How often have you heard that nothing in life is certain, it always keeps changing? Well, this statement is almost true except for one tiny fact, life comes with one certainty – DEATH. However, the question remains what after that?
Does the entity of our being end with the death of the physical self or the consciousness go on living? These are the questions, almost every human being once asked in their lifetime.
Though there is no scientific backing for the existence of consciousness or soul, there are numerous theories. While the scientific community stays divided on this matter, the religious groups have formed their own beliefs about the existence of the soul.
In this article, we will take a tour to understand how afterlife and soul are viewed across different religions, from ancient to new.
The soul after the death of the body is sent to the underworld. Known as Hades, it is ruled by the Lord of the Dead. The soul first passes a river which acts as the bridge between life and death. Once crossed, it will be assigned to stay at a particular level of the underworld. Elysium is sunny and pleasant of all. Then there is Tartarus in which those who are rebellious or blasphemed against the gods are assigned. It is the worst of all. There is also a place called Asphodel Fields where those souls are kept whose goodness equals their sins.
Unlike other religions, the soul is not doomed to serve in hell or enjoy heaven forever. This is because Hindus believe there is no death for the soul. The soul, according to The Bhagavad Gita, reborn as a human or lower animal form according to their deeds during a lifetime. However, between this period of dying and being born, they are either sent to hell for suffering or heaving for a pleasurable time. The soul finally gains freedom when it reaches Nirvana and becomes one with the supreme power.
According to an article published on BBC, reincarnation until liberation defines belief of the Jain followers. They believe good and bad karma guides the path of the soul after death. The soul continues with the process of birth until it reaches liberation. However, being reborn is not easy as before every rebirth the soul goes through numerous stages of torture.
A religion that took birth from Hinduism holds almost similar view on the aspect of afterlife and soul. They believe that someone's deed in their lifetime determines the fate of the soul after death. Either the soul will go through great agony or merge up with the god.
300 years older than Christianity, there still exists some followers of this religion in Greece and other parts of the world. They believe in many gods and also that everything along with soul is made up of atoms. They do not have the concept of hell or heaven or reincarnation. The believers of this religion believe that when someone dies the soul dissolves and end.
As mentioned in Bibleinfo.com, doing good leads a soul to heaven and doing bad pushes it to hell. Like many religions, these good and bad deeds are determined by religious scriptures. Christians believe being born is a blessing from Jesus while who refuses to born again is punished severely.
This is one of the newest religions which is practiced in North Korea where the first dictator of the country Kim Il-sung is worshiped. This socio-political organization believes that when someone dies, their soul reunites with the first president.
They believe in a concept that is similar to heaven and hell. The placement of the soul depends on the behavior of a person in their lifetime. However, every soul needs to cross a bridge called Chinvat Bridge. The good souls pass it with ease while the sinners are dragged into hell as the bridge collapses.
It's said that the men who closely follow the religious teachings will receive 72 virgins after going to heaven. They also have a similar place like hell where the other souls will suffer for eternity.
Like many other religions, Buddhism also believes in the rebirth of soul till liberation. It is said that the soul becomes free when it reaches Nirvana, the ultimate stage of happiness and peace.
The followers of this religion have a very different concept of the soul. They believe that the soul, after the death of the physical body, passes on to the realm where the spirits reside. Known as the spirit world, the souls continue to thrive along with their consciousness. Also, they are capable of interacting with the physical world through a medium.
It is believed that the soul has its root in the divine and returns to the place after the death of the physical body. Also, the time on earth is a period of punishment for the soul.
The followers of this religion believe in Universalism. They believe that there is no torture for the souls and ultimately everyone will be saved. Also, heaven and hell are symbolic places for the consciousness.
Being one among the ancient religions that existed, there is a clear division regarding the placement of the souls. The ones who died in battle go to a heaven-like place Valhalla. The ones who died outside battle but were not involved in bad deeds goes to Hel (Helheim).
There are approximately 7 million people following this religion. They believe the soul to be good and eternal which reaches closer to the god with death. However, they don't have any concept of hell or heaven. They argue these are not actual places but symbolic ones that help someone to get close to the god.
Where do you think your soul will go? Will it die with the death of your body? Share your thoughts in the comments.