Spiritual research has shown that man is comprised of more than one body. When a person dies the physical body ceases to exist. However, the rest of his existence or consciousness continues. The existence of the person minus the physical body is known as the subtle body (linga-dēha) and it comprises of the mental, causal (intellect) and supracausal (subtle ego) bodies. This subtle body then goes to one of the subtle planes of existence other than the Earth plane. If one goes below the earth plane it is termed as Hell and if it above earth plane it is heaven. The number of planes divided by 2 is the hell and heaven. For example if there are 14 planes then Earth is the 7th plane. Below earth (8-14) is the hell and above earth (1-6) is the heaven.
There are 2 types of death with regards to its timing.
Destined final death: This is the time of death that no one can escape.
Possible death: This is where a person can possibly die. Each person may undergo a possible death wherein one comes close to death but may be saved due to his or her merits.
The Hindu near-death experiences profiled here are typical of the cases studied in India by researchers Satwant Pasricha and Ian Stevenson. The subject does not view his or her physical body, as do many subjects of western near-death experience cases. Instead the subject is taken in hand by "messengers" and brought before a man or woman who is often described as having a book or papers that he or she consults. A mistake is discovered. The wrong person has been "sent for," and this person is then brought back by the messengers to his or her terrestrial life; or the subject is "pushed down" and revives. The error supposedly made is often a slight one, as a person of the same given name but a different caste, or someone living in a different but nearby village, should have died and been brought instead of the subject of the near-death experience. In six of their cases, the informants said that another "correct" person (corresponding to the subject's information from the "next world") did, in fact, die at about the time the subject revived; but the researchers did not verify those deaths./span>/span>
In contrast, subjects of western near-death experiences usually give no reason (in psychological terms) for their recovery; if they do give one they may say that they revived because they decided to return of their own accord, often because of love for living members of their family. Sometimes they are "sent back" by deceased persons who tell them their "time has not yet come." Indian subjects sometimes report meeting relatives and friends in the "other realm" in which they find themselves, but these persons have nothing to do or say about the prematurity of the subject's death and a need for him or her to continue living. The idea of prematurity of death, or "your time has not yet come," occurs in the cases of both cultures; but the persons involved in sending the NDEr "back to life" differ.
Hindu Afterlife Beliefs
The Upanishads, the ancient set of Hindu religious texts, postulated an eternal, changeless core of the self called as the Atman. This soul or "deep self" was viewed as being identical with the unchanging godhead, referred to as Brahma (the unitary ground of being that transcends particular gods and goddesses). Untouched by the variations of time and circumstance, the Atman was nevertheless entrapped in the world of samsara (the cycle of death and rebirth). Unlike Western treatments of reincarnation, which tend to make the idea of coming back into body after body seem exotic, desirable, and even romantic, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other southern Asian religions portray the samsaric process as unhappy. Life in this world means suffering.
What keeps us trapped in the samsaric cycle is the law of karma. In its simplest form, this law operates impersonally like a natural law, ensuring that every good or bad deed eventually returns to the individual in the form of reward or punishment commensurate with the original deed. It is the necessity of "reaping one's karma" that compels human beings to take rebirth (to reincarnate) in successive lifetimes. In other words, if one dies before reaping the effects of one's actions (as most people do), the karmic process demands that one come back in a future life. Coming back in another lifetime also allows karmic forces to reward or punish one through the circumstances to which one is born. Hence, for example, an individual who was generous in one lifetime might be reborn as a wealthy person in the next incarnation.
Moksha is the traditional Sanskrit term for release or liberation from the endless chain of deaths and rebirths. In the southern Asian religious tradition, it represents the supreme goal of human strivings. Reflecting the diversity of Hinduism, liberation can be attained in a variety of ways, from the proper performance of certain rituals to highly disciplined forms of yoga. In the Upanishads, it is proper knowledge, in the sense of insight into the nature of reality, that enables the aspiring seeker to achieve liberation from the wheel of rebirth.
What happens to the individual after reaching moksha? In Upanishadic Hinduism, the individual Atman is believed to merge into the cosmic Brahma. A traditional image is that of a drop of water that, when dropped into the ocean, loses its individuality and becomes one with the sea. Although widespread, this metaphor does not quite capture the significance of this merger. Rather than losing one's individuality, the Upanishadic understanding is that the Atman is never separate from Brahma; hence, individuality is illusory, and moksha is simply waking up from the dream of separateness.
The most that the classical texts of Hinduism say about the state of one who has merged with the godhead is that the person has become one with pure "beingness," consciousness, and bliss. From the perspective of world-affirming Western society, such a static afterlife appears distinctly undesirable.
Beginning at least several centuries B.C., devotionalism rejected the impersonalism of both the ritual strategy of Vedism and the intellectual emphasis of the Upanishads. Instead, God was approached as a personal, supremely loving deity who would respond to devotional worship. The afterlife in devotional theism is not the static, abstract bliss of merging into the ocean of Brahma. Rather, the devotional tradition views the liberated soul as participating in a blissful round of devotional activities in a heaven world that is comparable, in certain respects, to the heaven of Western religions.
Along with heaven realms, Hinduism also developed notions of hell worlds in which exceptionally sinful individuals were punished. Many of the torments of Hindu hell worlds, such as being tortured by demons, resemble the torments of more familiar Western hells. Unlike Western hells, however, Hindu hell worlds are not final dwelling places. They are more like purgatories in which sinful souls experience suffering for a limited term. After the term is over, even the most evil person is turned out of hell to once again participate in the cycle of reincarnation.
"Never the spirit was born, the spirit shall cease to be never. Never was time it was not, end and beginning are dreams." - the Bhagavad Gita
Many religions, whether they believe in the soul's existence in another world like Christianity, Islam and many pagan belief systems, or in reincarnation like many forms of Hinduism and Buddhism, believe that one's status in the afterlife is a reward or punishment for their conduct during life.