In Hinduism the present life is considered to be the result of many lifetimes of past desires, actions and the results of those actions. The results of
these previous actions are unfolding at every moment. Some actions are mature and bearing fruit at the present
moment, other actions are laying as "seed" waiting
to mature at a future time. All that we have done in the
past creates who we are in the present and all that we do
in the present is creating who we will be in the future.
way, there is great cycle of desire, action and reaction that drives
the wheel of life, and as a result, all beings are forced
to remain within this world in order to experience the fruit
of their desires and actions. Desire and action are said
to be the source of reincarnation. Beings continue to "rotate" through
endless lifetimes in this physical world. Sometimes in heaven (nice places),
sometimes in the middle regions (medium places) and sometimes in
hellish realms. This rotation through endless lifetimes is
the process of reincarnation called samsara in Sanskrit.
The ultimate goal of life in Hinduism is to break this cycle
of reincarnation, to escape samsara.
Breaking this cycle is done through the process of yoga, and
freedom or liberation from the cycle of rebirth is called
A slightly different version of moksha is nirvana. Literally the word nivana means "extinguishing" and in this case it means extinguishing one's material existence. Sometimes one's desire which leads to action and reaction is compared to a flame. "The blazing fire of material life," is an expression often heard. Extinguish or "put out" one's material existence and one has achieved liberation. This is nirvana. The word nirvana is more used in Buddhism than it is in Hinduism.