Maharaja: First of all let me explain that there is a gross body which we can see right now made up of earth, water, fire, air and either and then there is a subtle body made up of mind, intelligence and false ego. So at the time of death not only the soul leaves the body but the subtle body also goes with it. So we are in the body of mind, so those animals are biting the body made of mind and therefore we can feel the pain but we don’t die, but if they bite the body made of flesh and bones. How much biting can we tolerate?
But in the mental body we can be bitten and experience pain unlimitedly without dying and that’s actually what is happening. What I am describing is found in the fifth canto of the Srimad Bhagvatam.
Devotee : is it the soul that is punished or the body of the soul.
Maharaja: The punishment in the hellish planets is taking place in the subtle body made up of mind, intelligence and false ego – that body is not given up. The planets of Yamaraj, or the other planets where hellish punishments are going on are all within the universe. So, we are not going out of the material realm, but we simply are within the subtle body experiencing these things. Then when we are becoming purified from them, then we can again come up and get another body.
Transcribed by Madhumati Devi Dasi
(Kadamba Kanana Swami 2005)