The word reincarnation literally means re-entering a physical body. According to Hindu scriptures,
a soul passes into a body at birth and migrates into another body at death. A person's karma
(actions) determines in what form they will reappear. Good karma in the present life leads to a
better next life and bad karma in the present life leads to a worst next life. The chain is also
known as Samsara, the chain of worldly existence.
Depending on karma, a person may come back in a higher human form (part of the intelligent class or
warrior class in the Caste system) or a lower life form as an animal. This cycle of rebirth continues
until one achieves liberation from worldly bondage (Moksha). At the liberated stage a soul becomes
godly and reincarnation stops.
This spiritual enlightenment is the highest goal to be attained by Hindus, but they anticipate that
it may take many incarnations to become holy.
This explains one of the main attractions of the Kumbh Mela; the reason for bathing in the Holy
River Ganges is to cleanse the soul and gain salvation a short cut to Moksha. Through bathing
in water that has transformed to Amrit, the nectar of immortality, Hindus believe they can achieve
this liberated stage.
The pilgrims are also more likely to speed up their path to enlightenment by contact with the Hindu
holy men that congregate at every Kumbh Mela.