The Fourteen Worlds Part4

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Continued from Part3

The Fourteen Worlds (Lokas) described in the ancient Indian Puranas are the following:- 1.Satyaloka, 2.Tapoloka, 3.Janaloka, 4.Maharloka, 5.Suvarloka, 6.Bhuvarloka 7.Bhuloka, 8.Atala, 9.Vitala, 10.Nitala, 11.Rasatala, 12.Mahatala, 13.Sutala and 14.Patala. The Puranas usually describe these worlds as different regions of the observable universe (the planet Earth, Earth's immediate neighborhood and regions far beyond).

Several Million Lokas

Some of the Puranas count not just 14 worlds but says there are several million Lokas or worlds. What do they mean? As we have seen that the 14 Lokas are arranged not as one above the other but as one inside the other, it is possible multiple Lokas of the same type co-exist inside another Loka which is containing them all. Thus there could be several Swar Lokas (Solar Systems like the one in which we live) within a Mahar Loka (The Star World), there could be several Mahar Lokas (Star Worlds, Stellar Neighborhoods or Star Clusters) within a Jana Loka (The Milky Way Galaxy), there could be several such Jana Lokas (Galaxies) within a Tapo Loka (The Galaxy World or Galaxy Cluster) and there could be many Tapo Lokas (Galaxy Clusters) in the Satya Loka (The Universe). This explains how there can be several million Lokas as described in some of the Puranas.

In this case it is to be noted that the Solar System contains only a single Earth. Thus our Swar Loka contains only one Bhuvar Loka (Geosphere) and Bhu Loka (Earth), though the sub-sections of Swar Loka, described as 'Mandalas' like the Budha Mandala, Sukra Mandala etc are equivalent to the Buvar Loka with its Bhu Loka.

Our Bhuvar Loka (Geosphere) contains only one Bhu Loka (Earth) and this Bhu Loka contains only one set of the seven Patala Lokas.

Extended Theory of Migration of Souls

If we extend the concept of the migration of soul in our world (Bhu Loka) to all the Intelligent Life Forms (ILF) living in any given Earth-like planet in the whole of our Universe, we have this interesting result. Most of the departing souls from the respective planets will be recycled and became souls of the new life forms in the same planet itself. Very rarely some of them may go to the Hells in the innermost Patala (the Planetary Core) of their own planet. Rarely some of them may escape the Bhuvarloka (The Sphere of Influence) of their planet and reach their Swarga (Stellar System). Very rarely, some may go beyond to become part of a Mahar Loka (Inter Stellar Space) which is shared by many such planets and Stellar Systems (Swargas). Among these a few may reach the Jana Loka (the Galaxy or the Galactic Core) shared by many such Mahar Lokas. Among these a few may reach the Tapo Loka (Inter Galactic Space) shared by many such Jana Lokas (galaxies). Among these a few may reach the Satya Loka (the Universe, or the space between Galaxy Clusters ) shared by all of the Tapo Lokas (Galactic Clusters) in this Universe.

In any case, in a given planet, those souls who stay in the Bhu Loka and Bhuvar Loka of the planet, those souls who sink into the depths of the Patala Lokas of the planet and those souls who reach the Hells in the Planetary Core are tied to the planet itself. It is those souls who escape to the Swarga surrounding the planet that get a chance to be born in another planet or to reside in ever larger higher Lokas. This could be the reason why the souls prefer Swarga (Heaven) to Naraka (Hell). This could be the reason why the Puranas extol people to do good deeds, which will increase their good Karma, which would led their way to higher worlds. The higher the world, the better. Hence Satya Loka is preferred to Tapo Loka, Tapo Loka is preferred to Jana Loka, Jana Loka is preferred to Mahar Loka and Mahar Loka is preferred to Swar Loka (Swarga, Heaven or Jannat).


The Universe (Satya Loka), is described as the abode of Brahma the Creator. It is also described as a Lotus, that sprang from the naval of Vishnu, signifying its four-dimensional shape resembling a lotus with a stalk. It is also described as an Egg (the Egg of Brahma, the Brahmanda or the Cosmic Egg). Here it is significant to note that some Puranas mention that there are several million (or infinite number of) Brahmandas or several million Satya Lokas or several million Brahmas! This implies that there are several million Universes. Our Universe, with its residing Brahma is one amongst them. Modern Cosmology too has come to the conclusion that our Universe is just a member of the Multiverse containing infinite number of Universes!

Spread of the concept of Lokas to other cultures

The ancient Indian concept of multiple words had spread into other cultures as well, but with some distortions. Ancient Arabia had trade relationships with port-cities like Dwaraka and sea-faring kingdoms like Sindhu (Hindu or Al-Hind) and Sauvira (Ophir). There are several verses in Quran describing the seven worlds, though distorted, as seven firmaments. Of these verse 65:12 is of great importance, for it counts 14 worlds as described in the Puranas as it takes into account along with the 7 firmaments created by God, a similar number (7) of worlds created of Earth. The seven worlds created out of Earth are obviously the seven Patala Lokas (underground worlds) that lie within Earth's interior.

  1. [2:29] It is He Who hath created for you all things that are on earth; Moreover His design comprehended the heavens, for He gave order and perfection to the seven firmaments; and of all things He hath perfect knowledge.
  2. [17:44] The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, declare His glory.
  3. [41:12] So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days.
  4. [65:12] God is He Who created seven Firmaments and of the earth a similar number.
  5. [67:3] He Who created the seven heavens one above another
  6. [71:15] See ye not how God has created the seven heavens one above another,
  7. [78:12] And (have We not) built over you the seven firmaments,

Seeing the Lokas with Naked Eye

As a derivative conclusion of our analysis, we learn that the Lokas (or the firmaments as mentioned in the Quran) are observable by the naked eye! The Bhu Loka, the earth (with its mountains rivers and seas) is observable day and night, so is the Bhuvar Loka, the atmosphere (with its clouds, rains, thunders, rainbows and the solar auroras in the polar regions). Suvar Loka (Swarga) reveals its majesty as the Solar and Lunar orbs, the five visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) and as the occasionally visible comets and asteroids.

Through the empty expanse of the Suvar Loka, we also see the other Lokas . All of the stars that we see in the starry-night sky are part of the Mahar Loka. These stars include the 27 famous stars named Hamal (Aswini), 41_Arietis (Bharani), the Pleiades star cluster (Kartika), Aldebaran (Rohini), Bellatrix (Mrgasirsa), Betelgeuse (Ardra), [wikipdia:Castor] (Punarvasu) and Pollux, Delta Cancri (Pushya), Alpha_Cancri (Aslesha), Regulus (Magha), Delta_Leonis (Purva-phalguni), Denebola (Uttara-phalguni), Gamma_Corvi (Hasta), Spica (Citra), Arcturus (Swati), Librae (Visakha), Dschubba (Delta-Scorpii or Anuradha), Antares (Jyeshta), Lambda_Scorpii (Mula), Delta_Sagittarii (Purvashada), Sigma_Sagittarii (Uttarashada), Altair (Sravana), Alpha_Delphini (Dhanishta), Formulhaut (Satabhisha), Pegasi (Purva-bhadrapa), Gamma_Pegasi (Uttara-bhadrapa) and Delta_Piscium (Revati). It also includes other famous stars like Sirius (Mrigavyadha or Rudra), Vega (Abhijit), Procyon, 51_Pegasi, Alpha_Centauri, Capella and many others.

The Jana Loka or the Milky Way Galaxy is seen as a faint band behind these bright stars of the Mahar Loka. The Tapo Loka is seen as the galaxies visible to the naked eye such as the Andromeda_Galaxy, the Large_Magellanic_Cloud and the Small_Magellanic_Cloud. The Satya Loka is seen as the Observable_universe. The galaxies of the Tapo Loka looks like small stars but show their majesty when looked through telescopes. The observable universe (of Satya Loka) too reveal its wonders once viewed through the powerful space-telescopes.

The observability is limited for the Patala Lokas. However many humans had ventured into underground caves, and seen the bottom of continental lakes and oceans, thus the wonderful views of the Patala Lokas are revealed to humanity.

The Exploration of the Lokas

We have explored some parts of the Patala Loka though our submarine ships, underground cave expeditions etc. Almost all of the Bhu loka is explored by humans traveling on foot, or on various vehicles. The Buvar Loka is explored using our aircrafts and using our rockets and Earth orbiting artificial-satellites. Space agencies like NASA, ESA and ISRO (of India) has explored the Suvar Loka by visiting various planets, comets, asteroids, Sun and Moon. A few of the space-crafts (Voyager I and II) will enter into the starry world of Mahar Loka in the near future!

One day humanity will explore all of the Mahar Loka (stellar world), Jana Loka (Milky Way Galaxy), Tapo Loka (Galactic World) and the Satya Loka (Observable Universe).

Beyond Universe

Vishnu Purana, goes on describing what is beyond Universe. This is beyond any rational explanation as it touches metaphysical aspects, yet very interesting:-

The world is encompassed on every side and above and below by the shell of the egg of Brahmá. Around the outer surface of the shell flows Water, for a space equal to ten times the diameter of the world. The waters, again, are encompassed exteriorly by Fire; fire by Air; and air by Mind; Mind (Manas) by the origin of the elements (Ahankara); and that by Intellect (Buddhi or Mahat): each of these extends ten times the breadth of that which it encloses; and the last is encircled by the chief Principle, (Pradhána or Prakriti), which is infinite, and its extent cannot be enumerated: it is therefore called the boundless and illimitable cause of all existing things, supreme nature (Prakriti); the cause of all mundane eggs, of which there are thousands and tens of thousands, and millions and thousands of millions, such as has been described. Within Pradhána resides Soul, diffusive, conscious, and self-irradiating, as fire is inherent in flint, or sesamum oil in its seed.

Comprehending the Shell of the Egg

Everybody except small children knows that we live on the surface of Earth and not inside the globular inside of Earth. The Earth's surface is curved, yet it is flat if we take a small area. Mathematically speaking Earth's surface is a locally Euclidean (locally flat). It is a two dimensional curved space. It is two dimensional since it can be described by two axis-vectors and it contains four directions (forward, backward, left, right). The surface of Earth has no beginning or end or any edges yet it is finite (it has a finite total area). The Earth, the Solar System and the Galaxies exist in a three dimensional curved space, which is locally Euclidean. One cosmology model says that this space is infinite and another says that it is finite. A finite 3D curved space with no beginning or end can be described as the three dimensional surface of a four dimensional sphere. If the sphere can be equated to the Egg of Brahma (Brahmanda), then the shell of the egg of Brahmá can be equated to this curved 3D space that we call the universe which is finite in its total volume but has no beginning or end or edges.

Is this Science (Vidya) or Beyond Science (Para-Vidya)?

The narration would then make us consider that beyond the shell (the 3D curved space, which is our universe) is a layer of thick fluid-like entity (like water) and beyond that is an energy layer (like fire) and beyond that a thin (air like) layer. Beyond that, it says, are the layers of Mind (Manas), Ahamkara and Intellect (Mahat) and finally the infinite expanse of Prakriti or Pradhana. Within this infinite expanse lies the prime Soul. These are beyond scientific comprehension and so beyond the purview of science. A scientist has all the right to dismiss all this as beyond the purview of objective science. Yet the description provided here is mind boggling even if all of these were pure imagination.

Equality of the Brahmanda with any Living entity

A Living Entity, such as a Human Being is described by Vedanta as composed of body-mind-ahamkara-intellect-soul. Thus this Puranic narration equates the Brahmada (cosmic egg) with a Vedantic Living Entity having the 3D curved space (our universe) with the adjacent three layers, as its body and having the subsequent layers of mind-ahamkara-intellect and soul.

Nature, Soul and Intellect

Nature (Pradhána) and soul (Puman) are both of the character of dependants, and are encompassed by the energy of Vishnu, which is one with the soul of the world, and which is the cause of the separation of those two (soul and nature) at the period of dissolution; of their aggregation in the continuance of things; and of their combination at the season of creation. In the same manner as the wind ruffles the surface of the water in a hundred bubbles, which of themselves are inert, so the energy of Vishńu influences the world, consisting of inert nature and soul. Again, as a tree, consisting of root, stem, and branches, springs from a primitive seed, and produces other seeds, whence grow other trees analogous to the first in species, product, and origin, so from the first unexpanded germ (of nature, or Pradhána) spring Mahat (Intellect) and the other rudiments of things; from them proceed the grosser elements; and from them men and gods, who are succeeded by sons and the sons of sons.

The etymology of the word Vishnu is that which expands, which could mean the expanding Universe or the expanding consciousness.

Space and Time

In the growth of a tree from the seed, no detriment occurs to the parent plant, neither is there any waste of beings by the generation of others. In like manner as space and time and the rest are the cause of the tree (through the materiality of the seed), so the divine Hari is the cause of all things by successive developments (through the materiality of nature). As all the parts of the future plant, existing in the seed of rice, or the root, the culm, the leaf, the shoot, the stem, the bud, the fruit, the milk, the grain, the chaff, the ear, spontaneously evolve when they are in approximation with the subsidiary means of growth (or earth and water), so gods, men, and other beings, involved in many actions (or necessarily existing in those states which are the consequences of good or evil acts), become manifested only in their full growth, through the influence of the energy of Vishńu.

It is interesting to note that if we visualize the life-lines of our body and other objects in the four dimensional space-time continuum, it indeed look like a giant four dimensional (4D) tree with each life-lines being the diverging branches growing in the forward direction of time!

The Supreme Spirit

This Vishńu is the supreme spirit (Brahman), from whence all this world proceeds, who is the world, by whom the world subsists, and in whom it will be resolved. That spirit (or Brahman) is the supreme state of Vishńu, which is the essence of all that is visible or invisible; with which all that is, is identical; and whence all animate and inanimate existence is derived. He is primary nature: he, in a perceptible form, is the world: and in him all finally melts; through him all things endure. He is the performer of the rites of devotion: he is the rite: he is the fruit which it bestows: he is the implements by which it is performed. There is nothing besides the illimitable Hari.

These statements are based on Vedanta (the core knowledge contained in the Vedas). Vedanta states that the reality that we call Universe, the source of this reality which other religions differentiate as God (Yahwa, Allah) and the observer who perceives these two as separate, are not three different things but the same (one) entity. These cannot be differentiated. In other words, they are differentiated only in theory for the sake of simplicity and for subjecting it to human understanding.

Related Articles

  1. Alien Presence During Mahabharata
  2. The Fourteen Worlds
  3. The Fourteen Worlds Part2
  4. The Fourteen Worlds Part3
  5. The Fourteen Worlds Part4

Further Reading

  1. Vishnu Purana Chapter 7
  2. Maya Danava's Surya Siddhanta
  3. Online Quran
  7. Swastika
  8. The 27 Nakshatras
  9. A few of the 14 words are nominatively described in Mahabharata:- Satyaloka, Maharloka, Suvarloka, Bhuvarloka, Bhuloka, Rasatala, Patala. There is also description of Swarga and Naraka, Heaven and Hell and concepts like Manas (Mind), Ahankara, Mahat (Intelligence), Pradhana, Prakriti, Nature, Soul, Brahman, Water, Fire, Air, Space, Earth, Puman and Vishnu. The description about Mahat (Intelligence) deserves special attention.
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Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 15 Apr 2011 04:19 and updated at 15 Apr 2011 10:52

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