- matter or form (rupa)
- sensation (vedana)
- perception (samjna)
- mental formations (samskara)
- consciousness (vijnana)
Taken together, the five skandhas contribute to the impermanent personality and the illusion – so Buddhists believe – of individuality.
Impermanent and subject to change, skandhas may reappear from one life to another. But this reappearance is discontinuous, like an old candle burning out with a new candle being lit (a common Buddhist analogy used to try to illustrate the belief in discontinuity).
Whether or not one agrees with every aspect of Buddhist teaching, the skandhas offer a conceptual alternative that could be applied to a critique of the Hindu view of reincarnation.¹
The two religions of Buddhism and Hinduism may seem similar at a glance. However, Buddhism clearly differs from the Visistadvaita school of Hinduism because, for Buddhists, the soul too, and not just its attachments, is usually seen as illusory and without permanent existence.
¹ See, for instance, Reincarnation: A New Look at an Old Idea – Part 3.