By Devakinanda Pasupuleti, MD
32) OṀ PUNARJANMASIDDHĀNTABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
ॐ पुनर्जन्मसिद्धान्तभूम्यै नमः
(Punarjanma: Re-birth, again and again, repeatedly; Siddhāntam: A fundamental law)
The theory of karma and punarjanma is a basic tenet of Hinduism. The principle behind it is- As you sow, so you reap. Punarjamna is regulated by prārabdhakarma (karma that has started giving results). Hinduism accepts the regression of a soul into animal bodies, but only to exhaust bad karmas, before being born again in a human body. When the Jīvātmā (soul) of an individual leaves his body with all its upādhis (attributes and adjuncts) it is called Death.
By upādhis are meant the following four things. (i) The Sūkṣmaśarīra (the subtle body) that is, the Mind and the senses. (ii) The five Prāṇas namely Prāṇa, Apāna, Udāna, Vyāna and Samāna (iii) karma (action) and (iv) finally, the causal body -Prāṇamanovijñānakośasaṅghāta (the body that is the cause (ignorance of Brahman) for taking another body after death and is invisible with the grosser elements). All these four things follow the soul even after physical death. Only when the soul attains mokṣa (salvation) do the upādhis leave it. It is the life-breath Udāna that guides the soul out of the body. It is the Sūkṣmaśarīra that gives heat to the body while there is life and that is why when the soul leaves the body with the upādhis, the body becomes cold.
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When the soul leaves the body with the upādhis it becomes active again and its activities and movements depend upon the actions of the soul while living. The spiritual actions of the individual are classified into three. (i) Aparabrahmopāsana. He who has done all his deeds according to scriptural injunctions is said to be one who has done upāsana of aparabrahma. When such an individual dies his/her soul with all the upādhis attains Candra loka. He goes to the place of Candra loka through dhūma (smoke), rātri (night), Kṛṣṇapakṣa (the dark fortnight), dakṣiṇāyanakāla (the sun’s passage south of the equator), pitṛuloka (world of the manes) and Ākāśa (ether). He enjoys the rewards of the deeds done on earth there and reserving some to be enjoyed or suffered in his next birth the soul with the upādhis comes back to earth to enter another body.
The soul comes back to earth through ether, vāyu, dhūma, megha, varṣa, vrīhi, yava, auṣadhi, vṛkṣa, Tila, Puruṣabīja, and strīgarbha. When the Jīvātmā goes to Candra Loka, its padārthatva (attribute) diminishes gradually and when it comes back to earth it increases gradually. Thus the jīvātmā takes thousands of births going to and from the moon (not the same moon of our Solar system). The jīvātmā coming back from the moon evolves from a plant to man. Plants are the food of man and the soul entering the plant enters the puruṣabīja (semen virile) through food. The souls coming out as rebirths do accept wombs according to a definite principle. In the order of the merit of their good deeds on earth, they are born in Brahmin, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya or Śūdra wombs. The souls with great sins are born as worms and insects. This passage of the soul from earth to Candra loka and vice versa is called Pitṛyāna. The journey of the soul after death was explained in great detail in Bhagavata Purana.
In the famous song Bhajagovindam, Sri Śankarabhagavadpāda told us about- punarapi jananam, punarapi maraṇam (the repeat cycle of birth and death). When the jīva (soul) leaves this gross body, according to our karmas, the causal body transmigrates into a different body. In Bhagavad-Gīta, Lord Shri Krishna also states that at the time of death we leave this body and enter a new body just like we discard an old shirt and put on a new one. Why and how the life-force enters a gross body was described in detail by our ancient sages with examples. So much was written in the Vedas and Upanishads about re-birth. We have life-force (70,000 energy channels) from head to toe and that is the Ātman (Soul/Self) which pervades the whole body including the mind and the thinking faculties as awareness and consciousness.
So many westerners and scholars from many countries have done research on this topic and wrote books about it as being scientific in basis rather than a belief system (Children’s Past Lives, Carol Bowman, Bantam Books, New York, 1997). Young children between the ages of 2-4 years had given accounts of their previous lives with proof like their birthplaces, important incidents, and instances, previous parent’s names, descriptions, etc. Their claims were proven to be true by the researchers, much to their astonishment (Lifetimes, True Accounts of Reincarnation, Frederick Lenz, Ph.D., Fawcett Crest, New York, 1979). There were incidents where a 3-4-year-old child was able to play Bach and Beethoven’s symphony on the piano, which can only logically be explained by the fact that the child had knowledge of his previous birth (Children Who Remember Past Lives, Ian Stevenson, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1987). According to Vedānta shāstrās, re-birth is not mere belief but a fact. They claim that bondage is the root cause of re-birth and we are caught in a cycle of birth and death due to our actions and results. The only way to get out of it is realizing that Ataman is Brahman (eternal) and getting rid of our ignorance about our true divine nature.
Our land, which revealed the trans-migratory nature of the jiīva, is ‘Punarjanma Siddhānta Bhūmi’.