Although most Bamana today adhere to Islam, many still practice the traditional rituals, especially in honoring their ancestors. However, it is in their initiation societies that we see the richness and power of Bamana thought. The concepts of Yo and reincarnation are particularly interesting. Yo is the essence of Bamana thought. All materials used in the various ceremonies and rituals, the elders teach are expressions of Yo (silence). The Bamana assert that all is Yo, the spirit of No-thing. Yo, Bambara elders say, comes from itself, is known by itself, departs out of itself, from the nothingness that is itself. Faro, the Creator, who the human being is created in the image of, is the initial form of yo; the entire universe is an emanation of yo. At the core of Bambara teachings is the Word, which emanates from yo and echoed back to itself, producing consciousness, the foundation of humanity. The goal of humanity is to maintain the harmony of the Word, and in this regard, the human being is a copartner with Faro.
The Bamana concept of reincarnation is equally as fascinating. We are most familiar with the Hindu notion of reincarnation, in which Hinduism conceives of a world soul, the paramatman or Brahma, which is the essence of existence. Each individual contains a small portion of the paramatman, the atman. In Hinduism, the world of creation, maya, is the conditioned world; a world that lacks permanence, and thus is considered illusory. Maya is filled with grief, suffering, and ignorance.68 Life’s ultimate aim is to reunite one’s atman with Brahma, a state known as moska, and escape from the world of maya. According to Hinduism, this requires many incarnations as man has to evolve through his experiences and finally come to know reality. True knowledge tears apart the veil of maya and frees the soul from the cycle of rebirths. The Hindu conception of reincarnation suggests the pessimism Diop stated existed in the northern cradle. According to the Two Cradle Theory, Indian civilization constituted a zone of confluence. Aryan invaders created a racial caste from a pre-existing occupational caste system, when they imposed their northern cradle pessimism on the indigenous southern cradle population, the Dravidian, resulting in Hinduism and Indian civilization. Much of Hinduism reflects the worldview of its Aryans invaders.
The Bamana on the other hand, have an entirely different take on reincarnation, and it is one that reinforces the Afrikan worldview. According to the Bamana, each person upon dying has an aspect of their soul (ancestral soul) that returns to the Creator. At each rebirth the Creator retains part of this soul until finally the person becomes totally reabsorbed. The person becomes united with the original unicity of the Supreme Being. The Bamana reveal that the purpose of Korè is to create an inner person who can “resist” the Creator’s effort of reabsorption, by that, making it possible for the ancestral soul to be reborn on earth continually. Man would have conquered the prerogative of the Creator (reabsorption), and consequently, become his “equal.” There is no desire among the Bambara to unite with primordial existence and this remains consistent with Afrikan thought. In the Afrikan worldview, the earth (Nature/Creation) is the arena where we as humans realize our divinity. Hinduism’s notion of maya, is a projection of their primarily Aryan pessimistic worldview, which seeks to escape Creation, while the Afrikan seeing Creation as good, seeks to return to it continually.