Lokas are the seven spheres above the earth. The Puranas affirm that there are Seven Lokas or realms. Hindu mythology defines the fourteen worlds and seven higher worlds with seven lower ones. The higher worlds are the seven ‘vyahrtis’, viz. ‘bhu’, ‘bhuvar’, ‘suvar’, ‘mahar’, ‘jana’, ‘tapas’, ‘satya’ and lower worlds are ‘atala’, ‘vitala’, ‘sutala’, ‘rasaataala’, ‘talatala’, ‘mahaatala’, ‘paatala’.
Etymology of Lokas
The word Loka is derived from the Proto-Indo-European words ‘lowkos’ means world, place and from the root ‘lewk’ to shine.
Myths of Lokas
The list of seven Lokas is ‘Prajapatya’ or ‘Pitri Loka’; ‘Indra Loka or Svarga’; ‘Marutloka’, or ‘Deva Loka’, heaven; ‘Gandarbha Loka’ or ‘Mahar Loka’; ‘Jana Loka’, or the sphere of saints; ‘Tapaloka’, or the world of the seven sages and last is the ‘Brahma Loka’, or ‘Satya Loka’, the world of infinite wisdom and truth.
In the Brahma Purana, another Loka is mentioned as the residence of Krishna. This Loka is far above the three worlds, and has, at five hundred Millions of ‘yojanas’ below it, the separate Lokas of Vishnu and Shiva, Vaikunta and Kailas. This region is imperishable, while all else is subject to annihilation, and in the centre of it abides Krishna. Of the colour of a dark cloud, in the bloom of youth, clad in yellow raiment, splendidly adorned with celestial gems, and holding a flute. He is exempt from Maya and all qualities, eternal, alone, and the Paramatma, or supreme soul of the world.
Some versions of the mythology state that good and bad deeds counterbalance each other and the soul therefore is born in either a heaven or a hell. The concept of a loka or lokas develops in the Vedic literature. It is a place or position of religious or psychological interest with a special value of function of its own.
Name of the Higher Lokas
Name of the Lokas are as follows:
Bhu Loka: It is the place where the earthy substance exists. It is generally identified with planet Earth.
Bhuvar Loka: It is the area where all the aircrafts move and where all the artificial-satellites orbit around the Earth are located. The region expands from the earth to the sun, in which the heavenly beings move about.
Suvar Loka: It is described as regions of space beyond Bhuvarloka. According to the myths, it is inhabited by the Devatas with their king Indra.
Svarga Loka: It is one of the eight higher lokas in Hindu cosmology. It is a set of heavenly worlds located on and above Mt. Meru where the righteous live in paradise before their next incarnation.
Mahar Loka: It is the region above the Dhruva loka. As per some other Purana, it is said that the souls of the ‘Saptarshis’ live in here with an attentive eye upon the activities of humankind on Earth.
Jana Loka: It is the region where the pure minded sons of Lord Brahma reside. Jana Loka is explained greater than Mahar Loka.
Tapa Loka: It is described as 'greater than' or 'beyond' or 'above' the Jana Loka. The deities of this region are known as ‘Vaibhrajas’.
Satya Loka: It is described as the Loka greater than the Tapa Loka. It comes first among all the 14 Lokas. It is the residence of Lord Brahma, the God of formation.
Name of the Lower Lokas
Following are names of the lower worlds.
Atala Loka: Atala Loka is ruled by Bala (a son of Maya). It is situated in underground, sometimes under the oceans.
Vitala Loka: Vitala Loka is ruled by the God Hara-Bhava (a form of Shiva), who resides with helper ‘ganas’ including ghosts and goblins as the master of gold mines. The dwellers of this kingdom are adorned with gold from this area.
Talatala Loka: It is the land of the demon architect Maya. Lord Shiva, as Tripurantaka, demolished the three cities of Maya but was later on happy with Maya and gave him this kingdom and promised to defend him.
Mahatala Loka: Mahatala Loka is the residence of many hooded ‘Nagas’ the sons of Kadru. They exist here with their families in harmony but always have a fear of Garuda, the eagle God.
Rasatala Loka: It is the residence of the demons Danavas and Daityas, who are powerful but unkind. They are the everlasting foes of Devatas (the gods). They live in holes like serpents.
Patala Loka: It is the lowest area, the area of the Nagas, ruled by Vasuki. Several Nagas with many hoods live here. Each of their tops is decorated by a jewel, whose light lights this land.
The 14 Lokas of Hinduism state that they are divided into seven upper worlds or Vyarthis and the seven lower ones.
(Last Updated on : 09-02-2018)