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Ekabhavika doctrine

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Ekabhavika doctrine literally means ‘the doctrine that many karmas produce one birth’.

The doctrine of karma and punarjanma (rebirth) has been widely accepted by almost all the schools of philosophy. This dogma has been described in the Vyāsabhāsya on the Yogasutras[1] of Patañjali (200 B. C.). The word ‘ekabhavika’ has been introduced and discussed here. Literally, it means ‘producing one birth’.

In the residual karma producing rebirth, four alternatives, are put forth and only one is accepted which rules out the other three. The alternatives are:

  1. Does one karma produce one birth?
  2. Does one karma cause several births?
  3. Do several karmas result in several births?
  4. Do several karmas give rise to only one birth?

There are many karmas recognized from ancient time, accepting the first two alternatives gives rise to a highly confusing situation. People will lose all faith in the karmas prescribed by the śāstras. The third alternative has to be ruled out since it is not possible for a jīva (individual soul) to assume several births simultaneously.

The philosophy of pariśeṣanyāya or the doctrine of elimination of the alternatives accepts only the last alternative to be true. Among the accumulated karmas, one major karma along with several minor karmas which are compatible with the major ones, becomes ripe at the time of death and causes the next birth, deciding its:

  1. Jāti - type
  2. Āyus - duration of life
  3. Bhoga - experiences, good and bad


  1. Yogasutras 2.73
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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