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Is there any argumentative way to establish that rebirth exists? In shatdarshanas, it seems like a lot of them - samkhya, yoga, etc don't believe in rebirth. Although Yoga Sutras of Patanjali talk about siddhis attained from efforts from previous lives, it doesn't explicitly discuss or argue the 'how' part.

Gautama Buddha

Since there actually is another world (any world other than the present human one, i.e. different rebirth realms), one who holds the view 'there is no other world' has the wrong view...

— Buddha, Majjhima Nikaya i.402, Apannaka Sutta, translated by Peter Harvey

seems to have argued the closest concept of consciousness. It goes like this:

If Vijnana (Chit/Consciousness) is independent of the body and it isn't created by itself out of thin air (so it cannot be annihilated either), then it must have appeared out of some other world (different realms) and after the death of the body can also move to different realms after death, is how re-birth is established from best of my understanding here (I could be wrong, in that case, please correct).

Is there any other philosophy that discusses rebirth through inference or any logical system?


Please Note: - The question is NOT about which of them do believe in the concept of re-birth, but how do they establish them in different schools through logical tools like inference, deduction, etc. similar to what Buddha did. Proof of re-birth can be done using scientific studies, anecdotes, etc. but that's of the least interest in philosophy.


Note: If no argument can explain rebirth, then how they can argue liberation as stopping birth and rebirth? (I know certain schools like - Yoga don't prescribe liberation as a cessation of re-birth probably.

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    Patanjali yoga sutras say, by aparigraha- non-receipt (by not receiving anything from any one ) a yogi remembers past lives.or by sayyama(by deep concentration , thru one pointedness) on chitta a yogi can remember past lives
    – Athrey
    Dec 19, 2023 at 7:31
  • @Athrey This is NOT the question. The re-birth is established in almost all shatdarshnas, I want an argument to convince or prove that. I'm NOT asking which of them do believe in re-birth.
    – User 29449
    Dec 19, 2023 at 11:31
  • why are some babies born in rich family, some in poor, some healthy, some disabled ? what did they do to deserve it ? similarly, if someone kills another person, but dies without police finding out, how will he be punished for his crime ? if you connect these 2 dots together, u can understand that criminals in previous lives are born with disabilities in current life, and saints in previous lives are born with wealth and health in current life. this is just an argument, it doesn't actually prove existence of rebirth. how to prove it ? see next comment
    – ram
    Dec 21, 2023 at 20:26
  • if i say - "can you prove to me that sugar tastes sweet ?", you will probably say "taste it, and you will know for yourself". But if i reply "I won't taste it, can you first prove it to me?", then you have no way to prove. This type of truth is called subjectively verifiable truth. Same thing with rebirth - i cannot prove it to you, but I can give you a method by which you can verify it for yourself without any doubt. That method is given below by Athrey.
    – ram
    Dec 21, 2023 at 20:28
  • @mar Your first argument is not useful to me, what I'm searching more for is that - atman is eternal and non-dying in the context of Advaita. What I'm not interested in is - the consequences of rebirth, which is second to that argument. You can show by tools of inference or anything in the established logical system of Nyaya school would be helpful for me, like what Buddha did in the above example. I know about rebirth, my very first line of the question acknowledges athrey 's response.
    – User 29449
    Dec 22, 2023 at 6:37

3 Answers 3

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The 'how' part is given in Patanjali Yoga Sutra.

By making samyama on previous thought-waves, one obtains knowledge of one's past lives.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra III.18

The question is - arguments to prove re-birth, similar to what Buddha gave, NOT, which philosophies believe rebirth, because all of them already do believe in re-birth.

Patanjali's Yoga Sutra is telling the reader how to gain direct knowledge of past life. It is not asking the reader to believe it. So where is the need to give any argument?

A Possible Argument

Any argument will use the claim in the Gita that only few persons will attain spiritual perfection.

Among thousands of men, there will just be one here or there striving for spiritual perfection. From among the aspirants so striving, one perchance knows Me in truth.

Gita 7.3

Very few people will succeed in knowing God. So what will happen to the vast majority who fail to know God? Will they vanish after death? Will they stay in hell eternally? The most reasonable answer is that they will get many more chances to know God. Hence rebirth is the most reasonable answer to what happens after death to imperfect men.

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  • The question is - arguments to prove re-birth, similar to what Buddha gave, NOT, which philosophies believe rebirth, because all of them already do believe in re-birth.
    – User 29449
    Dec 19, 2023 at 11:30
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Here's one possible way to deduce that - Atman is eternal and thus, independent of death of the physical body and hence, the possibility of reincarnation.

Premise Logical Step Logical Method
Premise: Everything non-living in this (Akasha) uses relies on (Prakriti or prana) to change its form or state. Logical Step: If everything non-living requires prakriti or prana for change, then there is an inference that a force beyond the non-living entities is essential for their transformation. If every living matter - starting from single-celled Amoeba to multi-celled elephant is made up of non-living matter, it implies, that all non-living matter must have a vital force or energy to become living, e.g. Prana. Inference
Premise: The prana that moves the material is independent of the material. Logical Step: Since prana is the force moving both non-living and living matter, and it is independent of the material, the force driving transformation is distinct from the material itself. (~Conservation of mass or total energy.) Deductive Reasoning
Premise: The kosha system of 5 koshas, of which the second outermost layer is prana, is the carrier of other koshas and resides self within it. Logical Step: The hierarchical structure of the kosha system, with prana as the outermost layer and the self residing within, suggests an inference that there is an ordered arrangement where the outer layers support and envelop the inner self. Inference (Classification from Tait. Upan.)
Premise: The self, independent of the body (the pure awareness), is thus not affected by the body, thoughts and emotions, and identity of the organism, is composed of prana in outer layers is thus independent of self. Logical Step: The idea that the self, being pure awareness, is unaffected by the body, thoughts, emotions, and identity, and the composition of prana in outer layers doesn’t affect the self, leads to an inference that the self is independent of the changing aspects of the material world. Inference (Classification from Mand. Upan.)
Inference: The self, independent of the body (the pure awareness), is thus not affected by the body, thoughts and emotions, and identity of the organism, and is composed of prana in outer layers; therefore, it can be inferred that the self is independent of the death of the body. Logical Step: Given that the self is unaffected by the changes in the body, thoughts, and emotions, and is composed of prana in outer layers, it logically follows that the self (Atman) is independent of the death of the body. Inference

References:

PRANAYAMA is not, as many think, something about the breath; breath, indeed, has very little to do with it, if anything. Breathing is only one of the many exercises through which we get to the real Pranayamai. Pranayama means the control of Prana. According to the philosophers of India, the whole universe is composed of two materials, one of which they call Akaca. It is the omnipresent, all penetrating existence. Everything that has form, everything that is the result of compounds, is evolved out of this Akaca.

...

By what power is this Akaca manifested into this universe? By the power of Prana. Just as Akaca is the infinite omnipresent material of this universe, so is this Prana the infinite, omnipresent manifesting power of this universe. At the beginning and at the end of a cycle everything becomes Akaca, and all the forces that are in the universe resolve back into the Prana; in the next cycle, out of this Prana is evolved everything that we call energy, everything that we call force.

  • Vivekananda, Swami. Raja yoga or conquering the internal nature. Read Books Ltd, 2020.

Yoga physiology says that the human body and personality are contained in 5 sheaths or koshas:

Annamaya kosha, Pranamaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, Vignanamaya Kosha and Anandamaya Kosha.

Of these koshas, Annamaya Kosha is the gross body. The word anna means food and the name suggests that our physical body is sustained by food.

The next three koshas make up the subtle body.

The word prana means life and is the vital energy that permeates all existence. Our physical life is sustained by prana. We die when this prana leaves the body.

This pranamaya sheath or kosha is more subtle than annamaya kosha but more gross than the other three sheaths.

The word manomaya means mental. This manomaya sheath is the mental sheath. This is where part of our mind resides. This is more subtle than annamaya and pranamaya koshas but more gross than the remaining two.

The word vijnanamaya means intellect and is the intellectual or discriminating sheath. It is the seat for rational thought and most people mistake it for the self.

The last Anandamaya Kosha is the causal body. The word ananda means bliss. This last sheath is blissful because it is very close to the blissful Atman.

Original Source: Taittiriya Upanishad II.1.1, II.2.1, II.3.1, II.4.1 and II.5.1

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Rebirth and Past Life is described time and again in Hindu Scriptures since time immemorial, there are numerous example of reincarnation. There are Many authenticated cases of rebirth that simply cannot be ignored.

This resource on Past Life Articles gives more relevant information.

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  • I acknowledge anecdotal experiences, but a logical system of thought (gyan yog) through question. You may see my answer to see how inferences/deductions are made.
    – User 29449
    Dec 22, 2023 at 14:29
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