Viṣṇu Purāṇa | Book 2 - Chapter 7
Extent and situation of the seven spheres, i.e. earth, sky, planets, Mahar-loka, Janaloka, Tapo-loka, and Satya-loka. Of the egg of Brahmā, and its elementary envelopes. Of the influence of the energy of Viṣṇu.
MAITREYA: The sphere of the whole earth has been described to me by you, excellent Brahman, and I am now desirous to hear an account of the other spheres above the world, the Bhuvar-loka and the rest, and the situation and the dimensions of the celestial luminaries.
The sphere of the earth (or Bhūr-loka), comprehending its oceans, mountains, and rivers, extends as far as it is illuminated by the rays of the sun and moon;
and to the same extent, both in diameter and circumference, the sphere of the sky (Bhuvar-loka) spreads above it (as far upwards as to the planetary sphere, or Swar-loka).
The solar orb is situated a hundred thousand leagues from the earth; and that of the moon an equal distance from the sun.
At the same interval above the moon occurs the orbit of all the lunar constellations:
The planet Budha (Mercury) is two hundred thousand leagues above the lunar mansions. Śukra (Venus) is at the same distance from Mercury. Angāraka (Mars) is as far above Venus; and the priest of the gods (Brihaspati, or Jupiter) as far from Mars: whilst Saturn (Śani) is two hundred and fifty thousand leagues beyond Jupiter.
The sphere of the seven Ṛṣis (Ursa Major) is a hundred thousand leagues above Saturn; and at a similar height above the seven Ṛṣis is Dhruva (the pole-star), the pivot or axis of the whole planetary circle.
Such, Maitreya, is the elevation of the three spheres (Bhūr, Bhuvar, Swar) which form the region of the consequences of works. The region of works is here (or in the land of Bhārata).
Above Dhruva, at the distance of ton million leagues, lies the sphere of saints, or Mahar-loka, the inhabitants of which dwell in it throughout a Kalpa, or day of Brahmā.
At twice that distance is situated Janaloka, where Sanandana and other pure-minded sons of Brahmā, reside.
At four times the distance, between the two last, lies the Tapo-loka (the sphere of penance), inhabited by the deities called Vibhrājas, who are unconsumable by fire.
At six times the distance (or twelve Crores, a hundred and twenty millions of leagues) is situated Satya-loka, the sphere of truth, the inhabitants of which never again know death.
Wherever earthy substance exists, which may be traversed by the feet, that constitutes the sphere of the earth, the dimensions of which I have already recounted to you.
The region that extends from the earth to the sun, in which the Siddhas and other celestial beings move, is the atmospheric sphere, which also I have described.
The interval between the sun and Dhruva, extending fourteen hundred thousand leagues, is called by those who are acquainted with the system of the universe the heavenly sphere.
These three spheres are termed transitory: the three highest, Jana, Tapa, and Satya, are styled durable:
Mahaloka, as situated between the two, has also a mixed character; for although it is deserted at the end of the Kalpa, it is not destroyed.
These seven spheres, together with the Pātālas, forming the extent of the whole world, I have thus, Maitreya, explained to you.
The world is encompassed on every side and above and below by the shell of the egg of Brahmā, in the same manner as the seed of the wood-apple is invested by its rind.
Around the outer surface of the shell flows water, for a space equal to ten times the diameter of the world.
The waters, again, are encompassed exteriorly by fire; fire by air; and air by Mind; Mind by the origin of the elements (Ahaṁkāra); and that by Intellect:
and the last is encircled by the chief Principle, Pradhāna, which is infinite, and its extent cannot be enumerated: it is therefore called the boundless and illimitable cause of all existing things, supreme nature, or Prakriti; the cause of all mundane eggs, of which there are thousands and tens of thousands, and millions and thousands of millions, such as has been described.
Within Pradhāna resides Soul, diffusive, conscious, and self-irradiating, as fire is inherent in flint, or sesame oil in its seed.
Nature (Pradhāna) and soul (Pumān) are both of the character of dependants, and are encompassed by the energy of Viṣṇu,
which is one with the soul of the world, and which is the cause of the separation of those two (soul and nature) at the period of dissolution; of their aggregation in the continuance of things; and of their combination at the season of creation.
In the same manner as the wind ruffles the surface of the water in a hundred bubbles, which of themselves are inert, so the energy of Viṣṇu influences the world, consisting of inert nature and soul.
Again, as a tree, consisting of root, stem, and branches, springs from a primitive seed, and produces other seeds, whence grow other trees analogous to the first in species, product, and origin,
so from the first unexpanded germ (of nature, or Pradhāna) spring Mahat (Intellect) and the other rudiments of things; from them proceed the grosser elements; and from them men and gods, who are succeeded by sons and the sons of sons.
In the growth of a tree from the seed, no detriment occurs to the parent plant, neither is there any waste of beings by the generation of others.
In like manner as space and time and the rest are the cause of the tree (through the materiality of the seed), so the divine Hari is the cause of all things by successive developments (through the materiality of nature).
As all the parts of the future plant, existing in the seed of rice, or the root, the culm, the leaf, the shoot, the stem, the bud, the fruit, the milk, the grain, the chaff, the ear, spontaneously evolve when they are in approximation with the subsidiary means of growth (or earth and water),
so gods, men, and other beings, involved in many actions (or necessarily existing in those states which are the consequences of good or evil acts), become manifested only in their full growth, through the influence of the energy of Viṣṇu.
This Viṣṇu is the supreme spirit (Brahma), from whence all this world proceeds, who is the world, by whom the world subsists, and in whom it will be resolved.
That spirit (or Brahma) is the supreme state of Viṣṇu, which is the essence of all that is visible or invisible; with which all that is, is identical; and whence all animate and inanimate existence is derived.
He is primary nature: he, in a perceptible form, is the world: and in him all finally melts; through him all things endure. He is the performer of the rites of devotion: he is the rite: he is the fruit which it bestows: he is the implements by which it is performed.
There is nothing besides the limitless Hari.