The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Maharloka
BY: SUN STAFF
Lord Brahma and consorts
May 17, 2014 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 89.
There are a number of references to Maharloka in sastra. Some we have already mentioned once, if not twice, in previous segments on abodes located nearby that planet. Among the glorifications of Maharloka is this one, from the Garga Samhita's 'Sri Balabhadra-sahasra-nama' (Thousand Names of Lord Balarama):
amsamsas ca naraveso
mahar janas tapah satyam
bhur bhuvah svar iti tridha
"He expands in many incarnations (amsamsa). He appears as a sakty-avesa incarnation (naravesa). He descends to the material world (avatara and bhupari-sthita). He is Maharloka (mahah), Janaloka (jana), Tapoloka (tapah), and Satyaloka (satyam). He is the three planetary systems: Bhuloka (bhu), Bhuvarloka (bhuvah), Svarloka (svah)."
In the Brahma-vaivarta Purana's narration on Parsva (Parivartinii) Ekadasi, Lord Vamana's association with Maharloka is explained in a discussion between Sri Krsna and King Yudhishthira:
"The Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna replied, "Though a dwarf, I was a brahmana, and I approached that pious king Bali to ask him for alms in the form of land. I said, 'Oh Daityraj Bali, please give Me just three steps of land in charity. Such a small piece of land will be good as all the three worlds for Me.' Bali agreed to grant My request without lengthy consideration. But as soon as he vowed to give Me the land, My body began to expand into a gigantic transcendental form. I covered the entire Earth with My feet, all the Bhuvarloka with My thighs, the Swarga heavens with My waist, Maharloka with My stomach, Janaloka with My chest, Tapoloka with My neck, and Satyaloka with My head and face. I covered the entire material creation. Indeed, all the planets of the universe, including the Sun and the Moon, were encompassed by My gigantic form. Seeing this astonishing pastime of Mine, all the demigods, including Indra and Shesha, the king of the snakes, began to sing Vedic hymns and offer prayers to Me."
The hierarchical arrangement of abodes in the upper planetary systems have also been mentioned in earlier segments, including the ones on Bhuvah and Brahmaloka, in which Maharloka is described. Specifically, Maharloka is mentioned as one of the worlds Lord Brahma creates. During the periodic annihilation events, Maharloka is one of the places qualified persons travel to, temporarily escaping the devastation.
Maharloka's placement in relation to the Sun and Moon is mentioned by Srila Jiva Goswami in his Sri Krsna-sandarbha (Vol. I), which states that the Moon, Sun and other planets are all situated beneath Maharloka and Dhruvaloka.
Along with the demigods and other pious souls who take residence on Maharloka at various times, Srimad Bhagavatam 11.18.9 includes this category of devotee:
"The saintly vanaprastha, practising severe penances and accepting only the bare necessities of life, becomes so emaciated that he appears to be mere skin and bones. Thus worshiping Me through severe penances, he goes to the Maharloka planet and then directly achieves Me."
In his Bhagavat Sandarbha, Srila Jiva Goswami gives further commentary on the residents of Maharloka and other planets in this cosmic system, and the temporary nature of taking shelter there:
"The three quarters spiritual creation of the Lord has as its counterpart the material world. This is implied by the word punah (lit. again) in the fourth mantra of the Purusha Sukta. Srila Jiva Gosvami says that the fuller meaning of this word is explained in S.B. 2.6.20. Beyond the heavenly planets are four planetary systems, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapaloka, and Satyaloka. These represent the tripada vibhuti, and the three planetary systems below that, Bhurloka, Bhuvaraloka, and Svarloka, represent the ekapad vibhuti. The ekapad vibhuti is the place for the grihamedha, or the householder. griha eva medha buddhir yasya sa grihamedha--A person whose intelligence is centered around his house is called grihamedha. The word griha, although it literally means "house", implies a wife, as is said--na griham grihamityahu grihini griham ity ucyate--The house is not called "house", but the wife is called "house". For a grihastha, house has no meaning without a wife. Therefore the meaning is that a grihamedha is one who is attached to enjoying sex life. Such people rotate within the triloki. They cannot ascend beyond the heavenly planets.
Sridhara Swami explains that although Maharloka is the place of gradual liberation (krama mukti), the happiness there is perishable, because at the end of Lord Brahma's day the residents feel the heat coming from the mouth of Sankarshana during the partial devastation, however, the happiness of people in Janaloka is indestructible. They do not have to leave their abode at the end of Brahma's day. Therefore, Janaloka represents amritam. From Janaloka they see people traveling from Maharloka out of misery. Therefore they have some miserable experience by seeing them. The residents of Tapaloka however are completely aloof. So Tapaloka represents kshemam. Satyaloka, however, is the place of abhaya, because the residents achieve liberation along with Brahma (Kurma Purana 12.273):
"All those pious souls enter into the abode of the Lord along with Lord Brahma at the end of the duration called para when it is time for complete annihilation."
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