During morning class, Srila Prabhupada mentioned how the Fifth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam described a variety of different punishments for sinful acts. Nature's laws, he stressed, were very strict, and one could not claim ignorance as an excuse. In question-time, someone asked how long it took for the soul to enter its next body after death.
Prabhupada replied that it depended upon the individual. Usually it was quick -- a matter of minutes -- but if a man was very sinful, it could take longer. Srila Prabhupada gave the example of Winston Churchill, who had entered a long coma before his death.
"This means that he is very, very sinful. It takes longer to calculate his punishment. A living entity does not leave his body until his next birth is calculated." Prabhupada compared this to a caterpillar, who doesn't place his legs down until his next foothold is established.
- From "The Great Transcendental Adventure" by HG Kurma Prabhu