Heaven and Hell are not geographical areas on the world map. Yet all scriptures mention the enjoyments of heaven and the sufferings of hell.
Since happiness and sorrow can only be experienced by the mind and the intellect, heaven and hell can only be termed as fields of experience.
We hear people describing a pleasurable experience as “Oh! I was in heaven!” and sorrowful experiences are talked of as , “Gosh! I really went through hell.” Your mental state when you encounter a conducive field to exhaust your desires is always pleasurable as “heaven” and your mind’s experience when faced with non conducive situations is always ‘hellish’. We often say “the world of the artists” or “the world of a scientist or a doctor”.
These “worlds” are called (Lokas ) in Hindu scriptures, and they describe mental and physical fields of experience. If forced to live the “world” of another ,one would be uncomfortable.
A doctor does not get transferred to a machine production factory nor an engineer to an operation theatre! So , how can nature err? The Geeta professes that the physical death is not an end or a zero. It is a point in the eternal march of evolution, and after death, according to One’s actions in the past, one goes to the “worlds” (Lokas)one deserves. That alone can explain the creative burst of a child genius like Mozart or Shankara!
“To whatever extent this world is real, to that same extent are other worlds real. Only this much can be said about heaven and hell without giving rise to arguments.” Says Raman Maharishi. He suggests that if the world is only as real as a dream, a mere projection,totally disappearing in deep sleep, then how real can the dream heaven or the dream hell be?
Prarthna Saran, President Chinmaya Mission New Delhi.