[Advaita-l] Transmigration

S.N. Sastri sn.sastri at gmail.com
Wed Oct 4 00:45:31 CDT 2006

A translation of sloka 28 of SrI Sankara's SataSlokI is given below.

  The indwelling self, being non-different from the Supreme Self (Brahman),
is infinite and so all-pervading. It cannot therefore be said that the
indwelling self enters the womb when a child is conceived. Nor can it be
said that it leaves the body when a person dies. It is the subtle body,
constituted of the mind and the sense organs, that enters the physical body
when a child is conceived and leaves the physical body when a person dies.
Birth is the entry of the subtle body into the physical or gross body and
death is the departure of the subtle body from the gross body. On death the
subtle body goes to the higher or lower worlds according to the karma of the
person. The self does not take on the characteristics of the gross body such
as leanness, stoutness, etc. The subtle body, along with the sense organs
(which form part of it) and the samskaras, departs from the gross body on
death. After sojourn in higher or lower worlds, it comes back to this world
to take on another gross body.

  Note. The subtle body consists of the five organs of perception
(jnanendriyas), the five organs of action (karmendriyas), the five vital
airs (prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana), the mind (manas) and the
intellect (buddhi). It is the subtle body which transmigrates from one
physical body to another. The physical body perishes on death, but the
subtle body continues until ignorance is destroyed by the realization of
Brahman (Brahma-sakshatkara). When the subtle body leaves the physical body
it carries with it the knowledge acquired by the person, the effects of his
karma (punya and papa) and the impressions of past actions (samskaras) (See
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, IV.iv.2 ). The pure Atma, being eternal and
all-pervading, has neither birth nor death, nor can there be any question of
its going from one place to another. See also Bhagavad gita, 15.8.

A number of quotations from SrI Sankara's bhAshya on the subject of
transmigration have been collected and given on my website

under the heading "Terms and Concepts in Vedanta" and sub-heading

All the slokas of Satasloki in Devanagari script in pdf with English
translation and explanatory notes are available on this website. I request
members to visit the same.


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