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Liberated souls ascent to the apex of heaven to become one with the Brahman

Hinduism's concept of death lies on the basis that it believes that the soul is immortal and imperishable. The soul is merely part of a body, which temporarily and eventually comes to an end. Thus, the Sanskrit word for death, "dehanta," means "the end of the body" but not the end of life. Hinduism holds a strong belief in the rebirth and reincarnation of souls based upon their karma, it believes that every thought and action has its repercussions; a soul becomes what it does. Thus, unless the soul achieves moksha and becomes one with the supreme i.e., the universe neither life nor life is permanent. They are both illusions for the soul to keep walking towards self-knowledge.

It is interesting to note the parallel of this Hinduism belief in science as similar to Hinduism belief that souls (life energy of beings) are immortal and can't be destroyed, science states, "Energy can neither be created nor destroyed."


The Rig Veda defines death as:

When he goes on the path that leads away from the breath of life.
Then he will be led by the will of the gods
May your eye go to the sun, your life's breath to the wind
Go to the sky or the earth, as is your nature.

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There are four courses that a soul may follow after death.

The first course, Devayana

Devayana is the realm of lights. Those who follow the way of the gods are the spiritually advanced soul who led the life of extreme purity and wholeheartedly devoted the Brahman ascent to return to god. They go to the Brahmaloka, the apex of heaven to attain liberation. This path leads the soul to the Brahman and it attains liberation from the cycle of rebirths.

The second course, Pitriyana

Soul and a physical body The soul returns to the cycle of rebirth on the earth as they still hold earthly desires.Unsplash

Pitriyana means the path of darkness, the souls who follow the ways of their ancestors walk on this path. It is followed by the ritualists who have cherished a desire for the results of their charity, austerity, worship, and vows. They receive joy and happiness as a reward for their good actions. However, they are returned to the cycle of rebirth on the earth as they still hold earthly desires within self.

The third course, Hell

Souls who led impure lives and performed actions that are forbidden in the scriptures. They are reborn as sub-human species as punishment for their bad karma. After atoning for their evil deeds, they are reborn in human bodies as a chance to lead a pure life to achieve enlightenment and be free from the endless cycle of birth.

The fourth course

Souls who are extremely dreadful in their thoughts and actions walk on this path. They are reborn multiple times as insignificant creatures like mosquitoes and fleas. And eventually, after repenting for their evil actions, they return to earth in human bodies to walk the path of goodness.

ALSO READ: Karma cycle: From Helpless to Wise

When a soul assumes a human body, it takes up the thread of spiritual evolution of its previous human birth and continues to evolve toward Self-knowledge. The souls that have attained spiritual enlightenment before death or upon death, their souls are absorbed in Brahman, and the elements of their body-mind complex, their life energy finally returns to their source.

Keywords: Hinduism, death, afterlife, karma, enlightenment, the cycle of rebirth, eternal soul


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