How are the lower planetary systems different from hell? What purpose do they serve?

by Chaitanya Charan dasNovember 28, 2013

Answer Podcast

Transcription: Saurabh Gupta Prabhu

QUESTION: How are the lower planetary systems different from hell? What purpose do they serve?

ANSWER: In the universal cosmology, sometimes we say that there are 3 divisions – upper, middle and lower. This is a very broad division. In upper there are several planetary systems, they are 6, in lower there are 7, so the lower planetary systems are concerns not the same as hell. the hellish planetary systems are the hellish planets are below the 14 planetary systems, 27 different hells Bhagvatam 5th canto cosmology describes that. Now in general, the upper planetary systems are attained by those who had done punya and they have greater enjoyment available in that and lower planetary systems are attained by those who had done Paap and they are attained by those who have done relatively Paap and there is suffering over there but the place of extreme excessive sufferings is hell. Now we understand that in the universe there is always a battle between the gods and the demons. so the godly, the demigods beings they stay in the upper planetary systems and the Danavas, rakshas asuras all the different kinds of ungodly beings, demoniac beings, they stay in the lower planetary systems. now if we see both the devatas and the asuras are more powerful than the Manavas. So the asuras often have great powers and that is why Ravana did not bother to say that I don’t want protection from human being because human cannot kill me at all. So now if they are getting greater power than human beings then how do they get that power? so normally whatever we get in this world is a result of some past karmas that one has done. So the fact that Rakshas have power and power greater than human beings, that means that they also have done some pious, something because of which they have got that. so generally speaking, to go to swarga requires a lot of punya, if one does some level of punya and not a lot of punya then one may go to pitralokas or some other lokas. The Mahabharat describes that pandu. he could not attain swarga, he attained the abode of yama but this is not naraka. he attained yamaloka is different from narakloka that is because yamaraj is also devta and he has his kingdom and yamadutas are one set of his servants who punish the sinful but yamaraj is himself a king and he has his own —- ,his ministers and he illusion opulence in his own way. So Maharaj Pandu attained yamaloka that means he attained to become an associate of yamaraj. So now generally speaking the yamaraj’s abode is not considered, although he is considered one of the devtas, his abode is considered in the lower range but still he is a devta. So we just can’t simplistically say that everybody below is having paap and everybody above has having punya. those who are below, they also have some level of punya because of which they get some prosperity and they also have some power and prosperity but in general, when you talk about lower, in the lower planetary systems the mindset is lower, the mentality is lower. Devtas have godly mentality whereas the asuras have the ungodly mentality. so that lowering of consciousness because of which the asuras generally wants to rebel against god and capture the power which god has given to devtas. those actions are evidence of their ungodly mentality. so there also the asuras what they do is they have some punya, its also a matter of bad karma to be born in a place where bad karma is natural. if a person is born from birth in aplace where lets say ______ fool is natural fool  then why is a person given birth like that? that is because the person has done some karma. So that means in general people who are born in lower planetary systems, they are given birth there as a result of bad karma. if they have total bad karma they will go to narka but if their bad karma is with some punya they could go to lower planetary systems and its likely over there that they will act according to the ungodly mentality itself. so what purpose does the lower planetary system serve? just as the heavenly planetary system provide a facility for material enjoyment but along with that there is the fear of insecurity of losing the material enjoyment but they provide a facility for material enjoyment within the purview of dharma. the devtas enjoy but they enjoy while living according to dharma. the asuras also has the facility to enjoy but they often defy dharma and try to enjoy. so that means  lower planetary system is also an arena for fulfilling material desires and getting karmic consequences. the karmic consequences are in terms of sufferings that they get over there. Now some of the lower planetary systems are opulent, like say yama’s abode or even sutala is a place where Bali Maharaj is said to have gone when Vamandeva ____ that is also like an heavenly planet but apart from that the other places are not really very opulent or prosperous. so there also suffering is there and the suffering is a karmic consequence which they get and by the ungodly actions they also often get into the further sufferings because of the actions but overall when their karmas are exhausted, they have endured the karmic consequences and then they get an opportunity to rise again, come to human form and then they can strive for liberation. generally from the lower planetary systems anybody striving for liberation is rare and that’s why Bali Maharaj and Prahlad Maharaj are considered to be exceptional individuals, they were born in a demoniac family but they were great devotees. In general those who are born in a lower planetary systems because of their past karma, and that is the place where they exhaust their past karmic consequences while also getting a facility for enjoying in a particular way that is enjoying ____ defiance of dharma. This is the purpose served by the lower planetary systems. these are different from hell because hell is a place of almost unmitigated sufferings whereas the lower planetary systems have a mix of suffering as well as power and pleasure.

Thank you. Hare Krishna.

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Chaitanya Charan das

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