February 2, 2023, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Three Lokas (world) and means to win them

Brihadaranyak Upanishad

The Nepal Weekly
July 12, 2022

The Brihadaranyak Upanishad is renowned for, among other things, philosophical conversation about three Loks –worlds or spheres. The three dwellings that it talks about are human world – the Manushya Lok that every human knows and experiences -, the Pitri Lok – the abode meant for those who die in Manushya Lok – and the Deva Lok – the domicile of Gods and Goddesses which only a few with background of great spiritual virtues could access.

The path to achieve success in three places varies. The Manushya Lok could offer accomplishments to those who have sons. The Brihadaranyak Upanishad states that humans receive continuity of genetic lineage through sons. Those fathers who die with several things incomplete or several wishes unfulfilled will be compensated by the performance of their sons. Actually sons are meant to advance the cause for which their fathers lived and longed for. Sons are also meant for adding to the diginity, fame and image of their father or family.

But the Upanishad warns the Pitri Lok cannot be accessed through the sons. It is individual human beings’ good deeds, services, sacrifices or good work in Manushya Lok which could be instrumental in awarding good space in Pitri Lok. The great holy sage Shankaracharya also backs this philosophical argument.

Aadi Shankaracharya forwards the argument that sons cannot offer Moksha – emancipation – to their fathers. Some philosophers have wrongly explained the Shruti Vidya – the knowledge transferred through generations on the basis of oral or audio means – and described sons as the instruments for liberating their fathers, he maintains.

Sons, sages observe, cannot do anything to their fathers who are dead. All worldly rituals they do in the mortal world are only the processes through which they could get pshyco-social peace in themselves. The rituals could not transfer anything to those who are dead. But they could offer mental satisfaction to the sons that they did whatever they could out of pleasure, will and charity in memory of their dead parent.

The third Lok – Deva Lok – could be accessed only through knowledge and meditation. Those who could explore their self consciousness and feel the cosmic presence which is above the sense organs and beyond any textual knowledge or intellectual exercise could reach the Dev Lok.

By Shirish Ballabh Pradhan