No Reincarnation, No Moksha, No Mukti in the Vedas

by Ibn Muhammad

Samsaara’ (संसार cycle of births and deaths) and ‘Moksha’ (मोक्ष liberation from the cyle of births and deaths) are fundamental beliefs of orthodox Hindus and also of protestant Hindus i.e. Arya Samajists. The difference between these two groups is that while the former believe that not only the Veda Samhitas but also their related Brahmanas, Aranyaks and Upanishads are revealed, the Arya Samajists only consider the Veda Samhitas to be revealed books and infallible. Therefore, only the Vedas are the basis of their faith. Thus any fundamental belief of theirs must have its source in the Vedas. If the belief is not found explicitly in the Vedas, it cannot be claimed as true. The founder of Arya Samaj, Moolshanker aka Swami Dayanand, attempted in his own way to somehow prove that Vedas do teach about reincarnation of souls. The very fact that he could only present six verses from the thousands of Vedic verses to prove reincarnation in the Vedas, itself speaks about the dearth of clear evidence in the Vedas about reincarnation.

In this article of mine I will scrutinize those six verses and show that even they do not speak of reincarnation. Modern Arya Samaj  polemicists also continue to use the same verses to prove reincarnation in the Vedas. Regarding the concept of ‘Moksha’ even the word ‘Moksha’ is not present in the entire Vedas, not to speak of the concept itself. Moreover, I have already proved in my earlier articles that Vedas teach about Paradise (Swarga) as a physical place. Combining both these views, we can conclude that the doctrine of reincarnation has no place in the Vedas. Rather the Vedas teach about Paradise (Swarga) and Hell (Narka) exactly like Islam. Therefore, people of Arya Samaj must renounce the belief in endless reincarnations as a human invention and adopt the revealed Islamic concept of life after death.

Analysis of Swami Dayanand’s evidence

In Part 4 of his book Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhumika, Swami Dayanand has attempted to present some evidence from the Vedas which he thinks teach reincarnation. Following is a one by one refutation of the mantras.

1. Swami Dayanand

Swami ji first quotes Rigveda Mandal 10, Sookt 59, Mantras 6-7

असुनीते पुनरस्मासु चक्षुः पुनः पराणमिह नो धेहिभोगम |
जयोक पश्येम सूर्यमुच्चरन्तमनुमते मर्ळया नह्स्वस्ति ||
पुनर्नो असुं पर्थिवी ददातु पुनर्द्यौर्देवी पुनरन्तरिक्षम |
पुनर्नः सोमस्तन्वं ददातु पुनः पूषापथ्यां या सवस्तिः ||

English rendering of Swami’s translation by Arya Samaj

“O God! Thou conductest our pranas. We pray Thee that we may be happy whenever we may assume another body after death. Grant us, O God! The eyes and all the other senses, the pranas and the inner senses in our future birth when we may assume another body after forsaking the present. Do Thou grant us that when we are born again we may enjoy uninterruptedly all enjoyable thins. May we be able to see the luminous sun and the ingoing and outgoing pranas in all our rebirths. O God! Thou art the dispenser of honor and happiness, make us happy in all our rebirths, through Thy grace.”
“Be gracious, O Lord! To grant that in our rebirths the earth may give us prana born of food and strength, the bright light of the sun may give us prana and middle region may give us life; the juices of medicines such as soma, may give us body (bodily health and vigor). O God! Thou art the giver of strength and nourishment, show us in our rebirths the path of virtue (dharma). We pray that happiness be our lit in all our births through Thy grace.”

[Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhumika, Part 4, English Version; An Introduction to the Vedas; Translated by Ghasi Ram M.A. L.L.B.]

The Response

The above translations are no doubt partially inaccurate and therefore give a meaning that the context would never allow. Following is the translation by Hindu scholars.

Pandit Shri Ram Sharma Acharya


A more correct Englsh translation

“6. Asuniti, give us back the (departed) spirit: extend our life that we may live (long): establish us that we may long behold the sun: do you cherish the body with Ghee (that we have offered).
7. Restrore to us, Asuniti, sight and breath, and enjoyment in this world: long may we behold the rising sun; make us happy, gracious (goddess) with prosperity.”

My review

As you can see, Arya Samaj translations happen to be somewhat at variance with the actual translation. The word ‘rebirth‘ (Punarjanam) is not present in the text of the mantras as Arya Samaj has mistranslated. Still, I am not concerned over the translations at this moment as much as I am concerned with the wrong deduction being made by Swami ji from these mantras. Following are the points which refute the claim that these mantras are speaking of reincarnation.

  1. These mantras are no doubt a prayer. A prayer is always made for something that cannot be achieved ordinarily. According to Hindu theology of Karma, as per a persons deeds he/she is born again with a birth that is appropriate for the deeds done in previous life. A prayer for the same is useless and NOT required.
  2. Moreover, why will one ask for rebirth, even though one knows the sufferings of this world? Why not pray for Moksha i.e. liberation from the cycle of births and deaths, which will at least make some sense?
  3. When is this prayer being made? After death or at the time of death?
  4. The words of the prayer become very weird if we assume that it is speaking about reincarnation. What is that ‘thing’ asking for the spirit and body? It appears to have neither spirit nor body.
  5. What is the guarantee that this prayer is accepted?
  6. Can this not be a prayer at the time of sleep, because sleep is the sister of death? Why assume that it is hinting at reincarnation? This prayer can very well be made at the time of sleep to wake up again with vigour and all the senses intact. That appears far more logical.
  7. The prayer is of very cheap nature in the sense that it is asking for wordly food and enjoyment.
  8. The mantras make mention of ASUNITI, the goddess that takes the souls. In no sanskrit lexicon does Asuniti stand for God as has been mistranslated by Arya Samaj.

These points prove that there is nothing about reincarnation in these mantras.

2. Swami Dayanand

The next verse provided by Swami ji to prove that Vedas teach about reincarnation is Yajurveda chapter 4, Mantra 15.


English rendering of Swami’s translation by Arya Samaj

“O God! May the mind with knowledge and other good qualities an may the full term of life come to us in our rebirth, through Thy favor. May pure thoughts come to us in our rebirth and may sight and hearing also come to us. O God! Thou art the guide and director of the universe; in Thee there is no fault such as arrogance, deceit; thou are the protector of our bodies, and art all wisdom and bliss; keep us aloof from evil deeds and protect us in all our birth-cycles, so that being free from sin we may remain happy in all our births.”

[Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhumika, Part 4, English Version; An Introduction to the Vedas; Translated by Ghasi Ram M.A. L.L.B.]

The Response

Just like the first two mantras, this mantra has been wrongly translated by inserting the word rebirth which is not present in the text. You can even see the english rendering of Swami ji’s translation interpolates many words which are not used by Swamiji. Thus these translations become dubious. I will present more authentic translations of Hindu scholars.

Translation of Swami Karpaatra Maharaj


A more correct English translation

“Thought has returned to me and life, my breath and soul have come again, sight and hearing have come again. Our bodies’ guard, unscathed, Vaisvânara Agni keep us away from bad deeds and dishonour.”

My review

Similar to the first two mantras, the word Rebith is not present in this mantras as well. Following points disprove this mantra in favour of reincarnation:

  1. The way Arya Samaj has translated this mantra makes it a prayer. Therefore it cannot be taken as evidence for reincarnation. Refer to point 1 of the above review.
  2. Same as point 2 of the above review.
  3. The words of the prayer become very weird if we assume that it is speaking about reincarnation. What is that ‘thing’ asking for the soul and body? It appears to have neither soul nor body.
  4. Shatapath Brahman 3:2:2:23 CLEARLY says that this passage is read after one wakes up from sleep. Those who bring this mantra as evidence of reincarnation have not even read the Shatapath Brahman of Shukla Yajurveda or they are deceiving the people. They only seek to deceive people. [átha yátra suptvaa | púnarnaavadraasyanbhávati tádvaacayati púnarmánah- púnaraáyurma aáganpúnah- praaNah- púnaraatmaá ma aáganpúnashcákSuh- púnah] “And when he has slept and does not wish to fall asleep again, (the Adhvaryu) makes him mutter the text (Yajurveda 4:15), “Thought has returned to me and life, my breath and soul have come again, sight and hearing have come again.””

All these evidences prove that even this mantra has NOTHING to say about reincarnation.

3. Swami Dayanand

Next, the Swami quotes Atharvaveda 7/67/1.


English rendering of Swami’s translation by Arya Samaj

    “O Lord! May we get, through Thy favor in our rebirths all the senses and that force which sustains the pranas. may we be endowed with the noble riches of knowledge and have firm devotion to Thee. May we get human bodies so that we may be able to tend the fires, Ahavaniya, etc. O Lord of the Universe! May we have the same form, intellect and good bodies as we were endowed with in our previous birth so that we may be able with the help of intellect to discharge our duties properly in the world of our rebirth and may we never suffer pain on any account.”

[Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhumika, Part 4, English Version; An Introduction to the Vedas; Translated by Ghasi Ram M.A. L.L.B.]

The Response

Another case of deliberate mistranslation by Arya Samaj. Both the Hindi and English translations of this otherwise short verse have been unnecessarily elongated. Again the word ‘rebirth‘ is NOT present in the text. It is only an assumption that leads to this mistranslation. Following is the translation by Hindu scholars.

Translation of Shripad Damodar Satvalekar


A more correct English Translation

“May sense (indriyaa) come to me, again soul, property, and brahmana (sacred knowledge) ; let the fires of the sacred hearth again officiate just here in their respective stations.”

My review

My review of this mantra is similar to the review of first two mantras from Rigveda, because it is on similar lines. Following points refute the claim that this mantra is speaking about reincarnation:

  1. This mantra is no doubt a prayer. A prayer is always made for something that cannot be achieved ordinarily. According to Hindu theology of Karma, as per a persons deeds he/she is born again with a birth that is appropriate for the deeds done in previous life. A prayer for the same is useless and NOT required.
  2. Moreover, why will one ask for rebirth, even though one knows the sufferings of this world? Why not pray for Moksha i.e. liberation from the cycle of births and deaths, which will at least make some sense?
  3. When is this prayer being made? After death or at the time of death?
  4. The words of the prayer become very weird if we assume that it is speaking about reincarnation. What is that ‘thing’ asking for the soul? It does not appear to have a soul.
  5. What is the guarantee that this prayer is accepted?
  6. Can this not be a prayer at the time of sleep, because sleep is the sister of death? Why assume that it is hinting at reincarnation? This prayer can very well be made at the time of sleep to wake up again with vigour and all the senses intact. That appears far more logical.

Unless all these points are answered satisfactorily, there is no question of accepting reincarnation in this mantra.

4. Swami Dayanand

Swami ji then turns to Atharvaveda 5/1/2 in the hope of establishing reincarnation.


English rendering of Swami’s translation by Arya Samaj

“A man who, has done good actions in his previous birth, gets many good bodies in virtue of those good actions, but if he has done evil deeds he does not get human body and is born into the body of an animal, etc., and suffers pain.”

[Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhumika, Part 4, English Version; An Introduction to the Vedas; Translated by Ghasi Ram M.A. L.L.B.]

The Response

Again if you check this mantra, there is no word ‘rebirth‘ (Punarjanam) in it. Following is the translation by Hindu scholars.

Translation of Shripad Damodar Satvalekar


A more correct English Translation

“He who first attained to the ordinances makes thence many wondrous forms; eager, he first entered the womb {yoni), he who understood speech unspoken.”

My review

Following points do not allow this mantra to be considered as evidence for reincarnation:

  1. This hymn is in praise of the deity Varuna.
  2. Mantra 1 of this hymn is speaking about Varuna and how he enters into human form
  3. This mantra also is in praise of Varuna and cannot be used as evidence for reincarnation.

5. Swami Dayanand

Lastly Swami ji turns to Yajurveda Adhyaai 19, Mantra 47.


English rendering of Swami’s translation by Arya Samaj

“We have heard that there are two paths in this world for enjoying the good and suffering the bad consequences of virtue and vice. The first is the path trodden by the pitris (the wise) and the devas (the learned) and such men as are devoid of knowledge and wisdom. The first is divided two fold i.e., the pirtriyana and the Devayana. That in which a jiva obtaining a body from the father and mother enjoys happiness as the fruit of its good actions and suffers pain as the consequences of its evil and deeds and again and again, i.e., in which it is subject to past and future birth is called the pitriyana. That in which it obtains emancipation, is liberated from the world i.e., the migrations of birth and death is called devayana. In the former, after having enjoyed the fruits of its stock of virtue it is born again and dies also. In the latter, it is not born again, nor does it die. By these two paths the whole world passes and repasses.”

[Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhumika, Part 4, English Version; An Introduction to the Vedas; Translated by Ghasi Ram M.A. L.L.B.]

The Response

The above rendering of Yajurveda 19/47 by Swami Dayanand and Arya Samaj is less of a translation and more of a twisted interpretation. This is the height of dishonesty that short mantra is made to extend like a commentary and is labelled a translation. Again there is no word ‘rebirth‘ mentioned in this mantra. Following is the translation by Hindu scholars.

Translation by Swami Karpaatra Maharaj


A more correct English Translation

“I have heard mention of two several pathways, way of the Fathers, way of Gods and mortals. On these two roads each moving creature travels, each thing between the Father and the Mother.”

My review

There is no mention of reincarnation in this mantra.

Following points do not allow this mantra to be considered as evidence for reincarnation:

  1. When Shatapath Brahman has already interpreted this mantra, there remains no room for any modern wishful interpretation. Shatpatha Brahmana 12/8/1/21 clearly interprets the two paths leasing to Pitrilok (world of the fathers) and Devalok (world of the gods). There is no mention of any rebirth.
  2. Shatapath Brahman 6/6/2/4 says that the gate of the heavenly world or devalok is in the NORTH-EAST. Shatapath Brahman 13/3/1/5 says that the gate of the world of Fathers or Pitrilok is in the SOUTH-EAST. If, according to Arya Samaj, Pitriyaana and Devayaana mean rebirth and emanicipation respectively, then assigning directions to Pitrilok and Devalok is MEANINGLESS.
  3. Brihadaranyak Upanishad 1/5/16 categorizes the worlds into three viz. the world of men (Manushyalok), the world of the Fathers (Pitrilok), the world of the Devas (Devalok). If by Pitrilok is meant rebirth, then Manushyalok becomes meaningless. The full mantra says, “Next there are verily three worlds, the world of men, the world of the Fathers, the world of the Devas. The world of men can be gained by a son only, not by any other work. By sacrifice the world of the Fathers, by knowledge the world of the Devas is gained. The world of the Devas is the best of worlds, therefore they praise knowledge.”  Explaining how the world of Men is gained by a son, Adi Shankaracharya says that a son continues the lineage of the father and in case the father has not performed certain sacrifice he was required to perform, the son performs them for him. The idea is this: A father who has a son instructed in this way remains in this very world as that son; that is, he should not be considered dead.

Thus we find that even Yajurveda 19:47 is speaking nothing about the doctrine of reincarnation as is being claimed by Hindu polemicists.

The claim of reincarnation in the Vedas based on half a dozen mantras has been disproved. The only alternative is to go for the concept of Swarga and Narka, of which the Vedas are the upholders.

Agniveer, the modern polemical website tries to add one more mantra of the Rigveda to somehow prove Rebirth and Moksha. They quote Rigveda 1/24/1-2 as follows

“Question: Whom do we consider the most pure? Who is the most enlightened one in entire world. Who provides us mother and father again in the world after gifting us ultimate bliss or Mukti?

Answer: The self-enlightening, eternal, ever-free Ishwar alone is most pure. He alone provides us mother and father again in the world after gifting us ultimate bliss or Mukti.”

The translation is again dubious ignoring the context of the entire hymn. This hymn narrates the story of Shuna Shep, the son of Rishi Ajigart. He was sold for a hundred cows by his father to Raja Harishchandra as a victim for human sacrifice (Purushmedha). The details are provided in the Aitareya Brahman. It is at the time when Shuna Shep is tied to the stake for sacrifice, that he utters the prayers to Agni to save him so that he may be able to see his father and mother again. There is absolutely no mention of any rebirth or moksha in this mantra as agniveer has tried to present.

The bottom line is that in any scripture in order to prove the validity of a doctrine, it MUST be put forward clearly and unambiguously. To clutch at straws and twist the meanings of other unclear passages to make them speak of the doctrine is purely fraudulent. It is only an act of deception to make others see in the scripture something that is not there. Instead of moulding their thinking according to their scriptures, they mould the scriptures according to their thinking. That is the tragedy of the ancient Vedas, which actually do not belong to this era and have to be left in the ancient era.

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