The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Bhuvah

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BY: SUN STAFF - 8.8 2019

Lord Vamana (Trivikrama) 
Sri Ramaswamy Temple, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 35.

In a Back to Godhead article entitled "Ascendance to the Personal World of Krsna", Srila Prabhupada writes:

"The impersonal conception of the Supreme, imagining some form of God these are not the ways of approaching God. He says clearly, "Those who are worshiping the demigods will go to the demigods." 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")."

In our last segment we mentioned a text and Bhaktivedanta Purport from Srimad Bhagavatam which describes Lokaloka as the outer boundary of Bhuvarloka:

"By the supreme will of Krsna, the mountain known as Lokaloka has been installed as the outer border of the three worlds -- Bhurloka, Bhuvarloka and Svarloka -- to control the rays of the sun throughout the universe. All the luminaries, from the sun up to Dhruvaloka, distribute their rays throughout the three worlds, but only within the boundary formed by this mountain. Because it is extremely high, extending even higher than Dhruvaloka, it blocks the rays of the luminaries, which therefore can never extend beyond it.

PURPORT: When we speak of loka-traya, we refer to the three primary planetary systems -- Bhuh, Bhuvah and Svah -- into which the universe is divided. Surrounding these planetary systems are the eight directions, namely east, west, north, south, northeast, southeast, northwest and southwest. Lokaloka Mountain has been established as the outer boundary of all the lokas to distribute the rays of the sun and other luminaries equally throughout the universe."

(Srimad Bhagavatam 5.20.37)

As illustrated in our last segment, Bhuvar-loka, the second of the seven divisions of planets, is the realm of rakshasas and ghosts. This is described by Srila Jiva Goswami in his Bhagavat Sandarbha:

"Heaven was established as the residence of the demigods, Bhuvarloka as that of ghostly spirits, and the Earth system as the place of human beings and other mortal creatures. Those mystics who strive for liberation are promoted beyond these three divisions. Lord Brahma created the region below the Earth for the demons and the Naga snakes. In this way the destinations of the three worlds were arranged as the corresponding reactions for different kinds of work performed within the three modes of nature. 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 perfected beings by the process such as yoga attain the planets Mahar and above, which are beyond the three planetary systems, tritayat param. Below earth means the planets like Atala. The three planetary systems includes planets beginning with Patala and also Bhuh, Bhuvar, and Svah. Karmanam means those who follow the principles of household life. Tapa refers to principles of vanaprastha life and also the order of brahmacarya. Out of these by following the two types of brahmacarya i.e. upakurvana and naishthika, one attains to Mahar and Janalokas respectively. The followers of the Vanaprastha order reach Tapaloka and of the sannyasa order to Satya-loka. But one can attain any of these planets according to different levels of advancement in Yoga. Madgatih (lit. My destination) means Sri Vaikuntha loka and is reached only by bhakti-yoga, as substantiated by the verse yanna vrajanti (SB.3.15.23), which will be quoted later on, and also by this present description of the planets."

(Bhagavat Sandarbha 61)

This categorization of planetary abodes was also described 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, The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)

Describing Bhuvah among the planetary arrangements in relationship to Vaikuntha, we find a further description in the Text 5 Purport to Sri Brahma-samhita:

"In this mundane world there are fourteen spheres disposed in the graded order of high and low. Persons living with wives and children hankering for the pleasure-giving effect of their fruitive actions, move up and down within the limits of the three worlds of Bhuh, Bhuvah and Svah. Brahmacaris of great austerities, ascetics and persons addicted to hypothetical truth, persons of a neutral disposition adopting nonfruitive works by an aptitude which seeks to be free from all mundane desires, move up and down within the limits of the worlds of Mahah, Janah, Tapah and Satya. Above these worlds lies the abode of four-headed Brahma, above which lies the unlimited realm of Vaikuntha of Visnu, Ksirodakasayi, lying in the ocean of milk. paramahamsa-sannyasis and the demons killed by Sri Hari, by crossing the Viraja, i.e., by passing beyond the fourteen worlds, enter into the luminous realm of Brahman and attain to nirvana in the form of temporary abeyance of the temporal ego. But the devotee actuated by knowledge (jnana-bhakta), the devotee actuated by the pure devotional aptitude (suddha-bhakta), the devotee imbued with loving devotion (prema-bhakta), the devotee actuated by pure love (premapara-bhakta), and the devotee impelled by overwhelming love (prematura-bhakta), who serve the majesty of Godhead, have their locations in Vaikuntha, i.e., the transcendental realm of Sri Narayana."

(Brahma-samhita 5 Purport)

In Sri Garga Samhita 1.4.14.13-17 a wonderful pastime between Garuda and Kaliya naga is described. Kaliya, in great fear, was trying to escape the pursuit of fierce Garuda, and as the serpent fled through the planetary systems, he crossed through Bhuvarloka, the ghostly domain:

"…Garuda became angry. Taking Kaliya in his beak, he threw him to the ground and savagely dragged him here and there. Terrified Kaliya ran from Garuda's beak. Garuda, the king of birds, ardently chased him. Wherever he went in the seven dvipas, the seven khandas, and the seven oceans, the snake Kaliya saw Garuda. The snake Kaliya fled to Bhurloka, Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Maharloka, and Janaloka. Then he fled to the lower planets, going lower and lower. Wherever he went, Garuda was there. No one saved him from his fear of Lord Krishna's devotee."

We also read that Bhuvarloka is the abode of Vamanadeva:

"Lord Ajita's residence is considered to be on Dhruvaloka, and Lord Vamana's residence is considered to be on Bhuvarloka."

(Sri Laghu-bhagavatamrta by Srila Rupa Gosvami, 1.4.65-7)

And in the Brahma-vaivarta Purana's narration on Parsva (Parivartinii) Ekadasi, Lord Vamana's association with Bhuvarloka 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."

Thus, we find in sastra a thorough description of the holy domain of Bhuvah, or Bhuvar-loka, the second of seven divisions of planets included in the Jaiva Dharma 'Glossary of Places'.