Hinduism and Christianity

The beliefs about death and afterlife are important in many major world religious. These beliefs relate to rewards and punishment, good and evil in the afterlife.  This paper reviews religious beliefs and practices about death and afterlife from the perspective of Christianity and Hinduism.

Both Hinduism and Christianity have an interpretation of death and afterlife. Hindus

beliefs about death revolve around the doctrine of reincarnation (samsara); the notion that souls are reborn in new bodies until the cycle of death and rebirth is broken (BBC Para 2). Reincarnation may occur immediately after death or exist in other realms (Common Elements of religions.). This concept is central part of Hindu beliefs about what takes place after death. Where an atman goes is considered as part of an ongoing journey and a phase of rebirth from one form to another.

The aim of reincarnation is to help free atman from beyond death. Liberation takes places when atman achieves oneness with Brahman (Thrane 344). Death is not feared but cerebrated. Hindus believe that while the body dies the souls keeps recycling in different forms until it achieves its proper nature. According to Hinduism, a person’s deeds (Karma) deter mines what form one is reborn into. A person with good deeds will inhabit a better form (higher existence) in the next life.

By contrast, Christian beliefs and practices regarding death and afterlife center on the death and resurrection of Christ. These beliefs are based on the concepts of resurrection, judgment, heaven and hell (Marshall 19).  Christians believe there is life after death and that Jesus is the true way to life. Christians often believe in the Jesus’ teachings in John 11:24-27, “I am the resurrection and the way. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.’ Christians or followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ and disciples believe the soul lives on after death.

Hindus view death in a more positive way. They do not mourn the death of the loved ones. Death is an important part of a continuous cycle to achieve oneness with Brahman (supreme spirit). Achieving oneness with Brahman is considered important because the soul is able to attain complete satisfaction and ultimately separate from the desires of human flesh (BBC Para 2). Brahman is the unitary spirit that ties together the universe. In Christianity, death is not the end but eternity in heaven or hell is. Christians hold that one dies only once, after which the spirit is judged. After judgment, the spirit exists for eternity.

Whereas Buddhists believe in the doctrine of reincarnation, Christians believe in bodily resurrection.  According to Christian Scripture and Jesus’ teachings, Christians will come before God for judgment in which Christian believers are sent to eternal heaven and the rest to eternal hell. Those who have accepted Jesus’ teachings, received grace and forgiveness in this present life will celebrate eternal existence in the presence of God in the afterlife (Marshall 61). On the other hand, those who reject grace and forgiveness through the exercise of their own freewill will end in eternal hell.

At the end of their life, people will encounter an ultimate choice to side with or reject God. The decision they make will determine if one goes to heaven or hell during the Day of Judgment. On the Judgment Day, the death will be raised and face judgment alongside those still alive.

Heaven is living with God while Hell is a separation from God. Souls of good Christian believers go directly to heaven while souls of nonbelievers go directly to hell. Hindus hold that a person’s atman goes back to the earth to take another form through reincarnation.

Although Hindus believe in afterlife, their belief is quite different from that of Christians. Hindus hold that there are several realms or worlds an atman can go during the cycle of death and rebirth. These realms include Bhluh, Tapah, Mahah, Swah, Bhavah, Janah, Patala, Talatala, Vitala, Atala, and Rasatala (Thrane 343).  Life and death in Hinduism are interlinked in samsara (one continuous cycle). Each individual has a soul called the atman. The atman leaves the body once one dies and is reborn into another form.  Hindus hold that the atman can take any form, including an insect, animal or human.

Christian funerals reflect beliefs and practices about afterlife. Christians consider it necessary to preserve and bury their loved ones because the remains will be part of the bodily resurrection. A mass is held in a church before the burial in which candles are lit, prayers said and flowers displayed.

Religious ministers and leaders say prayers at funerals for the death demonstrating the significance of a relationship with God. In addition, they cite biblical texts that relate to resurrection through faith, such as John 11:25.  In Hinduism, the physical body is immediately cremated after death. Hindus do not preserve or treat the physical body after death because they believe it serves no useful purpose.

They cremate their dead as they hold it is the fastest way to set the atman free and facilitate reincarnation. Hindu funeral rites and rituals include mantras or chants led by a priest.


Death and life after death are important in Christianity and Hinduism as they influence our actions and deeds in the current life. Both Christianity and Hinduism believe in life after death. However, the approach the Hindus take is different from that of Christians. The Hindus believe in incarceration of the soul after the dead of the physical body while Christians believe in resurrection, judgment and eternity in hell or heaven. While both religions accept death as inevitable, the funeral rituals and rites are different.

Works Cited

Thrane, S. Hindu End of Life, Death, Dying, Suffering, and Karma. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing Care, 12.6(2010), – p 343-344

BBC. Life after Death. BBC, 2020, bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zhxpr82/revision/3.

Marshall, David. Death, Resurrection, and Human Destiny: Christian and Muslim Perspectives : a Record of the Eleventh Building Bridges Seminar Convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, King’s College London and Canterbury Cathedral, April 23-25, 2012. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2014. Internet resource.

Common Elements of religions. Sophia. tutorials-common-elements-of-religions (1).pdf

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