Another great article from Buddhism Today teaches about the afterlife in Buddhism. The afterlife usually pertains to the intermediate phase between rebirths.
Death and Afterlife in Hinduism by Jayaram V Into blinding darkness enter those who worship ignorance and into greater darkness those who worship knowledge alone. Distinct they say is the result of knowledge and distinct they also say is the result of ignorance.
This is what we heard from the wise who explained these matters to us. He who knows both knowledge and ignorance together, crosses death through ignorance and attains immortality through knowledge. Then may the body end in ashes. AUM, remember what has been done, O intelligence remember what has been done, remember, remember.
O Agni, O God, the knower of all our deeds, lead us along the right path to prosperity. Please take away from us our deceitful sins. Many prayers we offer you. The souls are immortal and imperishable. A soul is part of a jiva, the limited being, who is subject to the impurities of attachment, delusion and laws of karma.
Death is therefore not a great calamity, not an end of all, but a natural process in the existence of a jiva being as a separate entity, a resting period during which it recuperates, reassembles its resources, adjusts its course and returns again to the earth to continue its journey.
In Hinduism, unless a soul is liberated, neither life nor after life are permanent. They are both part of a grand illusion.
Death is a temporary cessation of physical activity, a necessary means of recycling the resources and energy and an opportunity for the jiva that part which incarnates to reenergize itself, review its programs and policies and plan for the next phase of life.
Each life experience on earth and each incarnation of soul offers the jiva an opportunity to learn and overcome its inconsistencies and blemishes so that it can become the whole. We cannot have likes and dislikes, preferences, prejudices and attachment and yet expect ourselves be liberated.
Even a preference for purity becomes an impediment at some stage in our lives. The soul therefore needs to be born again and again till it overcomes its state of delusion, achieves the state of equanimity and realizes its completeness.
When a person dies, his soul along with some residual consciousness leaves the body through an opening in the head and goes to another world and returns again after spending some time there.
What happens after the soul leaves the body and before it reincarnates again is a great mystery about which we can form an idea after studying the scriptures. One is the path of the sun, also known as the bright path or the path of gods and the other is the path of the moon, also known as the dark path and the path of ancestors.
When a soul travels along the path of the sun, it never return again, while those which travel along the path of the moon return again. How is the path of the sun attained? Lord Krishna provides the clue in the following verses: Suicide in Hinduism There was a time when suicide was a common theme of several ascetic traditions of ancient India.
Through self-immolation, ascetics would discard their frail bodies in search of liberation. The body was considered a karmic fruit and burning it away at the end of a prolonged self-purification process was considered a good option to resolve past karmas.
Some wasted away their bodies through severe austerities and diet restrictions, while some literally offered themselves to the elements such as water and fire and ended their lives. The first historic emperor of India, Chandragupta Maurya, who converted to Jainism in the last phase of his life travelled to south and fasted for forty days in a cave near Sravanabelagola to end his life.
It is possible that the emperor was following the Hindu tradition of taking up renunciation Sanyasa ashrama in the last phase of his life, which was a common practice among the ancient warrior families, and wasting away his body to attain liberation. The Indian warriors were in fact unafraid of death.
For them going to the battlefield meant death. And they fought valiantly with the sole objective of dying while fighting and going to the heaven of warriors vira-svargama concept similar to that of the Vikings and their heaven of Valhalla. It was also not uncommon for the wives of warriors committing ritual suicide when their husbands died in the wars.
This tradition eventually grew into the practice of Sati and Johar among Rajput women. The story of Uma, the consort of Siva, immolating herself, unable to bear the insults heaped upon her husbands by her own father, gives credence to suicide under extraordinary circumstances.
However, while ritual suicide was permitted under extraordinary circumstances, Hindu traditions and customs as a rule do not permit killing of any kind and suicide was no exception. The souls of those who commit suicide end up in a nether region called Punnama from where redemption is almost impossible for a very long time.
Committing suicide in response to suffering and economic hardships has become a common practice in various parts of India. Many from the farming communities in various parts of the country commit suicide unable to face social and economic pressures.
Some time people commit suicide even for frivolous reasons such as the failure in an academic test, or death of a film star or a politician. This is an unfortunate development, which needs to be addressed by the elders in the community.For Hindus, dying at home among loved ones is considered better than dying in a hospital.
When death, due to any reason, is inevitable, they bring the dying person home, place him in his room with his head facing the east, and light a lamp near his head. Hinduism believes in the rebirth and reincarnation of souls.
Death is therefore not a great calamity, not an end of all, but a natural process in the existence of soul as a separate entity, by which it reassembles its resources, adjusts its course and returns again to the earth to continue its journey.
The best thing that can be done for the dying person is to make sure they are mentally prepared for death. The last moments of life can affect the nature of rebirth. The more calm and prepared a person is the better their rebirth is considered to be.
Hinduism As a Religion The roots of Hinduism go back to the Indus civilization in the third millennium B.C.E., but it is only with the migratory waves of Indo-European Aryans in the late second millennium B.C.E.
that researchers have access to Hindu ideas about death and afterlife. Death, Dying, and the Afterlife: Lessons from World Cultures is an uplifting, meaningful, and multidisciplinary exploration of life’s only certainty. While we’re predisposed to look on death with fear and sadness, it’s only by confronting and exploring death head-on that we can actually embrace the important role it plays in our lives.
Death is a natural and inevitable part of the lifecycle, and the dying person should be made to accept this reality. Friends and family should help the dying person reflect on his or her good deeds in this life, and the power those good deeds will have over his or her next incarnation.