Rebirth (May 2012)
The topic for this month is Rebirth (Punarjanma). Before expounding on the topic, let me start by congratulating the hawan group kids and parents for an excellent job last month. Even though the last month’s topic on Trinity (Paramatma, Atma, and Prakriti) is an abstract one, the presentations, discussions, and questions/answers session confirmed that the kids have built a fine grasp of the topic. This topic forms the foundation for the several teachings of Hinduism.
According to Hinduism, the soul (atma) never dies. We also learnt that the matter is eternal. This gives birth to a number of curious questions, such as, what is death; what is birth; how the choice of good or bad actions impacts life; what happens to someone after he/she dies; why some people are born fortunate than others. The principles of Hinduism address these questions.
Birth and Death
Birth is the union of the soul and matter. When the soul unites with the matter, it results in animate/living objects, which we call birth. The body is composed of the five elements of the matter: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. At the time of birth, the soul enters the body, and the body becomes animate. The soul performs actions according to it whims and desires. At death, the soul leaves the body. After death, the body goes back to its original inanimate form of matter.
Where does the Soul come from? Where does the Soul go after death? Bhagwan Sri Krishna explains the immortality of the soul in the Gita, shloka 2-23: “Weapons cannot injure it; fire cannot burn it; it cannot be drowned in water nor can the wind dry it”. At the time of death, the soul does not die. It simply leaves the body. It then unites with another body – resulting in a new birth. The soul unites and departs the bodies in a cycle. This cycle is called Rebirth. In fact, the term ‘death’ is not used in the Gita. Instead, Bhagwan Krishna explains it in shloka 2-22 as “Just as a person discards old and ragged clothes and puts on new ones so does the soul discards the old or weak body and enters a new one”.
Upon uniting with the matter (a body), the soul expresses itself independently using the body. It enjoys the fruits of its actions – in the current life and future lives. The soul carries the impressions of its actions to the next lives. These impressions are called the Sanskars.
God is omniscient and just. He shows no favors or loathing. A person (soul) is given birth in accordance with the actions of the previous lives.
The principle of Rebirth is closely tied with another law of Hinduism called the Law of Action. (The Law of Action is the topic for the next month).
Mantra of the Month (MoM):
Fourth mantra of Ishwar Stuti Prarthana Upasana Mantras
Om Yah praana-to nimisha-to mahit-waika id raajaa jagato babhoowa.
Ya eeshe asya dwipa-dash chatush-padah kasmai devaaya havishaa vidhema.
God by the virtue of His greatness is the sole ruler of all the living and non-living things of the universe. He is the Lord of all creatures bipeds and quadrapeds. Let us offer our worship for that God.
As always, please take time to discuss this topic with kids, and encourage them to memorize the MoM with meanings.