I'm a highschool student studying the 5 Major world religions and I myself am Catholic. However as apart of an assignment I have, I must interview and collate references from people of the practicing faiths on the topic of life after death. I'm a bit confused and was wondering whether anyone could provide me with any of the following information; - A basic explanation, - what the two pathways are that a soul may follow in the afterlife, - What is Moksha - What is a jiva - How karma works - Where does the soul go in between death and rebirth

I apologize if I got anything wrong or is misleading, I am trying my best to be respectful.Also I read somewhere that The Vedas and Upanishads have different perspectives of how to escape rebirth, could someone clarify this or explain what that may be. Thanks Very Much

  • 3
    Actually your Qn is too broad as you are asking many things. Recommended to ask 1 by 1 or collect similar Qn-s in one post. The title Qn seems duplicate of What happens after death? and Life after death.
    – iammilind
    Aug 9, 2017 at 6:57
  • Garurh Purana gives brief detail about after life journey, You should read that to know about it.
    – Vishvam
    Aug 9, 2017 at 7:36
  • 2
    You have asked 5 questions. I suggest you ask 5 separate questions. Aug 9, 2017 at 11:34

1 Answer 1


Hinduism believes in the rebirth and reincarnation of souls. What happens after the soul leaves the body and before it reincarnates again is a great mystery about which we can form an idea after studying the scriptures. In Hinduism there are two paths along which souls travel after death. The Paths of the Sun and the Moon.

  • Path of the Sun or the Path of Light (DEVAYANA) (Archi Marga) or The Uttara Marga
  • Path of the Moon or the Path of Darkness (PITRIYANA) (Dhoom Marga).or Dakshin Marga.


The Uttara Marga or Devayana path or Northern path or the path of light is the path by which the Yogins go to Brahman. This path leads to salvation. This path takes the devotee to Brahmaloka. Having reached the path of the gods he comes to the world of Agni, to the world of Vayu, to the world of Varuna, to the world of Indra, to the world of Prajapati, to the world of Brahman. They go to light, from light to day, from day to the waxing half of the moon, from the waxing half of the moon to the six months when the Sun goes to the North, from those six months to the year, from the year to the Aditya. When the person goes away from this world he comes to Vayu. Then Vayu makes room for him like the hole of a wheel and through it he mounts higher till he comes to Aditya. The bright path is the path, to the Devas, Devayana, of the devotees; the bright path is open to the devotees.


The Pitriyana path or the path of darkness or the path of ancestors leads to rebirth. Those who do sacrifices to gods and other charitable works with expectation of fruits go to the Chandraloka through this path and come back to this world when their fruits of Karmas are exhausted. These two paths are not open to the whole world. The bright path is open to the devotees and the dark path to the Karmins. Samsara is eternal and so the paths also are eternal. Knowing the nature of the two paths and the consequences they lead to, the Yogi never loses his discrimination. The Yogi who knows that the path of Devayana or the path of light leads to Moksha (Karma Mukti) and the path of darkness to Samsara or the world of births and deaths, is no longer deluded. Knowledge of these two paths serves as a compass or beacon-light to guide the Yogi’s steps at every moment.

Here Prashna Upanishad Describing these two paths in detail -:

संवत्सरो वै प्रजापतिस्तस्यत्यने दक्षिणं चोत्तरं च तद्येह वै तदिष्टापूर्ते कृतमित्युपासते ते चान्द्रमसमेव लोकमभिजयन्ते त एव पुनरावर्तन्ते तस्मादेत ऋषय प्रजाकामा दक्षिणं प्रतिपद्यन्ते एष ह वै रयिर्यः पितृयाणः ||9||

The Year is verily Prajapati and two are his paths The southern and the Northern; Now those who perform Ishtapoorta (sacrifices and charitable works) (thinking them) as works of supreme value , attain the world of the Moon and afterwards return (there) again. Therefor those Rushies (sage) who desire offspring go by the southern path. Matter verily is this path of the Manes.

अथोत्तरेणा तपसा ब्रह्मचर्येण श्रद्धया विद्यात्मानमन्विष्यादित्यमभिजयन्ते एतद्वै प्राणानामायतनमेतदमृतमभयमेतत् परायणमेत्तस्मान्न पुनरावर्तन्त इत्येष निरोधस्तदेष ||10||

But those who sought the Atman by austerity , abstinence , faith and knowledge attain Adityas by Northern path.This is the source of all the forces , this is immortal and free from danger – this is supreme resort , from there they do not return (for) it is the end

You can read More about Prashna Upanishad Here

The Bhagavad-Gita describes two paths along which souls travel after death. One is the path of the sun, also known as the bright path or the path of gods and the other is the path of the moon, also known as the dark path and the path of ancestors. When a soul travels along the path of the sun, it never return again, while those which travel along the path of the moon return again.

अग्निर्ज्योतिरहः शुक्लः षण्मासा उत्तरायणम्।

तत्र प्रयाता गच्छन्ति ब्रह्म ब्रह्मविदो जनाः।।8.24।। <br

agnir jyotir ahaḥ śuklaḥ ṣaṇ-māsā uttarāyaṇam
tatra prayātā gacchanti brahma brahma-vido janāḥ

Those who know the Supreme Brahman attain that Supreme by passing away from the world during the influence of the fiery god, in the light, at an auspicious moment of the day, during the fortnight of the waxing moon, or during the six months when the sun travels in the north.BG 8.24

We can see ample description of these two paths in our Puranas also. Here Shreemad Bhagvat purana verse describing one of the Path.

सूर्यद्वारेण ये यन्ति पुरुषं विश्वतोमुखं |
परावरेशं प्रकृतिमस्योत्पत्यन्तभावनम् ||7|| SB 3.32.7

sūrya-dvāreṇa te yānti puruṣaṁ viśvato-mukham
parāvareśaṁ prakṛtim asyotpatty-anta-bhāvanam

And finally they through Surya Marga (Archi Marga OR Deva Yaan Marga ) attain Brahman.

The word sūrya-dvāreṇa means “by the illuminated path,” or through the sun planet. The illuminated path is devotional service. It is advised in the Vedas not to pass through the darkness, but to pass through the sun planet. It is also recommended here that by traversing the illuminated path one can be freed from the contamination of the material modes of nature; by that path one can enter into the kingdom where the completely supreme Lord resides.

Moksha Moksha derives from the root verb ‘muk’ = to loose, to let loose, to free, to let go, to slacken, to release, to liberate, through its participle form mokshyati = to be loosed, to be set free, to be released. Moksha thus means emancipation, liberation, release. Two other terms often used as synonyms for Moksha are kaivalya and nirvana,

Moksha is the highest of the four legitimate aims (purusharthas) of human existence. However, it is difficult to get clear definitions of Moksha in Hindu scripture. The state of Moksha has been differently conceptualised by various schools of thought, and the Upanishads, the bedrock of Hindu philosophy, often describe Moksha in metaphorical and poetic language that easily lends to different interpretations.

However I am providing some definitions of moksha from Vedanta School of thought. Here Mundaka Upanishad Mundaka 3 -Khanda 2 -Page 8 says किं च मोक्षकाले – What at the time of Moksha ?

गता : कला: पञ्चदश प्रतिष्ठा देवाच्श सर्वे प्रतिदेवतासु |
कर्माणि विज्ञानमयच्श आत्मा परेsव्यये सर्व एकीभवन्ति ||7||

The fifteen parts go back to their causes, and all the senses to their deities; the actions, and the Atman reflected in the buddhi, become one with the highest imperishable Brahman, which is the Self of all.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (IV.3.21) Page 660 , however, describes Moksha as the state where all desires and the resultant sorrows have been quelled; “

तद्भा अस्यैतदतिच्छन्दा अपहतपाम्पाभयं रूपम् |
तदयथा प्रियया स्त्रिया संपरिव्षक्तो न बाह्यं किञ्चन वेद नान्तरम् |
एवमेवायं परुष: प्राज्ञेतात्मा संपरिव्षक्तो बाह्यं किञ्चन वेद नान्तरम् |
तद्वा अस्यैतदात्पकाममात्मकाममकामं रूपं शोकान्तरं ||21||

That is his form-beyond desires, free from evils, and fearless. As a man, fully embraced by his beloved wife~ does not know anything at all, either external or internal, so does this infinite being (self), fully embraced by the Supreme Self, not know anything at all , either external or internal. That is his form. in which all objects of desire have been attained and are 'but the self, and which is free from desires and devoid of grief.

Now liberation in the form of identity with all, which is the result, devoid of action with its factors and results, of knowledge, and in which there is no ignorance, desire, or work,

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