The concept of Reincarnation in Hinduism and Buddhism: Read On!

In Hinduism, it is believed that a soul is reincarnated not only to serve negative karma but also to get rewards for the positive

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Buddhist Wheel of Life. Image source: Himalayan Academy Publications
  • The core values of Buddhism also do not necessitate any deities (including Gautama Buddha), while Hinduism is known for at least 33 million of them
  • Hinduism does not teach ideas of rebirth of a physical being, but that of the inner soul, or atma
  • Buddhism does not believe in reincarnation but rather in rebirth

Hinduism and Buddhism are both very popular religious philosophies across India. However, there are a lot of core differences in both. For instance, Buddhism does not require any priests or rituals of any kind. The core values of Buddhism also do not necessitate any deities (including Gautama Buddha), while Hinduism is known for at least 33 million of them. Aside from the differences, there are various ways in which the two ideologies are also similar. One that resonates the most with the question of existence is reincarnation, the notion of life after death. But the idea of reincarnation itself is also different in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Image source: Himalayan Academy Publications
Image source: Himalayan Academy Publications

Reincarnation in Hinduism

Hinduism does not teach ideas of the rebirth of a physical being, but that of the inner soul, or atma. The atma is the entity that is regenerated, and it can take any form of life – human, animal, plant, or even mineral. This idea of a universal cycle of birth and death is called samsara and was developed in India circa 1500BC. It is meant to be an opportunity to work off bad deeds, or karma. This not only includes visible actions, but also inner thoughts, beliefs and ignorance. The higher the number of bad deeds worked off during samsara, the higher the probability of the soul attaining a higher being, or avatar, during rebirth.

Hinduism also says that a soul is reincarnated not only to serve negative karma but also to get rewards for the positive. Another reason is to achieve the hearts unfulfilled desires, for example, the attachment, maya, to other humans or animals. Therefore, to be freed from samsara one needs to let go off all Maya and worldly pleasures and desire nothing. When a soul is free from desire, it will finally achieve moksha and live in a transcendent state for eternity.

Rebirth in Buddhism

Buddhism does not believe in reincarnation but rather in rebirth. The difference from Hindu ideology is that Buddhism does not believe that the soul is indestructible or eternal. In essence, there is nothing that goes through life, death or rebirth. Rather, all energy and matter is thought of as universal and returns to the universe after death. Under the right instances. energy and matter from the universe come together again to make a new-born. This energy is thought of as the consciousness, or the creative principal, in beings and is believed to be connected.

Like moksha, a transcendent state exists even in Buddhism wherein all being are free from the cycle of rebirth. This is called Nirvana and is also achieved by freeing oneself from all material and psychological desires. The more sinless life a being leads, the higher the chances of being born again with an advanced conscious. The advanced consciousness, by default, provides the advantage of freeing oneself from desire and attaining Nirvana.

– by Varsha Gupta of NewsGram. Twitter: @VarshaGupta94

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