Any living being born, must die in this Universe. This is the Law of nature and Death is inevitable. None of the modern science ever was able to come up with a hypothesis on the soul. Because modern Science never acknowledges that Soul has a journey it takes. Although, Abrahamic religions reject the proposition of re-incarnation , Hindu religion has a written documentation of Death and Rebirth. The details of Death, and Rebirth are discussed in Hindu’s Sacred Book Bhagavad Gita (Gita). In fact, Lord Krishna teaches some secrets of the universe to his devotee Prince Arjuna. 

There are two important Slokas (Hymns) in Sankhya Yoga clearly explains the behavior of the soul:

नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः।
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः॥

nainam chindanti sastrani

nainam dahati pavakah

na cainam kledayanty apo

na sosayati marutah

Hymn that explains the property of a Soul


The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.

वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय

नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि |

तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा

न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही || 22||

vāsānsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya

navāni gṛihṇāti naro ’parāṇi

tathā śharīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇānya

nyāni sanyāti navāni dehī

Behavior of a Soul as explained in Sankhya Yoga in BhagavadGita


As a person sheds worn-out garments and wears new ones, likewise, at the time of death, the soul casts off its worn-out body and enters a new one

Thus, a death at home is always gloomy and sorrowful. It is one of the painful periods one has to go through in lifetime. The moment the person dies, the soul departs the body but the soul will lose the sensory intellect. It will be around the body until the body is cremated. The below Sloka from Mundaka Upanishad explains the size of Soul and its association with the body.

eso ‘nuratma cetasa veditavyo
yasmin pranah pancadha samvivesa
pranais cittam sarvam otam prajanam
yasmin visuddhe vibhavaty esa atma.

The Size of Soul and its association with physical body

“The soul is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. This atomic soul is floating in the five kinds of air [prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana], is situated within the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entities. When the soul is purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material air, its spiritual influence is exhibited.” (Mund. 3.1.9).

Based on these, the dead body slowly recedes the energy it holds. This is the reason, Hindus always practice to cremate the dead before Sunset depending on the time of death. Some cells and organs still be alive until a few hours after death. This is the reason why Doctors recommend organ donation as the organs still hold the energy and memory. After all, the living body holds the zillions of volumes of memory throughout life and those cells and organs hold the memory.

Prana vayu (air), The energy that determines the respiratory function of the living body. The moment the pulmonary and respiratory system ceases, the person will be declared dead by the Doctors. However, the person still holds the heat until the next few hours. It is due to the Samana vayu that resides in the Navel area. After few hours, the heat in the body recedes. However, the body still holds some sensory data while the body is still holding heat and this is Udana vayu. Once the above three energies recede, the body will lose buoyancy, the tendency of keeping body light will disappear. Thus, finally the Udana vayu the tendency to keep the body growing will now recedes and the body starts rotting. While the whole process takes a few hours, and Hindus normally prefer cremating before Sunset due to various reasons and one of them is to make the family mellow down from grief and other is not to let the soul re enter the body in rare situations and is done by tie both Hallux Toe ( Big Toe) and as well a cotton ball in the nostrils . This practice will let the soul not re enter the body. This is a practice widely being used in India for thousands of years. It is also a practice of wearing white clothes during the funeral to let the family feel some relief.

Different Types of Deaths

While death is inevitable for anyone, there are different deaths and so the soul has a bond with the physical body. The soul that has lived in the physical body for a complete period of the lifetime and dies due to normal circumstances, then the soul will depart after 13 days. However, if the death is untimely due to a disease or an accident or a suicide, the soul will not depart the place as it thinks it got the body and has lot of things it intended to do but couldn’t do due to loss of body. It chooses to stay as time and space doesn’t matter and it reverberates endlessly. Thus, the rituals are needed to commemorate the departed soul. The soul needs peace and it is being done only through proper rituals.

Funeral Pyre

What happens after Death

It is a practice to lit a Diya (a Lamp) in the memory of the dead at home during the mourning period and the family members after the funeral take a bath and try to settle down their emotions and grief. The mourning period will be for 13 days and during these days the family will seclude themselves in the memory of the dead and prepare for the rituals needed for the departed soul and strictly refrain doing any material fun or entertainment other than dedication to the departed soul. The soul waits for the dearer one to pay their last rites and rituals.

On the final day, the family invites the friends and neighbors for lunch to commemorate the loss and from that day, the seclusion ends.

Later, the soul makes a Journey towards the South.

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