What is death in Hinduism

The burial culture of Hinduism

What is nirvana, how is cleansing before burial, and what happens before and after the death of a Hindi?

Various religious systems are merged in Hinduism. The formation is believed to have been around 1,200 BC. dated in India. Today it is mainly found in India and Southeast Asia. According to Hindu belief, humans consist of the five elements fire, water, air, earth and space.

Belief in death and rebirth

Death and life form a cycle that a Hindu tries to break through with karma, with his deeds. The goal is Brahman Nirvana, becoming one with the Eternal and Absolute. Personal karma, which is made up of positive and negative actions, is decisive for the form in which a Hindu is reborn. Because of the caste system, one cannot convert to Hinduism.
Hindus believe in rebirth. Every living being has an immortal soul called an Atman. The Atman is like another body in the human body, consisting of thoughts and feelings, the Eternal of the human being. To dissolve it, the skull is smashed and the corpse is burned so that the Atman returns to Brahman.

Hindu rituals around death

The rituals at burial differ depending on the caste, region and status. The dying are placed with their heads facing south, as Yama, the god of the dead, is believed to be there. It is important that the dead be cleansed. The purification of the soul goes hand in hand with the purification of the body. The corpse is placed on a chair and washed under running water. The floor of the washroom should have a drain. Cloths dipped in holy water envelop the anointed corpse, which is carried out of the house through a back door, feet first.

Death - liberation

On the day of death, the cremation takes place at the stake. Children under five years of age, sadhus (mendicants) and lepers are lowered into the Ganges as far as possible, as they are not burned. Women have to stand at some distance because they are not allowed to enter it.
The cremation ceremony is public. As a symbol for the five elements, the relatives circle the square five times in a clockwise direction. If possible, the firstborn son lights the fire. In women it is ignited at the foot end, in men on the other hand at the head end. The fire is from a temple because it is supposed to be holy. Then the head is smashed; ritually the spirit and the atman dissolve and death occurs.

Until 1829 the women burned themselves with their deceased husbands. However, this ritual has since been banned. The custom of giving the ashes to nature is very old and unbroken. After three days, the ashes of the deceased are scattered in the Ganges or in the holy water of a river or sea. Earth is one of the elements, so the ashes can also be buried in the earth. There are parallels to Buddhism here.
In Germany, the deceased is cremated in the crematorium, so there is a cremation, since neither a pyre nor the smashing of the skull are allowed. Participation in the cremation is possible, as is the organization of an appropriate ceremony with relatives. We are happy to make everything possible for the funeral within the framework of the legal regulations, please contact us at any time if you have any questions.

Death does not mean despair, but liberation, transition from an old to a new existence. Death is familiar to the Hindus and is present in everyday life. Still, they mourn. A shaved head is seen by the sons as a sign of mourning. In memory of the deceased, candles are given to flowing water. Offerings are made on every day of death. This ritual, Shaddra, may only be performed by men and also increases their positive karma.