Life Beyond Death: A Critical Study of Spiritualism

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Item Code: IDG436
Author: Swami Abhedananda
Edition: 2013
Pages: 240
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5" X 5.5"
Weight 360 gm
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Book Description

About the Book:

Unlike many of the books on Spiritualism, the present work has a special feature of its own. Its pages do not narrate the legends and tales of ghosts and other supernatural beings, as one in most cases finds in such books that claim to unveil the mystery of the world beyond the grave. The treatment of the subject is purely a scientific one, and it has taken a new departure from the prevailing methods and systems of presentation of this subject.

The present work is free from all prejudices and never subscribes to any of these blindly biased views. It has given an impartial or dispassionate view on spiritualism showing wisely and ably its merits and demerits, its bright and dark sides as well. All the problems of soul, pre-existence, immortality, reincarnation and eternality have been clearly solved by the Philosopher-Saint Swami Abhedananda in these lectures in a remarkably lucid and characteristic style of his own.

About the Author:

SWAMI ABHEDANANDA, an apostle of Sri Ramakrishna-Born October 2, 1866-Spent his early life among the brotherhood in Baranagar monastery near Calcutta in severe austerity-Travelled barefooted all over India from 1888-1895-Went to London at the call of Swami Vivekananda in 1896-Acquainted with many distinguished savants including Prof. Max Mueller and Prof. Deussen-Landed in New York and took charge of the Vedanta Society in 1897-Became acquainted with Prof. William James, Rev. R. H. Newton, Prof. Josiah Royce of Harvard, Prof. Hyslop of Columbia, Prof. Lanmann, Prof. G. H. Howison, Prof. Fay, Mr. Edison, the inventor, Dr. Elmer Gates, Ralph Waldo Trine, W. D. Howells, Prof. Herschel C. Parker, Dr. Logan, Rev. Bishop Potter, Prof. Shaler, Dr. Jaynes, the chairman of the Cambridge Philosophical Conference and the Professors of Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Barkeley and Clarke Universities-Travelled extensively all through the United States, Canada, Alaska and Mexico-Made frequent trips to Europe, delivering lectures in different parts of the Continent-Crossed the Atlantic seventeen times-Was appreciated very much for his profundity of scholarship, intellectual brilliance, oratorial talents, charming personality and nobility of character-Made a short visit to India in 1906-Returned to America-Came back to India finally in 1921-On his way home joined the Educational Conference, Honolulu-Visited Japan, China, the Philippines, Singapore, Kualalumpur and Rangoon-Started on a long tour and went as far as Tibet in 1922-Established centres at Calcutta and Darjeeling-Left his mortal frame on September 8,1939.

Back of Book:

The writings and speeches of Swami Abhedananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, were spread over a long period of spiritual ministration both in America and in India. His deep philosophical insight and unfathomed spirituality attracted the learned and the intelligentzia. All his writings and speeches are available in one set of eleven volumes entitled THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SWAMI ABHEDANANDA, the last volume being a Guide to the Complete Works, edited in full by the most renowned philosopher and writer Swami Prajnanananda, a direct disciple of Swami Abhedananda. We invite all lovers of philosophy, religion and culture to avail of the golden opportunity of collecting this set without delay.

Medium Octavo. Printed in good quality paper, clothbound and covered with coloured jackets



Unlike many of the books on spiritualism, the present work has a special feature and beauty of its own. Its pages do not narrate the chief legends and tales of the departed spirits and the wondering ghosts and also of the supernatural beings of the unknown etherial sphere, as one in most cases finds in such books that claim to unveil the mystery of the world beyond the grave. The treatment of the chapters of this book is purely a scientific and rational one, and it has taken a new and novel departure from the prevailing methods and systems of the presentation of this subject.

Swami Abhedananda delivered from time to time a number of lectures on spiritualism in response to the invitations from many institutions like the Free Religious Association of America, The Psychical Research Society of America and the President of the Psychical Research Society of America, the American Institute of Science, etc. The Swami was once the President of the Psychical Research Society of America. He was also well-acquainted with the leading scientists, spiritualists, mediums and spirit-communicators, during his long stay in America. He had many personal experiences about the departed spirits, seances, spirit-communications and other subjects on spiritualism; he believed that most of the spirits are earth-bound, as they are not free from desires and passions. Regarding the mediums, he has said that in most cases, the mediums are deprived of their mental and physical powers. Regarding the seances, the Swami is of opinion that though the departed spirits communicate with the seance-holders and with near and dear ones, and furnish information of their earthly and etherial worlds, yet, in most cases, it has been found that all the information and talks, received from them, are not genuine or correct. So the Swami says that everything of the spirits should be examined with logical and scientific mind.

Regarding this present work, it can be said that it is absolutely free from prejudices and blindly biased views. It is a critical study of the science and practice of spiritualism with impartial or dispassionate views. It has shown wisely and ably the merits and the demerits and also the bright and dark sides of the fact and science of spiritualism. At the same time the learned Swami clearly solved all the controversial points and problems of the theory of birth and rebirth of the souls, existence and preexistence of the souls, and immortality and eternality of the souls. In short, all the knotty problems of spiritualism or spiritism have been clearly explained and solved by this philosopher-saint in the chapters of this book with remarkable characteristics of his own.

It can be said that Swami Abhedananda has neither blindly upheld, nor has totally deny or rejected the facts of the aspects of spiritualism. As for example, the Swami has said: “Although, many of the professional mediums have been pitifully exposed as frauds, still there are genuine mediums and authentic manifestations which cannot be explained by telepathy or any other theory than that of the communications of the discarnate spirits. In many cases the audience is deceived by the earth-bound spirits. The manifestations on the material plane, such as the table turning, the ropping knocks of the spirits, are ordinarily understood by spiritualism, but all such phenomena belong to the lower class of spiritualism or spiritism, as it is called by many. Spiritism can only satisfy our curiosity and does not explain any of our vital questions. But true spiritualism should be distinguished from that phase which is called spiritism. Higher spiritism, therefore, is the name for that which starting from the belief in a life after death, reveals the nature of the soul and its relation to God”.

Further the Swami has said: “Within the last fifty years modern spiritualism has given wonderful demonstrations regarding the existence of the disembodied spirits who continue to live even after the dissolution of their gross material forms. It has brought comfort and consolation to the hearts of many people, who were suffering from the the evil effects of scepticism and unbelief, concerning the future life, caused by the dry theories of the atheistic, agnostic, and materialistic thinkers of the last century”. But it is true, the Swami says that though the disembodied spirits satisfy some of the curiosities of the questioning people, yet they cannot do any real good or they cannot help in any way in the path of spiritual progress. As for example, the Swami said: “The genuine phenomena of spiritism may do some good in the way of satisfying the curiosity of certain people or of bringing the assurance that there is a life after death. They may foretell some petty, trivial events in connection with our business or daily life, but they cannot bring to us the highest wisdom and happiness which come to the soul through Divine communion. These spirits are not angels, as the spiritualism may encourage the hope of meeting the departed spirits of our friends and relatives, and may bring consolation in the mind of those that doubt their existence, but it cannot give us the realization of the absolute Truth, or the attainment of God-consciousness”.

Swami Abhedananda, being a true philosopher and a man of realization, surveyed everything of spiritualism or spiritism from the viewpoint of logic, reasoning, and science. He says that death is inevitable for all the living beings, and they are involved in the cycle of birth and death, until they realize their immortal soul or Atman. Spiritualism is only an open passage for receiving the informations of the existence and pre-existence of the soul and also of their eternality and immortality, but it cannot assure anyone the blessings of knowledge of the absolute Brahman.

The Swami says that when a man passes from the material plane, he lives in the mental plane, and does everything through his mind with the impressions (samskaras) of the works he performed in the material plane and also with the countless impressions that are hoarded in the subconscious lair of the mind. The departed soul sleeps there as it were in the spirit or mind world, and, regarding this sleep after death, Swami Abhedananda says: “The sleep after death is like the sleep before the birth. Then they (departed souls) have a second sleep before they come to this plane (material plane), they go into the sleep, and gravitate towards proper environment. If I have a strong desire to be the best artist, and if I do not succeed or pass away before I fulfil my desire, that desire will remain in me even in that soul-slumber. It will sprout again”. Now, from this it is evident that the departed souls gravitate again and again in this world of desire and fulfilment, because their souls exist and the souls take births until and unless they reach the absolute Truth by cutting asunder the knots of desires and passions. The law of karma is predominant in the lives of all living creatures. They do works in this world of duties and reap their results. Swami Abhedananda says: “So this law of cause and sequence which is called the law of karma, does not wait for widow’s tears, or orphan’s cries. What we have sown, we must reap either on this plane, or in some other realm. So after death we may enjoy the pleasures of our thoughts and deeds in the heavenly regions”.

From the law of karma it is also proved that our soul is immortal and will not be extinguished after death. But it should be remembered, the Swami says, that the life after death, or the life in this material world, is liable to change and also subject to the law of cause and sequence. So we shall have to transcend the realm of cause and effect, which is dominated by time and space, the ingredients of nescience or maya. And this transcendance is possible only by the realization of our true existence which is the immortal Atman.




  The Experimental Spiritualism-Sir William Crooks-Katie King-Mrs. Florence Cook-The scientific study of the phenomena of Spiritualism-Scientific thinkers-Maurice Maeterlink-Prof. Myers-Dr. Hodgeson-Pro. William James-Mr. C. N. Jones-Sir Olivers Lodge-Alfred R. Wallace-Dr. Thomas Jay Hudson-Camille Flamarion-Prof. Hyslop of Columbia-Spiritism cannot explain any of our vital questions-True Spiritualism-Stainton Moses.  
  What the atheistic and agnostic think-Charvakas-Solomon in Old Testament-The dormant questions about our life and death-The modern scientists-Buchner the materialist-J. Luys-Percival Lowell-Herbert Spencer-Prof. W. K. Clifford-Dr. Schiller-Kant-Hume-Those who depend on sense perception-The Yogis in India-The appearance of the 'double'-What science says-Prof. William James-The test of spiritualistic seances-The Hindus-The Vedanta philosophy-Christian missionaries--Bhagavad Gita- Ralph Waldo Emerson-Personality-The world of the Pitris The heaven and the hell-The Persians-The Egyptians-The Chaldeans-The Christian idea-Prof. Huxley-The soul.  
  The Mahabharata on death-The mystery of death is not solved by mythology-Different scriptures-The Genesis-Adam and Satan-Scientific researches-Deaths of the conscious life and the cellular life-Prof. Charles Minot-Causes and signs of death-Trance, catalepsy and ectasy-The old Babylonian method of embalming the body-The cremation method-The belief of the Egyptians-Mind as a factor in the case of death-Dr. John Hunter-Tourtelle, the French physician-Extreme anger generates poison-Grief produces a havoc -Prana the life-force-Mind and the Prana-Mind is the creator-Who is the conductor of the organs--Ectoplasm-Materializing medium-Soul at the time of death-C. Flammarion-What is materialization-Subtle body-Body, the instrument-Death is no longer mysterious-Nothing is destroyed-There is something unchangeable in the midst of changes.


  Different views of death and soul--Katha Upanishad--The Vedas--Brahmaloka Law of Karma-Pitriyana-Devayana The heavens-Higher conception of Vedanta-Zend Avesta on Spiritualism-Old and New Testaments-The Persians-The Egyptians-The Chaldeans-Pythagoras and Plato-What Plato believed-Vedanta on transmigration-Power exists in nature-The views of the socalled scientists-Race or species-Evolution-Soul is immortal-Vedanta cares not for heaven or hell.  
  The term soul-Materialistic thinkers-Everything is subject to the law of cause and effect-Scientific thinkers-A germ of life-Mind and its functions-Psychic powers-Rebirth of the soul does not mean the same thing as transmigration-Metempsychosis and reincarnation-Births according to the merits and demerits of deeds-What is transmigration-Migrating substance-Mythological theory of transmigration-The belief of the Hindus-Rational minds do not believe in the retrogression of the human souls into animal forms-Doctrine of reincarnation is based upon the theory of evolution-The passages of the Upanishads-Reincarnation of the soul does not mean the same thing as expressed by the Buddhist philosophers-One birth theory-The Christian theologians on reincarnation-The followers of Judaism, Christianity and Mohammedanism-Time has no absolute existence-What nature teaches-The Greek philosophers about doctrine of incarnation-One-birth theory and heredity do not explain the mystery of rebirth-The protoplasmic cell-Theories against heredity-Illustrations of reincarnations.  
  Questions of the soul and its destiny-Popular belief among the Christians-The idea of eternal life among different nations-Arguments of the scientists about destiny of the soul-Psychology on destiny-The old materialistic theory about it-Self-consciousness cannot be produced by the combination of matter-Psychological researches-What are matter, knowledge and consciousness-Matter produces nothing but matter-Vedanta explains the destiny of the soul-Modern Spiritualism  
  Different schools of thought about pre-existence and reincarnation-Dr. Thompson-Non-existence cannot produce existence-What is the cause-Leibnitz-Vedanta philosophy on soul-Subtle body-Parents do not create the souls-The believers of one-birth theory-Genesis-Buck and Btehoven-Immortality-Michael Angelo-Memory continues-What is love-Pre-existence and reincarnation go hand in hand.  
  Immortality is one if the fundamental principles of the philosophy and religion of Vedanta-The orthodox view of the Christian theologians-Conception of immortality in Vedanta differs from that of Christianity-The laws of nature-Pre-existence of the soul-True immortality according to Vedanta-Raja Yoga and pre-existence-The subconscious mind is the storehouse of all the impressions-Dormant impressions mould our characters-Persons who are born with some wonderful powers-The word 'love'-Vedanta and immortality-Modern Spiritualism-Rebirth and reincarnation of the soul-Reward and punishment of the soul after death depend upon its thoughts and deeds-Vedanta and heaven.  
  The popular belief in Christendom-The ancient records in Egypt-The belief among the pious Christians-Jesus the Christ did not bring the idea of immortality to the world for the first time-Zend Avesta and immortality-What is death-Science and death-Christian theologian and death-The meaning of immortality-Physical bodies are subject to change-Everything is in vibration-Analysis of the conception of pleasure-What lies in the gross description of hell and heaven-What is personality-A finite cause can never produce and infinite result-God cannot change the laws-The Law of Karma--There is one universal law-The materials-Modern Scientists -What is soul-Christian Scientists-The knower and the changing states of consciousness-The books will not reveal the Truth-Raja Yoga and concentration-What the scriptures of the Hindus say.  
  Different questions about death-The popular belief in the soul-Three theories for proving the existence of the soul-The materialistic theory-The examination of the brain-Speech-centre and the brain-The mind and the brain-The combination theory-The transmission theory-What do the dying persons do-What happens after death-Vedanta and the transmission theory-Mind and matter-Mind and the brain--Individuality and personality-Souls after death-personality is subject to change-An instance of the soul in the other world-what do we mean by life after death-Heavens are not eternal-What is eternity-Souls create their own conditions-Teachings of Vedanta are in perfect harmony with the nature-We are the creators of our destinies.  
  Modern Spiritualism-Ancestor-worship-Ancient, Egyptians, Babylonians and Chaldeans and ancestor-worship-Religion of the ancient Chinese-The ancient Parses-Judaism and Mohammedanism-The saint-worship among the Roam Catholics-The belief in departed spirits in India--Pitriloka Mediums and seances-Vedanta and the law of karma--The realm of the fathers and the path which leads to the realization of Truth-Earthbound souls-Mediums become more or less moral and physical wrecks in the end-The genuine phenomena of Spiritism-The attainment of God consciousness is the highest ideals of Vedanta.  
  What modern Spiritualism has taught-Eucharist of the Christians-Welfare work for the spirits-Hindu belief in spirits -The religion of the spiritualists-Fraudulence of the mediums and the spirits-Idiotic answers from the spirit-Mediums can be controlled by any one-Mediumship in India-Realms of the fathers are not permanent-Living beings on any plane cannot escape the cycle of birth and rebirth.  
  Modern Spiritualism have opened a new field for scientific investigation-Sceptics and agnostics have no faith-Modern Spiritualism has exploded damnation theory-Developing Circle-The method of sittings in the seances-The best results of mediumship-The spirit and the medium-Spirit-control-What the spirits do when they gain control over the mediums-A hypnotic sleep-Trances of the medium-Materializing mediumship-Ectoplasm-Genuine and fraudulent materialization-The process of materialization-Kinds of materializing trance-Is it beneficial for the mortals to develop mediumship-Mediumship does not signify any gift or special talent-Manifestation of the spirits through the mediumistic channels-Medium lose their power of self-control-A high state of mediumship-Evil effect of mediumistic development-The true Yogis in India.  
  Experience in a seance-Automatic writing-Visit to the famous slate-writing medium Mr. Keeler-The writing in the slate by the unseen hand-Electric shock in arms-Writings were in four different languages-Swami Yogananda's hand-writing-A voice came in another seance-Materialized body of Babu Balaram Basu-Questions to him-Voice of Swami Yogananda  
  The Psalms-Jews did not believe in the existence of a soul-The Zoroastrians on soul-Pharisees and Sadducees-Resurrection of the body-Heaven and hell-Last Day of Judgement and Ahura Mazda-Belief in Messiah-Egyptian heaven-The writings of the Babylonians and Chaldeans-The Greek and Roman historians-The Scandinavian belief in Valhalla-Different beliefs in heavens-Heavens are projections of our own ideas-The popular belief in the existence of discarnate souls-Death is not an enemy of life-The belief of orthodox Christianity-The condition of a dying man-Latent powers become stronger at the time of death-Souls contract their powers-Our central life--Sukshma-sarira-Weight of the psychic body-Attraction of the spirit for his material body-The soul enters the borderland after bodily death-Boderland, the state of vibration-The thoughts and ideas of the spirits-Earthbound souls-There is a general law for everybody-Periodicity of the soul-slumber-The material bodies are the results of our thoughts and deeds-The Hindus believe in the existence of the soul from time immemorial-The fraudulent spirits-Spirits borrow powers from the subconscious mind of anybody-The funeral ceremonies of the Hindus are different from that of the Christians-We can help spirits more than they can help us-Good thoughts or prayers help the spirits-Present karma, the seed of the future-The conditions of the souls in their slumbers-Astral shells-Those are the planes which we call heaven-Law of cause and sequence-The realm of thought-How do the spirits see, touch, hear in the world beyond grave-Sleep after death is like the sleep before birth-The second sleep-The souls seek conditions and environments before their birth-The occupations may be according to the beliefs-There is none to mould our future-Desires are the cause of our sufferings-The wise ones will never be afraid of death  
  A summary of the Swami's speech at the Anniversary Meeting of the Psychical Research Society of Calcutta.  
  Questions and Answers: Discussions that we were privileged to have with the Swami.  
  Speeches by Prof. Josiah Royce of Harvard University, Dr. Lewis G. Janes of Cambridge, Prof. James H. Hyslop of Columbia University of Swami Abhedananda in the Free Religious Association of America in Session-Speeches by the Swami on Spiritualism published in various journals of America  
  Extracts from the Rig Veda and the Upanishads and writings of the mystics, poets and philosopher regarding the pre-existence and mortality of the soul  
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