What Happens After Death
Barriers & Doors
There are a few questions, the answers to which remain elusive. The title of this article is deliberately called "Barriers & Doors" as knowledge about these barriers and doors is the most important aspect of spiritual knowledge one needs to hold in order to understand the journey after death and the secret to moksha.
The chakras present in our body have been addressed as the barriers whereas the 10th, 11th and 12th doors are the doors to which one needs the keys for in order to attain moksha. This article also answers the following questions.
- What happens to us when we die?
- Do we know where we will go after death?
- Are people reborn?
- Is there a way by which one is relieved from the cycle of birth and death?
Everyone is destined to die. This is an eternal truth which pans across religions. At least this is one fact that no religion can deny. However, what happens post death is a highly debated topic. Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam believe in the 'Judgement Day', when all the dead will be resurrected and moved to heaven or hell as per their deeds. On the other hand in Hinduism it is believed that a soul continues to wander in various life forms until it achieves salvation.
This article will focus on Hinduism as it is the most advanced and elaborate belief system with core knowledge based upon authentic Holy Scriptures such as Vedas and Bhagavad Gita.
Everyone in Hinduism is cognisant of the fact that the soul wanders in 84 lakh life form and then gets one human life. Based upon deeds done in previous lives (good & bad), one gets joys and sorrows in their current life. Another known fact is that it is only in human life that one can do worship and earn these good karmas based upon which one can go to heaven, hell or in 84 lakh life forms.
So what happens to a soul when one dies
This is the most intricate knowledge which is also partially known by Rishi Patanjali Yog Darshan and other saints. These however do not have the knowledge beyond the 10th door.
There are 9 doors (gates) in the human body which are as follows
- Ears x 2
- Eyes x 2
- Nostrils x 2
The above mentioned 9 doors are in the physical body. Physical body is also called "Sthool Shareer". After death it is the soul (atma) that departs the sthool shareer and starts its journey in "Suksham Shareer" (microscopic body). Suksham Shareer is called so because it cannot be seen with naked eyes. Sthool Shareer is a layer present over the Suksham Shareer.
Beyond the 9 doors there are 3 more doors called 10th, 11th and 12th doors. Before we talk about these doors, let us first talk about what route the atma takes and what are the hindrances in that path.
Journey by Atma post death
There are 3 nadis (नाड़ी) in our human body which are as follows
- Ida - the left nostril
- Pingla - the right nostril
- Sushmna - the central nadi between the above two (Sushmna literally translated means microscopic)
When a perosn dies, atma first of all enters the 'sushmna nadi' (नाड़ी). This nadi goes towards the mool chakra. Let us understand the body chakras first.
What are Chakras?
There are 7 chakras in the human body. These are also known as kamals or lotuses. The knowledge about these chakras is commonplace in the yogic world. These are as follows
- Mool Chakra - also called Root Chakra - Inhabited by Ganesh Ji
- Svadhisthana Chakra - also called Sacral Chakra - Inhabited by Brahma Ji and Savitri Ji
- Nabhi Chakra - also called Navel Chakra - Inhabited by Vishnu Ji and Lakshmi Ji
- Hridya Chakra - also called Heart Chakra - Inhabited by Shiv Ji and Parvati Ji
- Kanth Chakra - also called Throat Chakra - Inhabited by Durga Ji
Please see the image below
These chakras are present along the vertebral coloumn (spine). Beyond these 5 chakras there are 2 more chakras called Trikuti Chakra and Sahasrara Chakra but we will come back to these after understanding the 5 above mentioned chakras.
When the atma enters the sushmna nadi, it first of all travels to Mool Chakra and then makes it way upwards sequentially passing through Svadhisthan Chakra, Nabhi Chakra, Hridya Chakra and Kanth Chakra to reach the next chakra called the Trikuti Chakra. Now let us first understand what is Trikuti Chakra.
What is Trikuti Chakra & 10th Door (Dasam Dwar)
Trikuti Chakra is like crossroads. It is very large area which has various ways. Trikuti is the place from where one route goes to the 10th Door. 10th door is also called the 'Dasam Dwar'. There are 3 major routes from Trikuti Chakra. These are called Triveni (three ways). One goes left, one goes right and the middle one goes towards the 10th door.
Beyond the 10th door, the knowledge about 11th and 12th door is scarce. We will come to these doors later. First of all let us understand the importance of Sushmna nadi and the body chakras.
As we have already read that Sushmna nadi is where the atma starts its journey to reach the mool chakra. This sushmna nadi is microscopic (therefore called sushmna). Atma has Suksham Shareer and is therefore capable of entering the sushmna nadi. The thing that can cause a problem at this point in journey is the act of smoking.
What happens when someone smokes (tobacco, cigarette, beedi etc.)?
When someone smokes, the smoke from the cigar, cigarette etc blocks this microscopic sushmna nadi. The soot produced by smoking forms a layer over this microscopic hole thus blocking it. If the Sushmna nadi is blocked, the soul cannot travel towards trikuti. Hence the soul will certainly wander in 84 lakh life forms. There is no chance of attaining Moksha. This is the main reason smoking is prohibited for anyone doing true worship.
Let us move on to the Body Chakras.
Chakras are like stations or channels in our body which are occupied by a particular deity. These deities are present in every human body irrespective of their religion. Mool Chakra is the first chakra the soul visits after death. Consider these chakras as "toll plazas" or barriers where the atma has to pay a toll to move on to the next chakra. If the atma cannot pay the toll, it cannot move to the next chakra. Again this means that the soul cannot reach the trikuti chakra. Therefore there is no chance of advancing to the 10th door and thus no moksha (salvation)
How can one earn the toll money for these chakras so that they can cross them?
The money for crossing these toll plazas (chakras) is earnt while one is alive. These deities have specific mantras which have to be recited when one is alive. The earnings of these mantras is thus accumulated and then paid to the respective deity when the soul reaches these chakras. These mantras are imparted only by a Satguru (True Guru). If one recites mantras for these deities without acquiring a guru, it is futile. This is the reason it is said that one has to acquire a Guru to achieve moksha. So one who does not have a Guru certainly goes into 84 lakh life forms. A person without a guru therfore cannot attain salvation.
So once one has attained these mantras from a True Guru and have accumulated their earnings, one can pay the debt and thus move to the Trikuti Chakra. As mentioned above, trikuti chakra is vast expanse. As an analogy Trikuti Chakra can be considered like an airport from where various flights depart. The worshippers of Vishnu ji head towards Vishnu lok, Shiv ji worshippers towards Shiv lok, other pious souls move towards heaven. The worshippers of a true saint head towards the 10th door.
What happens to those who do not have a Guru?
There is a God called Dharamraj or Dharamrai who is equivalent to a Chief Justice. Those who cannot cross the sushmna nadi or the body chakras reach the court of Dharamraj straightaway. In Dharamraj's court an record is present for a soul which contains the account of all the meritorius deeds and sins committed by the soul during the lifetime. Based upon the ratio of these deeds, the soul is granted residence in Heaven (based upon the good deeds) and hell (based upon the bad deeds) beyond which the soul then takes birth in one of the 84 lakh life form which could be a human life too.
A word about Yogi's and Kundalini
Ancient yogis held this knowledge about body chakras. They also knew that these chakras had to be opened before the soul can cross through them. In an effort to open these chakras the yogis then concentrated on breath and performed the procedure of pranayam. The power generated by doing this practice gives rise to 'Kundalini'. This procedure too can help open these chakras but it is a very long process. It is actually an ineffective way of trying to open these chakras whereas what one need is the key (mantra) to open these chakras. Something that can be opened just by recitation of a mantra does not need years of penance and practice of ineffective yoga. All one needs is a key for these chakras from a Complete Saint.
Let us now move on to Trikuti, Triveni, Brahmarandhra and the 10th door.
Beyond Trikuti to Triveni, Brahmarandhra and the 10th door (Dasam Dwar)
From Trikuti there are three major routes. This is called triveni. One route goes to another chakra called Sahasrara Chakra (Crown Chakra). Another route goes to 88000 khede (places for 88000 rishis). The middle passage, also called Brahmarandhra, goes towards the 10th door. This 10th door opens into the personal place of a God called 'Kaal'. This Kaal is the master of universes that we live in. There is a lock on this door which again can only be opened by recitation of a mantra. Kaal is a God above Brahma, Vishnu and Shiv, therefore the worshippers of these gods cannot open the 10th door. In fact only a Complete Saint has the mantra (key) for opening this door.
11th and 12th door
10th door is the limit of Kaal's universe. The exit from Kaal's universe into universes of another God called 'ParBrahm' is the 11th door. This door also has a lock on it. This too can only be opened by the mantra given by a Complete Saint only.
At the summit of ParBrahm's universe is another door called the 12th door which opens into a place called 'Satlok' also called Eternal Place or Shaasvat Sthaan. This is the place of Supreme God. This 12th door too has a lock on it. Again only a True Saint can impart the mantra (key) to open this door. When one crosses the 12th door, birth and death ends forever. This is called complete Moksha. 11th and 12th door can only by opened by mantras given by a True Saint. There is no other way of crossing these doors into Satlok.
What happens to those souls who do not have keys to these barriers and doors?
Those souls who did not acquire a guru or did not get the real mantras for these body chakras end up acquiring another life as per their deeds. This could be a human life or any life form. For a virtuous soul it could also mean a time period in heaven. For a really sinful soul, it could be time spent in hell. However, after spending time in heaven and hell, that soul is again destined to 84 lakh life forms.
In a nutshell it is a cycle of earning, spending, reward and punishment. By doing good karmas, one earns punya (good deeds) which grants them time in heaven and good next lives. By incurring paap (sins), one suffers in hell and then suffers in various life forms such as insects, animals, birds etc. So whatever good karma a soul earns in the human life are spent in heaven and in other human lives full of facilities. To give an example, a person who is born into a very rich family enjoys luxuries through his entire life and has no dearth of anything. This is based upon the virtuous deeds done in previous lives. However, in the present life that soul is spending the good deeds by enjoying all the luxuries.
What we need to open these chakras and the doors is keys for each one of these. Without these keys it is not possible to go beyond these chakras and doors. Only a Complete Saint has the knowledge and the keys to these doors. One needs to find a Complete Saint to attain moksha otherwise one continues to remain in the cycle of birth and death.