“I recently heard that after a person passes away, he/she enters two lokas – preta and pitra (depending on their karmas and sanskaras). Is this true? Also, could you please share your views whether these lokas are inhabited by living entities? Do these lokas exist? bhu, bhuvas, svar, mahas, janas, tapas, and satya above and atala, vitala, sutala, rasātala, talātala, mahātala, pātāla and naraka”
I got this comment and the answer became too long, thus this post.
Pitarayana. When someone leaves the physical body there are two possible routes, Pitrayana and Devayana. Most people, 99.99% will use the Pitarayana. So the soul with the attached karmic baggage ie the subtle and causal bodies, leaves the physical body behind, uses the Pitrayana route and travels to Pitrulok. Pitru पितृ means ancestors. The physical body which is left behind is called the ‘pret’ and there is no ‘pret-lok’. Pret प्रेत means the remains, discarded, left behind, defunct, dead etc. Once the soul starts on the Pitrayana route, the other souls from his soul group come to escort it on its way. Soul group would be those souls who travel together in time, space and across lives as they have interconnected karma to resolve over lives. People who have had near death experiences report having seen their parents etc coming to meet them. (I have written on what happens at physical death here)
This world in which we live in, is called the Martya-lok. Martya मर्त्य means mortal, of those who will die, human, body, etc.
The soul gets the energy to reach its destination in pitra-lok, when the Anteyshti, cremation by fire is performed correctly. The pret/ body is offered to Agni and the skull must break. The other way is when a soldier dies fighting, Veer-gati, his focus on his fight is so complete that his attachment to his body becomes zero, if he gets killed, he travels the Pitrayana without much trouble.
But if the body is buried after death, then the soul cannot journey to the pitra-lok and in majority of cases haunts the areas around the burial spot or his house or his family. The soul is does not have enough energy to cross into the pitra-lok, so it roams in the Martya-lok and we call it a ghost, spirit, pret-atma, etc. These souls are often in very bad shape as the higher level negative entities also torment them while they are trapped here. (The best way to catch a spirit-slave is near cemeteries where bodies are buried, not that I recommend doing this.)
I have used a generic word ‘pitru-lok’ but there are two basic options. One is if the soul has performed auspicious deeds and gained beneficial merit. Or has performed inauspicious actions, acted against its own conscience etc so has demerits, negative karma.
Chandra-lok If someone does auspicious activities, lives a dharmic life and gains merit, does his pujas, worships demi-gods/ devata, his soul enters Chandra-lok. Here the soul uses up the merit which it was supposed to enjoy here. It exists with the devata. Its position here is something like a subordinate staff to the demi-gods. If you do pujas of your adored devata, you will, after physical death, go to the Chandra-lok. Here you will serve him, gain his blessings, remain there till your this merit is exhausted. You enjoy your accumulated merit/ punya as a companion to the devata, something like his glorified servants. Maybe something like his pet? This is enjoyable to you as you have worshipped this devata while living in the Martya-lok and the fruit of your this karma is being in his company, so you enjoy it.
This merit is also a part of the sanchit karma. You are constantly working on reducing your karma by enjoying its fruits in the other dimensions also. If this is an auspicious merit you enjoy its fruits in the Chandra-lok (and if is an inauspicious fruit, you endure it in the Yama-lok.) This merit can be visualised as an additional body layer which is created around your soul as you enter the respective other lok. Once your merit here is exhausted, this layer is dissolved. Then you exit that lok and your soul will be reincarnated in the Martya-lok again. Now again some part of your accumulated karma will get active and this will decide your new life and situation here. The quality of this karma will decide your position and place of birth. Thus you are born again with residual karma which has to be worked out in the Martya-lok.
Sapta-Vhyritis Bhuh, Bhuvah, Swahah, Mahah, Janah, Tapah, Satyam are seven higher planes of existence. These are all naturally inhabited by specific beings.
- Bhu is the bhu-lok, the earth, the martya-lok. We all live here.
- The lok described by Bhuvah to Tapah are inhabited by devata of successively higher energies and are a part of the Chandra lok. A soul can travel upto only upto a certain level into the Chandra-lok, depending on his merit, punya. This level is indicated by the vhyrutis, bhuvah, svah, mahah, janah, tapah. If you have more punya/ merit you advance higher. There are different devata who exist in different levels of the Chandra-lok.
- The highest energy Satya-lok is considered to be the same as Brahmalok. This is not a part of the Chandra-lok. Only those souls who gain krama mukti can go there by the Devayan route.
Souls who go to the higher Lok within the Chandra-lok ie Tapah, can also work as the devata/ demi-gods themselves. eg if you do your pujas etc with the desire to work as Indra etc these intentions can also be fulfilled. Deities are designations, like someone is a ‘Head of Marketing’, or ‘CEO’, or ‘Director’ in our corporates. Deities are something like officers.
Karma cannot be balanced at one go, several lives are needed. And karma is not balanced in one Lok either, its fruits are spread over several Lok. ie some of its karma will be settled in Martya-lok, some in Chandra-lok, some in Yama-lok. However new karma can be created only in the Martya-lok, not in any of the others. (So even if some deity wishes to attain Sadyo-mukti he too has to take a birth on the Martya-lok, do his sadhana here and only them can he attain Sadyo-mukti.)
Yama-lok If you have performed inauspicious actions on the Martya-lok and have accumulated demerits, negative karma. Then, after you enter the pitrayana route, you will be directed to the Yama-lok. Here you will suffer the consequences of your negative karma. People think the Garud-puran is a fantasy, it is not. Read it in the original Sanskrit (Devbhasha Samskrutam cannot be translated), you will understand what karmic punishments really are and these actually happen here. Here negative karma is rebalanced. Once you have rebalanced whatever was possible in Yama-lok, your soul again comes to the Martya-lok for its next birth.
There are seven subsidiary Lok connected to Yama-lok. The Raurava, Maharaurava, Vahni, Vaitarni and Kumbhika are the five ‘temporary’ ones. You stay here till the fruits of your negative karma are completed, then you exit from here. And there are two more Lok here, the ‘permanent’ Tamisra and Andhatamisra. If the soul has done such tremendous inauspicious actions, negative things which are beyond rebalancing, it resides here in complete inertia till the Maha-Pralaya, complete dissolution of creation. A soul residing here has no hope of evolution or gaining self-realization. It can be considered as a blindness of the worst kind possible. Inertia is the worst punishment possible as there is no scope of any sort of evolution/ involution.
As per Garud puran there are these Lok connected to the lower human body, Atala is located below the feet, above the feet is Vitala, at the knees is Sutala, Rasatala at the private parts, Talatala at the hips, Patala at the loins and Mahatala at the thighs. These should be similar to the seven Lok which are included in the Yama-lok. Then the seven higher Lok ie from Bhu to Satyam are linked to the 7 chakra in the spine. These are part of the Martya-lok, Chandra-lok and the Brahma-lok. There is no mention of any ‘narak’ in the Brahma-sutra or in the Garud puran. (I go by what Brahma-sutra say always. If there is any contradiction with any other text, for me the Brahma-sutra has the over-riding authority.)
Depending on how deep your spiritual practice Dhyan is, and how you have elevated your conscious focus on your mantra, you can visit these Lok during your Dhyan. But attempt it only if you are confident about yourself.
All this is for the souls who are born as humans. For the animals and plants etc there is a ‘Third’ place, which is neither Chandra-lok nor Yama-lok. I am not very interested, so I have never checked out this ‘third’ place
Devayana If you achieve Krama-mukti, you travel by this route at the moment of physical death and reach the highest possible Lok in this creation. Actually every soul has the Devayana option available to it at its point of exit, but it is so blinded by its karma, so confused, that it cannot see this route. So mostly all exit via Pitarayan and go to Chandra-lok or Yama-lok.
Devayana is also called the route of Archi, Agni, Vayu, Varun, Indra, Prajapati and the Surya (Archiradi-marga अर्चि आदि मार्ग). There are several intermediate stages on this route but the soul does not stop here, his focus on his Sagun Brahma is intense. The deities ruling these stages, escort or guard the soul on his route to the Brahma-lok.
A lot depends on what you focus on at the moment of your physical death. The energies at the moment of exit are tremendous, they grant you whatever you are intently focussing on at this moment. And to retain your single-point focus at this moment requires that you prepare for it throughout your life. If you worship the Eternal in his highest Sa-gun form, ie as Shiv, Vishnu or Brahmadev, with full focus, you will eventually attain the highest Vidya related to these forms. This Vidya will ensure that you retain your focus on this deity at the point of physical death. Thus you will be able to see and actively choose the Devayana route for your exit. You will go to the highest energy Lok available in this creation, called the Brahma-lok. The Brahma-lok is also called the Satya-lok or Kailas or Vaikunth.
Here you will remain as a companion to your adored deity, till the entire creation is dissolved in Maha-pralaya. You have chosen this by your continuous focussed intention, this is the fruit of that worship of the highest deities of this creation. You are satisfied with being with your favourite deity, this is want you had wanted. You got it. You are with the Sagun Brahma or the Karya Brahma. There is no more birth/death for you, your soul has been freed from this ‘krama’, thus it is called krama-mukti. However this is not the highest realisation possible. You do not know your own highest reality. (Do read the post on krama-mukti)
Sagun means with attributes. These forms of deities are under the rule of Prakruti, Devi, Lalita Tripursundari. If you can cross Prakruti also, you enter the realm of pure consciousness, then you can achieve the Nirgun Brahma, the highest realization.
Maha-pralaya, The entire creation with everything in it is dissolved as if it never existed. The Advaita reasserts itself and all forms of duality are destroyed. The illusion breaks for all the souls residing in all the Lok-s at this instant, also all demi-gods, deities, Shiv/ Vishnu/ Brahmadev etc all are annihilated. All souls, all intelligence is merged with the Nirvishesh Brahma. There is no creation, no manifestation, only the Non-dual exists. (After this creation can start again in a new cycle if such a desire is created.)
Sadyo-mukti Advaita, Nirvishesh Brahma the highest realization is possible only if you are devoted to your own reality, if you adore yourself, ie recite the mantra Om, Soham or Hamsa. Here there is no going/ coming, as you attain the Eternal at the moment of your realization. This is Sadyo-mukti, the final and highest realization possible. All genuine aspirants want this experince. A real Sat-Guru will always guide you to focus on yourself, Om Soham or Hamsa so you achieve the Highest Realisation in the life time or at the moment of your exit (post on Jivan-mukt or Videha mukt). Your own naam-mantra, your name, guides you to yourself.
(This post is based majorly on the Brahma-sutra, some from Garud Puran and some from my experiences)