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What happens when someone dies? Is it only the soul that departs?

Did you know that you have more than one body? Apart from your physical form, there are two other bodies that are with you, always. Learn about what they are, what happens after death.

What happens after a person dies is something that has fascinated scientists for a long time. There is, still, no conclusive definition of death in medical science. With advancements in science, there is constant fine-tuning with theories of what makes up death. Did you know that the various organs of our body don’t die all at once? Some organs are of no use immediately after a person dies whereas others have a little more ‘longevity’. That enables people to donate eyes and other organs, even after they die.

That said, death is a finality, an unavoidable reality. It may take us a few hours to die, but die we will when the time is up.

Scientists of the world of medicine have not been able to pinpoint exactly what leaves after death. Scientists of the spiritual world have no such confusion. They know perfectly well that the atma, the soul, leaves the body on death. What does the atma look like? Why haven’t scientists, with such advanced technologies at their disposal, been able to detect it yet? You see, the atma cannot be detected. It is beyond the senses of material perception and it is divine. And mortal eyes can perceive nothing that is divine. The other thing is, it has described in Sanskrit as sukshma - subtle. Even after a thousand years, even if we make the most advanced microscope possible, it will still be undetectable.

But is it the only thing that departs after death? No, for maya-bound people like us, there are two ‘bodies’ that accompany the atma, always.

The first is sukshma sharir - the subtle body. The second, karan sharir - the causal body. These are not divine like the atma, these are material bodies, made of and from maya. But they are so subtle that any device can not detect them.

Don’t think this is strange. Have you heard of the CERN Institute? This is in Geneva, the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. It has the largest machine in the world, a collider, a tunnel-like machine, 27 kilometers long! It is a purely research-based institute, backed by major developed nations. One of its most interesting experiments was to find, in the words of science, ‘the long, drawn-out struggles of physicists to find this elusive piece of the cosmic puzzle’. This elusive stuff is officially known as the Higgs-Boson particle (Boson, named after Satyendra Nath Bose, the brilliant Indian physicist). But everyone knows it as ‘God particle’. Why call it God particle? Because it is so elusive and so subtle. The days that electrons and protons were the smallest known particles are long gone. Higgs-Boson particles is supposedly much, much smaller.

CERN Institute Laboratory, Switzerland

After long labour they announced that they have finally found this elusive particle. Trust me, after finding this, scientists will discover that there is something that is even smaller than this ‘God particle’. The atma, the sukshma sharir and the karan sharir are smaller and more subtle than anything that the CERN Institute can possibly find.

Of these three, only the Atma is divine.

What is sukshma sharir? This bears our five senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Don’t equate your eyes with sight. Your eyes are merely machines that house the power to see. How else can you have such vivid dreams in technicolor while fast asleep? This is possible because sight is a subtle sense, independent of your mortal eyes. The same goes for the other five senses.

What about karan sharir? This is a repository of our karmas. You can liken it to a spiritual bank statement, listing our good karmas on one side and the bad ones on the other. How many pages does this statement run? Infinite pages, reflecting the good deeds and bad ones of our countless lives. God makes a small draw from these karmas, which decides our fate in any birth. Mind you, no one is born with only bad karmic fate or only good karmic fate. Our lives are a mixture of both.

So long as we are maya-bound and in the cycle of endless births and deaths, the sukshma and karan bodies accompany the atma. Once we escape from maya, that is, once we attain God, these two drop off. Of course, the atma remains. As with God, the atma is indestructible. No power on earth and not even God can cause its destruction. But the other two bodies will drop off. With seekers of Brahm, the gyanis, once the sukshma and karan bodies are gone, it is goodbye forever. When the gyani dies, he will be dissolved in the body of God. With the karan sharir gone, the karmas are deleted and there is no more rebirth.

It is a little different in the bhakta's case. Like the gyani, the bhakta’s karan sharir is deleted forever.

All the karmas of the past are deleted and there is no question of being forced into the endless misery of life and death because of maya. But though the sukshma sharir is destroyed, God replaces it with divya sharir, a divine body. In simple words, God gives the bhakta the powers of divine sight, smell, taste, touch and smell. With this the bhakta delights in savoring, in taking delight in all glorious aspects of God. The bhakta can perceive Sri Krishna just as we can perceive our parents, children or other loved ones.

Note: If you have any spiritual queries, feel free to ask. Devi Ji may answer your query as a blog post here. Send your query to,

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