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Immortality In Various Hindu Schools Of Thoughts

A belief in the immortality of God and the soul is shared by different Hindu schools, but regarding the essential nature of these two entities, there are sharp differences amongst them. In the Vedanta school, for instance, there is no real difference between God or Brahman and the self. To believe that every self is different and separate is according to Vedanta, an illusion. As against this there are other schools like Yoga, Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Jaina etc., who have argued that each is ultimate, absolute and immortal. In the Bauddha, Jaina, Samkhya, and Mimamsa schools, God is not accepted at all whereas in Yoga, God is accepted, but not as the creator of the world. Thus ‘immortality’ is accepted in every school, but to the question who, or what entity is immortal, the answers given in various schools are very different from each other.

Immortality has two aspects, namely anaditva (beginninglessness) and anantatva (endlessness). It is only God or Brahman and the self that may be supposed to possess both these aspects. They are said to be anadi and Ananta, because they are spiritual entities which, of necessity, must always be fully immortal (nitya).

The idea that the existence of God or the self may come to an end under any condition can never be entertained by the traditional thinkers. In their minds, spirituality and immortality go together forever. They are inseparable. But immortality may not be limited to the spiritual domain alone.

Each school of Hindu philosophy has considered some material principles also as being immortal. Thus, in Samkhya and Yoga, in addition to the spiritual entities, i.e. the selves, there is one more reality, namely prakriti (which is called mulaprakriti, alinga, avyakta, pradhana or Drishya) which also possess immortality. Like the self, it is both beginningless and indestructible.

In Nyaya an d Vaiseshika, the atoms are said to have immortality. They are not produced by anything else, and they can never be destroyed. In Jainism, pudgala, from which everything is said to come into being, is supposed to be immortal, like prakriti of Samkhyas.

Even in Vedanta, where the one and alone (ekamevadvitiya) Brahman is the soul reality, the principle called Maya has to be assumed, without which it is impossible to show how the manifest world of objects can come into being from the wholly spiritual entity of Brahman. And Maya has to be looked upon as being endowed with a sort of immortality (sanatanatva).