What happens after death?


Because no one has actually seen what happens after death, there are multiple beliefs regarding this. But the yogis through their eyes of knowledge know the movement of the beings before and after their death:

utkrāmantaḿ sthitaḿ vāpi bhuñjānaḿ vā guṇānvitam
vimūḍhā nānupaśyanti paśyanti jñāna-cakṣuṣaḥ
[BG - 15.10]

Not the people of lower intelligence, but one with the eye of knowledge sees how a being leaves the body, stays in the body and experiences different bodies due to nature.

So we have many descriptions regarding this in various puranas and scriptures. The exact description and explanation of different cases would be very very long. So I am answering briefly the course of journey of a human being or jivatma after death.

When the body dies,the jivatma is carried away to the abode of Yama for judgement of his actions. Sinful jivas are taken through a door and path that is painful and pious souls are taken through another path that is not painful.

After Yama has judged the person's work, then depending upon his work he will either be taken to heaven or put into hell. Then after finishing his term there he will again have to comeback to this material plane of existence taking birth in any kind of material body as per his actions. This is the normal course of a jiva's life in samsara. [Agni Pu. - Chapter. 203]

But, if someone has done austerity, penance, devotion, etc. then depending upon his mode of spiritual activity he will go to the respective abode. If one worships formless quality less Brahman, after death he will also merge in Brahman [BG - 12.4]. If one worships Brahman with form (like Krishna, Vishnu, etc.) then depending upon his thought at the time of death [BG - 8.6], he can enter to the respective deity's abode.

yānti deva-vratā devān pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām
[BG - 9.25]

Worshipers of the gods go to the gods; worshipers of forefathers go to the pitra loka; to the ghosts go those who worship ghosts; those who worship Me come to Me alone.

So the bottom line is, as long as a person's karmic account is not clean, he will only be wandering in different planes of existences in different kinds of bodies enjoying different kinds of pains and pleasures depending upon his actions. So yes, as per the scriptures the human being has a soul (or, existence) after his/her death.

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