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I do know that according to Upanishads, All the higher Lokas except Brahma Loka, are subjected to circumgyration/reparation (birth-rebirth).

  • From Chhandogya Upanishad 4.15.5:

    अथ यदु चैवास्मिञ्छव्यं कुर्वन्ति यदि च नार्चिषमेवाभिसंभवन्त्यर्चिषोऽहरह्न आपूर्यमाणपक्षमापूर्यमाणपक्षाद्यान्षडुदङ्ङेति मासाꣳस्तान्मासेभ्यः संवत्सरꣳ संवत्सरादादित्यमादित्याच्चन्द्रमसं चन्द्रमसो विद्युतं तत् पुरुषोऽमानवः स एनान्ब्रह्म गमयत्येष देवपथो ब्रह्मपथ एतेन प्रतिपद्यमाना इमं मानवमावर्तं नावर्तन्ते नावर्तन्ते ॥ ४.१५.५॥

    'Now, as for such persons, whether the cremation rites are performed or not, they go to light; from light to the day; from the day to the bright fortnight; from the bright fortnight to those six months during which (the sun) rises towards the north; from the months to the year; from the year to the sun; from the sun to the moon; from the moon to the lightning. (From the region of Brahman) a person, who is other than human, (comes and) causes them existing there, to realize Brahman. This is the path of the gods and the path to Brahman. Those who go by this path do not return to this human whirlpool - yes, they do not return.'

  • From Prashna Upanishad 5.5:

    यः पुनरेतं त्रिमात्रेणोमित्येतेनैवाक्षरेण परं पुरुषमभि- ध्यायीत स तेजसि सूर्ये सम्पन्नः । यथा पादोदरस्त्वचा विनिर्भुच्यत एवं ह वै स पाप्मना विनिर्भुक्तः स सामभिरुन्नीयते ब्रह्मलोकं स एतस्माज्जीवघनात् परात्परं पुरुशयं पुरुषमीक्षते । तदेतौ श्लोकौ भवतः ॥

    Again, any one who meditates on the supreme Purusha with the help of this very syllable Om, as possessed of three letters, becomes unified in the Sun, consisting of light. As a snake becomes freed from its Slough, exactly in a similar way, he becomes freed from sin, and he is lifted up to the world of Brahma (Hiranyagarbha) by the Sama mantras. From this total mass of creatures (that Hiranyagarbha is) he sees the supreme Purusha that penetrates every being and is higher than the higher One (viz. Hiranyagarbha). Bearing on this, there occur two verses:

  • From Mundaka Upanishad 2.3.6:

    वेदान्तविज्ञानसुनिश्चितार्थाः संन्यासयोगाद् यतयः शुद्धसत्त्वाः ।
    ते ब्रह्मलोकेषु परान्तकाले परामृताः परिमुच्यन्ति सर्वे ॥ ६॥

    Those to whom the entity presented by the Vedantic knowledge has become fully ascertained, who are assiduous and have become pure in mind through the Yoga of monasticism - all of them, at the supreme moment of final departure, become identified with the supreme Immortality in the worlds that are Brahman, and they become freed on every side.

Also, B͟r͟a͟h͟m͟a͟ ͟S͟u͟t͟r͟a͟ verses 3.3.26 to 3.3.32 supports that those who goes through Archi or Devayana marga:

  • Either first attain Brahmaloka and then attain Brahman
  • Or directly attain Brahman

More precisely, Brahma Sutra verses starting from 4.3.5, gradually ends with conclusion:

अनावृत्तिः शब्दादनावृत्तिः शब्दात् ।।4.4.22।।

There is no return for the released souls on the strength of the Upanishadic declaration; there is no return for the released souls on the strength of the Upanishadic declaration.

Adi Shankaracharya commentary on this verse quoted from:

If the powers of the released souls are limited, then like all limited things they too will come to the end, and consequently the released souls will have to come back from Brahmaloka to this mortal world --says the opponent. The Sutra refutes such a contingency on scriptural authority. Those who go to Brahmaloka by the path of the gods do not return from there. "Going up by that way, one reaches immortality" (Chh. 8.6.6); "They no more return into this world" (Brih. 6.2.15).The repetition of the words "No return" etc. is to show that the book is finished.

The conclusion is that who attains the Brahma Loka attains Brahman sooner or later but doesn't fall back in to Samsara or birth-rebirth cycle.


BUT according to Srimad Bhagavad Gita, verse 8.16:

आब्रह्मभुवनाल्लोकाः पुनरावर्तिनोऽर्जुन
मामुपेत्य तु कौन्तेय पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते ॥ ८-१६॥

O Arjuna, all the worlds together with the world of Brahma are subject to return. But, O son of Kunti, there is no return after reaching Me.

Which creates conflicts with Upanishads and Brahma Sutra.

So, How do I interpret this verse?


Note:

The purpot from Vedabase says:

As persons on earth are elevated to higher planets, people on higher planets such as Brahmaloka, Candraloka and Indraloka fall down to earth. The practice of sacrifice called pañcāgni-vidyā, recommended in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, enables one to achieve Brahmaloka, but if, on Brahmaloka, one does not cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then he must return to earth.

Similar interpretation found from English commentary by Swami Shivananda:

Those devotees who practise Daharopasana (a kind of meditation on the mystic space in the heart) and other devotees who reach Brahmaloka through the path of the gods (Devayana) and attain gradual liberation (KramaMukti) will not return again to this world. But those who reach Brahmaloka through the practice of the Panchagni Vidya (a ritual) will enjoy life in Brahmaloka and come back to this world. All the worlds are subjected to return because they are limited or conditioned by time.

But As I mentioned (Chandogya Upanishad 4.15.5) first, Who goes through Archi/devayana marga, will never return, How did they interpret such that those who reaches to Brahma loka with the help of Panchagni Vidya, doesn't attain Brahman and falls/returns back to Samsara (birth-rebirth cycle)?


Sanskrit verses are quoted from Sanskrit Documents and English translation from Vedanta Spiritual Library

Also take a look at Want to know about Brahmaloka.

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A literal interpretation of the Gita 8.16 would be disastrous since it would contradict Sruti. We know from Manu Smriti that when there is any difference between Sruti and Smriti then Sruti will override any Smriti. It is thus necessary to harmonize Gita 8.16 with the Sruti texts. One way to harmonize it would be to say that Gita shloka is merely asking the spiritual aspirant not to stop at Brahmaloka and continue to do spiritual practice till he reaches Brahman.

On the final dissolution of the world of the conditioned Brahman, they attain, along with the lord of the world, what is higher than this conditioned Brahman, as is known on the strength of the Upanishadic declaration.

The idea conveyed is that when the time for the final dissolution of the world of the inferior Brahman is imminent, the aspirants who have acquired full realization there itself attain thereafter, along with Hiranygarbha, the ruler of that world, the supreme state of Vishnu which is absolutely pure. This kind of liberation by stages has to be admitted on the strength of the Upanshadic texts speaking of non-return etc, For we established earlier that it is incomprehensible that the supreme Brahman should be reached by any process of moving forward.

Brahma Sutra Bhasya IV.iii.10 of Sri Sankaracharya translated by Swami Gambhirananda

The aspirants who attain final realisation in Brahma Loka would attain the Supreme state of Vishnu. So there seems to me that there is a theoretical possibility of not attaining final realisation although that possibility is surely very small. Also one would have to do spiritual practices to attain final realisation in Brahma Loka. At least that is what I understand.

The difference between the Gita verse and the Upanishadic statement of non-return is the difference between theoretical possibility and actual practice. There is a theoretical possibility of return from Brahma Loka. In practice that possibility is close to zero.

  • In Chapther 11, Bishwarupa Darshana Yoga ,Srikrishna shows His Infinite form --One with the Brilliance and Energy of an Infinite Suns – b.sahu Dec 22 '16 at 21:04
  • There are many such statements in Gita to Qualify Srikrishna as the Creator , Sustainer and Destroyer of the Universe. If you believe in these , then it makes sense to believe that after realising Him (Srikrishna) , there is no rebirth. – b.sahu Dec 22 '16 at 21:17
  • After going brahma loka also we have to practice sadhana? – Rakesh Joshi Jul 6 '17 at 7:12
  • Yes. Brahma Loka is not the end of the road for those who want to attain the Advaita Moksha. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Jul 6 '17 at 11:41
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    But according to Brahma Sutra, no need to do any spiritual practice after once one goes to Brahma Loka, s/he will definitely attain Brahman. – Pandya Oct 8 '18 at 9:59

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