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When a soul can not affect by sadness or happiness then how after death it will feels pleasure or sorrow in heaven or hell.

In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna said:

Chapter-2 Verse 23

नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः |
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः ||२.२३||

nainaṃ chindanti śastrāṇi nainaṃ dahati pāvakaḥ |
na cainaṃ kledayantyāpo na śoṣayati mārutaḥ ||2.23||

Meaning:- The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind."

But still in the same scripture He is saying that after death people will go either to hell or heaven according to their "Karma" and there they will enjoy a lot of happiness and share the joy whatever god/Deva used to enjoy. If soul can't be affected by these thing, how can it enjoy or suffer from these things?

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    That quote just says "The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind." It doesn't talk about happiness or sadness. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 13 '15 at 7:59
  • I don't think the indestructibility of the soul precludes it from enjoyment and suffering. Krishna isn't saying (I don't think) that the soul can't be affected by anything. Rather, He is saying that it will never be destroyed, so as to emphasize and explain the concept of reincarnation. See Bhagavad Gita 2.24, 2.25, and 2.26. The whole context of this section of the Bhagavad Gita is talking about the soul in the context of reincarnation, not in the context of the temporary stops of heaven and hell. – AdityaS Feb 14 '15 at 22:53
  • We will go to heaven or hell along with our subtle and causal body. – Tat Tvam Asi Jul 17 '18 at 16:16
6

Can the Soul take birth in higher planes or lower planes?

The soul is never born and it never dies. The soul is indivisible, eternal and invincible.

Sri Krishna says in Gita 2:20

The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time nor does it come into being again when the body is created. The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed.

Then who is it that takes birth?

It is the body takes birth and not the soul. As you have quoted already that

Sri Krishna says in Gita 2:22

Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.

Then who is enjoying and suffering in the various planes of existence?

The one who is in ignorance is the one who suffers. The one who thinks He is the body, that person is the one who suffers in all the worlds.

Sri Krishna says in Gita 2:71

That person attains peace who giving up all material desires for sense gratification lives free from attachment, free from false ego and sense of proprietorship.

So basically in other words, the one who has realized that He is the Soul, knows that all suffering DOES NOT HARM him in any way. All the sufferings are only at body-level and the soul is unaffected.

But the one in ignorance, who thinks that he is the body, undergoes various suffering, because he is mistaken his true identity. He seeks sense gratification, because sense gratification pleases the body and He thinks He is the body. Thus in His endeavour for sense gratification, He is put through several turmoils due to the working of the various gunas.

Sri Krishna says in Gita 2:42,43

O Arjuna, men of limited understanding presume speculative interpretations of the Vedic scriptures, advocating that there is no divine principle in creation; full of lascivious desires, aiming to attain the lush heavnly worlds; they glorify only the statements in the Vedas which are pleasing to their senses; performing numerous ostentatious rituals productive of good birth, wealth and power insuring sense enjoyment and worldly pleasures

Thus they suffer because they think they are the body, and not the soul.

All the best!

  • Good answer. Your discussion of how suffering doesn't affect someone who has realized his soul reminds me of the Isha Upanishad: sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe01/sbe01243.htm "When to a man who understands, the Self has become all things, what sorrow, what trouble can there be to him who once beheld that unity?" – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 13 '15 at 21:27
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Thanks :) and thanks for the inspiring and great reference to the Isha Upanishad as well. – Sai Feb 13 '15 at 21:44
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    Yes it is inspiring, and it's more inspiring when you know the backstory behind it. I haven't confirmed it yet (which is why I asked this question), but I have reason to believe that the sage who heard the Isha Upanishad from the gods (it's actually a Vedic hymn) was the famous rishi Dadichi. Dadichi was the one who sacrificed his life so that his bones could be fashioned into a weapon for Indra to use to kill the demon Vritra. So this was a man who really lived up to his principles, who was untroubled even giving up his own body for a good cause. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 13 '15 at 22:01
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    @mcapatna Ok sir good question. thanks for clarifying, however I did understood your question. What this answer says is that the soul does not suffer. The soul is immortal. Only the body suffers. The reason that the soul suffers is because it 'thinks' it is the body. Now I understand your confusion. Your confusion is because of a misunderstanding of the word 'soul'. There are two things you have to know. One is 'what is Soul or Atman?' and Two is 'What happens after death?' The Atman or the Soul is the Ultimate Witness. This Soul never gets destroyed. This is what Sri Krishna means by soul – Sai Mar 18 '15 at 16:44
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    @mcapatna here is some more info about the three bodies sir. All the best. hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/6529/119 and also ultimatetruthofself.com/higher-consciousness/… – Sai Mar 18 '15 at 16:50
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You need to look at the context of this verse in relation to the other verses immediately before it, specifically verses, 18-22. The 'soul' referenced is the Supreme Soul, the Atman. It does not refer to the individual soul, or jiva.

See also Gita 15. 15. ("And I am seated in the hearts of all....") and Gita 18. 61. ("The Lord dwells in the hearts of all beings...")

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The soul is by nature Sat (Eternal), Chit (Conscious) and Ananda (Blissful). However, when the soul takes a material body, either gross or subtle, it suffers or enjoys as per the pains and pleasures of that body.
So, when someone after giving up the current body goes to the Heavenly planets, then a suitable subtle body is given so that he can enjoy the heavenly pleasures. Similarly, when he goes to the Hellish planets, a suitable subtle body is awarded to suffer the punishments in Hell.

Hence, Lord Krishna recommends that we rise above both good and bad, and be situated in transcendence. And what is this transcendence? It is loving devotional service to the Lord. The Lord promises that when one leaves the body, situated thus, he does not return to the material world, but instead enters the spiritual kingdom.

The following verse from Bhagavad Gita will substantiate the above:

a-brahma-bhuvanal lokah
punar avartino ’rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate (Bhagwat Gita: Chapter Eight verse 16)

Sri Krishna said: 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 Supreme abode, O Arjuna, never takes birth again

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There is no contradiction here because you're forgetting about other bodies that a soul has. There are seven bodies in total including the physical form (the last three is what we, humans, perceive as a soul, they are so fine we can't distinguish between them). When the physical form dies then the soul - still encased in other finer bodies - travels to other places and those finer bodies will either suffer or enjoy happiness. The soul itself cannot experience anything because it is pure bliss, it is "Being" not "to be". Even though a soul has karma around it and this karma causes bodies to come about, the soul itself is never touched by karma or bodies, it is always pure.

The five sheaths (pancha-kosas) are described in the Taittiriya Upanishad.[2] From gross to fine they are:

Annamaya kosha, "foodstuff" sheath (Anna)

Pranamaya kosha, "energy" sheath (Prana/apana)

Manomaya kosha "mind-stuff" sheath (Manas)

Vijnanamaya kosha, "wisdom" sheath (Vijnana)

Anandamaya kosha, "bliss" sheath (Ananda)

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