With the beginning of a new year, I am always apt to take up my studies with renewed enthusiasm, a resolution and firmness of purpose, to read more from Srila Prabhupada’s books, and to delve more deeply into the practice of bhakti-yoga. This morning I was reading about the spiritual sky; Goloka Vṛndāvana.
The abode of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is described in the Bhagavad-gītā, Fifteenth Chapter, sixth verse:
na tad bhāsayate sūryo na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ
yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. And anyone who reaches it never comes back to this material world.” (Bg. 15.6)
This verse gives a description of that eternal sky. Of course we have a material conception of the sky, and we think of it in relationship to the sun, moon, stars and so on, but in this verse the Lord states that in the eternal sky there is no need for the sun nor for the moon nor fire of any kind because the spiritual sky is already illuminated by the brahmajyoti, the rays emanating from the Supreme Lord. We are trying with difficulty to reach other planets, but it is not difficult to understand the abode of the Supreme Lord. This abode is referred to as Goloka. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is beautifully described: Goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūtaḥ. The Lord resides eternally in His abode Goloka, yet He can be approached from this world, and to this end the Lord comes to manifest His real form, sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha. When He manifests this form, there is no need for our imagining what He looks like. To discourage such imaginative speculation, He descends and exhibits Himself as He is, as Śyāmasundara. Unfortunately, the less intelligent deride Him because He comes as one of us and plays with us as a human being. But because of this we should not consider that the Lord is one of us. It is by His potency that He presents Himself in His real form before us and displays His pastimes, which are prototypes of those pastimes found in His abode. (from Introduction to the Bhagavad-gita As It Is)
…The ultimate goal in practicing yoga is now clearly explained. Yoga practice is not meant for attaining any kind of material facility; it is to enable the cessation of all material existence. One who seeks an improvement in health or aspires after material perfection is no yogī according to Bhagavad-gītā. Nor does cessation of material existence entail one’s entering into “the void,” which is only a myth. There is no void anywhere within the creation of the Lord. Rather, the cessation of material existence enables one to enter into the spiritual sky, the abode of the Lord. (from purport to Bg 6.15)
In the effulgent rays of the spiritual sky there are innumerable planets floating. The brahmajyoti emanates from the supreme abode, Kṛṣṇaloka, and the ānandamaya-cinmaya planets, which are not material, float in those rays. The Lord says, na tad bhāsayate sūryo na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama. One who can approach that spiritual sky is not required to descend again to the material sky. In the material sky, even if we approach the highest planet (Brahmaloka), what to speak of the moon, we will find the same conditions of life, namely birth, death, disease and old age. No planet in the material universe is free from these four principles of material existence. Therefore the Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā, ābrahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino ‘rjuna. The living entities are traveling from one planet to another, not by mechanical arrangement but by a spiritual process. This is also mentioned: yānti deva-vratā devān pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ. No mechanical arrangement is necessary if we want interplanetary travel. The Gītā instructs: yānti deva-vratā devān. The moon, the sun and higher planets are called svargaloka. There are three different statuses of planets: higher, middle and lower planetary systems. The earth belongs to the middle planetary system. Bhagavad-gītā informs us how to travel to the higher planetary systems (devaloka) with a very simple formula: yānti deva-vratā devān. One need only worship the particular demigod of that particular planet and in that way go to the moon, the sun or any of the higher planetary systems.
Yet Bhagavad-gītā does not advise us to go to any of the planets in this material world because even if we go to Brahmaloka, the highest planet, through some sort of mechanical contrivance by maybe traveling for forty thousand years (and who would live that long?), we will still find the material inconveniences of birth, death, disease and old age. But one who wants to approach the supreme planet, Kṛṣṇaloka, or any of the other planets within the spiritual sky, will not meet with these material inconveniences. Amongst all of the planets in the spiritual sky there is one supreme planet called Goloka Vṛndāvana, which is the original planet in the abode of the original Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa. All of this information is given in Bhagavad-gītā, and we are given through its instruction information how to leave the material world and begin a truly blissful life in the spiritual sky. (from Introduction to Bhagavad-gita As It Is)
Bhagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter Six, Text 15
yuñjann evaṁ sadātmānaṁ
yuñjan—practicing like this; evam—as mentioned above; sadā—constantly; ātmānam—body, mind and soul; yogī—the mystic transcendentalist; niyata-mānasaḥ—regulated mind; śāntim—peace; nirvāṇa-paramām—cessation of material existence; mat-saṁsthām—in the spiritual sky (the kingdom of God); adhigacchati—does attain.
Thus practicing control of the body, mind and activities, the mystic transcendentalist attains to the kingdom of God [or the abode of Kṛṣṇa] by cessation of material existence.
The ultimate goal in practicing yoga is now clearly explained. Yoga practice is not meant for attaining any kind of material facility; it is to enable the cessation of all material existence. One who seeks an improvement in health or aspires after material perfection is no yogī according to Bhagavad-gītā. Nor does cessation of material existence entail one’s entering into “the void,” which is only a myth. There is no void anywhere within the creation of the Lord. Rather, the cessation of material existence enables one to enter into the spiritual sky, the abode of the Lord. The abode of the Lord is also clearly described in the Bhagavad-gītā as that place where there is no need of sun, moon, nor electricity. All the planets in the spiritual kingdom are self-illuminated like the sun in the material sky. The kingdom of God is everywhere, but the spiritual sky and the planets thereof are called paraṁ dhāma, or superior abodes.
A consummate yogī, who is perfect in understanding Lord Kṛṣṇa, as is clearly stated herein (mat-cittaḥ, mat-paraḥ, mat-sthānam) by the Lord Himself, can attain real peace and can ultimately reach His supreme abode, the Kṛṣṇa-loka known as Goloka Vṛndāvana. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is clearly stated (goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūtaḥ) that the Lord, although residing always in His abode called Goloka, is the all-pervading Brahman and the localized Paramātmā as well by dint of His superior spiritual energies. No one can reach the spiritual sky or enter into the eternal abode (Vaikuṇṭha Goloka Vṛndāvana) of the Lord without the proper understanding of Kṛṣṇa and His plenary expansion Viṣṇu. Therefore a person working in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the perfect yogī, because his mind is always absorbed in Kṛṣṇa’s activities. Sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ. In the Vedas also we learn: tam eva viditvātimṛtyum eti: “One can overcome the path of birth and death only by understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa.” In other words, perfection of the yoga system is the attainment of freedom from material existence and not some magical jugglery or gymnastic feats to befool innocent people.
Text pasted from Prabhupada Books