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Reincarnation in the Vedas

By Yogi Baba Prem


It has become common to hear from followers of Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) and scholars that reincarnation is not found in the Vedas; regrettably, this is often due to a large amount of misinformation  as well as an emerging literalist mentality that is attempting to sweep the global community. While it might be correct to say that the Rig Veda does not address reincarnation literally with a specific word for reincarnation as a literalist would prefer, the Vedas does reference what could only be viewed as referring to reincarnation. It does this initially through mantras that are considered funeral mantras, and these are found in the Rig Veda, the oldest of the four Vedas. Within the Rig Veda, there is a lovely funeral mantra that states:

 ā ta etu mana punah kratve dakshāya jīvase,
Jyok ca sūryam drishe. Rig Veda

“May your spirit return again, to perform pure acts for exercising strength, and to live long to see the sun.”

While reincarnation is not specifically mentioned in this rik (verse), it is quite obvious that as a funeral rite, this would be referring to reincarnation. Likewise, in the Yajur Veda (Shukla) there is a much more direct reference to reincarnation. This verse states:

savitā te shridebhyah prthivyām lokamicchatu,
tasmai yujyantAmustriyāh. Yajur Veda 35.2

“The sun God grants bodies in different births, according to your deeds, providing a happy or unhappy place on this earth. May radiant beams prove helpful to you.”

Critics of Hinduism look to terms such as ‘Punarjanam,' which is commonly translated to mean reincarnation. But the Vedas was not heard in this way and does not include words just for the purpose of future intellectual arguments regarding dogma. While punarjanam may not appear, the term ‘Punar’ and  ‘Puna’ does commonly occur in the Vedas; these words literally mean again or repeatedly. In the Rig Veda, Punar/Puna usually means back, return, opposite direction. While commonly used in the Vedas,  certainly these terms would not always be references to just reincarnation so caution must be used with their application, though one can see in the first quote from above, the term punah is used in context to reincarnation. In later texts such as the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, it states, and I paraphrase:

 “…having exhausted whatever works he did in this world, he comes again from that world to this world…” BU 4.4.6

Here is an example of the word ‘Punar’ being associated with returning again.

Even with a brief analysis, it becomes apparent that reincarnation is present within the Vedas, though it does require a little exploration to see the references, as it is not written in such obvious details as one might write today.  With only a little information, one can see that there are numerous indicators that reincarnation was an important part of the ancient Vedic tradition. 

To learn more about Vedic concepts, we recommend:

Ushas: The Divine Dawn by Yogi Baba Prem

From Earth to Heaven: Secrets of Yoga, Goddess and Spirituality by Yogi Baba Prem

Yogic Secrets of the Vedas by Yogi Baba Prem

From the River of Heaven by David Frawley

Wisdom of the Ancients by David Frawley

Copyright 2013.  All Rights Reserved.


Yogi Baba Prem

  • Yogi Baba Prem has two books published in India, and has written numerous other books published by Universal Yoga. 


  • His articles have appeared in several traditional magazines and a variety of e-magazines.