The Mystery of death and what happens after death according to Hinduism



Is death really a mystery, or just extinction?

A little boy who sailed to America with his parents, his father held onto high hopes for a bright future. He played and listened to stories when his mother found time from her household chores. He was like any other boy, sweet and full of life. No one no matter how close could ever think that this apple of everyone’s eyes will one day turn out to be the most dreaded gangster known eternally to mankind. His teenage years were spent in delinquency, not because his childhood was one full of abuse and scorn, but out of sheer adrenalin rush. His friends, who later became his partners in crime, gave him the title of ‘scarface’ to add to the ominous aura that emanated from him. He is a celebrated icon in the underworld and amongst the members of his ‘The Chicago Outfit’. He is none other than Al Capone, the Italian mobster known for his ruthlessness, and gregarious personality. 

Where is Al Capone now with respect to death, afterlife and the soul?

The name Al Capone makes our senses rush in a torrent, as if the very essence of fame, endless profit, and insatiable lust. This is what we all want, isn’t it? Well, as time passes we come to know that the Buddha was right: nothing is of permanence, not even the invincible time. The scenes from the movie ‘Fonzo’ give a vivid portrayal of the principle of cause and effect, and the impermanence of our physical self. Al Capone as shown in the movie lived his life like a Hyena inherently meant for the wild. Thus, his existence came to an end too in the way he had lived his life. Burdened by his delusions, his heart began to develop cracks due to a prolonged spiritual famine. Hatred, jealousy, blind lust, animality, and anger transformed into worms that fed on him from within- both physically and spiritually. Thus, in the end as per the west oblivion is where everything recedes, death is nothing, not even the air which can be felt.

What happens after death in Hinduism?

But, Sanathan Dharma says otherwise, which is five thousand years old officially, and thirty thousand years old as per the archaeological evidence of the remains of the city of Dwarka. Death is not the end, but a new beginning beyond any great intellectual comprehensions or theories. Death is only the decay of the physical self, and one’s life per se atman exists forever in the universe. This cosmic energy if realized while alive is said to be the Buddha-nature. Sages and saints swathed in the storms of the ignorant secular life have only one thing to say the undeniable eternity of life. 

The mystery of death- Karma

Karma is a bitch, karma is bygone, karma is shit or the best- I write my own karma. Well, whoever the high-handed people or whatever the words karma can’t be overcome by annihilating or suppressing the person in front. It quite evidently, only adds to the store of our negative karma. Thus, the consequences and effects which we receive from time to time through our conduct, can’t be overcome with mere physical and intellectual might. If it were so, then Al Capone would have been the happiest man alive, proving the Buddha, Shankaracharya, Nichiren Daishonin, Valmiki, and Jesus wrong. 

Death and afterlife- Hinduism and the Vedas

[To the dead man]: Go forth, go forth on those ancient paths on which our ancient fathers passed beyond. There you shall see the two kings, Yama and Varuna, rejoicing in the sacrificial drink

-The Rig Veda

The ancient path unknown to a mere mortal till the time he dies. This unknown path discovered by sages who meticulously searched within, and let the world know through their ink. Transcending hunger, thirst, cravings and, drawings to all that worldly; they gave up their very flesh to discover the last thing unknown on this earth. Well, the Vedas came into existence long before the enlightenment of the Buddha. Thus, esoteric concepts regarding life and death, mostly rich in literature were rampant across the different sects of people, who indulged in realizing god by treading on different paths. The path could be a hard one made of deprivation or one intoxicated in pleasures, but the medium was the same that of self-realization. Thus, the unknown path with time came to be known as the existence of human life, or that of any living being existing eternally in the universe, across countless lifetimes. The Upanishads and the Buddha join hands on the one strict law, that of Karma. 

Who are Yama and Varuna with respect to death and afterlife?

Yama and Varuna, whom we know as death and the sky, both have neither beginning nor end. Both are colourless and immortal, whose existence depends entirely on the minds and eyes of the people. Thus, neither abstract nor of substance Yama and Varuna are itself the unknown path, and the destination as well. Thus, these two lines show the artistic and contemplative nature of the Vedas. 

Indra and Soma, let evil heat boil up around him who plots evil, like a pot set on a fire. Set unrelenting hatred against the fiend, the flesh-eating Brahmin-hater with an evil eye

-The Rig Veda

Evil and good are two sides of the same door as evil has the power to manifest good, and good can too suddenly turn evil. This relentless mind is all about good and evil, both in mutual possession of each other. Thus, one who gives in to his evil thoughts, and cravings unleashes wrath upon himself as the cycle of cause and effect can’t judge or take sides. The sages perform rituals as they write their prayers, mind, heart, and realization on the smooth palm leaves, in an effort to convey the gods. Here, the gods are Indra and Soma who represent rain and vegetation. Both are dependent on each other to flourish in the sky, and on the earth. Thus, the sages yearn for the gods to deprive the evil of both water and food, which constitutes the physical existence of life. Here, death is likened to evil, and good is likened to life. 

The mystery of death- the buddha

his body neither existing nor not existing,

neither caused or conditioned, neither self or other,

neither square or round, neither short or long,

neither appearing or disappearing, neither born or extinguished,

neither created or arising, neither acted or made,

neither sitting or lying down, neither walking or standing,

neither moving or turning, neither idle or still,

neither advancing or retreating, neither in safety or danger,

neither right or wrong, neither gaining or losing,

neither that or this, neither departing or coming,

neither blue or yellow, neither red or white,

neither crimson or purple or any other sort of colour,”

-The Lotus Sutra

The body of the Buddha is described here as the atman, which cannot be imagined in any form. This atman is who we are, the universal self, cosmic energy; life itself. Clouds dance in ecstasy, blind has become joy for all two-footed and four-footed creatures. Leaves sway and swirl in the boisterous wind, branches thick and thin rustle against each other for they need not fear decay. The sky appears to peck the earth, and the earth appears to overflow with life, emerging from its countless cracks. A rainbow unseen shines as if the darkening twilight has turned into a dream again. Ah, these eyes can today see the painting come to life, no blurry vision caused by delusions of ignorance. Thus, nature and man both celebrated the day Siddhartha became the Buddha, for at last one shall be relieved of the chains of suffering. Buddhism and the Upanishads quite like each other though in terms of theory, at the core they indeed differ, when it comes to pragmatic considerations. 

What happens after death according to science?

Well, the west with its advanced technology, knowledge, and calculated minds is trying to beat death by reviving the dead person. They think of an individual entity, as someone or something made of blood, heart, brain, organs, tissues, bones, marrow, and cells above all. Life for them isn’t beyond the senses, but the senses itself. Thus, as per science which is the result of empirical analysis and maths based on the six senses of a man- smell, touch, taste, hearing, sight, and mind. Death takes place when the heart stops beating, as death is defined for ninety-five per cent of the people. Though artificial intelligence, on which scientists are working day and night enables one’s heart to beat a bit longer after its natural pause. But, thus death overcomes sooner or later, remaining inevitable as ever. 

The mystery of death- The justification given by science

As per Dr Sam Parnia, who is a director in the New York University Langone Medical centre- “As soon as the heart stops beating, a person stops breathing and their brain shuts down, causing all life-processes to cease”. These explanations, observations, and articulated theories deck countless pages of countless books. Here, the emphasis is merely on the physiological functions which like all things on earth is subject to decay. Even iron rusts and disappears with time, so what is there to say about our soft flesh! 

So, science has nothing to say regarding what happens to the person after his heart stops beating. Science is only concerned with the effort to keep the heart beating as long as possible. 

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