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From the Transcendence, which is called Kṛṣṇaloka, there emanates a glowing effulgence that resembles the tail of a comet. This glowing effulgence is unlimited, immeasurable, and unfathomable. Within this effulgence there are innumerable glowing planets, each of them self-luminous. Somewhere, a limited part of that glowing effulgence is covered by material energy, just as a part of the sky is covered by a cloud. Within this material energy there are innumerable universes, in every universe there are innumerable material planets, and the earth is one of these planets. Thus we can understand what an insignificant part of the entire cosmos is this globe on which we live.
Kṛṣṇaloka, as above mentioned, is the residence of the Personality of Godhead, the original Transcendence. The glowing effulgence emanating from Kṛṣṇaloka is the personal glow of the Lord. The almighty Lord, being full of inconceivable energies, expands Himself in various forms and energies. There are forms from His energy as well as forms from His person. He has innumerable energies, and therefore He can do anything and everything as He desires, and these things take place immediately, with all perfection. His energies are like the heat and light that expand from a fire. The entire cosmic manifestation is nothing but an expansion of His energies; the energies are emanations from Him, and therefore the emanations are simultaneously one with and different from Him.
The Transcendence is compared to milk, and the emanations are compared to yogurt. Yogurt is nothing but milk, but at the same time it is different from milk. Yogurt is a milk preparation, but it cannot be used in place of milk. The Lord is also sometimes compared to a tree. The root of the tree is the cause of the trunk, branches, twigs, leaves, and fruits, yet the trunk is not the fruit, the fruit is not the leaf, nor is the leaf the root. When water is needed it has to be poured on the root, not on the leaves. Pouring water on the leaves serves no purpose, but pouring water on the root serves all purposes. This is the essence of the philosophy of spiritual culture.
Kṛṣṇaloka is also called Goloka Vṛndāvana. Beneath this Goloka are Hari-dhāma, Maheśa-dhāma, and Devī-dhāma. Hari (Viṣṇu, Nārāyaṇa) is the formal expansion of the Lord, Maheśa (Śiva) is the formal energetic expansion of the Lord, and Devī is the Lord's energetic expansion. The living entities are also energetic expansions of the Lord. There are two different kinds of living entities, called the liberated souls and the conditioned souls.
The planets within the glowing effulgence are called Hari-dhāma. On these planets the predominating Deity is Hari, and the predominated deities are the liberated souls. The features of the liberated souls and those of Hari are almost the same, yet Hari is predominator and the liberated souls are predominated. The innumerable planets in Hari-dhāma are predominated by different formal expansions of the Lord, and all of them have different names.
The universes within the material energy are called Devī-dhāma, and within Devī-dhāma the predominating Deity is Viṣṇu, who is assisted by Brahmā and Śiva. Devī-dhāma is controlled by three modes, namely goodness, passion, and ignorance. Viṣṇu is the incarnation of goodness, Brahmā of passion, and Śiva of ignorance. Brahmā creates, Viṣṇu maintains, and Śiva destroys the material creation. The material creation comes into being by the will of the Lord, and it is again annihilated by His will. But although the universes of the material energy are thus created and annihilated, the planets in Hari-dhāma are ever existent.
The conditioned living entities who wish to enjoy and not serve are given a chance within Devī-dhāma to seek liberation. Some of them enter Hari-dhāma, some of them enter Maheśa-dhāma, and some of them remain within Devī-dhāma. Maheśa-dhāma is the marginal place between Hari-dhāma and Devī-dhāma. The impersonalists who want to merge into the existence of the Transcendence are placed within Maheśa-dhāma. Those who want to remain within the planetary systems of the material universes do so on various planets. But those who want to go outside the material energy can enter Hari-dhāma and go either to the various planets there or directly to Kṛṣṇaloka.
The system of bhakti-yoga makes one eligible to enter Hari-dhāma, the system of jñāna-yoga makes one eligible to enter Maheśa-dhāma, and the system of karma-yoga obliges one to remain in Devī-dhāma and repeatedly be born and die, changing his material covering according to the standard of karma he performs.