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This question already has an answer here:

I think the question in the title is complete and needs no further explanation :)

EDIT 1:

@SwamiVishwananda answered here that there is no first birth. But if there is previous birth, maybe that previous birth is the first birth so the question now becomes what is one's previous birth?

marked as duplicate by Keshav Srinivasan Apr 3 '16 at 13:32

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  • Our first birth was due to God's wish.Our karma was not in anyway involved because it did not exist then.All the subsequent births are ,however, the results of our karmas. – Rickross Apr 3 '16 at 13:10
  • Make Q clearer to avoid closure as "not clear". You are asking a belief system. (1) Many say there is always a "previous birth" before any birth chosen (2) Others feel that during beginning of universe, all jiva-s are granted very 1st birth. --Unanimously everyone believes: state of "Moksha" results in last birth. But something which is AnAdi (beginningless as 1), has to be Ananta (endless, no Moksha). To have something "last", there has to be a "first" (as 2). Counter Q against (2) is: how [un]fairly very 1st birth is assigned? Read this Q: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/11000/1049) – iammilind Apr 3 '16 at 13:10
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    Some Hindus believe that there is a first birth of the soul (when the soul was for the first time embodied in a material body in the material world), while some Hindus believe that there is no first birth (they believe that the soul has gone through infinite repeated births and deaths in material bodies lifetime after lifetime from the infinite past, and thus has been born over and over again for infinite rebirths since infinite past). But this has nothing to do with the soul itself, for the soul exists eternally and has never been created. – brahma jijnasa Apr 5 '16 at 15:51
  • @brahmajijnasa Which Hindus believe in a first birth of a soul? – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 6 '16 at 14:42
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Which Hindus believe in a first birth of a soul? Well, let me think ... I myself, all the Gaudiya vaishnavas, all the authorities and vedic sages in this universe including Shukadeva Gosvami and Vyasadeva, all the gods in heaven, ... :) Now, I'm almost absolutely sure that you'll be surprised to hear this, since I have seen your comments on the issue. :) – brahma jijnasa Apr 7 '16 at 17:04
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There is no first birth, or incarnation. In Brahma Sutras 2.1.35-36 (Swami Vireswarananda translator) it says:

If it be said (that is) not (possible) for want of any distinction in work (before creation), (we say) no, because of (the world) being without a beginning.

And (that the world is without a beginning is reasonable and is also seen (from the scriptures).

And Sankara’s commentary on verse 35:

…is answered by the Sutra, which says that creation is without a beginning and the question of first creation cannot arise. It is like a seed and its sprout. So the individual souls have always had a previous existence and done good or bad deeds in accordance with which their lot in a subsequent creation is ordained by the Lord.

And his commentary on verse 36:

Reason tells us that creation must be without a beginning. For if the world did not exist in a potential state in the form of Samskaras (impressions), then an absolutely non-existing thing would be produced at creation. In that case even liberated souls might be reborn. Moreover people would be enjoying or suffering without having done anything to deserve it—an instance of an effect without a cause, which is absurd. It cannot be attributed to primeval ignorance, which, being one, requires the diversity of individual past work to produce varied results. The scriptures also posit the existence of the world in former cycles in texts like ‘The Lord devised the sun and moon as before’ (Rg-Veda 10.190.3).

So partiality and cruelty cannot be imputed to the Lord.

Your soul is eternal, it has always had a previous existence, it never had a first birth.

  • This answer is in logical contradiction with previous answer: Does “Free Will” really exist, even if universe repeats itself in perfect pattern?. In that answer, you mentioned: "The universe does repeats. -- Brahma Sutras 1.3.30". For the universe to be able to repeat, it needs to have starting point & ending point to form a cycle. Hence there is always a 1st & last birth. The number of cycles can be infinite. But the content of the cycle Must be finite, else it won't be a cycle. If no contradiction, then am I misreading either of the posts? – iammilind Apr 3 '16 at 13:23
  • @iammilind This question is about the first birth of an individual jiva. The individual jiva has an infinite number of births - albeit, not in the current cycle, but stretching back an infinite number of cycles. The question you reference is about the repetition of names and forms. Although the two questions touch on each other, they are not contradictory. I have used the same Brahma Sutra verses for this question as the other question. – Swami Vishwananda Apr 3 '16 at 13:29
  • In that case, I over-understood your previous answer. I will still retain my upvote there. Coming back to this, we have to understand that "infinite" never finishes. If it finishes then it's not "infinite". When you say: "jiva has infinite (past) births", actually takes away possibility of Moksha. World is AnAdi (beginningless) as BS-35, is same as Prakruti & Purusha as AnAdi BG 13.20. But that doesn't make "infinite unique births" for a Jiva. As per Samkhya, Jiva = Prakruti + Purusha. IMO, it may mean, P+P interact in fixed way at beginning of Kalpa & make same 1st birth for a Jiva. – iammilind Apr 3 '16 at 14:06
  • @iammilind Just because the births of a Jiva go infinitely far back in time does not mean they go infinitely forward in time from the present moment. There are infinitely man negative integers in the set of real numbers, but that doesn't prevent 0 from existing. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 3 '16 at 14:16
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    @Rickross When we're talking about Advaita, we have to distinguish between the relative perspective (i.e. the perspective of someone within Maya) and absolute perspective (i.e. the perspective of someone who has overcome Maya). From the absolute perspective, there's no such thing as births, all there is is Brahman. From the relative perspective, each individual Jiva has had infinitely many past births going infinitely far back in time. In any case, Acharyas may have received all sorts of revelations, but in their Brahma Sutra commentaries they present arguments grounded in logic and scripture. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 3 '16 at 16:29

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