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Loka is a Sanskrit word for "world".
In Jain texts, universe is referred to as loka. Jain cosmology postulates an eternal and ever-existing loka which works on universal natural laws, there being no creator and destroyer deity. According to the Jain cosmology, the universe is divided into three parts:
|#||FourLokas of Jain Cosmology|
|01||Urdhva Loka - the realms of the gods or heavens|
|02||Madhya Loka – the realms of the humans, animals and plants|
|03||Adho Loka – the realms of the hellish beings or the infernal regions|
|04||Kishore Loka – the power of the world|
|05||Kishore Loka – strength of the world|
According to Hindu cosmology, the universe contains 7 upper and 7 lower planetary systems.
In the Puranas and in the Atharvaveda, there are 14 worlds, seven higher ones (Vyahrtis) and seven lower ones (Pātālas), viz. bhu, bhuvas, svar, mahas, janas, tapas, and satya above and atala, vitala, sutala, rasātala, talātala, mahātala, pātāla and naraka below.
The scholar Deborah Soifer describes the development of the concept of lokas as follows:
The concept of a loka or lokas develops in the Vedic literature. Influenced by the special connotations that a word for space might have for a nomadic people, loka in the Veda did not simply mean place or world, but had a positive valuation: it was a place or position of religious or psychological interest with a special value of function of its own.
Hence, inherent in the 'loka' concept in the earliest literature was a double aspect; that is, coexistent with spatiality was a religious or soteriological meaning, which could exist independent of a spatial notion, an 'immaterial' significance. The most common cosmological conception of lokas in the Veda was that of the trailokya or triple world: three worlds consisting of earth, atmosphere or sky, and heaven, making up the universe."
|#||Planetary system name|
In early Buddhism, based upon the Pali Canon and related Agamas, there are four distinct worlds: There is the Kama Loka, or world of sensuality, in which humans, animals, and some devas reside, Rupa-Loka, or the world of refined material existence, in which certain beings mastering specific meditative attainments reside, and Arupa Loka, or the immaterial, formless world, in which beings to master formless meditative attainments reside. Arahants, who have attained the highest goal of Nibbana (or, Nirvana), have unbound themselves from individual (limited) existence in any form, in any realm, and cannot be found here, there, or in between, i.e., they are found in no Loka whatsoever.
In the Tibetan and Tantric schools, "Six Lokas" refers to a Bönpo and Nyingmapa spiritual practice or discipline that works with chakras and the six dimensions or classes of beings in the Bhavachakra. And in Buddhist Cosmology Kama-Loka, Rupa-Loka, Arupa-Loka has interpreted.
The concept of Lokas was adopted by Theosophy, and can be found in the writings of Blavatsky and G. de Purucker. There is also reference to kamaloka (world of desires) as a sort of astral plane or temporary after-life state, according to the teachings of Blavatsky, Leadbeater, and Steiner.
The Qur'an frequently mentions the existence of seven samaawat (سماوات), plural of samaa'a (سماء), which is customarily translated as 'heaven'. The word is cognate to Hebrew shamayim (שמים). Some of the verses in which Qur'an mentions seven samaawat, are [Quran 41:12 (Yusuf Ali)], [Quran 65:12 (Yusuf Ali)], [Quran 71:15 (Yusuf Ali)].
There are two interpretations of using the number "seven". One viewpoint is that the number "seven" here simply means "many" and is not to be taken literally (the number 7 is often used to imply that in the Arabic language). But many other commentators use the number 7 literally.
One interpretation of "heavens" is that all the stars and galaxies (including the Milky Way) are all part of the "first heaven", and "beyond that six still bigger worlds are there," which have yet to be discovered by scientists.
In other sources, the concept is presented in metaphorical terms. Each of the seven heavens is depicted as being composed of a different material, and Islamic prophets are resident in each. The first heaven is depicted as being made of silver and is the home of Adam and Eve, as well as the angels of each star. The second heaven is depicted as being made of gold and is the home of John the Baptist and Jesus. The third heaven is depicted as being made of pearls or other dazzling stones; Joseph and Azraelare resident there. The fourth heaven is depicted as being made of white gold; Enoch and the Angel of Tears resides there. The fifth heaven is depicted as being made of silver; Aaron and the Avenging Angel hold court over this heaven. The sixth heaven is composed of garnets and rubies; Moses can be found here. The seventh heaven, which borrows some concepts from its Jewish counterpart, is depicted as being composed of divine light incomprehensible to the mortal man. Abraham is a resident of the seventh heaven. According to some hadiths, the highest level of Jannah is firdaws, and Sidrat al-Muntaha, a Lote tree, marks the end of the seventh heaven.