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I often hear many people claiming that heaven and hell are not actual physical places in hinduism but merely states of mind. Does this belief have any scriptural support?

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    What do you mean by states of mind? Is dream a state of mind? Why? Then why can't waking state also be the state of mind?
    – user29449
    Commented Apr 22 at 10:12
  • I have also heard the same, especially from modern Gurus. Good question. Commented Apr 22 at 10:15
  • @User29449 Where does the question ask about waking state? It is asking about heaven and hell
    – user34398
    Commented Apr 22 at 10:32
  • @Kalamukha Waking state is also a dream. Heaven and Hell emerge from Chakras. Yoga Nidra and Nadi meditation are used to access those havens and hell which is far similar to hypnosis.
    – user29449
    Commented Apr 22 at 10:39
  • //Heaven and Hell emerge from Chakras. Yoga Nidra and Nadi meditation are used to access those havens and hell which is far similar to hypnosis.// You must write an answer with scriptural evidence for that @User29449
    – user34398
    Commented Apr 22 at 11:05

2 Answers 2

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There's no scriptural basis for this understanding.

The Garuda Purana goes into detail of the journey of the individual soul after leaving his or her physical body.

For example, the shraddha offering of 13 days is observed to ease this transition for the departed soul after death. On these days, specific events pertaining to the formation of a suitable physical body take place for the departed which clearly indicates that this is a physical journey.

Hence, O Twice-born, for ten days the son should offer rice-balls. Every day these are divided into four portions, O Best of Birds.

Two portions give nourishment to the five elements of the body; the third goes to the messengers of Yama; he lives upon the fourth.

For nine days and nights the departed obtains rice-balls, and on the tenth day the being, with fully formed body, acquires strength.

The old body being cremated, a new one is formed by these offerings, O Bird; the man, the size of a hand (cubit), by this experiences good and evil on the way.

By the rice-ball of the first day the head is-formed; the neck and shoulders by the second; by the third the heart forms.

By the fourth the back forms; and by the fifth the navel; by the sixth the hips and secret parts; by the seventh the thigh forms;

Likewise next the knees and feet by two; on the tenth day hunger and thirst.

Dwelling in the body formed by the rice-balls, very hungry and pained with thirst, on both the eleventh and twelfth days the departed eats.

Sri Garuda Purana 1.47-54

The consequences on the departed soul during this journey as well as his or her family on earth due to not making the shraddha offerings are also described which again means that the journey to heaven or hell are physical experiences and not merely states of mind.

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Yes, Hindu scriptures do talk about heaven.


Indra explained to Yudhisthira in Mahabharata Swargarohanika Parva Section III that,

'He who enjoys first the fruits of his good acts must afterwards endure Hell. He, on the other hand, who first endures Hell, must afterwards endure Heaven. He whose sinful acts are many, enjoys Heaven first. It is for this, O king, that desirous of doing thee good, I caused thee to be sent for having a view of Hell. Thou hadst, by a pretence, deceived Drona in the matter of his son. Thou hast, in consequence thereof, been shown Hell by deception. After the manner of thyself , Bhima and Arjuna, and Draupadi, have all been shown the place of sinners by an act of deception. Come, O chief of men, all of them have been cleansed of their sins. All those kings who have sided with thee and who have been slain in battle, have all attained to heaven....'

There is both a concept of state known as heaven or svarga and hell known as naraka.

But both these states are impermanent and part of the cycle of existence (saṁsāra). Heaven is obtained through extraordinary sustained acts of merit (puṇya) but once the merit is exhausted one returns to earth or some other dimension to continue one’s journey of evolution back to Godhead.

The same applies to hell - extraordinary wickedness could earn you a period in purgatory but once the consequences of one’s wickedness is exhausted one returns to rebirth.

There is no concept of an eternal blessed state or an eternal state of torture and torment - especially not for a thought crime - this is where the Hindu concept differs from the Abrahamic concepts.

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