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Question: What is re-birth? What is transmigration of soul? What travels after death? What carries forward?
Acharya Prashant Ji: ‘You’ do not carry anything. A few things must be clearly understood. ‘You’ as a ‘person’ are not a very important carrier. That which carries, is the total stream of mankind’s consciousness.
(Referring to the people sitting in the audience) Her mind, her mind, his mind, your mind, his mind, her mind, the mind of the kid, the mind of the old man – we all are carrying remnants, carry forwards from our collective past. That is what is carried forward.
See, it is like this. There are waves in the ocean. One particular wave, is carrying, a little sugar, a lump of sugar. Now the wave rises, and falls. What happens to the lump of sugar? It gets distributed throughout the ocean. Now it belongs to everyone. That is how things are carried forward.
What you do in your life-time, has gone to many, many, many.
Through every single action of yours, you are impacting the entire mankind.
In other ways, you are responsible for forming the mind of entire mankind.
In turn, your own mind, is being formed by the entire mankind, because you are an active recipient as well.
The subtle becomes the gross. The more the mind is impacted at some point, many, many years later, that also changes your body. Have you seen that when you are angry, your face changes? When you are in love, your eyes change. So, the subtle has a way of changing the gross.
If you are impacting the mind of the mankind, always you are also impacting, even the form of the mankind. That’s how it happens. Otherwise, all that is ‘personal’ about you, gets burnt down in funeral pyre. There is no way, something can get carried forward from there. All is reduced to smoke and ashes. Nothing remains. But, what you have done in your lifetime, that remains. And that is going to affect all future generations.
Take it this way.
Suppose you are a teacher, and you have taught hundreds and thousands of students. And you are a good teacher, just for the story’s sake. Good teachers are rare. Now the students have really imbibed, what they received from you. You can say, that the rubbish in the minds of the students has been cleared-off, by your teachings. Either way.
You die, and one of your students gives birth. You die, and one of your students becomes a father, or a mother. The kid that is born, would be raised by your student. And, because your student has been a good student, and he has really imbibed your teachings, so those teachings would go to the kid. The kid would have the same, pure quality of mind, as you had.
In a poetic sense, you can say that you are being re-born as that kid. In a poetic sense, as a metaphor, now you can say that the teacher who had died, has been re-born as the son or the daughter of the student. But the re-birth has not taken place, because something arose from the dead-body, and entered the womb of the student. The re-birth has taken place, because of the stuff that has taken place, during your active life-time. Not after your death.
Whatever one person does, impacts the consciousness of entire mankind.
And that is how re-birth takes place.
And, therefore, re-birth is taking place every moment, because I might do something just now, which may cause you to transform. Now, haven’t you been re-born? That’s re-birth. And, you have been re-born, not because my soul entered you. You have been re-born, because the Truth transmitted to you, via me.
The opposite is also possible. You might be otherwise an innocent person. But you acquire bad company. And the bad company overshadows all your innocence. Now, you have been re-born, because the innocent one has died. The innocent one has been died, and someone else has been re-born.
That’s how it happens – through your actions.
You see, subtle truths cannot be conveyed very subtly, to everybody. And therefore they were figuratively, communicated. So that people somehow, at least partially, get a grasp on them. Therefore, you must not be too concerned with the literal meaning. Go deep into the myths of transmigration and such things, and figure out what they really would mean.
You know what, it is also possible, that the kid which is born to the student, has something in his eyes, that resemble the dead teacher. That doesn’t mean, that the dead teacher has physically fathered the kid. It’s just that, all eyes that are peaceful, have something in common.
All eyes, that are peaceful, have something in common. So, when you would look into the eyes of the newly born kid, you would be reminded of the dead teacher. And you would be then justified in saying that the dead teacher has taken re-birth, as this kid.
Questioner: Then why do we have such rituals after death like Tehravin, on 13th day, etc.?
Acharya Ji: No Upanishad says that. No scripture, worth it’s name, says that. The Puranic literature, that talks of such stuff, is stories and fancies. It is not serious metaphysics. It deals with a lot of imagery, a lot of fables, a lot of things that are there, just to involve you, engage you, even entertain you.
One has to understand the difference between the Upanishads and the Puraans. They are not in the same dimension. You cannot take Isavasya Upanishad and Garuda Puraana, and compare them.
The stuff that you are talking of, would be found in Garuda Puraana.
Acharya Ji: It’s alright. Read that. But understand that, in the light of the Upanishads. If you want to read the Puraanic literature, read it in the light of Upanishads. Then you will not be misled.
Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity. Watch the video session: Acharya Prashant: What is rebirth? What takes rebirth?
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