New Delhi: “Transmigration is the order which is common to all religions”, said Justice R.F. Nariman of the Supreme Court while critically examining the concept of reincarnation on Saturday.
Two days ago, Justice Nariman penned a dissenting judgement in Sabarimala review petitions and backed the 2018 judgement, which quashed the custom barring entry of women in 10-50 age groups into the temple.
Justice Nariman, who is Zoroastrian without a scrap of notes, built a narrative on the concept of reincarnation, including the pitfalls, in all religions.
Usually, Supreme Court judges delve into legal issues and justice delivery system. In a stark contrast to the public perception, Justice Nariman spoke close to an hour on the concept of religious beliefs. Though, he did not say a thing on the Sabarimala judgement.
Justice Nariman was speaking at Dr. L.M. Singhvi Memorial Lecture.
“All religions have a commonality and believe in what you sow so shall you reap”, said Justice Nariman weaving a narrative on the concept. He simplified the codes and canons of all the religions.
Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept; the non-physical essence of a living being begins with a new life in absolutely different form, having no connection with the previous form, after the biological death. This concept is usually considered intrinsic to the Hindu faith, Justice Nariman began his lecture, explaining the essence of Jainism and how reincarnation is situated within the ambit of this faith.
“Jain religion is atheist, and still they have reincarnation… The law of karma is cyclical in Jainism rather linear…it is like climbing up the ladder and getting done, it will go on”, said Justice Nariman explaining the five-fold path — non-violence, giving up desire, no stealing, celibacy and living by truth — in Jainism.
He further explained the nature of existence of reincarnation in Buddhism. “Buddha preached to believe in soul. It has the concept of law of Karma…and no soul reincarnation, instead reincarnation of the consciousness”, he said.
For Hindu faith, he said the Rig Veda had no concept of reincarnation; instead its emphasis is on life. “Creation of the universe, life of universe, rather than what happens after death”, he said. The exposition on reincarnation, religion and the universe left the audience spell-bound.
He also explained the essence of Swayambhu, the self-manifested, its essence. Explaining the Zoroastrian model of faith, he said the Moksha is in one’s hand, as the Karma model is integral. Later, he emphasized reincarnation citing suffering on earth. “Buddhism began with suffering…what you sow is what you reap, therefore be compassionate to every living being”, he said in a prosaic conclusion through a masterful exposition.
In a lighter explaining of the concept of suffering, he said, referring to a comparative religious perspective, “I would much better be born a dog in a dog lover’s house than a human being who has to ensure suffering.”
Justice Nariman touched several aspects — Western philosophy through a cartoon in Newsweek magazine, Darwin’s theory of evolution, the concept of justice in reincarnation, etc. At the end of the lecture, he emphasized the pitfalls of this doctrine.