Does a human being have a soul after death? What will happen after death according to Hinduism?

  • 2
    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, 2014 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 Jun 28, 2017 at 13:55
  • based on karma soul with anirudha sharira go to respective hell or heaven.. and reborn again in one of the 864000 life forms from chandra->parjanya->earth as seed->plant->human/animal(based on karma) this cycle repeats until one is born in baratha varsa and knows saranagathi to lord krishna and vayu(hanuman) and his preceptors like madhva, jayathirtha and vayasa and Raghavendra (vadiraja, vijeendra theertha) are there until one dose this they will be in cycle..either they will return from hell or heaven is chandra or soma lokha..
    – Prasanna R
    Jun 21, 2020 at 16:08
  • please note that when Krishna or upnishad says birth and death then that's mean at every moment previous nature or behaviour dies and new nature or behaviour evolve!! ,. Its doesn't mean that birth means to born as foetus and death means to go in old age and die. Sinc your questions is about what will happen? Then according to Upnishad "Anything which born in nature will surely finished but only nature will born" so nature means goodness, passion will born or dies but not person who dies again born as foetus!!! SO NOTHING HAPPEN AFTER DEATH AS MEANING OF DEATH IN UPNISHAD IS DIFFERENT
    – user27254
    Apr 8, 2022 at 12:31

7 Answers 7


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.

  • Correct-- Like attracts Like is the universal law as per Ayurveda. So, is that unlike decreases like, contrarily like increases like. Who will worship ghost will be able to reach ghosts as it's natural, God grants what we wish for- wise men can take help of meditation,etc practices and reach God's abode by abiding non-violence to prevent karmic hindrance issues Jun 21, 2020 at 5:57

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, 2014 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.


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).


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. Apr 28, 2016 at 22:06
  • @KeshavSrinivasan: Noted.......and done for this case :) Apr 28, 2016 at 22:23

Thanks to the eternal Srimad Bhagwad Gita which elaborates facts pretty simply(knowing such facts isn't any way possible as such in a lifetime):

As per the 'time of death' one can know what's the basic outcomes of the being: यत्र काले त्वनावृत्तिमावृत्तिं चैव योगिन: | प्रयाता यान्ति तं कालं वक्ष्यामि भरतर्षभ || 23|| अग्निर्ज्योतिरह: शुक्ल: षण्मासा उत्तरायणम् | तत्र प्रयाता गच्छन्ति ब्रह्म ब्रह्मविदो जना: || 24|| धूमो रात्रिस्तथा कृष्ण: षण्मासा दक्षिणायनम् | तत्र चान्द्रमसं ज्योतिर्योगी प्राप्य निवर्तते || 25|| शुक्लकृष्णे गती ह्येते जगत: शाश्वते मते | एकया यात्यनावृत्तिमन्ययावर्तते पुन: || 26||

yatra kāle tvanāvṛittim āvṛittiṁ chaiva yoginaḥ prayātā yānti taṁ kālaṁ vakṣhyāmi bharatarṣhabha agnir jyotir ahaḥ śhuklaḥ ṣhaṇ-māsā uttarāyaṇam tatra prayātā gachchhanti brahma brahma-vido janāḥ dhūmo rātris tathā kṛiṣhṇaḥ ṣhaṇ-māsā dakṣhiṇāyanam tatra chāndramasaṁ jyotir yogī prāpya nivartate śhukla-kṛiṣhṇe gatī hyete jagataḥ śhāśhvate mate ekayā yātyanāvṛittim anyayāvartate punaḥ

BG 8.23-26: I shall now describe to you the different paths of passing away from this world, O best of the Bharatas, one of which leads to liberation and the other leads to rebirth. Those who know the Supreme Brahman, and who depart from this world, during the six months of the sun’s northern course, the bright fortnight of the moon, and the bright part of the day, attain the supreme destination. The practitioners of Vedic rituals, who pass away during the six months of the sun’s southern course, the dark fortnight of the moon, the time of smoke, the night, attain the celestial abodes. After enjoying celestial pleasures, they again return to the earth. These two, bright and dark paths, always exist in this world. The way of light leads to liberation and the way of darkness leads to rebirth.

(My opinion: one should worship Lord Shiva for sure -the eternal light Jyotirlingam to pass in light timings.)

I would suggest to read chapters 2 and 8 from Bhagavad Gita. Chapter 2 reveals the mystery of death and it would console the person to know (from YOGESHWAR GOD KRISHNA himself) that death is not the end of existence, but it is an opportunity for the soul to transmigrate to a possibly better state of existence than present- a kind of reward in itself instead of punishments. Chapter 8 on the other hand explains the art of dying, it clearly explains how a person can be transferred to a better and possibly best state of existence by focusing his mind at the time of death.

YOGESHWAR Lord Krishna gives a very clear definition of death in Bhagavad Gita 2.22:

vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya navāni gṛhṇāti naro ’parāṇi tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī


As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.

Sri Krishna also mentions that death is a very natural process and a sane person is not bewildered by it (BG 2.13):

dehino ’smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā tathā dehāntara-prāptir dhīras tatra na muhyati


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. (my opinion: So, it's similar like if we do good karmas during teenage, we possibly get good job opportunities, post to learn, lead a happy life because of our past struggles. So, death too provides such a define opportunity to progress further for genuine peaceful beings.)

Then Krishna also reveals that death is certain for all living entities who have accepted a material body and it is no cause for lamentation (BG 2.27):

jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca tasmād aparihārye ’rthe na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi


One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament.

Sri Krishna reveals the art of dying in the 8th chapter, where he mentions that whatever state of being a person remembers at the time of death, that state he achieves for sure:

Bg 8.6 — Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kuntī, that state he will attain without fail.

Therefore Krishna suggests that one should remember Krishna at the time of death so that he can return to the eternal spiritual world and live their happily with Krishna:

Bg 8.5 — And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.

But, it is not easy for a normal person to remember his Adhistayak Istadev at the time of death because the soul is in a troubled condition at the time of leaving the body, therefore YOGESHWAR problem solver Lord Krishna suggests that one should practice throughout his life so that one can think of God at the time of death.

So, one can possibly cheat his destiny by a clear understanding of the following verse: Here is the exact verse (Bg 8.7):

tasmāt sarveṣu kāleṣu mām anusmara yudhya ca mayy arpita-mano-buddhir mām evaiṣyasy asaṁśayaḥ


Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Kṛṣṇa and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt.

We all know God only decides which nano's nanomillisecondth time period will the soul will untimely ultimately leave this body, so it's really tough for our minds at death'sgunpoint to think of God, so only the holy one's who practiced with a generous heart ❤️ are allowed to have God's eternal abode. Luckily Ajamil passed this test! That's why been described in the holy Srimad Bhagwad Mahapuran https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.speakingtree.in/blog/the-power-of-the-lord-s-name---the-story-of-ajamil/m-lite


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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