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World Religions

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The Comparative Study of Immortality in Hinduism, Christianity and Islam
The concept of life after death is different in every religion. Some religions believe that the soul lives on after one dies, while others believe that the soul dies along with the body. Immortality is defined as the indefinite continuation of a person’s existence, even after death. Three very diverse religions that believe in these concepts would be Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.
According to Islam, it is believed that the life span of an individual predetermined by God. After death each Muslim must wait until the Day of Judgment, which is known only to God, for resurrection. Prior to the day of resurrection there will appear an anti-Christ figure, who shall be defeated upon the return of Jesus. A golden age of peace will follow and at its end will be the day of resurrection. The Quran implies that resurrection will be corporal, although Islam, like Christianity, is open to non-literal text interpretations. After resurrection every individual must stand before God to answer for his or her actions in their life. Each will be given a record of their deeds, which they will have to answer for. Upon the passing of judgment the wicked individuals, will be separated from the righteous ones. It is also believed that God will spare those who are genuinely remorseful, but the wicked will be sent to hell. It is said that the image of hell is of unbearable heat and suffering. The destination for the righteous is Heaven. The image of heaven is of two gardens both filled with abundance. These images of both heaven and hell show that in Islam the afterlife for those individuals who are considered righteous experience God’s grace and those individuals who are considered wicked experience his wrath.
Just like Islamic beliefs of life after death, Christianity somewhat believes in the same concept with a little bit of a difference. A common belief of some Christians is that at death their consciousness in the form of their soul departs from the body and head of the individual for heaven or hell. Christians also believe that one day God will raise all the people who have ever lived and judge them. Christians believe that depending on your deeds, after you die, you will either be sent to heaven or hell. Heaven is where God places the believers so they can be free from suffering and sins. But when people disobey God, they will be placed in hell to be punished.
According to Hinduism, there is a life after death. They believe in reincarnation, which is the belief that life is a continuous cycle. It is said that every deed and action that we perform on earth leads to the accumulation of karma. When the permitted living time is over for that individual, an estimation of a final karma is made for them and he/she is reborn on earth based on his karma. Good deeds often lead to positive karma, whereas bad deeds lead to negative karma. The karma from previous lives are accumulated throughout the following births. This process continues until the soul attains a stage where there is only positive karma, this is called moksha. The fastest way to attain moksha is kali yuga, which is said to be devotion. Sincere devotion to the gods takes away your bad karma. It is said that no amount of temple visits, nor expenses can replace the devotion that is in your heart. Karma is the belief that if you live a good life and do good deeds, you will receive happiness in the afterlife. However, if you do bad deeds and live a bad life, you will be punished. After a Hindu dies they believe in reincarnation. The idea of reincarnation is when a person dies their soul is reborn into new lives, usually in a different form depending on their karma of their previous life.

The Nature and Role of Hinduism
In Hinduism, rituals of the religion are always meant to express feelings of devotion and to bring about the divine orientation of human life. A devoted Hindu is expected to perform certain rituals every day beginning from early in the morning until the evening. Rituals of Hinduism include making offerings to the Gods, to all beings and to the departed souls especially before partaking in any food, showing hospitality to others and continuous remembrance of God through recitation of the Vedas or some holy scripture. Morning rituals often include bathing or physical purification, offering prayers to the Sun and chanting the Gayatri mantra. Puja, which is know as worship, of the gods consists of a range of ritual offerings and prayers typically performed either daily or on special days before an image of the deity, which may be in the form of a person or a symbol of the sacred presence. In its more developed forms, a puja consists of a series of ritual stages beginning with personal purification and invocation of the god, followed by offerings of flowers, food, or other objects such as clothing, accompanied by prayers.
Some dedicated worshipers and devotees perform these ceremonies daily at their home shrines. While others travel to a temple to perform puja, alone or with the aid of temple priests who receive offerings and present these offerings to the gods of their choice. The gifts given to the gods become sacred through contact with their images or with their shrines, and may be received and used by worshipers as the grace of the divine.
It is a known fact that a frequent amount of these practices were confined to the upper castes of Hindu society in the past and many still follow them today, but not with the same amount of devotion and enthusiasm. Most of these rituals have been in recent times either discontinued or replaced by short and simple practices reflecting the changing nature of the Hindu society. The new forms of daily routines and rituals of present day Hinduism include performance of puja, practicing mediation and yoga, recitation of Holy Scriptures, reading religious books, participating in satsang, doing some charitable work, visiting temples and holy places, or chanting a mantra or the name of a specific God. The religious marks, previously mentioned, which the Hindus used to apply in the past on various parts of their body in a manner prescribed by the scriptures, have now become a rare sight and in some cases have been replaced by a simple mark called tilak, either on the forehead or between the eye brows. Many modern Hindus do not wear any religious marks at all on their bodies, although the women still sport a tilak on their foreheads.
Hindus recited these rituals as a way to find peace and balance with nature and man’s self. But as civilization progressed, the humankind searched within and found that there is also an internal nature--the mind. Mind has its desires, ambitions and weaknesses. Man can become greedy, angry, and in the fit of anger and greed, he can do evil deeds, which might cause suffering to him and others. It was realized that to conquer our mind it is more difficult than the conquest of our enemies. So, man started finding a way to conquer this internal nature. The religious way is essentially the method of the conquest of the internal nature or the mind. A person who fully conquers his passions, desires, likes and dislikes, aversions and attachment, even his love for life and fear of death, such a man in India is called Mahavir, the great conqueror. Such a person is worshipped as God because he or she has manifested divinity. Conclusively, the nature and role of Hinduism is a beautiful part of the Hindu religion. It allows an individual to practice rituals that brings peace within himself or herself and also allows them to be one with themself, earth and nature.…...

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