Ask Mr. Donn
Do Hindus believe that you can be reincarnated as an animal, for example - a cat?
What reincarnation is not: "Reincarnation is not a simple physical birth of a person; for instance, John being reborn as a cat in the next life. In this case John possesses an immortal soul which transforms to the form of a cat after his death. This cycle is repeated over and over again. Or if he is lucky, he will be reborn as a human being. This notion of the transmigration of the soul definitely DOES NOT EXIST IN BUDDHISM."
But does it exist in Hinduism? We checked a couple of very good sites for the answer:
- This one had great information: Hindu website.
- This educational site confused us as it appears to be saying that yes, you can be reincarnated as an animal or an insect, but that may not be what it's saying: Questions about Hinduism
- We could be wrong, but it's our understanding that Hinduism teaches that there are several levels in reincarnation; you can be reincarnated in a higher level if you've earned it, but you can never slide back. So, a cow might be reincarnated as a human (moving up). But a human cannot slide back to be reincarnated as a cow. That's where karma comes in. If you behaved badly in your present life, when you are reincarnated, it's your turn to have bad things happen to you; after all, you earned it - what goes around, comes around. Hinduism is complicated, and reincarnation in Hinduism, as far as we know, does not stand alone. It is combined with dharma and karma.