The Path – May 1889

THE SEVEN DWIPAS: II – Charles Johnston

FROM THE INDIAN PURANAS.

(Concluded.)

Plaksha dwipa, the nearest to Jambu dwipa, is divided into seven provinces. Existence there is always that of the Treta yuga, a perpetual silver age. In the five dwipas, (all except Pushkara dwipa and Jambu dwipa), the people live 5,000 years without sickness. The four castes, with different names, exist on each of them.

In the Bhagavat Parana it is said of the inhabitants of Plaksha dwipa: The four castes, purified from passion and darkness by the touch of the water of the rivers, live a thousand years, and resemble the gods.

It may be noted of this text that the purification of these castes from passion and darkness leaves them only one of the "three qualities," goodness, which is said to be the distinctive mark of the true Brahman; so that the measure of spirituality on this dwipa is much higher than in Jambu dwipa.

An ocean of sugar-cane juice separates Plaksha dwipa from Shalmala dwipa: which is also divided into seven Varshas. It has four castes who worship Vishnu in the form of Vayu, (air.) Here the vicinity of the Gods is very delightful to the soul.

This dwipa is surrounded by an ocean of wine, whose exterior shore is compassed by Kusha dwipa: here the inhabitants are men dwelling with Devas, Gandharvas, and other beings.

In the Mahabharata, it is said: No one dies in Kusha dwipa; the people are fair, and of very delicate forms.

Kusha dwipa is surrounded by a sea of clarified butter, of the same compass as itself: around this sea runs Kramcha dwipa. Vishnu Parana says: In all the pleasant divisions of this dwipa, the people dwell free from fear, in the society of the gods.

A sea of curds encompasses this dwipa, which is of the same circumference as itself. This sea is surrounded by Shaka dwipa, of which the Vishnu Purana says: These are the holy countries whose holy rivers remove all sin and fear. There is among them no defect of virtue, nor any mutual rivalry, nor any transgression of rectitude in the seven Varshas. Here the people are holy, and no one dies, says the Mahabharata. Shaka dwipa is surrounded by an ocean of milk, outside which lies Pushkara dwipa: where men live ten thousand years, free from sorrow and pain. There is no distinction of highest and lowest, of truth and falsehood, — [because all alike are good and true], men are like gods; there are no rules of caste, and happiness dwells with all.

Of the seven dwipas, the Mahabharata says: Each doubly exceeds the former in abstinence, veracity, and self-restraint; in health and length of life.

Prajapati, the lord, governs these dwipas. All these people eat prepared food, which comes to them of itself. To finish its account, the Vishnu Purana says: Pushkara dwipa is surrounded by an ocean of water which envelopes all the seven dwipas.

On the other side of the sea is a golden land of great extent but without inhabitants; beyond that is the Lokalaoka mountain, ten thousand yojanas in height and ten thousand yojanas in breadth.

It is encompassed on all sides with darkness, which is enclosed within the shell of the mundane egg.

Thus ends the account of the Seven Dwipas, as told by the Indian Puranas.

The objective point from which this cosmogomy starts is Bharata Varsha, or India, bounded southward by the salt ocean, and reaching northward to the Himadri, or Himalaya.

Perhaps the other Varshas, in one of their interpretations, are the lost continents of former races with Meru, the north pole, in their centre.

But it seems to us from what is told of the other Varshas, and, above all, of Uttara Kuru, that these Varshas are not to be found on earth, but represent the various planes rising from the physical to the spiritual, from Bharata Varsha, taken as the type of physical life, or waking consciousness, to the Uttara Kurus, the highest spiritual stage that dwellers on this earth can reach.

We are led to believe that these Varshas which I have described and explained in my last paper are not located in the physical world from what is told of the perfection of their inhabitants; the length of life, which is measured by thousands of years, and, above all, by the specific statement that these Varshas are the abodes of those who are reaping the fruits of their merits, while Bharata is the Varsha where this fruit was earned, the world of works, or physical life.

We observe that these Varshas are nine: though when we mark their position in the circular island of Jambu dwipa according to the directions of the Puranas, we find that while nine Varshas are mentioned they fall into only seven strips: and moreover, while a great symmetry reigns among the various dwipas we find it absent in this particular, for five of the other dwipas have only seven Varshas.

Perhaps therefore the nine Varshas of Jambu dwipa, or our earth, are only a veil, to conceal the seven, or the real mystic number of the planes.

Perhaps, however, these nine Varshas represent the nine phases of consciousness as explained by Mr. T. Subba Row; this division, which appears in the "Theosophist" for Jan. 1888, being as follows:

Jagrat:
     Jagrat 1. waking life.
     Swapna, 2. dreaming.
     Sushupti, 3. deep sleep.
Swapna:
     Jagrat, 4. waking clairvoyance.
     Swapna. 5. trance clairvoyance.
     Sushupti, 6. Kama loka consciousness.
Sushupti:
     Jagrat, 7. Devachan consciousness.
     Swapna, 8. Consciousness between planets.[lb]
     Sushupti, 9. Consciousness between rounds.

Jagrat, swapna, and sushupti mean, respectively, waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.

This division falls, as will be seen, into three groups of three each; just as the nine Varshas fall into three groups of three each. The ninth form of consciousness in this division is an arupa consciousness; that is to say, a state in which the consciousness does not take cognizance of forms. In connection with this it will be remembered that it was said of the ninth Varsha, Uttara Kuru, that "if thou shouldst enter, thou couldst behold nothing. For no one can perceive anything here with human senses."

But this would hold equally true of the seventh plane of consciousness: if we take the nine to be a veil of seven.

It seems, therefore, that the seven or nine divisions of Jambu dwipa may mean our physical earth, or the physical life known to us, and its higher planes or principles; the mountain ranges being the points of separation between the planes. If this be so, and if we credit the authors of the Vishnu Purana with adeptship, and transcendental knowledge, which they have imparted in it in a veiled form, it would seem that valuable knowledge of the superior planes might be gained by a careful analysis of what is said in the Vishnu Purana of the other Varshas of Jambu dwipa.

If we are right in identifying Jambu dwipa with our earth, we may conjecture that the salt ocean which surrounds it, besides meaning the sea, may also mean the aura of the earth; that part of the astral light which clings round our planet. If then we are right in considering jambu dwipa to be the earth, what view are we to take of the nature of the other six dwipas?

It is clear that they are connected with our earth, and with the evolution of life on it. It is also said that the dwipas are in an ascending order of spirituality, Jambu dwipa being the lowest, and Pushkara dwipa the highest; while the other five dwipas have many attributes in common, and are classed together.

Moreover, each of these five dwipas has seven Varshas: and if we are right in considering the Varshas of Jambu dwipa as planes, or principles, may we not suppose that the Varshas of the five dwipas are also planes or principles?

Jambu dwipa is said to be a circular island; but there is no doubt that the Hindus knew the earth to be a sphere. Therefore this may simply mean that if Jambu dwipa is a sphere, in that case we are perhaps justified in believing that, when the other six dwipas are represented as annular, they are really spheres, and that the statement that each lies outside the preceding, and separated from it by an ocean, really means that these dwipas are spheres, isolated from each other, but surrounded by some more subtle medium which serves as a connection between them.

Are we justified then in considering that the seven dwipas mean a system of seven spheres united to each other by a subtle medium, and cooperating in the work of human evolution by furnishing man with a series of dwellings in an ascending scale of spirituality?

It has doubtless already become apparent to our readers that this idea is, in almost every particular, identical with that of the Planetary Chain, as expounded in the Secret Doctrine. A careful review of all the statements we have collected as to the other dwipas will give further indications of the identity of these two ideas, and will elicit many facts of great interest.

What is meant by the oceans of sugar, wine, curds, and milk? Is this a hint of the nature of the auras of these different planets? Are the colours and properties of these liquids taken as symbolizing these auras?

If so, then the ocean of pure water which surrounds the whole system may mean the ether which extends through all space, as distinguished from the aura which is differentiated and condensed around each planet.

The outer darkness which shuts in the golden wall cannot but be the void space between our solar system and the stars, the mundane egg which encloses it being the limit of the life of the system to which we belong.

For the mundane egg is not the boundary of the whole universe, nor does our system exhaust the infinitude of life.

"There are thousands and tens of thousands of such mundane eggs; nay hundreds of millions of millions."


The Path

THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE