What do Hindus Believe About the Afterlife?
Each religion has its own take on what happens to us after death, those who are not religious will often believe that there is no such things as an “afterlife”. Meanwhile, Hindus do believe in the concept of an afterlife, but what do they think about it?
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It is taught in Hinduism that any attempt by humans to find permanent happiness in this world is simply an illusion. It is believed in Hinduism that a person’s spirit is permanent and is not able to change while the human, physical body is not permanent and can change. The spirit is then able to be reborn many times, this is what is known as reincarnation. For reference, the scriptures state “as a man casts off his worn-out clothes and takes on other new ones, so does the embodied soul cast off his worn-out bodies and enters others new” Bhagvad Gita 2:22.
In Hinduism, death is celebrated as a natural event which allows the soul to move further up the ladder to reach the ultimate release from the rebirth cycle and into the desired Holy state. “For sure is the death of all that comes to birth, sure is the birth of all that dies. So in a matter that no one can prevent thou hast no to grieve.” Bhagavad Gita 2:27.
The speed and way in which someone can be freed from the cycle of rebirth (samsara) is dependant on the concept of Karma. Karma is considered a law of cause and effect, which can ultimately teach that with all actions comes corresponding results.
If a person does good in their lifetime, they will be rewarded in the next life by moving up the scale to eventually relieving themselves of samara. It is believed by some Hindus that is is possible for a human to be reborn as an animal. This rebirth from human to animal form only comes around when the soul has failed to learn lessons when in the form of a human repeatedly.
When a persons soul finally frees itself from the cycle of rebirth and reaches moksha, it can then rest. Moksha is described as the soul becoming absorbed with Brahman (the name for the Supreme Spirit).
How does it differ from western perceptions?
It is clear that Hinduism differs in it’s beliefs about the afterlife from Christianity, for example. There concept of Hell is not a physical place, rather being recycled into a lower life form or someone who is less fortune.
Whereas, “Heaven” is a state of the soul being with Brahman – this is similar to some interpretations found in Christianity where going to heaven is just the unity between the soul and God.