My Thoughts


Youth Sections
"The Captains of Change (Gaia Star)"
My Thoughts

Shirin Razdan

Althoughvery insightful and profound, Vedanta philosophy is quite oftendifficult to interpret and explain—especially for us students. Being inninth grade, I had to go through lesson after lesson on the Indus RiverValley and the origins of Hinduism. I felt confident that I knew myreligion pretty well, and as my class delved head on into concepts suchas reincarnation, samsara, yoga, and worship, I was constantly referredto when my fellow classmates had any questions. Full-fledged studentdiscussions are quite popular with my history teacher, and it was notlong before a discussion about reincarnation ensued. During thediscussion, one student who was not entirely supportive of the idea ofreincarnation posed a question that, frankly, left me stumped.

Here’sthe question: If the energy within our bodies transfers into anotherbody after death (that is, if the Self is not realized), then why isthe human population GROWING at such a fast rate? Shouldn’t it remainthe same?

Quitea few students tried to put in their two bits worth to the whole“reincarnation flaw.” I can even remember one student saying that“maybe souls can go into trees.” Though that comment garnered quite afew giggles, the student wasn’t entirely wrong.

Thatvery day of the discussion, I decided to send an email to SwamiJyotirmayananda—founder of the Yoga Research Foundation, and a reveredsage who dwells in Miami, Florida. I outlined the class discussion andthe question posed by my contemporary. The very next day, in historyclass, I eagerly checked my email and—as prompt as ever—there was Swamiji’s response:

“Law of Karma and Reincarnation is the highlight
of Vedic and Oriental philosophy.

Simply because population is increasing at a fast
rate, this has no bearing upon this philosophy.

Souls evolve through all living beings. Reincarnation
is not limited to human beings alone. Therefore, souls
continue to evolve through animals, birds, aquatic
creatures, and so forth. The basic count of all souls

No matter how much or how many you may draw from
Infinity, Infinity continues to be the same. God is the
boundless source of all souls.

Incarnations are not confined to the earth planet alone.
You should keep in view countless planets that exist
in the universe. Souls can come from other planets,
and go to other planets.”

Inlay man’s terms, according to the Law of Karma and Reincarnation aspresented in the Vedas and all our other wonderful religious texts, thenumber of souls in this universe is infinity. Souls evolve year afteryear in different forms of living things. Another detail that Swamijimentioned that I am quite impressed by is the presence of souls onother planets. I never thought about the presence of life on otherplanets. I find it somewhat intriguing that people always think oftheir religions as bound to the earth plane only. People never applytheir religious doctrine to life that may be present in the numerousplanets of our vast universe. The whole “what happens in Vegas stays inVegas” line can be manipulated to say, “What happens on earth stays onearth.” Who knows? Maybe life forms hundreds of thousands oflight-years away have developed their own religious beliefs andpractices that could even be applied to us here on earth. That thoughtis, for me, very captivating. We can never know everything. Everything,however, can know about us. As said by my current Balavihar teacher,“The part can never know about the whole, but the whole knows of thepart.” It is foolish to try to realize God by going ‘outside’ thewhole—God is everywhere, therefore it is rendered impossible.

As stated in our scriptures, there are three paths that an aspirant can follow to reach Self-realization:

  1. Bhakti Yoga—Path of Religious Devotion
  2. Jnana Yoga—Path of Knowledge
  3. Karma Yoga—Path of Righteous Action
If,during one lifetime, an aspirant cannot attain Enlightenment—there isno reason to fret! While the physical body might not be in existence,the ever-existing soul gets “recycled” and is reborn in another body.Such is the process of reincarnation. “It is not born, it doesnot die; having been, it will never not be; unborn, enduring, constant,and primordial, it is not killed when the body is killed.”(From the Second Teaching of the Bhagavad-Gita). Man is given numerousopportunities to cleanse himself of sins from previous and/or currentlives. Also known as samsara, this cycle of constant rebirths canresult in souls finding harbor in any number of skins—humans, plants,or animals. In fact, as mentioned by Swamiji, a soul can also bereincarnated in other-worldly beings.
 Onthat note, I’d just like to add that different people may interpret ourreligious texts in a variety of ways. These scriptures are not meant tobe followed to the tee—they call for our sound judgment in ourday-to-day lives and affairs. As long as one lives a righteous life,with God in one’s thoughts, Self-Realization can be reached. A fullunderstanding of the complexities of the Vedas and Upanishads is noteven necessary. The concepts presented in the Vedas and Upanishads justact as a guide. However, a guide to righteous living can be found inanything—a flowing river, a spiritual leader, a book, a tree, alifelong friend. A simple farmer might be utterly clueless when askedabout the essence of Vedanta Philosophy, but he lives a righteous life,continuously thinking about God. All his actions are done for God anddone through God. Such a lifestyle will surely accelerate his spiritualadvancement and ultimately lead to him realizing the Supreme Self.

As said by Sri Krishna in the Eleventh Teaching of the Bhagavad-Gita:

“Not through sacred lore,
Penances, charity, or sacrificial rites
Can I be seen in the form that you saw me.

By devotion alone
Can I, as I really am,
Be known and seen
And entered into, Arjuna.

Acting only for me, intent on me,
Free from attachment,
Hostile to no creature, Arjuna,
A man of devotion comes to me.”

By Shririn Razdan
9th Grade Gifted

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