Cosmos ,Sanatan Dharma.Ancient Hinduism science.
My dear Arjuna, O son of Prtha, behold now My opulences, hundreds of thousands of varied divine forms, multicolored like the sea.
– Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, Verse 5.
We see first that here is a thought entirely different from what you see anywhere else in the world. In the oldest parts of the Vedas the search was the same as in other books, the search was outside. In some of the old, old books, the question was raised, “What was in the beginning? When there was neither aught nor naught, when darkness was covering darkness, who created all this?” So the search began. And they began to talk about the angels, the Devas, and all sorts of things, and later on we find that they gave it up as hopeless. In their day the search was outside and they could find nothing; but in later days, as we read in the Vedas, they had to look inside for the self-existent One. This Is the one fundamental idea in the Vedas, that our search in the stars, the nebulae, the Milky Way, in the whole of this external universe leads to nothing, never solves the problem of life and death. The wonderful mechanism inside had to be analysed, and it revealed to them the secret of the universe; nor star or sun could do it.
– Swami Vivekananda
Volume 2/Practical Vedanta and other lectures/The Way to Blessedness
Through whom we know this universe, through what to know Him? How to know the knower? By what means can we know the knower? How can that be? Because in and through that we know everything. By what means can we know Him? By no means, for He is that means.
– Swami Vivekananda
Volume 2/Practical Vedanta and other lectures/Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi
In Indian esoteric the concept of Multiverse or many possible universe is always narrated and told since Vedic times.As we see this very world before our eyes,and believe that this is the only world which exists,its wrong,says even the modern day Quantum Physics community.In esoteric knowledge there also exist many hidden worlds,in different vibrational frequencies,which are invisible to our physical sense organs and our material scientific instruments.A world in occult or esoteric term refers to certain energy formation or a force (Prana) field of waves,in which its appears to be a virtual world with beings in it,in certain frequencies and otherwise a wave-form dancing in the cosmos/hyperspace/ether(Same as our universe exists).And the science (Physical Properties) of these domains could be entirely different from that of our Universe as we know it.
To travel and gain in these realms/domain our ancient sages and yogis trained their consciousness,to dive deep in these caverns to explore and gain knowledge.Various occult/yogic techniques helped these aspirants for that great adventure.Great scriptures like Srimadh Bhagavadham,Yoga Vasistha and Yoga Sutra,gave us glimpse of these cosmological secrets.Also many legendary sages and yogis of 17th and 18th century,wrote and spoke about their experience in to these unknown worlds.
Let us go to story of sages,who experienced this in first hand and shared their adventure with us to the normal-mortal humans.Before quoting their knowledge,I would like to start with the story of the great sage Vasishtha’ who once experimented with death to acquire this truth.The story is about the sage Vasishtha and his wife Arundhati,who once went in to the cycle of birth and death,willingly and with Goddess Sarasvati’s intervention they acquired the secrets of the universe they lived.
Long ago,there lived a powerful and noble king named Padma.His wife,Queen Lila was beautiful,wise,loving and wholly dedicated to her husband.She did not want to be separated from him under any circumstance.Even though she knew that anyone born into this world must die one day,in her heart she wished that her husband could be an exception.Or,not wanting to live without him,she wished that she would die first.But as soon as she had this thought,she realized her death would cause her husband great distress,so her greatest desire was that King Padma would live forever.
With these thoughts in mind she assembled all the wise and learned people in her kingdom,and asked if there was some way to prevent death.Although the wise people unanimously repiled there was not,Queen Lila was determined to find a way.
She undertook an intense practice of meditation on the Goddess Sarasvati. Because she already been on the path of meditation and had strong devotional ties to Sarasvati,she was blessed with the vision of the goddess soon after undertaking this practice.When the goddess gave her permission to ask for a boon,Lila said that if her husband would die before she did,she would like his jiva (soul) to remain near her.Sarasvati granted this boon,adding that King Padma would also materialize in his previous form whenever Lila wished.Then the goddess disappeared.
Time passed,the couple grew old,and one day King Padma died.Queen Lila,overcome the grief,began sobbing.From the sky,Sarasvati’s consoling voice reminded her that the king’s soul was still near,but that she should preserve King Padma’s body carefully until his life-force (prana) returned and he was restored to life.Queen Lila was struck with delight and wonder.With a composed mind she asked everyone to leave the chamber,and when they were gone she meditated on the goddess Sarasvati – Who, upholding her promise,appeared to her.After greeting her respectfully,Lila asked,”Mother where is my husband ?”
The goddess replied,”He is in this very room,but in a different realm of creation,one that is more subtle than the realm in which you are.”
Sarasvati explained that there is a universe inside the universe which is invisible to the naked eye,and inside that universe there is yet another.”There are an infinite number of universes within the universe,” she went on. “A universe belonging to a particular realm of creation is totally invisible to those living in another realm.You perceive the Universe you are born in and only of you are equipped with the senses to perceive it.But by harnessing the power of mind,you can transcend this natural limitation and gain access to universes existing in other realms.Harnessing such powers of mind os known as gaining ‘Siddhis’.Sarasvati added that Lila had all prerequisites for attaining them.
Lila was curious to see what her husband was doing in another,more subtle realm of existence,so Sarasvati taught her the technique for entering other realms.And because she was already an accomplished Yogini,Lila soon became proficient.Both the queen and goddess entered the realm where King Padma now dealt.He was sixteen years old,and had already been crowned king.His queen was just like Lila,herself when she was sixteen.
Turning to the goddess Lila said.”he died just moments ago;how can he already be sixteen years old ? Further how can an entire realm and the kingdom existing therein fit in to this small room ?
The goddess explained that time and space are both relative and are measured differently in different realms of existence.For example,a minute in one realm can be equivalent to several hundred years in another;conversely an event that requires an eon in one universe may take only a moment in another.During a dream that last ten minutes,you may gain experience of objects and events which normally take several years in waking state.
“In what you seem to be couple of minutes,your husband has been reborn and completed sixteen years,” the goddess told Lila.”He rules a vast Kingdom which fits within the space of the room in which he died.Even more surprising,in yet another realm you and your husband were a brahmin couple before becoming King Padma and Queen Lila,a week was not yet passed since you both died.As time is measured in that realm,in that one week you and your husband have been born,you have reigned as King and Queen for many years,and your husband has died of old age.And here in this realm where we are now observing him,your husband has already completed sixteen years of life.”To show you the truth what I’m saying,let me take you to the universe where the cottage of this brahmin couple lies empty.”
And so with the help of Sarasvati,Lila entered that realm.There she saw the empty cottage where the brahmin couple – Vashishtha and his wife Arundati – had lived.Sarasvati explained: “A week ago you lived in this cottage.Both of you were fully established in the wisdom of immortality.Then one day you both wanted to gain firsthand experience of the cycle of birth and death so that you could teach those caught in this cycle when they needed to learn.While you were discussing this plan,a royal possession passed by.You talked about how wonderful it must feel to be a King and Queen and enjoy the luxuries of life.This fleeting thought turned in to a strong desire,which awakened vasanas (subtle impression from past) that had accumulated in your previous lives.As these vasanas arose you lost interest in living as the sages Vashishtha and Arundhati.And with that strong vasana you left your bodies to be born as King Padma and Queen Lila.
As a royal couple you enjoyed sensual pleasures,ruled your subjects,assigned punishments,and gave generous charitable donations.As time passed,you grew older and your husband was no longer a means to fulfill the purpose that he had in mind -To enjoy life as a King.
“Now let me take you to the realm where your husband is reigning as a King Viduratha,whom you saw a few moments ago as a sixteen year old.”The next moment the goddess and Lila were back with King Viduratha.Lila could not believe her eyes- Both the King and his Queen were now seventy years old.
Lila and Sarasvati waited until the King was alone and then made themselves visible and reminded him of his previous identity as King Padma.The memory caused the king a great deal of confusion.He was not able to dis-identify from himself as King Viduratha,but at the same time he tried to remember himself as King Padma.He loved his present wife and children very much,but in his unconscious mind he was also missing the wife and children of his previous life.He was on the brink of a nervous breakdown,and while he was caught in the utter confusion engendered by attachment to two sets of families,kingdom and their corresponding responsibilities,his present kingdom was attacked and he suffered a mortal injury.As he was dying he began to lose the memories of his immediate past,and at some point he lost his awareness of being King Viduratha.At the moment of final departure he remembered his previous life,and that pulled forward the memories of his wife Lila and th room where he had died.This train of thought then served as a vehicle for entering that room,where his own corpse was lying preserved.the power of attachment helped him recognize the body and enabled him to enter it.
Now King Padma awoke as from a coma.Instantly he remembered his entire life as King Padma,forgetting his rebirth as King Vidhuratha.Standing before him were his wife and the goddess.Sarasvati’s presence was a surprise to him,and as a gesture of reverence he bowed his head to her.He asked what had transpired while he slept,and Sarasvati related the entire episode of his birth and rebirth,reminding of his true identity as the sage Vashishta.Both Lila and Padma were glad to recapture the knowledge of their previous life,as well as the mystery that surrounds the cycle of death and birth,but they wondered at their amnesia.
Sarasvati explained,”As King Padma and Queen Lila you had forgotten who you are,but as the sages Vashishtha and Arundhati neither of you had forgotten.When you were Vasishtha and Arundati,you made a sankalpa (willful determination) to gain firsthand experience of birth and death and the experience of pain and pleasure that goes with it.And with this intention you deliberately created the desire to enjoy the best of the pleasures of the world for a while.As part of this sankalpa,you asked me to come and remind you of your identity as Vasishtha and Arundhati if you got caught in the cycle.”
After King Padma and Queen Lila had regained their knowledge,the goddess disappeared.The couple lived afterwards as Jivan Muktas (liberated souls),handing over the Kingdom to their worthy son and retiring to the forest.There in solitude they left their bodies and reidendified with the consciousness of Vasishtha and Arundhati.Thereafter this immortal couple each created a mind through the sheer power of their asmita (pure-I-am-ness).(In Yoga,this self-created mind is known as nirmana chitta [Yoga Sutra 4:4-7]).And from this self-created minds each created a body identical to those they had inhabited as Vasishtha and Arundhati.Thus they were able to guide those on spiritual path.
On Different Vibratory Regions :
“The ordinary astral universe -not the subtler astral heaven of Hiranyaloka- is peopled with millions of astral beings who have come, more or less recently, from the earth, and also with myriads of fairies, mermaids,fishes, animals, goblins, gnomes, demigods and spirits, all residing on different astral planets in accordance with karmic qualifications. Various spheric mansions or vibratory regions are provided for good and evil spirits. Good ones can travel freely, but the evil spirits are confined to limited zones. In the same way that human beings live on the surface of the earth, worms inside the soil, fish in water, and birds in air, so astral beings of different grades are assigned to suitable vibratory quarters.
Among the fallen dark angels expelled from other worlds, friction and war take place with lifetronic bombs or mental Mantric vibratory rays. These beings dwell in the gloom−drenched regions of the lower astral cosmos, working out their evil karma.”
-Excerpt from Pramahansa Yogananda’s ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’
Seven Lokas and Seven Patalas
The Universe is differentiated in to fourteen realms,seven swargas and seven patalas.
Seven Spheres or Swargas.
This universe thus described, commencing from the Eternal Suba stance, God, down w the gross material creation, has been distinguished into seven different spheres „Swargas or Lokas.
7th Sphere, Satyaloka.
The foremost of these is Sairvaloka, the sphere of God—–the only Real Sub-stance, Sat, in the universe. No name can describe it, nor can anything in the creation of Darkness or Light designate it. This sphere is therefore called Anama, the Nameless.
6th Sphere, Tapoloka.
The next in order is Tapoloka, the sphere of the Holy Spirit which is the Eternal Patience, as it remains forever undisturbed by any limited idea. Because it is not ap-proachable even by the Sons of God as such, it is called Agama, the Inaccessible.
5th Sphere, Janaloka.
Next is janaloka, the sphere of spiritual reflection, the Sons of God, wherein the idea of separate existence of Self originates. As this sphere is above the corn prehension of anyone in the creation of Darkness, Maya, it is called Alakshya, the Incomprehensible.
4th Sphere, Maharloka.
Then comes Maharloka, the sphere of the Atom, the beginning of the creation of Darkness, Maya, upon which the Spirit is reflected. This, the connecting link, is the only way between the spiritual and the material creation and is called the Door, Dasatnadwara.
3rd Sphere, Swarloka.
Around this Atom is Swarloka, the sphere of magnetic aura, the elec tricities. This sphere, being characterized by the absence of all the creation (even the organs and their objects, the fine material things), is called Mahasuniva, the Great Vacuum.
2nd Sphere, Bhuvarloka.
The next is Bhuvar loka, the sphere of electric attributes. As the gross matters of the creation are entirely absent from this sphere, and it is conspicuous by the presence of the fine matters only, it is called Surtya, the Vacuum Ordinary.
1st Sphere, Bhuloka.
The last and lowest sphere is Bhuloka, the sphere of gross material creation, which is always visible to everyone.
Sapta Patalas, seven churches.
As God created man in His own image, so is the body of man like unto the image of this universe. The material body of man has also seven vital places within it called Patalas. Man, turning toward his Self and advancing in the right way, perceives the Spiritual Light in these places, which are described in the Bible as so many churches; the lights like stars perceived therein are as so many angels. See Reve lation 1:12,13,16,20.
“And being turned, I saw seven golden candle sticks, and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the son of man….” “And he had in his right hand seven stars…. “The seven stars are the angels of the seven candalsticks which though savest are the seven churches”
– Excerpt from Swami Sri Yukteshwar Giri’r ‘The Holy Science’ Sutra 13
On Astral Sphere:
Heaven may be said to consist, overall, of three regions: where the Heavenly Father lives in vibrationless Infinity; where Christ Intelligence reigns–omnipresent in but transcendentally untouched by vibratory creation–and in which the angels and highest evolved saints reside; and the vibratory spheres of the ideational causal world and lifetronic astral world. These heavenly realms, vibratory and transcendent, are only figuratively “above” the gross vibrations of earth “below”: They are in fact superimposed one on the other,with the finer screened from the denser manifestation through the medium and intervention of the “firmament,” vibratory etheric space, hiding the astral from the physical manifestation, the causal from the astral, and the transcendent Christ and Cosmic Consciousness from the causal. Without this integration–producing a physical instrumentality empowered by astral life,guided by individualized intelligence, all arising from consciousness-there could be no meaningful manifestation.
So this earth and its beings seemingly floating in limitless space as the result of blind forces is not happenstance at all; it is highly organized.
The physical cosmos is diminutive in relation to the enormously larger and grander astral cosmos, as is the astral universe in relation to the causal-both the astral and causal heavens are permeated with the Christ Consciousness; and interlacing all is the Cosmic Consciousness of God, extending into the boundless infinity of blissful Spirit.
No one can measure Eternity. Man has yet to plumb the immensity of even this limited physical cosmos;there are untold billions of stars in the heavens that still have not been seen. The Lord has Infinitude as His space in which he dangles the intricately designed baubles of these physical, astral, and causal worlds, intriguingly reflecting as well as mysteriously hiding facets of His Immutable Being.
Different cultures and sects conceive of heaven according to their racial,social, and environmental habits of thought: a happy hunting ground; a glorious realm of endless pleasures; a kingdom with streets of gold and winged angels making celestial music on harps; ‘a nirvana’ in which consciousness is extinguished in an everlasting peace.
Jesus said: “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2). These “many mansions” include comprehensively the Infinitude of Spirit, the Christ Consciousness sphere, and the diverse higher and lower planes of the causal and astral realms. In general, however, the designation of heaven is relegated to the astral world, the immediate heaven relevant to beings on the physical plane.
At death of the physical body, a soul garbed in its astral form ascends to the astral heavenly level merited by the balance of that person’s good and evil actions on earth. It is not by virtue of death that one becomes an exalted angel in heaven. Only those persons who become angelic in spiritual behavior and God-communion on earth are able to ascend to the higher regions. While persons of wicked deeds are attracted to astral nether regions and may experience something akin to periodic dreadful nightmares, the majority of souls awaken in a luminous land of incredible beauty, joy, and freedom, in an atmosphere of love and well-being.
-The Second Coming of Christ (The Resurrection of the Christ WithinYou) Volume 1, Discourse 10
On Soul and Spirit Realms:
The human body and mind, being products of Nature, individualized from Spirit by cosmic delusion, are subject to various kinds of mortal diseases.Jesus, as a true minister of Self-realization, the perfection of the real Self or soul, not only knew how to win people away from satanic ignorance and bring them into divine vibrations by his words of wisdom, but he knew also how to heal them of their diverse kinds of maladies.While preaching in the synagogue (a place where people usually go for their souls to be healed by the salve of inspiring sermons), Jesus encountered a man possessed by an unclean devil.Forthwith Jesus healed this stricken victim.
There is nothing mysterious about devils or disembodied evil spirits except in the ignorance of people who have not studied their characteristics. Many scientific secrets that formerly lay hidden in nature are now commonplace matters. Someday, when people will be more spiritually advanced they will understand the mysteries of life and death and the nature of disincarnate souls that have gone into the unknown.
By long successful practice of meditation, a devotee can transfer his will and attention beyond the portals of the conscious and the subconscious minds into the superconscious. When he can go deeper and project his concentration consciously from superconsciousness felt within his body into the light of Christ Intelligence hidden beyond the state of wakefulness, dreams,subconsciousness, and superconsciousness, he can then behold the vast astral universe of luminous vibratory planets and vibratory spheres peopled with millions of disincarnate souls.
The inhabitants of the astral world are garbed in forms made of energy and light, and are confined to higher or lower astral spheres according to their karma. There are, however, a few astral beings known as ” tramp souls. ” They are earthbound because of strong material urges and attachments. They roam in the ether,desirous of reentering a physical form to satisfy their need for sense enjoyments. Such beings are usually harmless, invisible ” ghosts, ” and have no power to affect the ordinary person. However, tramp souls do occasionally take possession of someone’s body and mind, but only such vulnerable persons who are mentally unstable or have weakened their mind by keeping it often blank or unthinking [i.e., in an unthinking/unaware state].Owing to their mental emptiness, and karmic attraction, they unwittingly invite the advent of vagrant spirits within their bodies. If one leaves his car unlocked with the key in the ignition, any uncouth character may get in and drive off. Tramp souls, having lost their own physical-body vehicle to which they were inordinately attached,are on the watch for such unattended conveyances.
Unclean devils, cited in the cases of possession that Jesus exorcised, are those astral beings among tramp souls who on earth were murderers, robbers, and other criminals, drunkards and licentious persons, and especially vicious and treacherous beings, who did not cleanse themselves of their evil propensities before death. Even the greatest sinner, if he cleans his subconscious mind and memory by contacting the superconsciousness in meditation before death, does not carry his unpurged wickedness into a sphere beyond death. But those persons who leave their physical bodies in a state of sin, as also those who ruthlessly and foolishly commit suicide, are considered unclean souls in the astral world. They roam in the lower astral spheres, imprisoned in their astral and causal bodies,finding no rest, and either hating to be reborn on the earth or grieving for the loss of their physical incarnation. These forlorn souls have to wander about in the ether until some of the karmic effects of their bad actions are worn out through the operation of the divine law. The devilish spirits among them are very unscrupulous, even as they were during earth life.
Satan, the Cosmic Evil Intelligence, has his satellites in disreputable persons who have lost in the moral and spiritual battle, working through these decadent beings not only on earth while they are living but also in their afterlife astral existence. As evil-possessed persons do mischief on earth, so these Satan-obsessed astral beings continue their mischief in the astral world as well as in the physical world as tramp souls. They seek out persons with similar karma potentials, attracted by their negative vibrations. They intelligently possess and punish such earthly human beings during the term of their own astral punishment determined by their specific transgressions in worldly life.
Characteristics of souls in the after-death realm
Why should it be considered amazing that such disembodied evil spirits reside on the other side of life when devils and devilish persons exist right on this side of life? If souls are immortal, then, according to the law of cause and effect, it is logical to expect that when a devilish person sheds the mortal coil and passes through the door of the mortal change called ” death, ” into the afterlife, he does not become an angel, but continues to be a devil. Only a soul who has been angelic on earth can continue to be so after crossing the gulf of death,entering not the dark astral spheres but the finer atmosphere of Heaven.
-The Second Coming of Christ (The Resurrection of the Christ Within You) Volume 1, Discourse 24,Paramahansa Yogananda
“Every universe is covered by seven layers — earth, water, fire, air, sky, the total energy and false ego — each ten times greater than the previous one. There are innumerable universes besides this one, and although they are unlimitedly large, they move about like atoms in You. Therefore You are called unlimited”
-Bhagavata Purana 6.16.37
Lord Śiva said: “My dear son, I, Lord Brahmā and the other devas, who move within this universe under the misconception of our greatness, cannot exhibit any power to compete with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for innumerable universes and their inhabitants come into existence and are annihilated by the simple direction of the Lord”
-Bhagavata Purana 9.4.56
After separating the different universes, the gigantic universal form of the Lord, which came out of the causal ocean, the place of appearance for the first puruṣa-avatāra, entered into each of the separate universes, desiring to lie on the created transcendental water
Bhagavata Purana 2.10.10
Even though over a period of time I might count all the atoms of the universe, I could not count all of My opulences which I manifest within innumerable universes
-Bhagavata Purana 11.16.39
What am I, a small creature measuring seven spans of my own hand? I am enclosed in a pot like universe composed of material nature, the total material energy, false ego, ether, air, water and earth. And what is Your glory? Unlimited universes pass through the pores of Your body just as particles of dust pass through the openings of a screened window
-Bhagavata Purana 10.14.11
Because You are unlimited, neither the lords of heaven nor even You Yourself can ever reach the end of Your glories. The countless universes, each enveloped in its shell, are compelled by the wheel of time to wander within You, like particles of dust blowing about in the sky. The śrutis, following their method of eliminating everything separate from the Supreme, become successful by revealing You as their final conclusion
-Bhagavata Purana 10.87.41
The layers or elements covering the universes are each ten times thicker than the one before, and all the universes clustered together appear like atoms in a huge combination
-Bhagavata Purana 3.11.41
And who will search through the wide infinities of space to count the universes side by side, each containing its Brahma, its Vishnu, its Shiva? Who can count the Indras in them all-those Indras side by side, who reign at once in all the innumerable worlds; those others who passed away before them; or even the Indras who succeed each other in any given line, ascending to godly kingship, one by one, and, one by one, passing away?
-Brahma Vaivarta Purana
Countless heads hath purusa and uncountable endless eyes –innumerable feet, When purusa moves, so does all of creation move as one. Truthfully, Purusa is unlimited, boundless and all pervading, his wisdom fills the entire world and is beyond the grasp of human hands to clench.
“In your body is Mount Meru
encircled by the seven continents;
the rivers are there too,
the seas, the mountains, the plains,
and the gods of the fields.
Prophets are to be seen in it, monks,
places of pilgrimage
and the deities presiding over them.
The stars are there, and the planets,
and the sun together with the moon;
there too are the two cosmic forces:
that which destroys, that which creates;
and all the elements: ether,
air and fire, water and earth.
Yes, in your body are all things
that exist in the three worlds,
all performing their prescribed functions
around Mount Meru
He alone who knows this
is held to be a true yogi”
The place where you were (in your dreams) is as much a world of fact and reality as is the material world and its happenings have sometimes a great effect on this world. What an ignorant lot of disciples you all are! Too much modernisation and Europeanisation by half!
-Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga, p1031
Question: What are the “invisible worlds”?
Mother: You have heard and read that we are made up of various states of being: physical, vital, mental, psychic, spiritual, etc. Well, all these inner states of being correspond to invisible worlds. There is a physical world, a vital world, a mental world, a psychic world, and many spiritual worlds, a whole range of more and more subtle worlds approaching nearer and nearer to the Supreme. So, since you carry within yourself a corresponding range, by studying and becoming aware of your inner being you gradually make yourself capable of becoming aware also of these invisible worlds. For example, the mind: if the mind is conscious, coordinated, well controlled, it can move about it in the mental world just as the body does in the physical world and see what this mental world is like, what is going on there, what are its characteristics and so on. These things are not invisible in themselves − they are invisible to the physical consciousness and the physical senses, but not to the corresponding inner states of consciousness or the corresponding inner senses. For, by a systematic development one can acquire senses in these worlds and one can then live a similar life with different characteristics. I mean that one can live an objective life in these worlds if one is sufficiently developed oneself. Otherwise, they wouldn’t exist for us. If we did not carry in ourselves something corresponding to all that exists in the universe, this universe wouldn’t exist for us. And it is only a matter of systematic and methodical development. Some people have it spontaneously for various reasons, usually as a result of a long preparation in previous lives, sometimes because of specially favourable circumstances − they are born in a certain environment, of parents who had developed these faculties, and they were helped to develop them from childhood. Other people have to acquire them systematically by inner discipline; it takes time, a long time, but after all it doesn’t take much longer than for the brain of a child to grasp abstract mathematics. That takes years.
Question: Do these invisible worlds exist in a fixed place in the universe?
Mother: They form part of the universe, of course. Yes, one can say that they exist in a fixed place. But to understand that, to understand these things requires a mind capable of understanding that there are other dimensions than the purely material dimensions. For when you are told that your psychic being is in your body, that doesn’t mean that if you open up your body you will find your psychic being inside. You will find your heart, your stomach and the rest, but not your psychic being. And yet it is correct to say that it is within you. It extends beyond you too, but it is in another dimension. And one can say that there are as many dimensions as there are different worlds. Certainly all these invisible worlds − so-called invisible worlds − are contained, so to say, in the material universe. But they don’t occupy the place of other things. To make an imperfect comparison − it is valid only as a comparison − you can hold countless ideas in your brain and you certainly don’t have the feeling that you have to drive one out so that another one can come in, do you? They don’t occupy any space in that sense.
-Collected Works of the Mother, Vol 15, 30 january 1951
Mother: The occult world is not one single region…but a gradation of regions, one could perhaps say, of more and more etherial or subtle regions, anyway, those farther and farther removed in their nature from the physical materiality we ordinarily see. And each one of these domains is a world in itself, having its forms and inhabited by beings with a density, one might say, analogous to that of the domain in which they live. Just as in the physical world we are of the same materiality as the physical world, so in the vital world, in the mental world, in the overmind world and in the supramental world – and in many others, infinite others – there are beings which have a form whose substance is similar to the one of that world. This means that if you are able to enter consciously into that world with the part of your being which corresponds to that domain, you can move there quite objectively, as in the material world.
-Collected Works of the Mother, vol 8, 11 July 1956
Gods and Regions:
Mother: Gods can be said to be Cosmic Powers, the beings of divine origin who have been charged with supervising, directing and organising the evolution of the universe; and more specifically, since the formation of the earth they have served as messengers and intermediaries to bring to the earth the aid of the higher regions and to preside over the formation of the mind and its progressive ascension. It is usually to the gods of the overmind that the prayers of the various religions are addressed. These religions most often choose, for various reasons, one of these gods and transform him for their personal use into the supreme God.
-Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 16, 27 November 1959
The psychic world is the home of the souls, where they go to rest between incarnations.
The psychic world or plane of consciousness is that part of the world, the psychic being is that part of the being which is directly under the influence of the Divine Consciousness; the hostile forces cannot have even the remotest action upon it. It is a world of harmony, and everything moves in it from light to light and from progress to progress. It is the seat of the Divine Consciousness, the Divine Self in the individual being. It is a centre of light and truth and knowledge and beauty and harmony which the Divine Self in each of you creates by his presence, little by little; it is influenced, formed and moved by the Divine Consciousness of which it is a part and parcel. It is in each of you the deep inner being which you have to find in order that you may come in contact with the Divine in you. It is the intermediary between the Divine Consciousness and your external consciousness; it is the builder of the inner life, it is that which manifests in the outer nature the order and rule of the Divine Will. If you become aware in your outer consciousness of the psychic being within you and unite with it, you can find the pure Eternal Consciousness and live in it; instead of being moved by the Ignorance as the human being constantly is, you grow aware of the presence of an eternal light and knowledge within you, and to it you surrender and are integrally consecrated to it and moved by it in all things.
-Collected Works of the Mother, Vol 3, 26 May 1929
Planes and Forces in the Planes of Mind :
Mother: Mind is one movement, but there are many varieties of the movement, many strata, that touch and even press into each other. At the same time the movement we call mind penetrates into other planes. In the mental world itself there are many levels. All these mind-planes and mind-forces are interdependent; but yet there is a difference in the quality of their movements and for facility of expression we have to separate them from one another. Thus we can speak of a higher mind, an intermediary mind, a physical and even a quite material mind; and there are many other distinctions that can be made.Now, there are mental planes that stand high above the vital world and escape its influence; there are no hostile forces or beings there. But there are others – and they are many – that can be touched or penetrated by the vital forces. The mind-plane that belongs to the physical world, the physical mind, as we usually call it, is more material in its structure and movement than the true mind and it is very much under the sway of the vital world and the hostile forces. This physical mind is usually in a kind of alliance with the lower vital consciousness and its movements; when the lower vital manifests certain desires and impulses, this more material mind comes to its aid and justifies and supports them with specious explanations and reasonings and excuses. It is this layer of mind that is most open to suggestions from the vital world and most often invaded by its forces.
-Collected Works of the Mother, Vol 3, 26 May 1929
Question: Are there beings in the mental worlds?
Mother: Yes, many. They are completely independent; they have their own life, their own relations among themselves, as in other worlds. Only for a physical consciousness, time and space are not the same in the vital or the mental worlds as in the physical world. For example, those who are in the physical consciousness have the impression that shiftings in the mind are instantaneous – compared with the higher consciousness they are not instantaneous, but compared with the physical consciousness, they are instantaneous, of an extreme rapidity.
The beings of the mental world also have an individuality of their own, even a form that can be permanent if they choose to keep one. Their form is the expression of their thought and is sufficiently plastic to be able to change with their thought, yet has a sufficient continuity to enable one to recognise them. If you go out of your body and enter the mental world, you can meet these beings, speak to them, even make an appointment with them for the next time !
Question: Can they exercise their influence on a human being, as the beings of the vital worlds do ?
Mother: Many mental formations try to realise themselves upon earth, but these are generally created by human beings; they then continue to work in the mental world with the intention of influencing the mind of human beings. But the beings of the mental plane proper are generally creators, and because they are creators of form, they are not much concerned with influencing other forms – they are satisfied with expressing themselves through the forms they have made.
-Collected Works of the Mother, Vol 4, 19th Mar 1951
On Akashic Records:
Mother: In the mental world, for instance, there is a domain of the physical mind which is related to physical things and keeps the memory of physical happenings upon earth. It is as though you were entering into innumerable vaults, one following another indefinitely, and these vaults are filled with small pigeon-holes, one above another, one above another, with tiny doors. Then if you want to know something and if you are conscious, you look, and you see something like a small point – a shining point; you find that this is what you wish to know and you have only to concentrate there and it opens; and when it opens, there is a sort of an unrolling of something like extremely subtle manuscripts, but if your concentration is sufficiently strong you begin to read as though from a book. And you have the whole story in all its details. There are thousands of these little holes, you know; when you go for a walk there, it is as though you were walking in infinity. And in this way you can find the exact facts about whatever you want to know. But I must tell you that what you find is never what has been reported in history – histories are always planned out; I have never come across a single “historical” fact which is like history. This is not to discourage you from learning history, but things are like that. Events have been quite different from the way in which they have been reported, and for a very simple reason: the human brain is not capable of recording things with exactitude; history is built upon memories and memories are always vague.
-Collected Works of the Mother, Vol 4, 15 Feb 1951
There in a hidden chamber closed and mute
Are kept the record graphs of the cosmic scribe,
And there the tables of the sacred Law,
There is the Book of Being’s index page;
The text and glossary of the Vedic truth
Are there; the rhythms and metres of the stars
Significant of the movements of our fate:
The symbol powers of number and of form,
And the secret code of the history of the world
And Nature’s correspondence with the soul
Are written in the mystic heart of Life.
-Savitri by Sri Aurobindo. Book 1, Canto 5, Yoga of the King, p 74
Higher Vital and Lower Vital :
The forces and beings of the vital world have a great influence on human beings. There are two parts of the vital world – Higher and Lower.
The Higher Vital is a world of beauty − the poet, artist, musician are in close contact with it and gain their inspirations from it.
The Lower Vital is a world of powers and passions, lusts and desires, − our own lusts and desires, and passions and ambitions can put us into connection with the vital worlds and their forces and beings. It is a world of things dark, dangerous and horrible. Nightmares are contacts with this side of the vital plane. Its influences are also the source of much in men that is demoniac, dirty, cruel and base.
-Sri Aurobindo, SABCL vol 24, Letters on Yoga, Page 1500)
Higher Vital :
Mother: It is a world peopled by beings of the vital proper, beings of great power and even great beauty. Most people who dabble in occultism without having a deep enough spiritual life are immediately deluded by them – some even take them as the supreme God and worship them. That’s generally how religions are created. They are a great success. They are the supreme God of many a religion – they are beings of the vital world, and can assume an appearance of overwhelming beauty. They are the biggest impostors in the world, and dangerous at that; it takes the spiritual instinct, the instinct of true spiritual purity, not to be deceived by them.
-Mother’s Agenda, March 11, 1962
Lower Vital :
Mother: It is a world of all the desires and impulses and passions and of movements of violence and greed and cunning and every kind of ignorance; but all the dynamisms too are there, all the life-energies and all the powers.
The beings of this world have by their nature a strange grip over the material world and can exercise upon it a sinister influence. Some of them are formed out of the remains of the human being that persist after death in the vital atmosphere near to the earth-plane. His desires and hungers still float there and remain in form even after the dissolution of the body; often they are moved to go on manifesting and satisfying themselves and the birth of these creatures of the vital world is the consequence. But these are minor beings and, if they can be very troublesome, it is yet not impossible to deal with them. There are others, far more dangerous, who have never been in human form; never were they born into a human body upon earth, for most often they refuse to accept this way of birth because it is slavery to matter and they prefer to remain in their own world, powerful and mischievous, and to control earthly beings from there. For, if they do not want to be born on earth, they do want to be in contact with the physical nature, but without being bound by it. Their method is to try first to cast their influence upon a man; then they enter slowly into his atmosphere and in the end may get complete possession of him, driving out entirely the real human soul and personality. These creatures, when in possession of an earthly body, may have the human appearance but theyhave not a human nature. Their habit is to draw upon the life-force of human beings; they attack and capture vital power wherever they can and feed upon it. If they come into your atmosphere, you suddenly feel depressed and exhausted; if you are near them for some time you fall sick; if you live with one of them, it may kill you.
-Collected Works of the Mother, Vol 3, 12th May 1929
More on the Beings and Forces of Vital Planes
World Formed In Human Imagination:
Mother: In these invisible worlds there are also regions which are the result of human mental formations (i.e. imagination). One can find there all one wants. In fact, one very often finds there exactly what one expects to find. There are hells, there are paradises, there are purgatories. There are all sorts of things in accordance with the different religions and their conceptions. These things have only a very relative existence, but with a relativity similar to that of material things here; that is to say, for someone who finds himself there, they are entirely real and their effects quite tangible. human beings here are mostly convinced that the only reality is the physical reality – the reality of what one can touch, can see – and for them, all that cannot be seen, cannot be touched, cannot be felt, is after all, problematical; well, what happens there is an identical phenomenon. People who at the moment of death are convinced, for one reason or another, that they are going to paradise or maybe to hell, do find themselves there after their death; and for them it is truly a paradise or a hell. And it is extremely difficult to make them come out of it and go to a place which is more true, more real.
-Collected Works of the Mother, vol 8, 11 July 1956
Beings In the Vital Realm:
These are the forces and beings that are interested in maintaining the falsehoods they have created in the world of the Ignorance and in putting them forward as the Truth which men must follow. In India they are termed *Asuras, Rakshasas, Pishachas (beings respectively of the mentalised vital, middle vital and lower vital planes) who are in opposition to the Gods, the Powers of Light. These too are Powers, for they too have their cosmic field in which they exercise their function and authority and some of them were once divine Powers (the former gods, purve devah, as they are called somewhere in the Mahabharata) who have fallen towards the darkness by revolt against the divine Will behind the cosmos. The word “appearances” refers to the forms they take in order to rule the world, forms often false and always incarnating falsehood, sometimes pseudo-divine.
-Sri Aurobindo. The Mother, SABCL vol. 25, p 62
In addition, there are three other kinds of beings dwell in the hideous harmony of the vital worlds. The Indian terms are Asura, Rakshasa, Pishacha. In English they may be translated Titan, Giant, Demon. Each has his special function.
The Asura is a being who comes with great powers of thought, not a beautiful and systematic turn but a formidable vehemence of it. He has also great “moral” powers, he can be self-controlled, ascetic and chaste in his own life, a sort of inverted Yogi, but all his gifts of tapasyā he uses for selfish and violent ends. His aim is to pluck civilisation from the roots, destroy all humane and progressive impulse, regiment the spontaneous diversity of life into a ruthless movement of robots, drink the exultation of triumph by breaking with an iron heel the dreaming heart of man.
The Rakshasa is a devourer without brains, the ravager who builds nothing save a pyramid of skulls. He ploughs up the world into a myriad graves and leaves it a chaos of corpses. He is pure greed run amok.
The Pishacha or Pramatha fouls and pollutes all things, he is the wallower in dirt and the necrophage, the inventor of obscene tortures, the mutilating maniac.
The Asura is the General, the Fuhrer of the army of darkness; the Rakshasa is the lieutenant, the henchman; the
Pishacha is the private, the storm-trooper.
-K.D.Sethna, Vision and Work of Sri Aurobindo
Realm Of Subtle Physical :
The subtle physical is closest to the physical, and most like it. But yet the conditions are different and the thing too different. For instance, the subtle physical has a freedom, plasticity, intensity, power, colour, wide and manifold play (there are thousands of things there that are not here) of which, as yet, we have no possibility on earth.
-Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Planes & Parts
In the subtle physical plane there are, not one, but many layers of consciousness and each moves in its own being, that is to say, in its own space. I have said that each subtle plane is a conglomeration or series of worlds. Each space may at any point meet, penetrate or coincide with another; accordingly at one point of meeting or coincidence there might be several subtle objects occupying what we might rather arbitrarily call the same space, and yet they may not be in any actual relation with each other. If there is a relation created, it is the multiple consciousness of the seer in which the meeting-place becomes apparent that creates it. On the other hand, there may be a relation between objects in different regions of space correlated to each other as in the case of the gross physical object and its subtle counterpart. There you can more easily reason of relations between one space and another.
-Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Reason Science and Yoga
Beings of the Physical Realm:
On the physical plane the corresponding forces are obscure beings, more forces than beings, what the Theosophists call the elementals. They are not strongly individualised beings like the Rakshasas and Asuras, but ignorant and obscure forces working in the subtle physical plane. What we in Sanskrit call the Bhutas mostly come under this class. But there are two kinds of elementals, the one mischievous and the other not.
-Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, The Divine and the Hostile Powers
Read here about Ghosts and Haunting
Ghosts aka Haunting Explained by Sri Aurobindo
Subconscient and Inconscient Realms :
The subconscient lies between the Inconscient and the Lower Triple worlds (Mind, Vital, Physical). It contains the potentiality of all the primitive reactions to life which struggle out to the surface from the dull and inert strands of Matter and form by a constant development a slowly evolving and self-formulating consciousness; it contains them not as ideas, perceptions or conscious reactions but as the fluid substance of these things. But also all that is consciously experienced sinks down into the subconscient, not as precise though submerged memories but as obscure yet obstinate impressions of experience, and these can come up at any time as dreams, as mechanical repetitions of past thought, feelings, action, etc., as “complexes” exploding into action and event, etc., etc. The subconscient is the main cause why all things repeat themselves and nothing ever gets changed except in appearance. It is the cause why people say character cannot be changed, the cause also of the constant return of things one hoped to have got rid of for ever. All seeds are there and all Sanskaras of the mind, vital and body,—it is the main support of death and disease and the last fortress (seemingly impregnable) of the Ignorance. All too that is suppressed without being wholly got rid of sinks down there and remains as seed ready to surge up or sprout up at any moment.
-Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Planes and Parts of the Being
The Inconscient is the origin of the evolutionary creation. It is an apparent negation of the superconscient, an infinite abyss of absolute darkness in which the transcendent omnipresent Reality gets involved for playing at self-loss and self-finding, for the delight of a plunge and a subsequent emergence, a progressive evolution into multiple forms and a manifold self-expression. The engulfing darkness of the Inconscient turns the eternal effulgent substance of Reality into Matter, the dense and obscure primal substrate. In this fathomless night of existence or apparent non-existence, there is no stirring of life or mind, only a blind mighty Energy weaving stupendous systems of worlds and suns and moons and star-clusters and planets, as if in a dumb, creative sleep.
-Rishabchand, In the Mother’s Light, Subconscient and Inconscient
Gods and the Planes of Cosciousness :
There are Gods everywhere on all the planes. The Gods are Personalities and Powers of the dynamic Divine. You speak as if the evolution were the sole creation; the creation or manifestation is very vast and contains many planes and worlds that existed before the evolution, all different in character and with different kinds of beings. The fact of being prior to the evolution does not make them undifferentiated. The world of the Asuras is prior to the evolution, so are the worlds of the mental, vital or subtle physical Devas – but these beings are all different from each other. The great Gods belong to the overmind plane; in the supermind they are unified as aspects of the Divine, in the overmind they appear as separate personalities. Any godhead can descend by emanation to the physical plane and associate himself with the evolution of a human being with whose line of manifestation he is in affinity.
The Devas and Asuras are not evolved in Matter; for the typal being only a Purusha with its Prakriti is necessary – this Purusha may put out a mental and vital Purusha to represent it and according as it is centred in one or another it belongs to the mental or vital world. That is all.
While the Gods cannot be transformed, for they are typal and not evolutionary beings, they can come for conversion – that is to say, to give up their own ideas and outlook on things and conform themselves to the higher Will and supramental Truth of the Divine.
As to the gods, man can build forms which they will accept but these forms too are inspired into man’s mind from the planes to which the god belongs. All creation has the two sides, the formed and the formless, – the gods too are formless and yet have forms, but a godhead can take many forms, here Maheshwari, there Pallas Athene. Maheshwari herself has many forms in her lesser manifestation, Durga, Uma, Parvati, Chandi, etc. The gods are not limited to human forms – man also has not always seen them in human forms only.
-Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p 385
The Mother on Twelve Occult Dimensions :
Is there a limited number of dimensions?
Limited? Or unlimited? What are you asking? How many dimensions? Ah, should we ask the mathematicians or the occultists? The occultist !
Well, in a certain way the number is limited, but since in each dimension there is another limited number of subdivisions and since in these subdivisions there is again a considerable number of subdivisions, we can say that it is unlimited − and yet limited. So, if you understand anything, you are lucky !
If the number is limited, how many are there?
-Words of the Mother, Vol 15, 30 Jan 1951
What are these twelve dimensions?
Thus we have twelve worlds: violet, red, blue (the Mind’s three blues), yellow, then the Overmind’s prismatic colors, which makes five lower worlds, then finally the three golds of the Supermind and the four whites of the supreme creative Joy or Ananda.
-Agenda, 28 May, 1963
Courtesy for the valuable information on Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s Excerpts:
Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother
Human and Gods:
“This human body is the greatest body in the universe, and a human being the greatest being. Man is higher than all animals, than all angels; none is greater than man. Even the Devas will have to come down again and atttain to salvation through a human body. Man alone attains to perfection, not even the devas.”
-An Excerpt from Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga
Universe and Consciousness :
“We must remember the definition of this world of ours; that it is only little of the Infinite Existence projected in to the plane of consciousness.And this little infinite projection,we call it our world.”
-An Excerpt from Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga
“By giving up all powers it has become omnipotent, by giving up all life it is beyond mortality; it has become life itself. Then the Soul will know It neither had birth nor death, neither want of heaven nor of earth. It will know that It neither came nor went; it was nature which was moving, and that movement was reflected upon the Soul. The form of the light is moving, it is reflected and cast by the camera upon the wall, and the wall foolishly thinks it is moving. So with all of us: it is the Chitta constantly moving,manipulating itself into various forms, and we think that we are these various forms.”
-An Excerpt from Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga
Prana and Universes :
If it be true that the departed spirits exist, only that we cannot see them, it is quite probable that there may be hundreds and millions living here that we can neither see, feel, nor touch. We may be continually passing and re-passing through their bodies,and it is also probable that they do not see or feel us. It is a circle within a circle, universe within universe. Those only that are on the same plane see each other. We have five senses, and we represent Prana in a certain state of vibration.All beings in the same state of vibration will see each other,but if there are beings who represent Prana in a higher state of vibration they will not be seen. We may increase the intensity of light until we cannot see the light at all, but there may be beings with eyes so powerful that they can see such light. Again, if the vibrations are very low, we do not see light, but there are animals that see it, as cats and owls. Our range of vision is only one plane of the vibrations of this Prana. Take this atmosphere, for instance; it is piled up layer on layer, but the layers nearer to the earth are denser than those above and as you go higher the atmosphere becomes finer and finer. Or take the case of the ocean; as you go deeper and deeper the density of the water increases,and those animals that live at the bottom of the sea can never come up, or they will broken into pieces.
Think of this whole universe as an ocean of ether, in vibration under the action of Prana, and that it consists of layer after layer of varying degrees of vibration; in the more external the vibrations are less, and nearer to the center the vibrations become quicker and quicker, and each range of vibrations makes one plane. Think of the whole thing as one circle, the center of which is perfection; the further you get from the center the slower the vibrations. Matter is the outermost crust, next comes mind, and spirit is the center.Then suppose these ranges of vision are cut into planes, so many millions of miles one set of vibrations, and then so many millions of miles still higher, and so on. It is perfectly certain, then, that those who live on the plane of a certain state of vibration will have the power of recognizing each other, but will not recognize those above or below them.Yet, just as by the telescope and the microscope we can increase the scope of our vision, and make higher or lower vibrations cognizable to us, similarly, every man can bring himself to the state of vibration belonging to the next plane,thus enabling himself to see what is going on there. Suppose this room were full of beings whom we do not see. They represent certain vibrations in the Prana, and we represent other vibrations. Suppose they represent the quicker, and we the slower. Prana is the material of which they are composed; all are parts of the same ocean of Prana, only the rate of vibration differs. If I can bring myself to the quicker vibration this plane will immediately change for me; I shall not see you any more; you vanish, and they appear. Some of you, perhaps, know this to true. All this bringing of the mind into a higher state of vibration is included in one word in Yoga -Samadhi. All these states of higher vibration,superconscious vibrations of the mind, are grouped in that one word, Samadhi, and the lower states of Samadhi give us visions of these beings. The highest grade of Samadhi is when we see the real thing, when we see the material out of which the whole of these grades of beings are composed, and that lump of clay being known, we know all the clay in the universe.
-An Excerpt from Swami Vivekananda’s commentary on ‘Yoga Sutra’
Between you and me there may be millions of beings on different planes of existence. They will never see us, nor we them; we only see those who are in the same state of mind and on the same plane with us. Those musical instruments respond which have the same attunement of vibration, as it were; if the state of vibration, which they call “man-vibration”, should be changed, no longer would men be seen here; the whole “man-universe” would vanish, and instead of that, other scenery would come before us, perhaps gods and the god-universe, or perhaps, for the wicked man, devils and the diabolic world; but all would be only different views of the one universe. It is this universe which, from the human plane, is seen as the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, and all such things — it is this very universe which, seen from the plane of wickedness, appears as a place of punishment. And this very universe is seen as heaven by those who want to see it as heaven. Those who have been dreaming of going to a God who is sitting on a throne, and of standing there praising Him all their lives, when they die, will simply see a vision of what they have in their minds; this very universe will simply change into a vast heaven, with all sorts of winged beings flying about and a God sitting on a throne. These heavens are all of man’s own making. So what the dualist says is true, says the Advaitin, but it is all simply of his own making. These spheres and devils and gods and reincarnations and transmigrations are all mythology; so also is this human life.
– Swami Vivekananda,
Volume 2/Jnana-Yoga/The Real and the Apparent Man
Buddhist cosmology can be divided into two related kinds: spatial cosmology, which describes the arrangement of the various worlds within the universe, and temporal cosmology, which describes how those worlds come into existence, and how they pass away.
Spatial Cosmology :
Spatial cosmology can also be divided into two branches. The vertical cosmology describes the arrangement of worlds in a vertical pattern, some being higher and some lower. By contrast, the horizontal cosmology describes the grouping of these vertical worlds into sets of thousands, millions or billions.
The vertical cosmology is divided into thirty-one planes of existence and the planes into three realms, or dhātus, each corresponding to a different type of mentality. These three (Tridhātu) are the Formless Realm (Ārūpyadhātu), the Form Realm (Rūpadhātu), and the Desire Realm (Kāmadhātu).
Formless Realm :
The Formless Realm or Ārūpyadhātu is a realm in Buddhist cosmology.It would have no place in a purely physical cosmology, as none of the beings inhabiting it has either shape or location; and correspondingly, the realm has no location either. This realm belongs to those devas who attained and remained in the Four Formless Absorptions (catuḥ-samāpatti) of the arūpadhyānas in a previous life, and now enjoys the fruits (vipāka) of the good karma of that accomplishment. Bodhisattvas, however, are never born in the Ārūpyadhātu even when they have attained the arūpadhyānas.
There are four types of Ārūpyadhātu devas, corresponding to the four types of arūpadhyānas:
Naivasaṃjñānāsaṃjñāyatana or Nevasaññānāsaññāyatana : “Sphere of neither perception nor non-perception”. In this sphere the formless beings have gone beyond a mere negation of perception and have attained a liminal state where they do not engage in “perception” (saṃjñā, recognition of particulars by their marks) but are not wholly unconscious. This was the sphere reached by Udraka Rāmaputra (Pāli: Uddaka Rāmaputta), the second of the Buddha’s two teachers, who considered it equivalent to enlightenment.
Ākiṃcanyāyatana or Ākiñcaññāyatana : “Sphere of Nothingness” (literally “lacking anything”). In this sphere formless beings dwell contemplating upon the thought that “there is no thing”. This is considered a form of perception, though a very subtle one. This was the sphere reached by Ārāḍa Kālāma (Pāli: Āḷāra Kālāma), the first of the Buddha’s two teachers; he considered it to be equivalent to enlightenment
Vijñānānantyāyatana or Viññāṇānañcāyatana : “Sphere of Infinite Consciousness”. In this sphere formless beings dwell meditating on their consciousness (vijñāna) as infinitely pervasive.
Ākāśānantyāyatana or Ākāsānañcāyatana: “Sphere of Infinite Space”. In this sphere formless beings dwell meditating upon space or extension (ākāśa) as infinitely pervasive.
Form Realm :
The Rūpadhātu (Pāli: Rūpaloka; Tib: gzugs kyi khams) or “Form realm” is, as the name implies, the first of the physical realms; its inhabitants all have a location and bodies of a sort, though those bodies are composed of a subtle substance which is of itself invisible to the inhabitants of the Kāmadhātu.The beings of the Form realm are not subject to the extremes of pleasure and pain, or governed by desires for things pleasing to the senses, as the beings of the Kāmadhātu are. The bodies of Form realm beings do not have sexual distinctions.
The desire realm kāma-dhātu) is one of three realms or three worlds (triloka) in traditional Buddhist cosmology into which a being wandering in saṃsāra may be reborn.Within the desire realm are either five or six domains.
The Six Domains
The six domains of the desire realm are as follows:
the god (Deva) domain
the jealous god (Asura) domain
the human (Manussa) domain
the animal (Tiracchānayoni) domain
the hungry ghost (Preta) domain
the hell (Naraka) domain
God Realm (Blissful State)
The Deva realm is the realm of bliss. The disadvantage of this realm is that things are so very comfortable there, that these beings completely neglect to work towards enlightenment. Instead they gradually use up the good karma they had previously accumulated, and so they subsequently fall to a lower rebirth.
The Deva realm is sometimes also referred to as the gods’ realm, because its inhabitants are so powerful within their own realm, that compared to humans, they resemble the gods of Greek or Roman mythology. However, while the Devas may be referred to as gods, they are not immortal, omniscient, nor omnipotent, and they do not act as creators or judges at death, so they are notably very distinct from the monotheistic Western concept of God.
The Asura realm is the realm of the demigods. They are here because of actions based on jealousy, struggle, combat or rationalization of the world. They may be here because in human form they had good intentions but committed bad actions such as harming others.
The Asuras are said to experience a much more pleasurable life than humans, but they are plagued by envy for the devas, whom they can see just as animals can perceive humans.The Asura realm is also sometimes referred to as the Ashura realm, Titan realm, Jealous God realm, Demigod realm, or Anti-God realm. Asura is also sometimes translated as “demon,” “fighting demon,” “those without wine,” or “angry ghost,” which can cause confusion because beings of the hell realm are also sometimes referred to as demons.
The Human realm (also known as the Manuṣya realm) is based on passion, desire, doubt, and pride.Buddhists see this realm as human existence. A human rebirth is in fact considered to be the by far most advantageous of all possible rebirths in samsara because a human rebirth is the samsaric realm from which one can directly ensure enlightenment either in the present or future birth (for anagamis, the actual liberation occurs in a deva realm). This is because of the unique possibilities that a human rebirth offers.
A human rebirth is considered to have tremendous potential when used correctly, however we usually waste our human lifetime in materialistic pursuits, and end up reinforcing our unhelpful emotions, thoughts, and actions. Because of this, it is almost always the case that one descends to a lower rebirth after a human life, rather than immediately going on to another human birth.
In the lower realms, such as the animal realm, it is a very slow and difficult process to accumulate enough merit to achieve a human birth once again, so it may be countless lifetimes before one has another chance.
The Animal realm (also known as the Tiryag-yoni realm) is based on strong mental states of stupidity and prejudice cultivated in a previous life or lives.
Buddhists believe that this realm is the realm of existence of the nonhuman animals on Earth. Humans can however be seen by the animals, in the same way that the Asura can see the Devas.
The Hungry Ghost realm (also known as the Preta realm) is a rebirth based on strong possessiveness and desire which were cultivated in a previous life or lives.
The sentient beings in this realm are known as “hungry ghosts”. They are constantly extremely hungry and thirsty, but they cannot satisfy these needs. In Tibetan versions of the Bhavacakra these beings are drawn with narrow necks and large bellies. This represents the fact that their desires torment them, but they are completely unable to satisfy themselves.
The Naraka realm, or “hell realm” is a rebirth based on strong states of hatred cultivated in a previous life or lives.The Buddhist view of Niraya differs significantly from that of most monotheistic religions in that those being punished in this realm are not trapped permanently. Rather, they remain there until their negative karma is used up, at which point they are reborn into another realm.
The Wheel of Life (See the above picture)
The Bhavacakra or “Wheel of Life” is a popular teaching tool often used in the Indo-Tibetan tradition. It is a kind of diagram which portrays these realms and the mechanism that causes these samsaric rebirths. In this depiction, the realm of the Devas is shown at the top, followed clockwise by the realms of the Asuras, the Pretas, Naraka, Animals, and Humans. Close examination will show that the Buddha is shown as being present in every one of these realms.