(CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST)
The soul is therefore an integral part of the Universal Essence or divine source – a spark of divinity with all the attributes of the original source – indestructable, eternal, unchanging, all knowing – God in miniature. Apparently seperated and thrown up from the oceanic heart of the Universal Essence, it now journeys to the physical plane like a meteor entering earth space, bright and incandescent.

Matter is furiously attracted, as we observed earlier, to this magnificent spark of divinity, much like a mob is attracted to a film star, swarming him, or as iron filings are drawn to a magnet. Different combinations of matter – pure and subtle matter(Satvik), dynamic and passionate matter (Rajsik) and inert and fetid matter (Tamsik) – swarm the numerous falling star souls and envelop them in an irresistable embrace which cannot be deflected or denied. The soul is now entrapped in a material body and becomes what the Gita calls the ’embodied one’. Another analogy is that of a physical shroud covering a spiritual heart.

In the Gita, God speaks of the incarnation of the soul thus:

” I am the Self, seated in the hearts of all beings…”

” An eternal portion of Myself becomes the eternal soul in the living world, drawing to itself Nature’s five senses and the mind ”

This entrapment does not end with that initial entrapment but continues through reincarnation.

 

   REINCARNATION AND REBIRTH

 

Reincarnation - RebirthCredit ISKCON

Reincarnation – Rebirth
Credit ISKCON

We now arrive at the theory of reincarnation. Though Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cosmologies are entirely different from one another, the common denominator in all three faiths is the belief in rebirth. Here of course we shall solely be examining the concept of reincarnation in the Hindu context and more particularly as expounded by the Gita.

Let us begin by asking, whose rebirth? When we say ‘your’ rebirth we do not mean rebirth only of the personality-ego complex which represent you in your subtle body, now modified for the next lifetime at the moment of rebirth. What is also meant is the rebirth of the entrapped soul force within you, the ‘indweller’, the one who during the lifetime was shrouded by your body, ego and personality. The eternal soul now sheds the deceased body/personality and assumes a new one. Here let us see what the Gita has to say:

”It (the soul) is neither born nor does it die. Coming into being and ceasing to be, do not take place in it. Unborn, eternal, constant and ancient, it is not killed when the body is slain.”

”As a man casting off worn out garments puts on new ones, so the embodied one (the soul), casting off worn out bodies, enters others that are new.”

The analogy is aptly one of  shedding an old garment and wearing a new one. But the new garment, to extend the analogy further, is not one which the soul can choose. It cannot demand an exquisite garment from a designer shop. On the contrary it lies before the soul, tailor-made according to Karmic specifications. The traces, effects and ‘odours’ registered in the Subtle Body ( discussed in an earlier post – The subtle body and the law of Karma) determine the kind of new garment the soul is obliged to ‘wear’ – the new body/personality which will embody the soul for the next lifetime. Thus rebirth takes place with a new modified entity as the host of the soul.

Reincarnation - RebirthCredit: ISKCON

Reincarnation – Rebirth
Credit: ISKCON

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