THE STRUCTURE OF UNIVERSE
“Death comes at the predetermined time, which remains fixed and unaltered under all circumstances. A man’s sense organs become weak and his body feeble, which gets inflicted with numerous diseases in his old age. At the time of his death, man experiences unbearable pain and he begins to loose his consciousness. The messengers of death arrive and begin to retrieve the soul from the body and this aggravates the pain. Ultimately, the soul, which is not more than the size of a thumb, reluctantly comes out from the body as the attachment with the world exists even after his death. But, a virtuous person does not go through all these painful experiences at the time of his death. The soul has to take birth in different species as well as go through cycles of countless births, deaths and rebirths in order to taste the fruits of his Karmas.”
“The soul leaves the mortal body with great reluctance because the attachment with the mortal world exists even after his death. Yamadoots, descend down to earth to take the soul of the dying man to Yamloka. Those who have committed grave sins are tied with ropes and taken to Yamloka with great humiliation but virtuous souls are taken with honor and due respect. Yamraj- the lord of death receives the virtuous soul with all the honor and respect and metes out punishment to those who had committed sins during their lives.
In his dark complexion and with a buffalo as his mount and with a noose and iron stick in his hands, Yamraj appears terrifying. On the other hand, the sight of lifeless body appears disgusting and people try to dispose it off as quickly as possible because it is worthless without a soul. So, one must try to make the best use of this mortal body by indulging in good deeds before the day of his final journey arrives otherwise he would be left with nothing but regrets at the time of his death.
When a potter’s wheel is moving and small ants located on that big wheel are moving with it, one can see that their motion is different from that of the wheel because they appear sometimes on one part of the wheel and sometimes on another. Similarly, the signs and constellations, with Sumeru and Dhruvaloka on their right, move with the wheel of time, and the antlike sun and other planets move with them. The sun and planets, however, are seen in different signs and constellations at different times. This indicates that their motion is different from that of the zodiac and the wheel of time itself.
“The sun-god, who is Narayana, or Visnu, the soul of all the worlds, is situated in outer space between the upper and lower portions of the universe. Passing through twelve months on the wheel of time, the sun comes in touch with twelve different signs of the zodiac and assumes twelve different names according to those signs. The aggregate of those twelve months is called a samvatsara, or an entire year. According to lunar calculations, two fortnights–one of the waxing moon and the other of the waning–form one month. That same period is one day and night for the planet Pitrloka. According to stellar calculations, a month equals two and one quarter constellations. When the sun travels for two months, a season passes, and therefore the seasonal changes are considered parts of the body of the year.
Thus the time the sun takes to rotate through half of outer space is called an ayana, or its period of movement [in the north or in the south]. The sun-god has three speeds–slow, fast and moderate. The time he takes to travel entirely around the spheres of heaven, earth and space at these three speeds is referred to, by learned scholars, by the five names Samvatsara, Parivatsara, Idavatsara, Anuvatsara and Vatsara. Above the rays of the sunshine by a distance of 100,000 yojanas [800,000 miles] is the moon, which travels at a speed faster than that of the sun. In two lunar fortnights the moon travels through the equivalent of a samvatsara of the sun, in two and a quarter days it passes through a month of the sun, and in one day it passes through a fortnight of the sun.
When the moon is waxing, the illuminating portions of it increase daily, thus creating day for the demigods and night for the pitas. When the moon is waning, however, it causes night for the demigods and day for the pitas. In this way the moon passes through each constellation of stars in thirty muhurtas [an entire day]. The moon is the source of nectarean coolness that influences the growth of food grains, and therefore the moon-god is considered the life of all living entities. He is consequently called Jiva, the chief living being within the universe.
Because the moon is full of all potentialities, it represents the influence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The moon is the predominating deity of everyone’s mind, and therefore the moon-god is called Manomaya. He is also called Annamaya because he gives potency to all herbs and plants, and he is called Amrtamaya because he is the source of life for all living entities. The moon pleases the demigods, pitas, human beings, animals, birds, reptiles, trees, plants and all other living entities. Everyone is satisfied by the presence of the moon. Therefore the moon is also called Sarvamaya [all-pervading].
There are many stars located 200,000 yojanas [1,600,000 miles] above the moon. By the supreme will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they are fixed to the wheel of time, and thus they rotate with Mount Sumeru on their right, their motion being different from that of the sun. There are twenty-eight important stars, headed by Abhijit.
Some 1,600,000 miles above this group of stars is the planet Venus, which moves at almost exactly the same pace as the sun according to swift, slow and moderate movements. Sometimes Venus moves behind the sun, sometimes in front of the sun and sometimes along with it. Venus nullifies the influence of planets that are obstacles to rainfall. Consequently its presence causes rainfall, and it is therefore considered very favorable for all living beings within this universe. This has been accepted by learned scholars.
Mercury is described to be similar to Venus, in that it moves sometimes behind the sun, sometimes in front of the sun and sometimes along with it. It is 1,600,000 miles above Venus, or 7,200,000 miles above earth. Mercury, which is the son of the moon, is almost always very auspicious for the inhabitants of the universe, but when it does not move along with the sun, it forbodes cyclones, dust, irregular rainfall, and waterless clouds. In this way it creates fearful conditions due to inadequate or excessive rainfall.
Situated 1,600,000 miles above Mercury, or 8,800,000 miles above earth, is the planet Mars. If this planet does not travel in a crooked way, it crosses through each sign of the zodiac in three fortnights and in this way travels through all twelve, one after another. It almost always creates unfavorable conditions in respect to rainfall and other influences.
Situated 1,600,000 miles above Mars, or 10,400,000 miles above earth, is the planet Jupiter, which travels through one sign of the zodiac within the period of a Parivatsara. If its movement is not curved, the planet Jupiter is very favorable to the brahmanas of the universe.
Situated 1,600,000 miles above Jupiter, or 12,000,000 miles above earth, is the planet Saturn, which passes through one sign of the zodiac in thirty months and covers the entire zodiac circle in thirty Anuvatsaras. This planet is always very inauspicious for the universal situation.
Situated 8,800,000 miles above Saturn, or 20,800,000 miles above earth, are the seven saintly sages, who are always thinking of the well-being of the inhabitants of the universe. They circumambulate the supreme abode of Lord Visnu, known as Dhruvaloka, the polestar.
1,300,000 yojanas [10,400,000 miles] above the planets of the seven sages is the place that learned scholars describe as the abode of Lord Visnu. There the son of Maharaja Uttanapada, the great devotee Maharaja Dhruva, still resides as the life source of all the living entities who live until the end of the creation. Agni, Indra, Prajapati, Kasyapa and Dharma all assemble there to offer him honor and respectful obeisances. They circumambulate him with their right sides toward him. I have already described the glorious activities of Maharaja Dhruva [in the Fourth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam].
Established by the supreme will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the polestar, which is the planet of Maharaja Dhruva, constantly shines as the central pivot for all the stars and planets. The unsleeping, invisible, most powerful time factor causes these luminaries to revolve around the polestar without cessation.
When bulls are yoked together and tied to a central post to thresh rice, they tread around that pivot without deviating from their proper positions–one bull being closest to the post, another in the middle, and a third on the outside. Similarly, all the planets and all the hundreds and thousands of stars revolve around the polestar, the planet of Maharaja Dhruva, in their respective orbits, some higher and some lower. Fastened by the Supreme Personality of Godhead to the machine of material nature according to the results of their fruitive acts, they are driven around the polestar by the wind and will continue to be so until the end of creation. These planets float in the air within the vast sky, just as clouds with hundreds of tons of water float in the air or as the great syena eagles, due to the results of past activities, fly high in the sky and have no chance of falling to the ground.
This great machine, consisting of the stars and planets, resembles the form of a sisumara [dolphin] in the water. It is sometimes considered an incarnation of Krsna, Vasudeva. Great yogis meditate upon supreme consciusness in this form because it is actually visible.
This form of the sisumara has its head downward and its body coiled. On the end of its tail is the planet of Dhruva, on the body of its tail are the planets of the demigods Prajapati, Agni, Indra and Dharma, and at the base of its tail are the planets of the demigods Dhata and Vidhata. Where the hips might be on the sisumara are the seven saintly sages like Vasistha and Angira. The coiled body of the Sisumara-cakra turns toward its right side, on which the fourteen constellations from Abhijit to Punarvasu are located. On its left side are the fourteen stars from Pusya to Uttarasadha. Thus its body is balanced because its sides are occupied by an equal number of stars. On the back of the sisumara is the group of stars known as Ajavithi, and on its abdomen is the Ganges that flows in the sky [the Milky Way].
On the right and left sides of where the loins might be on the Sisumara-cakra are the stars named Punarvasu and Pusya. Ardra and Aslesa are on its right and left feet, Abhijit and Uttarasadha are on its right and left nostrils, Sravana and Purvasadha are at its right and left eyes, and Dhanistha and Mula are on its right and left ears. The eight stars from Magha to Anuradha, which mark the southern course, are on the ribs of the left of its body, and the eight stars from Mrgasirsa to Purvabhadra, which mark the northern course, are on the ribs on the right side. Satabhisa and Jyestha are on the right and left shoulders.
On the upper chin of the sisumara is Agasti; on its lower chin, Yamaraja; on its mouth, Mars; on its genitals, Saturn; on the back of its neck, Jupiter; on its chest, the sun; and within the core of its heart, Narayana. Within its mind is the moon; on its navel, Venus; and on its breasts, the Asvini-kumaras. Within its life air, which is known as pranapana, is Mercury, on its neck is Rahu, all over its body are comets, and in its pores are the numerous stars.
My dear King, the body of the sisumara, as thus described, should be considered the external form of Lord Visnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Morning, noon and evening, one should silently observe the form of the Lord as the Sisumara-cakra and worship Him with this mantra: “O Lord who has assumed the form of time! O resting place of all the planets moving in different orbits! O master of all demigods, O Supreme Person, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You and meditate upon You.”
The body of the Supreme Lord, Visnu, which forms the Sisumara-cakra, is the resting place of all the demigods and all the stars and planets. One who chants this mantra to worship that Supreme Person three times a day–morning, noon and evening–will surely be freed from all sinful reactions. If one simply offers his obeisances to this form or remembers this form three times a day, all his recent sinful activities will be destroyed.
Some historians, the speakers of the Puranas, say that 10,000 yojanas [80,000 miles] below the sun is the planet known as Rahu, which moves like one of the stars. The presiding deity of that planet, who is the son of Simhika, is the most abominable of all asuras, but although he is completely unfit to assume the position of a demigod or planetary deity, he has achieved that position by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The sun globe, which is a source of heat, extends for 10,000 yojanas [80,000 miles]. The moon extends for 20,000 yojanas [160,000 miles], and Rahu extends for 30,000 yojanas [240,000 miles]. Formerly, when nectar was being distributed, Rahu tried to create dissension between the sun and moon by interposing himself between them. Rahu is inimical toward both the sun and the moon, and therefore he always tries to cover the sunshine and moonshine on the dark-moon day and full-moon night.
After hearing from the sun and moon demigods about Rahu’s attack, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu, engages His disc, known as the Sudarsana cakra, to protect them. The Sudarsana cakra is the Lord’s most beloved devotee and is favored by the Lord. The intense heat of its effulgence, meant for killing non-Vaisnavas, is unbearable to Rahu, and he therefore flees in fear of it. During the time Rahu disturbs the sun or moon, there occurs what people commonly know as an eclipse.
Below Rahu by 10,000 yojanas [80,000 miles] are the planets known as Siddhaloka, Caranaloka and Vidyadhara-loka.Beneath Vidyadhara-loka, Caranaloka and Siddhaloka, in the sky called antariksa, are the places of enjoyment for the Yaksas, Raksasas, Pisacas, ghosts and so on. Antariksa extends as far as the wind blows and the clouds float in the sky. Above this there is no more air.Below the abodes of the Yaksas and Raksasas by a distance of 100 yojanas [800 miles] is the planet earth. Its upper limits extend as high as swans, hawks, eagles and similar large birds can fly.
Beneath this earth are seven other planets, known as Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala and Patala. I have already explained the situation of the planetary systems of earth. The width and length of the seven lower planetary systems are calculated to be exactly the same as those of earth.
In these seven planetary systems, which are also known as the subterranean heavens [bila-svarga], there are very beautiful houses, gardens and places of sense enjoyment, which are even more opulent than those in the higher planets because the demons have a very high standard of sensual pleasure, wealth and influence. Most of the residents of these planets, who are known as Daityas, Danavas and Nagas, live as householders. Their wives, children, friends and society are all fully engaged in illusory, material happiness. The sense enjoyment of the demigods is sometimes disturbed, but the residents of these planets enjoy life without disturbances. Thus they are understood to be very attached to illusory happiness.
In the imitation heavens known as bila-svarga there is a great demon named Maya Danava, who is an expert artist and architect. He has constructed many brilliantly decorated cities. There are many wonderful houses, walls, gates, assembly houses, temples, yards and temple compounds, as well as many hotels serving as residential quarters for foreigners. The houses for the leaders of these planets are constructed with the most valuable jewels, and they are always crowded with living entities known as Nagas and Asuras, as well as many pigeons, parrots and similar birds. All in all, these imitation heavenly cities are most beautifully situated and attractively decorated.
The parks and gardens in the artificial heavens surpass in beauty those of the upper heavenly planets. The trees in those gardens, embraced by creepers, bend with a heavy burden of twigs with fruits and flowers, and therefore they appear extraordinarily beautiful. That beauty could attract anyone and make his mind fully blossom in the pleasure of sense gratification. There are many lakes and reservoirs with clear, transparent water, agitated by jumping fish and decorated with many flowers such as lilies, kuvalayas, kahlaras and blue and red lotuses. Pairs of cakravakas and many other water birds nest in the lakes and always enjoy in a happy mood, making sweet, pleasing vibrations that are very satisfying and conducive to enjoyment of the senses.
Since there is no sunshine in those subterranean planets, time is not divided into days and nights, and consequently fear produced by time does not exist. Many great serpents reside there with gems on their hoods, and the effulgence of these gems dissipates the darkness in all directions.Since the residents of these planets drink and bathe in juices and elixirs made from wonderful herbs, they are freed from all anxieties and physical diseases. They have no experience of grey hair, wrinkles or invalidity, their bodily lusters do not fade, their perspiration does not cause a bad smell, and they are not troubled by fatigue or by lack of energy or enthusiasm due to old age. They live very auspiciously and do not fear death from anything but death’s established time, which is the effulgence of the Sudarsana cakra of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When the Sudarsana disc enters those provinces, the pregnant wives of the demons all have miscarriages due to fear of its effulgence.
The lower planetary systems, begins from Atala. In Atala there is a demon, the son of Maya Danava named Bala, who created ninety-six kinds of mystic power. Some so-called yogis and svamis take advantage of this mystic power to cheat people even today. Simply by yawning, the demon Bala created three kinds of women, known as svairini, kamini and pumscali. The svairinis like to marry men from their own group, the kaminis marry men from any group, and the pumscalis change husbands one after another. If a man enters the planet of Atala, these women immediately capture him and induce him to drink an intoxicating beverage made with a drug known as hataka [cannabis indica]. This intoxicant endows the man with great sexual prowess, of which the women take advantage for enjoyment. A woman will enchant him with attractive glances, intimate words, smiles of love and then embraces. In this way she induces him to enjoy sex with her to her full satisfaction. Because of his increased sexual power, the man thinks himself stronger than ten thousand elephants and considers himself most perfect. Indeed, illusioned and intoxicated by false pride, he thinks himself God, ignoring impending death.
The next planet below Atala is Vitala, wherein Lord Siva, who is known as the master of gold mines, lives with his personal associates, the ghosts and similar living entities. Lord Siva, as the progenitor, engages in sex with Bhavani, the progenitress, to produce living entities, and from the mixture of their vital fluid the river named Hataki is generated. When fire, being made to blaze by the wind, drinks of this river and then sizzles and spits it out, it produces gold called Hataka. The demons who live on that planet with their wives decorate themselves with various ornaments made from that gold, and thus they live there very happily. Below the planet Vitala is another planet, known as Sutala, where the great son of Maharaja Virocana, Bali Maharaja, who is celebrated as the most pious king, resides even now.