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Hinduism: Samsara
One of the Four Central Beliefs

There are four central beliefs in Hinduism:

  • Dharma (ethics and duties)
  • Samsara (rebirth)
  • Karma (right action)
  • Moksha (liberation from the cycle of Samsara)

Samsara (rebirth)

Hinduism believes in transmigration of soul and rebirth in different bodies accompanied by the complementary belief in karma. This whole process of rebirth is called "samsara" and influenced by one's karma (good or bad deeds), the soul moves upwards and downwards on the wheel of rebirth. It is cyclic and therefore the entire cycle of action, reaction, birth, death and rebirth is a continuous process defined as samsara.

Bhagvad Gita says that "as a person puts on new clothes and discards old and torn clothes, similarly an embodied soul enters new material bodies, leaving the old bodies." Hinduism believes that the ultimate way out of life's problems is to gain freedom from one's karma and thus gain freedom from this cycle of rebirth.

"Samsara" has no clear end or beginning and encompasses perpetual and attachments in series over several lifetimes. Creatures are "reborn" into different bodies influenced by their past karma but they do not remain in the same body forever. Once the effects of a particular karmic cycle have run its course, they will move onto others.

According to the Bhagvad Gita, "The living entity in the world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas. Thus he takes one kind of body and again quits it to take another. The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a certain type of ear, eye, nose, tongue and sense of touch and the time of death, the consciousness created by the living being carries him to the next body, if the living being has made a consciousness like an animal's, he is sure to get an animals body."

"Samsara", to put it broadly, is all things material or the universe and it is a stage where the performance of life is enacted. Samsara provides transitory pleasures but to attain true bliss and the realization of the Supreme Being it is necessary to detach oneself from the pleasures and pains of this material world. It is believed that after several reincarnations, the soul will ultimately unite with the Supreme Being.

Hindus believe that people remain on the cycle of samsara because they are in ignorance of their true (divine) nature. The purpose of human life is to understand this eternal spiritual truth; only then can he be relieved from the cycle of samsara and unite with the Supreme Being.

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Related Articles:
Gods of the Hindu Religion: The Hindu Trinity
Hindu Gods: Lord Vishnu Removing the Darkness of Illusion
4 Central Beliefs: Dharma
4 Central Beliefs: Karma
4 Central Beliefs: Moksha

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