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After the disintegration of the body, the kamic[92] elements continue

for some time, us a "shade"[93] or a "phantom,"[94] in the finer and

invisible atmosphere;[95] then they, in turn, become disintegrated by

the various forces of this environment,[96] and are lost in the strata

of matter from which they have been taken. Like the physical elements

(life-atoms), they whirl about in their environment and there submit

he same law of attraction and repulsion as that which controls

universal selection; they are drawn towards the kamic elements of men

and animals, and it is here that we ought to place the list of those

misdeeds, by reason of which these elements pass into bodies of

animals or men of inferior development. "A drunken priest becomes a

worm," says Manu, "a stealer of corn, a rat; the murderer of a

Brahman, a dog, a tiger, or a serpent"--and this means that those

elements which, in man, serve as a basis for the passions, at death,

pass over into the bodies of animals that possess the same passions or

experience the same needs.

The transmigration of human souls into the bodies of animals is still

generally accepted amongst the less intelligent Hindus; it has

contributed, perhaps more than anything else, to that wonderful

respect for life one meets with all over India. The thought that some

ancestor or other might happen to be in the body of an animal prevents

its destruction; even the sacrifice of his life offered by a man to

one of his brothers in the animal world is regarded as a sublime

virtue, and legend tells us of the Buddha, the Lord of Compassion,

giving himself up as food for a famishing tigress, that she and her

cubs might not perish of hunger.