The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Brahmaloka
BY: SUN STAFF
Brahma and Sarasvati on Hamsa
Album leaf with Telugu inscription, c. 1830, South India
British Museum Collection
Mar 25, 2014 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 37.
Next on the list of holy sites mentioned in Jaiva Dharma's 'Glossary of Places' is Brahmaloka:
Brahmaloka - the planet of Sri Brahma situated above Tapoloka at the upper limit of the universe. This planet is also known as Satyaloka.
Interestingly enough, we find two mentions of Brahmaloka in one translation of Jaiva Dharma, and no mention at all in the second translation. The two references are as follows:
Chapter 12 -- Nitya-Dharma, Sadhana & Sadhya
"Above Indraloka in succession are the planets of Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka, and finally Brahmaloka, the highest planet in the material universe. The sastras give fewer descriptions of Maharloka and Janaloka than of the celestial pleasures in Indraloka, and fewer descriptions still of Tapoloka and Brahmaloka. In contrast, the sensual pleasure of this earth planet, Bhurloka, is extremely gross. The rule is that the higher the planetary system, the more subtle are the senses and their objects. This is the only difference between these realms; otherwise, the happiness available on all these planets is merely the pleasure of the senses, and there is no happiness other than this. Spiritual happiness (cit-sukha) is absent on all these planets, for the happiness found in such places is related to the subtle body – which consists of the mind, intelligence and ego – and is merely a semblance of pure consciousness. The enjoyment of all these types of pleasure is called bhukti, and the sadhana for the jivas trapped in the cycle of karma consists of the activities they adopt to fulfill their aspirations for bhukti."
Chapter 18 -- Prameya: Bhedabheda-tattva
"According to this sloka of Gita, everyone realizes their mistake only when they fall from the celestial planets. A person may begin to covet the pleasures of the heavenly planets again when he fails to find pleasure in the wealth, children, fame and power that is available in the world of human beings. However, while he is falling from the celestial worlds, he adopts a respectful attitude towards an even greater happiness than that of Svarga (the heavenly planets). He becomes indifferent to the pleasures of the human worlds, the celestial planets and even the higher planets up to Brahmaloka when he understands that they are all temporary, and that their happiness is also not fixed or eternal. He then becomes renounced and starts to investigate brahma-nirvana and endeavor earnestly for impersonal liberation. However, when he sees that impersonal liberation also lacks bliss, he takes an unbiased (tatastha) position and searches for another path that will enable him to achieve priti, or pleasure."
There is a vast amount of information in sastra on the subject of Brahmaloka -- far more than can even be mentioned here. However, we will attempt to offer a brief summary of the essential points presented.
There are many descriptions of Brahmaloka, the abode of Lord Brahma, which is also known as Satyaloka. This place is the effulgence of Lord Brahma, and is the temporary abode of many living entities who, by their fruitive activities in sattva-guna, get transferred to this planetary realm. Eventually, they fall back down from their Brahmaloka abode to the lower realms, such as Bhuloka. This is the Brahmaloka mentioned by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur in his Jaiva Dharma 'Glossary of Places'.
But there is another Brahmaloka that is sanatana, eternal. Before proceeding to describe the Brahmaloka mentioned in Jaiva Dharma we should understand the difference between the two Brahmalokas, as thoroughly explained by Srila Prabhupada in Srimad Bhagavatam:
Srimad Bhagavatam 2.5.39:
grivayam janaloko 'sya
murdhabhih satyalokas tu
grivayam--up to the neck; janalokah--the Janaloka planetary system; asya--of Him; tapolokah--the Tapoloka planetary system; stana-dvayat--beginning from the breast; murdhabhih--by the head; satyalokah--the Satyaloka planetary system; tu--but; brahmalokah--the spiritual planets; sanatanah--eternal.
"From the forefront of the chest up to the neck of the universal form of the Lord are situated the planetary systems named Janaloka and Tapoloka, whereas Satyaloka, the topmost planetary system, is situated on the head of the form. The spiritual planets, however, are eternal.
Many times in these pages we have discussed the spiritual planets situated beyond the material sky, and the description is corroborated in this verse. The word sanatana is significant. This very idea of eternity is expressed in the Bhagavad-gita (8.20), where it is said that beyond the material creation is the spiritual sky, where everything is eternal. Sometimes Satyaloka, the planet in which Brahma resides, is also called Brahmaloka. But the Brahmaloka mentioned here is not the same as the Satyaloka planetary system. This Brahmaloka is eternal, whereas the Satyaloka planetary system is not eternal. And to distinguish between the two, the adjective sanatana has been used in this case. According to Srila Jiva Gosvami, this Brahmaloka is the loka or abode of Brahman, or the Supreme Lord. In the spiritual sky all the planets are as good as the Lord Himself. The Lord is all spirit, and His name, fame, glories, qualities, pastimes, etc., are all nondifferent from Him because He is absolute. As such, the planets in the kingdom of God are also nondifferent from Him. In those planets there is no difference between the body and the soul, nor is there any influence of time as we experience it in the material world. And in addition to there being no influence of time, the planets in Brahmaloka, due to being spiritual, are never annihilated.
All variegatedness in the spiritual planets is also one with the Lord, and therefore the Vedic aphorism ekam evadvitiyam is fully realized in that sanatana atmosphere of spiritual variegatedness. This material world is only a shadow phantasmagoria of the spiritual kingdom of the Lord, and because it is a shadow it is never eternal; the variegatedness in the material world of duality (spirit and matter) cannot be compared to that of the spiritual world. Because of a poor fund of knowledge, less intelligent persons sometimes mistake the conditions of the shadow world to be equivalent to those of the spiritual world, and thus they mistake the Lord and His pastimes in the material world to be one with the conditioned souls and their activities."
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
(Brahmaloka, to be continued…)
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