Illustration of reincarnation in Hindu art.
In Jainism, a soul travels to any one of the four states of existence after death depending on its karmas.

Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that the non-physical essence of a living being starts a new life in a different physical form or body after biological death. It is also called rebirth or transmigration, and is a part of the Saṃsāra doctrine of cyclic existence.[1][2] It is a central tenet of Indian religions, namely Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism, although there are Hindu groups that do not believe in reincarnation but believe in an afterlife.[2][3][4][5] A belief in rebirth/metempsychosis was held by Greek historic figures, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato.[6] It is also a common belief of various ancient and modern religions such as Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar, and as an esoteric belief in many streams of Orthodox Judaism. It is found as well in some tribal societies around the world, in places such as Australia and South America.[7]

Although the majority of denominations within Christianity and Islam do not believe that individuals reincarnate, particular groups within these religions do refer to reincarnation; these groups include the mainstream historical and contemporary followers of Cathars, Alawites, the Druze,[8] and the Rosicrucians.[9] The historical relations between these sects and the beliefs about reincarnation that were characteristic of Neoplatonism, Orphism, Hermeticism, Manicheanism, and Gnosticism of the Roman era as well as the Indian religions have been the subject of recent scholarly research.[10] Unity Church and its founder Charles Fillmore teaches reincarnation.

In recent decades, many Europeans and North Americans have developed an interest in reincarnation,[11] and many contemporary works mention it.

Conceptual definitions

The word "reincarnation" derives from Latin, literally meaning, "entering the flesh again". The Greek equivalent metempsychosis (μετεμψύχωσις) derives from meta (change) and empsykhoun (to put a soul into),[12] a term attributed to Pythagoras.[13] An alternate term is transmigration implying migration from one life (body) to another.[14] Reincarnation refers to the belief that an aspect of every human being (or all living beings in some cultures) continues to exist after death, this aspect may be the soul or mind or consciousness or something transcendent which is reborn in an interconnected cycle of existence; the transmigration belief varies by culture, and is envisioned to be in the form of a newly born human being, or animal, or plant, or spirit, or as a being in some other non-human realm of existence.[15][16][17] The term has been used by modern philosophers such as Kurt Gödel[18] and has entered the English language. Another Greek term sometimes used synonymously is palingenesis, "being born again".[19]

Rebirth is a key concept found in major Indian religions, and discussed with various terms. Punarjanman (Sanskrit: पुनर्जन्मन्) means "rebirth, transmigration".[20][21] Reincarnation is discussed in the ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, with many alternate terms such as punarāvṛtti (पुनरावृत्ति), punarājāti (पुनराजाति), punarjīvātu (पुनर्जीवातु), punarbhava (पुनर्भव), āgati-gati (आगति-गति, common in Buddhist Pali text), nibbattin (निब्बत्तिन्), upapatti (उपपत्ति), and uppajjana (उप्पज्जन).[20][22] These religions believe that this reincarnation is cyclic and an endless Saṃsāra, unless one gains spiritual insights that ends this cycle leading to liberation.[2][3] The reincarnation concept is considered in Indian religions as a step that starts each "cycle of aimless drifting, wandering or mundane existence",[2] but one that is an opportunity to seek spiritual liberation through ethical living and a variety of meditative, yogic (marga), or other spiritual practices.[23][24] They consider the release from the cycle of reincarnations as the ultimate spiritual goal, and call the liberation by terms such as moksha, nirvana, mukti and kaivalya.[25][26] However, the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain traditions have differed, since ancient times, in their assumptions and in their details on what reincarnates, how reincarnation occurs and what leads to liberation.[27][28]

Gilgul, Gilgul neshamot or Gilgulei Ha Neshamot (Heb. גלגול הנשמות) is the concept of reincarnation in Kabbalistic Judaism, found in much Yiddish literature among Ashkenazi Jews. Gilgul means "cycle" and neshamot is "souls". Kabbalistic reincarnation says that humans reincarnate only to humans unless YHWH/Ein Sof/God chooses.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Reïnkarnasie
Alemannisch: Wiedergeburt
asturianu: Reencarnación
azərbaycanca: Reinkarnasiya
български: Прераждане
català: Reencarnació
čeština: Reinkarnace
Deutsch: Reinkarnation
ދިވެހިބަސް: އާތަމާލަ
Ελληνικά: Μετενσάρκωση
español: Reencarnación
Esperanto: Reenkarniĝo
فارسی: تناسخ
føroyskt: Reinkarnatión
français: Réincarnation
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: Avatar
한국어: 환생
हिन्दी: पुनर्जन्म
hrvatski: Reinkarnacija
Bahasa Indonesia: Reinkarnasi
interlingua: Reincarnation
íslenska: Endurholdgun
italiano: Reincarnazione
Latina: Reincarnatio
latviešu: Pārmiesošanās
lietuvių: Reinkarnacija
македонски: Реинкарнација
മലയാളം: പുനർജന്മം
мокшень: Реинкарнацие
Nederlands: Reïncarnatie
日本語: 転生
norsk nynorsk: Reinkarnasjon
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ចាប់បដិសនិ្ធ
polski: Reinkarnacja
português: Reencarnação
română: Reîncarnare
русиньскый: Реінкарнація
русский: Реинкарнация
संस्कृतम्: पुनर्जन्म
Simple English: Reincarnation
slovenčina: Reinkarnácia
slovenščina: Reinkarnacija
српски / srpski: Реинкарнација
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Reinkarnacija
తెలుగు: పునర్జన్మ
тоҷикӣ: Таносух
Türkçe: Reenkarnasyon
українська: Реінкарнація
اردو: تناسخ
Tiếng Việt: Đầu thai
ייִדיש: גלגול
中文: 轉世