Hindu Eschatology

David M. Knipe

in The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology

Published in print December 2007 |
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

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In a survey of the extensive, complex, and cumulative history of Hinduism, it might be opportune to divide personal and cosmic eschatologies. Similarly, it could be convenient to separate the early from the classical history of Hinduism and concentrate solely on the latter. The early history, framed by a sacrificial world view and veering toward an almost mechanistic understanding of gods and the cosmos, is entirely dependent upon the eternal Vedas. With certain sectarian and modernizing exceptions, a generally acknowledged set of contemporary Hindu beliefs and practices would include the following: acceptance of the Vedas as basic authority, belief in transmigration and the effects of human action (karma) on rebirths, devoted recognition of certain divine beings (gods, goddesses, living and departed saints), acknowledgment of a class and caste social hierarchy, ritual attention to ancestors, and a general understanding of life as moral progress toward an eventual liberation from rebirths. This article examines Hindu eschatology, focusing on Hindu beliefs such as immortality, metaphors of regeneration, brahman, Aranyakas, Upanishads, classical Sanskrit texts, preta, and world dissolution.

Keywords: Hinduism; immortality; regeneration; brahman; Aranyakas; Upanishads; Sanskrit; preta; world dissolution

Article.  10032 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Hinduism

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