Garuḍa Purāṇa 13

The subtle body of dead now arrives in front of Citragupta who listens carefully to Śravaṇa-s.  Then Citragupta explains to the subtle body, its good and bad actions during its life in the earth.  The subtle body is not going to reap the benefits of its good or bad deeds performed in the earth.

Garuḍa Purāṇa proceeds to discuss about some more gifts. The path that the subtle body takes to reach the world of Yama is very dark. An illuminated earthen lamp should be lit and kept in the place where death took place for fourteen days.  This lamp should burn continuously.  This lamp is supposed to illuminate the dark path.  Another earthen lamp should also be gifted.  An earthen jar filled with water should be gifted on the fourteenth day or in the month of kārttika.  The gift of an earthen jar quenches the thirst of the servants of Yama.    

A subtle body becomes impure after leaving the gross body at the time of death.  It attains purity only on the eleventh day.  Whatever the gifts given on behalf of the deceased helps the subtle body of the deceased to traverse the path to Yama’s world with slight ease. (After death, the subtle body of a person is recognized only on his karmic account and not on account of their wealth or intelligence. It should be remembered that spiritual intelligence is different from materialistic knowledge.  Spiritual knowledge is considered as the Supreme.)

Gifts of seven items umbrella, footwear, clothes, ring, water jar, chair and a vessel are called pada-s. These seven items are helpful to the subtle body of the deceased while it traverses from the earth to the abode of Yama.  Gifting a copper jar filled with water is considered as the best. The gifts offered on behalf of the deceased are taken by god Varuṇa and handed over to Viṣṇu, who in turn hands them over to the sun.  The sun gives these gifts to the deceased.

The one who has committed sins are sent to hell and stay there until all his sins are exhausted.  Once his period in the hell is over, the subtle body is allowed to see the different kinds of hells. The number of hells is described as 8,400,000, out of which 21 are described as the horrifying ones.  If one does not have any descendents and none has made any gifts on their behalf continue to stay in these hells for a very long time and finally become the messengers of Yama (If one continues to live among criminals, over a period of time, he also becomes a criminal. Bad habits are easily acquired than good habits.  When the subtle bodies are tortured for a long time in hells, the subtle bodies become the embodiments of torture. Based on this theory, messengers of Yama are said to be horrifying.  If one goes to an ashram, he is guided by a holy man.  On the contrary, if one goes to a den, he is guided by a criminal).

It is also said that at the time of death, the length of the subtle body is an arm’s length.  After undergoing torture in different hells, it is taken to appear before Yama.  At that time, the subtle body becomes the size of a thumb, often described in Upaniṣad-s.  This body is called airy body. (At the time of conception, sperm is moved towards ova only through the air and at the time of death also. It is only the air, that pushes the subtle body out of the gross body, causing death.) His airy body moves along with Yama.  This place is called Vaivasvatapura and have both virtuous and sinners. Their hunger is satisfied only through gifts of iron, salt, cotton and vessel containing gingelly seeds by their relatives. Their main work is to maintain Vaivasvatapura.  The residents of Vaivasvatapura inform their gate keeper Dharmadvaja about the receipt of seven gifts (pada) by them, described earlier.  On confirming the gifts, Dharmadvaja tells the residents about their noble and sinful acts.  

Yama finally decides where the subtle body has to go.  If one has done a lot of dharmas, he is made to reborn as a human.  The sinners are made to be born as worms, insects, animals, plants, etc., or they are made to go back to hells again to undergo further sufferings.  All this depends on the amount of noble acts done by a person when he was alive.  Some of the sinners are made to be born as ghosts.  Having born as ghosts, they torture their kin for not having performed śrāddha rituals and for not having offered piṇḍa-s to them.  It is also said that if śrāddha-s are not performed as prescribed by śāstra-s, the preta-s curse their family for having made them to wander as ghosts and make them to suffer.  This can be explicitly known and understood. Their crops do not grow, their wealth is destroyed, diseases set in, do not have progeny, early loss of children, etc.  Their sufferings could be in many ways. This is generally called pitṛśāpa or the curse by ancestors. (The only way to alienate pitṛśāpa is to keep one’s parents happy during their old age.  There is no point in performing any amount of ceremonies or giving any amount of gifts if one neglects parents at their old age. Neglecting parents is considered as the worst sin.)