METEMPSYCHOSIS, or transmigration of the soul, is believed in by the Hindus and Buddhists of Asia, and by all the pre-Aryan aboriginal races in British India. The metempsychosis doctrine seems to have been held coeval amongst the Brahmans and Egyptians. The Pythagorean sect of Magna Grecia seem to have derived it from Egypt. In the Institutes of Menu, at least thirty different creatures are named into whose bodies malefactors are imprisoned, according to their crimes, the scale descending down to such parti culars as that he who stole perfumes should be changed,into a musk-rat. Metempsychosis is the idea that a human being guilty of sensual sins should be changed into an animal that is only conscious of the senses. But metempsychosis, according to Bunsen, is the recognition that there is a solution of the enigma of existence, which is not to be found in the term of a single life on earth, and yet which we are impelled to seek after, in order to explain this life. All guilt must be expi ; biit the final issue, though reached only after the lapse of unnumbered ages, will be the triumph of the good, the general reconciliation, and a life in God will • be the eternal heritage of the soul.
Thousands of years before Christianity announced the certainty of immortality, the three civilisations of the Egyptians, the Brahmans, and the Druids believed that the human soul died not after death. Abu Zaid, the historian, writing in A.D. 916, mentions that in Balhara and other parts of India, men burned themselves on a pile, influenced by their belief in a metempsychosis; and he adds that when a man or woman became old, he or she begged that they might be thrown into the fire or into water. The Tibetan Buddhists count six classes of existence, viz. four bad, those in hell, the brute, asur, and yidag ; and two good, those as man and God.—Fraser's Journ., 1868 ; Bunsen ; Elliot's History, pp. 1-9 ; Haughton's Menu, p. 406.