Hinduism 101

Hindu theology defines 14 worlds (not planets) – 7 higher worlds (heavens) and 7 lower ones (underworlds). The earth is the lowest of the 7 higher worlds. The higher worlds are the 7 vyahrtis, viz. bhu, bhuvas, svar, mahas, janas, tapas, and satya (the world  ruled by Brahma); and the lower ones (the “seven undreworlds” or paatalas) are atala, vitala, sutala, rasaataala, talatala, mahaatala, paatala.

All the worlds except the earth are temporary places of stay as follows: upon one’s death on earth, the god of death ( ‘Yama Dharma Raajaa’ – Yama, the lord of justice) tallies the person’s good/bad deeds  on earth and deems if the soul goes to a heaven and/or a hell, for how long, and in what capacity. Some say good and bad deeds neutralize each other and the soul is so born in either a heaven or a hell, but not both,.  According to another school of thought, good and bad deeds don’t cancel out each other. In either case, the soul acquires a body as appropriate to the worlds it enters. At the end of the soul’s time in those worlds, it returns to the earth (reborn as a life form on the earth). It is considered that only from the earth, and only after a human life, can the soul reach supreme salvation, the state free from the cycle of birth and death, a state of absolute and eternal bliss.

DeitiesThere are many deities in Hinduism.  Trimurti: Shiva (the destroyer), Vishnu (the protector), and Brahma (the creator), and their wives (goddesses in their own right): Shakti (also known as Paarvathi, Ambika) the goddess of courage and power, Lakshmi the goddess of all wealth, and Saraswati the goddess of learning. The children of the Trimurti are also devas, such as Ganesha and Skanda or Kartikaya.
Brahma is the ruler of the highest of the heavens (the world called Sathya), so in one sense, Brahma is not beyond the 14 worlds as Shiva and Vishnu are.
Some gods are associated with specific elements or functions: Indra (the god of thunder and lightning; he also rules the world of Swarga), Varuna (the god of the oceans), Agni (the god of fire), Kubera (the treasurer of the gods), Surya (the sun god), Vayu (the god of wind), and Soma (the moon god).
Swarga also has a set of famous heavenly dancers: Urvasi, Menaka, Rambha, and Tilottama (all female), whose job is to entertain the heavenly court, and upon orders from the heavenly kings, to distract people on the earth from accumulating too many good deeds so as to become a threat to the heavenly kings.
Other notable inhabitants of the heavens …celestial sages, and Narada the messenger of the gods.
Yama (the god of death and justice)  lives in Kailash along with Shiva. He rules the lower world of Naraka with a band of emissaries called the Yama doota (messengers of Yama), who bring the souls of dead persons to Yama for evaluation. Chitragupta is one of those lower level celestial beings who functions as the karmic accountant of all the actions of the human beings on earth.

Incarnations…The 10 avatars of Vishnu, …Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Vamana, Krishna, Kalki, Buddha, Parshurama, Rama and Narasimha

Several gods are believed to have had incarnations (avatars). As the protector of life, one of the duties of Vishnu is to appear on the earth whenever a firm hand is required to set things right. The epic Bhagavatha Purana is the chronology of Vishnu’s ten major incarnations (there are in total 26 incarnations): Matsya (fish), Kurma (turtle), Varaha (boar), Narasimha (lion-faced human), Vamana (an ascetic in the form of a midget), Parasurama (a militant Brahmin), Rama, Krishna, Gautam Buddha(later buddhists separated themselves from Hindus), Kalki (a predicted warrior on a white horse who would come in this yuga ) whose appearance also signals the beginning of the end of the epoch.

House of IkshvakuIkshvaku was the son of Manu,the first mortal man, and founder of the Sun Dynasty. (Suryavansham)

Bharatavarsha...The first king to conquer all of the world was Bharata, son of Dushyanta and Shakuntala. All of this world, Vishwa, is named Bharatavarsha, or The Land of Bharata, or The Cherished Land.
King Bharata’s conquests stretched over all of modern India, and Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, as well as the ancient Gandhara region of Afghanistan