In Hinduism, is there a belief in the afterlife and, if so, how is it achieved?
Belief in the concept of afterlife, achieved through reincarnation, is central to Hinduism. Hindus believe that there is a cyclical nature to existence in which humans repeatedly live and die – known as samsara -- each time emerging in a different form. In effect, the soul continues to live, inhabiting new life forms, for as many years or centuries as necessary until it reaches the state of Nirvana, at which point it is released from this cycle, a process known as moksha. Entering the process of moksha is the goal to which all Hindus aspire, adherents of Hinduism believe that all living things are destined for this state of being. How many cycles of rebirth an individual experiences is a product of his or her karma, meaning the individual’s deeds, and how those deeds affected the world around him or her. Karma can be good or bad, but it exists universally and the balance is determinative of how many cycles of life one experiences. As the goal in Hinduism is the attainment of a state of Nirvana, which requires one to live a moral life, then actions that adversely affect the environment around him or her – in other words, bad karma – condemn one to be reborn following death into a life more wretched than the current or previous one.
Hinduism an ancient and extraordinarily complicated religion. The concept of an afterlife, however, is one of its central tenets.