Gods, Lokas and the concept of Oneness in Advaita Vedanta

Sri Sunil perceived a contradiction in Advaita Vedanta,
and posted a message on the Advaitin Yahoo group.
He formulated this question:

"If Self is Brahman and if all is one, there is only Brahman and
everything else is Maya. Why then if we are able to transcend all
the Gunas, including Sattwic Gunas, we are able to find a place
amongst the "heavenly denizens". Does it mean another level of
consciousness, maybe at a different frequency, exists, and is that
the reason we talk of different Lokas? Does this not go against the
philosophy of Advaitism? I mean if there are different Lokas
inhabited by celestials, then where does the oneness principle go?"

Here is an elaborated attempted answer:

The three gunas are part of the illusion created
by the Maya of Shakti. In order to understand the
relationship between the three gunas and the different
Lokas, and also their relationship to consciousness,
it is necessary to know something about Shakti.

Maya means magic. Maya is the magical power of Shakti.
Many Western scholars translate the word Maya into the
English word 'illusion', 'the whole universe being
an illusion', but really Maya in Sanskrit means magic,
the power to create illusion, not the illusion itself.

The Monier Williams Sanskrit dictionary gives the
following English translation:

Maya (as a feminine noun) = Art, wisdom, extraordinary or
supernatural power (only in the earlier Sanskrit language),
illusion, unreality, deception, fraud, trick, sorcery, witchcraft,

All these English meanings seem relatively accurate, and
to condense them into one useful word... 'magic' or 'magical
power' is perhaps preferred?

Monier Williams indicates that Maya (when masculine-feminine-
neuter or adjective) also means measuring, or creating illusion
(said particularly of Vishnu) and is derived from the verbal root
'Ma' which is the base of the first person pronoun in the
accusative case (me). These meanings are suggestive of
measuring by means of mathematical law. Shankara states
that Maya is eightfold, a concept which can be translated into
Western philosophical language as: The Law of Octaves.

The action and interaction of the three gunas, rajas, tamas,
sattva, can additionally be understood as The Law of Three.
The creation of the illusion of 'the me', is an attempt to
superimpose the accusative object upon the nominative subject,
mistaking the one for the other, which is the fundamental
illusion discussed in depth by Shankara in his Brahma Sutra

Combining these concepts: Maya is comprehensible as two
magical mathematical laws... of triads and octaves... in which
the illusion of the universe is produced and artfully entwined
with the deception of me as the Self.

Shakti is said to awake when Brahman sleeps, and conversely
when Brahman awakes then Shakti sleeps, and the two actually
are each other, although they do not appear ever to meet.
Shakti is usually regarded as a chimaera, and Brahman as the
only real. Advaita states: you are Brahman and Shakti is your
coeval companion. You can never divorce her. How can you
divorce yourself?

The Self never sleeps. Therefore the statement "when Brahman
sleeps, Shakti is awake and when Brahman is awake, Shakti
sleeps" requires subtle explanation. The explanation is that the
Brahman referred to is not an absolute. Brahman is not the same
as yourself, the Self, the Absolute.

It takes three things to produce a universe... energy,
awareness and mathematical law. Shakti is the energy,
Brahman is the awareness, and the manifestation is accomplished
through the enactment of two mathematical laws: (i) The Law of
Three, which is Prakriti. Prakriti is the arena of Primordial Nature
in which the warfare of the three gunas is played out, each
endlessly struggling for domination. (ii) The Law of Octaves is
the law governing the succession of manifestation, or the
succession of levels by which the universe is composed. Shakti
first creates an octave of successionary dimensions and then
enters into the octave at every level. Therefore, although you
may not realize it, you encounter her at every level. The octave
of levels that Shakti-Maya produces consists of the five subtle
elements of:

akasha (space = individual and universal mind)
vayu (air = prana, life, power)
tejas (fire = consciousness, light and the forms)
jala (water = nature)
prithivi (earth = the gross physical manifestation)

Beyond akasha-space there are three further higher levels
completing the octave, which are said to be beyond the range
of human comprehension. Sometimes these levels are
hinted at as being beyond space, or the other side of space.

Shankara refers to the octave in his
Bhagavad Gita Bhasya VII.4

"This Prakriti (primordial nature) thus described, is my
divine power of Maya, divided eightfold."

You, being Brahman, are awareness only and are timelessly
still. You never move. Shakti, being energy, is
responsible for all movement. Without her energy you
cannot move. When you become weary of being still,
never moving, you lament. Shakti hears your cry,
understands your request, and creates the universe and
everything and everyone in it. The universe is infinite response
to request, and I regret to have to inform you... You must
have requested it. The universe isn't going to go away until
you subsequently become thoroughly disinterested with it.
The disinterested witness is that awareness within us which
does not move, nor is attracted towards the universe, nor
ever becomes entangled in it.

Maya has produced the universe for you, as a Lila,
a drama, with yourself apparently playing a part in it,
even appearing to move, talk, gesticulate, love, desire,
and hate. It is a very very subtle and convincing illusion.
The part you are playing in the universe does not suspect
that it is in a complete illusion created by the magical
power of your own companion Shakti. Worse, the part you
are playing does not realize that he himself is a fictitious
character, a mere part in a play, a jiva. You may prefer to
believe you are at least an actor, or a director, or even the
god-like author of it. Being a mere part is not a very flattering
image. In fact most people cannot bear being a jiva, which
inevitably is only a minor part in the drama, a severely
limited nature. All this discomfort is because we have
identified with the part, a jiva, and do not realize that
'who we think they are' is actually non-existent.
It is as if Hamlet believes that he is a real person, and
no longer has any intimation that he is merely a part in
a play. How can Hamlet know that he is a part in a play?
He cannot, unless that is written into the script of the play?
Who then is the actor? The actor is your own spiritual self,
the buddhi. The parts in the play are all being played by
spirits. Your spiritual self lives in the higher intellect.
He is standing behind you, projecting you, projecting your
nature, in exactly the same manner that an actor projects
his part in a play. You ordinarily have no idea that he
is there. Hamlet does not realize that there is an actor located
behind him, projecting him.

How can a part in a drama, in the theatre of the universe,
realize that it is nothing more than a part in a drama?
You, the part, cannot know you are a part, only the audience
can. The audience in the theatre of the universe is the witness,
which in the language of Advaita is the Sakshin. In the entire
theatre only the audience, the witness, is real. There are two
witnesses, Sakshin and Purusha. Sakshin is the lower witness
and Purusha is the higher witness. Sakshin is located in the stalls
of the theatre of the universe and Purusha is high up in the upper
circle, looking down. The Sakshin observes the Law of Octaves,
and with the help of  citta, memory and understanding, sees that
it is all a mechanism, and completely unreal. Purusha looks down
and sees that everything is merely the action and interaction of
the three gunas, wrestling with each other in an arena of the
universe, entwining, like the three strands that compose a rope.
Purusha realizes that the three interacting gunas constitute Prakriti,
Nature. It is the Purusha who sees the Law of Three exactly as it
is, something not to be entangled in. Contrary to what Samkhya
Philosophy may teach, Purusha is never entangled in Prakriti,
never involved in the interaction of the gunas. Purusha has
location, but has no form and no power. Since location is related
to the subtle element space, causal power is related to the subtle
element air, and form is related to the subtle element of fire,
therefore it is concluded that Purusha is beyond consciousness
and fire, beyond action and air, but not beyond mind and space.
Therefore Purusha is not an absolute, although Purusha is as
near to the Absolute as someone in the world can approach, as
close as the mind can approach.

You are the witness inside the universe, and outside of the
universe... you are the Absolute. But contrarily, you, your pure
consciousness, the Atman, believe you are a nature, your own
nature, your character, your 'I', your 'me', and the theatre prompt
puts your words, your lines, into your mind and you speak them,
believing they are your own thoughts and words and actions.
As you are only in the universe as the witness, the invited audience,
how can anything be your own? By identifying with a jiva it is
the Atman that has become entangled with Prakriti, not Purusha.
It is your pure consciousness, looking out, that has identified with
a nature, a jiva, which is nothing more than an unreal theatrical
projection of the buddhi.   

The Law of Three is the three gunas. Brahma is the personification
of rajas guna, Shiva is the personification of tamas guna, and
Vishnu is the personification of sattva guna. In Western language
they represent the positive, the negative and the neutral. They
are commonly identified as Creator, Destroyer, Maintainer (or
alternatively: the Preserver). They each have their own Loka or

Brahma Loka is Heaven, a benevolent place where the positive
is believed to be the good, and where all support all. It is
subtle fire. You ascend to it by understanding alone. Siva Loka
is Hell, a malevolent place where the negative is believed
to be the good, and where the jivas smash each other into myriad
fragments, it is subtle earth, and you descend into it by your
attraction to the truth. It is the destination of the yogis.
Vishnu Loka is a Great Mass of Being, subtle water,
the Ocean into which everything real dissolves without trace
and is thereby preserved. There is a horizontal way to Vishnu Loka
which is actively followed by the bhogis who slowly accumulate
enjoyment. Enjoyment evolves being and your being is in reality
part of the Great Mass of Universal Being which is Vishnu Loka.
The action and interaction of the three gunas, the warfare between
the three great gods, is Prakriti. Prakriti is an endless irresolvable
melee, something that Purusha, the highest witness within you,
realizes is not something one should become entangled with.

If you find yourself located in, sojourning in, an inhabitant of,
any of the three Great Lokas, you will not be able to stay there
for ever. Everything is temporary. Eventually you have to leave
and take another birth. None of the Lokas is absolute. Some
advaitins state that Brahma Loka is a half-way house.

So now... to attempt to answer your question:

"Where does the oneness go?" It never goes anywhere,
it has never moved. If you seem to be moving
you can be sure you are engulfed in Shakti's illusion.
Being still, being perfectly still, is a sadhana recommended
for approaching Brahman, for approaching yourself.
The Self is stillness so how can you possibly approach it
other than being still?

The Loka with the heavenly denizens is Brahma Loka,
a golden world of heavenly light. O brave new world
that there are such people in it! It is part of the illusion.
You are still in the realm of the gunas and haven't
transcended them. The Parabrahman is the One Alone.
There are no others in the Parabrahman, no celestial beings
cohabiting with you as separate entities for you to socialize

Advaita teaches that consciousness is One, there are
no levels of consciousness. Consciousness is light,
Isvara's light, dancing in the brain, which reflects upon
the screen of the mind, producing the world, which
you find interesting. Light is associated with sattva, and
also with Isvara, Ishvara's light is consciousness which creates
the world. Even the Atman is a type of inner light ... all this
light, all this consciousness, indicates that you are still in the
realm of the gunas, and still in the illusion. Sattva is the guna
of light and consciousness. The Absolute is awareness
of awareness, and stands behind consciousness. When you
become aware of consciousness for what it is, you realize
that consciousness is a temporary condition, which will leave
you at death, when it will rejoin the universal consciousness.
It is a mistake to think that consciousness is your own, or
your own individual possession. Consciousness is not a
personal possession.

Nisargadatta states: "Consciousness is normally associated
with an individual. But it is not really the individual that has
consciousness, but it is the consciousness that assumes
innumerable forms." Consciousness produces the world,
including the suffering. Consciousness is merely a subtle
form of energy, and energy is indicative of Shakti, the creator
of the illusion. Consciousness merely illuminates the forms,
and if there are forms then you are still in the illusion,
because the Absolute, including Shakti, has no form.

You are not consciousness, nor anything within its contents.
It is difficult to accept that consciousness is part of the illusion.
The Atman identifies with a form within consciousness.
The form that the Atman identifies with is your nature,
the jiva. The Atman is being tricked by Isvara and Shakti.
Why? That is the ultimate mystery which perhaps can only be
resolved by knowledge and understanding of the error?

Maya Shakti is particularly associated with arousal
and manifestation of the Aham (I am) and the animation
of the buddhi (intellect) in man, in the sense of evoking
the illusion of the ego, and the formation of an image of
a natural self in the mind, which is merely a projection
of the intellect, and with which the pure consciousness,
the Atman,  so automatically identifies as itself.
Nisargadatta states: "Identity occurs only when there is
the `I am'. The Parabrahman is without identity. The concept
or thought `I am' is not there in the Parabrahman. Everyone
assumes a certain image of themselves, believing I am so
and so. The image is merely an intellectual concept about
oneself. When this is seen for what it is, and understood
to be the source of  one's actions, one becomes free of it
by seeing it as false."

But why the Shakti produces an illusion in front of our
consciousness knowing we will identify with it.... is an
interesting question. I do not know the answer, but I offer
an hypothesis that it is connected with the separation of the
Atman from Brahman. It is perhaps an attempt to remove
ignorance associated with the Atman? Shakti does this by
exposing the ignorance in the Atman. Atman has separated
from Brahman and as a result the entire illusory manifestation,
Prakriti, comes into being with the object of helping the
Atman to return to the unicity of Self. In man the Atman is
pure consciousness that is looking out. In ignorance Atman
identifies with something in Prakriti, something illusory,
a nature, a person, and the identified Atman becomes firmly
bonded, glued to, the illusory jiva. The Atman is now known
as the jivatman. Atman's identification with what it is not.... is
ignorance. The jivatman, having become completely enmeshed
in Prakriti, is played with mercilessly until it disengages itself
from Prakriti. The entire universe, Shakti's illusory universe,
all the scenes, all the things in it, and all the people in it....
are merely playing with you. The mystery of the world is
that... everyone and everything is playing with you. They may
appear as bodies, they may appear to be natural people
living ordinary lives, but they are not... they are spirits acting
out parts, and they are all playing with you. When, momentarily,
the spirits reveal themselves to you, the dramatic effect
becomes intense... until you realize that they, the spirits, are
all merely subtle mechanisms, part of the gigantic turning
Cosmic wheel of Prakriti, which creates and presents the
scenes of your life. Prakriti consists of the three gunas,
manifesting at the gross, subtle and causal levels. To completely
transcend the gunas you have to transcend the causal world.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states that you, the Atman,
couldn't stand being one alone. You wanted a companion.
Shakti is your companion, and by her power she turns you
into a multitude. Nisargadatta says: "Yes, this occurs at the
threshold of your being, which is the I-am state, but the ultimate
state is beyond the grasp of both the mind and the Upanishads.
In the ultimate there is no desire." Therefore Shakti is the
companion of Brahman, but the Absolute has no companion
and is the One Alone. Shakti is Brahman's desire but the
Absolute is desireless. It may be concluded that Brahman and
the Absolute are not the same. The Absolute is beyond Brahman.
Brahman and Atman, the separation of Atman from Brahman,
and the return... are also part of the drama. They and their
separation are the central event around which the whole
drama and manifestation of the universe revolves. That is
the entertainment. The child consciousness, the Bal-Krishna,
the child in your breast, finds it all highly entertaining, and
perhaps he subtly induces it all, and then enjoys the result,
as he grows and evolves slowly towards the perfect Mahat....
the holy form of yourself. But the Self is not an enjoyer, and
consequently is indifferent to entertainment. The Self does
not evolve. All evolution is in Prakriti. The holy perfect form
of yourself is not yourself. It is the subtle inducement to get
you to take up the offer of the incarnation. You have no form.

Conceptually, Shakti cannot be understood unless the Absolute
is transcendental to, and beyond, Brahman. For this reason
the concept of the Parabrahman is formulated, as that which
is transcendental to Brahman. The Sanskrit word para means:
transcendental, into the remotest extreme, that which is faintly
detectable only at the extremity of consciousness and which
then is realized to be located beyond the range of human faculties.
The Parabrahman is absolute, whereas Brahman is not an absolute.
The Brahman which is not an absolute is Saguna Brahman, ie
Brahman at the level of the three gunas. Saguna Brahman is
Sat-Chit-Ananda, which is Being-Consciousness/Knowledge-Bliss.
The Parabrahman is beyond being, beyond consciousness,
beyond knowledge, and beyond bliss.

There are probably three forms of Saguna Brahman, each
related to one of the gunas. The Brahman associated with tamas
is Shiva's Brahman, the ground, the fundamental basis of the
here and now, that upon which the world is superimposed,
subtle earth. It is the Paramarthika. It is the truth. Although
Siva's Brahman is beyond comprehension, it can move slightly
and reveal itself as the fused heads of some ancient yogis.
The Brahman associated with sattva is in fact Vishnu's Brahman,
or Vishnu Loka, a transcendental Mass of Being into which
everything real is preserved, into which all the beings dissolve
without trace, everyone dissolving into subtle water, the Ocean
of universal impersonal being. It is the real.
The Brahman associated with rajas, is Brahma's Brahman,
subtle fire. It is a Loka of golden light, into which your own
light merges into the company of heavenly light. It is the union
of understanding. Great though these forms of Saguna
Brahman are, they are all fundamentally illusory.
Possibly some advaitins may have confused Vishnu Loka
and Siva Loka with the Parabrahman. They may have
encountered one of the forms of the relative Saguna Brahman
and believed it to be the Absolute Parabrahman.  

Nirguna Brahman is the Brahman without qualities and to
which nothing can be attributed. For those who desire to
attribute something to Nirguna Brahman it is said to be beyond
consciousness, or consciousness when it becomes free of the
three gunas. It is the undifferentiated, when space disappears, the
state when 'I am' is transcended, when the sense of 'I am' passes
into oblivion, the disappearance of the whole of identity, when
being is transcended, an eternal non-being state, the eternal
state, the totally free state, beyond bliss and suffering, beyond
thought, the Observer without qualities, the unmanifested

The Parabrahman is the transcendental. It not eternal, it is
timeless. It is neither of the opposites. It is transcendental
to the unmanifest Nirguna and the manifest Saguna, which
are both merely mental concepts. To all and everything it is
the beyond, the transcendental.

Nisargadatta states: "Saguna and nirguna are one in
Parabrahman. There is only the Supreme. In movement it is
saguna. Motionless it is nirguna. But it is only the mind that
moves or does not move. The ultimate is beyond, you are

Advaita is a philosophy which is almost impossible to
understand, but it becomes slightly more easy to understand
if three levels of Brahman are formulated: Saguna Brahman,
Nirguna Brahman, the Parabrahman. Of  these three, only
the Parabrahman can be regarded as truly Absolute. Saguna
and Nirguna are part of the drama.

Brahma Loka is for those who ascend by understanding, but
understanding is only a stage. Nisargadatta states: "You must go
beyond this understanding stage, to a stage beyond, you must
come to a state of "I have not understood anything." "The ultimate
point of view is that there is nothing to understand, so when we
try to understand, we are only indulging in flights of concepts
across the sky of the mind."

Understanding includes the realization that the truth is beyond
the mind. Understanding includes the realization that the Self
is beyond the mind. At a certain significant point the mind has
to be abandoned, and at that moment there has to be an expansion
into the greater. In Sanskrit the word Brahman derives from a
verbal root 'brh' which means to expand. One goes beyond the
mind when the mind expands instantly, explodes, into a greater
dimension which intimates its presence by knocking on the walls
of one's small confining consciousness. Hearing the sound
coming from the Paramarthika, one gives it attention.... and the
same instant you expand.... you become everything, everything
becomes you. That is the oneness you speak of. It has not gone
anywhere. It is always there. It is you who has gone somewhere...
you have moved away, just a little, from Brahman. This is the
Brahman state, but it is not the Parabrahman, which is not a
state, and is beyond both language and conceptualizations
and therefore disappointingly cannot be described.

Atman believes he is Atman. Atman believes he is individual
awesome pure consciousness looking out. Atman believes he is
everything and everything is himself. The ignorance is in the
Atman. Shakti has through her intermediaries, Maya and
Ahamkara, animated the Buddhi, which is part of Isvara's light,
bringing it to apparent illusory life. Latent 'being', static in the
buddhi, manifests by the mere touch of Ahamkara. The Buddhi
projects the jiva, your nature. The Atman within you, your pure
consciousness, believing it is everything, sees the jiva, and
moves towards it, identifying with it. Once your consciousness
identifies with the jiva you become it. You are glued to it for
endless transmigratory existences. The ignorance involves
moving, identifying with what one is not, believing oneself to
be an individual, believing oneself to be consciousness looking
only outwards, failing to discriminate between the real and
the not-real. Atman lacks knowledge. Atman does not know
that if you can see it, you cannot be it. Pure consciousness
lacks knowledge.

Atman has separated from Brahman... yes.
Atman is pure consciousness... yes.
Consciousness is One... yes.
I am pure consciousness that is One... no.
As soon as you say "I am" the error occurs.
"I am", believing that it is One, believing that everything
is itself, identifies with whatever it sees. I am that.
That is myself. That is how the error occurs.

The Atman is the centre of the error.
The Atman is pure consciousness looking out.
The "I am" manifests in the Atman.
As soon as a form appears, the Atman says "I am that."
As soon as Atman says "I am that" he becomes that.
It is true that because Atman is pure awesome consciousness,
Atman must be everything, simply because consciousness
is One. But there is something which can see the Atman, see
the Atman as pure awesome consciousness, and see the jiva
as an illusion projected by the animated manifested being of
the buddhi, which in turn is a contrivance of Ishvara and Maya.
That which sees, knows and understands the flaw in the Atman
is wiser than the Atman. The Atman is being observed by
something which Atman cannot see. Atman is glimpsed by
Purusha, the highest witness. Purusha has no form, and
therefore cannot be seen. Purusha does not say "I" or "I am".
Purusha just observes. But Purusha, in turn, is known by
something which observing Purusha's location. That observer
is awareness. Next, there is that which is aware of that
awareness. It is timeless and without location. Nothing
can be said about it because there appears to be no
observer of it.

You are the awareness that is aware of consciousness.
Awareness stands behind consciousness.
Atman is not Atman. Atman is Brahman.
But ultimately, you are neither Atman, nor Brahman.
They are also part of the illusion, they are the highly refined,
awesome, and truly great parts of the illusion. First you
become them, then you transcend them.

You are transcendental awareness. Awareness ever
transcendental to itself. You are the final observer in a
chain of observers. This is because you are in all the other
observers as the awareness that makes observation possible.
The ultimate observer is the observer of awareness.
All that can be said is... you are the ultimate awareness.
Because there are no more words, the word 'awareness' is
the limit, beyond which words cannot go. The word
'awareness' has to be limply repeated. Nisargadatta says...
'You are awareness of awareness.'

Remembering Sunlil's question:

If Self is Brahman and if all is one, there is only Brahman and
everything else is Maya. Why then if we are able to transcend all
the Gunas, including Sattwic Gunas, we are able to find a place
amongst the "heavenly denizens". Does it mean another level of
consciousness, maybe at a different frequency, exists, and is that
the reason we talk of different Lokas? Does this not go against
the philosophy of Advaitism? I mean if there are different Lokas
inhabited by celestials, then where does the oneness principle go?"

Another, more direct, answer is:

Brahman is not the Absolute. The Absolute is the Parabrahman.
The Absolute, the Parabrahman,  is transcendental to Brahman.
The Parabrahman is beyond both Brahman and Maya. To say
"Brahman and everything else" indicates there are two entities,
which introduces the concept of duality. When there is Brahman
there is no Maya. When there is Maya, there is no Brahman.
Brahman and Maya cannot exist simultaneously as separate
aspects of the same oneness. At the level of Brahman, Maya
and Brahman apparently alternate. In the Parabrahman, Maya
and Brahman are one. Maya does not exist at the level of the
Absolute. Maya only exists as the power of Shakti which is the
coeval companion of Brahman, although the two, Brahman and
Shakti, never meet.

The use of the word 'Self' to describe the Absolute is potentially
problematic. The word Self implies a not-Self, which subtly
creates a duality. Although advaitins commonly use the word
'Self' to indicate the Absolute state of oneself which is identical
with the Parabrahman, it introduces an irresolvable logical
contradiction. The contradiction is revealed when one asks the
question: Why does one wish to use the word 'Self'? An answer:
Probably to indicate who one is? Why does one need to indicate
who one is if everything is oneself? If everything is One then
it is impossible to assert the sense of self. The word 'Self' is a
concept and is used to distinguish who I am from everything else.
Nirguna Brahman is the undifferentiated and the concept of 'Self'
attempts to differentiate the undifferentiated. If the concept of 'Self'
does not exist at the Nirguna Brahman level, then it is even
more impossible at the level of the Absolute Parabrahman. The
Parabrahman does not know whether he is or is not. There is no
knowledge of 'I am' in the Parabrahman. There is no 'I' in the
Parabrahman. Therefore there is no concept of Self in the
Parabrahman. Therefore, to avoid conceptual difficulties, the
word 'Self' should not be used as an absolute.

When all the gunas are transcended, including sattva guna, there
are no Lokas, because the Lokas are the worlds of the Trimurti
Gods, who are themselves nothing more than personifications
of the gunas. The gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are the pure
personifications of the gunas, and their three individual Lokas
are their chief abode, representing a haven for their devotees,
for those who originate from, leave temporarily to play their
roles in the world, and then return home to the company of the
god. The three Great Lokas are the differing destinations of the
jivatman who has fallen under the influence and domination of
one particular gunas. If there are Lokas, the gunas have not been
fully transcended. In the beginning there were no gods, the gods
and their Lokas came later. In the end there are no gods and
no Lokas. Universes appear and disappear, even endlessly
appear and disappear, even eternally recur, but the Parabrahman
is quite unaffected. The Parabrahman is aloof, and is not in the
universe, nor associated with it in any way. To be in any
apparent universe, to be located in any heavenly or celestial
Loka, is to be under the spell of Maya.
The universe, you and I, the gods and their Lokas, everything, is
merely the manifestation of the Oneness principle. Everything is
part of the Totality, the Oneness which, as the unmanifest, is
manifesting itself. It is only because of the effects of the power
of Maya that we believe ourselves to be separate, and do not  
realize that we are the Totality manifesting itself. Manifestation
is one direction, the outward direction, whereas renunciation is
the return direction, the inward direction. The Oneness remains
unaffected by the manifestation and its dissolution. Advaita
Vedanta teaches... To the Absolute Oneness, this you, this I,
the gods, their Lokas, the world, the cosmos, all the universes....
do not exist.