Rewards – Punishments – Heaven – Hell and Jihad

By Dr. TS Girishkumar published on April 19, 2020


“Jihadi Terrorism : On the trail of its epistemology and genealogy” is my book published by Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi. In that book, I was only analysing the epistemology and genealogy of Jihad, through historical expositions of records, and I did not have space to go into theological and brain formatting / pattering programming executed by autochthones of religion per say, through a Madrassa pattern of information imparting. In the present stage settings of corona virus, Tabliqi Jamaat Markaz, and suicidal corona virus spreaders, it is important to look into the question, why do some people go about suicide spreaders. 


Jihad through deliberate spreading of diseases


In 1817, the first cholera pandemic emerged from the Ganga plain, from the town of Jessore now in Bangladesh originating from contaminated rice. It lasted till 1824, and did spread to other parts of the world as well. Syed Ahmed Barelvi, (1786 -1831) was born in Raebareli (hence Barelvi), and was an early Jihad preacher. He travelled Bharat preaching Dar-Ul-Islam, Islamic political state with Islamic (Sharia) law. He organised network of people, collected funds and recruited Jihadis, and was desperately trying for pan Islamic state, like Jamaluddin Afghani and many others. Barelvi targeted the Sikh regime, and tried to battle the Sikh army in Mansehra district, and in the battle of Balakot, he was killed by the Sikhs in 1831. Many of his followers escaped and went on continuing Jihadi zeal. 


During the 1817 cholera pandemic, Sayed Ahmed Barelvi instructed his network people to spread the pandemic of cholera as much as possible. He instructed them that the pandemic is a weapon sent by Allah to destroy all kafirs, the non-Islamists. Thus, it becomes a divine duty of every Muslim to spread Allah’s wrath against the kafirs, so that the heaven gets very assured for the soldiers of Allah’s faith with promised rewards of luxuries. Thereupon, the Jihadis went around spitting, urinating, defecating with the ultimate objective of spreading cholera to maximum possible people. The then cholera lasted for some six years, and there is no account that how many had died of the pandemic. I do not know who succeeded and who lost, but the fact remains that we do not know how many people died in these six years, and the pandemic could not be contained by the then British rule primarily because of the Jihadi cholera spreaders. Shall we say, that the Jihadis succeeded for their time, albeit it could not kill all kafirs? 


This, precisely is what the Jihadis are doing these days with the corona – covid 19 virus as well. Same pattern, same zeal, similar organisations and the same promises of rewards as well as same fear of punishments. Just old wine in new bottle. 


Heaven and hell


For the Jihadis, promises of heaven, luxuries of heaven are fascinating. They are told that there are some 72-wide eyed Huris waiting for each one and there is a river of wine flowing. What they are not told is that, the Huris are all eunuchs and the wine river does not intoxicate. Are these people really taken for a ride by the religious autochthones, one can really not say? But they had been at it for a long time, and they all are still at it. They still long for pan Islamism and a Dar-Ul-Islam. 

For Semitic theology, the fear of punishment and promises of reward had been the real force to drive one towards blind faith system and complete surrender of obedience. Promises of luxuries in heaven and fear of torturous punishments in hell had been patterning all the faithful. It shall make some sense to ask this question, how logical shall this heaven and hell story?


For the Hindus, they also speak of both Swarga (roughly – heaven) and Naraka (roughly – hell). But they are completely different concepts from those of the Semitic theologies. The Hindu Swarga is not a promised place for man after death: on the contrary, man has no entry to Swarga, that simply is not a place for him to go at all. Swarga is a kingdom itself, of gods and goddesses, ruled by the king of gods, Indra. (god in small letter ‘g’ stands for deity and in capital letter G stands for ultimate reality. Ultimate reality for the Hindu is the Brahman, and that is a unique concept). The king in Swarga is Devraj Indra, and they have army, which is commanded by Kartikeya, son of Shiva. Naraka on the other hand is the kingdom of the non-gods, Asuras, Rakshasas and the like. They live yet another luxurious life, with all comforts perhaps better than the god’s kingdom and they also have their armies. Man has no permission to enter Naraka also. So, man has no business whatsoever in both Hindu Swarga and Naraka concepts. In other words, Hindu has nothing serious to do with both heaven and hell. 


And what about life after death for a Hindu? Semitic theologies say that one continues to live even after his death and he shall be posted to either heaven or hell depending on how the God judges. Prime criterion for judgement here is complete obedience to God, in all respects – nothing more, nothing less. Hindus commonly believe in re-birth, and what exactly shall this re-birth be is a complicated matter, which shall take much more space and time. So, let it remain so for now, and let us try to find out as to what happens to Hindu after death.


Philosophically, all human existence shall be between two points: everything begins from the Vedas – the first point, and everything is aimed at Moksha -the desideratum, the end point. Everything what one does is just with one objective, Moksha, which is roughly translated as liberation. In the Vedic Dharma it is Moksha, in Jain Dharma it is Kaivalya, in Baudh Dharma it is Nirvana and for the Sikhs, it is again Moksha. They all are translated into English as liberation. Liberating from Mundane existence to become one with what is Ultimately real is the concept here. Moksha is becoming one with the ultimate reality, because one is fundamentally originating from the ultimate reality, eventually to go back. The ideas of re-birth shall be to continue the process of purifications through existence to eventually go back to where one fundamentally originates from. Simple enough – when one sees it as energy going back to original energy that can’t be conceived as such, but only through varying forms of energies. Hence Shankaracharya calls the ultimate reality as Nirguna, to mean beyond having any qualities. 


Obviously, promises of rewards and fears of punishments do not work with the Hindus. Moksha is attained by individuals through varying means, but Salvation is granted through the infinite mercy of a God. Hindu earns Moksha, whereas for others it is granted. This makes a serious theological difference, and this makes a Hindu updated and scientific, given modern terminology. It is like becoming a Brahmana. One’s being is nothing, one has to become what he aspires to. Being is not a Brahmana, becoming is Brahmana, it is not granted, one has to earn the status. It is simple logic, after death, you shall go back to from your have come, if at all there is some place. All connotations of self and individual identities are picked up after one is born through years of learning and living, therefore, whatever one has acquired here in this life is automatically shunned through death. I do not know what I was before I became conscious of myself after I was told that I was born to these parents, so naturally I wouldn’t also know what lies after death. Upanishads would say that it shall be pure consciousness, meaning, minus all impurities of gathered impurities from mundane living. At this point, the line dividing Advaita Vedanta of Shankaracharya and the Lokayata Maharishi Charvaka becomes very thin. 


Hence, the Jihadis, or anyone for that matter who do things for fear of punishments and promises of rewards are simply wasting the life they got,  instead of living meaningfully in the world through the Vedic epistemology of co-existence, co-existence with the very cosmos, they just waste their lives living in fear and hatred. Very unfortunate people indeed – how can they ever be redeemed? 




Member – Indian Council of Philosophical Research Professor of Philosophy (Retd), The MS University of Baroda, Gujarat 

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