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Significance of Death According to The Hindu Dharma


The modern-day science relates to death as the irreversible cessation of biological functions of the body, you are no longer alive when your pulse fails you, it’s just the matter of few seconds and you are as dead as a stone. But what does the dharma say? Do they too like the modern- day science constrict life to the rhythmic beat of the heart? Or is there something more to it.

Soul, Death
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We have heard the tales of the ancient Egyptians, the burial of their dead and their stories of being born into another world; their ‘mummies’ have all fascinated us. And from accounts of many civilizations around the world, the stories of life don’t seem to end with the non-functioning of the mid-brain and the hind-brain. On that note, it would certainly be fascinating to explore how the Scriptures of the oldest civilization, the Indo-Aryans reconcile the dead.

Death for the ardent believers of the Hindu dharma is only the discontinuation of the enfeeble physical form that grows old and ceases with time. The Aatman, the Sanskrit for the soul, cannot have a permanent end, it is immortal. As the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of the Hindu dharma put it, death is the perpetual development; both for the soul and the universe at a large. It is the form of life itself that continues the balance of nature and the universe by the due process of transformation from one life form to another. They believe in reincarnation, the Aatman is born many times; Hindus drop off the physical body and continue evolving in the inner worlds in subtle forms.

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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. The death, it’s just another step in the natural process of the Samsara (the Sanskrit for re-incarnation) as in the Bhagwad Gita, a scripture of the Hindu epic Mahabharata it has been mentioned,

“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 other new.”

The followers of Hindu dharma well into spiritual practice, do not perceive death as a great calamity, instead, they look upon it as a spiritual opportunity, that path that leads to perfect oneness with the supreme lord. Also, as the Hindus believe that all have originated from the Lord himself and the final destination too is the Lord himself, they perceive death as a natural event so that the Aatman can move nearer to the ultimate release from rebirth, moksha; the oneness of the soul with the Supreme Lord.

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Also, it is in the Bhagwad Gita, a narrative framework of a dialogue between Pandava prince Arjuna and Lord Shree Krishna, the latter is quoted saying,

“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 cause to grieve.”

In Hinduism, unless a soul is liberated, neither life nor that after life are permanent. They are both parts of Maya, a grand illusion. The temporary cessation of the physical activities is a necessary means of recycling the resources and energy and an opportunity for the Jiva (the limited life, that part which incarnates) to re-energize itself, to re-correct its path. Each life experience on Earth and each incarnation of soul offers the Jiva an opportunity to learn and overcome its inconsistencies and prejudices so that it can become the whole.

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As the Hindus believe in the Karma, a Sanskrit word whose literal translation is ‘deeds’; the Fate of an Individual Upon Death, what happens to a soul after the death of a mortal being on earth depends primarily upon it. Also, his state of mind at the time of death, and his consciousness decides in which direction the Jiva will travel and in what form it will appear again. Negative thoughts, and derogatory deeds he will go to the lower worlds and suffer in the hands of evil. His suffering may either reform him or push him deeper into evil depending upon his previous Samsaras. And he will go to the highest heavens, has he fulfilled his duties of life as directed by the dharma.

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