Hinduism: A Perspective:
Karma & Reincarnation in Hinduism
As per Hinduism, the life on earth is not a discrete one time event.
It is just one episode in the play. There would be multiple appearances
(births) before the soul finally takes leave from the cycle. The birth
is not just limited to being born as human, it includes the births as
the animals, plants, even as the divines who rule the parts of nature !
After-all, all these things have a life.
The appearance of the soul in any of such forms is called
reincarnation. After so many births when the soul is freed of any more
reincarnation, it is in the state of mukti or liberation. This is the
As the soul moves from one body to another, it carries forward
something along with it, which is nothing but what it has accumulated
performing various deeds.
This can be thought of as a global account that each soul is
associated with, irrespective of the place it is in currently. This
account would have both the logs of good and bad deeds it performed
similar to the credit and liabilities. This account is what is called
This karma is further categorized. In the example let us assume the
person on moving to the new place gets a new local account into which
initially some of the credits and liabilities from the global account
get transferred to start with.
Subsequently till the person is in that location the day to day
transactions occur onto that local account. Similarly from the global
account of karma, which is known as prarabdham, some portion is
transferred to the new local account when the soul reincarnates into a
new body and this portion of karma is called sanchitham. In the day to
day affairs the soul enjoys the fruits of the good deeds from the karma
bank and suffers the fruits of bad deeds.
Why is it so?
In the process due to the deeds it performs the soul accumulates new
good and bad karma to add to its account. This newly earned karma is
called AkAmiyam. When the soul leaves that body the balance gets
transferred back into the global account. The journey goes on. In the
life we see in this world, we work to get the results.
The work is the action and the result is fruit of it. This is exactly
what is karma.
The fruit may come in a minute in a day, in a week, in a year or much
later that the delay may even make one forget the action that triggered
the fruit got ! If there is no correlation between the action and the
fruit, won’t the world be in a mess ?! This theory would also explain
why unexpected things happen - either good or bad. (As the situation
undergoing due to the function of various past deeds.)
The reincarnation (in conjunction with karma) explains why some
people never gets to see the fruits of their action in their life time
and why some children die when they have committed no sin. When the
karma exist one would have to undergo the fruits of it for which one may
have to go through multiple births in multiple forms - plants,
animals... The bank doesn’t let you go unless the account is settled !
Thiruvasagam of Saint Manickavasagar
Saint Manickavasagar’s real name was Vadhavoorar as he was born in a
place called Thiruvadhavoor. When he sang songs in praise of God Siva,
God Himself complimented his compositions and named his words as ‘gems.’
Hence he came to be known as Manicka (gem) Vasagar (words) - one whose
words uttered are like gems is the meaning of the name.
The Saint found bliss in the thoughts of the God Supreme and was
fully immersed in the absolute bliss of his God. He wanted nothing else.
Each of his songs “Thiruvasagam” proves it. In one of his songs in the
“Thiruchathakam he says - “I do not want the friendship of status of the
Devas like, Indran, I will only seek the company of your duo less on
Lord with them I will stay even in hell.” He sought the company of the
spiritually enhanced devotees.
The saints devotional songs are not only gem. Like but are also
soulful and so soul string, so much so that it is little wonder that it
“Do one does not melt for Thiruvasagam, one will not melt for
anything else.” If the songs are rendered with feelings, tears will flow
hours the face of anyone listening.
In the 19th stanza of the Thiruchathakam, he says.
How can I praise and hail Him, who is the sky and the earth, the wind
and the light, the flesh and the life, who is the Truth and not, the
king and who sways those who are egoistic proclaiming ‘I’ and ‘mine’ -
How oli in what ways can I praise Him.
“Van ahi, mannahi
Vali ahi oli ahi
Onn ahi yuir ahi
unmayum ahi, Inmayum ahi
Kone ahi yan enathu
Enru avavavarai koothattu
En solli valthiuvane.”
His most touching stanza also comes from the chapter Thiruchathakam
where he asks God Siva.
“You gave yourself to me and took me unto you.
Oh shankara who is the victor.”
“Thanthathu unthanai kondathu enthanai
Shankara aar kollo sathurar?
He asks His attachment to the God Supreme is such, he challenges Him
so - In simple words. “I got you O Lord.
You got only me. So who is the victor? Though it appears he gloats
over as the winner, it brings out the deep seated attachment to God Siva
of such nature are his words - verify a chain of purest gems -
When he hears the melodious calling of the cuckoo, he addresses the
“O come cuckoo, call Him who could not be found by Brahma or Vishnu
who appeared as a glowing pillar of light call Him with the spread hair,
Anything and everything reminds Him of the Almighty God Siva should
he see young girls going out early in the morning for a river bath, he
imagines himself as a maiden and taps on the doors to awaken the young
maidens in his imaginations to get up and baths int he river and go to
the temple where dowels God Siva should he see a dragon fly, he
addresses the insect requesting it to sing the praise of his Lord.
He could see spiritualism even in the games played by young girls. In
a game called “Ammanai” the girls throw some pebbles up and catch them.
The girls sing as they play the game ending int he last line,” let’s
play “ammanai” now the Saint imagines playing the game - but in each of
the 19 stanzas, he says the praise of his Lord.”
“Play the game of “Ammanai”
Singing the glory of God Siva is the ending of each stanza.
“He who is more ancient than the ancient.
He who would remain when all else in the cosmos is destroyed. He who
has given His left side to umayal, He who is worshipped in the south in
the Pandyakingdom. He who blesses those who hail Him as the faiths -
Let’s play ammaned praising Him thus.
If he meditates, the Saint thinks only of Lord Siva. Such was his
devotion to God Siva that his mind, intellect thought, were all
concentrated on that one supreme entity. It made him so happy that he
would talk to himself laugh, clap his hands and rejoice, and sometimes
over whelmed with emotion, shed bears.
He was regarded as a mad man. But even though he heard there comments
he understood them not. Because as a spiritually enhanced individual he
had no ego - no sense of ‘I’ or “mine” - He had totally surrendered
himself to the Supreme God Siva. Nothing else mattered from head to toe
he belonged to his dear Lord. Such is the nature of all realised saiva
and vaishnava saints.
Profile: Dr Thangamma Appakutti
The Guru Pooja of a Hindu and literary scholar,
known as Theiva Thirumagal, Sivathamil Selvi, Dr. Thangamma Appakutti a
great religious and social worker and President of Telipalai Sri Durga
Devi Devasthanam fell on June 23, 2010. She died at the age of 83. She
was an exceptional human being. Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar profiles her
in this piece
She was a deeply religious woman and her activities proceeded from
religion and her motto was “Service to man was service to god.” She was
a courageous woman of faith and transformed her thoughts and intentions
into action, passion into reality and every minute with valuable
Indeed, one of her courageous achievements was the establishment of
Durgapura Makalir Illam (Durgapura Girls Home) in 1982. As President and
Trustee of Tellipalai Sri Durga Devi Devasthanam and a woman who was in
charge of Durgapura Makalir Illam for more than 25 years, she discharged
her responsibilities with unsurpassed distinction.
The late Thangamma Appakutti
(07-01-1925 - 15-08-2008)
The secret of Dr. Thangammah Appakutti’s success in all her
endeavours was purely an account of her dedication, devotion, high sense
of discipline, total commitment combined with her deep religious outlook
in life, exemplary character and versatility of her intellect. Indeed,
no field of human endeavours was left untouched by the amplitude of her
imagination, encompassing sweep of her thought and felicity of her
Dr. Thangammah Appakutti was born into an orthodox and conservative
family in 1925 and received her primary education at Mallakam Visalatchi
Vidyalayam and thereafter she entered Ramanathan Teachers’ Training
college and became a Trained Teacher and started her teaching career at
St. Ciciliya school in Maddakalappu (Batticaloa).
Besides, teaching, she was very much involved in religious activities
and became a very good speaker pertaining to religious matters. Blessed
with a dialectical skill and a sharp logician mind, an oratorical
ebullience combined with fearless and courageous mind she was able to
accomplish and achieve her objectives and build round her a massive
followers who subscribed to the principles she extolled.
She had the rare opportunity of delivering a speech at Annamalai
University where the audience were greatly marvelled by her dynamic
Realizing her tremendous contribution to Hindu Religion, social
service in Sri Lanka and abroad she was conferred with the Title of
“Chen Chot Chemmani” by Madwai Atheenam in 1966. She was conferred with
the title of “Sivagna Vithagar” by the All Ceylon Hindu Congress.
Further, she was also honoured and felicitated by the University of
Jaffna. She was even invited by several religious organizations and
temples in Malaysia, Singapore and several other countries to deliver
religious speeches and discourses.
Indeed, Dr. Thangammah Appakutti dedicated her life in the service of
humanity and the whole of Sri Lanka was her home and all human beings
were her brothers and sisters.
Naga Pooshani Ambal Temple
Naga Pooshani Ambal Temple at Nainativu is an ancient and historical
temple which is situated four square miles, off the Jaffna peninsula.
Nainatiu had enjoyed a foremost place in Sri Lanka’s history having
been the seat of Naga Kingdom.
Having several names like “Nagathivu”, “Nainathivu, Naga Theepam,
Manithivu and Manipallavam, the location has been foremost in religious
worship. Tradition strongly associates the island as having been visited
by Kannakai and Manimekalai.
Further antiquarians have established the occupation of the Northern
Region by Nagas in the ancient days. Many customs, traditions and forms
of worship still prevail which are attributed to them.
Veneration of cobra or serpent worship has been an ancient custom. In
due course, it is surmised, evolved the Hindu worship of Nagathambiran,
when the Siva Linga deity is canopied by the hood of five headed cobra
and Naga Pooshani Ambal worship when the Ambal Devi is similarly
exalted. A foremost Sannithanam of this form of the Ambal, also known as
Nagambal or Nageswari is at Nainativu.
In the Eras of the revival of Hinduism, spearheaded by Srila Sri
Arumuga Navalar a proper agamic temple was erected in 1882 and the Ambal
Devi Vigrakam installed with the name of Naga Pooshani Amman Kovil.
Regular worship ensued and several improvements were effected by
various devotees. A Rajagopuram was effected in 1935.
The management of the affairs of the temple came under a Trustee
Board in 1949. In 1957, a magnificent chariot (THER) was constructed
which is considered to be one of the best in Sri Lanka.
The main entrance to the Temple and the sanctum face the east and the
vast ocean with the landing pier. The pilgrims when they land in the
island pay obeisance to the Ambal. The figure of a five headed Naga
serpent is seen in the Sancham bearing the Ambal Devi’s Thiru Uruvam.
The annual festival of this temple which lasts for 15 days is a grand
affair when thousands throng this little islet to receive Ambals’ grace.
On other days, all the Saiva Festivals are observed throughout the year.
Daily regular poojas are performed four times.
Indeed, no story of Nainativu is complete without the mention of its
outstanding saintly personality “Nainati swamiyar”.
Born as Muthu Kumaraswamy, he became a great saint and attained
higher saintlihord, before his demise in 1949. In fact, his Samadhi is a
place of veneration in this isle.