It is revealed during the course of the show that the Minbari religious caste believe humans posses the reincarnated souls of dead Minbari. This is due to their interrogation of Jeffrey Sinclair who they believe holds the soul of Valen. However, as we also learn:

Valen is Jeffrey Sinclair.

Therefore, if we exclude Jeffrey Sinclair as a unique case, is there any evidence of actual Minbari souls inhabiting human bodies?

3 Answers 3


The concept of the 'soul' in Babylon 5 is never sufficiently explained. This is intentional; Joe Straczynski explicitly states that he did not want to resolve the issue in commentaries, special features, and interviews throughout the years, feeling it was better left for the audience to supply their own answers.

Since the concept of the soul is not sufficiently explained, it is impossible to accurately answer whether or not humans and Minbaris are actually sharing souls. This is even more problematic when you consider the triluminaries, which were given to the Minbari by the Great Machine on Epsilon 3, not created by the Minbari themselves. We do not even know if the Great Machine itself created them, or if some other species (such as the Vorlons) used Draal as an intermediary.

What we are certain of, is that Minbari and human DNA began to mix one thousand years before the events of Babylon 5, due to Jeffrey Sinclair. Delenn herself is a descendant of Sinclair/ Valen. Since Sinclair was descended from British military officers and some of the original Martian colonists, there are doubtless many humans who share enough of his DNA to set off the triluminaries, just as Delenn, a thousand years Valen's junior, did.

In short, we can't really answer the soul question. We know that some humans and Minbari do share some DNA, through Jeffrey Sinclair. We know that the Minbari believe in the concept of the soul, and that they believe the triluminaries can detect the soul of Valen, and even the souls of his descendants and relatives. Whether the Minbari are right or not, we cannot say. Joe Straczynski probably never bothered coming up with a definitive answer for that one himself.

  • 1
    I always got the impression that JMS knew the definitive answer, but as a storyteller decided to intentionally keep it a mystery. Also, we did get an explanation of Minbari souls in "Passing Through Gethsemane", although it didn't provide much insight into humans with Minbari souls. Sep 10, 2014 at 3:43
  • I seem to recall the Minbari belief was somehow also based on their declining birth rate. But if there can be one Minbari not of Minbar it follows that... Sep 10, 2014 at 3:54
  • My interpretation was that the idea of Sinclair and Valen being the same person was new after Michael O'Hare left the show. In-story, the "souls being reborn" became a misinterpretation of the Sinclair's perceived similarity to the Minbari.
    – chepner
    Sep 10, 2014 at 15:51
  • @chepner: I doubt that myself. Joe Straczynski always planned to get rid of Lt Takashima after a season and a half or so, why not Sinclair? I don't see any other real possibilities for Valen. Sep 10, 2014 at 23:08
  • Years later JMS said that the real reason that Sinclair left was that the actor developed a mental condition and it was a kindness to let him go.
    – Walter
    Jan 11, 2015 at 1:38

The sole reason that the Minbari think that their "missing souls" are in humans is because when Sinclair was captured at the beginning of the Battle of the Line, the triluminary (one of three which Sinclair/Valen constructed using parts of his DNA-coded comlink) lights up when held near him.

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Since it's not Minbari souls that they're detecting but Sinclair's human DNA then we can definitively say that there are no Minbari souls in humans. There are, however plenty of pilots that share sufficient DNA with Sinclair to cause the Minbari to think so, especially when coupled with their fears about their falling birth rates.

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    I find your lack of faith disturbing. Sep 9, 2014 at 23:19
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    @JamesSheridan - Well, we know that there's something the Minbari call a soul because we see the soul-hunters trying to capture them but there's no evidence these are transferring to humans.
    – Valorum
    Sep 9, 2014 at 23:21
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    There is evidence that humans share something analogous to this though. The Soul Hunter in the first season episode tells Dr Franklin; "I have been to your world." There doens't seem to be any reason for that if he wasn't collecting souls. In The River of Souls we also see several humans 'collected' by Soul Hunters for interrogation, and Captain Lochley is temporarily transferred into a soul globe. Sep 9, 2014 at 23:26
  • I don't have the exact link, but as I understand it the Minbari souls didn't start going to Humans until Valen came on the scene. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Sep 10, 2014 at 11:46
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    @SimonO'Doherty - Their evidence for the loss of souls is the declining Minbari birth rate, something which could easily be explained by their race's stagnation.
    – Valorum
    Sep 20, 2014 at 23:02

If by "evidence" you mean something like Minbari exhibiting Human traits or remembering past Human lives, then no, there's no objective evidence shown. Everyone has to take the Minbari religious caste's word for the presence of Human souls. Only the religious caste has the means (through the Triluminary) to detect the presence of Human souls.

  • The triluminaries were shown to be in the possession of the Grey Council. There's no particular reason the Warrior or Worker Castes wouldn't have access to them. In fact, the mention of there being three triluminaries would seem to indicate that all three castes probably had access to one each, though that is never stated. Sep 9, 2014 at 23:21
  • @James Sheridan: You may be correct, but I don't recall anyone handling the Triluminaries but members of the religious caste (and, maybe, Zathrus - some folks think the triangular yellow cases he's shown carrying around in B-4 were the other Triluminaries).
    – Joe L.
    Sep 9, 2014 at 23:30
  • Just to nit-pick; we see Sinclair using one in that same episode. Sep 9, 2014 at 23:44
  • @JoeL. JMS pretty much said himself that Zathras brought them, along with the Chrysalis machine, up from Epsilon 3 - search the page for "it came from Epsilon 3", it's around 3/4ths down the page, in the bullets before and after that one
    – Izkata
    Sep 9, 2014 at 23:49
  • @James Sheridan: You're probably right. It's been a while since I've watched the series - I usually get around to it every two or three years.
    – Joe L.
    Sep 9, 2014 at 23:56

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