Hinduism is probably the oldest faith known to humankind and is the third-largest belief system after Christianity and Islam. It was founded in India and most of its adherents live there and other locations in Southeast Asia. Practitioners refer to their faith as "Sanātana Dharma," which means "eternal law" in Sanskrit.
Hindism has evolved over time and there are many variations. For virtually all groups the final goal of salvation is to escape from endless reincarnation by embracing a loving personal God or by dissolving the personality entirely in the "abyss of Brahman."
An Overview of Beliefs
Hindus do not have a definite set of doctrines like other faith systems. Hindu beliefs are primarily an ancient collection of practices based upon Vedic traditions. Regardless of the sect of Hinduism, most believe in Dharma (ethics/duties), Samsāra (the endless cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth), Karma (action and subsequent reaction), Moksha (liberation from samsara), and the various Yogas (paths or practices).
Hinduism is a spiritual practice with a focus on faith and love and a hope for self-realization.
Views on Death and the After-Life
Hindus believe in reincarnation. They believe in the law of Karma, which teaches that good actions lead to a good future and that the actions lead to a bad future. However, Karma is not something that happens immediately and many cycles of life are required to come to a time when ones Karmic status is settled. The cycle may go on for millions of years.
Mourning and Funeral Rites
When a physical life ends, a Hindu funeral is usually held within 24 hours. Friends and families go to the home of the family where the body is displayed. It is considered polite to bring flowers, and they are placed upon the body. Hindus are traditionally cremated.
How to Express your Condolences
You can express your condolences in the usual ways, by expressing your sense of loss with the surviving spouse or with close family members. Traditionally, a condolence gift of fruit is given to the family if you attend the funeral. Otherwise a later visit, or a card or letter, is an appropriate way to convey your sense of loss with the family.
Important note: The statements made about beliefs and rites are general in nature and may vary by sect, denomination, country or ethnic group. The information provided here is intended as an overview, and if you have questions about specific matters you should contact the clergy or other person conducting the funeral service.If you read anything in this section that differs from the beliefs in your tradition, please contact usso we can update this page.