pātālam etasya hi pāda-mūlaṁ
paṭhanti pārṣṇi-prapade rasātalam
mahātalaṁ viśva-sṛjo 'tha gulphau
talātalaṁ vai puruṣasya jaṅghe
pātālam—the planets at the bottom of the universe; etasya—of His; hi—exactly; pāda-mūlam—soles of the feet; paṭhanti—they study it; pārṣṇi—the heels; prapade—the toes; rasātalam—the planets named Rasātala; mahātalam—the planets named Mahātala; viśva-sṛjaḥ—of the creator of the universe; atha—thus; gulphau—the ankles; talātalam—the planets named Talātala; vai—as they are; puruṣasya—of the gigantic person; jaṅghe—the shanks.
Outside the bodily existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the manifested cosmic existence has no reality. Everything and anything of the manifested world rests on Him, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.4), but that does not imply that everything and anything in the vision of a materialist is the Supreme Personality. The conception of the universal form of the Lord gives a chance to the materialist to think of the Supreme Lord, but the materialist must know for certain that his visualization of the world in a spirit of lording over it is not God realization. The materialistic view of exploitation of the material resources is occasioned by the illusion of the external energy of the Lord, and as such, if anyone wants to realize the Supreme Truth by conceiving of the universal form of the Lord, he must cultivate the service attitude. Unless the service attitude is revived, the conception of virāṭ realization will have very little effect on the seer. The transcendental Lord, in any conception of His form, is never a part of the material creation. He keeps His identity as Supreme Spirit in all circumstances and is never affected by the three material qualities, for everything material is contaminated. The Lord always exists by His internal energy.
The universe is divided into fourteen planetary systems. Seven planetary systems, called Bhūr, Bhuvar, Svar, Mahar, Janas, Tapas and Satya, are upward planetary systems, one above the other. There are also seven planetary systems downward, known as Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talātala, Mahātala, Rasātala and Pātāla, gradually, one below the other. In this verse, the description begins from the bottom because it is in the line of devotion that the Lord's bodily description should begin from His feet. Śukadeva Gosvāmī is a recognized devotee of the Lord, and he is exactly correct in the description.
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