On death-What is death. Part 2–Religious views on death

Is there life after death
What is death? Is there a soul

Last time we talked about clinical death. As we discussed earlier, clinical death is the cessation of bodily function such as blood flow and brain activity.

But that definition had some limitations such as identity of self , what happens to the person when the person is dead. Clinically the question is moot because ,after death a person does not exist.

Now lets talk about religious views on death

Disclaimer: I am no expert on religious studies and if you feel my representations are not up to the mark, feel free to correct me. This is just a discussion on death so be cool 🙂 

Hindu View on death

Hindu’s believe in the concept of No death. As per hindu belief clinical death is nothing but a change of body by the soul. Hindu tradition describes a person as the soul and not the body. When the body stops functioning the soul can have two fates  :

Rebirth, the person is born as a new being ,it could be a human,plant or animal or any other living being in any realm .The soul keeps on repeating this cycle until it realizes its true purpose.We will not discuss the purpose as it is a very different discussion

Moksha: If the soul has realized its true purpose  ,realisation of soul and God , and has done enough good deeds to cancel any bad karma ,the soul gets  to get out of the cycle of death and rebirth. The soul gets merged with the source of all knowledge and eternal being. You can call it GOD .It is a state of eternal bliss and is known as Moksha

Death in christianity

Christian view is very different from hindu view. Christianity does not have the concept of rebirth. It has one life,one death phenomenon. When a person dies in the conventional sense, the person is laid to rest in a grave and waits for the judgement day. It is the day when all dead would rise from their graves and wait for their judgement. Judgement can be eternal bliss in heaven or eternal damnation in hell.

Death in Islam:

The belief on death in Islam is very similar to Christianity . It is the day when all believers in Allah are rewarded with heaven while the non believers are punished. Again Self is the soul and not the body

Death in Buddhism 

Buddhism like hinduism doesn not believe in concept of judgement day. It also identifies the person as a soul. More specifically it defines it as conciseness. Every being is a speck of conciseness and is connected to everything in this world . Death is defined as the separation of  conciseness from the body. It also believes that the conciseness transfers from one body to other ,but, one difference between hindu and buddhist belief is when this transfer happens ,in Hinduism it happens when the person dies while in buddhism it can happen anytime  ,even when the person is alive. It is like a candle lighting another

 

Now christianity and islam have a very definite concept ,that a dead person is dead until resurrected .The person does not exist until resurrected. We will not talk about resurrection but can agree that barring resurrection it is very much like clinical death .

Hinduism and buddhism give something which is radically different from observed phenomenon of clinical death . Concept of soul is much stronger in these belief systems .

Thus we see that all religions at the base do not consider the so-called death as the end or cessation of the person . While Christianity and Islam believe in resurrection on judgement day where the person is brought back from”dead” to be judged, implying that the death of body was not really death , Hinduism and   Buddhism give very less importance to the concept of death,they believe in eternal being,every living being is eternal and there is no death .

But this again has two problems

1.Concept of judgement day: This will be out of scope of our discussions because we cannot really talk about something that is neither happening nor happened. Assuming it to be true, it will happen in future

2.Soul: Now what is the soul ,how do we define the soul? If soul is what the person is,the definition of soul is ambiguous.

To be continued–

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16 thoughts on “On death-What is death. Part 2–Religious views on death

    1. Thanks Divya :). There is a brilliant lecture series on this topic.Link is there in Part 1.
      Glad to know that you liked it, i am just trying to pen down my thoughts ,trying to structure them in a logical fashion. Sadly its such a complex that structure is the last thing that can happen:).Will try anyways

      And hey Thanks for the link

    1. Thanks Divya :). There is a brilliant lecture series on this topic.Link is there in Part 1.
      Glad to know that you liked it, i am just trying to pen down my thoughts ,trying to structure them in a logical fashion. Sadly its such a complex that structure is the last thing that can happen:).Will try anyways

      And hey Thanks for the link

  1. Hey Madhur.. but how about a non-believer’s version of death. As Bertrand Russell puts it.. You rot when you die. May not be a comforting thought.. but closer to truth.. as stoic as it sounds. :p

  2. Hey Madhur.. but how about a non-believer’s version of death. As Bertrand Russell puts it.. You rot when you die. May not be a comforting thought.. but closer to truth.. as stoic as it sounds. :p

  3. John,

    Non-believer’s version only takes the Physical into account 😉

    BTW, what is truth? Isn’t truth only a perception from the point of view of the person who perceives 🙂

  4. John,

    Non-believer’s version only takes the Physical into account 😉

    BTW, what is truth? Isn’t truth only a perception from the point of view of the person who perceives 🙂

  5. Divya and Madhur – agreed. Its just that the materialist’s conception of reality is the one I agree with. There is no way to know if there is a ‘soul’. Moreover, efforts to explain consciousness and the apparent death of it at a man’s demise is continuously being researched and debated through neuroscience. It is much more interesting than the multiple and quite often contradicting and indefensible explanations that religions posit. and Madhur – excuse me for not reading your previous post! :). I’m tempted to join your 30 day challenge. How many days are up as of now?

    1. John ,
      you are right, most people incline towards the materialistic view .Thats the fun of philosophy, no one is right and no one is wrong .
      At the base of it, its all about belief, we all believe in something.
      Also though most scientist believe in the concept of clinical death, there is some serious research going on to prove/disprove the existence of soul and conciseness
      Thus there is still a doubt in minds of some of them.
      I believe we live in a world where every non-believer is partly believer and every non-believer is a believer.

      Regarding the 30 day challenge–You are welcomed sir, many people are at different stages, i am on day 9. Kritika has taken up a 20 day challenge yesterday so all upto you.
      Only thing: Its a challenge so there is a punishment involved for missing even 1 day 😀

  6. Divya and Madhur – agreed. Its just that the materialist’s conception of reality is the one I agree with. There is no way to know if there is a ‘soul’. Moreover, efforts to explain consciousness and the apparent death of it at a man’s demise is continuously being researched and debated through neuroscience. It is much more interesting than the multiple and quite often contradicting and indefensible explanations that religions posit. and Madhur – excuse me for not reading your previous post! :). I’m tempted to join your 30 day challenge. How many days are up as of now?

    1. John ,
      you are right, most people incline towards the materialistic view .Thats the fun of philosophy, no one is right and no one is wrong .
      At the base of it, its all about belief, we all believe in something.
      Also though most scientist believe in the concept of clinical death, there is some serious research going on to prove/disprove the existence of soul and conciseness
      Thus there is still a doubt in minds of some of them.
      I believe we live in a world where every non-believer is partly believer and every non-believer is a believer.

      Regarding the 30 day challenge–You are welcomed sir, many people are at different stages, i am on day 9. Kritika has taken up a 20 day challenge yesterday so all upto you.
      Only thing: Its a challenge so there is a punishment involved for missing even 1 day 😀

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