The First Step

Transmigration of the soul

Transmigration of the soul


A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA – Krishna consciousness is not a question of belief; it is a science. The first step is to know the difference between a living body and a dead body. What is the difference? The difference is that when someone dies, the spirit soul, or the living force, leaves the body. And therefore the body is called “dead”. So, there are two things: one, this body; and the other, the living force within the body.

We speak of the living force within the body. That is the difference between the science of Krishna consciousness, which is spiritual, and ordinary material science. As such, in the beginning it is very, very difficult for an ordinary man to understand the importance of our movement. One must first understand that he is a soul, or something other than his body. For example, as a child grows, he becomes a boy, the boy becomes a young man, the young man becomes an adult, and the adult becomes an old man. Throughout all this time, although his body is changing from a child to an old man, he still feels himself to be the same person, with the same identity. The body is changing, but the occupier of the body, the soul, is remaining the same. So we should logically conclude that when our present body dies, we get another body. This is called transmigration of the soul.


Krishna and Vishnu

Srimad-Bhagavatam and Brahma-samhita provide us with further information that the origin of Lord Vishnu is Krishna. Krishna is actually the original source of everything, even of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu and other Vishnu-like forms such as Narayana, Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Aniruddha and Pradyumna, are forms of Krishna for accepting worship in awe and reverence. (Krishna has more intimate relationships with His devotees, as explained below.) These forms have slightly different bodily features and qualities from Krishna. Each of these forms presides over a particular Vaikuntha planet in the transcendental world. On each of these planets there are self-realized persons with superhuman, transcendental bodies who are constantly overwhelmed with ever-increasing ecstasy by glorifying and worshiping these Vishnu forms in a mood of awe and reverence. All activities in the transcendental world are performed out of ecstatic love and affection. There are no necessities or requirements, and so there is no need for any boring or unpleasant work. In the transcendental world, every step is a dance and every word is a song.

The activities performed in the transcendental world are described in detail in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Brahma-samhita, The Nectar of Devotion, and Caitanya Caritamrta. These texts also describe the transcendental bodily features of Krishna and His various Vishnu forms in great detail. They describe how Krishna and His forms create the physical world, interact with it, and perform pleasurable pastimes with Their devotees in this world. Krishna and His forms regularly visit the earth and other planets and perform activities that are full of exceptional power, compassion and love. The Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam consists of hundreds of pages describing some of the pastimes Krishna performed in His most recent appearance on earth five thousand years ago. Krishna appears on earth in a form visible to everyone once every 8.6 billion years.

The devotees on the Vaikuntha planets relate to the Vishnu forms in a mood of awe and reverence. But the devotees on Krishna’s planet Goloka Vrindavana relate to him in more intimate ways. On Goloka Vrindavana, Krishna’s special energyyogamaya makes the devotees forget Krishna’s omnipotent position. Thus, Krishna’s cowherd boy friends wrestle with Him and sometimes defeat Him, and He enjoys this. After being defeated, He also enjoys it when one of His friends says to Him “You are not such a big man, I can defeat you easily.” The Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam contains detailed descriptions of the various kinds of intimate relationships the devotees have with Krishna in Vrindavana.

Why are there many different religions in the world?

In Bhagavad-gita As It Is Krishna describes the three modes of material nature, goodness, passion and ignorance, which determine the psychological characteristics of all embodied conscious selves (living beings). A conscious self in the mode of goodness is interested in knowledge and self-realization, a conscious self in the mode of passion is interested in prestige, honor and sense gratification, and a self in the mode of ignorance takes pleasure in sleep, intoxication, laziness and destructive habits. Human beings are generally influenced by a mixture of these modes, with certain modes predominating for certain persons. These modes influence everything in this material world, such as the kind of work a person is attracted to, the kind of music one is attracted to, and the kinds of food one likes to eat.

Thus, when one turns toward religion, he is naturally attracted to a religion that fits in with the particular modes he is influenced by. Some religions involve techniques of black magic aimed at harming or killing enemies, or gaining control over other people. Some teachings insist that God cannot be known and thus one must submit without questioning. Some religions emphasize how God can help you enjoy the material world or help you out of a suffering condition. Adherents of these religions are not interested in finding out who or what God actually is; they are only interested in the concept of God which puts them in the position of receiving rather than giving, since they have nothing to give. They mask God with the concept that is out of reach for the living beings making them feel powerless and fearful and easy to control. To recognize those teachings

Some religions, which recognize the faults inherent in trying to enjoy the material world, aim at pure self-realization. Those religions and teachings do exist and they excell far above any conventional religious teachings we know today. One of them is called The Gaudiya Vaishnava or Vaishnavism.

A religion that aims at actual realization of the self and God, culminating in devotional service to God for His pleasure, is transcendental religion, beyond the three modes of material nature.

Why is there so much suffering and pain in the world?

Our article Evidence for Reincarnation provides extensive empirical evidence that each one of us is completely different from our physical body. We identify with the physical body when we want to forget our real transcendental nature and our original relationship with Krishna (God). Since the real nature of the self is to be constantly absorbed in an ecstatic loving relationship with Krishna, we can not actually be satisfied without this relationship.

Thus, dissatisfaction prevails in the material world, and consequently people are always engaged in looking for a way to fill the inner void residing in their hearts. Unfortunately, many avenues for prosperity and enjoyment involve exploiting others, and so we accumulate bad karma, which means negative reactions to our activities. These negative reactions take the form of war, famine, disease, injury and neglect by people we love, and thus we suffer.

The actual remedy to this situation is to seriously practice bhakti-yoga, which reawakens our ecstatic loving relationship with Krishna, and thereby provides happiness beyond our wildest dreams, not to mention giving us a superhuman body that never gets sick or old.

Bhakti-yoga has been practiced for thousands of years according to detailed descriptions given in Bhagavad-gita As It Is, The Nectar of Instruction, Sri Isopanisad, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrta and The Nectar of Devotion.

People who do not believe in reincarnation and yet believe in the one, omnipotent, supreme God, can not explain why some children are born in horrible suffering conditions. But if we accept reincarnation, then our suffering in this life is due to bad actions we performed in previous lives. Thus, God is not whimsical or sadistic, rather we have only ourselves to blame for our suffering.

This does not mean that bhakti-yogis are indifferent to the sufferings of others; they help those in suffering conditions. But more than just helping with food relief or hospital care, bhakti-yogis know the real cause of suffering, and they know the real solution: reawakening our relationship with God. Thus, they engage in the highest welfare work, which is teaching everyone how to practice bhakti-yoga.


STEPHEN KNAPP – Karma is one of those topics that many people know a little about, but few understand the intricacies of it. To start with, Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. On the universal scale, this is the law of karma. The law of karma basically states that every action has a reaction and whatever you do to others will later return to you. Furthermore, ignorance of the law is no excuse. We are still accountable for everything we do, regardless of whether we understand it or not. Therefore, the best thing is to learn how it works.

If everyone understood the law of karma, we would all be living a happier life in a brighter world. Why? Because we could know how to adjust our lives so we would not be suffering the constant reactions of what we have done due to the false aims of life.

According to Vedic literature, karma is the law of cause and effect. For every action there is a cause as well as a reaction. Karma is produced by performing fruitive activities for bodily or mental development. One may perform pious activities that will produce good reactions or good karma for future enjoyment. Or one may perform selfish or what some call sinful activities that produce bad karma and future suffering. This follows a person wherever he or she goes in this life or future lives. Such karma, as well as the type of consciousness a person develops, establishes reactions that one must experience.

The Svetashvatara Upanishad (5.12) explains that the living being, the jiva soul, acquires many gross physical and subtle bodies due to the actions he performs, as is motivated by the material qualities to which he obtains. These bodies that are acquired continue to be a source of illusion as long as he is ignorant of his real identity.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (4.45) further clarifies that as the atma or soul in the gross and subtle bodies acts, so thereby he obtains different conditions. By acting saintly he becomes a saint, and by acting immorally he becomes subject to the karmic consequences. In this way, he accrues piety or the burden of impiety accordingly.

Similarly, it is stated that as a man sows, so shall he reap. Therefore, as people live their present life, they cultivate a particular type of consciousness by their thoughts and activities, which may be good or bad. This creates a person’s karma.

This karma will direct us into a body that is most appropriate for the reactions that we need to endure, or the lessons we need to learn. Thus, the cause of our existence comes from the activities of our previous lives. Since everything is based on a cause, it is one’s karma that will determine one’s situation, such as race, color, sex, or area of the world in which one will appear, or whether one is born in a rich or poor family, or be healthy or unhealthy, etc., etc

So when the living beings take birth again, they get a certain kind of body that is most suitable for the type of consciousness they have developed. Therefore, according to the Padma Purana, there are 8,400,000 species of life, each offering a particular class of body for whatever kind of desires and consciousness the living being may have in this world. In this way, the living entity is the son of his past and the father of his future. Thus, he is presently affected by his previous life’s activities and creates his future existence by the actions he performs in this life. A person will reincarnate into various forms of bodies that are most suitable for the living entity’s consciousness, desires, and for what he deserves. So the living being inevitably continues in this cycle of birth and death and the consequences for his various good or bad activities as long as he is materially motivated.

What creates good or bad karma is also the nature of the intent behind the action. If one uses things selfishly or out of anger, greed, hate, revenge, etc., then the nature of the act is of darkness. One will incur bad karma from it that will later manifest as reversals in life, painful events, disease or accidents. While things that are done for the benefit of others, out of kindness and love, with no thought of return, or for worshiping God, are all acts of goodness and piety, which will bring upliftment or good fortune to you. However, if you do something bad that happens because of an accident or a mistake, without the intent to do any harm to others, the karma is not so heavy. Maybe you were meant to be an instrument in someone else’s karma, which is also yours. It will take into consideration your motivation. Yet the greater the intent or awareness of doing something wrong, the greater the degree of negative reaction there will be. So it is all based on the intent behind the action.

However, we should understand that, essentially, karma is for correcting a person, not for mere retribution of past deeds. The universe is based on compassion. Everyone has certain lessons and ways in which he must develop, and the law of karma actually directs one in a manner to do that. Nonetheless, one is not condemned to stay in this cycle of repeated birth and death forever. There is a way out. In the human form one can acquire the knowledge of spiritual realization and attain release from karma and further rounds of birth and death. This is considered to be the most important achievement one can accomplish in life. This is why every religious process in the world encourages people who want freedom from earthly existence not to hanker for material attachments or sensual enjoyments which bind them to this world, but to work towards what can free them from further cycles of birth and death.

All karma can be negated when one truly aspires to understand or realize the higher purpose in life and spiritual truth. When one reaches that point, his life can be truly spiritual which gives eternal freedom from change. By striving for the Absolute Truth, or for serving God in devotional service, especially in bhakti-yoga, a person can reach the stage in which he is completely relieved of all karmic obstacles or responsibilities. Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita (18.66): “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.”

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare  ॐ हरे कृष्णा हरे कृष्णा कृष्णा कृष्णा हरे हरे। हरे रामा हरे रामा रामा रामा हरे हरे॥ ॐ