The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Brahmaloka
BY: SUN STAFF
Mar 27, 2014 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 39.
Before giving further consideration to the many descriptions of Brahmaloka as a destination for living entities engaged in fruitive activities (or falling down from that place to lower abodes), we would like to cover some of the more general descriptions of the Brahmaloka referred to in Jaiva Dharma's 'Glossary of Places'. It is the temporary, not the sanatana Brahmaloka that Srila Bhaktivinoda has included in this list.
There are several descriptions of Brahmaloka in terms of its place in the planetary system. We begin with this very broad description, from Srila Prabhupada's purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.2:
"The first purusa is the Karanodakasayi Visnu. From His skin holes innumerable universes have sprung up. In each and every universe, the purusa enters as the Garbhodakasayi Visnu. He is lying within the half of the universe which is full with the water of His body. And from the navel of Garbhodakasayi Visnu has sprung the stem of the lotus flower, the birthplace of Brahma, who is the father of all living beings and the master of all the demigod engineers engaged in the perfect design and working of the universal order. Within the stem of the lotus there are fourteen divisions of planetary systems, and the earthly planets are situated in the middle. Upwards there are other, better planetary systems, and the topmost system is called Brahmaloka or Satyaloka. Downwards from the earthly planetary system there are seven lower planetary systems inhabited by the asuras and similar other materialistic living beings."
And in the following passage, we again find a differentiation between sanatana Brahmaloka and Satyaloka:
Srimad Bhagavatam 2.5.40-41 Purport:
Modern enterprisers (the astronauts who travel in space) may take information from Srimad-Bhagavatam that in space there are fourteen divisions of planetary systems. The situation is calculated from the earthly planetary system, which is called Bhurloka. Above Bhurloka is Bhuvarloka, and the topmost planetary system is called Satyaloka. These are the upper seven lokas, or planetary systems. And similarly, there are seven lower planetary systems, known as Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala and Patala lokas. All these planetary systems are scattered over the complete universe, which occupies an area of two billion times two billion square miles. The modern astronauts can travel only a few thousand miles away from the earth, and therefore their attempt to travel in the sky is something like child's play on the shore of an expansive ocean. The moon is situated in the third status of the upper planetary system, and in the Fifth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam we shall be able to know the distant situation of the various planets scattered over the vast material sky. There are innumerable universes beyond the one in which we are put, and all these material universes cover only an insignificant portion of the spiritual sky, which is described above as sanatana Brahmaloka. The Supreme Lord very kindly invites the intelligent human beings to return home, back to Godhead, in the following verse of the Bhagavad-gita (8.16):
punar avartino 'rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate
Beginning from Satyaloka, the topmost planet of the universe, situated just below the eternal Brahmaloka, as described above, all the planets are material. And one's situation in any of the many material planets is still subject to the laws of material nature, namely birth, death, old age and disease. But one can get complete liberation from all the above-mentioned material pangs when one enters into the eternal Brahmaloka sanatana atmosphere, the kingdom of God. Therefore liberation, as contemplated by the speculative philosophers and the mystics, is possible only when one becomes a devotee of the Lord. Anyone who is not a devotee cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Only by attainment of a service attitude in the transcendental position can one enter into the kingdom of Godhead. Therefore the speculative philosophers, as well as the mystics, must first of all be attracted to the devotional cult before they can factually attain liberation."
The Bhaktivedanata Purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 3.10.9 explains Brahmaloka and Satyaloka's placement in the planetary system, and the nature of Brahmaloka's permanency is further explained:
"Brahma is the creator of the three worlds, namely the lower planets, called the Patalalokas, the middle planets, called the Bhurlokas, and the upper planets, called the Svarlokas. Still higher planets, such as Maharloka, Tapoloka, Satyaloka and Brahmaloka, do not dissolve in the devastating water. This is because of the causeless devotional service rendered unto the Lord by their inhabitants, whose existence continues up to the end of dvi-parardha time, when they are generally liberated from the chain of birth and death in the material world."
The relationship of Brahmaloka and Satyaloka in their planetary system is also clarified by His Divine Grace in the purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 4.29.80:
"Siddhaloka and Brahmaloka are both within the same planetary system. Brahmaloka is understood to be the highest planet within this universe. Siddhaloka is considered to be one of the satellites of Brahmaloka. The inhabitants of Siddhaloka have all the powers of yogic mysticism. From this verse it appears that the great sage Narada is an inhabitant of Siddhaloka, although he travels to all the planetary systems. All the residents of Siddhaloka are spacemen, and they can travel in space without mechanical help. The residents of Siddhaloka can go from one planet to another individually by virtue of their yogic perfection."
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
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