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Death perception in Hinduism
Date: Thu Nov 30 1995 - 20:38:10 PST

Recently,  in response to a question for a college
project (from a student by name Jean) on how 
death is perceived in different religions, I posted 
my Hindu view as follows. I thought I will 
share it with the Prapatti crowd.

Jean, I first like to thank you for inviting me to be on the panel. I must
tell you that with this question you have hit a nail on the head.  In my
opinion, death is the primary cause for the birth of all religions! Because
 DEATH is a devastating experience, and an everlasting redemption from death
(immortality or eternal life),  is the mother of all religions. 

For Hindus, everything is cyclic like the four seasons: Creation (beginning,
A of AUM:  like a tree with fresh tender leaves in the Spring), sustainance
(being or maintainance, U of AUM: like a tree with dense green leaves in the
Summer), senesence (destruction or deterioration, M of AUM: like  a tree with
pale leaves about to shed in the Autumn) and death, or silence (like a bare
tree with no leaves at all in the Winter).  In this silence lies  our
immortality (silence following AUM), because from that  leaf- less and
 (apparently  dead) tree comes forth new life(leaves) in the following Spring
season. The whole process is repeated  all over again and again. This cycle
of birth-death-rebirth is called sansara.  In  this there is  one underlying
changeless thing, called SOUL, which is a chip of that old block, the Supreme
SOUL or God.

 Hindus give   different names and  forms  to God, just for their own
comprehension. Death is only to body and Soul is imperishable. Just this
realization of one's identity with the Divine (Jnana Yoga or union through
 knowledge) will result in Moksha (solvation). Other paths are through
selfless work (karma Yoga),  Meditation (Raja Yoga), Devotion or faith
(Bhakti Yoga) or total surrender to the grace of that all Mighty (Prapatti or
Saranagati Yoga). There is no rebirth and only everlasting communion with
God(Supreme soul) for anyone who takes up anyone of these five ways. Failing
to take any of these paths will result in a new life and a new chance.  The
cycle keeps repeating until the soul is liberated.   This also applies to
other life forms, all of which have to be born as  human to be fit for
solvation.  A human, by wrong deeds, can descend to a lower form and will
have to start climbing up all over again (sort of like the snakes and the
ladder game).
-K. Sreekrishna