Heaven and Hell, – very familiar concepts, they are. While both are familiar, the former is the aim of every believer all across the world while the latter is dreaded by everyone nay, every believer, around the world.
Both Heaven and Hell are words which belong to extreme religious centric beliefs. According to the belief heaven is the dwelling place of God and is shared by Angels and the Spirits of the righteous people. However, outside belief, the word heaven is used to refer the sky or the firmament. May be, drawing a parallel to the concept of heaven being the blissful abode of God, literary enthusiasts use these words to express feelings of extreme happiness and joy.
Hell, in every sense, is the opposite to heaven; hell is the place for the wicked to live after death. The place is the epicenter of all evils; it is pervaded by condemned spirits and is full of miseries. Just like the word heaven, hell too has slang referring it to someone who has been victimized for harsh reprimand and or punishment. In yet another context, making uproar and creating uneasy situations is hell for the nascent genre among the general public.
There is no proof of evidence to cite as to when and where the belief of heaven and hell started. It is said that the belief originated from Greek philosophy. Ancient Greek philosophy belong to the period around the 6th century BCE: Greek philosophers like Plato had talked elaborately about soul and spirit: Soul-spirit conglomerate plays pivotal role in the matter of entitlement for entry either into heaven or to hell. Greek philosopher Plato’s firm stand was that salvation takes place when the soul is set free from the body at the time of death. Even then, attributing the origin of heaven and hell to Greek philosophy does not seem to be correct.
Even before the birth of Greek philosophy there were ancient belief systems which flourished in the East. Those belief systems had many explanations on the subject relating to soul and spirit and after-death habitats. Taoism of China and Hinduism of ancient Bharat were the prominent belief systems of the yore. Hinduism was epicentre of all subjective imaginations including the dwellings of heaven and hell.
Complexity of human brain has no limit: It enabled prehistoric nomads to believe in supernatural powers and their thought process concerning belief grew with innumerable imaginations. That enabled them to build residence in the Skies for the super natural powers, much above their own habitats on the surface of the earth. In those habitats there were no miseries and calamities. Those were, no doubt, imaginations which underwent further refinements: The improved version concluded that when one dies, the life-force of the individual escapes from the body of the person and it moves towards the dwelling of the supernatural powers to be accommodated there.
As years passed by, all these pagan thoughts got modified in the form of organized system of beliefs as Religions, the supernatural powers as Gods, the dwelling of the God as Heaven, the life-sustaining force of the living as Soul or Spirit which leaves the body of the persons at the time of death. Formation of Hell was in the same trajectory but in the opposite direction: At the time of death the soul of all who do good things be accommodated by God along with him in heaven while the spirit of those who do bad things be accommodated by God in Hell which is full of miseries.
The concept of Heaven and Hell is part and parcel of every religion: Even the so-called non-religious philosophies of Buddhism and Jainism are no exception.
According to Hindu system of faith, entitlement to Heaven or Hell depends on Karma: Doors of heaven will be opened to the spirits of the ones who did Good Karma while alive. On the other hand, the ones who did bad karma will be dumped into the ditches of hell; their spirits will become prey to rebirth in continuum. In Buddhism, heaven is temporary habitat for the soul; the soul is entitled to incarnation. Not only that, as part of Samsara which is an illusory reality, there are many heavens for soul to habitat depending upon Karma. Jainism also holds the same concept about heaven: As per the concept there are several layers of heavenly abode for the souls to enter but the entitlement depends upon Karma.
Ancient Chinese mythology philosophizes that heaven observes, sees, hears and keeps close watch over all humans. The great philosopher Confucius asserted that belief in the quote: “He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray.”
All organized religions of modern era have specific concepts about heaven and hell. All their preachings are aimed at achieving heavenly habitat of bliss; all the places of worship, all the religious heads, all the preachers devote time for prayers for the followers to help their souls attain heaven and to save the souls from going to hell. All followers of the religions attend prayers regularly on weekly congregations on time for the aim to be fulfilled.
Outside religion, there are some think-masters of materialism who are still unable to keep out of the belief in heaven and hell: They argue that belief in heaven keep people away from committing crimes for fear of hell; they do good things with love and compassion for their soul to get a place in heaven. These arguments of the stake holders are absurd if not nonsense. Criminals never stop their illicit activities for the sake of heaven and for fear of hell. Because, even the believer-criminals have all means at their disposal to use the path of confessions before priests, prayers before the Almighty god to save their soul from going to hell but to allow their soul easy entry to heaven. Amen! Let the Soul of all rest in peace.