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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
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  • 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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Puja for The Spiritualism, Not for Vulgar Entertainment

The westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures" and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those "holy books" only in the drawers of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods' idols !!!

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Hinduism
he westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures"

By Salil Gewali

Any auspicious days in Hinduism are expected to be observed with a complete purity of action and thought. The same holds true for other religions too. As per the Hindu scriptures, the believers are required to stay away from any kind of sense gratifications, particularly when the specific days are dedicated to Gods and Goddess such as Navratri, Laxmi Puja, Krishna Janmashtami, Shivaratri, to name a few. The pathway to devotion and spiritualism should not be “desecrated” by the blot of the brazen entertainment. The scriptures logically explain why it is antithetical, and its adverse consequences.

Hindusim
Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.

 But, what a huge irony, rather a blasphemy that many people these days have started to choose the auspicious days of Gods to satisfy their base senses. Without a wee bit of regret, a certain class of people holds almost every auspicious day as the most “unmissable” occasion to booze with the friends, and what not, and stagger back home, lol! Such bizarre practices are fast catching now than ever.  Sadly, hardly any conscious people and spiritual organizations stand up and take the right measures to check such godless deviations.

What is quite unpleasant is that such a kind of unholy practices are often being facilitated by certain “Hindu intuitions” as well. On this past Laxmi Puja, the “propitious time” to perform the ritual had fallen between 6 PM to 7:53 PM. Yours truly decided to use that span of time for meditation. But hell broke loose. Apart from fireworks around, the Bollywood songs in high decibel burst forth from a certain Hindu institution quite frustrated the mission.

Hindusim
Sadhu Sanga Retreat, 2016

 One senior citizen laments – “Nothing could be irreligious than the fact that a favorable time for “puja” is also being used for the wrongful purposes. We rather expect the “Hindu institutions” to teach our children Bhajan, Kirtan, and other spiritual activities, not the loud and feverish parties and disturb others.”

Another college student adds “Having been much disturbed by the noise pollution, I have persuaded my parents to shift our place of residence to elsewhere, not at least near holy places with an unholy mission. I have started to see such institutions with the eyes of suspicion these says.” Is it that our institutions are unable to use their “discretion”, and as a result, they fail to differentiate between right and wrong?  One is deeply apprehensive that Bollywood songs and vulgar dances might as well be included as a part of the “puja ritual” as we have long accepted the fun of fireworks bursting as an integral part of Laxmi Puja which in fact is just an entrenched “misconception”.

Hinduism
Hinduism is expected to be observed with a complete purity of action

Needless to say, our roar for consumerism has almost drowned the whisper of inherent spiritualism. We are only just sending out the wrong messages. I’m afraid, the whole culture itself might be looked down with derision by other faiths. It might just become a subject of ridicule! It is no exaggeration, such negative notions against the “wrong practices” are all what we often read these days in several newspapers and social media. Do we want others to demean our profound spiritual heritage thus?  I believe it calls for a serious soul-searching.

Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.  It warns in the strongest terms that mankind should absolutely be careful not to fall under the influence of any short-lived sense gratifications. Or else, our endeavor to “practice and preserve” the sanctity of a religion/spiritualism will be a futile exercise.

However, on the other hand, the westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our “scriptures” and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those “holy books” only in a drawer of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods’ idols !!!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.

Twitter:@SGewali.