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I would like to know if re-birth take place immediately after the death according to Hinduism? Some people say, if the man has done some good karma, he will be gone to heaven and then enjoy the celestial pleasures there and then will be re born.

  1. How much time does it take for a soul to enter another body?

  2. Does this depend upon the karma he has done? For example, if he has done more good karma, he will be in the heaven for more time, so it will take more time for him to enter another body?

  3. Also, is heaven a planet that exists or an imagination? What is meant actually by enjoying the celestial pleasures offered by Indra? Is it enjoying them in the next birth on earth or before birth?

  • There is no fixed rule. It depends entirely upon your own jiva's karma. Some take birth shortly, some may not take rebirth until the next cycle. And most some time period in between. Heaven - lokas - are planes of existence. – Swami Vishwananda Dec 20 '15 at 4:27
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No, not immediately. As per the scriptures, depending upon his good/virtuous and bad/sinful actions, the jivatama will be taken to Yama and after judgement he will first experience the results of his actions accordingly either in heaven or hell [Agni Pu. - 203.5]. Only after he has experienced those that he will obtain another body on earth.

So to answer the questions 1 and 2, yes it depends upon the karma. More good karma means more time in heaven and hence it will take more time until the jivatma enters another body. Only after their stock of punya is over that they fall down to earth:

te taṁ bhuktvā svarga-lokaṁ viśālaṁ
kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti
[BG - 9.21]

Meaning
When they have thus enjoyed vast heavenly sense pleasure and the results of their pious activities are exhausted, they return to this mortal planet again.

To answer the third question, heaven is a different realm of existence. It's not imagination and to enjoy it means enjoying them there in that specific realm before taking birth here again. Some people say heaven and hell are here only, on this very earth. But apart from this earth there exists other planes of existences and they are not imaginary.

However, I would like to add that heaven, hell and many other realms of existence up to the topmost Brahmaloka, the abode of Brahma, are under the effect and influence of maya. Going there through penance, good action, etc. is nothing but only a waste of time as one has to ultimately return here anyway. Only by attaining the realm of God that one will never have to return and take birth in this mortal plane again. So the Gita says:

a-brahma-bhuvanal lokah punar avartino 'rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate
[BG - 8.16]

Meaning
From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.


Update

In the above post I said that it is a waste of time to go to upper planes of existence through penance, sacrifice, etc. as the end result is only but miserable bondage. But some people like Keshav below don't call it a waste of time. They argue that some people find that path very fulfilling. But Veda calls these kind of people as the supreme fools:

iṣṭāpūrtaṃ manyamānā variṣṭhaṃ nānyacchreyo vedayante pramūḍhāḥ
nākasya pṛṣṭhe te sukṛte'nubhūtvemaṃ lokaṃ hīnataraṃ vā viśanti
[Mund. Up. - 1.2.10]

Meaning
They are but supreme fools who believing the rites ordained by the Vedas to be the highest, do not understand the other thing that leads to liberation. They, having enjoyed the fruits of actions in higher heavens fall down to this world or even to a world lower.

yām imāṁ puṣpitāṁ vācaṁ pravadanty avipaścitaḥ
veda-vāda-ratāḥ pārtha nānyad astīti vādinaḥ
kāmātmānaḥ svarga-parā janma-karma-phala-pradām
kriyā-viśeṣa-bahulāṁ bhogaiśvarya-gatiṁ prati
[BG - 2.42,43]

Meaning
Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, resultant good birth, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this.

There are people of different knowledge and nature who follow different kinds of philosophy. There are fools who do not know what's the best use of time and there are wise who know what's the best use of time. Is it not childish for someone to raise the argument that "It is not a waste of time because the foolish persons do it and find it fulfilling"?

But when I said it a waste of time, I didn't give my own view, I am hardly that wise! I only shared in in short the view of the scriptures as evident from the following verses:

tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatām upary adhaḥ
[SB - 1.5.18]

Meaning
Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavor only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable even by wandering from the topmost planet [Brahmaloka] down to the lowest planet [Pātāla]

evaṁ hi lokāḥ kratubhiḥ kṛtā amī
kṣayiṣṇavaḥ sātiśayā na nirmalāḥ
tasmād adṛṣṭa-śruta-dūṣaṇaṁ paraṁ
bhaktyoktayeśaṁ bhajatātma-labdhaye
[SB - 7.7.40]

Meaning
It is learned from Vedic literature that by performing great sacrifices one may elevate himself to the heavenly planets. However, although life on the heavenly planets is hundreds and thousands of times more comfortable than life on earth, the heavenly planets are not pure [nirmalam], or free from the taint of material existence. The heavenly planets are also temporary, and therefore they are not the goal of life. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, however, has never been seen or heard to possess inebriety. Consequently, for your own benefit and self-realization, you must worship the Lord with great devotion, as described in the revealed scriptures.

I am not adding other verses that also share the view to lengthen the post, as from this update I hope I made it clear that it is not my personal view that going up only to return later and get entangled in karma in various life forms is only a waste of time.

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    "Going there through penance, good action, etc. is nothing but only a waste of time as one has to ultimately return here anyway." Well, I wouldn't call it a waste of time. Some people find that path very fulfilling. People who follow Samkhya or Purva Mimamsa, for instance, often just want to become king of the three worlds for one Manvantara. They don't consider it a waste just because it's for a finite time. Now of course Moksha would be even better, but from their perspective they see no reason to get it. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 7 '14 at 7:56
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    @KeshavSrinivasan Certainly you would not call it a waste of time because that suits the level of your understanding of the actual message of the scriptures. Please do not take me wrong, I don't know how to talk smart but I understand the intention of everyone. I know your voting, arguing, commenting strategy, etc. and your way around here. I overlook all, but I felt sad and sorry reading this comment of yours. – Be Happy Dec 9 '14 at 2:55
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    I'm sorry, I've clearly annoyed you, and that was not my intention. Since you were good enough to edit your post to address my comment, I've reversed my downvote. In any case, I certainly agree with you that it's an infinitely better use of time to pursue Moksha than to pursue lesser things. I was just quibbling with your choice of words; in conventional parlance people use "waste of time" to refer to someone spending time doing one thing when they could have instead used that time to further their own goals. You're talking about the goals they ought to have. That was my only point. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 9 '14 at 3:42
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    @KeshavSrinivasan Hey, no need to say sorry or apologize as i am not a bit annoyed. I felt sorry not because you or someone down voted the answer as that has happened many times even without proper reasons, but because though a Vaishnava you raised the point to not call it a waste of time because the mimansakas do it (not the samkhyas). Some people study and preach scriptures to showoff their erudition and some do in the hope to spread what's good. This difference was and will always there be. What's there to feel bad about? So I am neither annoyed, nor offended. – Be Happy Dec 9 '14 at 6:02
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    There is the path of kramamukti where people go to Brahmaloka and practising tapasya in Brahmaloka attain Mukti there. I would not say going to a higher plane is a complete waste of time for these people. Of course it would be nice to attain Mukti here. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Dec 18 '14 at 16:31
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Q: How much time does it take for a soul to enter another body?

A : In Bhagavath Geetha it is said the soul jumps from one body to another. But if suicidal the soul has to wait in sky until it`s specified time comes. Here the example is in Srimath Bagavatam's Gokarna story.

Q: Does this depend upon the karma he has done? For example, if he has done more good karma, he will be in the heaven for more time, so it will take more time for him to enter another body?

A: Confirmedly rebirth based on Karma. Vachaka Karma, Maanasha Karma, Kaayaka Karma. Whether Good Karma or Bad Karma the soul will take rebirth. The Karma Good or Bad has to become nil for moksha. If one does extensive Dhana & Dharma he goes to Indra Loka. There are 13 worlds other than ours. Nala & Manigoopa are 2 Gandervas who did wrong Karma in Ganderva Lokam. They had to be born on this earth as 2 trees. Sri Krishna as child when tied to roller, went in between these 2 tress and released them from being as trees. Bali chakravarthi daughter on seeing Sri Vaamana, deeply thinks how good to have a child like Sri Vaamana. But when Vaamana takes his real manifestation, she thinks deeply that such a child should be poisoned by breast milk. This lady takes birth as Demon Poothana, who tried to kill Sri Krishna by her breast poisoned milk. This is a type of Karma. If one reads Jada Bharatha life in Srimath Bagavath, he will know even a great saint was affected by Karma, like that had to be born, because of attachment on deer. In Tamil great saint Thirumoolar said, “Aasai Arumin, Aasai Arumin, Eason Aayinum, Aasai Arumin”. Which means when there is a desire, even GOD is not spared. This relates to Jaya Vijaya at the doors of Sri Vaikuntam and Sri Vishnu had to be born as Sri Rama and Sri Krishna to kill Jaya Vijaya. About Karma excellent examples are told in Vivekachudamani of Sri Adi Sankara. In Shiva Yogi puran, a karma can also extend date of death. In Guruvayur puranam, the Chola king death was extended by a karma he did. In simple terms, if one has a desire/Karma to his account, he has to complete that to avoid rebirth. But when he takes another body he accumulates fresh karmas/desires amounting to another birth. Ref :Baja Govindam script. If one reads Garbopanashid & Kapila geetha, it will be known details of Karma. Gyanapana song sung by Saint Poothanam tells you in details of Karma & ignorance & 13 other worlds, how many types of births, mukthi etc. The best examples of escaping birth is from recent times life of Sri Arunagiri Nathar, Pattinathar, Bala yogi (Whose real video is with me), Vallar. Another great examples of life of Sri Poodhanam, Sri Tukaram, Sri Badrachala Ramadoss, they were in family life till last, when Puspaka Vimanam (Flying Plain) came and took them alive in full public view.

Q: Also, is heaven a planet that exists or an imagination?

A: Heavenly planet and Indra Loka is total enjoyment. There one lives for 36000 years. Certain planet one is born 36 years of body when compared to us, but remains 36 years until death (No aging). Heavenly planets total details are in Upanashids/puranas. But it is confirmed that one should come to this earth to obtain liberation/mukthi/moksha. Besides there are number of incidents that people from different planets came to this earth to do Yagna, pooja, Tapas. In this concept, Sri Mahalakshmi came to this earth to do Tapas, as from Sri Venkatachala Mahathiyam. Sri Parvathi Devi came to this earth to do tapas for 3000 years as from the history of Sri Ekambareeswarar temple inscriptions. That is why Sri Adi Sankara said, “Maanusha Deham Dullabam” (Rare is human birth) Many many have read like me these matters. But I invite them aged between 60 to 70 to join me, they hesitate to leave their dear ones and come on Vanaprasta. They will their dear ones on death. On dying only they realize that they did a big mistake. One`s thoughts remain in universal conscience until next birth. That conscience gives them abundant sufferings of doing mistakes while living. The each soul thinks that in next birth it will only do Tapas and avoid rebirth. But on touching the atmosphere the whole super conscience vanishes, as the past Karmas one has to undergo.

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    Welcome to Hinduism SE! You should cite sources for you answer. For example, Here are links for Bhagavatam and Bagavad Gita . Also, please format your answer. – The Destroyer Dec 19 '15 at 13:24
  • Did Thirumoolar live for 3000 years? – user9554 Jun 14 '17 at 12:02
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Re-birth depends mainly on two points,Will of your subconscious mind and purity of atma. The rebirth process is very simple and is similar to cloud -rain-water-vapours -clouds and re-rain. Purity of atma is dependent on his karma.Like water with impurities will not evaporate unless separated from impurities.The purer the water the lighter will be it's weight and higher it can reach.For rebirth one has to attain a definite height. This process is very similar to the process of cracking of crude oil. Each and every karma either purifies or impures the soul.The more bad karma will lead to more impurities.

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    Welcome to Hinduism SE! You should cite sources. – The Destroyer Jun 25 '16 at 4:56
  • Good thinking. Trying o explain it Scientifically. – b.sahu Dec 22 '16 at 20:39
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  1. Soul(atma) is placed in the heart as reflection of the super soul(Paramatma) and the presence of soul in the body gives raise to creation of Jeeva which is a super imposed self. All the souls have come come from the same source and shall go back to the same source. This Jeeva is having freedom and is guided by mind, controlled by buddhi. Due to the free will, this jeeva takes to mundane forces and starts acting and reacting thereby creating a dome of Karma. For example, when we see a rose grown in a pot not belonged to us, the reaction of each person to this rose differs. Some look at it, enjoys it, some try to pluck it, some may eat also. The Atma is neutral and always trying to get back the source but gets entrapped in Jeeva. Like someone wants to reach a place and sits in an auto. Body is auto and the driver is Jeeva or self. Our endeavour is to drive self with the suitable vehicle and select the suitable path. Now the soul over lives, tries to reduce the effect of Jeeva and assumes control of Jeeva and Body. To do this, the soul has to keep on changing the body as body is having lot of limitations and with with each change effect is Jeeva is getting reduced and suitable new body is is being provided.

Every day, mother nature provides an opportunity to redeem ourselves and move towards the correct path. Each individual has to select his/her own path. Realised gurus, scriptures do help these seeking individual to some extent in any religion. Chances of getting misguided are there. Also mother nature has provided all that is needed to realise and uplift oneself from within. When the vision is turned towards inside, the real action starts like it will remove all external attachments in the form of material things, relationships, identification etc. There is an inner development starts and the individual starts experiencing tremendous internal energy and the body cannot sustain. Sometimes, this energy is used for external gains and the individual gets into a bigger trouble. But normally, individual will be facilitated to reach the higher spiritual levels by providing a new body in form of death and next birth.

This depends upon the level of intensity with which the individual has taken up spiritual ascent. More intense, more detachment to material things and outwardly that person appears to be very ordinary with no extra qualities or powers. His/her internal development would not be made known to others and attimes to repective individual. With spiritual ascent gradually progressing, with each death, the soul is getting more and more liberated, will be allowed to choose the birth pattern, family, area, life and would take birth. So there is no set pattern for the timeline to take rebirth which depends on many factors.

Such of those who are in karmic cycle, let us say I have borrowed money from somebody and intentionally did not repay in which case, I will have to keep coming until the other person takes birth, and provides a chance to repay the debt with interest. In the meantime, during my births, I might have created some more Karma and it is difficult to get rid of this without enlightenment. Conversely if somebody borrowed money from me, until they return it, they have to take births. This is secret of getting aid from somebody when least expected. Also it may be noted here that mother nature does not keep anything with her. She would provided a temporary vault for recoding and keeping one's karmas under lock and the key is left with that individual. Only respective individual shall have to clear the vault be it good or bad karma.

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