What happens to the soul after death?

What happens to the soul after death? by Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj | Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat

Speech given by Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj

Where the soul eventually goes after death depends on the actions that the soul has performed.  There are 4 types of actions which will result in different outcomes. So an ignorant soul cannot decide where it will go after its body dies.  We can only have an idea of where we may go.  If one performs good actions, then probably he will go to a good place and if he performs bad actions, then he will go to a bad place.  These places or abodes that one goes to after death, have different categories. Just like in heaven there are several categories; in hell too there are  altogether 28 categories.  Even in our material world, we  can observe the different stages of existence for material beings as well.  

No one can predict where the soul will go.  Because each soul has infinite good and bad actions, which is called Sanchit karma.  A small part from our sanchit karma, known as Prarabdha is given to the soul in every life by God.  The new actions that we perform in each birth is called ‘Kriyaman karma.’  So there are three types of actions.  Our Sanchit karma is unlimited.  Prarabdha karma is limited.  It is beyond our intellect to know what, within the unlimited sanchit karma and new kriyaman karma (that will result in either reward or punishment) will be given to us by God, after death.  

However, human beings should aim instead for performing actions that are non-binding, i.e. neither good nor bad.  Everyone wants ultimate happiness because they are suffering and  want to be freed from those sufferings. This is the nature of each and every soul.  That ultimate happiness can be achieved only through Shri Krishna Bhakti. Therefore, we should focus on performing Bhakti to Shri Krishna alone, instead of good or bad actions,  because there is no other action apart from Bhakti that can free us from suffering. The one who practises Shri Krishna Bhakti receives His grace and only then the soul can get rid of Maya.  All other actions result in worldly or heavenly rewards.  They do not free us from Maya.

In the material world, we see people who are wealthy, or impoverished, attractive or not so good-looking.  Similarly, we get to see the same conditions in celestial abodes as well.  The grandeur of the celestial abode seems superior, but the amount of happiness felt there by the residents is the same as anyone else.  A cow eating fresh grass experiences the same amount of happiness as a person who eats a sumptuous meal and likewise a celestial being experiences the same while tasting Divine nectar.  That is why the Vedas and scriptures condemn the celestial abodes.  

However, there is one special feature of the celestial abode that is different from this material world.  The celestial beings cannot perform any new actions.  They can only be rewarded for their past actions. For example, if you were to deposit 100,000 rupees in the bank and you  decide to quit your job.  Now if you withdraw a thousand rupees every month, surely you will be broke in 100 months.  After that, if you go to the bank to withdraw more money, they will not entertain you. Similarly, in the celestial abode, one can  only enjoy the rewards of his past good actions.  

However, human beings living in this material world, have the right to perform new actions.  That is why even celestial beings want to be born as human beings.  They realise they were foolish to practise karma/dharma which has resulted in them attaining the heavenly abode. Now, just like the fixed bank balance, when their reward for good actions ends, they will be sent back to the world, maybe in a lower form, as a dog, cat, donkey, etc.  

Once we attain a human body even once, we are able to perform actions that are non-binding and classified neither good nor bad. This means that if we perform Shri Krishna Bhakti, we can be freed from all the afflictions of maya forever and we don’t have to come back to the world of maya again. Therefore, rather than thinking about where the soul goes after death, we should focus on performing actions that will lead us to such a place, so that we never have to return to this material world of maya.

Shri Krishna said in the Gita, “The place from where you do not have to return (to the world of Maya) and where you find eternal happiness, is my abode, God’s abode. So our main focus should be to understand what exactly we need to do in order to reach God’s abode.   And if we are unable to achieve this goal before death, at least we should have performed such actions that will qualify us to receive the human body in our next life and future lives so that we  can continue to try to achieve our goal. 

And if we don’t practise bhakti to Shri Krishna, then we will not receive the human body anytime soon, which we had received as a result of our good actions. One receives the human body only after wandering in the 8.4 million life forms, many millions of times.  So we should perform actions that will at least guarantee us a human body in our next life.  If someone says that he is too busy or unable, for some reason or other, to practise bhakti, then he should at least do the minimum to be able to achieve a human body in the next birth.  

And if he cannot perform even a little sadhana, then all other life forms (other than the human body) are of no use.  No other living form can perform new actions.  Of all the 8.4 million life forms, which includes celestial beings, only human beings have the right to perform actions. We have to understand and perform only those actions that are mentioned in the Vedas and scriptures.  Not the actions that we think are right.  

For example, if we decide not to follow the rules of the worldly government  and do what we think is right according to our common sense, the government will not forgive us if we break the law of the country.  In this case,  the government has every right to punish us as we come under the jurisdiction of that country and must obey the rules set by the government of that country.

Therefore, we will have to understand the definition of what is karma according to the Vedas and the scriptures.  Most of the time, when we try to use our intellect, our assumptions will mostly be wrong.  Sometimes it may be partly right, but it cannot be 100% correct.  After all, how intelligent are we?  Whatever we have learnt from the time we were born, we have learnt from friends, books or mostly from the association of wrong people.  Only the Saints and God can write and tell us what is true and correct.  So we need to understand what they have written about their rules, about performing correct actions, and what path to follow.  

Human beings generally perform actions to sustain the body.  All the rest of the actions are performed by our senses and are of not much use, to help us to attain God.  For spiritual benefit, we must practise Bhakti with our mind.  The actions of the senses are not counted.  The best actions are those which are performed with Shri Krishna in your mind.  Arjuna committed so many murders and it was counted as good karma.  Hanuman Ji, killed a lot of people during the war, and his actions were also considered as good actions because both their minds were attached to God only.  

And if your mind is not attached to God, then even your good actions are considered to be wrong.  It is like multiplying a hundred thousand with zero.   The result will always be zero. 

Download our free Sanatan Vedic Dharm (SVD) App and listen to this enlightening speech by Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaji on ‘What Happens to the Soul after Death.’

*A brief introduction of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj*

(Known by His devotees as Shri Maharaj Ji)

The original title of Jagadguruttam (Greatest Spiritual Teacher of the World) was bestowed upon Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj on January 14, 1957, by Kashi Vidvat Parishad (a council of 500 greatest scholars saints of India). He composed divine texts like Prem Ras Madira, Prem Ras Siddhant, and Radha Govind Geet to lead us on the right path of devotion. He also gave priceless monuments as gifts to the world which include Bhakti Mandir located in Bhakti Dham, Mangarh, Prem Mandir located in Vrindavan Dham, and Kirti Mandir located in Barsana Dham. Shri Maharaj Ji also built hospitals for the impoverished, the Jagadguru Kripalu Chikitsalaya in Vrindavan, Jagadguru Kripalu Chikitsalaya in Barsana, and another one in Pratapgarh. All three help millions of underprivileged to gain free access to medical care. His Kindergarten, School, and College for impoverished girls Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat Education is located in Kunda and provides completely free education.