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What is heaven?

Updated: Oct 16, 2022

Does heaven exist? If it does, is it really a ‘heavenly’ place? Is everything good about heaven?

The word heaven is prevalent in all languages and cultures. Seventh heaven, heavenly abode, paradise, are some common words and phrases in use. The word used in Sanskrit to denote heaven is ‘swarga’.

Who are the denizens of heaven? Angels, gods and fairies are some of its well-known inhabitants. Who are the gods of heaven? Are they the same as the Supreme Creator, the master of the infinite cosmos? No, far from it. The gods of heaven are more mundane. Indra, Varun and Kuber are some names mentioned in Indian scriptures, of whom Indra is the king of heaven.

‘Indra’ stands for a position, not a person. It is a seat of power, like the President of the country. People rotate through this powerful position from time to time.

The powers of Indra are enormous, and so is his opulence. It is difficult to describe his powers and grandeur because all the examples that we can think of will fall flat. Think of the richest man on earth at present, who is worth a few hundred billion dollars, and his mansions, cars and lifestyle. Even this is no comparison. In these politically correct times, the richest people take great care not to flaunt their wealth in fear of attracting attention. Think of the emperors of yore, with their outlandish palaces, ornaments and lifestyles. Those gentlemen knew how to put on a magnificent show, they were not afraid of flaunting wealth. Yet, compared to Indra they would be little better than beggars. Suffices to say, the splendour of Indra is, literally, out of the world.

An art portraying Indra

What about the other folks of heaven? Who are the courtiers of Indra? They are devatas (deities, gods, demi-gods, celestial beings... have your pick). They are not ordinary either. What is special about these people? Let us explore the classical descriptions about them. Their bodies are superhuman. When they walk, they float; their feet don’t touch the ground like in our case. Their bodies are always fresh and radiant. They don’t emit sweat, odour and all the other awful excretory products that we do. Their eyelids don’t blink as ours do. Their bodies don’t cast shadows and don’t attract filth. They are certainly not afflicted by colds, coughs, fever, diabetes and hypertension!

So much for their bodies. What about their lifestyles? They enjoy grand lives up there. Suppose you have a desire for a specific candy or chocolate. What do you have to do to get it? You will have to go to the market or order it online, and only then will you get it. It requires time, doesn’t it? If the richest man on earth has