Afterlife is a belief that even after death, some part of us or the important part of us continues to live somewhere.
Some cultures connect life to the afterlife by talking about rebirth or reincarnations. They believe that after someone dies, they take birth somewhere new to start a new life cycle. They generally do not have any memory of their past life.
These people believe that rebirths take place again and again till a particular person is not accepted in some the spiritual world and finally obtains nirvana.
Others have faith in the idea that the soul of a dead person goes to a place according to their actions in their life. This gives rise to hell and heaven. The place that each soul will go to after death is decided by god.
Connection to Afterlife: Reincarnation
This is a physical concept telling how a human being starts a new cycle of life by entering into a new body after death.
It is a central belief of all Indian religions too like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. This idea of rebirth can be found in many other regions too like East Asia, Siberia, Australia and South America.
Connection to Afterlife: Buddhism
In this culture, it is said that rebirth takes place without the change of soul. They say that rebirth will be determined by the actions that a person does in their whole life.
This means that in case one has been bad and has committed harmful actions, then the person is likely to get born in a lower realm, like in the body of an animal.
Buddhists believe that because of their karma, they have formed their own separate worlds where they can go after death in order to keep learning more about Buddhism. They call this land the Pure Land.
On the other hand, Tibetan Buddhism describes another relation between death and rebirth. It says that the dead will see a bright light of wisdom which will show it a straight path in order to leave the cycle of reincarnation.
However, there are many reasons why the dead won’t follow the path shown by the light. One can be that they were never told about it when alive and thus are clueless about the meaning of the light. Others can be that most of them simply follow instincts and others are too scared to follow the light.
Connection to Afterlife: Hinduism
Bhagavad Gita, the very famous Hindu scripture talks a lot about rebirth. Krishna in this book has told that we human change souls just the way we change clothes.
In Hinduism, it is believed that body is nothing but a shell keeping the soul inside it safe. While the soul is indestructible. The soul will thus take a lot of births in order to remain eternal.
The end of the cycle is called Mukti and if one tends to stay with god forever, it called moksha.
On the other hand, Garud Purana, another Hindu scripture talks a great deal about what happens after death. It says that the god of death, Yama sends his representative on earth to take the soul of the dead.
Yama has the record of everyone’s deeds and it is there that Yama decides whether a particular soul should be sent to hell or heaven.
According to this scripture, the soul travels down south along a very narrow and dark path and this the reason why oil lamps are kept on the side of the dead body.
Connection to Afterlife: Sikhism
Sikhism believes in an afterlife and has the notion that the soul is a part of a spiritual universe that belongs to the almighty. However, there have been debates about this belief.
Some Sikhs believe in reward and punishments as described in verses of Guru Granth Sahib, while others take these verses just metaphorically.
However, if carefully examined, this scripture talks a great deal about the afterlife and the existence of hell as well as heaven.
According to Sikhs, a human form is the closest form to god and one will attain proper salvation in this form. They consider hell and heave to be temporary places of punishment.
The Gurus said that nothing in this whole universe ever dies, it just keeps on changing forms. Thus, the soul never does, it is a part of god and will belong to him forever.
Here are some beliefs of the various Indian religions on how life is connected to the afterlife. Most of them revolve around the idea of rebirth and eternal soul.