If there’s one question you ask that you’ll know the answer to and that answer is “Nobody knows for sure”, it’s the question of life after death.
“What happens when we die?”
Answers might range from the traditional deciding of our fate between heaven and fiery hell, to the rebirth of our human form, to the the rebirth of other forms, to the absolute unknown but the conclusion is “nobody knows for sure”.
The trick is that, apparently, you’ve got to come back from the afterlife to be very sure of your answer. And finding someone who’s been there and done that is quite impossible these days. At least it’s impossible within the circle of influence I personally have.
And because of this eternal truth that nobody has actually come back from the afterlife, which leads to the another eternal truth that nobody actually knows what to expect after we’ve left this existence, I find it bewildering for living people to be upset about how the dead is represented after dying.
Let me set the record straight. Knowing what happens after dying is completely a different ballgame to believing what happens after dying.
Quite often, our beliefs of the afterlife is directed by our religious beliefs. I say ‘quite often’ because atheists and irreligious people also have their own thoughts and beliefs of the afterlife. Jedis come back as very bright blue fleshless forms of their former selves, Scientologists belief they’re going back to a mothership in space, and so forth. But my point is, everybody has one belief or another, but nobody knows for sure.
When there was an uproar amongst us that one of our women had been buried as a Muslim instead of the Sikh rights, my initial reaction was of sadness and pity that someone had died unexpectedly in a horrible manner. But the focus was how she had led her life, and her religious beliefs to ascertain if she deserved to be buried a Muslim.
Without delving into the social debate of how and why she had purportedly converted away from being a Sikh, my honest thought is that isn’t it a little too late for our society to ask after her demise rather than when she was living? But that would also imply, in the larger scheme of things, that I was concerned we were losing our numbers to conversions. That would be fair, if we were playing a numbers game. Quantity should trump quality. But that’s not really it, is it?
It has never been about getting more numbers within our fold. It has always been about finding our own personal truths and forming our own personal beliefs about His and Her creation. If this leads to us being Sikhs, so be it. If it leads us down a different path, so be it. Nobody else should be accountable for our own beliefs, family included.
I say this with some certainty because we live in a world today where knowledge and information is at our fingertips at any second of the day. There’s infinite sources for us to delve into in our pursuit to find what we think is right for our beliefs. Sometimes we change our beliefs drastically (leading to change or conversion) while other times we fortify our beliefs with more dogma and prayers. So really, we are responsible ourselves even if we were coerced or advised by others we look up too. Because we can introspect. Because We can meditate on our thoughts. We can belief and unbelief. Sometimes blindly, sometimes fully aware. But we will come to our own realization, not someone else’s.
We all have some belief we adhere to, religious or not, and we somehow adjust the way we live to this belief of what will happen after we die. What happens to us after we die shouldn’t really matter, to us or to any one else.
Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Sabha and controversy (Asia Samachar, 24 Feb 2019)