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Divine judgement and the concept of the soul going to either heaven or hell based on actions on Earth is present in many religions. But this concept is conspicuously absent in Hinduism - rather rebirth is given more importance. What are the reasons for this?

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    No one can escape Karma. One has to get the phala for his Karma. So maybe one can consider the law of Karma to be the judge. Also heaven or hell is not permanent. Hence it does not need a judge to grant green cards. Natural law of Karma will do its work and send people from heaven back to earth if needed. – Bharat Jul 12 '14 at 23:59
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"But this concept is conspicuously absent in Hinduism" Nothing is farther from the truth. The Garuda Purana describes in great detail how Yama the god of death judges each soul based on Chitragupta's listing of the person's good deeds and bad deeds:

The sinful man cries when he hears the mingled wails of "Oh, Oh," and having heard his cry, those who walk about in the city of Yama.... He, having gone to Chitragupta, reports the good and evil deeds. Then Chitragupta tells it to [Yama] the King of Justice. The men who are Deniers, O Tārkshya, and always delight in great sin; these are all, as is proper, well-known to the King of Justice. Nevertheless, he asks Chitragupta about their sins. Chitragupta, although he is all-knowing, enquires of the Śravaṇas.... These report to Chitragupta everything that is said and done, openly and secretly, by men. These followers of the King of Justice know accurately all the virtues and vices of mankind, and the karma born of mind, speech and body.

To the man who pleases them by austerity, charity and truthful speech, they become benevolent, granting heaven and liberation. Knowing the wicked actions of the sinful, those truth-speakers, relating them before the King of Justice, become dispensers of misery.... Then, by command of Yama, Chitragupta speaks to all those sinners, who are crying, and bewailing their karmas, "O, you sinners, evil-doers, polluted with egoism, injudicious, why ever did you commit sin?" ... The King of Justice, seeing them standing motionless like thieves, has fitting punishment ordered for the sinful.

Then the cruel messengers, having beaten them, say, "Go along, you sinner, to the very dreadful terrifying hells." ... "Oh, forgive my faults" -- with suppliant hands, those most. sinful people, helpless, implore the messengers.... "Forgiveness of faults is done by the Lord Hari Īśwara. We only punish miscreants, as we are ordered."

So make sure you pray to Lord Hari (Vishnu)!

By the way, this doesn't mean there's no reincarnation; later on the Garuda Purana says "Those who are very sinful, having passed through dreadful hells produced by their great sins, are born here upon the exhaustion of their karma." And similarly concerning good people it says "The righteous man having enjoyed heaven, is born in a stainless family."

You should also know that the goal isn't ultimately to enjoy Devaloka (heaven) or to be reincarnated as something good. Rather, the goal of existence is to escape this Samsara, this cycle of birth, death, reward and punishment in the afterlife, etc. and to attain Moksha, or union with the gods.

  • How is moksha union with god while some say it's union with your true self the atman or with vaishnavite prespective it is unification with the ultimate parabramhn lord Shri Hari or Lord MahaVishnu which is higer than any god. – Yogi Jul 31 '15 at 6:18
  • @Yogi Well, from a Vaishnava perspective Vishnu is certainly the supreme being and is higher than the other gods, but he's still a god himself. As the Shatapatha Brahmana of the Yajur Veda says, "Vishnu is the most excellent of the gods." hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/4036/36 – Keshav Srinivasan Jul 31 '15 at 6:28
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It is because Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma based on eternal truths and reincarnation is truth not divine judgement. Saying God judges people is ascribing lowly human qualities to God. Because God doesn't judge anyone. It is our own karmas which judge us and accordingly our next incarnation is decided by our own karmas.

  • The gods absolutely judge us according to our karma; see my answer. And that is not ascribing any lowly qualtiies to them. – Keshav Srinivasan Aug 5 '14 at 19:21
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Hinduism perhaps have most extensive answer regarding what happens after death. The soul may take one of the three paths- to the devaloka, to the pitraloka, or to various narakas. Later they would be reborn in manushya loka as various animals, or plants, or as humans. Everything is government by Karmic law.

In Bhagavad Purana and Manu Smriti some general guidelines regarding what kind of karmas give what kind of results have been given.

Some descriptions are here - 1. Manu Smriti 12th Chapter, Manu Smriti Chapter 4, Verse 87-90. 2. Srimad Bhagavata Purana: 5.26. The chapter is dedicated to 28 types of Narakas.

Garuda Purana is another source.

  • You should cite sources (you should give specific citations and or quotes from the Bhagavata Purana the Manu Smriti). – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 20 '15 at 18:58
  • Check the chapters I have mentioned! – Nithin Sridhar Sep 21 '15 at 0:26

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