VIEWS ON DEATH
- Views on Death
For Christians whose
lives are guided by the Bible, the reality of death is acknowledged as
part of the current human condition, affected by sin (Genesis 2:17; Romans
5; Hebrews 9:27). There is "a time to be born, and a time to die" (Ecclesiastes
3:2). Although eternal life is a gift that is granted to all who accept
salvation through Jesus Christ, faithful Christians await the second coming
of Jesus for complete realization of their immortality (John 3:36; Romans
6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54). While waiting for Jesus to come again,
Christians may be called upon to care for the dying and to face personally
their own death.
When death approaches,
the close family and friends try to support and comfort the dying person
through supplication as well as remembrance of Allah and His will. The
attendance is to help the dying person to iterate his commitment to unity
Upon death, the eye
lids are to be closed, the body should be covered, and preparation for
burial takes place as soon as possible. The whole body is washed and wrapped
in a shroud. Muslims gather and a prayer is performed for the dead. The
body is to buried soon after the prayer. The wrapped body is to be
laid directly at the bottom of the dug grave. The body is to be laid on
its right side facing the direction of Makkah. A ceiling is attached to
the grave and then covered with dirt. The grave is to be marked by raising
its top level of dirt above
surrounding grounds. A stone may be used to mark its location, but no
writings are allowed. Buildings or other forms of structures are not allowed
on top of the grave.
The family of the
dead has a responsibility to fulfill any debts he had as soon as possible.
They have the commitment to maintain contacts and courteous relationships
with close relatives and close friends. They frequently pray and
supplicate for him. Charity, fasting, prayers, and pilgrimage is often
performed on behalf of the dead. Visiting the graves is recommended for
the living to remember death and the day of judgment.
believes in the rebirth and reincarnation of souls. Death is therefore
not a great calamity, not an end of all, but a natural process in the
existence of soul as a separate entity, by which it reassembles its resources,
adjusts its course and returns again to the earth to continue its journey.
In Hinduism death is a temporary cessation of physical activity, a necessary
means of recycling the resources and energy and an opportunity for the
soul to review its programs and policies. When a person dies, his soul
along with some residual consciousness leaves the body through an opening
in the head and goes to another world and returns again after spending
some time there. What happens after the soul leaves the body and before
it reincarnates again is a great mystery .
Bhagavad gita describes two paths along which souls travel after death.
One is the path of the sun, also known as the bright path and the
other is the path of the moon, also known as the the dark path. When a
soul travels along the path of the sun, it never return again, while those
which travel along the path of the moon return again.
happens to a soul after the death of a mortal being on earth depends upon
many factors, some of which are, his previous deeds, his state of mind
at the time of death,the time his death, the activities of his children,
that is whether they performed the funeral rites in the prescribed manner
and satisfied the scriptural injunctions.
believes in the existence of not one hell and one heaven but in the existence
of many sun filled worlds and many dark and demonic worlds. Vaikunth is
the world of Vishnu, Kailash is the world of Siva and Brahmalok is the
world of Brahman. Indralok is the standard heaven to which those who please
the gods through their activities upon the earth go. The standard hell
is Yamalok, which is also ruled by a god called Lord Yama, who is also
the ruler of the southern quarter.In the ultimate sense, the purpose of
these worlds is neither to punish or reward the souls, but to remind them
of the true purpose of their existence.
death, Hindus are not buried, but cremated. The idea is that the human
personality is made up of five elements of which four belong to the body
and come from this world, namely fire, earth, water and air while the
fifth the ether (fine matter) belongs to the domain of the subtle body
and comes from the higher worlds. By cremating the body, the elements
are rightfully returned to their respective spheres, while the subtle
body along with soul returns to the worlds beyond for the continuation
of its afterlife.
of rituals are associated with the cremation ceremony. When a person dies,
the body is given a final bath, carried on a wooden stretcher by his kith
and kin and cremated on the community cremation grounds generally by the
eldest son. This is followed by some rituals in which the sons make offering
of food to the departed soul under the supervision of a priest. Generally
a function is organized on the fifteen day and guests are invited for
a meal. Generally Hindus who have lost an important relation in their
families do not celebrate functions and festivals for a specific period
of time as a mark of respect. While cremation is the standard procedure,
Hindus consider it very auspicious if a dead body is immersed in the Ganges
or cremated on its banks since the river is considered very sacred.
- Views on Death
From its inception,
Buddhism has stressed the importance of death, since awareness of death
is what prompted the Buddha to perceive the ultimate futility of worldly
concerns and pleasures. Realizing that death is inevitable for a person
who is caught up in worldly pleasures and attitudes, he resolved to renounce
the world and devote himself to finding a solution to this most basic
of existential dilemmas.
A Buddhist looks at
death as a breaking apart of the material of which we are composed.
However Buddhism does not look at death as a continuation of the soul
but as an awakening. Dying and being reborn has been compared by
some Buddhist as a candle flame. When the flame of one lit candle
is touched to the wick of an unlighted candle, the light passes from one
candle to another. The actual flame of the first candle does not
pass over but is responsible for lighting the second candle.
When preparing for
death Buddhist generally agree a person�s state of mind while dying is
of great importance. While dying the person can be surrounded by
friends, family and monks who recite Buddhists scriptures and mantras
to help the person achieve a peaceful state of mind.
asserts that all being live beyond the various fluctuations of this life.
Death is merely a passage to rebirth in another realm such as the human
world, a pure land or the flowering of the ultimate nature of the mind.
- Views on Death
The Parsees (Zoroastrians
) do not cremate, bury or submerge their dead in water because they consider
the dead to be impure, and their Zoroastrian faith does not permit them
to defile any of the elements with them. This desert ritual, which originated
along with their faith in Persia more than 3,000 years ago and regards
death not as the work of God but of the devil, dictates that that the
dead be left to vultures on hilltops.
It is common for Parsees
to travel long distances to bring their dead to the Mumbai towers (India)
because prayers for the dead can only be said for those who have passed
through its gates. Dead Parsees are carried on a bier to a ceremonial
gate near the five Towers of Silence, where relatives hand them to pallbearers,
the only people allowed inside. The black stone towers, about 36 metres
high, are like three-tiered, open-air arenas where the men are placed
in the outer circle, women in the middle and children in the innermost
for the vultures to feed on. But with an average of three Parsees dying
every day, the handful of vultures at the towers are overfed.
Experts say about
100-120 birds would be needed to deal with the daily intake of bodies.
or Parsees, have installed solar reflectors in their Towers of Silence
in Mumbai to help dispose of their dead after a decline in the number
of vultures that scavenge their corpses in keeping with tradition.
- Views on Death
Judaism has stressed
the natural fact of death and its role in giving life meaning. The fear
of death, concern about the fate of our own soul and those of our loved
ones, ethical concerns that some people die unfairly, all these and many
other issues are discussed in Jewish literature. Since God is seen as
ultimately just, the seeming injustice on Earth has propelled many traditional
Jewish thinkers into seeing the afterlife as a way to reflect the ultimate
justice of human existence.
considered how individuals would be rewarded or punished after their deaths.
There are a few rare descriptions of life after death. Traditionalists
gave the name Gehenna to the place where souls were punished. Many Jewish
thinkers noted that since, essentially, God is filled with mercy and love,
punishment is not to be considered to be eternal. There are, similarly,
many varying conceptions of paradise, such as that paradise is the place
where we finally understand the true concept of God. It is also possible
that there is no separate Heaven and Hell, only lesser or greater distance
from God after death.
Judaism does not believe
people who are Gentiles will automatically go to Hell or that Jews will
automatically go to Heaven on their basis of their belonging to the faith.
Rather, individual ethical behavior is what is most important.