By Editorial Staff
The subject of heaven and hell is a common denominator in many religions in the world, including Hinduism and Islam. Paradise in Hinduism is called Svrag (स्वर्ग), and hell is called Narak (नरक).
In this article, we will examine and compare Svarg (Paradise) and Narak (Hell) in Hinduism and Islam.
The Believers and Non-believers
Through the point of religion and belief, basically, there are two types of people: believers or theist who follow a religion and have a belief and non-believers or atheist who deny divinity and god or who reject beyond the physical and material world and do not believe in spirituality and divinity at all. The atheist existed during the time of the revelation of Qur’an and their doubts were addressed in the blessed verses of the Glorious Qur’an.
Atheists believe that heaven and hell are nothing. According to them, heaven and hell are dreams and illusions.
However, when an atheist is argued and asked: Suppose, if a person killed another innocent person and escaped from the eyes of the police in this world. How is the way of justice? Then, they are speechless and silent and cannot give a satisfactory answer.
On the other hand, the theists in general believe in the life after death and paradise and hell though there are differences in their beliefs. The existence of the words that denote paradise and hell in Hindi and Sanskrit is a conclusive evidence of the existence of philosophy and thought of Paradise and hell in the Indian cultures.
In fact, Hindus lie under the category of those theists who believe in the philosophy of paradise and hell, but they believe in the concept of re-birth.
The majority of Hindus believe that the cycle of re-birth continues after death and the soul moves from one body to another one according to the good or bad doings in this world. If a person does good deeds, his soul moves into a higher body and that is his heaven but if a person commits sins, his soul will move into a lower body and it is his hell until the soul gets moksha or salvation and returns to the supreme being and unites with Him.
The Belief of Paradise (Svarg स्वर्ग)) and Hell (नरक)
The details of the Paradise and hell are divine and could not be perceived without a revelation or information from the Creator. According to Islamic faith, the messengers and the Prophets were informed first by Allah the Almighty. Then the messengers and prophets across the history since the first human being and Prophet on this earth, Adam (peace be upon him) until the last and final Messenger of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) were representatives of the divine knowledge who informed their nations and followers about the hereafter and paradise and hell. However, the faith of paradise and hell in essence is based on the logic and intellectual perception. The human mind accepts the philosophy of final reward and punishment and this is the necessity of justice and equality.
The Hell (नरक naraka) in Hinduism
According to Hinduism, the Hell (नरक naraka) is the place of torment.
A Hindu writer says in this regard:
धार्मिक मान्यता अनुसार नरक वह स्थान है जहां पापियों की आत्मा दंड भोगने के लिए भेजी जाती है। दंड के बाद कर्मानुसार उनका दूसरी योनियों में जन्म होता है। कहते हैं कि स्वर्ग धरती के ऊपर है तो नरक धरती के नीचे यानी पाताल भूमि में हैं।
(According to religious belief, hell is the place where the soul of sinners is sent to be punished. After the punishment for the sins, the soul is born in another creation. It is said that the heaven is above the earth, while the hell is under the earth.)
A Question on the Philosophy of Re-birth
It is clear from the above-mentioned Hindi quote that Narak (नरक) Hell is a separate place from the human society.
The question here rises, if the soul is punished for wrong doings in the Narak (नरक), then what is the need of cycle of re-birth? The cycle of re-birth itself represents a hell and paradise in Hinduism. In addition, the movements of the soul from a higher body to a lower one are a punishment and moving from lower body into a higher one is a reward and paradise.
Another question is: if a person committed the sins with his body and soul and not only with his soul then why is the soul only punished and not the body?
The Paradise (स्वर्ग) in Hinduism
According to Hinduism, the paradise is the place of pleasure of the souls after the death. One of the Hindu writers says in this regard:
हिन्दुओं के अनुसार ऊपर के सात लोकों में से तीसरा लोक जिसका विस्तार सूर्यलोक से ध्रुवलोक तक कहा गया है और जिसमें ईश्वर तथा देवताओं का निवास है माना गया है । यह भी माना जाता है कि पुण्यात्माओं और स्त्कर्मियों की म्रत्यु होने पर उनकी आत्माएं इसी लोक में जाकर निवास करती हैं।
(According to the Hindus, the third layer of the above seven layers whose expansion has been told from Sunlok to Dhruvlok (Bhuvar (भुवर लोक) – Space between earth and the sun is known as Bhuvarlok) where Gods and deities are inhabited. In addition, it is also believed that after the death of the holy beings and devotees, their souls move to this layer.)
In Paradise a person will find all kinds of comfort, worldly grace and tranquility of the heart. Through salvation, a person enjoys a purely spiritual pleasure. In the Veda, we find that the word Svarg has been used for both kinds of pleasures; physical and spiritual. The word Svarg, gives the meaning of rest or tranquility and when a person enjoys the comfort and escapes the hardship, he really enjoys the Paradise.
Women of Paradise in Hinduism
Similar to Islam, we find the idea of beautiful women of Paradise in Hinduism: the Hindu scriptures mention clearly the beautiful women who would be wives of the lucky people of paradise for their amusement and enjoyment. We will present here some references from Hindu scripture to support our opinion.
In this connection, the Mahabharat says:
वराप्सरः सहस्राणि शूरम आयॊधने हतम
तवरमाणा हि धावन्ति मम भर्ता भवेद इति
“Thousands of handsome Apsaras (maidens) run up in haste to the hero who has been slain in battle (i.e. a martyr), (exclaiming) be my husband.”
Furthermore, one of the Vedas says in this regard:
“Boneless, pure, cleansed with the wind, brilliant, they go to a brilliant world. The fire does not burn their male organ. In Swarga they get plenty of women.” [Atharvaved 4:34:2]
Both references show clearly that there will not be just one woman for the inhabitants of Paradise, but there will be numerous women to fulfill the desire of sex.
Additionally, the texts of the Hindu scriptures denote that there are beautiful women for the dwellers of paradise for their sexual enjoyment and pleasure like in Islamic culture the concept of Hur Al-`In (or the beautiful women of paradise with wide and attracting eyes).
So, there is no justification for the laughter of those Hindu brothers who make fun and mockery of Hur Al-`In in Paradise.
You can conclude that the concept of Narak (नरक) and Svarg (स्वर्ग) or Al-Jannah (the Paradise) and Jahannam (the hell) is one of the commonalities in Hinduism and Islam. And the topic can be a source of nearness and brotherhood between two nations instead of clash or fight.
Is the Belief in Svarg (स्वर्ग) and Narak (नरक) Divine?
After our thinking into the notion of Paradise and hell in Hinduism that says that do not search for the Paradise and Hell beyond this world, rather, your paradise and hell lie in this world. Your paradise if you do good deeds is in this world when your soul will be born into a higher body and will enjoy the pleasure and blessings. And your hell is in this world if you commit wrong doings and your soul will be born into a lower body and will bear the insults and grief. This is the belief of some Hindus.
Heaven and Hell are common issues between Hinduism and Islam. And perhaps that was the remnant of the divine messages that were sent to the people in the Indian subcontinent, if the faith is not borrowed from foreign cultures. Common beliefs should be invested in building bridges of love, affection and mutual cooperation between the followers of the religions.
The faith of beautiful women of paradise is also a common belief in Hinduism and Islam. In addition, the enjoyment with women is not something defective or humiliating according to the fair thinking and logic. The Hindu scripture Mahabharat has said that the fighter if martyred for the sake of God, the beautiful women of Paradise rush to the martyr and wish to be his wife.
According to the Islamic belief, the souls are an independent entity, and they do not unite with Allah the Almighty after death. But Hinduism views that the souls return to God and unite with God to be one after completing the repeated cycles of re-birth.
Muslims believe that the believers will enjoy seeing Allah the Almighty after the end of these beings and after the true believers will enter the paradise and the wrongdoers will enter the hellfire.
A Sanskrit -English Dictionary, by Sir Monier Monier-Williams, Oxford University Press, Amen house, London. 1956, 1960, p. 529
मानक हिंदी कोश, द्वारा रामचंद्र वर्मा, प्रकाशक हिंदी साहित्य सम्मेलन, प्रष्ट ४१७.
Ved aur Quran, Lakshaman aryaupdeshak, vedak Pustakalaya, Birla Lines, Dehli, vol.1st, P.156.
महाभारत, शांतिपर्व, मंडल 12, अध्याय 98, श्लोक 46.