Black Christians : Path after ones death

dattaswami1

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May 28, 2005
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First Ten Days of the Departed Soul

[Shri Surya asked: Is it true that a departed soul will be around on earth for ten days after death, as people say?]

Swami replied: As soon as death occurs, the soul leaves this earth in an energetic body. The physical Earth that we live on is called Martya Loka, which is the first sub-world of the first world, called Bhū Loka. Martya Loka is called Karma Loka, which means the world of deeds, since souls are meant to perform deeds here. They are supposed to enjoy the fruits of their deeds in the other worlds, which are called Bhoga Lokas or worlds of enjoyment. After death in the Martya Loka, the soul enters into the second sub-world of the Bhū Loka, called the Preta Loka. Preta Loka means the world of the dead. In that world, the soul faces the inquiry of its qualities and deeds for ten days.

After those ten days, the soul leaves Preta Loka as said in the scripture “Itaḥ paraṁ preta śabdo nāsti”. To indicate this, the priest throws away the stone representing the soul during the ritual on the tenth day. The soul then enters Naraka Loka or Pitṛ Loka. These two worlds are the third and fourth sub-worlds of Bhū Loka. Naraka Loka is hell where the soul enjoys the fruits of its sins. Pitṛ Loka, which is located on the moon, is a place meant for enjoying the fruits of the soul’s neutral deeds. Most people live and perform deeds in the Martya Loka (earth) only for the sake of themselves and their family. They work expecting some benefit in return. Such self-centered people can only reach Pitṛ Loka. Pitṛ Loka means the world of ancestors since most of our dead ancestors reach this world. But some souls, if they serve the public without aspiring for any fruit in return, can even enter the second world called Bhuvar Loka.

Souls that have performed even higher meritorious deeds enter the third world called heaven or Suvar Loka. Preta Loka is right above Martya Loka. So, even though the soul has just completed its life in Martya Loka and is in Preta Loka, it has not gone far from the Martya Loka. Due to the extreme closeness of Preta Loka with Martya Loka, the soul in Preta Loka can almost be considered to be still present in Martya Loka. This is the reason why people say that the soul is close to earth for ten days after the death of its body. The reality is that as soon as the person dies in Martya Loka, its soul in an energetic body enters the second sub-world, Preta Loka to face the inquiry for ten days.

Prayers to Reduce the Departed Soul’s Pain

[Shri Surya asked: In the present day, when a dead person’s son performs the death rituals, a certain verse is read. It is a prayer to reduce the pain of the soul as its body is being burnt. The verse is as follows “Dahana janita tapopaśamanārtham…”. Do the death rituals or the prayers reduce the dead soul’s pain as its body is being burnt?]

Swami replied: The soul had identified (adhyāsa) with the physical body for a long time in the Martya Loka. The same superimposition (adhyāsa) of the soul’s self-identity upon the physical body continues even in the Preta Loka, just after death. When the body is destroyed, the soul is deeply hurt and pained due to this continuing superimposition. The superimposition continuing in the Preta Loka has a purpose in that it enables the soul to recognize the deeds done by its body as the deeds done by itself.

In any case, the soul certainly suffers from the pain of burning its body or of any other means of destruction of the body. The prayer done by the priest also certainly pacifies the soul provided the priest and the performer of the ritual know the meaning and purpose of the prayer. Mere blind recitation of the prayer, without knowing its meaning, does not create any feeling in the mind of the praying person. When there is no feeling associated with the prayer, God will not respond to the blind recitation of those verses and there will be no pacification of the pain of the soul. Even if the ritual is done, it becomes useless when the meaning of the prayer is not understood. It is the meaning that generates the feeling of devotion in the heart of the praying person. Hence, blind recitation is ineffective. That is why the reformation of the priest is very very essential. It is the need of the hour. The priest should give up blind recitation. He should first understand the meaning of the prayers being recited. Then he should explain the meaning to the performer so that the performer will develop a feeling of sincere devotion in his heart. Pleased with the performer’s devotion, God will then help the departed soul.
 
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