From guest blogger, Maham.
The reincarnation believes of the Hindu religion entails that every being is given seven lifetimes, and each subsequent birth would be determined by how well or not the previous lifetime was spent. Such a view is less problematic in my eyes when the souls are simply made eternal and and continue living infinite lifetimes until whatever end determined by a deity is brought upon the universe. The selection of the number seven seems extremely arbitrary to me, and we are still left with the worry of where the soul came from before the first lifetime, and where it goes after the seventh one.
Additionally, this belief presupposes that all the living creatures in the world contain within them the same kind of soul. The raven on my balcony and the chicken in a yard all have human souls inside of them, or do we have animal souls inside of us? Perhaps it is simply a generic version of a soul. Does the chicken and raven remember that they are indeed a human soul? If they do, then human rights gain a whole other meaning in the world that we live in and so does the sentience they may be capable of. We would not be allowed to eat them or cause any inadvertent harm to them in favor of humans if they are just as sentient. If they are not aware of having a human soul inside of them, then how is it constituted as a punishment? It ceases being a punishment if one is not aware of it.