Absurdities of Reincarnation-Transmigration


The belief in the cycle of birth and rebirth known as either Reincarnation or Transmigration, where the former is only restricted to humans, stands in stark contrast to the belief of the so-called “Abrahamic religions” – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the case of Islam, it affirms belief in a single life after which will follow the Day of Resurrection and Judgment. The basic understanding, as taught by all of Allah’s Prophets and Messengers – the last being Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) – was that:

  • The life and reality of this world will come to a permanent end on an appointed day. Everything will be annihilated. That day is referred to as Yawmul-Aakhir – the Last Day.
  • Mankind will then be resurrected (Hashr) back to life in order to stand before Allah and be perfectly judged for how they lived their respective lives.
  • A complete record of one’s deeds and actions will then be handed over as evidence before judgement is passed.
  • Those who submitted to and obeyed Allah in life will be rewarded, and vice-versa.
  • Allah’s righteous and obedient servants will taste success in the form of eternal bliss and happiness in a garden of paradise called al-Jannah where they will have the ultimate honour of seeing their Lord in the literal sense. But as for the disobedient ones, they will be condemned for and deserving of punishment in a place called an-Naar as Allah wills.

What we can say for certain, therefore, is that Sikhim’s belief in salvation stands diametrically opposed to that of Islam’s.

An Examination

This treatise will attempt to examine how Sikhism’s concept of reincarnation-transmigration stands in relation to the absolute perfect justice of God, al-‘Adl (the all-Just) wal-‘Aadil (the one who dispenses perfect justice). Our aim is to see whether said concept upholds or violates the absolute perfection of God.

Reincarnation-transmigration is inextricably linked to a concept called Karma, which basically states that one will inevitably reap what one has sown, or as the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) puts it: “Jehaa beejai so lunai karma sandraa khet: The man sows so does he reap. Such is the field of actions.” (SGGS 134). This means that whatever bad deeds have been committed in life will either be suffered in the present life, some life to come in the future, or both. This so-called Law of Karma operates in this life and successive ones, and does not cease to operate after death. According to Dr Mansukhani:

Karma does not mean that everything is pre-ordained and that man has no free-will. He carries his past Karma in the form of character. It is his own actions that make him what he is. Guru Nanak says, “The record of my deeds cannot be effaced because God has recorded them.” [1]

Putting aside, for the moment, the argument that preordainment necessitates an absence of freewill, the first and most obvious thing we should recognise from the above is that life itself is nothing short of a clear indicator of abject failure. In other words, this life is the sum total of having miserably failed to achieve what is known as moksha – liberation from this cycle – resulting in rebirth to pay off the debt of a sinful past life.

This raises a question, however:

What were the mistakes committed that resulted in said failure?

The answer, according to the SGGS, is that we simply have no way of knowing because such knowledge is unrecollectable:

After union, the separation comes and after separation the union. After living the span of life, the death comes and after death the life. He becomes the father of many and the son of many, the disciple and preceptor of many. Their lives in the past and future are countless. Nothing is known what was in the past and what will be in the future? (Salok M.1. P 1238)

We are made to go through khand, or the life of this realm, for past misdeeds we are unable to recall. But this raises a further question:

Does the possibility of repeating the same mistake committed in a previous life not exist if it is unknown?

The answer is an obvious yes. Yet, this problem is further compounded by the fact that if we don’t know what evil deeds we’ve committed, then not only is it impossible for us to learn from them, but entirely possible that we end up committing a worse transgression that would warrant a harsher punishment! What ethical reason is there, therefore, in subjecting a person to such a process of crime and punishment?

Before venturing an answer, let’s ponder over the following verse in SGGS:

Daddai dos na deyoo kisai dos krammaa aapanyaa. Jo mai keeyaa so mai paayaa dos na deejai avar janaa: Do not blame anyone else; blame instead your own actions. Whatever I did, for that I have suffered; I do not blame anyone else. (SGGS 433)

In light of this, we can also infer that one born under seemingly unfavourable circumstances is merely reaping what’s been sown, and, thus, deserving of it since divine justice is being served.

But this potentially raises some very uncomfortable scenarios. Just take the following example: if Sikhism truly holds that it is just of God to punish a person by placing them under such unfavourable conditions for past misdeeds, then Sikhs must affirm that justice is being served when a baby is born with a deformity or into a family stricken by extreme poverty (or both!), and, thus, deserves to suffer a life of difficulty and hardship since it is merely carrying out its sentence for past crimes!

The Relationship between Karma and the Suffering Child

In Karmic terms: One person sows and a different person reaps!

The problem with this relationship is that since it is inexorably linked to the notion of Karma, reincarnationists habitually conflate the following two issues:

  1. Everything has a cause: “The man sows so does he reap. Such is the field of actions.” (SGGS 134)
  2. The effect it has on one’s present life, including happiness and misery, is determined by past deeds: “Beej bovas bhog bhogahi keeyaa appnaa pavaye: As are the seeds one plants, so are the fruits; he receives the consequences of his own efforts.” (SGGS 705) “Jaisaa kare so taisaa paavai. Aap beej aape he khavai: Man is rewarded according to his actions; as he sows, so does he eat or reap.” (SGGS 662)

These are two very distinct claims where neither implies the other. Subject to certain qualifications, 1) is plausible, but 2) is not, and it is the latter which reincarnationists need to properly defend their argument.

The idea that Karma is a “Law” which operates autonomously, i.e. automatically produces the appropriate results like any other law in the natural domain, means that not only can anyone cheat this law, but that it is also inexorable. But how just is this so-called law?

Going back to the above example of the infant, then we can deduce the following:

  1. The child’s suffering is directly related to sins committed in previous lives.
  2. The child’s parents are likewise suffering the pain and anguish as a result of their own sins.

But, before we determine how just and humane this concept is, we have to firstly realise and acknowledge the following fundamental points.

Since the parents and their child have absolutely no recollection of their past lives, particularly in relation to their own sins and transgression, we can infer the following:

(A)  Existence of one’s personality developed over a single lifetime, and awareness of this, comes to an end at the point of death.

(B)  Upon being reborn, therefore, that same individual has absolutely no trace or knowledge of any previous life.

(C)  Any given life is, thus, entirely separate to and independent of its previous lives.

(D) Hence, these lives are no more significantly linked, in terms of their personality and self-awareness, than the lives of all those who happen to be alive at the same given moment in time. 

The question which then begs to be asked is:

Is it just on God’s part to punish one who has absolutely no recollection of the transgressions committed in a past life?

If there is no connection between ones previous life and the next in terms of personality and self-awareness, it stands to reason, therefore, that actions of a previous life are separate, distinct and unconnected to the next. What this implies is that although an individual may accumulate bad karma, an entirely different and separate individual will suffer the consequences! In other words, the innocent will be punished in place of the guilty. In Karmic terms, what this amounts to is:

One person sows and a different person reaps!

Not only is this unfair, but fundamentally contradicts the idea of perfect justice. In legal terms, this would be seen as a clear case of a:

Miscarriage of justice!

Hence, the answer to the question of whether it’s just on God’s part to punish one who has absolutely no recollection of the transgressions committed in a past life, is an obvious: NO!

As a matter of fact, there is no difference between affirming this diabolical salvific model and the Christian notion of Original Sin, which claims that a child is born with a sinful nature for a crime committed by its fore parents!

SGGS: At the very last moment, one who thinks of his children, and dies in such thoughts, shall be reincarnated over and over again as a pig. (Bhagat Trilochan, Raag Gujri, p.526)

But to truly appreciate how absurd this model really is, let’s apply it to real life situations! Take the example of arguably the most despised and reviled figure of the 20th century, the German dictator, Adolf Hitler! Will Hitler suffer for the mountain of sins he committed in his next life? No; because the person of Hitler came to an end following his ignominious suicide. As such, an entirely separate and distinct individual will have to endure a horrific punishment that should have been endured by Hitler. Thus, not only will an innocent person be unduly punished, but Hitler himself has essentially got off unimaginably lightly considering the extent of his crimes.

In Islam, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said that the pen, used to record a person’s deeds in life, is lifted i.e. suspended, for such a person who has not acquired or temporarily lost the full faculties of independent reasoning and moral judgement:

The pen has been lifted for three: the insane until he regains his sanity; the child until he reaches puberty (age of discernment); and the sleeper until he awakes.

In contrast, however, the Karmic model implies that a suffering child, who has not yet fully developed the faculties of independent reasoning, is not only held accountable for unrecollectable sins, but must also be deemed and described as a guilty sinner! The ramifications are, of course, shocking to say the least.

In Islam, it is from the distinguishing characteristics of God’s absolute justice that He punishes the guilty after they have clearly been informed of the difference between truth and falsehood, right and wrong, and good and evil, but end up willfully rejecting such information and knowledge. As Allah says in the Qur’an:

And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning). And when We would destroy a town (population), We would (firstly) send a definite order (to obey Allah) to those among them who live at ease. Then afterwards they would transgress, thus the word (of torment) was justified against them. And We would then destroy them utterly. (Qur’an 17:15-16)

However, this does not hold true visàvis Karma, which necessarily assigns guilt, blame and punishment for unrecollectable past woes unbeknown to the unfortunate victim. Hence, the potential for rectifying these previous errors, through learning, does not exist.

Real-Life Scenarios

Can the defender of Karma admit that some suffering is outrageously severe or must he say that all suffering is a priori just and necessarily deserved merely because it occurs?
– Philosophical Quarterly, 1965, p. 151, Steinkraus

To really drive home this point, let’s examine other real life scenarios by attempting to interpret them under the rubric of Karma:

  1. What can we say of the Holocaust that saw the incineration of six million Jews at the hands of their Nazi exterminators? According to Karma, they merely “reaped” what they had “sown”. That is to say, their physical and mental torture, starvation and eventual murder was no more than what they deserved based upon the notion that their suffering and eventual demise was connected to transgressions committed in a past life.In answering the question posed above: “Can the defender of Karma admit that some suffering is outrageously severe or must he say that all suffering is a priori just and necessarily deserved merely because it occurs?”, would we not be forced to conclude that suffering in life, no matter how severe and torturous, is directly proportional to the degree of transgression and evil committed by these Jews in a past life? Since the most important factor here is an inevitable reaping of past crimes, the manner in which this occurs – what can be referred to as: The Karmic Effect – is seemingly irrelevant. This creedal Fatalism [2] accepted by Sikhism forces one to an amazing conclusion:

    No matter what transpires in life, it is wholly justified and inevitable.

    By this rationale, The Karmic Effect entails that what the Jews suffered at the hands of their Nazi exterminators, was merely a consequence of what they had sown.

    Hence, from the viewpoint of the Jews, the action of these Nazis was an inevitable consequence of what was destined to occur. In other words, the Jews got what they deserved!

  2. Returning to the suffering child. In light of the explanation cited earlier from SGGS: “Do not blame anyone else; blame instead your own actions. Whatever I did, for that I have suffered; I do not blame anyone else” (SGGS 433), consider giving the following heartless explanation to the child’s parents: “It all makes sense – your child deserved her fate; she sinned in a previous life, and the severity of her suffering is directly proportional to the severity of the sins she committed. What is more, you yourself are, likewise, suffering and there is no doubt that you are being punished for some serious transgression either in this or an earlier life, or both. You can see that, as always, justice prevails!” As heartfelt an explanation as this would be, this is the consequence of believing in reincarnation!
  3. What conclusions would be drawn if we attempted to explain away the deaths of thousands of people due to a natural disaster? Let us take the example of the great Tangshan Earthquake of 1976 in China, which lasted between 14-16 seconds, and left a death toll of approximately 242,000 people. Were all these men, women and children, who died so suddenly, simply deserving of such a fate?Perhaps they were even a catalyst for the disaster itself! Can we not ask whether nature too is subject to this deadly Karmic Effect?

    Was this disaster meant to occur to allow the victims to payoff their past-debt? And was death the ultimate and necessary price for those unrecollectable actions they had sown?

What can we say of the Holocaust that saw the incineration of six million Jews? According to Karma, they merely “reaped” what they had “sown”.

If one were to hold to this incredulous Karmic model, the absurd and inexplicable conclusions reached for any given scenario in life would not only be morally untenable, but also extremely distasteful, objectionable and wholly unjustifiable.

Now, let’s compare the difference between the fatalism of Karma in Sikhism, and Islam’s understanding of divine preordainment by firstly citing a detailed explanation on the latter topic by the great scholar, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen, in his book, The Divine Pre-Decree and Ordainment of Allah:

O Brothers! Know that the Muslim ummah (nation) is divided into three groups with respect to Allah’s Pre-Decree:

The First Group: They went overboard in their affirmation of Allah’s Pre-Decree, denying that the human being has any ability or choice in the matter. They hold that “a person has no ability or choice – he is controlled and has no free will, just like a tree when it is blown by the wind.” They do not distinguish between a person’s action that occurs as a result of his choice, and an action of his that occurs without him choosing so. No doubt, these people are astray because what is known from the Religion by necessity, and from the intellect and customs, is that a human being knows the difference between an action he chooses to do and an action he is forced into doing.

The Second Group: They went to extremes in their affirmation of a person’s ability and choice, such that they negated Allah having any part in Willing or Choosing or Creating what action a person does. And they claimed that a person is independently responsible for producing his action. This is such that a group amongst them went too far, saying: “Allah does not know what actions His servants will do until after it occurs from them.”  These people have also gone to extremes and shown great radicalism in affirming a human being’s ability and choice.

The Third Group: These are the ones who truly believe, and so Allah has guided them concerning that which is disagreed upon from the truth. They are Ahlus- Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah [the people of the Prophetic guidance of Muhammad and those who follow him]. They have treaded the moderate path and the middle course, which is based on religious and logical proofs and evidences. And they say: The actions that Allah introduces into existence are divided into two types:

First: The actions from Allah that He causes to occur in His Creation. No one has any choice in regard to these actions, and they are such as when rain descends, when the earth produces vegetation, when life or death occurs, when health or sickness befalls and so on and so forth – from the many things that can be observed occurring within the creation. Without doubt, no one has any part in choosing or willing for these things to transpire, but rather it is only Allah who wills that to happen.

Second: The actions that the creation, i.e. all of the various types of creatures that possess a will, do.  These actions occur as a result of their choosing and wanting to do them, since Allah gave them the ability to do that, as He says:

To whoever amongst you wills to go straight.” (Surah At-Takweer: 28)

And He says:

Among you is he who desires the worldly life and among you is he who desires the Hereafter.” (Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 152)

And He says:

So whoever wishes, then let him believe; and whoever wishes then let him disbelieve.” (Surah Al-Kahf: 29)

A human being knows the difference between what occurs from him as a result of his own free will, and what occurs from him as a result of being compelled and forced. So for example, when a human being climbs a ladder to get to the roof of a house, he ascends the ladder out of his own free will, and while knowing that he freely chose to do so. But when he trips and falls down from the roof, he knows that he did not choose to do that. So he can tell the difference between these two actions – that he freely chose to do the former, while he was compelled to do the latter. Every human being knows this. …

We stated previously that: The Divine Pre-Ordainment is a hidden secret; you have no way of finding out about it. So right now, you are between two paths – a path that will take you to salvation and success, and a path that will take you to destruction and regret. So right now, you are standing between these two paths with a free choice. There is no one in front of you preventing you from taking the right path or the left path. If you wish, you can go here, and if you wish, you can go there. So how can you take the left path and say: “This has been pre-decreed for me!” Isn’t it more befitting for you to take the right path and say: “This has been pre-decreed for me?”

And if you want to go on a journey to some other country, but before you lies two roads, one of which is paved, short and safe, while the other unpaved, long and dangerous, we would find you choosing the short, paved and safe road and not the other one. So this figurative road is similar to it and doesn’t differ from it at all.

However, it is the ego and desires that sometimes govern and take over the mind.

The believer must take over and control his desires. And when his mind judges, the mind, according to its correct meaning, should prevent a person from what harms it and leads it to what benefits and pleases it.

With this, it becomes clear that people have a free choice when it comes to their actions, and that they are not coerced. And just as he has a free choice in the acts of his worldly affairs, if he wills, he will put out this product or make that his business, then likewise he has a free choice with regard to the affairs of the Hereafter. In fact, the paths of the Hereafter are clearer by far than the paths of this worldly life, because the One who clarifies the paths of the Hereafter is Allah, in His Book and upon the tongue of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). So the paths of the Hereafter are clearer and more lucid than the paths of the worldly life.

This shows that Islam does not hold in anyway that Allah punishes mankind for any actions in which they have no choice. According to Islam, people fall into trials and tribulation, or receive punishment after consciously choosing to disobey the commandments  while violating the edicts of their Lord, i.e. they have knowledge of what’s right and wrong, but yet continue to go ahead in committing wrong.

Prophet Muhammad: Allah has forgiven my ummah (nation) for thoughts that cross their minds, so long as they do not speak of them or act upon them. (Sahih Muslim, 127)

Levels of Sin and Punishment

We now come to the question of whether there’s any correlative relationship between the levels of sin committed, and the consequences of punishment one is to endure in the next life for each respective level.

Such an hierarchical ordering is absolutely necessary when considering the obvious that all actions differ a priori in terms of their degree of good and evil. Hence, murder is recognised as being more evil than, say, swearing. As such, the punishment for murder is far severer. This understanding is important because not only does it serve as a means of dissuading people from carrying out actions recognised to be major sins, but also reflects God’s absolute justice. It is known a priori that the degree of punishment is directly proportional to the degree of the seriousness of the crime committed. If this is known to us, then it stands to reason that the One we recognise to be all-Knowledgeable and all-Wise, has a greater right of knowing this. Further, it would be unjust on His part to have knowledge of this, but fail to inform us when guiding us to righteousness.

We know that the precursor to Sikhism, i.e. Hinduism, while also affirming an understanding of reincarnation-transmigration very similar to Sikhism’s, recognises said relationship between the level of sin and its consequent punishment:

The murderer of a brahmin becomes consumptive, the killer of a cow becomes hump-backed and imbecile, the murderer of a virgin becomes leprous – all three born as outcastes. The slayer of a woman and the destroyer of embryos becomes a savage full of diseases; who commits illicit intercourse, a eunuch; who goes with his teacher’s wife, disease-skinned. The eater of flesh becomes very red; the drinker of intoxicants, one with discoloured teeth…

Who steals food becomes a rat; who steals grain becomes a locust… perfumes, a muskrat; honey, a gadfly; flesh, a vulture; and salt, an ant…. Who commits unnatural vice becomes a village pig; who consorts with a Sudra woman becomes a bull; who is passionate becomes a lustful horse…. These and other signs and births are seen to be the karma of the embodied, made by themselves in this world. Thus the makers of bad karma, having experienced the tortures of hell, are reborn with the residues of their sins, in these stated forms. (Garuda Purana 5 [Similar punishments are figured by The Laws of Manu 12, 54-69])

Likewise, Sikhism too recognises a similar relationship, as delineated below, but one that should make for uncomfortable reading:

a(n)th kaal jo lashhamee simarai aisee chi(n)thaa mehi jae marai
sarap jon val val aoutharai
aree baaee gobidh naam math beesarai rehaao
a(n)th kaal jo eisathree simarai aisee chi(n)thaa mehi jae marai
baesavaa jon val val aoutharai
a(n)th kaal jo larrikae simarai aisee chi(n)thaa mehi jae marai
sookar jon val val aoutharai
a(n)th kaal jo ma(n)dhar simarai aisee chi(n)thaa mehi jae marai
praeth jon val val aoutharai
a(n)th kaal naaraaein simarai aisee chi(n)thaa mehi jae marai
badhath thilochan thae nar mukathaa peetha(n)bar vaa kae ridhai basai

At the very last moment, one who thinks of wealth, and dies in such thoughts, shall be reincarnated over and over again, in the form of serpents.
O sister, do not forget the Name of the Lord of the Universe.
At the very last moment, he who thinks of women, and dies in such thoughts, shall be reincarnated over and over again as a prostitute.
At the very last moment, one who thinks of his children, and dies in such thoughts, shall be reincarnated over and over again as a pig.
At the very last moment, one who thinks of mansions, and dies in such thoughts, shall be reincarnated over and over again as a goblin.
At the very last moment, one who thinks of the Lord, and dies in such thoughts, says Trilochan, that man shall be liberated; the Lord shall abide in his heart.
(Bhagat Trilochan, Raag Gujri, p.526 SGGS)

It is difficult to accept the above when one considers that a person will be held to account for mere thoughts alone, and those too for such thoughts that many would consider entirely understandable. For instance, why is it considered blameworthy if a man’s final thoughts revolve around concern for his wife and children, as would be the case for most, if not, all of us? Is it really from justice and mercy to subject someone to the punishment of being transmigrated into a pig or reincarnated into a future prostitute, for simply thinking of the well-being of one’s wife, sister, mother, or children at the brink of death? Can a person not think of His Lord, but then have one last thought of his family before passing over?!

It seems palpably absurd to hold the idea that the all-Merciful, all-Just will punish for mere thoughts alone. How many things must race by for a person who is about to die? The aforementioned Hindu categorisation of levels of sin and punishment at least holds one responsible not just for mere thoughts alone, but for actually enacting them. But here in Sikhism, just the mere thought of something is enough to condemn a person!

Compare this now to Islam which teaches that the Merciful (ar-Rahmaan), Generous, Kind (al-Kareem) and all-Just (al-‘Adl) rewards the good-doers and forgives bad deeds, but will never punish anyone for mere thoughts or intentions alone. The Prophet of Mercy, Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), said:

Allah has forgiven my ummah (nation) for thoughts that cross their minds, so long as they do not speak of them or act upon them. (Muslim 127)

And he said:

Allah has decreed hasanaat (good deeds) and sayi’aat (bad deeds), then He explained it. Whoever intends to do a good deed, but does not do it, Allah will write it down as one complete hasanah; if he intends to do it and does it, Allah will write it down as (a figure) between ten and seven hundred hasanaat, or more. Whoever intends to do a bad deed, but he does NOT do it, Allah will write it down as one complete hasanah; if he intends to do it and does it, Allah will write it down as one sayi’ah (only). (Al-Bukhari 81)

The Origin of Bad Karma

According to Sikhism, our Karma is an accumulation of evil actions stemming from past lives that determines the extent of suffering we will have to endure in this life. But, this raises a most peculiarly unique case.

If we take the suffering endured in this present life to be the result of our previous life, and our previous life’s suffering to be the result of the life before that, then eventually we’ll come to a starting point in this linear regression, which should then prompt us to ask a question that was posed by both the fifth Guru, Arjan, as well as Naam Dev in the SGGS:

The former queried:

jab kachh na see-o tab ki-aa kartaa kavan karam kar aa-i-aa: When nothing existed, what deeds were being done? And what Karma caused anyone to be born at all? (SGGS p. 748 Arjun Dev)

While the latter questioned:

Saasat no hotaa Bed naa hotaa karam kahaan te aa-i-aa: When there was no Shastras and no Vedas, where did the Karma come from? (SGGS p. 973 Naam Dev)

The answer, according to SGGS, is that at some hitherto unknown point in mankind’s history, our ancestors began to believe their mind and body to be their own, that resulted in the rise of karma, which then kick started this dreaded cycle:

kaachae bhaaddae saaj nivaajae anthar joth samaaee.
jaisaa likhath likhiaa dhhur karathai ham thaisee kirath kamaaee.
man than thhaap keeaa sabh apanaa eaeho aavan jaanaa.
jin dheeaa so chith n aavai mohi andhh lapattaanaa.
He created and adorned the earthen vessels (human bodies) and infused His Light within them. As is the destiny pre-ordained by the Creator, so are the deeds we do. The human began to believe that the mind and body were all his own; this is the cause of his coming (births) and going (rebirths). He does not think of the One who gave him these; he is blind, entangled in emotional attachment. (SGGS, M 5, p. 882)

Due to the ambiguity of the above, it is unknown whether this process of free-thinking began with the very first humans, or with some later generation. But, if we may assume the latter, for argument’s sake, then it stands to reason that all previous generations untouched by the deadly Karmic Effect would have only lived a single life. Hence, the concept of reincarnation-transmigration, certainly succeeded the idea of this life being the only chance at salvation.


As interesting as this final point might be, it pales in significance when considering how Sikhism’s concept of reincarnation-transmigration stands in relation to the absolute perfect justice of God.

In this respect, we have argued that the notion of karma amounts to the following conclusions:

  1. The actions committed in one life are separate, distinct and unconnected to any other precisely because there exists absolutely no connection between ones previous life and the next in terms of personality and self-awareness. As such, the innocent will be punished in place of the guilty, which, as we said, is, in legal terms, a miscarriage of justice. In effect, one person reaps what another has sown. Not only is this unfair, but fundamentally contradicts the idea of perfect justice.
  2. Unlike Islam, Sikhism holds mere thoughts as punishable!
  3. In Islam, a person who has not acquired or temporarily lost the full faculties of independent reasoning and moral judgement will not be held to account during said period. However, according to Sikhism, God not only sees a child, who has not yet fully developed the faculties of independent reasoning, as a guilty sinner for its past unrecollectable misdeeds, but also considers it just to subject it to punishment.
  4. Hence, claiming that God will punish people based on Karma is nothing short of complete injustice.

It is abundantly clear from all the above, that this salvific concept of reincarnation-transmigration patently violates the absolute perfection of God, glorified is He above all such imperfections and lies.

[1] G.S. Mansukhani (1993), Introduction to Sikhism, (Hemkunt Press), p.52.
[2] It should be noted here that fatalism cannot be applied to Islam’s belief in Divine Preordainment.


  1. This Christian is in awe of your masterful and
    scholarly refutation of reincarnation. I believe the latter idea also removes the urgency to live and act rightly in this life: the perception is the hat there will always be another chance next time around.

  2. Our response is in bold below…

    While there are many good things in the Bible and Koran these were meant for an age where people were nomadic dwellers in the desert or for illiterate fisherman and shepards who lived in one of the most violent times and regions ever in history. Hence such brutality is recorded in the Old Testament and subsequently the Bible and Koran. These people knew constant warfare and strife and so God tailored their teachings according to time, place, and circumstance, although there is much evidence these books were also changed by men. Both were written well after their respective teachers left this world as well, thus leaving the question of human interference and changing of the original text in the first place a very real possibility.

    You’ll find that the Old Testament is a part of the Bible! In any case, it’s funny how, coming from a Hindu, you can point to warfare and strife found in other nations, but not recognise that your many gods and goddesses were involved in ultra-violent wars that belong in the realms of make-believe, with a monkey God, an elephant’s head thrown in for good measure, and so many other fantastical stories.

    As for your claim that the Qur’an was changed or written after our Prophet’s (‘alayhi salaatu wa salaam) time, care to provide any evidence for that? And while you’re at it, care to provide any methodological system used for verifying the authenticity of stories passed down from person to person, generation to generation, in Hinduism so we have something objective that might garner a semblance of confidence for all your folkloric tales?

    Neither really gives a detailed description of consciousness or the soul.

    We’re assuming that you’re not asking for a material description of the soul. As such, have you read, for instance, Ibnul Qayyim’s Kitaab ar-Rooh, which provides a coherent and detailed narrative of the soul’s journey in the next life, including the questioning and torment of the grave, etc? It has been translated into English. Give it go before you make such vacuous claims; then get back to us regarding what Hinduism has to say.

    The abrahamic religions teach all evil in the world is a punishment by God for Eve eating the apple of knowledge (ironically). But to believe the supreme all-merciful all-wise/knowing God would punish innocent people (his own children) is also irrational. Would you think it just if I put you in jail for life for a crime your father committed? Not even human governments are so irrational what to speak of God, and yet the abrahamic religions say all suffering, genocide, disease, etc. is because Eve ate an apple, and God according to them is so merciless that He has been punishing the entire creation from the moment of its inception because of the mistake of one being i.e. Eve.

    You forget to mention that in Islam, both Adam and Eve, after acknowledging their collective wrongs, are forgiven following their repentance. You also forget to mention that unlike the Christians, Islam (and Judaism for that matter) strictly repudiates the concept of Original Sin taught by ‘The Liar’ St Paul. Allah strictly states in the Qur’an, “No bearer of burdens shall bear anothers burden.” (Qur’an 35:18). With that in mind, your claim that suffering occurs because of Eve vis-a-vis Islam has been entirely falsified!

    To the contrary, here is what the Qur’an says in relation to the evils that occur in the world (pay attention, because it’s obvious that you’re wholly ignorant about Islam):

    Evil (sins and disobedience of Allah, etc.) has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned (by oppression and evil deeds, etc.), that Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allah, and begging His Pardon). (Qur’an 30:41)

    So, how does evil arise? That’s correct: people bring it about by committing misdeeds themselves.

    Karma and reincarnation is more merciful and logical. You do the crime and you do the appropriate jail time (and conversely if you do good you reap that as well).

    More merciful and logical?! Let’s examine that shall we? Let’s take you as an example! Do you remember any of your past lives? No, we thought not! So before you were punished, did you know that if you don’t obey God that you’d be punished? Well, how could you know when you don’t remember?

    What if you were a monkey in a previous life; would you be able to interpret your monkey-thoughts – or skunk, mouse and any other animal for that matter – as a human, and be in a position of rectifying your past mistakes for the sake of being forgiven? Well, how could you know when you don’t remember?

    In effect, therefore, since you do not remember who you were in the past, what connection is there between you in the here and now, and you in any given past life? None whatsoever! Hence, what is the difference between Christianity’s concept of Original Sin, where one person commits the sin and someone entirely different is made to bear the burden? In fact, it’s worse for you reincarnationists, since unlike Christians, who are privy of Eve’s sin, you don’t have a clue what your so-called previous self did.

    Since there is a complete disconnect between you and the person you claim to be connected to, the two parties can only, therefore, be two separate beings with two separate states of consciousnesses. If we were to, thus, apply this nonsensical model to Hitler, we would have to conclude the following:

    Hitler got away scot-free, because your God replaced him with someone tabula rasa; thus, someone innocent is being punished (we use the word “punish” here very, very lightly)!

    Yup; that sure sounds merciful and logical?!

    Because we can only commit a finite amount of sin, how can we go to hell forever? What would be the point of such a sadistic thing as eternal damnation? Although the Vedas do describe heavenly and Hellish realms a soul can take birth into, the ultimate goal is to transcend the cycle of births and deaths and enter the spiritual realm, the blissful abode of the Godhead, our original home.

    Your cycle of birth and rebirth, as we’ve demonstrated, makes God out to be entirely unjust.

    As for eternal punishment, then unlike Hinduism, that makes a mockery of God’s absolute perfection and uniqueness, while at the same time affirming contradictions for him in the form of the mind-oppressive concept of Nirgun-Sargun, Islam teaches that God has rights that are inviolable. Part of these rights is to worship him alone and not to associate any partners with him, nor to give any share of his divinity to anyone or anything else. So what are the consequences of one found guilty of violating his sacred eternal right? Given that such a person has died having wilfully and arrogantly committed the worst crime a human can commit, i.e. Shirk, such a person has no excuse before God and deserves eternal punishment. Why? Because to punish for a limited period before admitting said person into paradise to eternally enjoy the same delights as those who deserve it, after having sincerely recognised the obvious truth that came their way, would be entirely unjust. As you can see, if one party has been told that they will enjoy the pleasure of paradise while looking upon their Lord for eternity, how can the other receive a reprieve only to then enjoy the same eternal pleasures?

    But let’s judge this against the unjust concept of reincarnation-transmigration. In Islam, the punishment is commensurate to the crime – the worse the crime, the worse the punishment. Since you Hindus have very little appreciation for God’s rights, we’ll give you a worldly example for you to better relate to. How is becoming a skunk in the next life commensurate to the killing of 6 million Jews? Answer that one before attempting to even consider picking up a stone to throw at anyone else.

    There are many truths in the abrahamic religions and the Vedas are simply a continuation of those teachings that give more detail about the nature of God, the soul, the universe, time, karma (action), etc. that is why so many scientists such as Oppenheimer, Einstein, Bohrs, and others read and admired the Bhagavad Gita.

    Really? Does that continuation include the contradictory concept of Nirgun-Sargun?! Islam’s concept can never be that God is both attributeless and attributed at the same time and in the same respect.

  3. Just google “Ian Stevenson”* for the case studies. He wanted to prove past life memories as purely psychological in nature but became a believer in reincarnation. Here’s a local Fox News piece on a boy who could remember his life as a WWII pilot and the details only the pilot would have known. A Japanese film crew made a documentary about him as well, and there are other news magazines like 20/20 who have done similar pieces.

    *Ian Pretyman Stevenson was a Canadian-born U.S. psychiatrist. He worked for the University of Virginia School of Medicine for fifty years, as chair of the department of psychiatry from 1957 to 1967, Carlson Professor of Psychiatry from 1967 to 2001, and Research Professor of Psychiatry from 2002 until his death.

    • So we’ve cited you academic papers from credible institutes countering the pseudo-science put forth by Stevenson, while providing more plausible explanations for the imaginings of his subjects, and you cite… Fox News and… a Japanese film crew?!?!?!

      Are you serious?

      Well, given you’re a Hindu, we understand why you’d find those more convincing than actually having to think for a change by making recourse to real information.

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