Sadbhuja bestowing prema

Fall from Param Padam, Bestowing Prema

Question: How do you understand the term paraṁ padam in SB 10.2.32 (ye’nye’ravindākṣa vimukta-māninas…) in the sense that paraṁ padam refers to the highest abode, and this verse is speaking about falling from there. Some argue that the verse mentions paraṁ padam and therefore must be speaking about some fall from the “highest position,” which could be Vaikuṇṭha or Brahman.

Answer: Śrīdhara Svāmī glosses paraṁ padam as good birth, tapas, high education etc.—satkula-tapaḥ-śrutādi. Jīva Gosvāmī glosses it as jīvan-mukti attained by following jñāna-mārgajīvanmuktirūpam. Viśvanātha Cakravartī also glosses it as the jīvan-mukti state. Śukadeva (Nimbarka scholar) glosses it as the human body—nṛ-deham. Virarāghava Ācārya glosses it as being born in varnāśrama society—varnāśramādi rūpaṁ paraṁ padam utkṛṣṭa sthānam. So none of the commentators take paraṁ padam to mean Vaikuṇṭha or even Brahma-sāyujya. 

The meaning of words should be given as per the context in which they are being used. First of all, the verse is speaking about those who are not inclined for bhakti at all – tvay-asta-bhāvād. Rather, they are offensive towards Bhagavān – anādṛta-yuṣmadaṅghrayaḥ. How can such a person attain the “highest position” in the form of Vaikuṇṭha or even Brahman? This verse is immediately contrasted by the following verses that deny any falldown for a devotee. So again, there is absolutely no possibility of param padam referring to any spiritual position.

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Question: In relation to those statements made in the Caitanya Caritāmṛta regarding Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s unparalleled magnanimity, you said that those who were benedicted with prema did actually possess some background adhikāra. Could you kindly explain?

Answer: Not everything that is written is to be taken literally. When it is said that He gave prema to someone, it could be that He actually bestowed prema or that was just His līlā with His associates who already had prema but were playing the part of ordinary conditioned beings. This is not unusual. You can see this in the pastime of Kṛṣṇa instructing Arjuna. Arjuna is an eternal associate of Kṛṣṇa and is counted as one among the Kṛṣṇa’s vibhutis – pāṇḍavānāṁ dhanañjaya ( Gītā 10.37), and vīrāṇam aham arjunah (SB 11.16.35). Yet Kṛṣṇa instructed him as if Arjuna was truly bewildered. In any case, whether Mahāprabhu actually betowed prema on a conditioned being or on His eternal associate who played the role of a conditioned being, the principle conveyed is that He is munificent and comes to teach about prema. Even for sādhakas, prema ultimately comes by the grace of the guru, just as it is said that Kṛṣṇa, seeing the labor of mother Yaśodā, became bound by His own kṛpā.

Question: I also thought about the biographers employing their “ecstatic voice” in describing such events. The problem is that other Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas could then claim that statements about Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu being Kṛṣṇa (what to speak of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa) could also be taken in that light.

Answer: The other sampradāyas do not accept Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu as Kṛṣṇa. I do not know any sampradāya that accepts this. So do not worry about that.

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Question: Does Gaura-līlā take place only in the Kaliyuga of the different Mahayugas and kalpas? Because kīrtan and nāma japa are the yuga dharma of Kaliyuga alone, the Gaudiya sampradāya focuses more on them than other sampradāyas. In other yugas, the yuga dharma was different from kīrtan and nāma japa. Does Kṛṣṇa come as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in Kaliyuga alone or in other yugas as well?

Answer: Gaura-līlā happens only once in a day of Brahmā, i.e., only once in 1000 Kaliyugas.