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Northern India was the cradle of the present race--the fifth--the Eden
of our humanity, our physical, moral, mental, and spiritual
mother.[81] From her womb issued the emigrant hordes that peopled
Europe after spreading over Egypt, Asia Minor, and Siberia; it was her
code of ethics that civilised Chaldaea, Greece, Rome, and the whole of
the East; our own code is full of traces of the Laws of Manu, whilst
both the Old and New Testament are, in many respects, an abridged and
often almost a literal copy of the sacred Books of ancient Aryavarta.

The presence of the doctrine of reincarnation in the Vedic hymns has
been disputed; this proves nothing more than the present fragmentary
condition of the Vedas. Nothing, indeed, could be more absurd than to
find that the sacred Scriptures of India had maintained silence on a
doctrine which, along with that of Karma, form the two main columns of
the Hindu temple; for the Brahman as well as for the Buddhist--who is
only a member of a powerful offshoot of Hinduism--these two laws rule
throughout the whole Universe, from the primordial kingdoms up to the
gods, including man; and the principal, nay, the only goal of human
life is Moksha--salvation, in Christian terminology--liberation from
the chain of rebirths.

In this land, in which, along with strict obedience to the rules of
conduct set forth by its great Teachers, there existed the most
complete freedom of opinion, and where the most divergent and numerous
philosophic sects consequently developed, there has always been
perfect unanimity regarding the doctrine of rebirth, and in that
inextricable forest of metaphysical speculations two giant trees have
always overtopped the rest: the tree of Karma and the tree of

In spite of the intentional obscurity in which we are left as to the
teachings regarding rebirth from the time of the decadence of India,
it is no difficult matter, with the aid of theosophy, to discover its
main points. Thus we find in them the return of the "life-atoms"[82]
and animal souls[83] to existence in new physical bodies; the rebirths
of the human Egos are indicated in their main phases; but here, the
deliberate omission of certain points which had long to remain
incomprehensible--and consequently dangerous--to the masses, makes
obscure, and at times absurd, certain aspects of transmigration. I
have heard a great Teacher clearly explain these points to some of the
most enlightened of the Hindu members of the Theosophical Society, but
I do not feel authorised to repeat these explanations, and so will
leave this portion of the subject under a veil, which the reader will,
with the aid of intuition, be able to lift after reflecting on the
following pages.

The Sages of ancient India, then, teach three distinct phases in the
return-to-birth process: Resurrection, Transmigration or
Metempsychosis and Reincarnation properly so-called.

Next: Resurrection

Previous: Reincarnation And The Religious And Philosophic Consensus Of The Ages

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