The following verses refer to the doctrine of past and future births.
“O God! Thou conductest our pranas. We pray Thee that we may be happy whenever we may assume another body after death. Grant us, O God! The eyes and all the other senses, the pranas and the inner senses in our future birth when we may assume another body after forsaking the present. Do Thou
grant us that when we are born again we may enjoy uninterruptedly all enjoyable thins. May we be able to see the luminous sun and the ingoing and outgoingpranas in all our rebirths. O God! Thou art the dispenser of honor and happiness, make us happy in all our rebirths, through Thy grace.”
[In this mantra, the eye (Chakshu) represents all the senses and prana the inner senses.]
“Be gracious, O Lord! To grant that in our rebirths the earth may give us prana born of food and strength, the bright light of the sun may give us prana and middle region may give us life; the juices of medicines such as soma, may give us body (bodily health and vigor). O God! Thou art the giver of strength and nourishment, show us in our rebirths the path of virtue (dharma). We pray that happiness be our lit in all our births through Thy grace. Rig VIII. !. 23. 6 & 7.
“O God! May the mind with knowledge and other good qualities an may the full term of life come to us in our rebirth, through Thy favor. May pure thoughts come to us in our rebirth and may sight and hearing also come to us. O God! Thou art the guide and director of the universe; in Thee there is no fault such as arrogance, deceit; thou are the protector of our bodies, and art all wisdom and bliss; keep us aloof from evil deeds and protect us in all our birth-cycles, so that being free from sin we may remain happy in all our births.”
“O Lord! May we get, through Thy favor in our rebirths all the senses and that force which sustains the pranas. may we be endowed with the noble riches of knowledge and have firm devotion to Thee. May we get human bodies so that we may be able to tend the fires, Ahavaniya, etc. O Lord of the Universe! May we have the same form, intellect and good bodies as we were endowed with in our previous birth so that we may be able with the help of intellect to discharge our duties properly in the world of our rebirth and may we never suffer pain on any account.
“A man who, has done good actions in his previous birth, gets many good bodies in virtue of those good actions, but if he has done evil deeds he does not get human body and is born into the body of an animal, etc., and suffers pain.
[This is the lesson conveyed by God in the first half of the verse.]
It is the nature of the soul that it reaps the fruits of its good and had actions done in a future birth. After leaving its old body it enters such substances as the air, water, medicinal herbs, etc., and then through their agency it enters into a new body according to the fruits of its former good or bad deeds.
The jiva which obtains a full and complete knowledge of the Vedas, the word of God, obtains the body of a learned man like its former body and enjoys happiness; but the jiva which acts in violation of the dictates of the Vedas and virtue gets the body of lower animals and suffers pain.” Yaju IV. !5; Atharva VII. 6-67-1; Atharva
“We have heard that there are two paths in this world for enjoying the good and suffering the bad consequences of virtue and vice. The first is the path trodden by the pitris (the wise) and the devas (the learned) and such men as are devoid of knowledge and wisdom. The first is divided two fold i.e., the pirtriyana and the Devayana. That in which a jiva obtaining a body from the father and mother enjoys happiness as the fruit of its good actions and suffers pain as the consequences of its evil and deeds and again and again, i.e.,
in which it is subject to past and future birth is called the pitriyana. That in which it obtains emancipation, is liberated from the world i.e., the migrations of birth and death is called devayana. In the former, after having enjoyed the fruits of its stock of virtue it is born again and dies also. In the latter, it is not born again, nor does it die. By these two paths the whole world passes and repasses.
When the Jiva, leaving it’s previous body and wandering about in the air, water or vegetable kingdom enters the body of the father or the mother it becomes and embodied spirit.” Yaju XIX. 47.
The author of the Nirukta also supports the doctrine of rebirth in the following couplets:
“I died and was born again, and having been born I died once more. I have tenanted thousands of different bodies.
“I have tasted many kinds of food and have sucked many kinds of breasts. I have
many fathers, mothers and friends.
” The jiva is born with its head downwards and suffers the pains of birth.” Nirukta XIII, 19.
The great sage Patanjali in the Yoga aphorisms and his commentator Veda Vyasa also have established the truth of the doctrine of rebirth.
‘Flowing by its potency the fear of death affects even the learned.’ Yoga !. 2-9
The fear of death which is exhibited, from the very birth, by all (living beings) shows that there are births and rebirths. Even a newly born ant, as well a learned man, is subject to the fear of death. This shows that without experience of death in a former life, there would be no impressions of it in this. With out the impressions there would be no remembrance
and without remembrance how could there be fear of death? Seeing that all living beings exhibit fear of death we should infer that past and future births do take place.
Similarly, the most learned sage Goutama in his Nyaya Shastra, and Vatsyayana in his commentary thereon express their belief in the doctrine of rebirth.Pretyabhava.”Nyaya Sutra. I.1.19
[Pretyabhava is to leave an old and to assume a new body. It is composed of two words, Pretya which means, having died, and Bhava which means coming into being. So a jiva after departing from here is born again and assumes a body.]
Here those who believe in one birth only say: ‘If there was a former birth why is it no remembered?’
We reply: ‘Open the eyes of understanding and see. There is no remembrance of the pains and pleasures which we experienced up to the age of five years since our birth, nor, of all the
events that happened in our waking moods and during sleep. What to say then of remembering events of our past existence?’
Q. – ‘If God awards us in this existence of fruits of our good and bad actions, which we did in our past life, in the form of pleasures and pains, God becomes unjust because we know them not and also because we are not reformed thereby.’
A. ~ We say: ‘Knowledge is to two kinds, direct and inferential. Suppose fever affects the body of a medical man and also of a layman. The medical man, on account of his special knowledge, putting the cause and the effect together, infers the cause of the fever. Not so with the lay man, but he, too, though devoid of this special knowledge of the medical man, knows that there is no effect without a cause and as he experiences the effects of fever comes to know that he must have been guilty of some irregularity in diet, etc. Similarly, God, who is just, cannot give pain or pleasure to any body without his having done bad or good actions. We see that in the world that
are mightier and lower grades of happiness and misery. This shows that virtuous and evil deeds must have been done in a former existence.
The holders of one birth theory raise many similar objections. They should be answered after due consideration. It is not necessary that everything should be explained in black and white to intelligent persons. They can understand a good deal by a few hints only. Besides this, we do not write more on this subject in this place for the fear of increasing the bulk of the book.