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Brahma Knowledge, by L. D. Barnett, [1911], at

p. 17

§ 6. Doctrine of Transmigration and Works.—At this point we may note two new ideas which henceforth dominated Indian thought—transmigration of the soul (saṃsāra, literally "wandering") and the influence of works (karma). The Vedic Hindu was passionately convinced of the joy of life, the Hindu of a later generation no less impressed by its misery. This pessimism finds expression in two ideas. The first is that the only life worth living is that vouchsafed to the few elect—union of the soul with the transcendent Brahma; all other existence, whatever it may seem, is wretched, an infinite number of souls flitting in constant sorrow and blindness through every degree of organic embodiment. The second idea is that every instant of experience is the rigidly predetermined resultant of a previous act; a present pleasure is the requital of a relatively good deed, a present sorrow the repayment of an ill deed, in a previous life; and every act whatsoever, whether of deed, thought, or speech, is absolutely evil, as attaching the soul still further to the fetters of embodiment. Gloomy and impracticable as is this attitude, it is simply a phase of extreme idealism.

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