The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Brahmaloka
BY: SUN STAFF
Mar 29, 2014 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 40.
Along with its designation as a temporary abode and its hierarchical placement in the planetary system, there are numerous other descriptions of Brahmaloka found in sastra. In a Srimad Bhagavatam Third Canto purport there is a description of Brahmaloka's correspondence to the Lord's virat body; the temporary Brahmaloka is situated accordingly:
"This universe, or the universal sky which we can visualize with its innumerable planets, is shaped just like an egg. As an egg is covered by a shell, the universe is also covered by various layers. The first layer is water, the next is fire, then air, then sky, and the ultimate holding crust is pradhana. Within this egglike universe is the universal form of the Lord as the virat-purusa. All the different planetary situations are parts of His body. This is already explained in the beginning of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Second Canto. The planetary systems are considered to form different bodily parts of that universal form of the Lord. Persons who cannot directly engage in the worship of the transcendental form of the Lord are advised to think of and worship this universal form. The lowest planetary system, Patala, is considered to be the sole of the Supreme Lord, and the earth is considered to be the belly of the Lord. Brahmaloka, or the highest planetary system, where Brahma lives, is considered to be the head of the Lord."
(Srimad Bhagavatam 3.26.52 Purport)
In the purport to Bhagavad-gita 15.2, Srila Prabhupada describes material life as symbolized by the Banyan tree, of which Brahmaloka is the root.
"The description of the banyan tree is further explained here. Its branches spread in all directions. In the lower parts, there are variegated manifestations of living entities such as human beings, animals, horses, cows, dogs, cats, etc. These are situated on the lower parts of the branches, whereas on the upper parts are higher forms of living entities: the demigods, Gandharvas and many other higher species of life. As a tree is nourished by water, so this tree is nourished by the three modes of material nature. Sometimes we find that a tract of land is barren for want of sufficient water, and sometimes a tract is very green; similarly, where the modes of material nature are proportionately greater in quantity, the different species of life are manifest in that proportion accordingly.
The twigs of the tree are considered to be the sense objects. By development of the different modes of nature, we develop different senses, and, by the senses, we enjoy different varieties of sense objects. The source of the senses--the ears, the nose, eyes, etc.--is considered to be the upper twigs, tuned to the enjoyment of different sense objects. The leaves are sound, form, touch--the sense objects. The roots, which are subsidiary, are the by-products of different varieties of suffering and sense enjoyment. Thus we develop attachment and aversion. The tendencies toward piety and impiety are considered to be the secondary roots, spreading in all directions. The real root is from Brahmaloka, and the other roots are in the human planetary systems. After one enjoys the results of virtuous activities in the upper planetary systems, he comes down to this earth and renews his karma, or fruitive activities for promotion. This planet of human beings is considered the field of activities."
In a First Canto purport to Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada mentions the duration of life on Brahmaloka, thus further describing the temporary nature of the place:
"The denizens of the heavenly kingdom are called amara, or deathless, due to their possessing a long span of life, far greater than that of the human beings. For a human being, who has only a maximum one-hundred-year duration of life, a span of life spreading over millions of years is certainly considered to be deathless. For example, from the Bhagavad-gita we learn that on the Brahmaloka planet the duration of one day is calculated to be 4,300,000 x 1,000 solar years. Similarly, in other heavenly planets one day is calculated to be six months of this planet, and the inhabitants get a life of ten million of their years. Therefore, in all higher planets, since the span of life is far greater than that of the human being, the denizens are called deathless by imagination, although actually no one within the material universe is deathless."
(Srimad Bhagavatam 1.17.15 Purport)
This is confirmed in Srimad Bhagavatam 2.3.11 Purport:
"We also have information from the Bhagavad-gita that all the planets within the material world, including Brahmaloka, are but temporarily situated, and after a fixed period they are all annihilated. Therefore the demigods and their followers are all annihilated at the period of devastation, but one who reaches the kingdom of God gets a permanent share in eternal life."
Brahmaloka is also mentioned in the Seventh Canto, this time in connection with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Sankirtana movement:
Srimad Bhagavatam 7.15.71:
ekada deva-satre tu
"Once there was a sankirtana festival to glorify the Supreme Lord in an assembly of the demigods, and the Gandharvas and Apsaras were invited by the prajapatis to take part in it.
Sankirtana means chanting of the holy name of the Lord. The Hare Krsna movement is not a new movement as people sometimes mistakenly think. The Hare Krsna movement is present in every millennium of Lord Brahma's life, and the holy name is chanted in all the higher planetary systems, including Brahmaloka and Candraloka, not to speak of Gandharvaloka and Apsaroloka. The sankirtana movement that was started in this world five hundred years ago by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is therefore not a new movement. Sometimes, because of our bad luck, this movement is stopped, but Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His servants again start the movement for the benefit of the entire word or, indeed, the entire universe."
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