Does a human being have a soul after his/her death? What will happen after a man's death according to Hinduism?

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    I hope deep questions like this are not accepted hastily. People say lots of things without citing sources. Within Hinduism itself there could be various schools of thoughts about this and there may not be one correct answer. – user13107 Jul 10 '14 at 22:56
  • Here you can get an answer. This is a famous book by Swami Abhedananda. (most probably vedanta school of thought) goodreads.com/book/show/1731523.Life_Beyond_Death – Santanu Debnath Jun 28 '17 at 13:55

Because no one has actually seen what happens after death, there are multiple beliefs regarding this. But the yogis through their eyes of knowledge know the movement of the beings before and after their death:

utkrāmantaḿ sthitaḿ vāpi bhuñjānaḿ vā guṇānvitam
vimūḍhā nānupaśyanti paśyanti jñāna-cakṣuṣaḥ
[BG - 15.10]

Not the people of lower intelligence, but one with the eye of knowledge sees how a being leaves the body, stays in the body and experiences different bodies due to nature.

So we have many descriptions regarding this in various puranas and scriptures. The exact description and explanation of different cases would be very very long. So I am answering briefly the course of journey of a human being or jivatma after death.

When the body dies,the jivatma is carried away to the abode of Yama for judgement of his actions. Sinful jivas are taken through a door and path that is painful and pious souls are taken through another path that is not painful.

After Yama has judged the person's work, then depending upon his work he will either be taken to heaven or put into hell. Then after finishing his term there he will again have to comeback to this material plane of existence taking birth in any kind of material body as per his actions. This is the normal course of a jiva's life in samsara. [Agni Pu. - Chapter. 203]

But, if someone has done austerity, penance, devotion, etc. then depending upon his mode of spiritual activity he will go to the respective abode. If one worships formless quality less Brahman, after death he will also merge in Brahman [BG - 12.4]. If one worships Brahman with form (like Krishna, Vishnu, etc.) then depending upon his thought at the time of death [BG - 8.6], he can enter to the respective deity's abode.

yānti deva-vratā devān pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām
[BG - 9.25]

Worshipers of the gods go to the gods; worshipers of forefathers go to the pitra loka; to the ghosts go those who worship ghosts; those who worship Me come to Me alone.

So the bottom line is, as long as a person's karmic account is not clean, he will only be wandering in different planes of existences in different kinds of bodies enjoying different kinds of pains and pleasures depending upon his actions. So yes, as per the scriptures the human being has a soul (or, existence) after his/her death.

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Every living thing is having "Athma" or "soul". In Hinduism, body is illusion and the "Athma" is true and the reality. After death, Athma will take rebirth until it is merged with the supreme one called "Paramathma" . This is called "Moksha". The time taken for the Moksha will depend upon one's "Karma" and "Dharma".

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    Only monists (advaitists) think the soul merges with God. Vaishnavas understand the soul retains an individual identity after liberation. That is Vaikuntha, where liberated beings serve Vishnu. – Amala Jul 10 '14 at 19:16

Looking at it from a Vaishnava perspective, the soul is eternal and fundamentally different from the body. Krishna explains this in the Bhagavd Gita 2.13:

As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.

Therefore, the soul enters another body after death. There are a total of 8,400,000 different types of forms within this material world and the soul could go into any one of these after death. The next body depends on the state of consciousness at death. This is explained in Bhagavad Gita 8.6:

Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kuntī, that state he will attain without fail.

It is also interesting to note that there is a concept of heaven and hell in Vaishnavism, however it is non-permanent. In other words, the soul may be punished after death in hell, but is later released and takes on another body. Similarly, a soul may go to heaven and enjoy there, but when his pious karma is depleted, he is born again. For descriptions of the hellish planets, see Srimad Bhagavatam 5.26 and 3.30.

The soul attains liberation from the cycle of birth and death when he surrenders again to the Supreme Lord Krishna or Vishnu. After that he returns to the spiritual world, where there is no birth or death. He receives his original spiritual body and meets with Krishna or any of the other Visnu personalities face-to-face.

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The events that happens after death of one is clearly mentioned in "Garuda Purana". After a individual died the body of his/her is cremated. After that, 15 day rituals will takes place in which rice balls are offered which makes the body of the soul.

1-49.For nine days and nights the departed obtains rice-balls, and on the tenth day the being, with fully formed body, acquires strength.

1-50.50. The old body being cremated, a new one is formed by these offerings, O Bird; the man, the size of a hand (cubit), by this experiences good and evil on the way.

1-55.On the thirteenth day the departed(soul), bound by the servants of Yama, walks alone along the road like a captured monkey.

1-56.The extent of the way of Yama measures eighty-six thousand Yojanas, 1 without Vaitaraṇî, O Bird.

1-57.Two hundred and forty-seven Yojanas each day the departed travels, going by day and night.

1-58-59.Having passed successively. through these sixteen cities on the way, the sinful man goes to the place of the King of Righteousness.

This purana is completely based on Conversation between Vishnu and Garuda ( Vahana of Vishnu).

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Death and anything related to it is considered a secret. This is called Marana-Rahasya in Sanskrit. Hence, the best approach is to get this secret opened through your own experience via meditation. Although, here are some words that might shed some light:

What happens after death is the mind gets freed from the body, the spirit. The mind has memory and intelligence, so these two things become like a balloon. The karma, the deepest impressions form a balloon. It is like in sleep.

Death is nothing but a long sleep. Before going to sleep, see the last thought that you get, and as soon as you wake up, see what is the first thought that comes. Have you noticed? It will variably be the same though.

So the physical body decays and the pranic body with all the impressions forms a balloon and leaves the body and hangs around.

Don’t imagine a balloon hanging around! It is a light; an energy.

I will give you the best example. In a television station, they conduct a program and then they transmit it through the dish and the program remains in the atmosphere – it is the same way.

When you send an email from the computer, you type all the letters and then you press the send button. What happens? It goes into the space. Does your email remain in the space till it is downloaded? Even after several days you can download your email. Even one year later or ten years later you can download an email. There is no expiry date, isn’t that so. It is not like those greeting cards which sometimes people send you that expire in 24 hours.

The messages or letters you send don’t hang as letters in the space, it remains in the space as energy.

Like that every soul is a particular frequency and every thumb is different because a thumb is like a particular cell phone chip.

So after death, every individual energy stays, and the impressions it has taken, accordingly to that it experiences those stages there. But then after sometime that soul comes back.

The soul enters the body at three times – this is all a secret. It is called the birth secret and death secret.

So the soul enters at the moment of conception, or it enters in the fifth month, or at the time of birth. So the three sections are there, but there is no way to determine when it enters.

So if at conception time it comes then what one should do to care for that?

Keep yourself happy. Usually pregnant women are kept very happy in India. Whatever she wants is provided to her.

I would say, don’t watch all these violent movies, and scary songs, and scary things. Generally light flute music would be good because it is soothing. It is good to listen to music, knowledge and wisdom. All these things would be preferable.

The soul also chooses where to be born, the place to come. According to its wish it will just come there.

From a Q&A with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: http://www.artofliving.org/what-happens-after-death

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    Again, at least part of the answer should be in your own words, even if just a one or two sentence summary of what the quote says. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 28 '16 at 22:06
  • @KeshavSrinivasan: Noted.......and done for this case :) – Amit Saxena Apr 28 '16 at 22:23

If you get reference for "Yogavasisth" then, you found that there is no birth or death its only thought and what we think.

In one example from this book, one person live 3 or I think 7 life within just only in thought in which one is 20 years long, other is 70 year long, and so on.

What "Yogavasisth" tells is, All is just thought of yours when your thought come to Sunya there where no life and no death. If you read books related with "Raman Mahrshi" you find more about this point and that is known as "Adveyt wad".

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