Meaning Of Death In Hinduism Essay

2053 words - 8 pages

1While examining different religious paths within Hinduism from the perspective of four patterns of transcendence (ancestral, cultural, mythical and experiential) it is interesting to see how each pattern found its dominance over four segments of Hinduism: Vedic sacrifice, the way of action, the way of devotion and the way of knowledge.When Hinduism originated as a religion it was mainly concerned with sacrifices for ancestors. The sacred texts - called the Vedas - on which Hinduism was based were the main root of the many different branches of Hindu philosophy. The Vedas originated around 1400-1200 BC. They consisted of several different documents, the oldest of them called the Rigveda. The Rigveda is considered to be the foundation of Brahmanic Hinduism. The main body of Rigveda's text contains mostly hymns dedicated to the ancient Hindu gods. The second text of Vedas is called the Yajurveda. It was written in 1200 BC. The main themes of Yajurveda are the sacred formulas recited by Brahmin priests during the performance of sacrifices. The third book of Vedas, Samveda (1100 BC), was also known as the Veda of chants. In its essence Samveda was an anthology of Rigveda writings. The last Veda is the Arthaveda (1200 BC).It consisted of hymns, incantations and magic charms.2The original Vedic texts were mostly comprised of hymns to gods and rules of sacrificial rituals; the purpose of which was to provide ancestors with food and means of sustenance in the kingdom of Yama (the afterworld). As a result of their devotion people expected certain favorable influences in their lives, such as good fortune and yet better life in the kingdom of Yama after their death. Sacrifices were supposed to be a means of survival in the kingdom of Yama. As the Indian philosophies evolved, Hindus developed the concept of reincarnation. The essence of that concept lied in the belief that no one is able to remain in the afterworld forever and eventually should return to the cycle of life, death and rebirth. As transcendent as the concept of reincarnation was, it did not provide Hindus with an ultimate salvation from suffering. Thus every living thing must eventually suffer and die. Such views resulted in further development of Hindu religion, Hindu philosophers such as Manu questioned the concepts of Vedas and laid the foundation for a philosophy that transformed Hinduism from a simple ancestral religion to a set of very complex religious and philosophical beliefs.Eventually the attempts of the Vedic texts to satisfy people's need to have contact with the sacred reality have become insufficient. Even though the sacrifice was a way to3 control the cosmos and insure well-being in the world of ancestors, it did not provide the means of liberation from the realm of maya: reality which Hindus lived in but thought of it as an illusion. Following the age of Vedas people of Hinduism looked for happiness through the way of action. The way of action could be very well considered an...

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