Sample Lesson: Coming Back
The sample lesson for the Damodar age group follows.Here you will find the unit introduction and excerpts from the first lesson.
In the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Lord Krishna instructed His devotee and dearmost friend, Arjuna, while on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, It was here, 5,000 years ago, that the Lord imparted great transcendental knowledge to Arjuna in order to teach the world about Krishna consciousness.
While instructing Arjuna about the Supreme Absolute Truth, Krishna said, “For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” Lord Krishna teaches many wonderful truths in the Bhagavad-gita, including the science of reincarnation.
What is reincarnation? Simply stated, it is the passage of the individual soul at the time of death from one material body to another. Sometimes as a demigod, sometimes as a human, sometimes as a plant, or sometimes as an animal, the tiny soul is transferred into one bodv after another at the time of death according to his desires. Because the soul is part and parcel of Lord Krishna, and Lord Krishna is eternal and never dies, neither does the soul. But, it is because the soul is eternal and part of the Lord that he can never find true happiness within this material world no matter what kind of material bodv he enters. The soul is not trulv happy until he is serving Lord Krishna.
In this session, we will explore the subject of reincarnation and the cycle of birth and death. We will learn how reincarnation has influenced many of the world’s greatest poets, writers, teachers and philosophers. We will also learn what is written about reincarnation in the Vedic literature and what Srila Prabhupada has taught us. We will discuss questions such as, “Do we reincarnate forever, or does it end somewhere? Can we control our future incarnations? Can we be reborn on other planets or in other universes? In this session, we will learn about where you have been and how to end the cycle of birth and death within this material world.
dehino sminyatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
dhiras tatra na muhyati
As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.
Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter 2, Text 13)
Let’s take a look at some of history’s greatest thinkers and what they said about reincarnation:
“Finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other, always exist.” … Benjamin Franklin
“I know that I am deathless. We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers. There are trillions ahead and trillions ahead of them…. Walt Whitman, poet
“…and believing as I do in the theory of rebirth, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birthI shall be able to hug all of humanity in friendly embrace.”–Mahatma Gandhi
“I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that
the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead
are in existence.” —Socrates
“The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew…It passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
“There is no death. How can there be death if everything is
part of the Godhead? The soul never dies and the body
is never really alive.” — Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel laureate
Reincarnation and the Bhagavad-gita
It is impossible to understand reincarnation unless one understands the difference between the actual self (the soul) and the material body. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna tells Arjuna,
“As the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.”
How do we know the soul is present within the body?
Consciousness is evidence of the presence of the soul. Consider this analogy often given by Srila Prabhupada:
On a cloudy day, the sun may not be visible, but we know it is there in the sky by the presence of sunlight. Similarly, we may not be able to directly perceive the soul, but we may conclude it is there by the presence ofconsciousness. In the absence ofconsciousness, the body is simply a lump ofdead matter. Only the presence ofconsciousness makes this lump of dead matter breathe, speak, love, and fear.
On the battlefield of Kuruksetra, Lord Krishna instructed His friend and devotee, Arjuna, about the science of self-realization. Consider the following verses from the Bhagavad-gita:
For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he
ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval.
He is not slain when the body is slain.
(Chapter 2, Text 20)
As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul
accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.
(Chapter 2, Text 22)
The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by
fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.
(Chapter 2, Text 23)
Some look on the soul as amazing, some describe him as amazing, and some
hear ofhim as amazing, while others, even after hearing about him, cannot
understand him at all.
(Chapter 2, Text 29)