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[Repost] Why I Don’t Want To Believe in Rebirth

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 3, 2012

Five years ago I was walking down a road in Helsinki with a German friend of mine. It was a fine summer day and we had just stepped out of the Library. And right then a beautiful Audi whizzed past us. “Wow! I wish I could get my hands on that beauty”, exclaimed my friend. “Relax, what’s the hurry?” I replied. He smiled and said, “Raunak, you are a Hindu. You will be re-born and can have another life to get a car like that. I am a Christian.I have only one life to get one.”

And what he said is etched in my mind for eternity. He had in a simple sentence explained the psyche of the Indian people in general and one that could be responsible for all the ills that pervade our society. e.g. India will never see a Revolution. A Revolution requires people to rise against the injustice meted out by those in authority. But most Indians when faced with a problem blame their past life sins (bad karmas) for their poor condition now. A beggar will blame his own wrong actions for his destitute existence in this life. He will never blame the corrupt and evil authorities in power for his pitiful life. A man who falls into a puddle of water on the road will blame his stars for the fall, not the inept contractor who made that low quality crap from our tax money. And by suffering the pains of this life we believe we will be reborn into a better life.

And this is why I do not agree with the concepts of rebirth and karma. These tenets have been used for centuries to carry out social oppression and the perpetrators have gotten away with it. It breeds self-infliction of pain and a cowardly attitude that many misinterpret as forgiveness. The belief in rebirth also belittles human life. No wonder the value of human life in India is abysmally low.  Also, is this complacency the reason that since days of Alexander, India has always been the conquered land.

If only everyone believed that they have ONLY ONE LIFE, they would go all out to make it better. And in doing so, get rid of the real culprits of their miseries. We all need to live in the present with the realization that this moment is never going to come back nor is my soul ever going to come back to this world. We need to ACT to change our present and not give into apathy towards our sufferings for hope of a better next life. This is the only life that we have and it is time for a Revolution.


22 Responses to “[Repost] Why I Don’t Want To Believe in Rebirth”

  1. Raunak: there are two issues about Karma and past lives. One you have eloquently described. The fact that we blame our past lives instead of the lazy and greedy contractors and government officials for the poor state of your nation. The second, however, is equally important and maybe even more potent. We need to see that whatever happens to us is of our own creation, we are accountable for our results in life. Not Karma and not just the government. A government will always rule over a people who won’t take control of their choices and their own lives. It’s time to wake up, on many fronts, in order to improve the world.

    I enjoy your posts, so keep them coming.

    • Raunak said

      thats a great observation John. If we do not take responsibility for our actions, we will be dominated for sure.
      While reading your views the thought that came to my mind was that maybe this is the reason socialism has not succeeded in many countries. Once we become dependent upon the government to ensure equality, those in power take away our freedom. Hence the Marxist evolution of Socialism into a government-less utopian state never sees the light of day. Those in power do not wish to return our freedom.

  2. soumyav said

    wonderful writing! Just believing in rebirth doesn’t give lame ecuses to the sysytem and our surroundings..our laziness and lethargy is the reason for it.. people find reasons enough to convince themselves,but when you know the truth …you can as well believe in revbirth ansd still persevere for the best of things from yourself and the society.. changes come from individuals…mass change happens later..

  3. emmawolf said

    (My usual preface of “I know nothing.”)

    “These tenets have been used for centuries to carry out social oppression and the perpetrators have gotten away with it. It breeds self-infliction of pain and a cowardly attitude that many misinterpret as forgiveness. The belief in rebirth also belittles human life. No wonder the value of human life in India is abysmally low. Also, is this complacency the reason that since days of Alexander, India has always been the conquered land.”

    Do you think it has to be this way? To draw an analogy (a bad analogy), in some (older) Christian thinking (I want to say the Calvinists), salvation is predestined. So it doesn’t matter if you are a jerk in life. Whether you go to heaven or hell has already been decided. But they thought that good works were a sign of one’s salvation, I guess because they realized that everyone would be jerks otherwise. So people would be good to show off that they were saved (huge simplification of Calvinism).

    So I guess my question is, if it is believed in Hinduism that what you do in one life affects you in the next, why can’t that encourage treating people better and equally? Why wouldn’t people try to avoid hurting others under the belief that if they do good, they would be rewarded for it in a next life? (Is that just super naive?)

    • Raunak said

      that’s a great thinking indeed and did get me thinking.

      The trouble is that Karma is an ancient thought that is embedded in the subconscious mind of the people. Ancient Vedic Hinduism treated Humans and Gods equally. It said that we all have the divine spirit in us. Hence people treated each other justly. However with the advent of the new Hinduism called “Bhakti” a separation of God and Man occured. God was raised to a higher level and we became subservient. This change allowed one human being to hurt another without the fear of irking the Gods. And if they feel that they need to please the Gods they now conduct elaborate rituals seeking forgiveness.

      So, it is this change in Hinduism that has led to an unjust society. Karma is an ancient belief that only lies in the subconscious of the people and comes to the forefront when people are helpless adn in distress.

      I hope I made some sense 🙂

      • emmawolf said

        Thanks, you did make sense. At least, I think you did. I just want to clarify something:

        “Karma is an ancient belief that only lies in the subconscious of the people and comes to the forefront when people are helpless and in distress.”

        Does this mean that only when people are in bad circumstances do they think about what they may have done in a previous life to “deserve” what is happening to them in the present, rather than living their current life in a good way to prepare for a better next life? (It kind of reminds me of the saying “there are no atheists in foxholes.”)

      • Raunak said

        It sure is used as per convenience. It works as a psychological healer to think of it in bad circumstances. Using it to collect good Karma comes naturally to a few people only.

      • emmawolf said

        Thank you. This makes me sad.

      • Raunak said


  4. I’d like to add something a little different to the discussion. From a Judeo-Christian point of view the idea of freedom is all important. According to the Old Testament we enjoyed living with God in a pre-existence before our mortality. In the Old Testament we learn about a war in heaven. Lucifer believed the way back from mortality, the way we would return to our Father in Heaven was to follow him, Lucifer. There would be obedience to his rules and he would get all the glory but he would assure that we would ALL return home. Jesus, on the other hand, presented the idea of agency, living in freedom but also being accountable. We would make choices, some for good and some for bad. Recognizing our mortal state as inherently imperfect He would atone for our sins. (He, being perfect, was the only one of God’s children who could do this.) *Hopefully my recap is close enough. ha!

    Anyway… I look at governments and can’t help thinking about which system is preferable to God– One which dictates how we live our lives, depriving us of the opportunity for growth and change, but keeps it’s citizens neat and tidy OR one that provides agency, choice, freedom, one that allows us to grow in our understanding and make changes as we go.

    According to the Old Testament, each of us sided with the plan that Jesus had set forth, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. Those that followed Lucifer, 1/3 of the host of heaven, were cast out, never to receive a mortal body and experience this mortal life.

    It makes sense to me that someplace deep inside of us is this understanding. I believe that people thrive in freedom. We know that freedom is the way of truth and light.

    Just some thoughts that I thought lend themselves to this discussion… I’m always open to new interpretations and ideas.

    • I should have also prefaced this with “I know nothing,” like Emmawolf. I worry that I’ll say something blatantly incorrect. haha!

      • Raunak said

        hahaha 🙂 accepting that you know nothing is the sign of true knowledge! and that reflects in your wonderful thoughts….true knowledge indeed!

    • Raunak said

      Lisa, these are wonderful thoughts.Thanks for sharing them.
      Since we are creations of the divine, I cannot help but think that we are meant to have the freedom to think for ourselves. There exists a connect between us and God that will ultimately have us do the right things. Yes, we also possess good and bad in us, and sometimes in the conflict between the two, the bad too wins. But overall we have the intelligence to stand up and say NO to the Government that tries to rule us. A Government becomes a collection of individuals and I tend to feel that a group of individuals is more conniving that one person.

      I think we too were meant to be perfect, but when we started living in communities,as societies, our sins began to manifest themselves. Leave a person alone in nature and he will be close to perfection.

  5. goldennuggetde said

    Hmmm. This is hard for me to comment since I’ve never been to India. I’m used to the christian society here in the midst of Europe. But Christians like to suffer, too. They rather blame themselves than to act in the present moment. It has all it’S pros and contras. I don’t know what’s right or better.

    Thanks, Richard

  6. WH said

    Thanks for sharing! This is an insightful look at the effect of such a belief. I’ll be sure to remember it and share the next time I teach about Hinduism.

  7. Correct me if I am wrong but is there not also Karma that you have control over. Your deeds now do improve your Karma. I belive in Karma but I also believe you have the power to change and create better Karma in this life time. I can see where others can use it as an excuse and be lazy but I don’t think that is the point of Karma, other then to keep adding to your bad Karma. 🙂

  8. Good Deed said

    This is wisdom… But I believe your people will rise once, under the leader as glorious as Gandhi, or even more… Do not forget there are billion of Indians… You will give someone who will live in moment and see what you see…

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