The conception of the soul in Hindu belief is really relevant in connection with God, or Brahman (otherwise known as the reality—the state in which all reality exists). The two principle beliefs are that we are connected to Brahman and have always been connected to Brahman, but simply have forgotten, either because of ignorance or desire, of our divine nature. This is called Advaita Vedanta, and is, as we saw above, practiced by Shaivites and Saktis.
The motivation for the soul’s departure is open to speculation, but some theorize that the soul leaves to experience something in a more limited existence, under the illusion (Maya) that this will make them happy. When the soul attains a body, this triggers other desires because it is in a body. Eventually, over many, many lifetimes, the person gets tired of seeing the same things over and over again and starts wanting to return to Brahman. Either through many (millions) of lifetime or through advanced yogic practices, one ultimately returns to Brahman.
By Carol Tebbs, MA
Over 4000 years ago, nomads sprung from the soil of northeastern Europe and entered the Indus Valley of ancient India. They called themselves Aryans, or noble ones, and the religion they brought with them comprised the first practice of Hinduism. The centerpiece of Aryan religion was a fire sacrifice to the gods performed by priests specially trained to chant sacred hymns. The hymns themselves were known as Vedas or sacred knowledge. The Vedas are the scriptural bedrock of the Hindu tradition.