CHENNAI: Transmigration is one of the underlying concepts of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism), the rationale of which is the law of Karma. Birth in the world is the result of Karma acquired in previous lives and no being is exempt from experiencing the fruit of Karma. Karma is totally nullified by the knowledge of the Self (Atman) after which there is no rebirth in this world (liberation). While these principles governing existence can be accepted in good faith as teachings of the scriptures, it is but natural to wonder, "What is the proof for transmigration?"

A natural phenomenon that one can observe easily is the unique character of every newborn baby. Each baby is born in different circumstances, which cannot be dismissed as a matter of accident. Karma thus makes each person unique. While certain basic instincts are common to all babies, every infant as it grows exhibits certain individualistic traits, which can be explained only as the continuance of its traits from previous births in the form of latent tendencies (Vasanas).

In his discourse, Sri Goda Venketeswara Sastri said the mind and the five senses of a human being functioned due to the presence of the Self (Atman), which was a part of the Absolute (Brahman). The Bhagavad Gita states, "Even as the wind wafts scents from their seats (flowers and the like), so also the soul (Jivatma), which is the controller of the body, taking the mind and the senses from the body which it leaves behind migrates to the body which it acquires."

The example of a caterpillar, which catches hold of another leaf before letting go the one on which it is resting, is often cited to explain how a bonded soul prepares for its next birth before abandoning this body (in death). Karma then is the determining factor in bringing about this process.

It is for this reason that the existential realities of life (birth and death) cannot but be spoken of in the same vein. So death must not be feared or considered inauspicious. In sleep the senses and the mind are withdrawn into the heart, while in death they leave along with the vital breath and the soul to inhabit another body.