Religious Studies KS2: The cycle of birth, death and rebirth

Simran, who is 14 and Vraj, who is 11, explain the complexities of Hindu belief in reincarnation.

They believe life is a cycle of birth, death and rebirth, with our actions in this life, our “karma”, effecting our future incarnations.

Kindness leads to good karma, whilst selfishness leads to bad karma.

The soul may be reincarnated thousands of times.

Vraj draws a picture to explain his understanding of the cycle of life.

The end of the cycle is called Moksha, which can be reached if you live the best life you possibly can.

It makes you at one with God and sets you free from having to be reborn on this Earth again.

Believing in reincarnation affects how Hindus think about death.

Bodies are burnt after death, to symbolise the quick release of the soul to begin its next life.

Simran meets Hemang, a Hindu priest, on a boat in the River Soar in Leicester.

He tells her that as our bodies are mostly water, Hindus scatter the ashes in a river after death.

He helps the families of those who die to understand that death is a new beginning for the soul of their loved one.

In India Hindus traditionally scattered ashes in the River Ganges.

Hemang says that all rivers are created equal in the eyes of god, and they all merge eventually into the oceans.

River Soar, or River Ganges, the symbol is for the way life flows on.

This is from the series: My Life, My Religion - Hinduism

Teacher Notes

Pupils could draw their own circle of life diagram, showing key moments such as birth, learning to walk, going to school, getting a job, getting married, becoming a parent, retiring, dying.

They could think about ways that people could gather good karma at each stage.

Then they could draw a second circle, considering how a person’s life could be better the second time around if they had good karma.

They could compare notes about what they think good karma means and what they like or dislike, agree with and disagree with, about Hindu ideas on life after this life.

Ask them to share all the other ideas they know of about life after this life.

Muslim Paradise, Christian Heaven, ideas about ghosts and the atheist view that this life is the only life can be explored in discussion.

Curriculum Notes

These clips will be relevant for teaching Religious Education at KS2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and First and Second Level in Scotland.

More from the series: My Life, My Religion - Hinduism

Diwali - the festival of light
Inside a Hindu Temple
A Hindu wedding ceremony
Celebrating Raksha Bandan
Meeting two young British Hindus
Celebrating the festival of Holi
A Pilgrimage in Hinduism