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What Happens To Us After Death
Posted By Sarin on Apr 21, 2012     RSS Feeds     Latest Hinduism news

What I learned from the Vedas really made me think about the existence of our life in a different fold.  The Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF) also has the similar explanations to the life after death. I am sharing a piece of knowledge which I acquired reading the Vedas and going through the SSRF notes.
The information made available by Spiritual Science Research Foundation defines a human body in four parts:-
•    Physical
•    Mental
•    Causal or intellectual
•    Supra-causal or subtle ego

When a person meets his death the physical body ceases to function. However, the rest of his existence or consciousness continues. The existence of the person without the physical body is known as the subtle body and it comprises of the mental, causal (intellect) and supra-causal (subtle ego) bodies. This subtle body then goes to one of the 13 subtle planes of existence other than the Earth plane.

The 14 planes of existence in the Universe
SSRF states that there are 14 main planes of existence in the Universe. Seven of them are positive planes of existence and the other seven are negative planes of existence. The seven negative planes of existence are commonly known as Hell (Paataal). There are numerous sub-planes within these main planes of existence.
Seven positive planes of existence: The planes of existence occupied mostly by living beings and subtle bodies doing righteous deeds and engaged in spiritual practice according to the positive path of spiritual practice are known as the seven positive planes of existence or saptaloka. By positive path, they mean the orientation of spiritual practice towards God-realization.
The Earth plane is the only physical plane of existence in the Universe and is also the first plane of existence in the hierarchy of the positive planes of existence in the Universe.
Seven Negative planes of existence: There are planes of existence occupied mostly by subtle bodies that have done unrighteous Karma and are engaged in spiritual practice according to the negative path. By negative path, they mean the orientation of spiritual practice is towards attaining spiritual power, e.g. supernatural powers. This spiritual power is primarily used to enhance one’s control over others or for negative purposes. Thus all subtle bodies that goes to any one of the planes of existence of Hell.
SSRF also states that 'GHOSTS' belong to these planes.

Explanation for the color scheme used
•    Earth is depicted reddish as it represents action (i.e. subtle basic raja component), as it is the only plane where we have the physical body to do something.
•    Heaven has been depicted in pink, which represents an abundance of happiness.
•    Yellow represents spiritual knowledge and an increase in the subtle basic Sattva component. It finally becomes almost white at the highest stage, which   represents the close proximity to the unmanifest God principle.
•    The regions of Hell are represented by darker shades to black, as there is an increase in the subtle basic tama component.
According to modern sciences, the Universe is made up of basic physical particles that include electrons, protons, neutrons, mesons, gluons and quarks. At a spiritual level however, the Universe is made up of something even more basic. These basic particles are known as the 3 subtle basic components (trigunas) namely sattva, raja and tama. In the word triguna, ‘tri’ stands for three while ‘gunas’ stand for subtle components.
The characteristics of each of these components are described in brief in the following table:

Heaven and the other positive planes of existence in the Universe

(Based on the numbers in red in the above table):
1.    Each positive and negative plane of existence beyond the Earth (physical) plane of existence becomes more and more subtle. By subtle, we mean, that which is beyond the comprehension of the five senses, mind and intellect. Satyaloka is the subtlest, i.e. the most difficult to perceive or comprehend unless the highest sixth sense (ESP) level is attained.
2.    Due to lack of spiritual practice, most people in the current era go to either the Nether world or one of the planes of existence of Hell. We generally go to the Nether world after death when the proportion of demerits (incurred due to wrong doings on Earth) is approximately 30%.  Demerits typically include malice towards others and a lot of desires.  The likelihood of being attacked in the Nether world by higher-level ghosts from the lower plane of existence of Hell is almost certain.
3.    Earth is the only plane of existence where there is an amalgamation of people with varying spiritual levels. However, after death we go to the precise plane of existence corresponding to our spiritual level.
4.    The minimum spiritual levell required to attain Heaven after death is 60%.   Basically from the Spiritual science perspective, meritorious acts to attain Heaven or the higher positive planes of existence are those acts done with the objective of God-realisation. The following three criteria can be applied.
o    Acts done without doership, i.e. with the outlook that God Himself  is getting it done from me and hence I cannot lay claim to any credit.
o    Done without expectation of acclaim or appreciation.
o    Done without expectation of results.
More than the acts per se, it is the attitude or outlook behind the acts that counts more.
5.    To attain a higher plane of existence beyond Heaven one needs to be at a spiritual level higher than 80%. This can only be achieved by consistent spiritual practice according to the six basic laws of spiritual practice along with a major reduction in ego.
6.    By predominant body, we mean the body that is most active, i.e., mental, intellect or the subtle ego. For example, in the Nether plane of existence (Bhuvalok), the subtle bodies still have a lot of desires and attachments. As a result, quite often they become ghosts trying to fulfil some desire of theirs. This leaves them open to higher-level ghosts from the lower rungs of Hell to take advantage of their cravings to affect people on Earth.
7.    In the Nether plane of existence we experience some happiness.  However, the unhappiness is amplified as compared to the unhappiness experienced on Earth.
8.    In Heaven plane of existence, subtle bodies experience an over abundance of happiness. This happiness is much beyond the happiness experienced on Earth in quantity, quality and duration. As we go up the positive planes of existence, there is an increase in the quality of happiness and no unhappiness.
9.    Sattvik happiness means happiness derived from helping others without any expectations or strings attached. When ego is involved in the act, it becomes raajasik.
10.    Serenity is a higher experience than Bliss.
Positive planes of existence and reincarnation on Earth
From the planes of existence below Mah?lok, people need to be reincarnated on the Earth plane to settle their destiny and complete their give-and-take accounts.
If one attains Mah?lok and Janalok after death, that  means they are above the spiritual level of 80%. These souls do not need to be reincarnated as all their remaining destiny (accumulated  account) can be worked out from these planes itself. However these evolved subtle bodies may choose to be born of their own will. They do so primarily to act as spiritual guides for humanity.
In some circumstances people who pass away at the spiritual level of even 60% can attain Mah?lok.  Here the person’s potential for further spiritual growth is considered.  Through spiritual research we have found that that there are 5 factors that influence this potential for further spiritual growth.  
•    Having a high amount of spiritual emotion (bh?v),  
•    Having a low ego,  
•    Having an intense desire for spiritual growth,  
•    Doing regular spiritual practice of increasingly higher levels,  
•    Affected or not affected by negative energies.
Being affected by negative energies can severely obstruct the ability for spiritual growth. Hence even if a person is at the 65% spiritual  level but is severely affected by negative energies, his ability to  attain the higher spiritual planes of existence such as Mah?lok, is restricted.
If one attains Tapalok or Satyalok after death, then one does not take birth on the Earth plane of existence but continues to do spiritual practice from that plane of existence until one merges completely with God.
The importance of the Earth plane of existence
The Earth plane of existence is the only plane of existence where we can make rapid spiritual growth and settle our give-and-take account (KARMA) in the shortest period of time. The main reason for this is that with the help of the physical body, we can do many things to enhance our spiritual growth and spiritual level and reduce the basic subtle tama component.
Other than Earth, spiritual growth is mostly likely to occur only in the regions beyond Heaven such as Mahaaloka etc. This is because in Heaven, the subtle bodies run the risk of getting caught up in the unending pleasures it offers. In the Nether and Hell planes of existence, the punishment is so severe and also the distress from the other higher-level ghosts is such that it becomes very difficult to rise above the suffering to undertake any spiritual  practice of value.
What is Hell, who goes to Hell and what is Hell like?

•    As one goes to lower planes of existence of Hell, as the subtle basic sattva component progressively reduces the environment becomes less conducive to the experience of happiness.
•    Within the planes of existence of Hell, there are some ghosts who do certain types of spiritual practice to gain spiritual power. The highest in the hierarchy of ghosts are sorcerers from the seventh plane of existence of Hell. They have immense spiritual power almost equivalent to a Saint at the 90% spiritual level. They control all the other types of ghosts with lesser spiritual power.
•    As one goes deeper into the various planes of existence of Hell, i.e.  From 1st to 7th, the extent of happiness experienced by the subtle bodies therein goes on decreasing and the extent of unhappiness goes on multiplying. The minimal experience of happiness is also due to being engrossed in memories of past positive events, pleasant memories of wealth in a past life, etc. The experience of unhappiness is due to memories of physical pain and insulting events, memories of unfulfilled desires, e.g. regarding education, house, career, expectation of happiness from children in past life.
•    The extent of punishment/pain to be endured in the various planes of existence of Hell (Paataal) and their associated Narak goes on increasing with the subsequent plane of existence of Hell. Also, the period of punishment to be endured in each Narak is in excess compared to the corresponding plane of existence of Hell.  If we consider the punishment in first plane of existence of Hell as  100%, then the punishment in the corresponding first Narak region is 50% more, i.e. 150%.
The following table is a description of examples along with the average intensity of happiness and unhappiness we experience in the various planes of existence of Hell.

Movement between subtle planes of existence in the Universe
One is assigned that plane of existence which matches one’s basic nature in terms of sattva, raja and tama.  This is also a function of one’s spiritual level. Hence, subtle bodies from lower positive planes of existence cannot go to higher positive planes of existence and those from first or second negative planes of existence cannot go to the deeper planes of existence Hell. This is similar to how people living in the planes find breathing difficult at higher altitudes, but people staying at higher altitudes manage fine.
What decides where we go after death?
At the time of death, as the physical body becomes inactive the vital energy used for the functioning of the physical body is liberated into the Universe. This vital energy at the time of death propels the subtle body away from the Earth region. Just as the weight of a projectile decides how far a rocket will propel it, similarly the weight of the subtle body decides which plane of existence it goes to in the subtle planes of existence in life after death.
The ‘weight’ of the subtle body is primarily a function of the amount of the subtle basic tama component in our being.

Three subtle basic components or gunas. These components are spiritual in nature and cannot be seen but they define our personalities. They are:
•    Sattva: Purity and knowledge
•    Raja: Action and passion
•    Tama: Ignorance and inertia in an average person in the current era, the basic subtle tamacomponent is as high as 50%.
The more we are filled with the raja and tama components the more we display the following characteristics which add  to our ‘weight’ and impact which plane of existence we go to in our life  after death:
•    More attachment to worldly things and selfishness
•    More unfulfilled desires
•    Feelings of revenge
•    Higher amount of demerits or wrong-doings
•    Higher amount of personality defects such as anger, greed, fear, etc.
•    A higher amount of ego: By ego we mean how much a person identifies himself with his body, mind and intellect as opposed to the soul within
•    Resulting in lower spiritual level
A permanent reduction in the proportion of the subtle basic tama component and the related characteristics mentioned above come about  only with sustained spiritual practice according to the six basic laws  of spiritual practice. Psychological improvements with self-help books or trying to be nice are at best superficial and temporary.
Importance of the mental state at the time of death
The mental state at the point of death, apart from what has been mentioned above, is very important. Our mental state is generally relative to the proportion of the subtle basic components in our being.
If a person is actually doing his spiritual practice meditation at the time of death then the influence of desires, attachments,  ghosts, etc. are minimal possible for that person compared to his state  when meditating. This makes his subtle body lighter. Hence, if he passes away while chanting God's name, he attains better plane of existence among the sub-planes than what he would have attained were he to pass away without chanting.
At the time of death, if a person is chanting the Name of God and is  also in a state of surrender to God’s will, then he attains an even  better plane of existence in his life after death and his sojourn is  undertaken with lightening speed. This is because the person being in a state of surrender on Earth plane of existence itself has very less chance of increasing his ego in his life after death.
Who goes to Hell?
The following are the types of deeds in our life on Earth that typically land us in one of the planes of existence of Hell.

The extent, duration and intention behind the wrong-doings are important factors deciding the planes of existence of Hell attained after death rather than just the action itself.
Suicide and the after life
There are two types of death with regards to its timing.
Destined final death: This is the time of death that no one can escape.
Possible death: This is where a person can possibly die. Each person may undergo a possible death wherein one comes close to death but may be saved due to his or her merits.
In cases where a person is going through insurmountable crisis in his life or has severe personality disorders, he may think of taking his own life in a depressed state. Ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) also fuel the depression of a suicidal person and sometimes are instrumental in pushing a person over the edge into committing suicide.  However, suicide remains a wilful act that happens when a person is going through a possible death phase as per their destiny.
Life on the Earth plane of existence is precious and is given to us primarily for spiritual growth. When we kill others we create a k?rmicgive and take account with them. However by committing suicide, we squander away the opportunity for spiritual growth and hence incur the heaviest sin. The consequences are that a person committing suicide goes to the Narak part of the 7th plane of existence of Hell for a period of 60,000 Earth years, in his life after death. It is a place that is without any light; something like solitary confinement in a prison. As there is nobody in that Narak region who can give advice about spiritual practice, the subtle body remains in the darkness of spiritual ignorance.
Why is there a time lag between two reincarnations?
In the course of research by using hypnotic trance to trace the past lives of the person, it has been found that the time lag between two reincarnations on Earth could be on average 50 to 400 years. The reasons for this time lag are as follows:
•    The subtle body remains in the Heaven or the Nether plane of existence for variable periods of time to undergo its merits and demerits (sins).
•    Circumstances on Earth plane of existence need to be favourable to complete the give-and-take account from previous births with various people. This is in accordance with the law of Karma. The reincarnation of the subtle body is postponed until the time various other people who they have a give-and-take account with are also preparing to take reincarnation.
•    Sometimes in past life regression, a person does not report a reincarnation in the trance state. The reason for this is that a certain reincarnation has been very uneventful or brief and the person may not remember any details of it.
In the case of subtle bodies that have been relegated to the deeper planes of existence of Hell, the time lag between two reincarnations may be thousands of years. They stay in their respective plane of existence of Hell until such time they have completed their punishment. In most cases, this means languishing in plane of existence of Hell in their life after death till the dissolution of the Universe.
Life after death - in summary
The above facts about the various planes of existence give us a fair idea of the possible consequences in our life after death of how we live our lives. Only with spiritual practice or with extreme meritorious deeds can one go to the higher planes of existence and thereby avoid unhappiness and punishment and enjoy higher levels of happiness. There are also better chances of a reincarnation on Earth plane of existence  in circumstances conducive to spiritual practice. This is so that one moves further up in the subtle planes of existence in the Universe. As we go further into the current Era of Strife (Kaliyuga), there is lesser likelihood of people going to the higher planes of existence.
Once we go to the lower planes of existence such as the Nether plane of existence or other planes of existence of Hell, we stay there and experience severe unhappiness for centuries until we completely pay for our demerits (sins) by suffering the intense punishments meted there and get a chance to be reincarnated on Earth.
Above text is taken from Vedas:
It is believed that humans did not compose the compositions of the Vedas, which were handed down through generations by the word of mouth from time immemorial. The general assumption is that the Vedic hymns were either taught by God to the sages or that they were revealed themselves to the sages who were the seers of the hymns. The Vedas were mainly compiled by 'Vyasa Krishna Dwaipayana' around the time of Lord Krishna (1500 BC). Vedas are also called THE MOTHER of all scriptures.
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