Buddhist denial of soul or “Nairatmyavada”.

The theory of no soul  also follows from the doctrines of dependent origination. There is no in visible permanent substance besides the flow of consciousness. As the body is destroyed the five skandhas disappear into five elements (Pancha bhutas) and nothing remains besides the Upadana or Karma. This principle is known as the theory of no-soul in Buddha’s philosophy.

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Like the view of William James, Buddha also admits the selas the flow of consciousness. In the consciousness the present movement is the result of the past moment and the future the result of present. Thus one moment succeeds another moment and the actions and the memory of the past moments are transferred to next moment. The cause of the present mental state is that past mental state. Buddha has explained the community of the life with the example of the flame of a lamp. There is cause and effect relation between antecedent and subsequent states of life. the life is a systematic and continuous process of different stages. In this process every stage depends on the stage preceding it, and the subsequent stage is the result of the present stage. Hence the life is homogeneous. Like the flame of a lamp it is changing every moment. The flame of a lamp in every moment depends on the conditions prevailing at that time, but in sprite of the difference in flames, they appear to be the same due to continuity. Buddha believes in rebirth and the principle of Karma. He however, does not believes in rebirth in the sense that a soul enters in a different body after leaving one body, but rebirth means that another birth follows every birth or another birth is caused due to one birth. Just as a lamp can be lighted by another lamp and yet the lights of both cannot be identified, similarly in spite of cause and effect relations between the two the two births are different and not identical.

As a matter of fact, Buddha has always asked the disciples not to indulge in useless discussions regarding the soul. If the soul is taken as eternal, one gets attached to it and suffers in the efforts to make it happy. According to Buddha, the love with the invisible and unproved soul is as much ludicrous as the love of some invisible and imaginary beautiful women. The attachment towards this soul is like preparing a ladder to mount on a place which has not been seen by anyone.


According to Buddha man is a name for a conglomeration. Just as wheel and other parts of a chariot are together called a chariot. Similarly the body with the external form, mental states and colorless consciousness is together called human being. This conglomeration is the man. Besides this there is no soul. So long as this conglomeration remain, the life of man also remains, death is the name of its destruction.

At another place, Buddha has called the man as the sum total of five Skandhas. Those five skandhas are changing elements and man is more or less a collection of them. As the man dies, this collection is scattered. In the five skandhas the first is the “Roop” which includes the form, complex and size etc. of the human body. Another skandhas is Vedan which includes the feelings like pleasure, pain and aversion etc. The third Skandha is consciousness or Sanjana. It includes different types of conglomerations and knowledge. The fourth skandha is the Samskaras which include the tendencies due to the actions of the post birth. The fifth Skandha is the Vijnan or consciousness.

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