By Swami Harshananda
Goloka literally means ‘the world of light’.
Discourse of Existence
Fate of a person after the death of his physical body, is a topic of debate. This is the subject of discussion and conjecture in many religions of the world. In religion, especially in its mythological literature, some special lokas or worlds are mentioned, where extremely fortunate souls which are deeply pious and spiritual persons, go after their exit from this mundane existence.
Viewpoint of Kṛṣṇa Sect
In the Vaiṣṇavite works, Vaikuṇṭha and Goloka are prominently mentioned. The concept of Vaikuṇṭha is more ancient. As the Kṛṣṇa sect developed, superseding the sect of Viṣṇu wherein Kṛṣṇa was considered as only one of the incarnations of Viṣṇu, Kṛṣṇa was projected as the main sect-deity, Supreme Brahman in his personal aspect. Even Viṣṇu in Vaikuṇṭha and Śiva in his Kailāsa were pictured as inferior to Kṛṣṇa and as his lower manifestations.
As per the Kṛṣṇa sect, the Supreme Brahman or the Absolute, lives in Goloka which is his eternal abode. ‘Goloka’ means ‘the world of light’ and not the world of cows. It is often mistaken. This light is all-pervading and extremely beautiful.
Worlds below Goloka
It is the highest world below which other worlds are situated are:
- Svarga - heaven
- Martya - world of mortals
- Pātāla - nether-world
Extent of Goloka
Goloka expanses to 900 million square yojanas. It is full of brilliant light, precious stones and other riches. Even the great yogis cannot perceive it in their dreams. However, the devotees of Kṛṣṇa have access to it. Those who go there and live eternally, will never suffer from any disease or disability.
- These worlds refer to special regions of existence.
- Goloka is also called Mahāvaikuṇṭha and Vṛndāvana.
- 1 yojana = 15 kms. or 9 miles.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore