The Vedic description of Judgement Day is very unique. In other religious systems, it is usually understood that all souls have to wait till some final doomsday when all souls, living and dead, will be judged according to their actions.
The Vedic scriptures give us a much clearer and a more logical explanation of the Judgement Day. It is actually quite like an ordinary court. An ordinary court is open everyday and judgements are passed everyday, as and when the cases are due for judgement. It is not that all people wait for one fine day when they will be judged together and then punished or rewarded eternally.
WHO WILL BE JUDGED?
From the Vedic scriptures we can primarily understand that souls occupy different bodies in 8,400,000 species of life according to the different degrees of influence of the three modes of material nature namely sattva-guṇa (mode of goodness), rajo-guṇa (mode of passion) and tamo-guṇa (mode of ignorance.) Among them, only 400,000 are human species and only those souls occupying the human bodies are subject to judgement as they are endowed with sufficient intelligence to discern right from wrong whereas the subhuman species act only upon instinct.
The human body is rarely achieved for a soul revolving indefinitely in the cycle of birth and death in various species of life. Although temporary like the other bodies, it can award the highest benediction which is liberation from this vicious cycle of birth and death. But if a human being does not use his precious human life for this purpose but instead wastes it in animal propensities of eating, sleeping, sex and defence, he becomes punishable.
All such punishable souls are taken by constables called Yamadūtas at the time of their death to the abode of Yamarāja who is the Universal Magistrate appointed by the Supreme Lord. So the Judgement Day is just after one faces death. Yamarāja then metes out punishment in hell according to the degree of his sinful conduct. Sinful conduct means any action that is against the injuction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as enjoined in the Vedic scriptures.
HOW TO ESCAPE JUDGEMENT DAY?
The devotees of Kṛṣṇa, or Viṣṇu, however, escape this punishment and are instead awarded an eternal life of bliss and knowledge in one of the Vaikuṇṭha-loka planets or the topmost Vaikuṇṭha-loka called the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet. This is declared by Yamarāja himself to his constables Yamadūtas and it is recorded in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (6.3.27):
ye sādhavaḥ samadṛśo bhagavat-prapannāḥ
tān nopasīdata harer gadayābhiguptān
naiṣāṁ vayaṁ na ca vayaḥ prabhavāma daṇḍe
“My dear servants, please do not approach such devotees, for they have fully surrendered to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are equal to everyone, and their narrations are sung by the demigods and the inhabitants of Siddhaloka. Please do not even go near them. They are always protected by the club of Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore Lord Brahmā and I and even the time factor are not competent to chastise them.”
All this means that death is the judgement time. At that time we are judged or examined. It is important to perform well in that examination and pass it with flying colors. Just as with any examination, that comes with thorough preparation. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, our last thought at the time of death is what propels us to a suitable body in the next life. If one dies remembering Kṛṣṇa, he will return back home, back to Godhead. Otherwise, he will return to the path of birth and death.
Therefore it is very important that we mold our life in such a way that we become Kṛṣṇa conscious every single moment in our life. Through constant practice in devotional service to Kṛṣṇa under the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master and in the association of devotees, one becomes accustomed to think of Kṛṣṇa always and stands a good chance of remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead at the last breath. Then, one will pass the Judgement Day and go back to Godhead, or Kṛṣṇaloka. [End]