and the Shia sects such as the Alawi Shias and the Druze and the Rosicrucians.
The historical relations between these sects and the beliefs about reincarnation that were characteristic of Neoplatonism, Orphism,Hermeticism, Manicheanism and Gnosticism of the Roman era, as well as the Indian religions has been the subject of recent scholarly research.
In recent decades, many Europeans and North Americans have developed an interest in reincarnation. Contemporary films, books, andpopular songs frequently mention reincarnation.In the last decades, academic researchers have begun to explore reincarnation and published reports of childrens memories of earlier lives inpeer-reviewed journals and books. Skeptics are generally incredulous about this and any other claims of life after death.
Patrick Olivelle asserts that the origin of the concept of the cycle of birth and death, the concept of samsara, and the concept of liberation in the Indian tradition, were in part the creation of the non-Vedic Shramana tradition. Another possibility are the prehistoric Dravidiantraditions of South India. Some scholars suggest that the idea is original to the Buddha.
In Jainism, the soul and matter are considered eternal,uncreated and perpetual. There is a constant interplay between the two, resulting in bewildering cosmic manifestations in material, psychic and emotional spheres around us. This led tothe theories of transmigration and rebirth. Changes but not total annihilation of spirit and matter is the basic postulate of Jain philosophy. The life as we know now, after death therefore moves on to another form of life based on the merits anddemerits it accumulated in its current life. The path to becoming a supreme soul is to practice non-violence and be truthful.
In Hinduism, the holy book Rigveda, the oldest extant Indo-Aryan text, numerous references are made to rebirths, although it portrays reincarnation as "redeaths" . One verse reads"Each death repeats the death of the primordial man , which was also the first sacrifice" (RV 10:90).
SHORT QUIZ1.Reincarnation isa) Life after the deathb) Life before being bornc) new life in a new body2. Who claims that the origin of the concept of the cycle of birth anddeath, the concept of samsara, and the concept of liberation in theIndian tradition, were partially the creation of a non-Vedic tradition?a) Buddhab) Patrick Olivellec) Shramana