Death and Dying in Hinduism and Buddhism

Death and Dying- Customs and Rituals Hinduism and Buddhism Religious and cultural beliefs play a significant role in the processes of death and dying. These beliefs have created rituals that provide a conceptual framework for understanding the experience of death. Cultures across the world have different, unique rituals surrounding death and dying. This can be proven by comparing Hinduism and Buddhism. Their pre-death rituals, burial rites and concepts of afterlife are very different. Hindus and Buddhists have diverse pre-death rituals. When death is imminent, Hindus are brought home to die.
They are placed in either their room or the entryway of their house with their head facing east. A lamp is lit near their head, and the person is encouraged to focus on their mantra. The Hinduism religion states that a mantra is a word repeated during mediation. Family members sing hymns, pray and read scripture for the dying person. When Buddhists are dying, it is up to their family to keep them positive. Loved ones must free themselves of disturbing emotion. It is their responsibility to help the dying person accept death as a natural and inevitable part of life.
Hindus rituals are scripted, religious and self-dependant while Buddhist’s rituals are low-maintenance and mostly dependant on family members. In conclusion, Hinduism and Buddhism are very different in regards to pre-death rituals. Hinduism beliefs about the afterlife vary significantly from Buddhism beliefs. Hindus believe that humans go through a never-ending cycle of birth and death. Hindus believe in karma. Karma is “action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation: in Hinduism one of the means of reaching Brahman” (Collins English Dictionary, Web).

Buddhists believe that every soul is reborn until it has been cleansed. In Buddhism, the goal is to achieve Nirvana. Nirvana is “freedom from the endless cycle of personal reincarnations, with their consequent suffering, as a result of the extinction of individual passion, hatred, and delusion. ” (Collins English Dictionary, Web). Superficially, these two rituals seem similar, but differences can be found on a deeper level. Hinduism is a never-ending cycle, while Buddhism can be escaped. The biggest difference between Hinduism and Buddhism is their burial rites. Hindu families prepare heir deceased with oil and herbs. The body is carried on a wooden frame to a publically designated cremation site where mourners chant mantras. After the body has been cremated, bits of bone and ash that remain are collected and strewn into the Holy River. Ten days after the cremation, family members offer ten pindas to the river to feed the spirit of the deceased on its travels to the next incarnation. Buddhists hold simple, solemn funerals. They believe it is unnecessary to spend a lot of money on traditional ceremonies. During the viewing, an altar is set up in front of the casket.
Mourners can place offerings such as fruit, flowers and candles on the altar. Images of the Buddha and deceased person are placed in front of the altar. These religions are different because Hindus burials are elaborate and expensive, while Buddhists burials are simple, practical and inexpensive. Burial rites reveal how different Hinduism and Buddhism are. Hinduism and Buddhism have very different pre-death rituals, concepts of afterlife and burial rites. This proves that all religions have a unique set of traditions surrounding death and dying. These traditions help shape religion and create a diverse society.
Bibliography Hitchcock, Susan Tyler. Geography of Religion: Where God Lives, Where Pilgrims Walk. Washington DC: National Geographic Society, 2004. Print. Berhad, Koperasi Buddhisme Malaysia. A Guide to a Proper Buddhist Funeral. Sea Park: Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc, 2000. Print. Collins English Dictionary. “Karma. ” Dictionary Reference. 2009. HarperCo Publishers. March 6, 2013 < http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/karma> Collins English Dictionary. “Nirvana. ” Dictionary Reference. 2009. HarperCo Publishers. March 6, 2013 < http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/nirvana>

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