The most fundamental information about reincarnation is found
in Bhagavad-gita. In Chapter 2, Krishna explains in a rational,
simple and clearly understandable way how the soul travels from
body to body. This fact is not a question of belief but is relatively
easy to understand and to accept with logical conclusions.
The prerequisite for this understanding of reincarnation is
that one understands the difference between the body and the
"That which pervades the entire body you should
know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable
soul. " (Bhagavad Gita 2.17)
"For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time.
He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will
not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and
primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain." (Bhagavad
"The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon,
nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the
wind.(Bhagavad Gita 2.23)
Thus, the soul and the body are two different things. The body
is temporary and the soul is eternal.
Although the nature of the soul is beyond the scope of measurable
material interactions, one can realize its presence with the
help of the following example:
"O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates
all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the
body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness." (Bhagavad
There are various theories regarding consciousness. Here in
Bhagavad-gita the example of the sun and the sunshine is given.
As the sun is situated in one place, but is illuminating the
whole universe, so a small particle of spirit soul, although
situated in the heart of this body, is illuminating the whole
body by consciousness. Thus consciousness is the proof of the
presence of the soul, as sunshine or light is the proof of the
presence of the sun. When the soul is present in the body, there
is consciousness all over the body, and as soon as the soul has
passed from the body, there is no more consciousness. This can
be easily understood by any intelligent man. Therefore consciousness
is not a production of the combinations of matter. It is the
symptom of the living entity. The consciousness of the living
entity, although qualitatively one with the supreme consciousness,
is not supreme because the consciousness of one particular body
does not share that of another body. But the Supersoul, which
is situated in all bodies as the friend of the individual soul,
is conscious of all bodies. That is the difference between supreme
consciousness and individual consciousness. (Purport, Srila Prabhupada)
Although reincarnation constantly takes place because the
soul is changing its various bodies, in the West the term reincarnation
is mainly referred to as the final change of the soul into a
new body."As the embodied soul continuously passes,
in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly
passes into another body at death."(Bg 2.13)
"As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the
soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old
and useless ones."(Bg 2.22)
At the time of death the spirit soul leaves the gross body
together with the subtle body (astral body-mind, intelligence
and false ego)and is "born again" into the womb of
a female body according to the law of karma (either immediately
or after some time).
One's next birth is determined by one's consciousness at the
time of death (yam yam vapi smaran bhavan...Bg 8.6) because everything
we do or think in our present life leaves an impression in the
mind and the summary of these impressions influences our consciousness
at the time of death.
It is important to understand that one may have to accept
any type of body after leaving one's human body. If one's human
existence is without the cultivation of spiritual knowledge one
has to enter lower forms of life.
So how does one purify his consciousness so that one can have
a better life next time or avoid reincarnation all together?
Lord Krishna gives us the answer:
"And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body,
remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there
is no doubt. "(Bhagavad Gita 8.5)
The only way we will remember Krishna at the time of death
is to remember him during our life.
The best way to remember Him is to chant His holy names-the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.
It is the yajna (sacrifice) for this age.