Many popular religions around the world often make reference to a place where the souls of it’s adherents will go when their time on Earth has come to an end. Some others outrightly don’t believe in such a place like heaven but have something else. For the non-religious, heaven is an abstract idea that revolves around unattainable Utopia.
In this article, we will be looking at the concept of heaven and how it is presented in some religions.
According to Christian traditions and dogmas, heaven is a place where God resides with His angels and other beings created by Him.
In Christian lores, once a person dies, he goes to purgatory, hell or heaven based on their deeds on earth.
What it means is that for a Christian to enter heaven, they must have lived a life that is worthy and certified to be good in the eyes of God. This is because heaven here is seen as paradise, a place where the faithful will rejoice forever and be one with God their maker based on the merit of adherents good deeds while alive.
Heaven in Islam is likened to a beautiful garden where the faithfuls of Allah will go to if they lived according to the dictates of His teachings and live a good life while on earth.
Heaven in Islam is a paradise reserved for those who remain faithful to Allah and live the life that is pleasing to Him. In return, Allah will bless the person and grant them access into His paradise.
The concept of heaven in Judaism is not clear because most Jewish religious scholars have been known to shy away from the subject due to it’s complexities.
However, a small read on the often interpreted word “Olam Ha-Ba” shows that there is actually an indirect concept of heaven being made reference to.
Some Jewish scholars believe that the afterlife will consist of a return to the blissful times as seen in the garden of Eden. Generally, there is no one description of heaven in Judaism.
So, adherents of Judaism prefer to live a good life instead as opposed to fixating on where they could go after death. What is generally known however is Sheol, a place where people go to after they die.
The concept of heaven in Buddhism is totally different from that of the religions stated above. In Buddhism, heaven is seen as “illusionary reality” and it is believed that those who have accumulated positive karma with their examplary lives will be reborn in one of them during the rebirth process.
However, the focus of Buddhism is to attain Nirvana, mostly known as ‘freedom of the mind – a release from the holds of greed, aversion and suffering’.
In Buddhism, there are different heavens and they believe there are different realms while Earth is just one of them.
Research shows that the early Hindus did not believe in a heaven but rather believed in being one with nature after death. This may be the reason why early Hindu songs and tales focused on reuniting with Mother Nature.
However, the tale of Mugdala says otherwise. Here is a translated version of Mugdala’s tale of heaven after a heavenly being (a celestial messenger) transported him to heaven –
“…The heaven is well provided with excellent paths…The Siddhas, the Vaiswas, the Gandharvas, the Apsaras, the Yamas and the Dhamas dwell there. There are many celestial gardens. Here sport persons of meritorious acts.
“Neither hunger nor thirst, nor heat, nor cold, neither grief nor fatigue, neither labor nor repentance, nor fear, nor anything that is disgusting and inauspicious; none of these is to be found in heaven. There is no old age either…Delightful fragrance is found everywhere. The breeze is gentle and pleasant.
“The inhabitants have resplendent bodies. Delightful sounds captivate both the ear and the mind. These worlds are obtained by meritorious acts and not by birth nor by the merits of fathers and mothers…There is neither sweat nor stench, nor excretion nor urine.
“The dust does not soil one’s clothes. There is no uncleanliness of any kind. Garlands (made from flowers) do not fade. Excellent garments full of celestial fragrance never fade. There are countless celestial cars that move in the air. The dwellers are free from envy, grief, ignorance and malice. They live very happily…”
However, Mugdala also tells something further about how life is lived in heaven –
“In the celestial region, a person, while enjoying the fruits of acts he had already performed, cannot perform any other new act. He must enjoy the fruits of the former life till they are completely exhausted.
“Further, he is liable to fail after he has completely exhausted his merit. These are the disadvantages of heaven. The consciousness of those about to fall is stupefied. It is also agitated by emotions. As the garlands of those about to fall fade away, fear possesses their hearts…”
So, there you have it. What do you think?