Transmigration of souls

Amal Chatterjee
9 min readNov 1, 2021


Source : Google photo of the Sanskrit and Hindi text from Geeta

vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya
navani grhnati naro ‘parani
tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany
anyani samyati navani dehi


vasamsi — garments; jirnani — old and worn out; yatha — as it is; vihaya — giving up; navani — new garments; grhnati — does accept; narah — a man; aparani — other; tatha — in the same way; sarirani — bodies; vihaya — giving up; jirnani — old and useless; anyani — different; samyati — verily accepts; navani — new sets; dehi — the embodied.


As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the souls accept new bodies, giving up the old ones.

Synopsis : Transmigration of our souls does take place in the mind of the believers of Geeta where Krishna gave advice to Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra but we now look for the evidence of the transmigration . The blog asks some serious questions about the soul and prods the minds of the curious to ask more questions.

We hear of people who do not believe that a soul exists and it can transmigrate to another body in spite of evidence that soul exists and it does take up another body to continue the cycle of life and death. We also know that some Christians use the words Born again wrongly because they do not believe in the rebirth of a soul so they say Born again to mean a change in their religious status from being a Catholic to a protestant one.

The denial of the existence of soul because of their religious conviction is understandable from their point of view but not understandable when presented with proof that the soul really exists and often exists in a tormented state called ghosts that linger in the place of their last life where it had a traumatic experience due to murder or accidents where a person died horribly. I have written a previous blog that should be read here in this context. ( Ghosts and souls )

Geeta is a religious book sacred to all Hindus and read by non-Hindus as well where Krishna gives some advice to a reluctant Arjuna in the battle field of Kurukshetra when Arjuna asks Krishna how he can fight and kill his own relatives. Krishna answers to him that it is a fight between what is right and what is wrong so Arjuna must fight to do justice and be on the side of what is the right thing to do. In the process Krishna also says the famous quote mentioned above that is the topic of this blog.

The soul exists and transmigrates meaning it takes up a new body to live a new life somewhere and can be reborn many times until it reaches Nirvana meaning freedom from the cycle of life and death.

This concept of a soul transmigrating to take up another body is deeply ingrained in all Hindus who are guided by the teachings of Krishna in Geeta .They try hard to get Nirvana so that they do not have to come back to the Earth to be born again. They go to Prayagraj to bathe at the confluence of the two great rivers Ganga and Yamuna during the religious fair held there every 12th year called Maha Kumbha Mela.

To appease the souls of their departed ones, they perform some rituals called Pinda dan when they offer some food and prayers to the souls in Gaya near the Ganga River so that the souls are pleased and get freedom. It is the duty of all sons to offer the food and prayers to their parents and siblings who have died but now only some people do it citing many excuses.

When you see the proof of ghosts that have been photographed or the souls leaving the body of a person, your doubt about their existence disappears but the uneducated people who have never seen a ghost tend to believe in it just the same because this belief is passed on to them by their older folks who have not seen the ghosts either. Such beliefs among the common uneducated people are called superstitions.

In India you will find many old houses that were left by the Moslems who went to Pakistan after the partition in 1947 but they had this practice of burying their loved one inside their homes. Later the Hindus bought their houses and found a grave in an alcove inside so being Hindu they showed their respect and burned incense and joss stick on the grave to appease the soul. I saw a grave in an old house myself but the next generation did not show respect so they ignored the grave.

Then one day some people saw an old man with white hair and flowing while beard in a long gown standing on the edge of the roof during the full moon that scared them. No one saw again the ghost of the old man when they started praying and burning joss sticks again. Now that house has been demolished.

We had such a grave in our own rented house where Ma put some flowers and burned joss sticks there. No one really wants to live in a haunted house where some disgruntled ghosts makes trouble so they play safe by showing some respect.

Geeta says that our mortal body is discarded like old clothes and the soul comes into a new body somewhere. No one really knows how long a soul wanders around looking for a new body but people believe that eventually the soul decides where to be born again. It has nothing to do with its religious views on the matter because the soul does not have any firm conviction about a religion so it may decide to be born in a Moslem or a Jewish home in its next life. The soul also may not have a gender so it may be born as a boy or a girl or of the third sex.

Geeta also says that the freedom a soul seeks from the cycle of life and death can be obtained if it does good deeds during its lifetime on Earth but gets to be born again if it has been a bad person so it gets a second chance to get in the good grace of the Eternal being called God. How many times it has to come back depends upon how bad it has been in its previous life. This is a strong warning to those bad people who end up in the purgatory later because of their karma. This idea of purgatory is common to many religions. Karma means whatever you do in your life. All karmas good or bad have consequences. The rebirth of a soul is believed to be a result of karma.

To be a good person is emphasized in all religions but their definition of what constitutes a good person and what he must do in order to be called a good person varies a great deal from one religion to the next because it depends upon the explanations given out by the so called guardians of their religions. They often vehemently disagree with others if their definition is put to discussion by those who may have doubts. This disagreement often leads to sectarian and communal violence ending in tragic loss of lives.

So now we see that the whole world is split between the hardliners and those who tend to be more moderate and take a lenient view on the issue. The hardliners persecute those who do not agree with them so we see it in many countries where the minorities, the Hazaras, the Yezidis, the Bahai, the Sufis, the Ahmadias, the Sikhs, the Jains , the Hindus and numerous others who are very moderate are relentlessly persecuted. This conflict between the hardliners and the moderates exists in all organized religions.

Our body is made of matter that disintegrates when we die but while living, we are energized by a soul living in us that leaves the body when we die. This soul is like a bundle of energy that powers our body. Once it is free meaning free from returning to another body, it is supposedly absorbed in the universe of energy. Many people who had near death experience say that they saw a very bright light that could be his soul leaving his body.

At a certain age we start to show some interest in the theory of the transmigration of our soul. There are many books written on the subject that may shed some light on it but the average person does not have the time or the intent to read all there is to read so he reverts back to just his belief.

I think that a soul does exist and it does transmigrate but how it is done is beyond my ability to explain. Does the soul enter the embryo or does it wait until a baby is completely formed inside the womb? Does it know if the baby is malformed and has no chance of surviving outside or it chooses only healthy babies? We do not know these answers. People may have as many opinions on it as a dog has fleas so it is better not to get into such topics.

What interests me is the notion that we all have souls and we are responsible for keeping it in our healthy bodies. A soul may not be happy living in a very sick person and may wish to depart to give relief to the sick person.

On the other hand it is known that some mystics in Himalayas or in Tibet live much longer than an average person so their souls are perhaps happy with their very old bodies. It depends. Some people say that the Shangri -La does exist somewhere in the Himalayas.

I am more concerned about what happens after I expire. This topic is perhaps of universal interest. Nobody comes back to tell us what he or she was in his or her previous life that could shed a lot of light on this subject. There are cases where a child remembers his or her previous life and gives precise information on who he or she was and where he lived etc. but most people do not believe in it. Not remembering your past life can be a blessing.

I was told that the ghosts can communicate with the living through a medium or through other means. They often tell the living what they should do to free them from their agony and the state of limbo. They show gratefulness if you offer prayers and do what they want you to do by leaving the house they haunt. If they can’t leave and gain their freedom, they may linger there for hundreds of years.

If you visit the massive fort of Chittorgarh in Rajasthan in India, you will be told that the souls of all the women who jumped into the fire to save their honor and dignity 800 years ago can still be heard screaming in agony during the dark nights. The tinkling sound of their silver anklets can still be heard when their souls march to the fire pit. No one stays in the fort after 6 pm. There are many haunted forts and palaces in India where people are afraid to visit even during the daytime.

I wrote a blog some time ago called Why we make our own demons that you should read in this context. ( Why we make our own demons ? )

I have always been curious about souls and what happens to us when we die. It will be very interesting if someone could educate us on this topic with facts and provable data.

Here is a photo of a soul leaving the body that someone took at the site of an accident.

Source : Google photo of a soul leaving the body of an accident victim

Source : Google photo of a ghost coming down the stairs.

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