The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Tapoloka
BY: SUN STAFF
Prithu and the Four Kumaras
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Jul 23, 2014 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 156.
Among the numerous descriptions of the abodes in the Muniloka planetary system, Tapoloka's position is described by Srila Prabhupada in the following excerpt from the BTG article, "Ascendance to the Personal World of Krsna":
"The demigods have their various places in this material world. There are seven higher planetary systems and seven lower planetary systems. We are living on earth, in the planetary system called Bhurloka, and there are many planets in this system. And above Bhurloka are Bhuvarloka, Svarga-loka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka, Brahmaloka there are so many planets, with various kinds of living entities and various kinds of comforts. On some of these planets there are very highly intelligent beings, much more intelligent than human beings, who are called demigods ("those who are almost God")."
(Back To Godhead Vol. 16, No. 12)
Srila Prabhupada also discussed the different planetary systems in his February 1952 BTG article, "Lord Shri Chaitanya and His Teachings":
"There are different grades of planets all over the universe. And in all the planets there are different grades of life. In the upper regions which are known as Bhuba Loka, Swaraga Loka, Jana Loka, Tapa Loka, Maha Loka and Brahma Loka situated above the planet called the earth or the Bhoo Loka, life is comparatively good. But persons who have no information of such Lokas are busy in the matter of adjusting things in the Bhoo Loka or this earth. The recent adjustment of welfare activities have been started in this matter of Bhoodan Janjna (?) which is a plan of adjustment between the classes of haves and the haves not. So there is also labour and struggle and therefore there is no chance of unhampered life in these got up happiness."
(Back To Godhead Vol. 1, Part 8, February 1952)
Many of the sastric references to Tapoloka refer to the types of persons who attain that abode. As Srila Bhaktivinoda described the place in his 'Glossary of Places':
"Topmost sages like the four Kumaras reside on this planet which is obtained by naisthika-brahmacaris."
In his Bhagavad Arka Marichi Mala, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur also states:
yogasya tapasash caiva
nyasasya gatayo 'malah
mahar janas tapah satyam
"By mystic yoga, great austerities and the renounced order of life, the pure destinations of Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka are attained. But by devotional yoga, one achieves My transcendental abode."
The categorization of these planetary abodes and those who attain them was also discussed by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati in his interview with Professor Johans of St. Xaviers College:
"We are living in the Bhuloka, one out of the fourteen worlds comprising the seven lower worlds and seven higher ones. Of the latter, this world (Bhuloka) is the first. The Bhu (earth) Bhuvah (between heaven and earth) and Svah (heaven) are the regions of enjoyment for householders performing virtuous deeds with desire; the remaining higher regions, viz., Mahah, Janah, Tapah and Satya are attainable by non-householders. Of these four, the first is meant for those who live and study in the preceptor's house and intend to become house-holders after paying the preceptor a ceremonial present; the second is for the celibates who live with the preceptor for good and ever observe the rules of religious austerities; the third is for the hermits, who after retirement from worldly life live in the forest or in seclusion for meditation; and the fourth for the sanyasis (roaming mendicants). But the devotees of God, who have not the inordinate desire for worldly enjoyments or for merger in Brahman, attain to Shri Vaikuntha which is inaccessible to others."
(The Doctrine of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sree Sajjanatoshani)
Finally, there is a detailed explanation of the categories of persons who go to these planetary abodes. In this passage, from the Sri Brhad-Bhagavatamrta by Srila Sanatana Goswami, there is a description of the abodes attained by householders, and those who are not householders, such as the naishtika-brahmacaris, vanaprasthas, and sannyasis who attain Tapoloka:
Sri Brhad-BhagavatamrtaText 10
Part Two, Volume One - Vairagya (Renunciation), Invocation
trailokyam grihinam padam
agrihanam ca tasyordhvam
sthitam loka-catus tayam
Sri Uttara said: Three worlds are abodes for materialistic householders who perform pious deeds. Above them are four worlds that are abodes for they who are not householders.
Note: Srila Sanatana Gosvami explains that the three worlds are the Bhuh, Bhuvah, and Svah planets. The householders here wish to enjoy the fruits of their work. Householders that have no material desires, by performing prescribed duties may go to Maharloka or the other higher planets, and, when their hearts are pure, may become liberated. This is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.24.29):
sva-dharma-nis thah sata-janmabhih puman
virincatam eti tatah param hi mam
avyakritam bhagavato 'tha vais navam
padam yathaham vibudhah kalatyaye
"A person who executes his occupational duty properly for one hundred births becomes qualified to occupy the post of Brahma, and if he becomes more qualified, he can approach Lord Siva. A person who is directly surrendered to Lord Krishna, or Vishnu, in unalloyed devotional service is immediately promoted to the spiritual planets. Lord Siva and other demigods attain these planets after the destruction of this material world."
The persons who are not householders are the naishtika-brahmacaris, vanaprasthas, and sannyasis. The four realms they attain are Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka, and Satyaloka. The ultimate fate of these renounced souls is described in srimad-Bhagavatam (2.6.20):
padas trayo bahis casan
aprajanam ya asramah
antas tri-lokyas tv aparo
"The spiritual world, which consists of three-fourths of the Lord's energy, is situated beyond this material world, and it is especially meant for those who will never be reborn. Others, who are attached to family life and who do not strictly follow celibacy vows, must live within the three material worlds."
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