What Does the Bhagavad Gita Say About Reincarnation?
Last Updated on February 1, 2023
What Does the Bhagavad Gita Say About Reincarnation? Well, it with is the most common question people ask. So in this article, we will discover what Lord Krishna revealed to Arjuna about reincarnation and what we can learn from it about self-realization.
This is What Bhagavad Gita Says About Reincarnation
यं यं वापि स्मरन्भावं त्यजत्यन्ते कलेवरम् |
तं तमेवैति कौन्तेय सदा तद्भावभावित: || 6||
Translation: "Whatever one remembers upon giving up the body at the time of death, O son of Kunti, one attains that state, being always absorbed in such contemplation."
Before we hop on to what Gita says about reincarnation, let’ first understand what is reincarnation.
Reincarnation is defined as the cycle of death and rebirth. The soul is reborn in a new body upon the death of the physical form.
Death only marks the beginning of a new life, with each individual getting a choice on which path they want to take. The Bhagavad Gita teaches that every human has the choice to get freed from this cycle of rebirth. What matters is how we use our time while alive and what goals/purposes in life were set by you as an individual.
Similarly, I believe that when humans are born, they’re given an opportunity to seek and become the state of Brahman or Truth or Supreme Reality from which there is no return.
Therefore, it is important to get rid of worldly desires. Encouraging such desires would make it difficult to pursue them for a lifetime. They thrive in the human mind, leading to endless wanting for more.
Krishna’s teachings are that of the idea that there is an eternal knowing self and a physical body. The physical body involves the sense and desires, self-awareness, pleasure and even thought.
All matter is comprised of three material forces known as gunas: sattvas bring pleasure and wisdom. Rajas give passion and desire. Tamas is the source of chaos, inactivity, and carelessness. However, the more control sattva gets on the body, the closer the infinite self inhabiting that body gets to rebirth.
Also read: What are Raga and Dvesha?
But what does this mean?
Does this mean that we can’t stop our rebirth?
No, it’s not what it looks like.
Krishna clearly states in the above verse that whatever thoughts are prevalent at the time of one’s death, determines their next birth. Nonetheless, we shouldn’t come to the conclusion that it is only by remembering God at the time of death that God will save you from thousand rebirths.
For example, you could try teaching your pet parrot basic words like “hello” or “Have a good day”. But if someone attacks the bird, it will often forget all that it’s learned and go back to its natural sound of squawking. So, thoughts created through lifelong habits naturally continue at the time of death. This is why it is really hard to remember God at the time of your death. Because everyone thinks, “What will happen to my family after my death,” “Oh I have a beautiful wife I don’t want to die,” etc.
It is important to remind ourselves of God at every opportunity. This will enable us to develop a God-aware inner self. As Krishna too advised Arjuna in the next verse of Chapter 8th, he said:
तस्मात्सर्वेषु कालेषु मामनुस्मर युध्य च | मय्यर्पितमनोबुद्धिर्मामेवैष्यस्यसंशयम् || 7|| tasmāt sarveṣhu kāleṣhu mām anusmara yudhya cha mayyarpita-mano-buddhir mām evaiṣhyasyasanśhayam
Translation: “Therefore, always remember Me and also do your duty of fighting the war. With mind and intellect surrendered to Me, you will definitely attain Me; of this, there is no doubt.”
By living a life of virtue and eventually achieving this divine purity, a soul eventually supersedes reincarnation altogether: it becomes disentangled from the material body and thrusts entirely outside the cycle of death and rebirth to join Krishna in an “imperishable” state.
So exactly, what does the Bhagavad Gita say about reincarnation?
The Bhagavad Gita tells us that even in the middle of a battlefield, Arjun was told to never forget God. In the same way, one must always remember God and do his duty with honesty By doing which one frees his/her soul from further reincarnations. As Kabir Das say,
sumiran kī sudhi yoṅ karo, jyauṅ gāgar panihāra bolat dolat surati meṅ, kahe kabīra vichār “Remember God just as the village woman remembers the water pot on her head. She speaks with others and walks on the path, but her hand keeps holding onto the pot.”