• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Dying is a social as well as physiological phenomenon. Each society characterizes and, consequently, treats death and dying in its own individual ways—ways that differ markedly. These particular patterns of death and dying engender modal cultural responses, and such institutionalized behavior has familiar, economical, educational, religious, and political implications. The Handbook of Death and Dying takes stock of the vast literature in the field.

The Hindu Way of Death
The Hindu way of death

Before commencing an account of Hindu practices and attitudes relating to death and dying, it will be helpful to selectively identify certain central features of the Hindu tradition. These will illumine and place in proper context many aspects of the subsequent discussion.

Hinduism is an astoundingly diverse tradition, and this fact is indicated by the nameHindu itself. Hindu is not the personal name of a founder, nor is it descriptive of a central belief or practice. “Hindu” is the Iranian variation for a name of a river that Indo-Europeans referred to as the Sindhu, Greeks as the Indos, and British as the Indus. Those who lived on the territory drained by the Indus were derivatively called Hindus. ...

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