Pātāla

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Patala, PAtAla, Paataala


tāla literally means ‘the evil-doers fall into this’.

Seven Ether Worlds

The purāṇas describe fourteen worlds. Out of these, six are higher worlds above this earth[1] and seven are below them. They are:

  1. Atala
  2. Vitala
  3. Sutala
  4. Talātala
  5. Mahātala
  6. Rasātala
  7. Pātāla

Serpent Chiefs of Pātāla

According to this list, Pātāla is the nethermost world. It is the abode of serpents. The serpent-chiefs who live here are:

  1. Aśvadhara
  2. Devadatta
  3. Dhanarijaya
  4. Dhṛtarāṣṭra
  5. Gulika
  6. Kambala
  7. Mahāśikha
  8. Śaṅkha
  9. Śaṅkhacuḍa
  10. Śveta
  11. Vāsuki

At the base of the Pātāla, there is a place separated from the rest where lives Ananta or Ādiśeṣa or Seṣanāga. He is said to be carrying all the worlds on his thousand hoods. All the eleven great serpents mentioned above have brilliant gems on their hoods, the light emanating from which illuminates the netherworld.

Pātāla as per Mahābhārata

According to the Mahābhārata[2] Pātāla is inhabited by the following:

  1. Daityas - demons
  2. Govratis - persons of great austerity
  3. Maharṣis - great sages
  4. The four elephant kings called as Airāvaṇa, Vāmana, Kumuda and Añjana who are guarding the quarters.

Pātāla as per Yogasutras

As per the long description given in the Vyāsabhāsya on the Yogasutras[3] the Pātālaloka has oceans and mountains. All types of beings like asuras, gandharvas, kimpuruṣas, yakṣas, rākṣasas and various kinds of disembodied spirits[4] live here.


References

  1. Earth is called as Bhuloka.
  2. Udyogaparva 99
  3. Yogasutras 3.26
  4. These spirits are bhutas, pretas, piśācas, brahmarākṣasas and so on.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore