Jul 16, 2014 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 149.
Next on the 'Glossary of Places' are two consecutive listings that describe the same domain - Svarga-loka:
"Sva - (Svarga-loka) the heavenly planets (see svarga-loka).
Svarga-loka - the heavenly planets which are characterised by material opulence, enjoyment, and duration of life far exceeding those of the planet earth. Svarga is attained by strictly carrying out the pious activities recommended in the karma-kanda section of the Vedas.
There are quite a number of references to Svarga-loka in Jaiva Dharma. Svarga is one of seven divisions of planets, and all are listed in the 'Glossary of Places'. The first is Bhuh, the Earth planet, then Bhuvah, Svarga, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka, and Satyaloka (listed in the Glossary as Brahmaloka).
Like other planetary abodes already covered, all the content in Jaiva Dharma about Svarga-loka is instructive, explaining the philosophy in terms of the jivatma's conditioning and desire nature, and how it is eventually turned to the pursuit of pure bhakti.
In chapter seven, in a dialogue between Candi dasa and Ananta dasa, Sri Prema-vivarta of Sri Jagadananda is quoted:
"As soon as one becomes inimical to Krsna and desires sense gratification, he is immediately struck down by the illusory energy of the Lord.
When a living entity is conditioned by material nature, he is exactly like a person haunted by a ghost.
Forgetting the words 'In my perfect state I am servant of Krsna', he serves maya for a long time.
Sometimes he is a king. Sometimes he is a citizen. Sometimes he is a brahmana.
Sometimes he is a sudra. Sometimes he is sad. Sometimes he is happy. Sometimes he is a tiny insect.
Sometimes he is in Svargaloka. Sometimes he is in the earthly realms. Sometimes he is in hell. Sometimes he is a demigod. Sometimes he is a demon. Sometimes he is a servant. Sometimes he is a master. Sometimes he is a servant.
Thus he wanders in the material worlds. When he attains the association of devotees, he can understand the truth about himself.
When he understands the truth about himself he no longer wishes to stay in the material world. Then he laments, 'Why did I serve maya for so long?"
In chapter nine another of our characters, Digambara Cattopadhyaya, a fanatical devotee of Goddess Durga, is engaging Advaita dasa (Kalidasa Lahiri), who had become a Vaisnava.
"Digambara: Some say that the people of the world are gradually becoming more educated. As they become more educated, they will become more civilised, and as the people become more civilised, the earth will gradually become Svargaloka.
Advaita: Those philosophers are smoking ganja. Anyone who believes those stories is rich in blind faith. They who don't believe those stories are fortunate. There two kinds of knowledge: 1. spiritual, and 2. material. I don't think spiritual knowledge is increasing. In many places spiritual knowledge collapsing. I think it is material knowledge that is increasing. Does material knowledge touch the soul eternally? When material knowledge increases, then the heart becomes attracted to material things and has contempt for the spiritual truth. I agree that material knowledge is increasing, but from that knowledge comes a dishonest civilisation. That 'civilisation' brings great misfortune to the soul."
In chapter twelve, there is a passage which describes Svarga-loka in more detail, and explains what sacrifices the conditioned soul can engage in to reach this temporary abode:
"The residents of the material world generally yearn for material pleasures, so the scriptures gives certain specific instructions to them. They who have material bodies generally think sense pleasures are the best and most important attainment. The material world is, after all, the abode of material sense pleasures. The material sense pleasures the soul attains from the time of birth until the time of death are called 'pleasures this world', and the material sense pleasures one may attain after dying are called 'pleasures of the next world'. There are many different kinds of pleasure in the next world. In Svargaloka and Indraloka there are the pleasures of seeing the apsaras' dancing, the pleasure of drinking heavenly nectar, smelling the flowers and other scented objects in the Nandana gardens, seeing the beauty of Indrapuri and the Nandana gardens, hearing the singing of the gandharvas and others, and living with the Vidyadharis are all pleasures attainable in Svargaloka. To a lesser degree these same kinds of material sense pleasure are also available in Tapoloka and Maharloka. In Bhuloka (the earth) the material sense pleasures are gross. As one goes to higher and higher planets, the sense pleasures become more and more subtle. In this way they are different. Still, they are all material sense pleasure. It is not that any of them are not material sense pleasures. None of these planets are spiritual. The subtle body of mind, intelligence and false ego is a perverted reflection of spirit. In the higher planets the pleasures are pleasures of the subtle body. All these different kinds of material pleasures are called 'bhukti'. The conditioned souls trapped in the circle of karma take shelter of karmic activities in order to attain material sense pleasures. That is called their 'sadhana', the means they adopt to attain what they see is the true goal of life. In the Yajur Veda (2.5.5.) it is said:
"One who desires to attain Svargaloka should perform the asvamedha-yajna."
Thus the asvamedha-yajna, agnistoma-yajna, visvadeva-bali, istapurta, and darsa-paurnamasi are some of the ways the scriptures give for the conditioned soul to attain material sense pleasures. In this way the materialists say that material sense pleasure is the true goal of life."
(Svarga-loka, to be continued…)