Its said in some Upanishads that there is no consciousness after death. Yajnavalkya says in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.4.12 " The self comes out as a separate entity from these elements, and this separateness is destroyed with them. After attaining this oneness it has no more consciousness." Aitareya Upanishad 3.3 say Brahman is Consciousness.

But as Sri Ramanuja says in Sri Bhashya 1.1.1," The Advaitins may say that, when they say that consciousness is eternal, they do not refer to consciousness limited by objects like pot etc but to pure Consciousness unlimited by objects. Such pure Consciousness devoid of all objects does not exist, for it is not experienced. "

When there are no objects to experience or even body to experience after death, how can Nirguna Brahman exist for it is said to be Consciousness, Existence and Bliss? All the 3 properties of Brahman can be experienced only when one has a form(body) to experience an object, verify one's own existence and feel the Bliss.


2 Answers 2


Sri Ramanuja argues from the common sense point of view. We only see conscious beings and not consciousness itself. The problem with his argument is that Advaita Brahman is not an object.


Manu said, ‘Brahma(n) is not an object of touch, or of hearing, or of taste, or of sight, or of smell, or of any deductive inference from the Known. Only the Understanding (when withdrawn from everything else) can attain to it. All objects that the mind apprehends through the senses are capable of being withdrawn into the mind; the mind can be withdrawn into the understanding; the Understanding can be withdrawn into the soul, and the Soul into the Supreme.’

Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCIV

Advaita Brahman can't be proved because it does not exist as an object but only experienced when the ego dies.

Just look at what is said below about Brahman. Brahman is stated from the negative point of view.

Brahman according to Yajnavalkya

Yajnavalkya said: O Gargi, it is the supreme being that the non-yogins call gross but, in fact, that is eternal and wonderful lord; one that is not long, not red, that has no head, that has no setting, hence that has a lasting taste, that has no contact, no smell, no juice, no eyes, no ears, neither speech nor mind, no brilliance, no proof [or magnitude], no (worldly) happiness, no name, no race, no death, no age, no ailment; that is nectarine, that is expressed by the word Om, that is immortal, that has neither a predecessor nor a successor, that is endless and non-external. It eats something. It does not eat anything. ..

Linga Purana II.9.53–54

Sometimes Brahman is called Satchidananda, existence, knowledge and bliss. Here also Brahman does not exist but makes existence possible, makes knowledge possible makes bliss possible.

It is not possible to prove the existence of Advaita Brahman since it does not exist. It can only be experienced.


But when you say Brahman is existence and consciousness please tell me how it exists when atman leaves this Body and doesn't have a form? How can we define the existence and consciousness?


I have given the sequence after death.

'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

The Jiva exists even after death as the subtle body (mind and the senses).

Three stages after death

Listen to the course of a man dying on the earth. The first stage is that of Ativaha (the subtle body in transit); then that of ghost; then at the end of a year that of a pitr.

Garuda Purana, Dharma Khanda, Chapter XXX

So the dead person does have a form and thus exists and prana shakti in subtle form accompanies the dead person.

The process of death

Death is inevitable to all living beings in this mortal world.

O lord of birds, when the living beings die, the vital air shrinking to its subtle size comes out of the throat.

It may escape through any of the nine apertures or through the pores of hair or through the palate. The subtle soul escapes through Apana in the case of sinners.

When the vital air escapes, the corpse falls down. When struck down by death it falls like a tree bereft of its support.

Garuda Purana, Dharma Khanda, Chapter XXXII

Thus there is no problem with the existence of a jiva after death.

Let me finish by commenting on Nirguna Brahman and Saguna Brahman. There have been disputes between Advaita followers and Vaishnavas about their concept of Brahman. Really speaking reality is beyond both according to scripture.

Reality beyond both Advaita and Dvaita

Some seek for the knowledge of non-dual Brahman (i.e. Brahman without Maya) and some for that of the Dual (Brahman with Maya). But they do not realize reality is devoid of dvaita and advaita.

Garuda Purana, Dharma Khanda, Chapter XLIX

  • Thanks a lot for answer sir. But when you say Brahman is existence and consciousness please tell me how it exists when atman leaves this Body and doesn't have a form? How can we define the existence and consciousness? Sep 21, 2022 at 9:43
  • @SethuSrivatsaKoduru atman is independent of the body, there is no leaving, just like saying that what happens to the dream world when we come out. Sep 21, 2022 at 17:57
  • @SethuSrivatsaKoduru I have answered in the body of the answer. Sep 22, 2022 at 4:12
  • @PradipGangopadhyay Sir I read answer multiple times. You are saying after death Atman passes to another body and hence one can withdraw from various sense objects and senses and be the witness of various things. But this will be limited to one particular body right? So how can all pervading consciousness exist Sep 24, 2022 at 9:17
  • @SethuSrivatsaKoduru the Atman does not go anywhere. It is the subtle body of the dead person which gets a new physical body. The Atman is simply the name for the all pervading consciousness that animates a particular subtle body. Sep 25, 2022 at 3:31

Nirguna Brahman is Brahman that cannot be qualified with any qualities:

  • nir = none
  • guna = qualities

In indian philosophy, it would be descibed as:

  • It exists but is indescribable

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