Theravada Buddhism defines arhat as one who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved nirvana. Other Buddhist traditions have used the term for people far advanced along the path of Enlightenment, but who may not have reached full Buddhahood; the understanding of the concept has changed over the centuries, varies between different schools of Buddhism and different regions. A range of views on the attainment of arhats existed in the early Buddhist schools; the Sarvāstivāda, Kāśyapīya, Mahāsāṃghika, Ekavyāvahārika, Lokottaravāda, Bahuśrutīya, Prajñaptivāda, Caitika schools all regarded arhats as imperfect in their attainments compared to buddhas. Mahayana Buddhist teachings urge followers to take up the path of a bodhisattva, to not fall back to the level of arhats and śrāvakas; the arhats, or at least the senior arhats, came to be regarded as "moving beyond the state of personal freedom to join the Bodhisattva enterprise in their own way". Mahayana Buddhism regarded a group of Eighteen Arhats as awaiting the return of the Buddha as Maitreya, other groupings of 6, 8, 16, 100, 500 appear in tradition and Buddhist art in East Asia.
They can be seen as the Buddhist equivalents of the Christian saints, apostles or early disciples and leaders of the faith. Pāḷi arahant is a present participle coming from the verbal root √arh "to deserve", cf. arha "meriting, deserving". The word is used in the Ṛgveda with this sense of "deserving". A common folk etymology derives the word from ari and hanta from the root √han "to strike, to kill". Professor Richard Gombrich has argued that the present participle is "jarring" and seems out of place when there is an adjective from the same root. Since Jains used two Prakrit forms of the word arahanta and arihanta, the folk etymology may well be the correct etymology. Gombrich argues that this stems from the same metaphor as the Jain title jina "conqueror", whence jaina "related to the conqueror", i.e. Jainism; the term arhat is rendered in English as arahat. The term arhat was transliterated into some East Asian languages phonetically, for example, the Chinese āluóhàn shortened to luóhàn; this may appear in English as lohan.
In Japanese the pronunciation of the same Chinese characters is arakan. The Tibetan term for arhat was translated by meaning from Sanskrit; this translation, dgra bcom pa, means "one who has destroyed the foes of afflictions". Thus the Tibetan translators understood the meaning of arhat to be ari-hanta. A range of views on the attainment of arhats existed in the early Buddhist schools; the Sarvāstivāda, Kāśyapīya, Mahāsāṃghika, Ekavyāvahārika, Lokottaravāda, Bahuśrutīya, Prajñaptivāda and Caitika schools all regarded arhats as being imperfect in their attainments compared to buddhas. The Dharmaguptaka sect believed that "the Buddha and those of the Two Vehicles, although they have one and the same liberation, have followed different noble paths."The Mahīśāsaka and the Theravada regarded arhats and buddhas as being similar to one another. The 5th century Theravadin commentator Buddhaghosa regarded arhats as having completed the path to enlightenment. According to Bhikkhu Bodhi, the Pāli Canon portrays the Buddha declaring himself to be an arahant.
According to Bhikkhu Bodhi, nirvāṇa is "the ultimate goal", one who has attained nirvana has attained arahantship: Bhikkhu Bodhi writes, "The defining mark of an arahant is the attainment of nirvāṇa in this present life."The Mahayana discerned a hierarchy of attainments, with samyaksambuddhas at the top, mahāsattvas below that, pratyekabuddhas below that and arhats further below. "But what was it that distinguished the bodhisattva from the sravaka, the buddha from the arhat? The difference lay, more than anywhere else, in the altruistic orientation of the bodhisattva." In pre-Buddhist India, the term arhat, denoting a saintly person in general, was associated with miraculous power and asceticism. The Buddhists drew a sharp distinction between their Arhat and Indian holy men in general, in Buddhism these miraculous powers were no longer central to arhat identity or to his mission. A range of views on the relative perfection of arhats existed amongst the early Buddhist schools. In general, Mahāsāṃghikas such as the Ekavyāvahārikas, Lokottaravādins, Bahuśrutīyins, Prajñaptivādins, Caitikas schools, advocated the transcendental and supramundane nature of the buddhas and bodhisattvas and the fallibility of arhats.
The Caitikas, for example, advocated the ideal of the bodhisattva over that of the arhat, they viewed arhats as being fallible and still subject to ignorance. According to A. K. Warder, the Sarvāstivādins held the same position as the Mahāsāṃghika branch regarding arhats, considering them to be imperfect and fallible. In the Sarvāstivādin Nāgadatta Sūtra, the demon Māra takes the form of Nāgadatta's father, tries to convince Nāgadatta, a bhikṣuṇī, to work toward the lower stage of arhatship rather than striving to become a enlightened buddha. Māra therefore took the disguise of Nāgadatta's father and said thus to Nāgadatta: "Your thought is too serious. Buddhahood is too difficult to attain, it takes a hundred thousand nayutas of koṭis of kalpas to become a Buddha. Since few people attain Buddhahood in this world, why don't you attain Arhatship? For the experience of Arhatship is the same as that of nirvāṇa. In her reply, Nāgadatta rejects arhatship as a lower path, saying, "A Buddha's wisdom is l
Vishvarupa known popularly as Vishvarupa Darshan and Virata rupa, is an iconographical form and theophany of the Hindu god Vishnu or his avatar Krishna. Though there are multiple Vishvarupa theophanies, the most celebrated is in the Bhagavad Gita, "the Song of God", given by Krishna in the epic Mahabharata, told to Pandava Prince Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra in the war in the Mahabharata between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Vishvarupa is considered the supreme form of Vishnu, where the whole universe is described as contained in him. In the climactic war in the Mahabharata, the Pandava prince Arjuna and his brothers fight against their cousins, the Kauravas with Krishna as his charioteer. Faced with the moral dilemma of whether or not to fight against and kill his own family for, Arjuna has a crisis of conscience. To appease him, Krishna discourses with Arjuna about life and death as well as yoga. In chapters 10 and 11, Krishna reveals himself as the Supreme Being and displays his Vishvarupa to Arjuna.
Arjuna experiences the vision of the Vishvarupa with divine vision endowed to him by Krishna. Vishvarupa's appearance is described by Arjuna. Vishvarupa has innumerable forms, faces and arms. All creatures of the universe are part of him, he is the infinite universe, without an end. He contains peaceful as well as wrathful forms. Unable to bear the scale of the sight and gripped with fear, Arjuna requests Krishna to return to his four-armed Vishnu form, which he can bear to see. Encouraged by the teachings and darshan of Krishna in his full form, Arjuna continued the Mahabharata War. There are two more descriptions in the Mahabharata, where Krishna or Vishnu-Narayana offers the theophany similar to the Vishvarupa in the Bhagavad Gita; when negotiations between Pandavas and Kauravas break down with Krishna as the Pandava messenger, Krishna declares that he is more than human and displays his cosmic form to the Kaurava leader Duryodhana and his assembly. Vishvarupa-Krishna appears with many arms and holds many weapons and attributes traditionally associated with Vishnu like the conch, the Sudarshana chakra, the gada, his bow, his sword Nandaka.
The inside of his body is described. Various deities and tribes are seen in his body; this form is described as terrible and only people blessed with divine vision could withstand the sight. The other theophany of Vishnu is revealed to the divine sage Narada; the theophany is called Vishvamurti. The god has a thousand eyes, a hundred heads, a thousand feet, a thousand bellies, a thousand arms and several mouths, he holds weapons as well as attributes of an ascetic like a staff, a kamandalu. Another theophany in the Mahabharata is of a Vaishnava form, it misses the multiple body parts of Vishvarupa, but conveys the vastness and cosmic nature of the deity. His head covers the sky, his two feet cover all ground. His two arms encompass the horizontal space, his belly occupies the reattaining space in the universe. Vishvarupa is used in the context of Vishnu's "dwarf" avatar, Vamana in the Harivamsa. Vamana, arrives at the asura king Bali's sacrifice as a dwarf Brahmin boy and asks for three steps of land as donation.
Where the promise is given, Vamana transforms into his Vishvarupa, containing various deities in his body. The sun and the moon are his eyes; the earth his feet and heaven is his head. Various deities. With his two strides, he gains heaven and earth and placing the third on Bali's head, who accepts his mastership. Bali is pushed to the realm of Patala. Vishvarupa is interpreted as “the story of evolution,” as the individual evolves in this world doing more and more with time; the Vishvarupa Darshan is a cosmic representation of gods and goddesses and asuras, good and the bad as we perceive in our own particular perspective of existence in this world. The name Vishvarupa first appears as a name of Trisiras, the three-headed son of Tvastr, the Vedic creator-god who grants form to all beings. In the Rig Veda, he is described as to contain several forms in his womb; the epithet Vishvarupa is used for other deities like Soma, Prajapati and the abstract Brahman. The Atharva Veda uses the word with a various connotation.
A bride is blessed with by Vishvarupa with offspring. Vishvarupa is revealed in the Bhagavad Gita and the Puranas in connection to Vishnu-Krishna, however these literary sources do not detail the iconography of Vishvarupa; the Bhagavad Gita may be inspired by the description of Purusha as thousand-headed, thousand-eyed and thousand-footed or a cosmic Vishvakarma. Vishvarupa is mentioned as Vishnu's avatar in Pañcaratra texts like the Satvata Samhita and the Ahirbudhnya Samhita as well as the Vishnudharmottara Purana, that mentions 14 avatars; the literary sources mentions that Vishvarupa has "multiple" or "thousand/hundred" heads and arms, but do not give a specific number of body parts that can be depicted. Early Gupta and post-Gupta sculptors were faced with difficulty of portraying infiniteness and multiple body parts in a feasible way. Arjuna's description of Vishva
In Indian religions, Patala denotes the subterranean realms of the universe – which are located under the earth. Patala is translated as underworld or netherworld. In Hindu cosmology, the universe is divided into the three worlds: Svarga, Prithvi or Martya and Patala. Patala is composed of seven regions or lokas, the seventh and lowest of them is called Patala or Naga-loka, the region of the Nagas; the Danavas, Daityas and the snake-people Nagas live in the realms of Patala. Surya Siddhanta, an astronomical text, refers to Southern Hemisphere of the earth as Patala whereas the northern hemisphere is referred to as Jambudvipa. In Vajrayana Buddhism, caves inhabited by asuras are entrances to Patala; the Vishnu Purana tells of a visit by the divine wandering sage Narada to Patala. Narada describes Patala as more beautiful than Svarga. Patala is described as filled with splendid jewels, beautiful groves and lakes and lovely demon maidens. Sweet fragrance is fused with sweet music; the soil here is white, purple, yellow, stony and of gold.
The Bhagavata Purana calls the seven lower regions bila-svargas and they are regarded as planets or planetary systems below the earth. These regions are described as being more opulent than the upper heavenly regions of the universe; the life here is of pleasure and luxury, with no distress. The demon architect Maya has constructed palaces, houses and hotels for foreigners, with jewels; the natural beauty of Patala is said to surpass that of Swarga. There is no sunlight in the lower realms, but the darkness is dissipated by the shining of the jewels that the residents of Patala wear. There is no sweat, no disease in Patala; the Vishnu Purana, states the seven realms of Patala, which are located one above the other, are seventy-thousand yojanas below the Earth's surface. Each of them extends ten thousand Yojanas. In Vishnu Purana, they are named as from the highest to the lowest as: Atala, Nitala, Mahatala and Patala. In the Bhagavata Purana and the Padma Purana, they are called Atala, Sutala, Mahatala and Patala.
The Shiva Purana, replaces Mahatala with Tala. The Vayu Purana calls them Rasatala, Vitala, Mahatala and Patala; the seven Patalas as well as the earth above them is supported on the head of the tamasic form of Vishnu, the thousand-headed nāga Shesha. Sometimes, Shesha is described to reside in the lowest region of Patala instead of below it. Below the regions of Patala lies Naraka, the Hindu Hell – the realm of death where sinners are punished. Different realms of Patala are ruled by different Nagas. Vayu Purana records; the first region has the cities of the daitya Naga Kaliya. Bali rules as the sovereign king of Patala; the Bhagavata Purana presents a detailed description of the seven lower realms. A similar description of the seven Patalas appears in the Devi-Bhagavata Purana. Atala is ruled by Bala -- a son of Maya --. By one yawn, Bala created three types of women – svairiṇīs, who like to marry men from their own group; when a man enters Atala, these women enchant him and serve him an intoxicating cannabis drink that induces sexual energy in the man.
These women enjoy sexual play with the traveller, who feels to be stronger than ten thousand elephants and forgets impending death. Vitala is ruled by the god Hara-Bhava – a form of Shiva, who dwells with attendant ganas including ghosts and goblins as the master of gold mines along with his consort Bhavani and river Hataki here; when fire – fanned by wind – drinks from this river, it spits the water out as a type of gold called Hataka. The residents of this realm are adorned with gold from this region. Sutala constructed by Viswakarman, is the kingdom of the pious demon king Bali; the dwarf Avatar of Vishnu, Vamana tricked Bali – who had conquered the three worlds – by begging for three paces of land and acquired the three worlds in his three paces. Vamana pushed Bali to Sutala, but when Bali surrendered to Vishnu and gave away all his belongings to him, Vishnu in return made Bali, richer than Indra, the god-king of heaven. Bali still prays to Vishnu in this realm. Impressed by the devotion of Bali, Vishnu gave him a boon that He Himself would perpetually stand as the watchman to Bali's palace.
Talātala is the realm of the demon-architect Maya, well-versed in sorcery. Shiva, as Tripurantaka, destroyed the three cities of Maya, but was pleased with Maya and gave him this realm and promised to protect him. Mahātala is the abode of many-hooded Nagas – the sons of Kadru, headed by the Krodhavasha band of Kuhaka, Taksshaka and Sushena, they always fear garuda. Rasātala at the sole of the feet of the universe form of Vishnu is the home of the demons – Danavas and Daityas, who are mighty but cruel, they are the eternal foes of Devas
The Agamas are a collection of scriptures of several Hindu devotional schools. The term means tradition or "that which has come down", the Agama texts describe cosmology, philosophical doctrines, precepts on meditation and practices, four kinds of yoga, temple construction, deity worship and ways to attain sixfold desires; these canonical texts are in Tamil. The three main branches of Agama texts are those of Shaivism, Shaktism; the Agamic traditions are sometimes called Tantrism, although the term "Tantra" is used to refer to Shakta Agamas. The Agama literature is voluminous, includes 28 Shaiva Agamas, 77 Shakta Agamas, 108 Vaishnava Agamas, numerous Upa-Agamas; the origin and chronology of Agamas is unclear. Some are Vedic and others non-Vedic. Agama traditions include Yoga and Self Realization concepts, some include Kundalini Yoga and philosophies ranging from Dvaita to Advaita; some suggest that these are others as pre-Vedic compositions. Epigraphical and archaeological evidence suggests that Agama texts were in existence by about middle of the 1st millennium CE, in the Pallava dynasty era.
Scholars note that some passages in the Hindu Agama texts appear to repudiate the authority of the Vedas, while other passages assert that their precepts reveal the true spirit of the Vedas. The Agamas literary genre may be found in Śramaṇic traditions. Bali Hindu tradition is called Agama Hindu Dharma in Indonesia. Āgāma is derived from the verb root गम meaning "to go" and the preposition आ meaning "toward" and refers to scriptures as "that which has come down". Agama means "tradition", refers to precepts and doctrines that have come down as tradition. Agama, states Dhavamony, is a "generic name of religious texts which are at the basis of Hinduism and which are divided into Vaishnava Agamas, Saiva Agamas, Sakta Agamas. Agamas, states Rajeshwari Ghose, teach a system of spirituality involving ritual worship and ethical personal conduct through precepts of a god; the means of worship in the Agamic religions differs from the Vedic form. While the Vedic form of yajna requires no idols and shrines, the Agamic religions are based on idols with puja as a means of worship.
Symbols and temples are a necessary part of the Agamic practice, while non-theistic paths are alternative means of Vedic practice. Action and will drive Agama precepts. This, does not mean that Agamas and Vedas are opposed, according to medieval-era Hindu theologians. Tirumular, for example, explained their link as follows: "the Vedas are the path, the Agamas are the horse"; each Agama consists of four parts: Jnana pada called Vidya pada – consists of doctrine, the philosophical and spiritual knowledge, knowledge of reality and liberation. Yoga pada – precepts on yoga, the physical and mental discipline. Kriya pada – consists of rules for rituals, construction of temples; this code is analogous in the Buddhist text of Sadhanamala. Charya pada – lays down rules of conduct, of worship, observances of religious rites, rituals and prayaschittas; the Agamas state three requirements for a place of pilgrimage: Sthala and Murti. Sthala refers to the place of the temple, Tīrtha is the temple tank, Murti refers to the image of god.
Elaborate rules are laid out in the Agamas for Silpa describing the quality requirements of the places where temples are to be built, the kind of images to be installed, the materials from which they are to be made, their dimensions, air circulation, lighting in the temple complex, etc. The Manasara and Silpasara are some of the works dealing with these rules; the rituals followed in worship services each day at the temple follow rules laid out in the Agamas. The Agama texts of Hinduism present a diverse range of philosophies, ranging from theistic dualism to absolute monism; this diversity of views was acknowledged in Chapter 36 of Tantraloka by the 10th-century scholar Abhinavagupta. In Shaivism alone, there are ten dualistic Agama texts, eighteen qualified monism-cum-dualism Agama texts, sixty-four monism Agama texts; the Bhairava Shastras are monistic. A similar breadth of diverse views is present in Vaishnava Agamas as well; the Agama texts of Shaiva and Vaishnava schools are premised on existence of Atman and the existence of an Ultimate Reality.
The texts differ in the relation between the two. Some assert the dualistic philosophy of the individual soul and Ultimate Reality being different, while others state a Oneness between the two. Kashmir Shaiva Agamas posit absolute oneness, God is within man, God is within every being, God is present everywhere in the world including all non-living beings, there is no spiritual difference between life, matter and God; the parallel group among Vaishnavas are the Shuddhadvaitins. Scholars from both schools have written treatises ranging from dualism to monism. For example, Shivagrayogin has emphasized the non-difference or unity of being, rea
Christianity is an Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. Depending on the specific denomination of Christianity, practices may include baptism, prayer, confirmation, burial rites, marriage rites and the religious education of children. Most denominations hold regular group worship services. Christianity developed during the 1st century CE as a Jewish Christian sect of Second Temple Judaism, it soon attracted Gentile God-fearers, which lead to a departure from Jewish customs, the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion. During the first centuries of its existence Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, to Ethiopia and some parts of Asia. Constantine the Great decriminalized it via the Edict of Milan; the First Council of Nicaea established a uniform set of beliefs across the Roman Empire.
By 380, the Roman Empire designated Christianity as the state religion. The period of the first seven ecumenical councils is sometimes referred to as the Great Church, the united full communion of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, before their schisms. Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon over differences in Christology; the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism over the authority of the Pope. In 1521, Protestants split from the Catholic Church in the Protestant Reformation over Papal primacy, the nature of salvation, other ecclesiological and theological disputes. Following the Age of Discovery, Christianity was spread into the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, the rest of the world via missionary work and colonization. There are 2.3 billion Christians in the world, or 31.4% of the global population. Today, the four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodoxy.
Christianity and Christian ethics have played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization around Europe during late antiquity and the Middle Ages. In the New Testament, the names by which the disciples were known among themselves were "brethren", "the faithful", "elect", "saints" and "believers". Early Jewish Christians referred to themselves as'The Way' coming from Isaiah 40:3, "prepare the way of the Lord." According to Acts 11:26, the term "Christian" was first used in reference to Jesus's disciples in the city of Antioch, meaning "followers of Christ," by the non-Jewish inhabitants of Antioch. The earliest recorded use of the term "Christianity" was by Ignatius of Antioch, in around 100 AD. While Christians worldwide share basic convcitions, there are differences of interpretations and opinions of the Bible and sacred traditions on which Christianity is based. Concise doctrinal statements or confessions of religious beliefs are known as creeds, they began as baptismal formulae and were expanded during the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries to become statements of faith.
The Apostles' Creed is the most accepted statement of the articles of Christian faith. It is used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical churches of Western Christian tradition, including the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, Lutheranism and Western Rite Orthodoxy, it is used by Presbyterians and Congregationalists. This particular creed was developed between the 9th centuries, its central doctrines are those of God the Creator. Each of the doctrines found in this creed can be traced to statements current in the apostolic period; the creed was used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome. Its main points include: Belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Holy Spirit The death, descent into hell and ascension of Christ The holiness of the Church and the communion of saints Christ's second coming, the Day of Judgement and salvation of the faithful; the Nicene Creed was formulated in response to Arianism, at the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople in 325 and 381 and ratified as the universal creed of Christendom by the First Council of Ephesus in 431.
The Chalcedonian Definition, or Creed of Chalcedon, developed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, though rejected by the Oriental Orthodox churches, taught Christ "to be acknowledged in two natures, unchangeably, inseparably": one divine and one human, that both natures, while perfect in themselves, are also united into one person. The Athanasian Creed, received in the Western Church as having the same status as the Nicene and Chalcedonian, says: "We worship one God in Trinity, Trinity in Unity. Many evangelical Protestants reject creeds as definitive statements of faith while agreeing with some or all of the substance of the creeds. Most Baptists do not use creeds "in that they have not sought to establish binding
In religious or mythological cosmology, the seven heavens refer to seven layers of the sky. These were associated in ancient times both with the metaphysical realms of deities and with observed celestial bodies such as the classical planets and fixed stars; the concept, derived from ancient Mesopotamian religions, can be found in the Abrahamic religions such as Islam and Christianity. Some of these traditions, including Jainism have a concept of seven earths or seven underworlds or may be seven climate zones; the number seven corresponds to the seven classical planets known to antiquity. Ancient observers noticed that these objects moved at different paces in the sky both from each other and from the fixed stars beyond them: Mercury, the Moon, the Sun, Mars and Saturn. Unlike comets, which appeared in the sky with no warning, they did move in regular patterns that could be predicted, they observed that objects in the sky influenced objects on earth, as when movements of the sun affect the behavior of plants or movements of the moon affect ocean tides.
Others believe the seven heavens are located to seven stars of the big dipper, according to ancient western astrology. Observations like these led to the development of geocentric cosmologies: earth-centered ideas about the structure of the universe. In some cultures the layers, or "heavens", in the sky were understood as vast spheres; each rotated around the earth at its own pace, taking its associated point of light, any associated heavenly beings, along. Speculation spread about the effect all celestial objects--not only the sun and moon, but other points of light such as Mars and fixed stars--might exercise over earthly events. Stories and symbolic associations followed; the concept of seven heavens as developed in ancient Mesopotamia symbolised both physical and metaphysical concepts. In the Sumerian language, the words for heaven and earth are Ki. Sumerian incantations of the late second millennium BCE make references to seven heavens and seven earths. One such incantation is: "an-imin-bi ki-imin-bi" The understanding that the heavens can influence things on earth lent heavenly, magical properties to the number seven itself, as in stories of seven demons, seven churches, seven spirits, or seven thrones.
The number seven appears in Babylonian magical rituals. The seven Jewish and the seven Islamic heavens may have had their origin in Babylonian astronomy. In general, heaven is not a place for humans in Mesopotamian religion; as Gilgamesh says to his friend Enkidu, in the Epic of Gilgamesh: "Who can go up to heaven, my friend? Only the gods dwell with Shamash forever". Along with the idea of seven heavens, the idea of three heavens was common in ancient Mesopotamia; the Qur'an and Hadith mention the existence of seven samāwāt, the plural of samāʾ, meaning'heaven, celestial sphere', cognate with Hebrew shamāyim. Some of the verses in the Qur'an mentioning the samaawat are Quran 41:12, Quran 65:12 and Quran 71:15. There are two interpretations of using the number "seven". One viewpoint is that the number "seven" here means "many" and is not to be taken literally, but many other commentators use the number literally. One interpretation of "heavens" is that all the stars and galaxies are all part of the "first heaven", "beyond that six still bigger worlds are there," which have yet to be discovered by scientists.
In other sources, the concept is presented in metaphorical terms. Each of the seven heavens is depicted as being composed of a different material, Islamic prophets are resident in each; the first heaven is described as being made of water and is the home of Adam and Eve, as well as the angels of each star. The second heaven is the home of Yahya and Isa; the third heaven is described as being made of iron. The fourth heaven is described as being made of brass; the fifth heaven is described as being made of silver. The sixth heaven is described as being composed of gold; the seventh heaven, which borrows some concepts from its Jewish counterpart, is depicted as being composed of divine light incomprehensible to the mortal man. Abraham is a resident there and Sidrat al-Muntaha, a large enigmatic Lote tree, marks the end of the seventh heaven and the utmost extremity for all of God's creatures and heavenly knowledge. According to the Talmud, the universe is made of seven heavens Vilon, Also see Raki'a, Also see Shehaqim, See Zebul, See Ma'on, See Machon, See Araboth, The seventh Heaven where ofanim, the seraphim, the hayyoth and the throne of the Lord are located.
The Jewish Merkavah and Heichalot literature was devoted to discussing the details of these heavens, sometimes in connection with traditions relating to Enoch, such as the Third Book of Enoch. An explicit reference to the Third Heaven appears in the Christian New Testament canon. A Pauline epistle, penned in Macedonia around 55CE, describes this mystical experience: I know a person