The Hindu concept of life and death is very different from that of Abrahamic religions, which have floated the expression “Rest in Peace (RIP).” Many Abrahamic religions have the concept of only one life, and henceforth an “afterlife” or “heaven” which they label as “peace.” That is why they use the expression “RIP.” Why Should Hindus Say “Sadgati“? Because this is not so in Hinduism, and there is an important reason why. Without understanding this core Hindu tenet, Hindus continue to say “RIP” mindlessly, not realizing that what they are saying is in no way giving rest or peace to anyone.
Death is Just a Change of Clothes
All major Hindu sacred texts, including Bhagavad Gita, Kathopanishad, Shiva Aagamas, Puranas reiterate that as per the cosmic laws, the Jiva Aatma (Spirit) or individual consciousness, cannot be destroyed. It is a reflection of the cosmic consciousness or Paramatma. It is bound by karma and Maya, and continues its journey from one Janma to another towards final liberation – Jivan Mukti, living a liberated life, or Moksha, emancipation from the cycle of birth and death, when it merges back into the cosmic consciousness.
The cosmic consciousness manifests as many Jivas to celebrate itself – “Ekoham Bahushyam,” as said in the Vedas and Upanishads. On the path, it gets deluded and forgets this, and starts having suffered. This is the bondage it needs to free itself from.
So, death is like a change of clothes for the Jiva Aatma. It travels from one body and mind to anothe and continues its journey. It has the same circumstances and resources it had in its previous life, in the next life as well.
वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय
नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि |
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा
न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही || 2.22||
Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, verse 22
“Just like people shed worn-out clothes and wear new ones, likewise, it casts off its worn-out body and enters a new one.”
The Jiva does not lose anything by leaving one body and going to the next. Its karma is also transferred from the previous body and mind to the next. Depending on how evolved the jiva was, and how Dharmic (Religious) a life s/he spent, the Jiva going through a lot, or not any suffering while leaving the body. But this cannot be assessed by medical science as it is not equivalent to “pain” in medical terms. When the jiva is leaving one body, it goes through all the powerful experiences of that Janma (Birth), once again. This decides how easy or difficult the passage would be for the Jiva.
Why “Sadgati” and Not RIP?
When you say “Om Sadgati” you are praying to the divine to guide the Jiva Aatma towards a higher consciousness in its next birth. Whatever karma can be destroyed for the jiva by performing the last rites and praying for Poornatva (Completeness) for the Jiva, it should be liberated from that. This is what “Om Sadgati” implies. This is also why Bhagavad Gita chapter 14 and Kathopanishad are chanted after someone leaves the body, so as to remind the jiva of its true nature, which is that it is divine. These texts reveal the most important truths about life and death, and the true nature of the Jiva Aatma and paramatma. The more the jiva remembers that it is divine, the better next Janma (Birth) s/he can get.
One Life Theory is The Biggest Bondage
If a jiva believes that it has only one life to live, it remains stuck in that limbo for a long time. It believes it will get the best there is only by not assuming the next body, because that is what it has been told, so it does not want to assume another body at all. It does not assume the next body, and remains in a state of “Preta.” Hence, when you wish someone “RIP,” you are basically implying that they remain stuck in this state. If you are a Hindu, this is in no way wishing someone a good passage.