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Life after death according to Garuda Purana


Due to the effect of karma, a man falls sick causing his death. The mode of one’s death also depends upon one’s karma. When the subtle body is leaving the gross body, which is known as death, the messengers of Yama arrive on the scene. When the subtle body finally comes out of the gross body, causing death to the gross body, the subtle body is can still see the entire universe. The departed soul could see the messengers of Yama and the attendants of Lord Viṣṇu. This means that the soul can see both good and bad and the departed soul begins its journey according to its karma. A subtle body which has a bad karmic account feels for its sins at this stage. The subtle body is pushed out of the gross body as if by air pressure and the subtle body cries out when it comes out of the gross body during death.

A soul has to travel the entire distance to reach the world of Yama. The path becomes rough for the sinners and becomes comfortable for virtuous. Lord Yama has four arms holding a conch, a discus, a bow and a staff. He treats the virtuous with respect and sinners with rudeness. He hits the sinners with iron rod and club. He sits on a buffalo. His body appears dreadful to sinners and radiant to virtuous.

It is said that one should not boast of his body as it is liable to death and decay. The purpose of acquiring wealth is charity; purpose of speech is to say the truth; purpose of a body is for practicing spirituality. The subtle bodies of those who do not follow the virtuous path are tortured by the messengers of Yama on the way to Yama’s place. the subtle body of the dead is always called Preta. The Pinda served at cerimony on each day is meant for various demigods. During eleventh day and twelfth day of ceremonies, the Preta eats as much as possible. On the thirteenth day, the Pretas journey begins to the world of Yama dragged by the servants of Yama. During the journey, the subtle body as preta regrets for every evil action it had done during the past birth.

Soul or Atma is nothing but the Brahman Himself. Sins committed by a person do not affect the Soul within. The suffering is only to the gross body when life exists in a body and to the subtle body, when the subtle body leaves the gross body at the time of death. Depending upon one’s karma, the subtle body also undergoes sufferings and pains or happiness and pleasures. One’s karmic account is embedded in his subtle body. Apart from karmic embedment, subtle body also has the impressions of his subconscious mind. Karma affects both the subtle body and the gross body independently. Subtle body undergoes pains or pleasures in the hell or heaven as the case may be and the gross body undergoes pains or pleasures in the earth. For a single evil action, there are two types of sufferings, one for the subtle body and another for the gross body. When the gross body suffers, the subtle body within does not suffer. Based on these believes, it is said that thoughts are more powerful than actions. Impressions of thoughts get embedded in the subconscious mind, which always goes along with the subtle body and has the capacity to manifest in subsequent births. The punishment in Hell is not eternal. It is Reformatory and Educative. The hell punishment is not remembered by the soul when it is re-born, no more than it remembers the joys of heaven.

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