And God said …
And God said, let there be Light; and there was Light.
And this is the True Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. And Light is the life of men.
In memorable words like these all the scriptures describe the genesis or creation of the world and of all that is in the world. Rays of Light vibrating with the Music of Life, emanating from the formless Absolute Existence came to manifest the world in its variegated colours in countless shapes and forms.
As above, so below. The Spirit and Power of God manifested in the vibrating Holy Light, pervades all the four grand divisions of universe:
- Sach Khand – the abode of Truth or the changeless permanence in its pristine purity, with the material cause, the mind, yet hidden and involved therein;
- the Brahmand – or the egg of Brahman, the second grand division of the universe brought into being by the Universal Mind of elemental essence by the will of the Supreme Being;
- and the next, And – or the third grand division, called the astral world with mind-stuff in its subtle state;
- and lastly, Pind – or the physical world, the fourth grand division, the handiwork of the gross mind.
During our sojourn on the earth-plane, we work out our destiny or fate as planned with great precision and exactitude by what is called Pralabdh Karmas which determine in broad outline the general framework marking the duration and course of life in each case.
This plane is a big counting house or a clearing office, so to say, in which each one has to square up his or her accounts, coming down the ages, and in doing so, we willy-nilly open fresh accounts and raise credits and debits to be paid off and cleared in the distant future, and no one knows how and when and in what form and in what manner. Thus, while reaping the harvest sown in the past, we prepare the ground for fresh sowing, in season and out of season, with seeds good, bad, or indifferent; and all this we do promiscuously, prompted by mind and the senses.
The sages call the earth-plane as karma kshetra or the field of actions where sowing and harvesting automatically go on all the time, under the superintendence, direction and control of Dharam Rai, the king of shadows who measures and judges each thought, word and deed, however trivial and insignificant it may appear to be, rightly and justly and administers justice to each at the end of one’s life-span.
Nanak calls this region Dharam Khand, for each pilgrim-soul coming to this region has to realise in fullness, the existence of the Law of Retribution and Requital, which governs all alike with no favours and no exceptions. Each is weighed with the weight of his own acts and deeds and learns, sometime with hard blows, and heavy knocks, the grand lesson of Brahman, the lord of the three realms:
- the gross or physical,
- subtle or astral and
- causal or instrumental –
Pind, And and Brahmand; all of which are the mind-zones of the Universal Mind with numberless planes and sub-planes including inter alia various hells and heavens with intermediate stages as one may create by one’s senses, sensibilities and susceptibilities, likes and dislikes, loves and hatreds, prides and prejudices, born of desires of one kind or the other.
Each one thus builds his own habitat and not only here but also in the hereafter; the astral and mental worlds where one stores up his impressions gathered from time to time, in different incarnations from the beginning of time. All these linger in the soul in the form of general latencies in the folds of the karmic body; and a part of them at the time of rebirth prepares an etheric body in advance of the coarse, dense body. Thus 'destiny is cast into the mould before the physical vesture is prepared,' to work out the causes involved therein.
Similarly, at the time of death the departing soul carries with it all the life-impressions, deeply engraved on the tablet of the mind and the ruling passions of the entire lifetime, now singled out in blazing colours which determine the course of its future destination in the astral and/or mental world of spirits. Stripped of the physical mantle, each soul displays its subtle individuality, as it were, in the light of the noonday sun.
Men may deceive themselves here for any length of time, by wearing pious looks and dressing in attractive clothes. They may for the time being succeed in deceiving others; but none can play the hypocrite in the astral world where one is denuded of the solid outer covering, the gross garment of the flesh:
Oh Nanak! it is there that the Divine Mystery is finally revealed. The perfect are they who worship perfection, and the imperfect are perfected over there; such, as dying come to be born again are yet imperfect.
The astral world is the world of spirits or disembodied souls – souls having cast off the physical body and yet enfolded in the subtle and mental coverings. It is also called Pitri Lok, the place of the Pitris or manes of the deified souls of the departed ancestors. Here the souls are imprisoned in the seven-shelled encasement of the astral world, drawing subtle material from each of the seven sub-planes existing therein. It is here that they work out the causes which they set going on the earth-plane, by undergoing certain purificatory processes in the Divine Crucible so as to make them worthy of the land of the shining ones after the dross is burnt off.