Seven Heavens

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Seven heavens is a part of religious cosmology found in many major religions such as Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Catholicism, [1] and in some minor religions such as Hermeticism and Gnosticism. The Throne of God is said to be above the seventh heaven in some Abrahamic religions.

Judaism[edit]

According to the Talmud, the universe is made of seven heavens (Shamayim):[2][3]

The Jewish Merkavah and Heichalot literature was devoted to discussing the details of these heavens, sometimes in connection with traditions relating to Enoch, such as the Third Book of Enoch.[4]

Hinduism[edit]

Hinduism also has the concept of seven heavens (Svarga).

According to the Puranas and the Atharvaveda there are fourteen worlds. There are the seven higher ones (the heavens), called the Vyahritis (Sanskrit: व्याहृति). Then, there are seven lower ones (the underworlds) called the Naraka, Patalas (Sanskrit: पाताल).

According to the Hindu Puranas, there are fourteen worlds in the universe - the seven upper and the seven lower. The seven upper worlds are Bhuh, Bhavah, Swah, Mahah, Janah. Tapah, and Satyam; and the seven nether worlds are Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Rasatala, Talatala, Mahatala, and Patala. The region known as Bhuh is the earth where we dwell, while Swah is the celestial world to which people repair after death to enjoy the reward of their righteous actions on earth. Bhuvah is the region between the two. Janah, Tapah, and Satyam constitute Brahmaloka, or the highest heaven, where fortunate souls repair after death and enjoy spiritual communion with the personal God, and at the end of the cycle attain liberation, though a few return to earth again. The world of Mahah is located between Brahmaloka and Bhuh, Bhuuah, and Swah. Patala, the lowest of the seven nether worlds, is the realm where wicked souls sojourn after death and reap the results of their unrighteous actions on earth. Thus, from the viewpoint of Hinduism, heaven and hell are merely different worlds, bound by time, space, and causality. According to Hinduism, desires are responsible for a person's embodiment. Some of these desires can best be fulfilled in a human body, and some in an animal or a celestial body. Accordingly, a soul assumes a body determined by its unfulfilled desires and the results of its past actions. An animal or a celestial body is for reaping the results of past karma, not for performing actions to acquire a new body. Performance of karma to effect any change of life is possible only in a human body, because only human beings do good or evil consciously. Human birth is therefore a great privilege, for in a human body alone can one attain the supreme goal of life. Thus, in search of eternal happiness and immortality, the apparent soul is born again and again in different bodies, only to discover in the end that immortality can never be attained through fulfillment of desires. The soul then practices discrimination between the real and the unreal, attains desirelessness, and finally realizes its immortal nature. Affirming this fact, the Katha Upanishad says: "When all the desires that dwell in the heart fall away, then the mortal becomes immortal and here attains Brahman."

Islam[edit]

Not to be confused with Heaven i.e. Paradise.

The Qur'an frequently mentions the existence of seven (Samaawat), or heavens. The word "heaven" is used in the English translation of the Arabic word سماء (Samaa'a). The plural is سماوات (Samaawat), cognate of Hebrew שמים (Shamayim), which translates as "sky" in Modern Arabic.

The highest level of Jannah is Firdaws (Arabic: فردوس), which is where the prophets, the martyrs and the most truthful and pious people will dwell. Sidrat al-Muntaha is a Lote tree that marks the end of the seventh heaven, the boundary where no creation can pass.

Seven-level underworlds[edit]

Main article: Underworld

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Origen, De principiis III,2,1
  2. ^ The Seven Heavens in the Talmud.(see Ps. lxviii. 5).
  3. ^ http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1521&letter=A#4364
  4. ^ Scholem, Gershom Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and the Talmudic Tradition, 1965.

References[edit]

  • Davidson, Gustav. Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels. New York: The Free Press, 1967 (reprinted 1994). ISBN 0-02-907052-X.
  • Ginzberg, Louis. Henrietta Szold (trans.). The Legends of the Jews. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909–38. ISBN 0-8018-5890-9.

External links[edit]