JVB London - Lecture: Where Will You Go? What Will You Be In Your Next Birth?

Published: 01.11.2006
Updated: 30.07.2015

In the class before, we have discussed ‘what is the basis of who you are’? In one word, the answer was - karma. No god or superior power decides our future. Our past and current deeds accumulate karmas, which govern what we will be reborn as.

Karma is responsible for our worldly existence and due to this we have to take birth again and again. So the cycle of birth and death run continuously.

Now if we have to take birth again after this life than naturally the question arises - where will I go? What will I be in my next birth?

If we look around us, we see not only men and women, boys and girls, but also cats, dogs, birds, bugs, plants, etc. There are various forms of living beings in this universe. At the same time every second someone dies and someone is born. Nothing is permanent. This makes us wonder what happens to those who die. Where will they go? What will happen when I will die? Where will I go?

Any way we all have a question that what we will be in our next birth?
For getting the answer of this question, first we have to know the realms where we can go.
These realms are not like - America, England, Japan Canada etc.
These are 4 realms called Gatis or destinies.

When a living being dies, it can be reborn into one of the four Gatis (destinies). These four destinies are as follows:

  • Manushya (Human) beings.

  • Dev (Heavenly) beings.

  • Tiryancha (Animal, birds, insects, vegetations) beings.

  • Näraki (Hell or Infernal) beings.

Infernal Beings:

Infernal beings live in the hell, and hell is under this earth but we can’t see it. This is the place for suffering. Here one has to continuously suffer. Most of the time, infernal beings fight among themselves, and cause more suffering to each other. Even for a second there is no peace in the hell. Such a life is, therefore, absolutely unsuitable for the spiritual pursuit.

Heavenly Beings:

This place is to consume the good karmas. Heavenly beings are always happy and good. Because as a heavenly being, one has superior physical capabilities, numerous supernatural powers, and access to all the luxuries.

Human Beings:

As human beings we have been endowed with the ability to think. We can make out right from wrong. We can decide what is good for us, and what is not. We also have the capacity to control our minds and activities. We can learn about the principles of Jainism and practice them by adopting the appropriate vows and restraints. We can also renounce worldly life (Sansär) for monk-hood, which can help lead us to liberation or salvation.

Animal Beings:

Except humans all beings on this earth fall in this category. As a Tiryancha (being born as an animal like a lion, an elephant, a bird, a plant, a bug, etc.) one is considered to be a lower form of life. Animals, birds, sea creatures and reptiles have minds but the rest of Tiryancha do not. Therefore most Tiryancha suffer passively. Even animals and birds, etc., who have minds cannot think or restrain nearly as much as humans and therefore their progress is compromised. Overall there is a great degree of passive suffering and dependency in their life.

Where will you want to go?

  1. But the heavenly life is also transient and when it comes to an end, heavenly beings feel very unhappy.

  2. Besides they can not adopt restraints or renounce their lives to become monks or nuns. Therefore, there is no salvation in the heavenly life, and such beings will have to be reborn as human beings in order to attain liberation. It may be said that the soul is born as heavenly being due to relative accumulation of more good karmas (Punya). But at the same time it should be remembered that the soul uses up a good number of good karmas there too.

Thus, it is clear that out of these four Gatis or destinies only the human life is suitable for spiritual pursuit and capable of freedom from the cycle of births and deaths. Let us now try to understand which type of karma leads a soul to different destinies.

  1. Those who engage in violence, lying, stealing, and excessive sensual pleasure or are too possessive, angry, egoistic, greedy, deceptive, or intensely attached to the worldly life are likely to be re-born as infernal beings in the hell.

  2. Those who are simple and disciplined, observe vows, behave well, have a good character, and follow a good moral life are generally re-born as heavenly beings.

  3. Those who are simple, straightforward, observe vows and restraints, have faith in true teachers, attempt to gain true knowledge, have only a slight attachment, have a controlled level of anger, greed, or deception, and try to follow the religious teachers are generally re-born as humans.

  4. Those who are selfish, deceptive, cause troubles, or wish evil for the others are likely to be Re-born as the Tiryancha.

So this is the one principal of rebirth that we have to take birth out of in these four destinies. Now we can decide that what we will be in our next birth. Which type of activities, we are doing according to that, we will be. We can judge ourselves. I talked about the criteria and now you can measure yourself that what you will be. One more thing we have to know that one who dies, will be reborn. 48 minutes before dying a change happens. In this time the person starts to experience the next birth or next destiny.

Many people say that I see this, I see that and so on. Some people feel good and some feel very bad. Some people see very wholesome things some see very scary. This is the indication of future life, where he will go.

In this time his emotions also start to change. Now he feels the emotions according to his future life.

Some times we feel, a person does well in his whole life but in his last moment his good spirits are changed into bad.

On the other hand one person does so bad in his whole life but in the last moment his spirits become better. This is due to his or her next birth. There is a rule, in which spirit a person dies in the same he takes birth. So through this we can get an idea that what we will be in next birth.

Now a question is when does a person decide that he is going to be a human, hellish, sub-human or heavenly being in his next life. When is it decided?

To answer this question it is said that the age determining karma determines the life span for the next birth, when two third of our current life has passed.

At that time we should remain more alert because at that point in time of life, if we involved in good deeds we will have a better life in our next birth and vice versa.

Since nobody knows, which point in our life is this point; we should be constantly involved in doing good deeds. If our next lifespan is not decided at the first two thirds then it is decided at two-thirds of remaining time. If it is still not decided yet then again at the two thirds of remaining time and so on and so forth, - or at the time of death. Age determining karma will not be acquired if the soul is going to be liberated in the current life.


JVB London, Samanijis Prasanna Pragyaji and Samani Sambodh Pragyaji


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