Life in Svargaloka

All glories to your service to Back to Godhead magazine! I love to read it from the first to the last word every time.

I especially appreciated your reply in the Letters section of the March/April 2014 issue entitled “One-on-One Spiritual Master.” It is very valuable advice. I think it is the need of the day that the new generations of devotees join ISKCON through Srila Prabhupada; it will be very auspicious for strengthening ISKCON.

I have a few questions.
Is there any type of varnasrama system in the Svargaloka planets of the demigods who manage universal administration (such as Indraloka)? If yes, then how do we explain the descriptions of one celestial personality enjoying with many beautiful women in the gardens? What is the role of women in that system? Some women are mentioned as wives of demigods, but there are others, like society girls, who seem to be there for the entertainment of the male section.

If there is no varnasrama, then it seems even more difficult to have any regulative principles in their society. Does the law of karma work on demigods?

In Indraloka, it is said that there are thirty-three million demigods and demons. How do these demons contribute in the universal administration? What is their role in Indraloka (other than competing with demigods)?
 – Govindanandini Devi Dasi
    New Jersey

Our reply: We’ll answer according to our general understanding of the heavenly planets, although there may be some exceptions to these points.

Although Indra can be considered a king, and his guru, Brhaspati, a brahmana, there is no varnasrama system in Svargaloka. Varnasrama is meant for human beings on earth, from which one goes up or down after death. Human beings are supposed try to elevate themselves, especially to the platform of liberation, and varnasrama is Krishna’s system for organizing human society to do that.

To understand Svargaloka, keep in mind that it is the place where one enjoys the results of one’s good karma. That’s its primary purpose, and it’s especially the goal of followers of the karma-kanda sections of the Vedas. Everyone there is enjoying, and sexual enjoyment is prominent (for both men and women, naturally). The society girls must also be enjoying, even though from our perspective it might seem that they are being exploited.

The four regulative principles followed by members of ISKCON are for human beings to make spiritual progress, which is not the primary purpose of Svargaloka. In the heavenly planets, the residents are allowed to enjoy things like sex and intoxication as the results of their good karma accumulated on earth. Again, it’s the place for enjoying, not for undergoing tapasya, or austerity for spiritual elevation. When the results of the Svargaloka residents’ good karma run out, they return to earth. Strict followers of the karma-kanda path think that this is the goal of life: to accumulate punya (good karma) on earth and then enjoy in heaven. They desire to do this eternally, in a continuous cycle, and have no thought of liberation from repeated birth and death.

Generally the demigods don’t incur new karma but are only working off (through enjoyment) the results of their old (good) karma. Of course, we never work off all of our karma, which traces back many lifetimes. So when they return to earth, they still have good and bad karmic results to suffer and enjoy.

Ordinarily, there are no demons in Indraloka, except in times such as when Bali Maharaja conquered it. The number thirty-three million refers to administrative demigods who perform various functions all over the universe, not just in Indraloka.

One final note to help clarify things: The heavenly planets include both “the staff” and “visitors.” It’s a playground, with Indra (and probably the society girls) being part of the staff that provides for the enjoyment of the visitors.

Solving Problems by Chanting

Can chanting help in reconciling with my ex-husband? I am chanting sixteen rounds on my beads almost every day. I understand that chanting helps in purifying the soul, the heart, and the mind. Is it possible that chanting can help in solving emotional problems? I have been divorced for one year, and I am thinking of reconciling with my ex-husband. I am not chanting with the hope of expecting something in return.
 – Yashoda
   Via the Internet

Our reply: As you undoubtedly know, the Hare Krishna maha-mantra you are chanting is a prayer in which the chanter is asking, “O Lord, or energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service.” If your motive in chanting is not to get something from Krishna but to serve Him, He will do whatever is best to help you reach that goal. He will know whether reuniting with your ex-husband will be spiritually helpful or not, and He will arrange things in the way that will be most spiritually beneficial.

There’s no definitive answer to your question. Krishna will judge your needs and desires. If your true desire is to be united with your exhusband even if it hurts your spiritual life, Krishna may say, “Okay, this person is not serious about devotional service; I’ll let her reunite with her husband and stay in illusion if that’s what she really wants.”

Krishna is a person, and being supremely intelligent, He can take many variables into consideration. The best advice we can give is to chant sincerely and let Krishna decide what is best for you, whatever that may be.