From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia
By Swami Harshananda
Rasātala literally means ‘That which is below the earth’.
Rasātala as per Viṣṇupurāṇa
The Mahābhārata and some of the purāṇas contain interesting descriptions of this universe. If there are six lokas or worlds above the earth ending in Satyaloka or Brahmaloka and seven below the earth also. ‘Pātāla’ is the general name given to these worlds. These seven pātālas are:
Rasātala as per Other Scriptures
According to the Bhāgavata Rasātala is the fourth in the series. The Garudapurāṇa lists Rasātala as the sixth of these nether worlds.
Description of Rasātala
If the various descriptions of Rasātala given in these works are summarized, the following picture of this world emerges:
- Rasātala is the fourth or the sixth of the pātālas and the abode of Ananta or Śeṣanāga, the thousand-hooded serpent on whom Mahāviṣṇu is reclining.
- Mahāviṣṇu in his Varāha incarnation killed the demons by entering the Rasātala loka.
- He killed the demons Madhu and Kaitabha taking the Hayagrīva form.
- Surabhi or Kāmadhenu, the celestial cow lives here with her off-springs.
- There is an ocean of milk here.
- This world is more comfortable to live in than even Nāgaloka or Svarga.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore