Rebirth and Law of Karma
There is big confusion over Rebirth and Law of Karma theory in Buddhist and Ambedkarite people. The traditionally Buddhist belongs to Mahayan School of thought seems to believe Rebirth and Law of Karma theory. But, people belongs to Thervad School of thought and Ambedkarites are in hotchpotch over this matter. The Ambedkarites too, seems confused over this theory. However, in The Buddha and His Dhamma, Dr Ambedkar clearly states that there in no Rebirth and Law of Karma theory as Brahminic literature believe and want to be believe to dalit mass.
One thing however, is here to be noted.The Buddha's Rebirth and Law of Karma theory was new and vibrant. It was not easy to understand to those, who want to perpetuated the Rebirth theory owing to their class interest.
The first meeting held after Buddha to clear and codify what Buddha said, was after hundred years of Buddha and amid those who used to believe Rebirth and Law of Karma theory before going to Buddha'thought of School.
Please see The Buddha and His Dhamma :Book IV/Part II
1. What happens after death is a question often asked.
Looking to prevailed meaning, Buddha was not 'likely to be called a Eternalist' or an 'Annihilationist'.
2. The contemporaries of Buddha held two different views. One set was called Eternalist and the other was called Annihilationist.
3. The Eternalist said that the soul knows no death: therefore life is eternal. It is renewed by birth.
4. The thesis of Annihilationists was summed up in one word, Ucchedvad, which meant that death is the end of every thing. There is nothing after the death.
5. The Buddha was not an eternalist. For it involved a belief in the existence of a separate, immortal soul to which he was opposed.
6. Was the Buddha an annihilationist ? With his belief in the non-existence of the soul the Buddha would naturally be expected to be an annihilationist.
7. But in the alagaddupamma-Sutta the Buddha complains that he is called an annihilationist when as a matter of fact he is not.
11. How can the Buddha not believe in the existence of soul and yet say that he is not an annihilationist.
12. This raises the question: Did the Buddha believe in rebirth ?
Rebirth of what ?
2. The answer is in the affirmative.
3. It is better to split this question further into two parts: (1) Rebirth of what and (2) rebirth of whom ?
7. According to the Buddha there are four elements of Existence which go to compose the body. They are (1) Prithvi (2) Apa (3) Tej : and (4) Vayu.
8. Question is when the human body dies what happens to these four elements ? do they also dies along with the dead body ? some say that they do.
9. The Buddha said no. They joins the mass of similar elements floating in (Akash) space.
10. When the four elements from this floating mass join together a new birth take place.
11. This is what the Buddha meant by Rebirth.
12. The elements need not and are not necessarily from the same body which is dead. They may be drawn from different dead bodies.
13. It must be noted that the body dies. But the elements are ever living.
14. This is the kind of Rebirth in which the Buddha believed.
37. What happens when the body dies ? Is the body ceases to produce energy ?
38. But this is only a part of the answer. Because death also means that whatever enegy that has escaped from the body joins the general mass of energy playing about in the universe.
39. Annihilation has therefore a two-fold aspect. In one of its aspects it means cession of production of energy. an another aspect of it means a new addition to the stock of general floating mass of energy.
40. It is probabaly because of this two-fold aspect of annihilation that the Buddha said he was not an absolute annihilationist. He was annihilationist so far as soul was concerned. He was not an annihilationist so far as matter was concerned.
41. So interpreted, it is easy to understand why the Buddha said that he was not an annihilationist. He believed in the regeneration of matter and not in the rebirth of the soul.
42. So interpreted, the Buddha's view is in consonance with science.
43. It is only in this sense that the Buddha could be said to have believed in rebirth.
44. Energy is never lost. That is what science affirms. Annihilation in the sense that after death nothing is left would be contrary to science. For it would means that energy is not constant in volume.
(3) Rebirth of whom ?
(2) Does the same dead person take a new birth ?
(3) Did the Buddha believe in this thesis ? The answer is " Most improper."
(4 ) The answer depends upon the elements of existence of the dead man meeting together and forming a new body than the possibility of the Rebirth of the same Sentient being is possible.
(5) If a new body is formed after a mixture or the different elements of the different men who are dead then there is rebirth but not the rebirth of the same sentient being.
Section II/ KARMA
(1) Is the Buddhist Doctrine of Karma same as the Brahminic Doctrine ?
1. There is no doctrine in Buddha's Dhamma which has created so much confusion as this doctrine of Karma.
The Brahminic Law of Karma -
11. The Hindu Law of Karma is based on the soul. The Buddhist is not. In fact, there is no soul in Buddhism.
12. The Brahminic law of Karma is hereditary.
13. It goes from life to life. This is because of the transmigration of soul.
14. This can not be true of Buddhist Law of Karma. This is also because there is no soul.
15. The Hindu Law of Karma is based on the existence of the soul which is distinct from the body. When the body is dies the soul does not die. The soul flies away.
16. This is not true with the Buddhist Law of Karma.
17. According to Hindu Law of Karma, when a man does a karma. His act produces two-fold results. It affects the doer and secondly, it produces an impression upon his soul.
18. Each act he does produces an impress upon his soul.
19. When a man dies and when his soul escapes, the soul is full of such impressions.
20. It is these impressions which determines his birth and status in his future life.
(2) Did the Buddha believe in the past Karma having effect on Future Life ?
Buddhist Law of Karma -
1. The Law of Karma was enunciated by Lord Buddha. He was the first to say, "Reap as you sow."
2. He was so emphatic about the Law of Karma that he maintained that there could be no moral order unless there was a stern observance of the Law of karma.
3. The Buddhist Law of Karma applied only to Karma and its effect on present life.
The Law of Heredity -
19. The human birth is genetic.
23. But the Hindu doctrine differs.
24. It say that the body is genetic but the soul is not. It is implanted into the body from outside- the doctrine is unable to specify the source.
28. According to science a child inherits the characteristics of his parents.
29. In the Hindu doctrine of Karma a child inherits nothing from its parents except the body.
(3)Did the Buddha believe in past Karma having effect on Future Life ?
1. The Buddha doctrine of past Karma (Nagasena's Illustration of 'stealing mangoes' and 'tree fruits ) is thus in keeping with science.
2. He did not believe in the inheritance of past Karma.
16. The doctrine of past Karma is a purely Brahminic doctrine. Past Karma taking effect in present life is quite consistence with the Brahminic doctrine of soul, the effect of Karma on the soul. But it is quite inconsistent with the Buddhist doctrine of non-soul.
17. It has been bodily introduced into Buddhism by some one who wanted to Buddhism akin to Hinduism or who did not know what the Buddhist doctrine was.