TRANSMIGRATION OF THE SOUL TRANSMIGRATION OF THE SOUL. doctrine of rebirth based on the theory that an individual soul passes at death into a new body or new form of life. Central to the concept is the principle of universal causality, i.e. a person must receive reward or punishment if not here and now then in a subsequent birth, for his actions in the present one. The soul, it is held, does not cease with the physical body, but takes on a new birth in consequence of the person`s actions comprising thoughts, words and deeds. The cumulative effect of these determines his next existence. Attached to worldly objects, man will continue in the circuit of birthdeathrebirth until he attains spiritual liberation, annulling the effect of his past actions. Belief in reincarnation is basic to the eschatology of all religions of Indian origin. Some Western philosophers of yore also believed in the transmigration of soul, but for them it was associated with the concept of the immortality of soul. In Indian tradition, on the other hand, transmigration is an essential concomitant of the doctrine of karma, according to which every action, physical or mental, has its own consequence which must be faced immediately or in future, either in this life or in the hereafter, good actions leading to a favourable reward and bad actions entailing punishment. The individual soul tjivatma), so it is believed, does not perish with the physical body but dons a new corporeal vesture in a new birth which is determined by its karma in the preceding births. Every new birth in its turn necessarily involves new karma or action leading to further consequences. Jivatma is thus tied to a karmik chakra or an endless cycle of birthactiondeathrebirth, until the chain is broken and karmik accumulation is dissipated and thejiva attains muktior moksa, i.e. liberation or release from transmigration. The origin of the idea of transmigration is traced back to the postVedic period. The early Aryans simply believed that good men ascended to heaven to join company with the gods while the souls of the wicked sank.down into the abyss of hell. The postulate that there is no unmerited happiness and unmerited misery and that the individual soul takes after death a new existence during which it reaps what, good or bad, it had sown earlier was first propounded in the ^atpatha Brahmana, one of the several commentaries that preceded the appearance of the Upanisads. Since then in India the highest spiritual goal has been the release of thejivatma from the cycle of birth and death or avagaman (lit. coming and going).