Miracle of Entering in to Another Body

Transmigration of Soul: Parakaya Pravesa

Tirumular became a cowherd

Arunagirinathar became a parrot

Adi  Shankara became a king

Vikramaditya story speaks of transmigration of soul


Hindus believe in Parakaya Pravesa.It is the power of one’s soul to enter in to another’s body. The other body may be of an animal or a bird or a human being. Scientists don’t believe in rebirth or soul. Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs believe in it. Hindus believe in Eight Great (miraculous) Powers known as Ashta Ma Siddhi. Though ‘ Parakaya Pravesa’  is not one of the eight great powers, whoever has attained yogic powers can do it. We have three interesting anecdotes of Parakaya Pravesa. It is about Adi Shankara, Tamil saints Arunagirinathar and Tirumular. We find this miracle in lot of stories like Vikramaditya and Vetal.

Swami Rama says that when one frees one’s consciousness from the identification of his or her body Para Kaya Pravesa (Para=another, Kaya=body, Pravesa=entering) is possible. This technique is explained in Yoga sutra (3-37). This power has been rarely used by our saints. We have got three interesting episodes in the life of Adi Shankara, Tirumular and Arunagirinathar. Now Science fiction TV serials use similar techniques. Parapsychology departments in several universities have collected lot of amazing stories of rebirths. But scientists are hesitant to say that they are rebirths because it will go against their (Semitic) religions. At the same time they struggle to explain the exciting stories about rebirths.(  have published several stories in this blog in Tamil).


Adi Shankara entered the body of a king

Shankara defeated Mandanamishra in a debate. But his wife Sarasavani who acted as the judge (moderator) in the debate challenged him. She asked difficult questions about sex and family life. She knew that Adi Shankara couldn’t answer such questions because of his astute Brahmacharya (celibacy). Wise Shankara asked for some time to give her the answers. While Shankara was walking through a jungle along with his disciples he saw the dead body of a king. His name was Amarukan. He told his disciples that he is going to enter in to the body of the king Amaruka and asked his disciples to preserve his body in a cave till he returns. Shankara became king Amaruka and went back to the king’s palace. During his life as a king, he learnt all about the sexual pleasures and family life. He returned to his own body after some time and answered all the questions raised by Sarasavani. This is the oldest Parakaya Pravesa story. Adi Shankara lived before Christ. Since he was mistaken with another great Shankara called Abi Nava ( meaning ‘once more a new’) Shankara, scholars placed him in eighth century AD.

(Please read my post Lie Detectors in Upanishads, where I have given details of Mandana-Shankara debate)


Tirumular became a cowherd

One of the 18 Tamil Siddhas is Tirumular. He wrote Tirumanthiram which is part of Saivite literature. Periya Puranam gives his life history in detail. He was initiated by great Nandi in Mount Kailash. He came down to the south to meet Agastya. On his way to Podigai hills from Tiru Avaduthurai, he saw a flock of cows grieving over the death of their herdsman. His name was Mulan and he hailed from nearby village Sattanur. Pitying the cows he used the power of Para Kaya Pravesa (entering in to another body) he entered in to Mulan’s body. But his behaviour was strange. When Mulan’s wife touched him, he got a shock and sat under a tree in meditation. After some time he came in search of his original body which he hid in the hollow of a tree trunk. When he couldn’t find it,  he remained Tiru Mular and composed 3000 Tamil verses. This is the second parakaya pravesa story. Tiru Mular was said to have lived 3000 years, but his language and style places him in eighth century AD.


Arunagirinathar became a Parrot

The most interesting story of Parakaya pravesa is that of Tamil saint Arunagirinathar. He was the author of Tiruppugaz, Kanthar Alankaram and Kanthar Anubhuti. His new style was greatly appreciated by Tamil poets of his time (15th Century). Like any other poet he had some jealous enemies. One of them was Sambandan. The local king became blind after seeing Lord Skanda  as bright as sun. Sambandan wanted to take revenge upon Arunagirinahar using this blindness. He told the king to fetch Parijatha flower from heaven through Arunagiri so that his blindness can be cured. The king ordered Arunagiri to get the flower. Arunagiri left his body and entered in to the dead body of a parrot to go to heaven. He hid his body in a place before doing the Para Kaya Pravesa. Sambandan who was watching every movement of Arunagiri, burnt the body of Arunagiri as soon as he left in the form a parrot. When parrot (arunagiri) returned with the heavenly flower the body was not there. He realised what happened and told the king. The king apologised to Arunagiri. But Arunagiri never stopped his compositions. He composed Kanthar anubhuti in Tamil. The tower where he remained as a parrot and composed this poem is called Kili Kundu Gopuram (Parrot Tower) in Tiruvannamalai. This is the third popular Para kaya Pravesa story.

We have several transmigration incidents in stories such as Vikramaditya and Vetal. But they all come under the category of fiction. This Parakaya Pravesa is purely a Hindu belief.

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