1. Sukadeva Gosvami continued: My dear King, 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].
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 Vasudeva in this form because it is actually visible.
5. 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].
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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."
9. 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.
Chapter Twenty-four The Subterranean Heavenly Planets
1. Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said: My dear King, 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. Later I shall speak further about him.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Below Rahu by 10,000 yojanas [80,000 miles] are the planets known as Siddhaloka, Caranaloka and Vidyadhara-loka.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. My dear King, 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.
8. 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.
9. My dear King, 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. Many great serpents reside there with gems on their hoods, and the effulgence of these gems dissipates the darkness in all directions.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. When the Sudarsana disc enters those provinces, the pregnant wives of the demons all have miscarriages due to fear of its effulgence.
16. My dear King, now I shall describe to you the lower planetary systems, one by one, beginning 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.
17. 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.
18. 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. For the welfare of Indra, the King of heaven, Lord Visnu appeared in the form of a dwarf brahmacari as the son of Aditi and tricked Bali Maharaja by begging for only three paces of land but taking all the three worlds. Being very pleased with Bali Maharaja for giving all his possessions, the Lord returned his kingdom and made him richer than the opulent King Indra. Even now, Bali Maharaja engages in devotional service by worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the planet of Sutala.
19. My dear King, Bali Maharaja donated all his possessions to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vamanadeva, but one should certainly not conclude that he achieved his great worldly opulence in bila-svarga as a result of his charitable disposition. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the source of life for all living entities, lives within everyone as the friendly Supersoul, and under His direction a living entity enjoys or suffers in the material world. Greatly appreciating the transcendental qualities of the Lord, Bali Maharaja offered everything at His lotus feet. His purpose, however, was not to gain anything material, but to become a pure devotee. For a pure devotee, the door of liberation is automatically opened. One should not think that Bali Maharaja was given so much material opulence merely because of his charity. When one becomes a pure devotee in love, he may also be blessed with a good material position by the will of the Supreme Lord. However, one should not mistakenly think that the material opulence of a devotee is the result of his devotional service. The real result of devotional service is the awakening of pure love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which continues under all circumstances.
20. If one who is embarrassed by hunger or who falls down or stumbles chants the holy name of the Lord even once, willingly or unwillingly, he is immediately freed from the reactions of his past deeds. Karmis entangled in material activities face many difficulties in the practice of mystic yoga and other endeavors to achieve that same freedom.
21. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is situated in everyone's heart as the Supersoul, sells Himself to His devotees such as Narada Muni. In other words, the Lord gives pure love to such devotees and gives Himself to those who love Him purely. Great, self-realized mystic yogis such as the four Kumaras also derive great transcendental bliss from realizing the Supersoul within themselves.
22. The Supreme Personality of Godhead did not award His mercy to Bali Maharaja by giving him material happiness and opulence, for these make one forget loving service to the Lord. The result of material opulence is that one can no longer absorb his mind in the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
23. When the Supreme Personality of Godhead could see no other means of taking everything away from Bali Maharaja, He adopted the trick of begging from him and took away all the three worlds. Thus only his body was left, but the Lord was still not satisfied. He arrested Bali Maharaja, bound him with the ropes of Varuna and threw him in a cave in a mountain. Nevertheless, although all his property was taken and he was thrown into a cave, Bali Maharaja was such a great devotee that he spoke as follows.
24. Alas, how pitiable it is for Indra, the King of heaven, that although he is very learned and powerful and although he chose Brhaspati as his prime minister to instruct him, he is completely ignorant concerning spiritual advancement. Brhaspati is also unintelligent because he did not properly instruct his disciple Indra. Lord Vamanadeva was standing at Indra's door, but King Indra, instead of begging Him for an opportunity to render transcendental loving service, engaged Him in asking me for alms to gain the three worlds for his sense gratification. Sovereignty over the three worlds is very insignificant because whatever material opulence one may possess lasts only for an age of Manu, which is but a tiny fraction of endless time.
25. Bali Maharaja said: My grandfather Prahlada Maharaja is the only person who understood his own self-interest. Upon the death of Prahlada's father, Hiranyakasipu, Lord Nrsimhadeva wanted to offer Prahlada his father's kingdom and even wanted to grant him liberation from material bondage, but Prahlada accepted neither. Liberation and material opulence, he thought, are obstacles to devotional service, and therefore such gifts from the Supreme Personality of Godhead are not His actual mercy. Consequently, instead of accepting the results of karma and jnana, Prahlada Maharaja simply begged the Lord for engagement in the service of His servant.
26. Bali Maharaja said: Persons like us, who are still attached to material enjoyment, who are contaminated by the modes of material nature and who lack the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, cannot follow the supreme path of Prahlada Maharaja, the exalted devotee of the Lord.
27. Sukadeva Gosvami continued: My dear King, how shall I glorify the character of Bali Maharaja? The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of the three worlds, who is most compassionate to His own devotee, stands with club in hand at Bali Maharaja's door. When Ravana, the powerful demon, came to gain victory over Bali Maharaja, Vamanadeva kicked him a distance of eighty thousand miles with His big toe. I shall explain the character and activities of Bali Maharaja later [in the Eighth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam].
28. Beneath the planet known as Sutala is another planet, called Talatala, which is ruled by the Danava demon named Maya. Maya is known as the acarya [master] of all the mayavis, who can invoke the powers of sorcery. For the benefit of the three worlds, Lord Siva, who is known as Tripurari, once set fire to the three kingdoms of Maya, but later, being pleased with him, he returned his kingdom. Since that time, Maya Danava has been protected by Lord Siva, and therefore he falsely thinks that he need not fear the Sudarsana cakra of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
29. The planetary system below Talatala is known as Mahatala. It is the abode of many-hooded snakes, descendants of Kadru, who are always very angry. The great snakes who are prominent are Kuhaka, Taksaka, Kaliya and Susena. The snakes in Mahatala are always disturbed by fear of Garuda, the carrier of Lord Visnu, but although they are full of anxiety, some of them nevertheless sport with their wives, children, friends and relatives.
30. Beneath Mahatala is the planetary system known as Rasatala, which is the abode of the demoniac sons of Diti and Danu. They are called Panis, Nivata-kavacas, Kaleyas and Hiranya-puravasis [those living in Hiranya-pura]. They are all enemies of the demigods, and they reside in holes like snakes. From birth they are extremely powerful and cruel, and although they are proud of their strength, they are always defeated by the Sudarsana cakra of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who rules all the planetary systems. When a female messenger from Indra named Sarama chants a particular curse, the serpentine demons of Mahatala become very afraid of Indra.
31. Beneath Rasatala is another planetary system, known as Patala or Nagaloka, where there are many demoniac serpents, the masters of Nagaloka, such as Sankha, Kulika, Mahasankha, Sveta, Dhananjaya, Dhrtarastra, Sankhacuda, Kambala, Asvatara and Devadatta. The chief among them is Vasuki. They are all extremely angry, and they have many, many hoods--some snakes five hoods, some seven, some ten, others a hundred and others a thousand. These hoods are bedecked with valuable gems, and the light emanating from the gems illuminates the entire planetary system of bila-svarga.