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Advanced Yoga Study ( By Swami Dharmananda
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The astral universe is peopled with millions of beings who have come more or less recently from the physical planets like our Earth and also with myriads of fairies, mermaids, fishes, animals, goblins, gnomes, demigods and spirits all residing on different astral planets in accordance with karmic qualifications. 
Various spheric mansions or vibratory regions are provided for good and evil spirits. Good ones can travel free, but evil ones are confined to limited zones. One such zone is called ‘Preta Loka'. A very passionate man whose mind is filled with lower sense appetites and strong cravings goes to this plane. He remains unconscious for a shorter time after death. As soon as he wakes up the sensual cravings torment him immensely. He wants to eat, drink and enjoy with women. But he cannot gratify his desires in the present body. He remains in this world as a prisoner in prison. He is therefore extremely miserable and unhappy. Performing Shraaddha (religious libations and offerings) can help such people. The performance helps to free them and make them pass on to Svarga or Heaven. The mantras that are recited during the ceremony create strong vibrations that break the body that imprisons the soul and helps it to move on. 
Astral beings materialize and dematerialize their forms at will. Flowers or fish or animals can change themselves for a time into astral men. All astral beings can assume any form. No fixed definite laws hem them. Astral beings have the ability to bi-locate (i.e.) be at the same time at two or more different places. 
No one is born of woman. In most cases the astral body is an exact counterpart of the last physical form. Astral men have all outer sensory organs, eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin but employ the intuitional sense to experience sensations through any part of the body. They can see through the ear or nose or skin. 
Astral persons can by intuition observe human activities but man cannot view the astral spheres unless his sixth sense or spiritual eye is somewhat developed. 
Luminous ray like vegetables abound in the astral soils. Astral dwellers consume fruits and vegetables and drink a nectar that flows from glorious fountains and astral brooks and rivers. 
An astral person meets a multitude of relatives, fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, children and friends acquired during different incarnations on Earth. 
Astral desires center around enjoyment in terms of vibrations. Astral beings enjoy the ethereal music of the spheres and are entranced by the sight of all creation as exhaustless expressions of changing light. 

A hell is a region of sharp, severe, intense pain in the astral world. The evil doers suffer there for a period of time. Bad actions are worked out and then they revert back to the Earth plane. The ruler of hell is Lord Yama. It is a special locality, which is walled off from the surrounding regions of space by the messengers of Yama. Sinners get a thick body named ‘Yatana-Deha' when they are punished. The punishment is reformatory and educative. The soul is reborn with a keener conscience after being purified by hell-fire. All is chaos, darkness and torment due to the reaction and retribution of sin that has been willfully, perversely and unrepentantly done. 


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