by Swami Sivananda
The departing soul reaches the deity of the year and then the deity of the air.
Vayumabdadaviseshaviseshabhyam IV.3.2 (519)
(The departed soul) (of a knower of the Saguna Brahman goes) from the deity of the year to the deity of the air on account of the absence and presence of specification.
Vayum: the deity of the air; Abdat: from the deity of the year; Aviseshaviseshabhyam: because of non-specification and specification, because it is stated in general in one Sruti and in detail in another.
The description of the path of the gods is continued.
The Sutra fixes the order of the stages. The Kaushitaki Upanishad describes the path as follows: "The Upasaka or the worshipper, having reached the path of the gods comes to the world of Agni (fire), to the world of Vayu (air), to the world of Varuna, to the world of Indra, to the world of Prajapati, and then to the world of Brahma" (Kau. Up. I.3).
Now the world of Agni means the same as light, as both terms denote burning, and we, therefore, need not with regard to them search for the order in which they are to be combined.
Again the Chhandogya Upanishad (V.10.1) describes the path as follows: "They reach the deity identified with the light, from him to the deity of the day, from him to the deity of the bright half of the month, from him to the deities identified with six months of the northern path of the sun, from them to the deity of the year, from him to the deity of the sun, from him to the deity of the moon, from him to the deity of the lightning". Here Vayu is not mentioned in the path beginning with light. There is absence of specification.
In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Vayu is mentioned before Aditya. "When the person goes away from this world he comes to Vayu. Then Vayu makes room for him like the hole of a wheel, and through it he mounts higher, he comes to Aditya." On account of this specification which shows Vayu to come before Aditya, Vayu must be inserted between the year and Aditya. We should conclude that the soul goes to Vayuloka before going to the sun.
The Brihadaranyaka text (V.10.1) fixes that air comes immediately before the sun, because there is regular order of succession. But as regards air coming after the deity of fire there is no specification but simply a statement "Having reached the path of the gods he comes to the world of Agni, to the world of Vayu."
The Vajasaneyins in their text record "From the deities identified with the six months in which the sun travels northwards he reaches the deity identified with the world of the gods" (Bri. Up. VI.2.15). Here in order to maintain the immediate succession of the deity identified with Vayu (air) and that identified with the sun (Aditya) we must understand that the soul passes from the deity of the world of the gods to the deity of air.
Again in the texts of the Chhandogya and the Brihadaranyaka the deity of the world of the gods is not mentioned in the former and the deity of the year in the latter. Both texts are authoritative. Both have to be included in the full description of the path. As the year is connected with the months, the deity of the year precedes the deity of the world of the gods.
Hence the sequence is Archis (rays), Ahas (day), Suklapaksha (bright half of the month), six months when the sun travels to the north, year, the world of the gods, the world of Vayu, the sun, the moon, the lightning, the world of Varuna, the world of Indra, the world of Prajapati and the world of Brahma.