When the physical body of a soul which got moksha is no more, the soul is said to reach the abode of Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu.

And abode is like being united with the ultimate consciousness. What will the soul do when it gets moksha? Does it take a physical form in the abode of Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu?

Next, if the soul doesn't get moksha, it is said to either go to heaven or hell depending upon the karma. Now, to either get the punishments of hell or to enjoy the celestial pleasures offered by Indra, the soul should enter a physical body.

In the same way, though there are no pleasures and only bliss in the abode of Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu, does the soul need a physical body to enjoy that bliss?

What actually does the soul do in the abode? Does it meditate or what?

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    Think about these...What will River Ganga do after meeting the Ocean? Does the river retains its "physical form" even after meeting the Ocean? Is there anything left for Ganga to do, after meeting the ocean, at her individual level? And you should get your answer.
    – Hindu
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 18:35
  • @Hindu She gets mixed up with the ocean and it is impossible to separate her from that ocean. Ok. Now, how could I understand that waves in the ocean?
    – user12458
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 3:58
  • 2
    Waves are in "the river Ganga" too. Buddy. :) Understand your-Self first.
    – Hindu
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 4:02
  • 1
    One is smaller, other is BIG! :)
    – Hindu
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 4:04
  • 1
    What is the "form" of the River Ganga, after meeting the ocean? Yeah...its that of the ocean itself. No?
    – Hindu
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 4:09

7 Answers 7


Let us first try to understand what moksha means. Moksha is commonly translated as complete liberation.

So what are we being liberated from? For us to be liberated, we must be bound right? So what are we bound by (Bhagavad Gita 14:5)

Sattva, rajas and tamas—these qualities, O mighty-armed Arjuna, born of Nature, bind fast in the body, the embodied, the indestructible!

So, basically Sri Krishna says that these gunas of Sattva (Goodness),. Rajas (Excitement) and Tamas (Laziness) bind and enslave the indestructible soul, which is embodied in the body.

So liberation is basically being liberated from these gunas. The one who is unattached, the one who is free of desire, free of the six enemies (kama, krobha, lobha, moha, madha, matsarya), He is liberated.

Such a man, who is thus liberated, exercises FREE WILL. so what is free will? People usuallly think that free will means being able to do what one wants, but many saints say that such will is not really free, but rather bound will. For example, when we decide to do something we want, if we look deep what is our reason for doing the same, it is usually either our desire to get something (influence of senses), fear of losing (influence of mind), hatred against some/something (influence of ego) or just plain 'if I dont do it now, I will not be able to do it later' (influence of attachment and greed). Then how can such action be called FREE ACTION.

So long as we are under control of mind and body attachment or ego-attachment, so long as we identify ourselves as 'X' name and 'Z' form, then we cannot claim to have free will, it will always be bound by nature and therefore it is actually BOUND will and not really FREE.

Thus the man who has been liberated, still performs action, but He is free of the bondages which bind him, in other words, He performs duty without attachment to fruits, as prescribed by Sri Krishna in Gita 2:51:

The wise give up the results of their actions and thus liberate themselves from the bondage of material birth and death.

Simply put, the realized being now performs the truly FREE action, FREE will, Free from all desires.

Now, does this mean that the soul attains a so called 'abode' of Divine, which is a metaphorical plane of existence? That is interpreted differently by different schools of thought, Some believe that there is no such plane that liberated souls go to, because liberation itself is free-ing oneself from birth and death, therefore one who attains liberation is freed from all body-attachment and is therefore becomes ONE with God or His TRUE Self or Sri Krishna or Lord Shiva (whatever you want to call that Ultimate GOAL of life). According to other schools, one is REBORN in a so-called LOKA where He indulges in eternal play or Leela with Bhagavan or God.

If you specifically mean to ask what does the 'soul' do after moksha, rather than what kind of actions does one do once he attains moksha. Then the soul really 'does' what has always been doing = Being the Witness. Actions only happen in the relative plane. The soul is always unacttached and unaffected. The soul remains existence-knowledge-bliss (Sat chit ananda) as it always was.

Shankaracharya's Shivoham Mantra:

Mano Buddhi Ahankara Chitta Ninaham
Nacha Shrotra Jihve Na Cha Ghrana Netre
Nacha Vyoma Bhoomir Na Tejo Na Vayu
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham

I am not mind, nor intellect, nor ego, 
nor the reflections of mind-stuff (chitta).
I am not the five senses.
I am beyond that.
I am not the ether, nor the earth, 
nor the fire, nor the wind (the five elements).
I am indeed, 
That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva,
love and pure consciousness.

Basically one realizes that He is not the body, not the mind, not the ego, but the SOUL (or Atma or Brahman or Vishnu or Shiva or a part of Brahman or a member of God's kingdom based on your school of thought). The SOUL is the witness and is never attached to actions, nor the enjoyer of its fruits.

If you meant what happens to the one (individual consciousness) once it reaches abode of Vishnu or Shiva (ultimate consciousness), then this is what Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa says about realization/moksha and what happens after:

Once a salt doll went to measure the depth of the ocean. It wanted to tell others how deep the water was. But this it could never do, for no sooner did it get into the water than it dissolved. Now, who was there to report the ocean's depth? What Brahman is- cannot be described. In samadhi one attains the knowledge of Brahman -- one realises Brahman. In that state reasoning stops altogether, and man becomes mute. He has no power to describe the nature of Brahman.

Basically from advaitic standpoint, nobody really knows what happens to individual consciousness once it merges in Absolute (once self-realization occurs or once one realizes that he is not the body, mind, ego, etc. but Atman/Brahman/Shiva/Vishnu/God). One can only speculate

  • I think you are confused between "A soul getting MOKSHA" and the event of "a Human, in flesh and blood, getting 'liberated' (and thus be Stitha-Pragya)". 'Will' in itself, has a sense of Time in it. But Moksha means, being out of Time. Indeed! there is NO such thing as "free" will, but we talk about it ONLY in context of this MRITYU LOKA, i.e govern by TIME.
    – Hindu
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 4:48
  • 3
    @Hindu there is no such thing as 'soul' getting moksha, the soul is, was and always FREE. a human is bound by his desires and tendencies. He gets liberated when He realizes He is not that body, but the Atma, or Soul. Indeed moksha is being out of time, did I contradict that elsewhere?If so please tell me and will correct myself. Thank you for your consideration Sir
    – Sai
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 4:52
  • Oh buddy! :) Like the River Ganga has two banks, this Sansaar also has two sides of "GOOD" and "BAD", and we are all like the water molecules of Ganga, going with the "flow of Time". Our ULTIMATE target is the "Ocean", NO MATTER WHAT! But STILL some are lingering around either on the GOOD SIDE or BAD SIDE. Some are so stuck in the water-collections on the banks, that they would require good deal of "flow-time" to get out of there. THE LIBERATED are the ones who are in the middle. far from ANY BANK just flowing. And Moksha is THE moment when THEY (Liberated) finally meets the Ocean.
    – Hindu
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 5:35
  • 3
    Nice analogy buddy. Seems like we are basically saying the same thing. Liberation is this: freedom from bondage. What is it that binds what? Understanding this is key. Tendencies bind the mind. But the soul is untouched. The soul is the 'water' or the basis behind the 'wave' or the mind. The waves think they have independent existence, each wave is temporary, but the basis is 'water' or the Self - Atman (Permanent). One who realizes this is the one who has thus liberated Himself from all the waxing and waning of the Human Mind, because He has realized Himself as 'That' (Soham). This advaita :)
    – Sai
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 5:45
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    We are good! Lets leave it here.
    – Hindu
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 14:08

From the impersonal view liberation means giving up this material existence and merging into Brahman.

From the personalist view liberation means giving up this material existence and go to the Vaikhunta planets.

Now from the point of view of Srimad Bhagavatam here is some relevant information on the personalist view.

What is mukti, liberation?

Bhagavatam 2.10.6 says:

muktir hitvanyatha rupam  sva-rupena vyavasthitih

Liberation is the permanent situation of the form of the living entity after he gives up the changeable gross and subtle material bodies

Note the reference to giving up anyatha rupam (the other form, i.e material form) and become situated in sva-rupa (the original form). So we have a spiritual form that is currently covered by this material form and liberation means uncovering our already existing form by getting out of the material clutches. This spiritual form is not made of matter but it is made of sat (eternity), cit(knowledge) and ananda(bliss). In a conditioned state is inconceivable on how a form can exist in this manner.

What do we do once we go there?

We engage in the loving service of the Lord. In that service there is unlimited pleasure and devotees consider that pleasure of service to be uncomparable to any pleasure of svarga loka or merging into impesonal Brahman. We can get a peek of spiritual worlds from Bhagavatam. Here is some relevant information:

SB 2.9.9 — The Personality of Godhead, being thus very much satisfied with the penance of Lord Brahma, was pleased to manifest His personal abode, Vaikuntha, the supreme planet above all others. This transcendental abode of the Lord is adored by all self-realized persons freed from all kinds of miseries and fear of illusory existence.

SB 2.9.15 — Lord Brahma saw in the Vaikuntha planets the Personality of Godhead, who is the Lord of the entire devotee community, the Lord of the goddess of fortune, the Lord of all sacrifices, and the Lord of the universe, and who is served by the foremost servitors like Nanda, Sunanda, Prabala and Arhana, His immediate associates.

Also in the third canto where Lord Brahma describes Vaikhunta, one of the things he says is:

SB 3.15.14 — In the Vaikuntha planets all the residents are similar in form to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They all engage in devotional service to the Lord without desires for sense gratification.

You can read more here and here.


Moksh occurs at the point when the mind identifies with The Brahman, no matter what answer is given to describe this is incorrect because we heard it from someone who actually achieved this state in his life:

Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna Chapter 3

Brahman cannot be expressed in words

"What Brahman is cannot he described. All things in the world - the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, the six systems of philosophy - have been defiled, like food that has been touched by the tongue, for they have been read or uttered by the tongue. Only one thing has not been defiled in this way, and that is Brahman. No one has ever been able to say what Brahman is."

He gave many other examples, he also said that sages like Sri Sukdeva Ji and Jada Barath only touched that Ocean but did not plunge into It, hence they were able to return.
He tried to explain this put would slip into samadhi and could no longer speak.

But I would like to add (for my own mind mostly): Sri Ramakrishna Chapter 47

MASTER: "I say: O my foolish boy, eat the mangoes and be happy. What is the use of your calculating how many hundreds of trees, how many thousands of branches, and how many millions of leaves there are in the orchard? You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Eat them and be contented.


You wrote: "When the physical body of a soul which got moksha is no more, the soul is said to reach the abode of Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu."

According to various Puranas, depending on whether you are a Shavite or a Vashnavite. The Upanishads mention several lokas, the most common being Brahmaloka (abode of Brahma) and Prittiloka (abode of the fathers).

"And abode is like being united with the ultimate consciousness."

abode = loka not moksha. Not final liberation according to advaita. But abode = liberation if Shavite or Vashnavite or Ramanuja.

"What will the soul do when it gets moksha? Does it take a physical form in the abode of Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu?"

According to Upanishads a person has a fine body, which is the body survives after death and that will experience the different lokas.

"Next, if the soul doesn't get moksha, it is said to either go to heaven or hell depending upon the karma. Now, to either get the punishments of hell or to enjoy the celestial pleasures offered by Indra, the soul should enter a physical body."

heaven = loka. Let's be exact in terms used. Celestial pleasures are experienced in your fine body, not a physical body according to the Upanishads. I am not sure what the puranas say, so this may conflict with a Vashnavite or Shavite teaching. As far as hell is concerned there is some conflict in the commentators on whether there is hell or not. Krishna says that it is birth in sub-humans on earth; i.e., plants, insects, mosquitoes, etc...

"In the same way, though there are no pleasures and only bliss in the abode of Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu, does the soul need a physical body to enjoy that bliss?"

Again, according to Upanishads it is your fine body that experiences this, not a physical body.

"What actually does the soul do in the abode? Does it meditate or what?"

There is some conflict among Upanishad commentators as to when final liberation is achieved. Some say it occurs when it is achieved. According to other commentators a person who is to get Moksha, final liberation in an advaitaic sense, after death goes first to Brahmaloka (not to return to the earth) and at the end of the current cycle is then released. While in Brahmaloka, they meditate on Brahman. It is said it is like being able to see Brahman, but a clear glass still separates the soul from Brahman until the end of the cycle.

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    You should only use block quote if you're actually quoting something. Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 17:19
  • What is meant by fine body?
    – user12458
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 5:32
  • @javatechnical The body has 5 kosas or sheaths. The gross material body (annamayakosa), prana (pranamayakosa), mind (manomayakosa), buddhi (vijnanamaykosa), and bliss (anandamaykosa). The fine or suble body consists of the prana, mind, and buddhi kosas (Atmabodha 12.) Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 9:27
  • Means it isn't physical and not even imaginary?
    – user12458
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 9:29
  • @javatechnical Yes, the fine body is not physical and is not imaginary. Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 9:49

Bhagavata says there are totally 14 material/semi-material planes(lokas), out of them 7 above bhuloka(earthly plane) and 7 are below.Brahma loka being highest and patala is lowest.Apart from that there are numerous hellish planets are there (Narakas). All these lokas are subjected laws of nature and subjected to dissolution during end of time.

Bhagavata says that , there is one region or plane , which is beyond all these mentioned lokas. This one is NOT subjected to laws of nature , it was never created and will never be destroyed.It is eternal and beyond everything.That is Vaikunta, that is where liberated souls go.

Liberated souls who come here, get a divine vaikunta bodies, which is exactly replica of Narayana(Vishnu).Once there soul is eternally goes beyond material births and deaths(in any plane). There is nothing beyond here.

Lets come back to your original question , what would soul do after moksha

Souls on earth would be consisting of 7 material or spiritual bodies.A soul which is worthy of vaikunta should loose all material impurities in bhakti(or using any other discipline) in all its bodies. When it looses all these impurities , soul would so much like narayana, there would be hardly any separation. Mostly it would be thin line of separation.

Once in vaikunta, soul eternally experience celstial bliss along with narayana. There is still very few chances of falling though(like in the case of Jaya and Vijaya). But even if that is the case , they would come back to narayana in no time.

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    Welcome to Hinduism.SE! You shouldn't just say that the Srimad Bhagavatam says this or that, you should link to specific quotes. Here is the Srimad Bhagavatam: vedabase.com/en/sb Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 1:55
  • What about the body? To experience the bliss, doesn't it need a physical form?
    – user12458
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 5:34
  • I mentioned , in vaikunta , he gets divine body similar (with 4 hands) to narayana to enjoy it.
    – tekkk
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 5:35

For example all electric appliances can function only in the presence of electricity (Energy). Similarly Energy in the form heat, gravitation etc is the reason for functioning of earth itself. So we human beings are also functioning with the Soul ( which is our energy). If one has no function to perform, energy has no purpose and hence it is existing in the wholesome universe without any form. This stage of existing in the wholesome without any form and function is Mokshaa. So you remain as a driving force and energy in the universe but don't take any form theron

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    Welcome to Hinduism.SE! You should cite sources. Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 0:45

The body as such is taken by soul like a clothing treating diseases and disabilities are like mending the cloth. The soul form which we experience pain and happiness has no form it is our psychological thought to the extent of pain, fear and happiness. The body is happy or amazed in certain things it experience for the first time and this fades on repetitions (as realization of maya by soul) however, the same excitement remains for other new things. So there is a fine body in the existing body taking its decisions but with respect to the laws of the present position. That is it is not dominant(fine body) and cannot physically and mentally overcome the acquired body by birth. Over ruling and submitting the body to be sober will help fine body over take the existing birth which when achieved (by submitting oneself to the service of god by prayers, meditation and chanting the name of the lord) will lead to moksha that is conquering the birth by fine body. The body acquires skill through practice and one should follow various methods to practice and acquire the skill to reduce the dominance of body over soul. Barriers are Language and environment. Some languages do not have the dept of information and some places are too distractive to practice. The skills required to increase the dominance of soul over body are numerous be it worship (basic level), meditation (next to basic level) and penance (advanced level). Preaching cannot be same as these. We cannot go beyond worship unless we determine and when you do that regularly the next step will be smooth to follow. Like graduating from one level to higher. It should dwell upon an individual to seek such path which will lead them to moksha. If we follow spiritual path we have to be in a spiritual environment then body has to decide whether the purpose for which it is born(which will not be known to it) should be pursued of should the soul take over. It will be difficult to make a choice as you do not have the knowledge. To acquire knowledge you have to seek information. Then only of application of the knowledge in the right path it will lead to Wisdom. Then you can choose whether you will achieve your goal or teach other to achieve the same.

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    Welcome To hinduism SE! Although your answer is related to soul , but the question is " What happens to the soul after Moksha" and your question is not addressing this issue .Also pls. cite some sources in your answer. Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 9:14

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