By Swami Harshananda
samsāra (‘roaming about [through births and rebirths]’)
According to Hinduism, though the ātman (the soul or the Self) is eternally free (nityamukta), it has somehow (inexplicably) got itself entangled with avidyā (ignorance or nescience), which entanglement is stated to be anādi or beginning-less, though it can be ended (hence, sānta). This avidyā leads to its perceiving dvaita or duality, viz., the world and other beings as different from it. This again creates kāma or desire in its mind, to get what it wants or get rid of what it does not want. To fulfil this kāma it has to take repeated births. It is this transmigration that is called samsāra.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore