Category Archives: Reincarnation

8,400,000 forms of life

Q. Do you believe in reincarnation?

A. Yes. The Bhagavad-gita, the principal scripture of the Hare Krishna movement, and the roots of understanding reincarnation, states “As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.”
The Vedas further explain that the soul in the material world transmigrates within a cycle of material birth and death through 8,400,000 forms of life. The human form, however, is the only birth which affords one, the chance for spiritual realization. Species lower than humans are not endowed with sufficient intelligence to understand the soul as different from the body. 

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Soul Transmigration

Q. What is reincarnation?

A. The Bhagavad-Gita states that life does not begin at birth nor end with death. It is eternal. The soul is constantly transmigrating from one body to another according to its desires and quality of activities (karma). The Vedas further explain that the soul in the material world moves through a cycle of 8,400,000 forms of life. The human form, however, is the only birth which affords one the chance for self-realization. Lower-than-human species are not endowed with sufficient intelligence to understand the self as different from the body.

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Life after death

Q. In several places in BTG I have read that while departing the body, if the soul thinks of Lord Krishna as the last thought, then it reaches only Lord Krishna, the Supersoul, as its final destination. How does this fit with the laws of karma, where your past works determine your next life and destiny in the material world? Is it not saying that all your life you can commit sins and in old age run to the shelter of Lord Krishna and try to develop the skills to think of Him in your last thoughts and thus reach Him”in other words, attain liberation?

A. We do not worship idols. Idolatry is the worship of an imagined form of God. Deity worship is not idol worship, but is worship of the Lord according to His instructions.God is spirit, but as Krishna reveals in the Bhagavad-gita, matter is His energy. Because we cannot perceive spirit in our present condition, Krishna allows us to see Him in His Deity form made of material elements. He tells us that the Deity installed according to the directions of the scriptures is identical to Him.

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Reincarnation

Q. Why do you accept the idea of reincarnation?

A. We accept reincarnation as fact because it’s taught in the Vedas and it is very reasonable.

The Vedic literature tells us that we souls can inhabit any of millions of forms of life, including aquatics, plants, insects, reptiles, birds, animals, and human beings. At the time of death, we leave one body and enter a new one. That is called reincarnation.

The concept of reincarnation is not as foreign as it might seem. We can observe that we change from one body to another in our own lifetime. Your body at birth is completely different from your adult body. Yet throughout these changes, you—the conscious self—remain the same. Similarly, the conscious self remains from one body to the next in the cycle of reincarnation.

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Life after Death…!

Q. What do you believe happens after we die?

A. After we die we go into another body—material or spiritual, depending on our actions in this world.

The Vedic literature tells us that we souls can inhabit any of millions of forms of life, including aquatics, plants, insects, reptiles, birds, animals, and human beings. At the time of death, we leave one body and enter a new one. That is called reincarnation.

The concept of reincarnation is not as foreign as it might seem. We can observe that we change from one body to another in our own lifetime. Your body at birth is completely different from your adult body. Yet throughout these changes, you—he conscious self—remain the same. Similarly, the conscious self remains from one body to the next in the cycle of reincarnation.

Our present body is the result of a long series of actions and reactions in previous lives. The law that governs this is known as karma: every action has a reaction. Our previous actions have produced our present body, and our current actions will determine our next body.

Krishna, through the agency of material nature, provides all these bodies for us in response to our desire to enjoy in the material world. Yet all species of life also share in the miseries of the material world. So for us eternal souls, moving from body to body means experiencing every imaginable kind of suffering. Only in the human form can we can free ourselves from the vicious cycle of reincarnation—by reestablishing our eternal, loving relationship with Krishna.

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REINCARNATION

Q. After we quit these bodies and get new bodies, will we forget all of our present spiritual activities (like interacting with devotees, Deity worship etc)? It makes sense that we would forget this live’s material (maya) actions, but aren’t things done in Krishna consciousness transcendental even here, so why wouldn’t we remember them?

A. In the Bhagavada Gita 15/15 Krsna says from Me comes knowledge, rememberance and forgetfulness. He also says He will carry what we lack and preserve what we have. So we should have faith that simply by sincerely serving Krsna all our needs will be met and regarding the details we can just let Him worry about that.

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Death and Remembering

Q. In several places in BTG I have read that while departing the body, if the soul thinks of Lord Krishna as the last thought then it reaches only Lord Krishna, the Supersoul, as its final destination. How does this fit with the laws of karma, where your past works determine your next life and destiny in the material world? Is it not saying that all your life you can commit sins and in old age run to the shelter of Lord Krishna and try to develop the skills to think of Him in your last thoughts and thus reach Him—in other words, attain liberation?

A. One of the main teachings of Bhagavad-gita is that karma or work  done for the satisfaction of Krishna brings no reaction. Such work is called akarma. The devotee serving Krishna under the direction of Krishna’s representative, the bona fide spiritual master, performs spiritual activities that not only have no material reaction; they act to purify the consciousness. Purified consciousness means Krishna consciousness.

Unless we develop Krishna consciousness during our life to remember Krishna at the time of death will be very difficult. Srila Prabhupada cautions, “Remembrance of Krishna is not possible for the impure soul who has not practiced Krishna consciousness in devotional service.”

At death, we’ll naturally remember whatever we’re attached to. If we spend our life developing attachments to things other than Krishna, we’ll remember those things and look to them to save us at the time of death. So while it is true that whoever remembers Krishna at death goes to Him, we should understand that doing so will be impossible unless we diligently practice and awaken our love for Him.

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Reincarnation is a fact

Q. Hare Krishna…I want to know, is reincarnation really true? And if yes is there any scientifically proven cases for this? Can u forward some of the articles on this topic and some proved cases.


A. Reincarnation is a logically acceptable fact. Just as our body is changing at every moment even though the individual remains the same, so the body when it is totally useless is given up and a new body is awarded to the person after death. It is as simple as removing an old set of clothes and putting on a new one.

Dr. Ian Stevenson, a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia, in his book Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1966), has documented and verified past-life memories in young children. Many other scientists in India and abroad have recorded cases of past-life memories. The Vedic scriptures, especially the Srimad-Bhagavatam, also mention several cases of reincarnation.

If you wish to know more about this subject, I suggest you to read Coming Back—The Science of Reincarnation, a book published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. You can purchase this book from any ISKCON temple.

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