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Hinduism Death Rituals

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Hinduism Death, Dying and Destiny
Ideas about what happens after death, and its connection with how life is lived on earth, is a fundamental part of all religions. Many people accept death as the end of any form of existence. However others argue that death is not the end of life. The Australian Catholic University has held this conference about Death and Dying to address some of the ultimate questions that humans have always asked themselves. This particular seminar will deal with the aspects of death, dying and destiny. The religion that will be investigated around the issue of death, dying and destiny will be Hinduism. Based on the essence of Hinduisms framework and various interpretations of scriptures the basic fundamentals of what is expected of followers in life and death are dictated what expectations are up held and performed.
What happens after death, and its connection with how life is lived on earth, is fundamental to every religion. These beliefs and ideas; help people make sense of life, give support and comfort at times of loss and bereavement, and provides purpose to life (BBC; 2014). In Hinduism it is believed that any attempt to permanent happiness in this world is an illusion (maya). Hindus believe that a person’s atman (spirit) is permanent and cannot change while the physical body is permanent (About Religion; 2014). This quote from Bhagavad Gita 2:22 (As a man casts off his worn-out clothes and takes on other new ones, so does the embodied soul cast off his worn-out bodies and enters other new.), demonstrates how the spirit (atman) is reborn many times, this is known as samsara (reincarnation). Though Hindus still believe that death is a natural event so the atman can move nearer to the ultimate release from rebirth, moksha. The speed from which one person can be freed from reincarnation is dependent on karma. Karma is the law of cause and effect; it teaches that all action has corresponding results (BBC; 2014). For instance Paapa refers to the sinful actions in the past and can cause suffering. Once the atman reaches moksha the spirit can finally rest, as illustrated in Bhagavad Gita 8:15. 'Coming right nigh to Me, these great of soul, are never born again. For rebirth is full of suffering, knows nothing that abides: free from it now they attain the all-highest prize.' There is no difference for Hindus living in Australia, as there are no laws obstructing anyone from practicing and believing in any religion (Beliefnet, 2014). However, some traditional death practices such as cremating the body and spreading the ashes in certain countries are prohibited or illegal (Australia.angloinfo.com, 2014). In addition the different branches of Hinduism also have little difference as there are various beliefs about reincarnation and karma that all hold the basic fundamentals (Encyclopaedia, 2005)
Within Hinduism various rituals take place around the dead body. These include; a lamp being placed by the head of the body, prayers and hymns are sung, pindas (rice balls) are placed in the coffin, then water is sprinkled on the body, whilst a mala (necklace of wooden beads) may be put around the dead person’s neck as may garlands of flowers (BBC, 2014). This occurs as it purifies the spirit for its journey to reincarnation (Subramuniya, 2001). After the body is prepared the cremation takes place. Cremation takes place depending on where this happens, in India most Hindu’s wish to have their funeral at the burning ghats on the shores of the sacred river Ganges. Although, different branches of Hinduism do not cremate the bodies instead bury the bodies, for instance Yogis or Enlightened Masters are buried as their bodies are pure and have a spiritual Aura, so burying them will benefit their spiritual Aura (About Religion; 2014). Once at the place of cremation the body is placed on a pile of wood, the eldest son or youngest son for depending on what branch of Hinduism they are, proclaims the Vedic prayers as he lights the fire (BBC, 2014). However, different branches of Hinduism have a special funeral priest to perform the blessing of nine water pots and one clay pot (Beliefnet, 2014). Afterwards the ashes of the deceased are scattered into water, in India the askes are scattered on the waters of the Ganges.
Hinduism Death, Dying and Destiny
Hinduism believers are cremated, because destroying the corpse by fire, is to induce a feeling of detachment into the disembodied spirit, which will be helpful to encourage it into passing to its next destination, in case it remains near its former body (Subramuniya, 2001). However Hindu’s living in other countries such as Australia may take them to sea near they live. After the funeral the widow will wear white as a sign of mourning, as the close family mourn for twelve days. The widow is expected to wear white as she lives for her husband’s happiness, so when a woman is widowed she is encouraged to wear white (Encyclopaedia; 2005). In addition bodies in Australia cannot be burned near the river or sea; instead cremations have to take place in an authorised crematorium. Moreover ashes can be scattered in a place chosen by the deceased or relatives. Although ashes may be classed as water pollution and permission must be sought from the master of the boat (Australia.angloinfo.com, 2014).
Reincarnation (Samskara) takes place during these twelve days and on the thirteenth day the mourning ends with the ritual of Kriya. During this ritual rice-balls and milk are offered to the deceases as a sign of gratitude from the family for the deceases life. Later the mourners continue their normal live. Every year afterwards the death Shraddha takes place, at his ceremony pindas are offered to the poor and needy in memory of departed ancestors.
“While it is difficult to list doctrines that all Hindus and Hindu traditions would accept, there is a group of core beliefs that come close to being universally shared by all those called Hindu”. (Encyclopaedia,
2005). This being considered, depending on their faith to Hinduism’s rituals many will up hold the cremation and scattering of the ashes. Although there are exceptions to these rituals, for instance the ritual for infants many groups instead practice burial instead of cremation (About Religion, 2014). This occurs as infants are believed to be unassuming and innocent (About Religion, 2014). Or, as stated earlier different branches of Hinduism such as Yogis or Enlightened Masters are buried as their bodies are pure and have a spiritual Aura, so burying them will benefit their spiritual Aura. Not to mention in countries other than India, many Hindus have to change their rituals to better suit their lifestyle and the countries laws (Beliefnet, 2014). In addition some Hindu’s believe to be released from reincarnation that they have to develop wisdom, or jnana. However other branches of Hinduism believe moksha is the final liberation of life and reincarnation (Encyclopaedia, 2005). All branches of Hinduism are affected by the same death and dying rituals in their everyday lives. Equally all branches believe in the same premise of karma and reincarnation. This means that their everyday life effects their rebirth, for their deeds done in their live past and present determine the circumstances of one’s present existence (Encyclopaedia;
2005).
Hence, Hinduisms framework has various interpretations of scriptures the basic fundamentals of what is expected by the followers in life and death. These various interpretations are dictated what expectations are up held and performed. This was seen in the different branches, as some chose to bury instead of cremating. Also it was seen in the variations of followers locality, for instance in western countries some laws prevent certain rituals to be performed in public. Though, beliefs about death and dying are not subjected to change as much, as many branches still do up hold the beliefs about karma and reincarnation.
Bibliography
Books
Subramuniya, (2001). Living with Siva. India: Himalayan Academy. p. 750.
Subramuniya was very useful in this investigation. This book on living with Siva demonstrated the everyday rituals and beliefs involved in Hinduism. It was helpful in providing an in-depth overview of Hinduism’s beliefs that surround death and the customs/rituals that occur; it was also information that corroborated with various other sources. This is is reliable as it is published by India: Himalayan Academy.
Websites
About, (2014). The Most Important Hindu Rites and Rituals. [online] Available at: http://hinduism.about.com/od/basics/a/rites_rituals_5.htm [Accessed 11 Oct. 2014]. This reliable source provided the basis of information necessary in this investigation. About, was very useful, as it provided an basic understanding to all aspects of Hinduism’s funerals, as well as specific differences in beliefs and rituals by different branches. This source was also used in determining the reliability of other sources. With this source it was determined that sources such as Beliefnet was in fact reliable.
Australia.angloinfo.com, (2014). Death & Dying in Australia | Australia. [online] Available at: http://australia.angloinfo.com/healthcare/death-dying/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2014].
This reliable source provided the difference in customs practiced by Hindu’s in Australia. Australia.angloinfo.com provided an in-depth description of laws that prohibit and allow certain rituals to occur in Australia. It was reliable as it had direct references to Australian laws. This corroborated and helped with answering the Australian prospective of this investigation.
Bbc.co.uk, (2014). BBC - GCSE Bitesize: Funeral rites. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/rs/death/hindudeathritesrev1.shtml [Accessed 13 Oct. 2014].
British Broadcasting Company, was a reliable source in providing in-depth/basic information about Hinduism. This source was useful in providing the basic fundamentals of this investigation, as it assisted in gaining and answering Hindu’s beliefs and rituals around death. It is an reliable source, as the BBC is an educating/informing company.
Bibliography
Beliefnet, (2014). Rites of Transition: Hindu Death Rituals. [online] Available at: http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Hinduism/2001/02/Rites-Of-Transition-Hindu-Death-Rituals.aspx [Accessed 12 Oct. 2014].
This reliable source provided the basis of information necessary in this investigation. Beliefnet, was very useful, as it provided an basic understanding to Hinduisms rituals and beliefs surrounding funerals, as well as specific differences in beliefs and rituals by different branches of Hinduism. This source was reliable as it corroborated with other source such as About and BBC.
Encyclopedia.com, (2005). Hinduism Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Hinduism. [online] Available at: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Hinduism.aspx [Accessed 12 Oct. 2014].
Encyclopedia, was a reliable source that provided an in-depth overview of Hinduisms beliefs. It provided key information on beliefs about death in Hinduism. This was significant to the investigation and was constructive to read. Encyclopedia was helpful in assuring other sources were reliable, for instance About. Reliability was assured as Encyclopedia has a rich history of information databases that corroborate with many sources.
Mailerindia.com, (2014). Hindu Way of Life. [online] Available at: http://mailerindia.com/hindu/veda/index.php?death [Accessed 12 Oct. 2014].
Mailerindia, provided an basic understanding of Hindu’s everyday lifestyles. It was an important sources that assisted in answering Hinduism’s beliefs and customs surrounding death. The internet source corroborated with many other sources. This corroborated helped the reassurance of the reliability and trustworthiness of the site and the information provided.
Sacred-texts.com, (2014). Sacred-Texts: Hinduism. [online] Available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/ [Accessed 11 Oct. 2014].
Sacred-texts, was important in providing evidence for beliefs and rituals. This internet source, provided specific verses from sacred Hinduism texts. It was an reliable source, as it corroborated with many sources, such as Encyclopedia. The source was reassuring of other sacred text passages and useful in determining other passages reliability.
Bibliography
The White Hindu, (2014). Hinduism 101: What do Hindus Believe?. [online] Available at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu/2013/09/hinduism-101-what-do-hindus-believe/ [Accessed 14 Oct. 2014].
The White Hindu, was important in providing an point of view from an Hindu. This source provided an Hindu’s views on what Hindu’s believe. It was an important key in answering the differences in Hinduism branches. The source was reliable as it corroborated with many other sources in particular Encyclopedia.

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...April Agresti Humanities – World Religion 03/24/2016 Understanding Primal, Antiquity, and India Religions There are many different types of religions around the world. Some of them are monotheistic, meaning that they only believe in one God, and some are polytheistic, meaning that they believe in more than one God, or nondualist, meaning that sacred reality cannot be numbered at all. Some examples of these religions are Australian Aboriginal groups, Native American Indians, African religions, Mesopotamian, Zoroastrianism, Greek, Celtics, Germanic, Hinduism, Jains, and Sikhs. Most of these religions have been practiced for centuries and are still practiced today. There are many similarities and many different ways of these religions. However, within these religions, we are able to compare and contrast some of their religious beliefs, their overall ideas, and how they try to satisfy their human needs. Primal definition is, “original,” the Australian Aborigines, Native American Indians, and African religions are primal religions. “Aborginigine,” means from the beginning. Aboriginal religion is best understood for a vision of the nature and how they are linked and connected with nature and everything around it. Aboriginal spiritually entails a close relationship between humans and the lands. They call the beginning of the world the “Dreaming” or “Dreamtime.” In the “Dreamtime,” aboriginal “Ancestors” rose from below......

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