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Karma and Reincarnation

Karma and Reincarnation


Item Code: IDD118

by Swami Muni Narayana Prasad

Paperback (Edition: 2006)

D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd.
ISBN 81-246-0022-8

Language: English
Size: 8.5" x 5.5"
Pages: 106
Price: $11.50
Discounted: $8.62   Shipping Free
Viewed times since 7th Jan, 2014


About the Book

The atman (soul), in the Eastern belief system, is eternal, immortal. The phenomenon of (physical) death is, thus, nothing but its disembodiment and its 'reincarnation' in a new body. And what determine as atman's choice of a new body is the law of karma - the merits and demerits of one's actions in the present life.

The notions of karma and reincarnation constitute the fundamental tenets of Indian thinking; though these, like many other doctrinal beliefs, are hard to prove/disprove in purely rationalistic or even empirical terms. Swami Muni Narayana Prasad looks afresh at these-age-old doctrinal beliefs - from the view point of an Advaitin (non-dualist), developing stimulating insights from his studeies of the Upanisads, the Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutras and, these besides, the works of his mentor: Narana Guru. Contextually, among other questions, his book also dwells on Ultimate Reality, Birth and Death, and the Two Paths: Devayana (the path of gods) and Pitryana (the path of manes), which either the souls take to after death.

About the Author

Swami Muni Narayana Prasad is presently the Regulating Secretary of the Narayana Gurukula, a Guru-Disciple foundation founded by Nataraja Guru, the disciple-successor of Narayana Guru. He has spent three years in Fiji teaching Indian philosophy and has traveled round the world giving classes. Became a disciple of Nataraja Guru in 1960 and was initiated as a reunciate in 1984. Has been editor of the philosophical magazine 'The Gurukulam' for twelve years and still continues to be one of its chief contributors. His published works in English include, Functional Democracy - A Failure in India; Basic Lessons on India's Wisdom; Commentaries on the Katha, Kena, Prasna, Mundaka, Taittiriya and Aitereya Upanisads. The book Vedanta Sutras of Narayana Guru is in the making.



1. Vedic References
2. Artabhaga's Doubt and the Mystery of Karma      
3. What is Karma and Who Does it?
4. What is Birth and Death?
5. The Two Paths
6. In the Katha Upanisad
7. In the Bhagavad Gita
8. In the Brahma Sutras
9. Conclusion


Of Related Interest:

Exploring Karma - Tales of a Universal Principle

More Books on Karma

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Customer Comments

  • The subtitle to this book should have been, “I Have Come to Bury Caesar, Not Praise Him.” The Swami Muni Narayana Prasad has produced a lucid, incisive examination of the topics of reincarnation and karma, he has devoted much discussion in disputing traditional sources of the doctrine of reincarnation, but at the end reaffirms the essential doctrine.

    The Swami examines the doctrine of reincarnation through sources located in the Rig Veda, the Upanishads, the Bhavaghad Gita, and the Brahma Sutras. The potential sources of the doctrine from the RgVeda can be disposed of easily. For those few purported references to reincarnation from the RgVeda, the Swami generously borrows the assessment of A.B. Keith, a noted Indiologist, disputing the Rg Veda as the source of the doctrine of reincarnation. There are other potential sources of the doctrine. Not discussed by the Swami, the RgVeda provided the source of the doctrine of the Two Paths, that of the devyana (See, RV 1.183.6; 1.184.6; 3.58.5, 6; 4.37.1; 5.43.6; 7.38.5; 10.88.16; and the pitr-yana (RV 3.12.7; 3.35.8; 7.7.2; 10.14.2; 4.18.1; 5.51.15; 10.2.7), which was later developed in the Upanishads.

    The discussion by the Swami of the Two Paths revolve around the Chandogya Upanishad, 5.10. In the Swami’s Vedic evaluation, the deva-yana, the path of the gods, is representative of the Vedantic teaching of the One ultimate reality where every living creature has its emergence and existence in the same existence. It is the same for the self-aware individual, a jnanin, and for the ignorant, the ajanin. The only difference is that for the ajnanin, the path chosen is the pitr-yana, the path of the forefathers, the cyclic endless existence of birth and re-birth. The Swami points out that the Chandogya Upanishad provides a third path; the only difference between the jnanin and ajnanin is that the jnanin understands the difference between the real and unreal and is not concerned with birth and death.

    The Chandogya Upanishad also discusses the doctrine of the Five Fires, also held out to be the potential source of reincarnation. Here, the deva-yana is represented by the Vedantic doctrine of the path of wisdom and knowledge and discrimination. The gate of this path is the light, which is represented by the light of consciousness. Those ajnanins move along the pitr-yana, the cyclic existence of samsara.

    This doctrine was discussed as well in the Brhadaranyakaupanishad. The Swami’s analysis also applies to that Upanishad as well. The Swami also discusses BU 4.4.3 and 4, where the purported simile of life and death is that of a goldsmith turning a piece of gold into a newer and more beautiful shape. From the Vedantic standpoint, this is not a source for reincarnation because the gold is symbolic of the Universal Self, the Atman, whereas the ornament is symbolic of the visible universe of manifestation. This simile was also found in the Chandogya Upanishad.

    The Swami discusses other possible sources for reincarnation, those found in other Upanishads, the Gita, and the Brahma Sutras. It is for the reader to examine these discussions and make their own conclusion. While the Swami is not seeking to dispel the doctrine — the Swami correctly notes that the doctrine is ingrained in the Eastern mentality — the Swami clearly seems to prefer the Vedantic interpretation to others. His viewpoint is relatively unique. Many post-modern interpreters of these passages, such as the Swamis Krishnananda and Sivananda — do not reflect this doctrinaire interpretation but simply explain the various doctrines in a more or less neutral manner. Still, the Swami Prasad’s interpretation of reincarnation and karma is insightful and important and makes for stimulating reading.

    - James Kalomiris
    8th Sep 2012
  • frepace
    - carla
    5th Jan 2008
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