The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Bhuh


BY: SUN STAFF - 31.7 2019

Folk Painting based on Srimad Bhagavatam

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 32.

There are two commonly used spellings for the holy place under discussion: bhuh and bhu, and the two are used interchangeably in the various translations of Jaiva Dharma. As the word is used throughout Srimad Bhagavatam, it would seem that the spelling 'bhuh' is closest to Srila Bhaktivinoda's use of the word in Jaiva Dharma.

The name Bhuh is used in sastra to describe both the Earth planet and the element of earth, i.e., land, and there are a number of related uses of the word. We opened our first segment on Bhuh with the primary mention in Jaiva Dharma, which describes Bhuh as being the field of activity for those conditioned souls seeking bhukti, material sense gratification in life. In a lecture on Bhagavad-gita, March 28, 1966 in New York, Srila Prabhupada had this to say about the cause of fruitive activity:

"One should not think that "Because I am not this body, so I shall cease to work." No. You cannot cease to work. If you cease to work, then idle brain will be a devil's workshop. No. We have to work. So therefore the Lord says, "The technique of acting on the spiritual platform is that you have your right to act. You have your right to act according to your position." But, karmany evadhikaras te ma phalesu kadacana: "But you should not desire to enjoy the fruit of your activity." That is the technique. You should not desire to enjoy the fruit of activity. Then, if I want to enjoy the fruit of my activity, then what it will be? Suppose I am a businessman. I have made a profit of ten million dollars in this year. So do you mean to say that I shall not enjoy this huge amount of money? I shall throw it away? Oh. Yes. The Bhagavad-gita says that ma phalesu kadacana: "You cannot take the fruitive result of your work." Then if I do it, then what it will be? Now, he said, ma karma-phala-hetur bhuh: "Don't be cause of your activities. Then you will be bound by the interaction of your activity. Don't be cause of your activity. Then you shall be bound up by the effects of your activity. You don't be cause; then effect will not touch you." Ma karma-phala-hetur bhur ma te sango 'stv akarmani."

Bhuh, the Earth planet, is also mentioned as a field of activities in Srimad Bhagavatam 6.5.11:

bhuh ksetram jiva-samjnam yad
anadi nija-bandhanam
adrstva tasya nirvanam
kim asat-karmabhir bhavet

"[The Haryasvas understood the meaning of Narada's words as follows.] The word "bhuh" ["the earth"] refers to the field of activities. The material body, which is a result of the living being's actions, is his field of activities, and it gives him false designations. Since time immemorial, he has received various types of material bodies, which are the roots of bondage to the material world. If one foolishly engages in temporary fruitive activities and does not look toward the cessation of this bondage, what will be the benefit of his actions?"

Bhuh is used to describe earth as the element (rather than the sphere) in Srimad Bhagavatam 3.26.12:

bhur apo 'gnir marun nabhah
tan-matrani ca tavanti
gandhadini matani me

"There are five gross elements, namely earth, water, fire, air and ether. There are also five subtle elements: smell, taste, color, touch and sound."

The land of the Earth globe is also described by the word bhuh, meaning specifically the 'surface of the globe' (SB 7.3.5 and SB 8.18.31).

Lord Varaha is glorified as 'the Lifter of the Earth' , bhuh (SB 3.13.40), and He is joined in that pastime by the personification of the Earth planet, his consort Bhu Devi. The personification of Earth is also known as Mother Bhumi, the 'predominating deity of Bhurloka' (SB 4.15.18)

While the place name Bhuh is used in Jaiva Dharma primarily in reference to the Earth planet, in SB 5.20.23 the word is also used to describe a planetary system:

punantir bhur-bhuvah-suvah
ta nah punitamiva-ghnih
sprsatam atmana bhuva iti

apah--O water; purusa-viryah--endowed with the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; stha--you are; punantih--sanctifying; bhuh--of the planetary system known as Bhuh; bhuvah--of the Bhuvah planetary system; suvah--of the Svah planetary system; tah--that water; nah--of us; punita--purify; amiva-ghnih--who destroys sin; sprsatam--of those touching; atmana--by your constitutional position; bhuvah--the bodies; iti--thus.

"[The inhabitants of Krauncadvipa worship with this mantra.] O water of the rivers, you have obtained energy from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore you purify the three planetary systems, known as Bhuloka, Bhuvarloka and Svarloka. By your constitutional nature, you take away sins, and that is why we are touching you. Kindly continue to purify us."

(Srimad Bhagavatam 5.20.23)

The planetary system is also mentioned in sastra as one of three worlds that come under the act of dissolution by Rudra:

"These three worlds are known as Bhuh, Bhuvah and Svah (Patala, Martya and Svarga)." 
(SB 3.11.28)

These three are also referred to in their embodiment as transcendental sound vibration:

"The science of logical argument, the Vedic goals of life, and also law and order, moral codes, and the celebrated hymns bhuh, bhuvah and svah all became manifested from the mouths of Brahma, and the pranava omkara was manifested from his heart." 
(SB 3.12.44)

This is further described by Srila Prabhupada in SB 5.20.37, SB 8.24.32, and in Krsna Book:

"…[as] clearly described in the Brahma-samhita: The living entities, space, time, and the material elements like fire, earth, sky, water and mind, constitute the total cosmic manifestation, known as bhuh bhuvah svah, which is manifested by Govinda. It flourishes on the strength of Govinda and after annihilation enters into and is conserved in Govinda. Lord Brahma therefore says, "I worship Lord Govinda, the original personality, the cause of all causes." (KB 87)