The Vedas tell us that beyond the limited material world is the infinite spiritual world, the abode of Krishna and His expansions, and our original home as well. Everyone there is eternal and absorbed in ever-increasing happiness.
Transcendence is not static, but full of dynamic variety and rich with spiritual qualities. Spirit by nature is conscious, and every aspect of the spiritual world—plants, animals, people, hills, rivers, houses—is a fully God-conscious person.
The main feature of the spiritual world is that everyone there loves God (Krishna and His expansions) with the fullness of their being. When we purify our hearts and awaken our innate love for Krishna, we become qualified to enter the spiritual world to take up our eternal service to the Lord. Once attaining the spiritual world, we souls never have to return to the material world.
“That which the Vedantists describe as unmanifest and infallible, that which is known as the supreme destination, that place from which, having attained it, one never returns—that is My supreme abode.” –Sri Krishna, Bhagavad-gita 8.21
Three Spiritual Realms
There are three primary destinations in the spiritual world, which has innumerable spiritual planets and expands without limit.
The topmost planet in the spiritual realm is Goloka, Krishna’s personal home. In Goloka the Lord lives like a simple cowherd boy, and His devotees serve Him with the sweetness of intimate personal relationships. Goloka is larger than all other spiritual planets combined and is far above them.
When Krishna comes to this world He brings Goloka with Him, as He did 5,000 years ago, showing all the extraordinary, beautiful features of God’s original home.
- The other planets in the spiritual world are called the Vaikuntha planets. Lord Krishna’s expansions as four-armed Vishnu rule these planets like kings, worshiped in awe and reverence by innumerable devotees.
- All the spiritual planets float in what is called the brahmajyoti, the spiritual effulgence of the Lord’s transcendental body.
Devotees immersed in pure love for Krishna or Vishnu reside in Goloka and the Vaikuntha planets. Self-realized souls who have yet to awaken their natural love for the Lord may temporarily reside in the brahmajyoti.
Internal Potency: Nature of the Spiritual World
Krishna’s internal potency manifests the spiritual world. It is divided into the
- potency for existence
- potency for knowledge
- potency for pleasure
The potency for eternal existence manifests the spiritual planets and the bodies of all the inhabitants. It gives shape to the unlimited variegatedness of the land, villages, forests, hills, and pastime places in the spiritual world.
The potency for knowledge manifests all the hopes, imagination, intelligence and judgments devotees use to serve the Lord and exchange in never-ending, relishable relationships with Him. The arrangements for all the loving pastimes enacted by the Lord and His devotees are regulated by this potency.
The potency for pleasure completely captivates Krishna Himself. This energy is represented by Radha, Krishna’s female counterpart. Radha is the embodiment of highest love for Krishna. Love captivates Krishna’s heart completely and gives everyone in the spiritual world the highest pleasure.
Description of Goloka
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam we find descriptions of Lord Krishna’s eternal home, such as this one:
“Goloka, also called Vrindavana, is always full of cows. There are many waterfalls, which are always pouring water, and the sound is so sweet that it covers the sound of the crickets. And because water flows all over, the forest always looks very green and beautiful.
“The inhabitants of Vrindavana are never disturbed by the scorching heat of the sun or high summer temperatures. The lakes of Vrindavana are surrounded by green grasses, and various kinds of lotus flowers bloom there. The air blowing in Vrindavana carries the aromatic pollen of those lotus flowers. When the particles of water from the waves of the Yamuna River, the lakes, and the waterfalls touch the bodies of the inhabitants of Vrindavana, they automatically feel a cooling effect.
“Vrindavana is such a nice place. Flowers are always blooming, and there are even various kinds of decorated deer. Birds are chirping, peacocks are crowing and dancing, and bees are humming. The cuckoos there sing nicely in five kinds of tunes.
“Krishna, the reservoir of pleasure, blowing His flute, accompanied by His elder brother Balarama and the other cowherd boys and the cows, enters the beautiful forest of Vrindavana to enjoy the atmosphere. They walk into the midst of newly grown leaves of trees whose flowers resembled peacock feathers. They are garlanded by those flowers and decorated with saffron chalk. Sometimes they are dancing and singing and sometimes wrestling with one another. While Krishna dances, some of the cowherd boys sing and others play on flutes; some bugle on buffalo horns or clap their hands, praising Krishna, ‘Dear brother, You are dancing very nicely.’ ”
“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the first progenitor, who is tending cows yielding all desires in abodes built with spiritual gems and surrounded by millions of purpose trees. He is always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune.” –Sri Brahma-samhita 5.29
Description of Vaikuntha
From Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.15.16–23)
“In those Vaikuntha planets there are many forests which are very auspicious. In those forests the trees are wish-fulfilling trees, and in all seasons they are filled with flowers and fruits because everything in the Vaikuntha planets is spiritual and personal.
“In the Vaikuntha planets the inhabitants fly in their airplanes, accompanied by their wives and consorts, and eternally sing of the character and activities of the Lord, which are always devoid of all inauspicious qualities. While singing the glories of the Lord, they deride even the presence of the blossoming madhavi flowers, which are fragrant and laden with honey.
“When the king of bees hums in a high pitch, singing the glories of the Lord, there is a temporary lull in the noise of the pigeon, the cuckoo, the crane, the cakravaka, the swan, the parrot, the partridge, and the peacock. Such transcendental birds stop their own singing simply to hear the glories of the Lord.
“Although flowering plants like the mandara, kunda, kurabaka, utpala, campaka, arna, punnaga, nagakeshara, bakula, lily, and parijata are full of transcendental fragrance, they are still conscious of the austerities performed by Tulasi, for Tulasi is given special preference by the Lord, who garlands Himself with Tulasi leaves.
“The inhabitants of Vaikuntha travel in their airplanes made of lapis lazuli, emerald, and gold. Although crowded by their consorts, who have large hips and beautiful smiling faces, the male inhabitants cannot be stimulated to passion by their mirth and beautiful charms.
“The ladies in the Vaikuntha planets are as beautiful as the goddess of fortune herself. Such transcendentally beautiful ladies, their hands playing with lotuses and their leg bangles tinkling, are sometimes seen sweeping the marble walls, which are bedecked at intervals with golden borders, in order to receive the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“The goddesses of fortune worship the Lord in their own gardens by offering Tulasi leaves on the coral-paved banks of transcendental reservoirs of water. While offering worship to the Lord, they can see on the water the reflection of their beautiful faces with raised noses, and it appears that they have become more beautiful because of the Lord’s kissing their faces.
“It is very much regrettable that unfortunate people do not discuss the description of the Vaikuntha planets.”