What is the influence of heaven and hell on the Hindu way of life?
The mention of heaven and hell has a significant effect on the lives of Hindus. Other religions too give importance to the existence of heaven and hell. This means that people pass either through heaven or hell in between their death and rebirth. The description of heaven is such that everyone would like to go there. Hell is a place everyone shuns.
In the Garudapuran, it is said that in Yamlok (abode of the God of Death), the god Chitragupta maintains a record of the good and bad deeds of every individual. On the basis of this record one is sent to heaven if the good deeds predominate or to hell if it is the other way round.
Heaven is the abode of gods. Everyone finds happiness there. Lord Indra is the master of heaven. The happiness in heaven is not like the pleasures one experiences through the senses. The happiness is deep-seated within an individual. It is the happiness experienced when one is in complete control of the mind, feelings and the ego. It is far superior to pleasures derived from the senses.
The religious texts assert that those who are compassionate towards all living beings, are charitable and soft-spoken, who look at women as a mother, sister or daughter, are not attracted to ill-gotten wealth, do not steal, are content with what they possess, are truthful and free of jealousy, do not hurt anyone and look kindly towards everyone qualify for the happiness of heaven.
Wise people say that when one is endowed with positive qualities, there is heaven on earth for them.
Once God announced that for one week the admission to heaven would not be restricted to the assessment of good and bad deeds. It would be open to all without reservation. As people heard this, they rushed to heaven and there was a long queue awaiting admission at the gates.
As God was returning home soon after the announcement, he noticed a man carrying a load of firewood on his head walking towards his home. He hummed a tune as he walked home unmindful of the attractive announcement. Surprised, God stopped him and asked, "Have you not heard the announcement about unrestricted entry to heaven?"
The man, happy and content as he was, responded with a smile, "Sir, I have heard about the generous offer made by God. But to be honest, I experience the happiness of heaven in. the laughing faces of my children, in the loving nature of my faithful wife, in the spirit of support and c:are from my brothers and the friendly gestures of my neighbours. When I have this heaven, why do I need to seek another heaven that I have not seen?"