Regarding our final destination, a devotee wrote:
“I believe that everyone goes to their awarded destination at the time of death. If you are sincerely following Jesus, you will go where Jesus is, if you are sincerely following Mohammed, you will go to where Mohammed is, etc. If your mind is absorbed in your pet dog or cat at the time of death, then you can also attain that state and associate with them on a similar level.
When Mohammed ascended to the highest region of heaven (Brahmaloka), he saw Jesus at one of the lower levels; I believe it was Jana- or Maharloka. Anyway, followers of these prophets will go to whatever heavenly planet the prophet is situated on, and they will then be further instructed on spiritual truths and the glories of Lord Narayana. Thus situated, they can make further spiritual progress and attain Vaikuntha to worship the Lord in reverence and majesty. Sometimes the the denizens of the higher planetary systems are able to witness Lord Krsna’s pastimes when He appears on earth, and they then become attracted to worship Him and attain Krsnaloka.”
Bhakti Ananda Goswami’s Response
Unfortunately many Vaishnavas have been influenced by the confused speculations of modern esotericists, like those doctrines regarding ‘heaven’ taught by Theosophists, and in the related New Age Movement. Thus the related erroneous teachings of Gnosticism and the equally erroneous pseudo-Jewish and pseudo-Christian teachings of Mohammedanism have pervaded the thought of many devotees when it comes to their misunderstanding of ‘heaven’ in the authentic Judeo-Christian Tradition.
In authentic Judaism and Catholic Apostolic Christianity, there is an absolute distinction between : 1) the planets of the material cosmos, 2) the self-effulgent Heaven where the Heavenly Jerusalem (City of God) is, and 3) the Garden of Paradise where the Hora / Chorus or Circle Dance of Divine Love, the Rasa Dance of God the Choreagos and Choruales is!
1) The Planetary Hosts as Agents of God, and Their Celestial or Cosmic Planets
Mazal tov! Have you ever heard this common Jewish greeting? It is Hebrew, and is usually* translated as ‘good planetary influences.’ It reflects the ancient Jewish belief that God blesses and regulates His creation through His intermediaries, the planetary ‘Hosts’ or ‘Angels.’ After all, the Jewish Deity of the Exodus is called the ‘Lord of Hosts’ and is associated with the Semitic Elohim ‘gods’ and sacred time keeping, including the planet-related seven-day week. Most Christians are surprised to learn that observant or ‘Orthodox’ Jews believe in reincarnation and astrology, two ‘karma’ related ideas which are usually associated in the Christian mind with Hinduism or Buddhism. Needless to say, in Jewish thought, reincarnation and astrology remain only as an integral part of Jewish Monotheism, far removed from the gross material polytheism, impersonalism and atheism which characterizes some of modern Hindu and Buddhist thought. Since these ‘karma’ related ideas have a very ancient history in both exoteric Biblical and esoteric Mystical Judaism, it has long been my opinion that the presence of such ideas in Judaism can give us an insight into ancient proto-Hindu and Buddhist Monotheistic and Henotheistic Bhakti Traditions. Since the Bhakti (Personalistic Devotional ‘Love’) Traditions of India and Asia are, and always have been, the dominant religions of the East, a study of Bhakti-related doctrines and practices in Judaism and early Catholicism is vitally important for our present interfaith dialogue and understanding.
* Page 630, “THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF WORLD RELIGIONS”, 1997, the Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York.
The Holy Name of the Jews’ and Catholics’ Deity Eli-Yahu Tzbaoth as El Elyon “God most High” or “The Lord of Hosts” is analogous to Sri Krishna’s Name Deva Deva or the fact that He is the supreme Sura of the Sura-gana. Sri Krishna is Hari of the Hari-jana, or the aryans, just as the Jewish Deity is ELI of the elohima. In fact HARI and ELI are the same Deity historically and theologically, which is why Judeo-Catholic Angelogy and related astrology may be studied comparatively with Vaishnava devic cosmo-genesis and astrology. These Judeo-Catholic Traditions are also connected to Afro-Egyptian and European forms of Heliopolitan Monotheism. So, for those unprejudiced persons who are able to delve deeply into Judeo-Catholic and Platonic macro-cosmic and micro-cosmic Traditions, there is a wealth of Vaishnava connections to be studied with regard to the Planets and their Regents, the Planetary Devas or ‘Hosts’ and lowest-level Cosmic ‘Angels.’
2) The Heavenly Jerusalem
However, there are many ranks of angels (agents or messengers of GOD) in the Judeo-Catholic Tradition, and not just the celestial region of the Planets and their Planetary Angels or Regents to be considered. Beyond the celestial cosmos or star-studded dark sky of the Planets, is the self-effulgent Heaven where God reigns as Basileos Basileos. This is the Greek Jewish Septuagint Era and Christian New Testament Greek Name of God as the sacred “King of Kings.” Basileos Basileos is cognate with Sri Krishna’s Name ‘Vasudeva of the Vasudevas’. There are even Bactrian Era Indian Coins that show that Vasudeva was translated as Bazodeo in Bactrian Greek (see the Stater of Vasudeva). The Heavenly Jerusalem of Basileos Basileos is the transcendent spiritual realm where God is primarily worshiped and served eternally in the loving moods or awe, reverence and servitude. There is also a tradition that when God descends to Earth in Glory, He brings His glorious majestic Retinue and Abode with Him. Thus there are stories in various Eastern and Western Bhakti traditions about the descent of God as the King of Kings who restores the Earth and brings a golden age of peace and prosperity with Him. ‘The king makes the age.’ The Sacred Rex or Regent King of the Western traditions is the same as the concept of the Raja in the East. A king’s reign is his rajya. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the Queen of all the Heavens is called REGINA or BASILEA, which are names cognate with RAJANI and VASUDEVI. Thus Ram Rajya or the ideal of the deathless realm of perfect dharma, restored by God’s glorious or majestic descent, pervades both the traditions of Eastern and Western Devotional Monotheism. The stories of God’s rule in “glory” on Earth reflect the doctrine of His eternal rule in the transcendent self-effulgent Spiritual Sky, where nothing is lit by the sun or lesser lights, because the Lord Himself is the Light thereof (Bible New Testament Book of Revelations, Chapter 22)! See the many references to God as the source of Light in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Jewish Greek Septuagint and the Greek New Testament. In fact, the “light” of God in Greek is PHO, PHOS, which is cognate with Sri Krishna’s Sanskrit Light BHA or BHAS Names!
When Jews pray “Next year in Jerusalem”, and hope for the Lord’s Messianic descent to redeem the Earth, and when Christians pray for the return of Christ and His ‘Christendom’ descent of the Heavenly Jerusalem, it is related to Vaishnavas praying for the coming of Their Lord as Kalki Avatara, or the Reign of Rama (the deathless Ram Rajya) to the sin-weary Earth. As in Heaven, so below, the desire of the repentant and pious is for the reign of God in every heart and home. For more on the worship of Purusha (Polieus in Greek, Pharoah in Egyptian) as the empowered Rex / Raja or Basileos / Vasudeva anointed king, see my writings on the sacramental social order of Purusha Sukta-based theocentric city-states:
3) Beyond the Great Beyond, in the Heaven-of-heavens Garden of Paradise, in Godhead’s Dance of Divine Love
In Judaism and Catholicism, beyond the dark Celestial Cosmos of the Planets and their Regents, and beyond God’s Realm of Majesty in the bright Heaven of the Spiritual Sky, is the “Heavenly of the Heavenlies” where God dwells among His consecrated virgins and those devoted to Him in Bridal Mysticism and other intimate flavors of Divine Love! In this Supreme Abode is the Garden of Paradise, where the sacred Jewish Hora or Catholic Chorus Dance is eternally performed by God and His Beloved. There God is the ever new Youthful Beauty and Divine Lover of Shekinah / Shakti, and the souls devoted to Him in the mystical mood of Her PERFECT YES. There is every evidence that this Bridal Mysticism Tradition in Judaism and Catholicism is related to the ‘Platonic’ worship of Eli-Yahu as Helios Meghistos Kouros on the Sacred Isle of Rhodes in the Eastern Mediterranean. In the Judeo-Catholic Biblical Book the “Song of Songs,” God as the Supreme Lover and Shekinah as His Feminine Beloved are even referred to with the Rhodian-related Hebrew reference words derived from DODA. We can confirm the relationship between Kouros (Krishna) as Rodos and His Beloved Roda on Rhodes, with the Jewish Doda of the “Song of Songs,” by the fact that the Rodanim of Rhodes are also called Dodanim in the Hebrew Bible. Jewish scholars have long speculated on the possible relationship of their own “Bridal Mysticism” to some other hierogamos divine love mystical tradition in the ancient Mediterranean. I have now positively identified that Tradition as the Hora / Chorus Dance centered worship of Rhoda-Shekinah (Radha-Shakti) and Helios Meghistos Kouros (Krishna) on Rhodes, the ancient regional locus of Afro-Egyptian, Semitic and European Heliopolitan Devotional Monotheism.
Significantly, while Jesus Christ was being crucified, He told the repentant devotee next to Him, “This day you will be with Me in Paradise”! He did not say “in the Good Planets” or in the “City of God Heavenly Jerusalem.” He declared unequivocally “in Paradise.”
On Rhodes and throughout the region, Eli-Yahu / Heli-Us / Heru-Asu was worshiped in two co-eternal Kouros Juvenalis (Yuvana / Youthful) or ‘Lover of the soul’ Forms. His Second Person (Asu Theos / Vasudeva, Bal or Dio Nysos / Deva Nyasa) was both the initiating Master of His Mysteries, and His Alter-Form for His variegated Pastimes of Divine Love. It is this Second Person of the Eli-Yahu Triune Godhead, Who Christ’s Apostles taught that Jesus Christ was / is. Only if Jesus was the Second Person of the Godhead, the Hierophant and Lord of the Sacred Chorus Dance, could He directly bless anyone to meet Him there in Paradise! Thus we see that in various schools of Vaishnavism, Lord Baladeva also has His Rasa Lila! The Third Person of this Trinity is Paramatma or the Holy Spirit. It is now wrongly claimed by some that the ancient Jews had no concept of this Trinity. However, the fact that they did can be seen in the many Biblical references to God’s “Spirit,” as when King David prays “take not your spirit from me.” In fact there is a related Bridal Mysticism tradition in Judaism of all finite spirit-sparks being the children of God and His feminine Shekinah! Thus we can see that the Jews and other Proto-Catholic Heliopolitan Monotheists of the region worshiped God as the Triune Transcendent ‘Father,’ Mediating descending Incarnating Messiah and Immanent Holy Spirit. In this Tradition, the Feminine Shekinah (Receiving Energy or Shakti of God) is both the Mother of all beings and pervasive as the spiritual sparks or finite ‘souls’ of all beings. Thus She is the Origin of the ‘HEVE or JIVA Shakti! “Eve” in Hebrew, and “Jiva” in Sanskrit both mean “living” or “to live,” and are used in the feminine mode to mean the receiving ‘self’ in relationship to Purusha, the masculine giver Godhead. It is the Second Person of this Tradition of the Triune giving Adi Purusha, Who is the one eternal Savior. So when Catholic consecrated virgins meditate on entering the sacred Chorus Dance in the Garden of Paradise in the highest Heaven of the Heavenlies, it is not to dance as ‘bridesmaids’ with God the Father, but to dance with Jesus Christ, the Initiating Hierophant and Savior, Who is the Second Person of the Godhead, or ‘God the Son’ in His eternal youthful Form of Kouros Bal-Asu / Bal-Yahu Baladeva.
One may argue that according to Gaudiya Vaishnava Siddhanta, Sri Baladeva’s Rasa Dance with the Gopis is different from that of Sri Krishna’s. Yes, according to Gaudiya Tradition there is a difference, but please remember that Sri Baladeva is also non-different from Sri Krishna, and that He is the Master of all of the Mysteries of Sri Sri Radha Krishna. Krishna’s variegated Purusha Forms for lila are all manifest through, with, in and by Lord Baladeva, and when He dances with the Gopis, they are all completely satisfied! Furthermore, there is no question of ever getting the mercy of Sri Sri Radha Krishna without the mercy of Lord Baladeva, Who is the sole Protector and Savior of all devotees, and the sole Master and Initiator into the highest “Bridal Mysticism” Mysteries of the Garden of Paradise. The Bucolic Boukolion site of the Hierogamos Mysteries of God is called Paradise (English from the Biblical Greek) and PARDES in Biblical Hebrew, and these words are cognate with PARADESHA in Sanskrit. ‘Bucolic’ (English from Greek), meaning a pastoral cow-paradise, clearly refers to the Lord’s pastoral home called GOKULA! Compare the highest paradise of the Adi Buddha Amitabha (HRIH Amida) in Pure Land Buddhism, which is called GOKURAKU!
To enter the Platonic Bucolic Paradise where Kouros and His Hierophant Dionysos herd Their sacred white cows and lead Their Chorus Circle KYKLOS / CHAKRA Dance with the Kouroi cow-herd boys and Korae cow-herd girls, one must first accept the salvation offered by Dionysos, the one initiating Hierophant, Who is in Judeo-Catholicism Lord Bal-Yahu or Yahu-Shua (Jesus) Christ. As it is said in the Gaudiya Tradition, one cannot get the mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Sri Sri Radha-Krishna), without first getting the saving mercy of Sri Nityananda Balarama! The Jewish parallel would be that one cannot enter into the highest Mysteries of Father God and His Beloved Shekinah without the redemption of the Messiah. All Orthodox Jewish Rabbis are types of the One Divine Messiah, Who redeems His people. Like Vaishnava Gurus, they also intercede for the sins of their disciples / people and purify them for intimate service to God. Like matchmakers, the traditional Rabbis of Orthodox Judaism try to reunite God with the separated spiritual “sparks” or children of the Shekinah, who have ‘fallen’ into the material realm of birth, death, disease and old age. To even see a picture of a saintly rabbi is considered purifying to an Orthodox Jew, and can reunite the separated soul spark to God.
To Christians, Jesus Christ has been revealed as the Second Person of the Trinity, and the One Master and Hierophant (High Priest), Who is the Initiating Lord of the Dance of Divine Love in the Transcendental Garden of Paradise. In Catholicism His tradition has been continued in various Rites of diksha / disciplic initiation by His Apostles and Saints. For sincere Jewish devotees of the Lord, who have not received the Christian Revelation of Jesus, their salvation and entrance into the Mysteries is through their Rabbi (initiating Guru), who is the One Transcendental Messiah-Savior’s personal revelation to them! Thus in Vaishnavism, as in Judaism and Catholicism, the ultimate and transcendent One Redeemer and supreme Spiritual Master is revealed to each devotee through his proximate Guru and Guru Varga tradition. In all three Traditions, Vaishnavism, Judaism and Catholicism, there is no possibility of humans getting the mercy of Father God or Mother Shakti / Shekinah, without first getting Their Mercy through the Person of Their Incarnate Spiritual Master and Redeemer. Lord Baladeva (Bal-Yahu) revealed as Jesus Christ, or one’s Rabbi or Guru, or Saving Saint, is thus the fount of Godhead’s and Shakti’s mercy in this world. He Alone, the Second Person of the Trinity, can deliver one from the miseries of the Saha World, and grant one entrance into the eternal Dance of Divine Love, which is beyond the dark starry cosmos and the self-effulgent Heavenly City of God, in the Singularly Transcendent Garden of Paradise!
For more on the History of Caroling and the Rasa Dance of Paradise in World Bhakti Traditions, see:
May we all surrender to The One Redeemer’s merciful Love, and honor all of His Saintly Agents in this world and beyond!