As per Hinduism we have 6 lokas above us Bhuloka (Earth):

  1. Bhuvar Loka
  2. Swarga Loka
  3. Mahar Loka
  4. Jana Loka
  5. Tapa Loka
  6. Satya Loka

There is wide spread belief that those who reach Swarga Loka will return.

  1. What will happen to the karma they have done in Swarga Loka? As Swarga Loka is only for the Jivatmas who had accumulated lots of Punya, then by definition, they can only perform positive karma in that case. If positive karma is performed in Swarga Loka why do they return back to the Earth?

  2. If there is no effect for the positive karma done in Swarga Loka for the Jivatmas, what will happen to karma performed in Swarga Loka when they return to Earth?

  3. If the above (there is no effect for the positive karma done in Swarga Loka) is true then why are there other Lokas such as Maharloka, Janaloka, and Tapaloka? What would Jivatmas in these Lokas do? Are they wasting their karma just waiting to return back to Earth?

  • On account of good deeds person attains heaven and on exhaustion of its merits returns back to earth. This is general rule. There might be some devatas who would ascend higher heavens or even attain mukti. But generally speaking they return to earth. Devata is a bhog-yoni. Like a mall where you don't earn but spend. And after you have spent all you go to work place to earn more.1/2 Jul 9, 2019 at 8:23
  • Secondly devatas are not qualified to do karma such as ashvamedha etc. Due to them being already above it. Ex. A graduate person is not qualified to answer 10th exam. Similarly devatas are not qualified in vedic karma kand. However owing to desires and lack of knowledge of Brahman they return to earth once their prarabdh as devata is over 2/2 Jul 9, 2019 at 8:26
  • 1
    suppose you are in shop you bought bounty lottery ticket then you are earning in shop, or you buy stock in stock exchange but the act is spending actually you are earning.. @vishalprabhulawande what will happen in swargha lokha karma.. suppose you are sitting ideal also result in karma even if you think past time of lord there what will happen to the time you spent thinking past of time of lord krishna there in swargha lokha..
    – Prasanna R
    Jul 9, 2019 at 8:43

1 Answer 1


Nothing happens after death to the atma which is merely a witness. It is the subtle body that is affected by death. Check Gita 2.17-2.22 for the answer to your question. For example, Gita 2.22 says,

'Just as a man gives up old garments and puts on new ones, so the embodied self abandons decrepit bodies and assumes new ones.

Gita 2.22

What happens immediately after death? The answer is given in Gita 15.8 which says,

When he gets a new body or abandons an old one, the Jiva, the lord of the body, moves, carrying them (the mind and the senses) with him, as the wind carries smells from their seats (in flowers and the like).

Gita 15.8

What this means is that the physical body dies but the mind and the senses leave the physical body.Persons who have not attained moksha are part of the life-death-life.... cycle. They may also have to stay in heaven or hell for some time if they have done a particularly good thing or a heinous crime, respectively, which cannot be adequately rewarded or punished in the Earth plane. After the merit of their particular good karma or the demerit of their particular bad karma is exhausted, they will again be born into the Earth plane. The process is linked to the concept of residual karma. This residual karma idea and what happens to evil-doers is explained in Brahma Sutra.

But of others (i.e. those who have not performed sacrifices etc.) the ascent is to the abode of Yama, and after having experienced (the results of their evil works) the descent (to the earth again takes place). On account of such a passage (for the evil-doer) being declared by the Sruti.

(Brahma Sutra Sankara Bhasya of Sankaracharya 3.1.13)

The Sruti passage referred to in the above shloka is:

The Hereafter never reveals itself to a person devoid of discrimination, heedless, and perplexed by the delusion of wealth. "This world alone exists," he thinks," and there is no other." Again and again he comes under my sway.

(Yama speaks in Katha Upanishad I.2.6)

It is clear that if you do bad deeds that you end up in Yama Loka. However, there are two perplexing questions here. Does the person who descends to earth from Yama loka (or Swarga loka) return with any Karma (i.e. is the Karma of the evil-doer after serving his term in Yama loka zero?)? What decides that a person will after death be immediately reborn in earth or return to earth after serving a time in Yama loka? These two questions are actually linked. The answer to this question is given in Brahma Sutra:

On the exhaustion of (good) work (the soul) with residual Karma (descends to this earth), as is known from the Sruti amd Smriti, along the path (it) went by (from here) and differently too.

(Brahma Sutra Sankara Bhasya 3.1.8)

The above Sutra says that what is exhausted in heaven is only that specific Karma which gave the soul a birth in lower heaven, but on the exhaustion of this Karma the remaining Karma, good and bad, brings it back to earth. One cannot do karma in either swarga loka or in naraka. While this Sutra talks of heaven and good deed, it also applies to Yama Loka and bad deeds. Let me explain the idea by a concrete example. Let us suppose that a dead person has a list of 10 karmas with goodness values (1, -3, 4, 5, -100, 4, 3, 2, 5, 8) where the minus sign stands for evil deeds. What Brahma Sutra Sankara Bhasya 3.1.8 is saying is that this person will go to Yama Loka only for that extremely evil deed of goodness value -100. After he has exhausted the bad effect due to the -100 Karma, he can then go back to earth with the residual karma (1, -3, 4,5,4,3,2,5,8). The idea is that only extremely evil or good deeds lead a man to Yama loka or to lower heavens. All minor good and bad karmas are served on the earth plane.The person who has attained moksha is free forever from the endless cycle of Samsara. The cycle of birth and death will only end after the attainment of moksha or liberation. The length of the process will depend on how quickly or slowly the person will attain moksha.

  • Thanks for the detail answer but your in short is jivas cannot perform karma in swargha and naraka.. if you have ahamkara there is always karma right.. in swargha jeevas go and visit lord krishna, are there no temples or adobe of god,, i think one form of vamana is still there in physcial form in swargha.. so what happen to the punya worshipping there?
    – Prasanna R
    Jul 11, 2019 at 6:50
  • Swami Swahananda of the Southern California Ramakrishna Vedanta Center used to tell us that life in Swarga is so immensely pleasureable that a person will immerse himself in pleasure and not worry about God or spiritual practices. Any way I posted what Hindu scriptures say. I don't know more than that. Jul 11, 2019 at 6:54
  • if there is no karma in swargha is baffling.. Than the whole question will come whether there is karma for for sushma sararira.. performing karma with sthuala is having effect, what about sushma after death its only sushma body goes to swargha.. as we know from upanishad episode in brindaranyaka, Gandharva ghost transferring his knowledge through Panchala Kapya Rishis wife.. to uddalaka, but can a ghost have karma i believe yes. this opens Pandora box of questions
    – Prasanna R
    Jul 11, 2019 at 7:38
  • Karma is residual to atman always it cannot be separated.. just like fragrance and flower from your example @PradipGangopadhyay those who are good naturally they become more good.. and achieve moksha ultimately by this theory.. those who are bad will become more bad.. and reach andhamas..
    – Prasanna R
    Jul 11, 2019 at 8:49

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