Heaven

Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest heavens; from Gustave Doré's illustrations to the Divine Comedy.

Heaven, or the heavens, is a common religious, cosmological, or transcendent place where beings such as gods, angels, spirits, saints, or venerated ancestors are said to originate, be enthroned, or live. According to the beliefs of some religions, heavenly beings can descend to earth or incarnate, and earthly beings can ascend to heaven in the afterlife, or in exceptional cases enter heaven alive.

Heaven is often described as a "higher place", the holiest place, a Paradise, in contrast to hell or the Underworld or the "low places", and universally or conditionally accessible by earthly beings according to various standards of divinity, goodness, piety, faith, or other virtues or right beliefs or simply the will of God. Some believe in the possibility of a heaven on Earth in a World to Come.

Another belief is in an axis mundi or world tree which connects the heavens, the terrestrial world, and the underworld. In Indian religions, heaven is considered as Svarga loka[1], and the soul is again subjected to rebirth in different living forms according to its karma. This cycle can be broken after a soul achieves Moksha or Nirvana. Any place of existence, either of humans, souls or deities, outside the tangible world (heaven, hell, or other) is referred to as otherworld.

Etymology

"heofones," an ancient Anglo-Saxon word for heavens in the Beowulf

The modern English word heaven is derived from the earlier (Middle English) heven (attested 1159); this in turn was developed from the previous Old English form heofon. By about 1000, heofon was being used in reference to the Christianized "place where God dwells", but originally, it had signified "sky, firmament"[2] (e.g. in Beowulf, c. 725). The English term has cognates in the other Germanic languages: Old Saxon heƀan "sky, heaven" (hence also Middle Low German heven "sky"), Old Icelandic himinn, Gothic himins; and those with a variant final -l: Old Frisian himel, himul "sky, heaven", Old Saxon and Old High German himil, Old Saxon and Middle Low German hemmel, Old Dutch and Dutch hemel, and modern German Himmel. All of these have been derived from a reconstructed Proto-Germanic form *hemina-.[3] or *hemō.[4]

The further derivation of this form is uncertain. A connection to Proto-Indo-European *ḱem- "cover, shroud", via a reconstructed *k̑emen- or *k̑ōmen- "stone, heaven", has been proposed.[5] Others endorse the derivation from a Proto-Indo-European root *h₂éḱmō "stone" and, possibly, "heavenly vault" at the origin of this word, which then would have as cognates Ancient Greek ἄκμων (ákmōn "anvil, pestle; meteorite"), Persian آسمان‎ (âsemân, âsmân "stone, sling-stone; sky, heaven") and Sanskrit अश्मन् (aśman "stone, rock, sling-stone; thunderbolt; the firmament").[4] In the latter case English hammer would be another cognate to the word.

Other Languages
Acèh: Syuruga
Alemannisch: Himmel (Religion)
Ænglisc: Heofon
العربية: جنة
Avañe'ẽ: Vy'arenda
تۆرکجه: جنت
বাংলা: স্বর্গ
Bân-lâm-gú: Thian-tông
Boarisch: Himmereich
brezhoneg: Neñv
čeština: Nebe
chiShona: Denga (raMwari)
Cymraeg: Nefoedd
فارسی: بهشت
føroyskt: Himmiríki
français: Ciel (religion)
Frysk: Himel
Gaeilge: Neamh
Gàidhlig: Nèamh
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Thiên-koet
한국어: 천국
Bahasa Indonesia: Surga
isiZulu: Izulu
Kiswahili: Mbingu
kurdî: Bihuşt
lietuvių: Dausos
magyar: Mennyország
македонски: Рај
മലയാളം: സ്വർഗ്ഗം
Bahasa Melayu: Syurga
Nederlands: Hemel
नेपाल भाषा: स्वर्ग
日本語: 天国
norsk: Himmelen
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਸਵਰਗ
polski: Niebo (raj)
português: Céu (religião)
русский: Небеса
Scots: Heiven
Simple English: Heaven
slovenščina: Nebesa
کوردی: بەھەشت
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Raj
Tagalog: Kalangitan
татарча/tatarça: Оҗмах
తెలుగు: స్వర్గం
тоҷикӣ: Биҳишт
Türkçe: Cennet
українська: Небеса
اردو: بہشت
Tiếng Việt: Thiên đàng
Volapük: Sül
Yorùbá: Ọ̀run
粵語: 天堂
Zazaki: Cenet
žemaitėška: Dausas
中文: 天國