‘Just as a man gives up old garments and puts on new ones, so the embodied self abandons decrepit bodies and assumes new ones.’
When he gets a new body or abandons an old one, the Jiva, the lord of the body, moves, carrying them (the mind and the senses) with him, as the wind carries smells from their seats (in flowers and the like).
But of others (i.e. those who have not performed sacrifices etc.) the ascent is to the abode of Yama, and after having experienced (the results of their evil works) the descent (to the earth again takes place). On account of such a passage (for the evil-doer) being declared by the Sruti.
The Hereafter never reveals itself to a person devoid of discrimination, heedless, and perplexed by the delusion of wealth. “This world alone exists,” he thinks,” and there is no other.” Again and again he comes under my sway.(Yama speaks in Katha Upanishad I.2.6)
On the exhaustion of (good) work (the soul) with residual Karma (descends to this earth), as is known from the Sruti amd Smriti, along the path (it) went by (from here) and differently too.
The answer to this question varies depending on the Vedanta school.
This school believes both in moksha while still living (Jivanmukti) and after death (krama-mukti). It is not possible to go any further than moskha since Advaita moksha is non-dual in nature. Nevertheless I am posting the following passage:
Bhishma continued [Suka said],’..By knowledge, one attains to that whither there is no occasion for grief; whither one becomes freed from birth and death; whither one is not subject to decrepitude; whither one transcends the state of conscious existence; whither is Brahma which is Supreme, Unmanifest, immutable, ever-existent, imperceptible, above the reach of pain, immortal, and transcending destruction; whither all become freed from the influence of all pairs of opposites (like pleasure and pain, etc), as also wish or purpose. Reaching that stage, they cast equal eyes on everything, becoming universal friends and devoted to the good of all the creatures.’Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCXLI
The school of Qualified Non-dualism or Vishishtadvaita-vada, is a school of theism. Its main exponent was Ramanuja. According to this school, a person can have moksha only after the person’s death. Moksha means living blissfully in Vaikuntha (the abode of Vishnu) in spiritual bodies. They acquire many divine powers such as omniscience, but unlike God they cannot create, sustain, or dissolve the world. In spite of their exalted state they remain subservient to God.
More posts by this author:
- What is Karma Yoga and how can it be practiced?
- Description of the various Lokas in Hindu scripture
- Moksha as viewed in Hindu scripture
- How different is Buddha’s teaching from Vedanta on the after world, gods and the Ultimate Reality?
- Why should Buddhists worship Hindu Devatas?
I did my school, college and parts of my University education in Kolkata. I got my M.Sc degree from Kolkata University. I went to USA in 1979 and got my M.S and Ph.D in Physics from University of Pittsburgh in 1984. I did my Post Doctorate in University of Southern California, Los Angeles and then worked as a Research Scientist in the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Space Sciences Center of University of Southern California. My scientific work includes heavy ion-atom scattering, multiphoton ionization and heliosphere data analysis of Pioneer 10/111 and Voyager 1/2 deep space spacecaft and analysis of solar extreme ultraviolet data obtained from SOHO spacecraft. I have been a National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration (NASA) Principal Investigator from 2002 – 2007. I have been a member of a NASA awards committee to decide allocation of money to different scientists. I have also refereed scientific articles submitted to Journal of Geophysical Research and Astrophysical Journal.