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Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by singhbj, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. singhbj

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    Nov 4, 2007
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    by Rawel Singh. ​

    The soul is given a life-span and role to play in the life he is going to take by the Creator. These are Divine commands. In life he is subjected to numerous temptations that tend to take him away from performing the role. If he is able to resist the temptations and completes the given tasks, he reverts back to merge with God. In case he succumbs to the temptations, he cannot complete the tasks. Also one receives benedictions from the Divine and help from the society. If he does not pay these back fully in life, his account reflects debit. The tasks left incomplete and the debit together have been called baaki, literally meaning ‘remaining or debit balance’ and he has to be reborn to pay it back. This is reincarnation.

    In the discussion below Gurbani, meaning Guru’s word, refers to the hymns in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). Page numbers given below in parentheses are of SGGS.The Gurmukhi version also shows the author. For the sake of brevity ‘man’ has been used as a generic term for human beings and equally stands for woman.

    Reincarnation and Incarnation.
    Reincarnation is the phenomenon of the soul of a living being, on its death giving life to another body. It is different from incarnation which refers to the belief in faiths like Hinduism, and to an extent Christianity, that God or one of the deities takes human form. Hence although reincarnation is etymologically derived from incarnation they are two different concepts.

    Reincarnation presupposes that the soul is immortal and does not die with the body. This aspect is accepted by all the Eastern faiths namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. They all believe that on death of the body the soul enters another body to give life to the latter. This is the process of transmigration of the soul which is not accepted by the Semitic faiths.

    Is Reincarnation a Reality?
    Monotheistic religions namely Judaism, Islam and Sikhism believe that incarnation is not a reality. It should not therefore be thought that reincarnation also is not because, as brought out above, the two concepts are different.

    There are many instances of people describing their past lives. They have been able to identify the places and their relations in the previous birth at places far away from their present location. These indicate that these people have had past lives. It is also in keeping with what the Gurbani teaches, thus:

    ਮਾਤ ਪਿਤਾ ਬਨਿਤਾ ਸੁਤ ਬੰਧਪ ਇਸਟ ਮੀਤ ਅਰੁ ਭਾਈ ॥ ਪੂਰਬ ਜਨਮ ਕੇ ਮਿਲੇ ਸੰਜੋਗੀਅੰਤਹਿ ਕੋ ਨ ਸਹਾਈ ॥੧॥ ੫ ੭੦੦
    The mother, father, spouse, children, relatives, dear friends and siblings;
    they are with you because of association in the previous birth; but they shall be of no assistance at the end (p 700).

    ਜੁੜਿ ਜੁੜਿ ਵਿਛੁੜੇ ਵਿਛੁੜਿ ਜੁੜੇ ॥ ਜੀਵਿ ਜੀਵਿ ਮੁਏ ਮੁਏ ਜੀਵੇ ॥ ਕੇਤਿਆ ਕੇ ਬਾਪ ਕੇਤਿਆ ਬੇਟੇ ਕੇਤੇ ਗੁਰ ਚੇਲੇ ਹੂਏ ॥ ਆਗੈ ਪਾਛੈ ਗਣਤ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਕਿਆ ਜਾਤੀ ਕਿਆ ਹੁਣਿ ਹੂਏ ॥ ੧ ੧੨੩੮
    People are born, live and die; after dying are born again. They unite, then separate and unite again, they become the fathers of many, and sons of many; Gurus of many and disciples of many; There is no limit to what has gone on in the past or what is yet to come; (p 1238).
    Thus from the account of those who can describe their previous lives as well as what the Gurbani says, reincarnation is a reality. Let us study this further.

    Aavaagavan (Reincarnation) Prescribed by God.
    The expression used in Gurbani for reincarnation is Aavaagavan(ਆਵਾਗਵਨ) which literally means ‘coming and going’ and has been used frequently. Guru Nanak says that incarnation has been prescribed by the Creator:

    ਆਵਾ ਗਵਣੁ ਸਿਰਜਿਆ ਤੂ ਥਿਰੁ ਕਰਣੈਹਾਰੋ ॥ ਜੰਮਣੁ ਮਰਣਾ ਆਇ ਗਇਆ ਬਧਿਕੁ ਜੀਉ ਬਿਕਾਰੋ ॥ ੧ ੫੮੦
    The Creator, while Himself remaining in one steady state, has prescribed Aavaagavan; births and deaths, coming and goingare for those caught up in evil deeds (p 580)

    ਆਵਾ ਗਉਣੁ ਰਚਾਇ ਉਪਾਈ ਮੇਦਨੀ ॥ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵੇ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਇਆ ਤਿਸੁ ਗਣੀ ॥ ੧ ੧੨੮੩
    The phenomenon of reincarnation was prescribed when the universe was created. For one who serves the Creator, one birth is enough. (p 1283).

    Performing good deeds i.e. carrying out Divine commands keeps one happy in this life and makes the soul acceptable for merger with God after death. In other words one gets the results of his deeds here and in the hereafter:

    ਈਹਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਆਗੈ ਮੁਖ ਊਜਲ ਮਿਟਿ ਗਏ ਆਵਣ ਜਾਣੇ ॥ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਭਏ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸਿਆ ਅਪੁਨੇ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਣੇ ॥੩॥ ੫ ੬੧੪
    Those who obey the Creator are loved by Him and lose all fear; they are at peace here and accepted in the hereafter; they do not reincarnate (p 614).

    ਹਲਤਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਲਤਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਨਿਤ ਸੁਖੁ ਸਿਮਰਨੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਕਾ ਸਦਾ ਲੀਜੈ ॥ ਮਿਟਹਿ ਕਮਾਣੇ ਪਾਪ ਚਿਰਾਣੇ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਮੁਆ ਜੀਜੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ੫ ੬੮੩
    By joining holy congregation, long time sins are extinguished and fresh spiritual life infused. Remember the Master continuously; this ensures bliss here and in the hereafter (p 683).

    ਮਤੁ ਕੋ ਜਾਣੈ ਜਾਇ ਅਗੈ ਪਾਇਸੀ ॥ ਜੇਹੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ਤੇਹਾ ਹੋਇਸੀ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਉ ਆਪਿ ਵਰਤਾਇਸੀ ॥ ਚਲਿਆ ਪਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਜਨਮੁ ਸਵਾਰਿ ਵਾਜਾ ਵਾਇਸੀ ॥ ੫ ੭੩੦
    Let not anyone think he will find a place of honor in the hereafter; what becomes of him will be decided based on his deeds. He on whom the Lord Himself bestows the Name-Nectar, leaves here after having accomplished his life, and shall be treated in the hereafter with glory (p 730).

    Why Reincarnation?
    Reincarnation is a result of failure of the soul to merge with God and results from it being overtaken by evil, lack of good deeds i.e. not being able to complete the assigned tasks. Also what man receives from the Divine and the society and how much he pays back is taken into account. If he pays back less, his account shows ‘baaki’ or debit balance. Unfinished tasks or misdeeds and debit balance are causes for him to be born again or reincarnate. Words alone would not do, consequences of deeds have to be faced:
    ਪੁੰਨੀ ਪਾਪੀ ਆਖਣੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਣਾ ਲਿਖਿ ਲੈ ਜਾਹੁ ॥ ਆਪੇ ਬੀਜਿ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਖਾਹੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੀ ਆਵਹੁ ਜਾਹੁ ॥੨੦॥ ੧ ੪
    One does not become virtuous or sinner by words alone. The cumulative record of our deeds goes with us. In the spirit of ‘you reap what you sow’, we face consequences of going through reincarnations as decided by the Lord (p 4).

    ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਅਰੁ ਲੋਭ ਮੋਹ ਇਹ ਇੰਦ੍ਰੀ ਰਸਿ ਲਪਟਾਧੇ ॥ ਦੀਈ ਭਵਾਰੀ ਪੁਰਖਿ ਬਿਧਾਤੈ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਜਨਮਾਧੇ ॥੩॥ ੫ ੪੦੩
    Those in the grip of lust, anger, greed, attachment and sensory pleasures are kept in cycles of many many births by the Creator (p 403).

    ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਰਚਾ ॥ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ਭਵਾਈਐ ਬਹੁ ਜੋਨੀ ਨਚਾ ॥ ੫ ੧੦੯੯
    One who forgets the fearless Lord’s Name and remains engrossed in illusory pursuits,
    continues to reincarnate in numerous life forms (p 1099).
    In order to dissuade people from the path of evil, Gurbani points out the shame of having to go through life forms which one would like to avoid:

    ਸੂਕਰ ਕੂਕਰ ਜੋਨਿ ਭ੍ਰਮੇ ਤਊ ਲਾਜ ਨ ਆਈ ॥ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਛਾਡਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਕਾਹੇ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਾਈ ॥੩॥ ਕਬੀਰ ੬੯੨
    Forgetting the nectar of God’s Name you pursue mammon, wouldn’t you be ashamed
    taking births like swine and dogs? (p 692).

    Reincarnation is punishment.
    As has been discussed above reincarnation is for those souls who cannot achieve merger with God because of their failure to carry out the assigned tasks or having a debit balance. Reincarnation is therefore punishment and denial of permission to return to God. Gurbani puts it thus:

    ਜਮਿ ਜਮਿ ਮਰੈ ਮਰੈ ਫਿਰਿ ਜੰਮੈ ॥ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਸਜਾਇ ਪਇਆ ਦੇਸਿ ਲੰਮੈ ॥ ਜਿਨਿ ਕੀਤਾ ਤਿਸੈ ਨ ਜਾਣੀ ਅੰਧਾ ਤਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਸਹੈ ਪਰਾਣੀਆ ॥੫॥ ੫ ੧੦੨੦
    The ignorant man forgets the Creator and suffers. He is born and dies to be born again being thus punished for long periods (p 1020).
    ਜਿਵ ਆਇਆ ਤਿਵ ਜਾਇਸੀ ਕੀਆ ਲਿਖਿ ਲੈ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਮੂਲੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ਦਰਗਹ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਜਾਇ ॥੩॥ ੧ ੧੩੩੧
    The self oriented soul goes as he came (without benefiting from human birth);
    taking with him the consequences of his deeds. He loses whatever virtues he had and is punished in God’s court (p1331).

    It is significant that the punishment is not one of permanent condemnation but every birth is a chance to work towards completing the tasks given. It would be just and fair that if the atma does not overcome the shortcomings he would be successively born in more difficult life forms. This also indicates that with improvement in performance the atma will move towards human birth where it can hope to break the cycle of reincarnation and merge back into God. Human beings have the benediction of the sense of discrimination by which they know good from bad. It is also in human birth that one can understand what is expected of him and do it. Only human beings can appreciate Divine virtues and sing God’s praises. It is after going through many life forms mentioned as 8.4 million that one gets human birth:

    ਜੋ ਜੋ ਜੂਨੀ ਆਇਓ ਤਿਹ ਤਿਹ ਉਰਝਾਇਓ ਮਾਣਸ ਜਨਮੁ ਸੰਜੋਗਿ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਤਾਕੀ ਹੈ ਓਟ ਸਾਧ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਦੇ ਕਰਿ ਹਾਥ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਮੇਲਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਇਆ ॥੧॥ ੫ ੬੮੬

    That is not possible say as an animal, for:

    ਚਾਰਿ ਪਾਵ ਦੁਇ ਸਿੰਗ ਗੁੰਗ ਮੁਖ ਤਬ ਕੈਸੇ ਗੁਨ ਗਈਹੈ ॥ ਕਬੀਰ ੫੨੪
    An animal has four feet and two hornsbut is dumb; so how does it sing God’s praises? (p 524)

    How to escape Reincarnation?
    The only way to escape reincarnation is to obey the preordained Divine commands and be a man of God:

    ਲਖ ਚਉਰਾਸੀਹ ਜੋਨਿ ਫਿਰਹਿ ॥ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਲੋਕ ਨਹੀ ਜਨਮਿ ਮਰਹਿ ॥੩॥ ੫ ੨੧੧
    There are 8.4 million life forms to go through, but those devoted to God do not reincarnate (p 211).

    ਅਨਿਕ ਜੋਨਿ ਜਨਮੈ ਮਰਿ ਜਾਮ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਤ ਪਾਵੈ ਬਿਸ੍ਰਾਮ ॥ ੫ ੨੬੪
    The creatures are born, die and are born again into numerous life forms; those who remember God’s commands get their permanent abode (p 264).

    Source: SikhNet News Archive - Reincarnation (an article by Rawel Singh) - 02/20/2008
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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    Good that you found this article. It came online yesterday or the day before. Singhbj ji, I was going to send the link to you because you are interested in this subject.
  4. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
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    Jul 14, 2007
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    This earth, the arena of so many struggles and strifes, full of sharp antinomies and contrarieties, presenting, as it does, a vast panorama of life in its variegated forms and colours, is but a speck in the boundless creation of the great Creator:

    There is no end to the creation;
    There are countless forms of life with varied names, species and colours;
    Writ on the objective world by the ever-flowing pen of the Creator.
    - Nanak

    With all its seeming imperfections, this world serves a useful purpose in the divine plan, just like an apparently insignificant cog in the machinery of a great powerhouse. Nature, the handiwork of God, is not the least extravagant in its design and plan. This world is a penitentiary, a house of correction, a sort of purgatory, a plan of expiation, a training ground where souls get chastened by experience. It is a half-way house between physical planes and spiritual realms. The powers that be of the earth are hard taskmasters, believing still in the ancient Mosaic Law of 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' Here all kinds of third degree methods are employed and hard knocks are administered, rendering less than justice, untempered by compassion and mercy, so that one should take his lessons seriously, and by degrees turn away from the way of the world to the Way of God. Life on the earth-plane then is a dreadful thing 'dark with horror and fear,' and we are long lost children of God in the labyrinthine wilderness of the world.

    (Partially extracted from Book - Tiger's Fang)
  5. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
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    Evolution is in the nature of living monads and consists in moving towards its source and becoming one with it, for true happiness lies in 'fellowship divine; fellowship with Essence; till we shine; fully alchemised and free of space.' But the tragedy of life on earth is that 'we do not know what we are and much less of what we may become' for 'what we are we do not see; what we see is our shadow.' The 'inner being' in us is so constituted after the fashion of God that it knows no rest until he rests in Him. "A truly religious experience," says Plotinus, "consists in the finding of the true Home by the soul exiled from heaven." And this experience can be ours if only we know how to unhook the 'self' from the trammels and trappings of body and mind.

    Self-realisation and God-realisation are the highest objects of mundane existence. Self-realisation precedes God-realisation. 'Know Thyself' has ever been an article of faith with the ancients. First the Greeks and then the Romans in their turn laid great stress on 'gnothie seauton' and 'nosce teipsum' as they called it respectively and both these terms stand for 'self-knowledge' or knowledge of the 'self' in us. The knowledge of the self or 'Atam Jnana' of the Hindu Rishis and 'Khud Shanasi' of the Muslim darveshes comes first. Next comes the realisation and experience of the Overself or God - Parmatman or Rab-ul-almeen and this is called Khuda Shanasi or Knowledge of God. The process of self-realisation whereby the self can be separated from the mighty maze of mind and matter, begins with introversion - receding of attention, the outward expression of spirit in the world outside. It is an art of inversion from the world of senses to the world within, and beyond the physical senses, technically called Pra Vidya. Real life or Reality is something that is cognised only in a death- like state, a state that intervenes on conscious withdrawal of the sensory currents from the body to the eye-focus. Life is 'an active principle, however removed; from senses and observation.'

    More Later.............
  6. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
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    In the workaday world, we are prone to all kinds of lusts - lust of the flesh, eyes, ears and other sense- organs - and we are being constantly swayed by countless attachments, myriads of aspirations and desires, springing from the diverse longings of the heart and unknown latencies lying hidden in the folds of the mind. All types of likes and dislikes, prides and prejudices, loves and hatreds and many other things unwittingly keep creeping into our consciousness, personal consciousness, frittering our energy, and keeping us away from the ultimate goal and purpose of life; to wit, self-realisation. This ignorance of the aim of life is a serious malady we are afflicted with, and it is the cause of bondage, - bondage of the soul to a world 'bursting with sin and sorrow.' Yet, there is a Power within us that resurrects the soul. We have, therefore, to take a turn from this drama of hectic activity and find the still-centre of our being within the human body where the All-pervading and All-free Power resides. This body is verily the temple of God, and the Holy Ghost dwells therein. So all this present activity has got to be reversed and geared back into the opposite direction. This is termed by Emerson as 'tapping inside' and 'going into the fox-hole in the brain,' as once remarked by President Truman, for it was into this fox-hole that he repaired whenever he wanted peace and relaxation from the burden of his high office. The Vedas call it 'Brahm-rendra' or the hole through which Brahman could be contacted.

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