Hinduism is a religion which is considered to be unique in many ways. This religion is regarded as the oldest one and it is interesting that it was not founded by one being. Also, there is more than one sacred text, but the most significant is the Veda. These four books contain the wisdom of Hinduism. Death is regarded as the process of life and it includes the concept of believing in reincarnation.
The two beliefs which are most important in Hinduism and are related to life and death are reincarnation and karma. Reincarnation means that each person that will be born after death and they could be reborn as an insect, plan, animal or human. A person’s Karma is responsible for the form of their future existence and their lives can be better or worse than the current one. It all depends on the how the person led their life and whether they were doing good things or bad. This philosophy of Hinduism makes people obedient in life so that they could deserve a better destiny in another life.
It is up to one’s Karma to make a decision whether people conducted well in their lives and it is related to both the present as well as to the past lives. This means that the effect is cumulative. “Karma is a combination of cosmic and moral cause and effect that crosses lifetimes and life lessons learned for spiritual growth” (Thrane 339). A good Hindu is peaceful and a vegetarian and the process of rebirth has an end which is called moksha and it means “becoming one with Brahman” (Thrane 339). Therefore, the purpose of this religion is to make people believe that they should behave well and accept their role in life. The reward is being reborn as a person of a higher social status and well respected. People are expected to hope for an improved life quality once they are reborn and because of that they have to behave well in their current life and to suffer for all the sins from previous lives. It is inherent in human nature to fear death because it is something unknown. However, in Hinduism “Death is the fulfillment of this life and a chance for a better reincarnation, a chance to learn new karmic lessons and to move closer to moksha” (Thrane 339). Hindus believe that death is a natural process and it happens when the time is right. Hinduism customs suggest that life should not be artificially prolonged or terminated by force because there is a natural order of things in life which should be respected.
According to Hinduism, death leads to birth and that the next life depends on how the person behaves in the current life. “Suicide would result in many lesser rebirths to "make up" for the karmic debt of ending one's life unnaturally. Thoughts at the moment of death will result in a greater or lesser rebirth” (Thrane 339). It is best to think about Brahman while dying because that is supposed to lead the soul to an elevated level. This elevation is a reward for the suffering in life and makes a person closer to the final goal which is uniting with Brahman. It is a tradition in death that bodies are cremated and “the ashes are scattered in an ocean or a river or are sent to India to be scattered in the Ganges River” (Thrane 339).
Apart from karma, there is also a concept of dharma and it means that “we reap the fruit of our actions, and apart from the direct result of action or its effects on the surroundings, our actions create an impression on us” (Rao 71). Life and death are connected and interchangeable which is why people’s actions matter all the time as well as their thoughts. “In Hinduism, it is important to die a good death and possibly go to a heavenly world” (Jacobsen 386).
Death is seen as a process which leads to a next form of existence in Hinduism and it can be better or worse than the current life. This depends on dharma, or one’s actions in life. Karmic debts have to be paid and the final goal is to unite with Brahman. Moksha is what all Hindus strive for and it makes their lives worth living. Hindus are not afraid of dying because it is a natural process which only makes them closer to achieving the final goal and becoming pure once again.
Jacobsen, Knut A. "Three Functions of Hell in the Hindu Traditions." Numen 56.2/3 (2009): 385-400. Print.
Rao, Ramesh N. "TALKING TO THE DYING: Hindu Views, Hindu Ways." International Journal of Sociology of the Family 36.1 (2010): 65-76. Print.
Thrane, Susan. "Hindu End of Life: Death, Dying, Suffering, and Karma." Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing 12.6 (2010): 337-42. Print.