Friday, 1 March 2013

The Hindu ideas of Life after death

Hindus believe there is life after death and we are made of a material part (body) and the spiritual part (soul). This is called dualism (division the body and soul). The soul is called atman. The Hindu holy scriptures Vedas explain these and other main ideas of what we call "Hinduism" (Sanatana Dharma). The Vedas are written in an Ancient language called sanskrit and it is divided in many chapters called Upanishads which has many different pieces, some written in form of poem and others in form of story (Epics). One of the many very important pieces is called Bhagavad Gita. It contains the story of Mahabharata where Lord Krishna, who is one of the expressions of "Ultimate being"( God), says to Arjuna, a very important human struggling to go or not to a battlefield: "The soul is never born nor dies at any time. Soul has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. Soul is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. Soul is not slain when the body is slain."
This passage of the Mahabarata gives us a good example of the idea of life of the death we are currently studying. More about these ideas you find in many sites, I found this here very interesting. There are other key terms related to the idea of life of death which you must know. Samsara, the cycle of life and death, Karma which a sort of system of reward and punishment in this cycle of life - the current existence is product of a previous life and current deeds/actions (dharmas) affect the atman in the next life. The only way to obtain liberation is through Moksha, when the atman is free from this eternal cycle of life and death. Doing good deeds or duties (dharmas) helps us to achieve this liberation. Having said all, many of you asked me why should I learn this? Well, I think it is very interesting to study Hinduism because it is part of many people's cultural backgrounds, it is very popular and one of the most influential religions in the world. Studying Hinduism also helps us to understand and respect their beliefs which are, by the way, very different from what some of us see the afterlife - that idea that if we do well we go heaven as a reward and if we do bad deeds we end in hell as punishment. The Hindu idea is so different that makes us think very hard about what really happens when we die. Cutting short: We learn different ideas and it should help us to think independently about our own beliefs and in this process we should be able to respect other people's beliefs.  
Anyway, I hope you en-joy it and thank you for excellent hw, feedback (and praises) soon :-)