Afterlife In Christianity And Hinduism

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Christianity and Hinduism are very different religions and practiced by very different people. First, while Hinduism is monotheistic, they believe that many gods make up one Brahman. The gods are all equal to each other, but Hindus typically favor one over the others. Christianity is also monotheistic, but he is the only one who is worshipped. There are not multiple gods that create him. Also, Christianity is practiced by mostly westernized countries. Hinduism is primarily practiced in India and southeast Asia. There are many differences and similarities between the afterlife in Christianity and Hinduism. I believe Christian afterlife sounds better than Hindu afterlife.

Christian afterlife, in my opinion, is easier to understand than Hindu afterlife. Christianity derived from Judaism when Jesus started teaching his beliefs. Jesus started as a Jewish man, but he did not agree with the Jewish law. For example, he did not agree with the dietary restrictions required for Jews. He believed that what comes out of the mouth matters more than what goes in. Jewish people would not eat pork because they believed it was a dirty animal. However, Christians believed the words one says matters more than what one eats. This is why Christianity does not have dietary restrictions. Jesus started converting Jewish people into Christians by sharing his beliefs and people started following. Christianity was appealing for women because they had more rights. It was also appealing to people from all races because anyone could be a Christian. The death of Jesus spread the religion rapidly. He was arrested by the Romans and sentenced to death. He was crucified and nailed to the cross. They left him to die but when the Romans returned to check on him, he was no longer there. Jesus was resurrected by God.

Christians follow the commandments. There are ten and these are the biggest rules to follow. For example, one of the commandments is “thou shall not murder” and if you break this it is a sin. Also, one cannot worship any other God because he is the only one. There are many more ways one can sin, but these are the most important.

Christians believe that the body is not important in the afterlife. Christ lives in one’s soul and the body just houses the soul. When one is alive the body is important. If one defies their body, they are defying Christ. A lot of the bible is up to interpretation and that is why there are so many denominations. Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian are examples of Christian denominations. All the denominations developed from the same Bible. They all have different leaders and they follow different rules.

Some denominations believe that after one dies, they remain asleep until judgement day. On that day god will decide whether one goes to heaven or hell. According to Angela Sumegi, “finally, on the Day of Judgment, all will be resurrected to receive their eternal reward or punishment. In both cases the body is necessary in order that the identity of the person be fully restored to bear the punishment of hellfire or the beatitude of heaven” (118). Some denominations believe that the body is important for afterlife. Heaven is a place of eternal rest where one is reunited with god. Hell is a place where one goes for eternal punishment. God determines where one goes as he is the judge.

Other denominations believe after death everyone either goes to Heaven or Hell immediately. To get into heaven one must, accept the lord as the savior, get baptized, and live a sinless life. One must ask for forgiveness for his sins. In heaven the deceased enjoy the presence of god and loved ones for eternity.

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The origins of Hinduism are even more confusing than Christianity. Hinduism, to many scholars, is believed to be world’s oldest religion. Hinduism is unique because it’s a collection of traditions and philosophies. Hinduism is more than a religion. It is like a way of life. The Vedas are the oldest Hindu scriptures. According to Angela Sumegi “The Vedas consist of four the Rig , Sama , Yajur , and Atharva , composed centuries from major collections: over a period of approximately 1750 to 600 BCE . In these collections we find hymns in praise of various gods, instructions for ritual sacrifices, as well as more contemplative, philosophic writing” (165-166). These Vedic texts no longer represent their beliefs, but these were the earliest texts. The urbanization of India led to the rise of new movements.

While one might think Hinduism is polytheistic it is actually monotheistic. The main god is named Brahman and there are many gods under him. Because the Hindus believe that all the gods make up the Brahman then it is monotheistic. However, typically Hindus worship one of the gods more than Brahman. For example, Kali is one of these gods. Kali is a god of creation but also destruction. She often destroys things she is supposed to protect. According to Kinsley “Although she may be said to serve order in her role as slayer of demons, more often than not, she becomes so frenzied on the battlefielcl, usually becoming drunk on the blood of her victims, that she herself begins to destroy the world that she is supposed to protect. Thus even in the service of the gods, she is ultimately dangerous and tends to get out of control” (28). She is also referenced as a god of destruction because she enjoys tearing things apart.

In my opinion life after death is much simpler in Hinduism but it is also much harder to reach. Samsara is the cycle of death and rebirth. It is a long process over multiple lifetimes. Karma affects how one is rebirthed. Everything a person does is either fueled into good karma or bad Karma. According to Sumegi, “ Karma is a word meaning “action.” In the Vedic period, it referred to the ritual action of the sacrifice that brought about effects such as good crops and wealth. By the time of the Upanishads, karma becomes associated with intention and will, positive or negative, and according to one’s positively or negatively intentioned deeds, one proceeds after death to positive or negative states” (175). Karma influences what state one is reborn into. India operates under a caste system and that is what state refers to. Good karma moves one up the caste system while bad karma moves one down the caste system during rebirth.

Rebirth happens until one reaches liberation. There are three paths to liberation,

Karma yoga, jnana yoga, bhakti yoga. Karma yoga is not what it sounds like. Karma yoga is simply acting without hope of reward or fearing punishment. Basically karma yoga is dedicating ones life to serve god. Jnana yoga is studying the scriptures of Hinduism. One has to analyze and read the texts very carefully. Sumegi states “The path and discipline of knowledge ( jnana yoga ) refers to the study of the scriptures and philosophic analysis through which one comes to understand the nature of ignorance and the ways in which human beings are bound or released. Beyond mere book knowledge, however, is the knowledge or realization of the innermost essence ( atman ) arising from the yogic discipline of restraining the senses in meditation” (185). The last type of yoga is bhakti yoga, devoting ones life to god. This is the easiest path of liberation because it is more accessible to people. One does not have to be rich to practice bhakti yoga. All of these lead to understanding that the atman and the brahman are connected. Atman is the individual soul. Brahman is the universal ground of existence. Once someone realizes that these things are the same then they are liberated to eternal rest.

Hinduism and Christianity are two very different religions. Hindus believe in rebirth while some Christians do, and others do not. There are many different types of Christianity and only one of Hinduism. However, Christians and Hindus both worship their god and find reparation for their sins. Both are held accountable for their actions and their destination after they die is affected by them. Hindus have a lot of literature while Christians only have one, the bible. They also celebrate various holidays. The big holidays in Christianity are Christmas, Easter, and Good Friday. These holidays all are to celebrate Jesus Christ and they fall on important days. Christmas is celebrated because of the birth of Jesus. Easter is to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Good Friday is a day to remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Diwali is the Hindu new year. Holi represents that spring is coming.

The Christian afterlife sounds better than the Hindu afterlife in my opinion. Once I die, I would rather go to either eternal rest or eternal punishment. Being reborn to me seems like it is almost a punishment. I would not want to have to keep being rebirthed until I get to the highest caste system.

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Afterlife In Christianity And Hinduism. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/afterlife-in-christianity-and-hinduism/
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Afterlife In Christianity And Hinduism [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 24 [cited 2024 May 25]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/afterlife-in-christianity-and-hinduism/
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