Aditya, Tuesday, March 7, 2017 3:39 am

Will I be reborn ?

Is there such a thing as rebirth, after death? Yes definitely, according to the teachings of the Vedas and Bhagavad Gita (2.27). In addition, logic also supports the notion of rebirth – it is a natural and logical consequence of the Law of Karma…

Any actions we do generate results, some of those results are in the form of Punya (unseen result of dharmic Karma) and Papa (unseen result of adharmic karma). A harmful action produces Papa, a harmless (compassionate) action produces Punya (ahimsa paramo dharmah). This Punya/Papa then manifests later in time as pleasure and pain in my life. Just like a seed is planted, then manifests later in time as a sprout when the time is right.

So what happens if I do something harmful, generate papa, but then die before I can experience the papa as pain in my life? By dying have I ‘got away with murder’? No, else the Law of Karma would not make any sense! According to the law, that pain must be experienced, just like a seed that is planted must germinate eventually. But how can experience this if I am dead? Well, exactly – you cannot. That’s why ‘you’ (subtle body/mind) must be reborn in another body in order to experience that pain/pleasure. In other words, the body is just an instrument for you to experience pleasure and pain born from your Punya/Papa ‘bank account’ carried over from your past lives actions (Karma). So how many past lives did I have? Maybe if I only had 100, then I can burn out all my Punya/Papa in another 100 births? No. The Vedas teach us we have had infinite past births. Infinite previous births = infinite karma done in those births by me = infinite karma phala in my ‘bank account’ = infinite punya/papa in my bank account = infinite pleasurable and painful experiences stored up for me to experience = infinite future births required in order to experience all that pleasure/pain! To make matters even more complicated, you are also performing new actions in each life thus generating more new karma for the future. It’s a never ending cycle of birth and death which the Vedas called ‘samsara’.

But hang on, is this a bad thing? Not at all. In fact we can live good happy lives within this cycle. Why not! Therefore the Vedas encourage us to do good (follow Dharma), earn punya, and live happily. That may be enough for now. But eventually you may start to question even this way of living, because Punya only lasts for a while and then it’s gone. Just like money – you earn, save, spend it for 2 weeks enjoying yourself on holiday, but then you run out of money and have to come back to earn more money for your next holiday in a few months.  

So the Vedas also say that by earning Punya and following Dharma we will naturally start to question this cycle of rebirth. We may start to question whether there is anything more than just this endless cycle of Punya, Pleasures, Papa and Pains. This self-questioning itself is the product of a lot of Punya you have to earn! It’s a very special Punya (suddha punya) required to ask this question. Once the questioning starts, that’s where the study of Vedanta begins. It will teach how to gain an even higher happiness by gaining true knowledge of the ‘doer’ of actions in this cycle of rebirth. After gaining that knowledge, Veda says there is no more rebirth, no more pain, only eternal happiness (called ‘Moksha’).



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