Saṃsāra is a Sanskrit word that means "wandering" or "world", with the connotation of cyclic, circuitous change. It also refers to the theory of rebirth and "cyclicality of all life, matter, existence", a fundamental assumption of all Indian religions. Saṃsāra is sometimes referred to with terms or phrases such as transmigration, karmic cycle, reincarnation, and "cycle of aimless drifting, wandering or mundane existence".
The concept of Saṃsāra has roots in the Vedic literature, but the theory is not discussed there. It appears in developed form, but without mechanistic details, in the early Upanishads. The full exposition of the Saṃsāra doctrine is found in Sramanic religions such as Buddhism and Jainism, as well as the various schools of Hindu philosophy, after about the mid 1st millennium BCE. The Saṃsāra doctrine is tied to the Karma theory of Indian religions and the liberation from Saṃsāra has been at the core of the spiritual quest of Indian traditions, as well as their internal disagreements. The liberation from Saṃsāra is called Moksha, Nirvana, Mukti or Kaivalya.
- 1 Etymology and terminology
- 2 Definition and rationale
- 3 History
- 4 Samsāra in Hinduism
- 5 Saṃsāra in Jainism
- 6 Samsara in Buddhism
- 7 Saṅsāra in Sikhism
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Etymology and terminology
Saṃsāra (Sanskrit: संसार) is a term that means "wandering", as well as "world" wherein the term connotes "cyclic change". Saṃsāra is a fundamental concept in all Indian religions, is linked to the karma theory, and refers to the belief that all living beings cyclically go through births and rebirths. The term is related to phrases such as "the cycle of successive existence", "transmigration", "karmic cycle", "the wheel of life", and "cyclicality of all life, matter, existence". Many scholarly texts spell Saṃsāra as Samsara.
According to Monier-Williams, Saṃsāra is rooted in the term Saṃsṛi (संसृ), which means "to go round, revolve, pass through a succession of states, to go towards or obtain, moving in a circuit". A conceptual form from this root appears in ancient texts as Saṃsaraṇa, which means "going around through a succession of states, birth, rebirth of living beings and the world", without obstruction. The term shortens to Saṃsāra, referring to the same concept, as a "passage through successive states of mundane existence", a transmigration, metempsychosis, a circuit of living where one repeats previous states, from one body to another, a worldly life of constant change, that is rebirth, growth, decay and redeath. The concept is then contrasted with the concept of moksha, also known as mukti, nirvana, nibbana or kaivalya, which refers to liberation from this cycle of aimless wandering.
The concept of Samsara developed in the Vedic times, and is traceable in the Samhita layers such as in sections 1.164, 4.55, 6.70 and 10.14 of the Rigveda. While the idea is mentioned in the Samhita layers of the Vedas, there is lack of clear exposition there, and the idea fully develops in the early Upanishads. Damien Keown states that the notion of "cyclic birth and death" appears around 800 BCE. The word Saṃsāra appears, along with Moksha, in several Principal Upanishads such as in verse 1.3.7 of the Katha Upanishad, verse 6.16 of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, verses 1.4 and 6.34 of the Maitri Upanishad.
The word Samsara is related to Saṃsṛiti, the latter referring to the "course of mundane existence, transmigration, flow, circuit or stream".
Definition and rationale
The word literally means "wandering through, flowing on", states Stephen J. Laumakis, in the sense of "aimless and directionless wandering". The concept of samsara is closely associated with the belief that the person continues to be born and reborn in various realms and forms.
The earliest layers of Vedic text incorporate the concept of life, followed by an afterlife in heaven and hell based on cumulative virtues (merit) or vices (demerit). However, the ancient Vedic Rishis challenged this idea of afterlife as simplistic, because people do not live an equally moral or immoral life. Between generally virtuous lives, some are more virtuous; while evil too has degrees, and the texts assert that it would be unfair for god Yama to judge and reward people with varying degrees of virtue or vices, in "either or" and disproportionate manner. They introduced the idea of an afterlife in heaven or hell in proportion to one's merit, and when this runs out, one returns and is reborn. This idea appears in ancient and medieval texts, as the cycle of life, death, rebirth and redeath, such as section 6:31 of the Mahabharata and section 6.10 of Devi Bhagavata Purana.
The idea of Samsara is hinted in the early Vedic texts such as the Rigveda, but the theory is absent. The early textual layers of the Vedas mention and anticipate the doctrine of Karma and rebirth, however states Stephen Laumakis, the idea is not fully developed. It is in the early Upanishads where these ideas are more fully developed, but there too the discussion does not provide specific mechanistic details. The detailed doctrines flower with unique characteristics, starting around the mid 1st millennium BCE, in diverse traditions such as in Buddhism, Jainism and various schools of Hindu philosophy.
Some scholars state that the Samsara doctrine may have originated from the Sramana traditions and was then adopted by the Brahmanical traditions (Hinduism). The evidence for who influenced whom in the ancient times, is slim and speculative, and the odds are the historic development of the Samsara theories likely happened in parallel with mutual influences.
While Saṃsāra is usually described as rebirth and reincarnation of living beings, the chronological development of the idea over its history began with the questions on what is the true nature of human existence and whether people die only once. This led first to the concepts of Punarmṛtyu ("redeath") and Punaravṛtti ("return"). These early theories asserted that the nature of human existence involves two realities, one unchanging absolute Atman (soul) which is somehow connected to the ultimate unchanging immortal reality and bliss called Brahman, and that the rest is the always-changing subject (body) in a phenomenal world (Maya). Redeath, in the Vedic theosophical speculations, reflected the end of "blissful years spent in svarga or heaven", and it was followed by rebirth back in the phenomenal world. Samsara developed into a foundational theory of the nature of existence, shared by all Indian religions.
Rebirth as a human being, states John Bowker, was then presented as a "rare opportunity to break the sequence of rebirth, thus attaining Moksha, release". Each Indian spiritual tradition developed its own assumptions and paths (marga or yoga) for this spiritual release, with some developing the ideas of Jivanmukti (liberation and freedom in this life), while others content with Videhamukti (liberation and freedom in after-life).
The Sramanas traditions (Buddhism and Jainism) added novel ideas, starting about the 6th century BCE. They emphasized human suffering in the larger context, placing rebirth, redeath and truth of pain at the center and the start of religious life. Samsara was viewed by the Sramanas as a beginningless cyclical process with each birth and death as punctuations in that process, and spiritual liberation as freedom from rebirth and redeath. The samsaric rebirth and redeath ideas are discussed in these religions with various terms, such as Āgatigati in many early Pali Suttas of Buddhism.
Evolution of ideas
Across different religions, different soteriology were emphasized as the Saṃsāra theories evolved in respective Indian traditions. For example, in their Saṃsāra theories, states Obeyesekere, the Hindu traditions accepted Atman or soul exists and asserted it to be the unchanging essence of each living being, while Buddhist traditions denied such a soul exists and developed the concept of Anatta. Salvation (moksha, mukti) in the Hindu traditions was described using the concepts of Atman (self) and Brahman (universal reality), while in Buddhism it (nirvana, nibbana) was described through the concept of Anatta (no self) and Śūnyatā (emptiness).
The Ajivika tradition combined Saṃsāra with the premise that there is no free will, while the Jainism tradition accepted the concept of soul (calling it "jiva") with free will, but emphasized asceticism and cessation of action as a means of liberation from Saṃsāra it calls bondage. The various sub-traditions of Hinduism, and of Buddhism, accepted free will, avoided asceticism, accepted renunciation and monastic life, and developed their own ideas on liberation through realization of the true nature of existence.
Samsāra in Hinduism
In Hinduism, Saṃsāra is a journey of the soul. The body dies, assert the Hindu traditions, but not the soul which it assumes to be the eternal reality, indestructible and bliss. Everything and all existence is connected, cyclical and composed of two things, the soul and the body or matter. This eternal soul called Atman never reincarnates, it does not change and cannot change in the Hindu belief. In contrast, the body and personality, can change, constantly changes, is born and dies. Current Karma impacts the future circumstances in this life, as well as the future forms and realms of lives. Good intent and actions lead to good future, bad intent and actions lead to bad future, in the Hindu view of life.
A virtuous life, actions consistent with dharma, are believed by Hindus to contribute to a better future, whether in this life or future lives. The aim of spiritual pursuits, whether it be through the path of bhakti (devotion), karma (work), jnana (knowledge), or raja (meditation) is self-liberation (moksha) from Samsara.
The Upanishads, part of the scriptures of the Hindu traditions, primarily focus on self-liberation from Saṃsāra. The Bhagavad Gita discusses various paths to liberation. The Upanishads, states Harold Coward, offer a "very optimistic view regarding the perfectibility of human nature", and the goal of human effort in these texts is a continuous journey to self-perfection and self-knowledge so as to end Saṃsāra. The aim of spiritual quest in the Upanishadic traditions is find the true self within and to know one's soul, a state that it believes leads to blissful state of freedom, moksha.
Differences within the Hindu traditions
All Hindu traditions and Darśanas share the concept of Saṃsāra, but they differ in details and what they describe the state of liberation from Saṃsāra to be. The Saṃsāra is viewed as the cycle of rebirth in a temporal world of always changing reality or Maya (appearance, illusive), Brahman is defined as that which never changes or Sat (eternal truth, reality), and moksha as the realization of Brahman and freedom from Saṃsāra.
The dualistic devotional traditions such as Madhvacharya's Dvaita Vedanta tradition of Hinduism champion a theistic premise, assert the individual human soul and Brahman (Vishnu, Krishna) are two different realities, loving devotion to Vishnu is the means to release from Samsara, it is the grace of Vishnu which leads to moksha, and spiritual liberation is achievable only in after-life (videhamukti). The nondualistic traditions such as Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta tradition of Hinduism champion a monistic premise, asserting that the individual human soul and Brahman are identical, only ignorance, impulsiveness and inertia leads to suffering through Saṃsāra, in reality they are no dualities, meditation and self-knowledge is the path to liberation, the realization that one's soul is identical to Brahman is moksha, and spiritual liberation is achievable in this life (jivanmukti).
Saṃsāra in Jainism
In Jainism, the Saṃsāra and Karma doctrine are central to its theological foundations, as evidenced by the extensive literature on it in the major sects of Jainism, and their pioneering ideas on karma and samsara from the earliest times of the Jaina tradition. Saṃsāra in Jainism represents the worldly life characterized by continuous rebirths and suffering in various realms of existence.
The conceptual framework of the Saṃsāra doctrine differs between the Jainism traditions and other Indian religions. For instance, in Jaina traditions, soul (jiva) is accepted as a truth, as is assumed in the Hindu traditions, but not assumed in the Buddhist traditions. However, Saṃsāra or the cycle of rebirths, has a definite beginning and end in Jainism.
Souls begin their journey in a primordial state, and exist in a state of consciousness continuum that is constantly evolving through Saṃsāra. Some evolve to a higher state, some regress asserts the Jaina theory, a movement that is driven by the karma. Further, Jaina traditions believe that there exist Abhavya (incapable), or a class of souls that can never attain moksha (liberation). The Abhavya state of soul is entered after an intentional and shockingly evil act. Jainism considers souls as pluralistic each in a karma-samsara cycle, and does not subscribe to Advaita style nondualism of Hinduism, or Advaya style nondualism of Buddhism.
The Jaina theosophy, like ancient Ajivika, but unlike Hindu and Buddhist theosophies, asserts that each soul passes through 8,400,000 birth-situations, as they circle through Saṃsāra. As the soul cycles, states Padmanabh Jaini, Jainism traditions believe that it goes through five types of bodies: earth bodies, water bodies, fire bodies, air bodies and vegetable lives. With all human and non-human activities, such as rainfall, agriculture, eating and even breathing, minuscule living beings are taking birth or dying, their souls are believed to be constantly changing bodies. Perturbing, harming or killing any life form, including any human being, is considered a sin in Jainism, with negative karmic effects.
A liberated soul in Jainism is one who has gone beyond Saṃsāra, is at the apex, is omniscient, remains there eternally, and is known as a Siddha. A male human being is considered closest to the apex with the potential to achieve liberation, particularly through asceticism. Women must gain karmic merit, to be reborn as man, and only then can they achieve spiritual liberation in Jainism, particularly in the Digambara sect of Jainism; however, this view has been historically debated within Jainism and different Jaina sects have expressed different views, particularly the Shvetambara sect that believes that women too can achieve liberation from Saṃsāra.
In contrast to Buddhist texts which do not expressly or unambiguously condemn injuring or killing plants and minor life forms, Jaina texts do. Jainism considers it a bad karma to injure plants and minor life forms with negative impact on a soul's Saṃsāra. However, some texts in Buddhism and Hinduism do caution a person from injuring all life forms, including plants and seeds.
Samsara in Buddhism
Saṃsāra in Buddhism, states Jeff Wilson, is the "suffering-laden cycle of life, death, and rebirth, without beginning or end". Also referred to as the wheel of existence (Bhavacakra), it is often mentioned in Buddhist texts with the term punarbhava (rebirth, re-becoming); the liberation from this cycle of existence, Nirvana, is the foundation and the most important purpose of Buddhism.
Samsara is considered impermanent in Buddhism, just like other Indian religions. Karma drives this impermanent Samsara in Buddhist thought, states Paul Williams, and "short of attaining enlightenment, in each rebirth one is born and dies, to be reborn elsewhere in accordance with the completely impersonal causal nature of one's own karma; This endless cycle of birth, rebirth, and redeath is Saṃsāra". The Four Noble Truths, accepted by all Buddhist traditions, are aimed at ending this Samsara-related re-becoming (rebirth) and associated cycles of suffering.
Like Jainism, Buddhism developed its own Samsara theory, that evolved over time the mechanistic details on how the wheel of mundane existence works over the endless cycles of rebirth and redeath. In early Buddhist traditions, Saṃsāra cosmology consisted of five realms through which wheel of existence recycled. This included hells (niraya), hungry ghosts (pretas), animals (tiryak), humans (manushya), and gods (devas, heavenly). In latter traditions, this list grew to a list of six realms of rebirth, adding demi-gods (asuras). The "hungry ghost, heavenly, hellish realms" respectively formulate the ritual, literary and moral spheres of many contemporary Buddhist traditions.
The Saṃsāra concept, in Buddhism, envisions that these six realms are interconnected, and everyone cycles life after life, through these realms, because of a combination of ignorance, desires and purposeful karma, or ethical and unethical actions. Nirvana is typically described as the freedom from rebirth and the only alternative to suffering of Samsara, in Buddhism. However, the Buddhist texts developed a more comprehensive theory of rebirth, states Steven Collins, from fears of redeath, called amata (death-free), a state which is considered synonymous with nirvana.
Saṅsāra in Sikhism
Sikhism incorporates the concepts of Saṃsāra (sometimes spelled as Sansara in Sikh texts), Karma and cyclical nature of time and existence. Founded in the 15th century, its founder Guru Nanak had a choice between the cyclical concept of ancient Indian religions and the linear concept of early 7th-century Islam, and he chose the cyclical concept of time, state Cole and Sambhi. However, states Arvind-Pal Singh Mandair, there are important differences between the Saṅsāra concept in Sikhism from the Saṃsāra concept in many traditions within Hinduism. The difference is that Sikhism firmly believes in the grace of God as the means to salvation, and its precepts encourage the bhakti of One Lord for mukti (salvation).
Sikhism, like the three ancient Indian traditions, believes that body is perishable, there is a cycle of rebirth, and that there is suffering with each cycle of rebirth. These features of Sikhism, along with its belief in Saṃsāra and the grace of God, is similar to some bhakti-oriented sub-traditions within Hinduism such as those found in Vaishnavism. Sikhism does not believe that ascetic life, as recommended in Jainism, is the path to liberation. Rather, it cherishes social engagement and householder's life combined with devotion to the One God as Guru, to be the path of liberation from Saṅsāra.
- Klaus Klostermaier 2010, p. 604.
- Mark Juergensmeyer & Wade Clark Roof 2011, pp. 271-272.
- Rita M. Gross (1993). Buddhism After Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism. State University of New York Press. p. 148. ISBN 978-1-4384-0513-1.
- Shirley Firth (1997). Dying, Death and Bereavement in a British Hindu Community. Peeters Publishers. pp. 106, 29–43. ISBN 978-90-6831-976-7.
- A.M. Boyer (1901), Etude sur l'origine de la doctrine du samsara, Journal Asiatique, Volume 9, Issue 18, pages 451-453, 459-468
- Stephen J. Laumakis 2008, pp. 90-99.
- Yuvraj Krishan (1997). The Doctrine of Karma: Its Origin and Development in Brāhmaṇical, Buddhist, and Jaina Traditions. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. pp. 17–27. ISBN 978-81-208-1233-8.
- Obeyesekere 2005, p. 1-2, 108, 126-128.
- Mark Juergensmeyer & Wade Clark Roof 2011, pp. 272-273.
- Michael Myers 2013, p. 36.
- Harold Coward 2008, p. 103.
- Lochtefeld 2002, p. 589.
- Yuvraj Krishan (1988), Is Karma Evolutionary?, Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, Volume 6, pages 24-26
- Jeaneane D. Fowler 1997, p. 10.
- Monier Monier-Williams (1923). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. pp. 1040–1041.
- Wendy Doniger (1980). Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions. University of California Press. pp. 268–269. ISBN 978-0-520-03923-0.
- Louis de La Vallée-Poussin (1917). The way to Nirvana: six lectures on ancient Buddhism as a discipline of salvation. Cambridge University Press. pp. 24–29.
- Yuvraj Krishan (1997). The Doctrine of Karma: Its Origin and Development in Brāhmaṇical, Buddhist, and Jaina Traditions. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. pp. 11–15. ISBN 978-81-208-1233-8.
- Stephen J. Laumakis 2008, p. 90.
- Dalal 2010, p. 344, 356-357.
- Damien Keown 2004, p. 248.
- Katha Upanishad प्रथमोध्यायः/तृतीयवल्ली Wikisource
- Shvetashvatara Upanishad षष्ठः अध्यायः Wikisource
- Maitri Upanishad Wikisource, Quote: ३ चित्तमेव हि संसारम् तत्प्रयत्नेन शोधयेत्
- GA Jacob (1963), A concordance to the Principal Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, Motilal Banarsidass, pages 947-948
- Stephen J. Laumakis 2008, p. 97.
- Goa, David J.; Coward, Harold G. (2014-08-21). "Hinduism". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 2014-02-27. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
- James Hastings; John Alexander Selbie; Louis Herbert Gray (1922). Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics. T. & T. Clark. pp. 616–618.
- Jessica Frazier & Gavin Flood 2011, pp. 84-86.
- Kusum P. Merh (1996). Yama, the Glorious Lord of the Other World. Penguin. pp. 213–215. ISBN 978-81-246-0066-5.
- Anita Raina Thapan (2006). The Penguin Swami Chinmyananda Reader. Penguin Books. pp. 84–90. ISBN 978-0-14-400062-3.
- Patrul Rinpoche; Dalai Lama (1998). The Words of My Perfect Teacher: A Complete Translation of a Classic Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Rowman Altamira. pp. 95–96. ISBN 978-0-7619-9027-7.
- Norman C. McClelland (2010). Encyclopedia of Reincarnation and Karma. McFarland. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-0-7864-5675-8.
- Clifton D. Bryant; Dennis L. Peck (2009). Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience. SAGE Publications. pp. 841–846. ISBN 978-1-4522-6616-9.
- Vallee Pussin (1917). The way to Nirvana: six lectures on ancient Buddhism as a discipline of salvation. Cambridge University Press. pp. 24–25.
- Gavin D. Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521438780, page 86, Quote: “The origin and doctrine of Karma and Samsara are obscure. These concepts were certainly circulating amongst sramanas, and Jainism and Buddhism developed specific and sophisticated ideas about the process of transmigration. It is very possible that the karmas and reincarnation entered the mainstream brahmanical thought from the sramana or the renouncer traditions. Yet, on the other hand, although there is no clear doctrine of transmigration in the vedic hymns, there is the idea of redeath, that a person having died in this world, might die yet again in the next.”
- Padmanabh S. Jaini 2001 “Collected Paper on Buddhist Studies” Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-1776-1, page 51, Quote: "Yajnavalkya’s reluctance to discuss the doctrine of karma in public (...) can perhaps be explained by the assumption that it was, like that of the transmigration of soul, of non-brahmanical origin. In view of the fact that this doctrine is emblazoned on almost every page of sramana scriptures, it is highly probable that it was derived from them."
- Govind Chandra Pande, (1994) Life and Thought of Sankaracarya, Motilal Banarsidass ISBN 81-208-1104-6, page 135, Quote: (...) They Sramanas could have been connected with the Harappan Civilization which is itself enigmatic. It seems that some Upanishad thinkers like Yajnavalkya were acquainted with this kind [sramanic] thinking (...) and tried to incorporate these ideas of Karma, Samsara and Moksa into the traditional Vedic thought.
- Wendy Doniger (1980). Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions. University of California Press. pp. xvii–xviii. ISBN 978-0-520-03923-0.; Quote: "There was such constant interaction between Vedism and Buddhism in the early period that it is fruitless to attempt to sort out the earlier source of many doctrines, they lived in one another's pockets, like Picasso and Braque (who were, in later years, unable to say which of them had painted certain paintings from their earlier, shared period)."
- Buitenen 1957, pp. 34-35.
- Mircea Eliade 1987, pp. 56-57.
- Jessica Frazier & Gavin Flood 2011, p. 18.
- John Bowker 2014, pp. 84-85.
- Jessica Frazier & Gavin Flood 2011, pp. 18-19, 24-25.
- Harold Coward 2012, pp. 29-31.
- John Geeverghese Arapura 1986, pp. 85-88.
- Robert S. Ellwood; Gregory D. Alles (2007). The Encyclopedia of World Religions. Infobase Publishing. pp. 406–407. ISBN 978-1-4381-1038-7.
- Obeyesekere 1980, pp. 139-140.
- Klaus Klostermaier, Mokṣa and Critical Theory, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Jan., 1985), pages 61-71
- Norman E. Thomas (April 1988), Liberation for Life: A Hindu Liberation Philosophy, Missiology, Volume 16, Number 2, pp 149-160
- Gerhard Oberhammer (1994), La Délivrance dès cette vie: Jivanmukti, Collège de France, Publications de l'Institut de Civilisation Indienne. Série in-8°, Fasc. 61, Édition-Diffusion de Boccard (Paris), ISBN 978-2868030610, pages 1-9
- M. von Brück (1986), Imitation or Identification?, Indian Theological Studies, Vol. 23, Issue 2, pages 95-105
- Paul Deussen, The philosophy of the Upanishads, p. 356, at Google Books, pages 356-357
- Four Noble Truths, Buddhist philosophy, Donald Lopez, Encyclopædia Britannica
- Robert E. Buswell Jr.; Donald S. Lopez Jr. (2013). The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton University Press. pp. 304–305. ISBN 978-1-4008-4805-8.
- Michael Myers 2013, p. 79.
- Michael Myers 2013, pp. 79-80.
- Paul Williams; Anthony Tribe (2000). Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition. Routledge. pp. 18–19, chapter 1. ISBN 0-415207002.
- Thomas William Rhys Davids; William Stede (1921). Pali-English Dictionary. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 94–95, Entry for Āgati. ISBN 978-81-208-1144-7.
- [a] Anatta, Encyclopædia Britannica (2013), Quote: "Anatta in Buddhism, the doctrine that there is in humans no permanent, underlying soul. The concept of anatta, or anatman, is a departure from the Hindu belief in atman (“the self”)."; [b] Steven Collins (1994), Religion and Practical Reason (Editors: Frank Reynolds, David Tracy), State Univ of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791422175, page 64; "Central to Buddhist soteriology is the doctrine of not-self (Pali: anattā, Sanskrit: anātman, the opposed doctrine of ātman is central to Brahmanical thought). Put very briefly, this is the [Buddhist] doctrine that human beings have no soul, no self, no unchanging essence."; [c] Edward Roer (Translator), Shankara's Introduction, p. 2, at Google Books to Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad, pages 2-4; [d] Katie Javanaud (2013), Is The Buddhist ‘No-Self’ Doctrine Compatible With Pursuing Nirvana?, Philosophy Now; [e] David Loy (1982), Enlightenment in Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta: Are Nirvana and Moksha the Same?, International Philosophical Quarterly, Volume 23, Issue 1, pages 65-74; [f] KN Jayatilleke (2010), Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge, ISBN 978-8120806191, pages 246-249, from note 385 onwards;
- Moksha, Georgetown University
- Stephen J. Laumakis (2008). An Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 68–70, 125–128, 149–153, 168–176. ISBN 978-1-139-46966-1.
- Masao Abe; Steven Heine (1995). Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 7–8, 73–78. ISBN 978-0-8248-1752-7.
- Loy, David (1982). "Enlightenment in Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta: Are Nirvana and Moksha the Same?". International Philosophical Quarterly. 22 (1): 65–74. doi:10.5840/ipq19822217.
- Padmanabh S Jaini, George L Jart III (1980). Wendy Doniger, ed. Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions. University of California Press. pp. 131–133, 228–229. ISBN 978-0-520-03923-0.
- Christopher Partridge (2013). Introduction to World Religions. Fortress Press. pp. 245–246. ISBN 978-0-8006-9970-3.
- George L Jart III (1980). Wendy Doniger, ed. Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions. University of California Press. pp. 131–133. ISBN 978-0-520-03923-0.
- Mark Juergensmeyer & Wade Clark Roof 2011, p. 272.
- Mukul Goel (2008). Devotional Hinduism: Creating Impressions for God. iUniverse. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-595-50524-1.
- Christopher Chapple (1986), Karma and creativity, State University of New York Press, ISBN 0-88706-251-2, pages 60-64
- Jeaneane D. Fowler 1997, p. 11.
- Flood, Gavin (2009-08-24). "Hindu concepts". BBC Online. BBC. Archived from the original on 2014-04-11. Retrieved 2015-07-31.
- George D. Chryssides; Benjamin E. Zeller (2014). The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 333. ISBN 978-1-4411-9829-7.
- Jeaneane D. Fowler 1997, pp. 111-112.
- Yong Choon Kim; David H. Freeman (1981). Oriental Thought: An Introduction to the Philosophical and Religious Thought of Asia. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 15–17. ISBN 978-0-8226-0365-8.
- Jack Sikora (2002). Religions of India: A User Friendly and Brief Introduction to Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and the Jains. iUniverse. pp. 17–19. ISBN 978-1-4697-1731-9.
- Harold Coward 2008, p. 129.
- Harold Coward 2008, pp. 129, also see pages 130-155.
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (1997). Hinduism: Beliefs and Practices. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 10–12, 132–137. ISBN 978-1-898723-60-8.
- H Chaudhuri (1954), The Concept of Brahman in Hindu Philosophy, Philosophy East and West, 4(1), pages 47-66
- M. Hiriyanna (1995). The Essentials of Indian Philosophy. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 24–25, 160–166. ISBN 978-81-208-1330-4.
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (2002). Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 340–347, 373–375. ISBN 978-1-898723-93-6.
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (2002). Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 238–240, 243–245, 249–250, 261–263, 279–284. ISBN 978-1-898723-93-6.
- Padmanabh Jaini 1980, pp. 217-236.
- Paul Dundas (2003). The Jains. Routledge. pp. 14–16, 102–105. ISBN 978-0415266055.
- Padmanabh Jaini 1980, pp. 226-228.
- Tara Sethia (2004). Ahimsā, Anekānta, and Jainism. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-81-208-2036-4.
- Padmanabh Jaini 1980, p. 226.
- Padmanabh Jaini 1980, p. 227.
- Padmanabh Jaini 1980, pp. 227-228.
- Paul Dundas (2003). The Jains. Routledge. pp. 104–105. ISBN 978-0415266055.
- Padmanabh Jaini 1980, p. 225.
- Padmanabh Jaini 1980, p. 228.
- Padmanabh S. Jaini (2000). Collected Papers on Jaina Studies. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 130–131. ISBN 978-81-208-1691-6.
- Padmanabh Jaini 1980, pp. 223-224.
- Padmanabh Jaini 1980, pp. 224-225.
- Padmanabh Jaini 1980, pp. 222-223.
- Jeffery D Long (2013). Jainism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-0-85773-656-7.
- Graham Harvey (2016). Religions in Focus: New Approaches to Tradition and Contemporary Practices. Routledge. pp. 182–183. ISBN 978-1-134-93690-8.
- Paul Dundas (2003). The Jains. Routledge. pp. 55–59. ISBN 978-0415266055.
- Lambert Schmithausen (1991), Buddhism and Nature, Studia Philologica Buddhica, The International Institute for Buddhist Studies, Tokyo Japan, pages 6-7
- Rod Preece (1999), Animals and Nature: Cultural Myths, Cultural Realities, ISBN 978-0-7748-0725-8, University of British Columbia Press, pages 212-217
- Christopher Chapple (1990), Ecological Nonviolence and the Hindu Tradition, in Perspectives on Nonviolence, Springer, ISBN 978-1-4612-4458-5, pages 168-177;
L Alsdorf (1962), Beiträge zur Geschichte von Vegetarismus und Rinderverehrung in Indien, Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, F. Steiner Wiesbaden, pages 592-593
- Patrul Rinpoche; Dalai Lama (1998). The Words of My Perfect Teacher: A Complete Translation of a Classic Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Rowman Altamira. pp. 61–99. ISBN 978-0-7619-9027-7.
- Jeff Wilson (2010). Saṃsāra and Rebirth, in Buddhism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195393521. doi:10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0141.
- Edward Conze (2013). Buddhist Thought in India: Three Phases of Buddhist Philosophy. Routledge. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-134-54231-4., Quote: "Nirvana is the raison d’être of Buddhism, and its ultimate justification."
- Gethin 1998, p. 119.
- Williams 2002, pp. 74-75.
- Paul Williams, Anthony Tribe & Alexander Wynne 2012, pp. 30–42.
- Robert Buswell Jr. & Donald Lopez Jr. 2013, pp. 304-305.
- Peter Harvey (2015). Steven M. Emmanuel, ed. A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 26–44. ISBN 978-1-119-14466-3. Quote: "the first features described as painful [dukkha] in the above DCPS [Dhamma-cakka-pavatana Sutta in Vinaya Pitaka] quote are basic biological aspects of being alive, each of which can be traumatic. The dukkha of these is compounded by the rebirth perspective of Buddhism, for this involves repeated re-birth, re-aging, re-sickness, and re-death."
- Kevin Trainor (2004). Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide. Oxford University Press. pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-0-19-517398-7.; Quote: "Buddhist doctrine holds that until they realize nirvana, beings are bound to undergo rebirth and redeath due to their having acted out of ignorance and desire, thereby producing the seeds of karma".
- Dalai Lama 1992, pp. xi-xii, 5-16.
- Robert DeCaroli (2004). Haunting the Buddha: Indian Popular Religions and the Formation of Buddhism. Oxford University Press. pp. 94–103. ISBN 978-0-19-803765-1.
- Akira Sadakata (1997). Buddhist Cosmology: Philosophy and Origins. Kōsei Publishing 佼成出版社, Tokyo. pp. 68–70. ISBN 978-4-333-01682-2.
- Steven Collins (2010). Nirvana: Concept, Imagery, Narrative. Cambridge University Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-521-88198-2.
- Carl B. Becker (1993). Breaking the Circle: Death and the Afterlife in Buddhism. Southern Illinois University Press. pp. viii, 57–59. ISBN 978-0-8093-1932-9.
- Frank J. Hoffman (2002). Rationality and Mind in Early Buddhism. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 103–106. ISBN 978-81-208-1927-6.
- Arvind-Pal Singh Mandair (2013). Sikhism: A Guide for the Perplexed. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 145–146, 181, 220. ISBN 978-1-4411-5366-1.
- W.O. Cole; Piara Singh Sambhi (2016). Sikhism and Christianity: A Comparative Study. Springer. pp. 13–14. ISBN 978-1-349-23049-5.
- Arvind-Pal Singh Mandair (2013). Sikhism: A Guide for the Perplexed. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-4411-5366-1.
- H. S. Singha (2000). The Encyclopedia of Sikhism. Hemkunt Press. pp. 68, 80. ISBN 978-81-7010-301-1.
- Pashaura Singh; Louis E. Fenech (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. pp. 231, 607. ISBN 978-0-19-100411-7.
- James Thrower (1999). Religion: The Classical Theories. Georgetown University Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-87840-751-4.
- J. S. Grewal (2006). Religious Movements and Institutions in Medieval India. Oxford University Press. pp. 394–395. ISBN 978-0-19-567703-4.
- Pashaura Singh; Louis E. Fenech (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. pp. 230–231. ISBN 978-0-19-100411-7.
- John Geeverghese Arapura (1986). Hermeneutical Essays on Vedāntic Topics. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-0183-7.
- Buitenen, J. A. B. Van (1957). "Dharma and Moksa". Philosophy East and West. 7 (1/2): 33. doi:10.2307/1396832.
- John Bowker (2014). God: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-870895-7.
- Robert Buswell Jr.; Donald Lopez Jr. (2013). The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-4805-8.
- Harold Coward (2008). The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Eastern and Western Thought: The Central Story. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-7336-8.
- Harold Coward (2012). Religious Understandings of a Good Death in Hospice Palliative Care. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-1-4384-4275-4.
- Dalal, Roshen (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
- Mircea Eliade (1987). The encyclopedia of religion. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-02-909480-8.
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (1997). Hinduism: Beliefs and Practices. Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-898723-60-8.
- Jessica Frazier; Gavin Flood (2011). The Continuum Companion to Hindu Studies. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-0-8264-9966-0.
- Gethin, Rupert (1998), Foundations of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0192892232
- Padmanabh Jaini (1980). Wendy Doniger, ed. Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-03923-0.
- Mark Juergensmeyer; Wade Clark Roof (2011). Encyclopedia of Global Religion. SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-1-4522-6656-5.
- Damien Keown (2004). A Dictionary of Buddhism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-157917-2.
- Klaus Klostermaier (2010). A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-8011-3.
- Dalai Lama (1992), The Meaning of Life, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins, Wisdom, ISBN 978-1459614505
- Stephen J. Laumakis (2008). An Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-46966-1.
- Lochtefeld, James (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 2: N-Z. Rosen Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8239-2287-1.
- Michael Myers (2013). Brahman: A Comparative Theology. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-83565-0.
- Obeyesekere, Gananath (1980). Wendy Doniger, ed. Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-03923-0.
- Obeyesekere, Gananath (2005). Wendy Doniger, ed. Karma and Rebirth: A Cross Cultural Study. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-8120826090.
- Stephen Phillips (2009). Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-51947-2.
- Williams, Paul (2002), Buddhist Thought, Routledge, ISBN 0-415207010
- Paul Williams; Anthony Tribe; Alexander Wynne (2012), Buddhist Thought, Routledge, ISBN 978-1-136-52088-4