No One Falls From Vaikuṇṭha – Part 2 (Bhagavat Sandarbha, 51)

Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa:

Srila Jiva Gosvami
Srila Jiva Gosvami

In this anuccheda, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī proves that no one falls to the material world from Vaikuṇṭha. In other words, Vaikuṇṭha is acyuta-padam, a place devoid of falldown. Anuccheda 49 established that Vaikuṇṭha is not attained by karma, since it is beyond time, which destroys everything achieved by karma. Time, however, does not influence the transcendental realm. Thus, Lord Kapiladeva instructs His mother—no’nimiṣo leḍhi hetiḥ. The wheel of time devours neither the devotees residing in Vaikuṇṭha, nor their opulences.

Time, however, does exist in Vaikuṇṭha, not as a material influence of mutation and destruction but as a transcendental potency fully under the

Lord’s control, providing unique moments for the unfolding of His pastimes. We saw in Anuccheda 7 Brahmā’s statement, from his personal experience, that “time has no control over Vaikuṇṭha” (na ca kāla-vikramaḥ, SB 2.9.10). This means that everything in Vaikuṇṭha is eternal. Anuccheda 35 explained this in respect to Lord Kṛṣṇa’s birth and other actions.

The Lord and His actions are eternal, which means that the devotees and their actions are also eternal, since they are related to the Lord. If we accept that a devotee falls from Vaikuṇṭha, we must assume he falls eternally, which means the falling never comes to an end. And if it does not come to an end, it means that he never reaches the material world. If a jīva can fall, then Vaikuṇṭha must be concluded to be like any other material place.

To refute this misconception, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī begins by categorically stating:

tato’skhalanam—There is no fall from Vaikuṇṭha. Since Jīva Prabhu is discussing the inherent nature of Vaikuṇṭha, it is understood he is not referring only to those devotees who go there from the material world. No śāstric evidence indicates that there is any distinction between the devotees who arrive in Vaikuṇṭha from the material world and those who have been there eternally. Vaikuṇṭha manifests its inherent nature uniformly to all the resident devotees. It is not that it is a place of anxiety for some and a place of peace for others. Therefore, Lord Kapila says śānta-rūpa—its nature is that of unalterable peace, without trace of any influence that could disrupt the continuity of such peace.

The verb naṅkṣyanti, “will meet with destruction,” is used in connection with the particle of negation, na karhicin, meaning “this will never occur.” This is highly significant. The residents of Vaikuṇṭha, without exception, never lose their opulence. Therefore, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī writes unequivocally—tad-vāsino lokāḥ kadācid api na naṅkṣyanti, bhogya-hīnā na bhavanti—the residents of Vaikuṇṭha are never destroyed, meaning they are never bereft of their opulence. This naturally means that no resident of Vaikuṇṭha falls to the material world.

Lord Kapila submits two reasons for this in the second verse cited: First, Time has no influence in Vaikuṇṭha. The second and more important reason is that all residents of Vaikuṇṭha have an eternal loving relationship with the Lord (sthāyi-bhāva). This relationship is not material and is never lost or covered. And beyond that, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī says that the Lord has so much love for His devotees (vātsalya-viśeṣa) that He gives them all opulence even though they do not desire it. Hence, there is no possibility that anything could violate the will of the Lord to deprive the devotees of their opulence.

To dispel the doubt that spiritual opulence might cause the devotees to forget the Lord, as is the case with material opulence, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī says, teṣām anartha-rūpatvam khaṇḍitam—these opulences are in no way detrimental to them. Section 18 explained that māyā acts by first concealing the awareness of the living being (jīva māyā), and then by alluring him through projection of the world appearance (guṇa-māyā). It is not possible for this to happen in Vaikuṇṭha, since māyā does not exist there—na yatra māyā (SB 2.9.10). Devotees are not hindered by ignorance in Vaikuṇṭha, and their opulence is a manifestation of the Lord’s mercy—māyayācitā (SB 3.25.37). Here māya means the mercy of the Lord, as stated in the Viśva-prakāśa dictionary—māyā dambhe kṛpāyāṁ ca— māyā can mean deceit or mercy.

The above verse therefore states na naṅkṣyanti, which indicates that transcendental opulences can never be destroyed. The Lord is eternal; as such, relationships established with Him are also eternal. It is clearly confirmed herein that relationships with Him cannot be destroyed, and thus it follows that opulences stemming from those relationships can also never be destroyed.

To clarify the topic further for those who cling still to doubt, let us assume that a devotee could somehow or other fall from Vaikuṇṭha. The obvious question that arises is, “How could such a thing occur?” One may say that transcendental events are causeless and thus there is no reason. But how can falling be considered transcendental? Transcendental action yields transcendental results, and falling into the material world cannot be considered transcendental. Hence, by the principle of phala-bala-kalpa-nyāya (understanding a cause by its results), it is concluded that such a fall can only be material. Thus, falling has a beginning and end, which characterizes it as a material occurrence; so again, it cannot be regarded as transcendental.

A question that naturally arises in this regard is, “How can a material event originate in the spiritual world?” It has been proven here in many places, specifically in Anucchedas 7 and 50, that Vaikuṇṭha is beyond the material world, free from the influence of time and from the guṇas of nature. In response, one may argue that the origin of this event is not material, but when the living being crosses the boundary, out of Vaikuṇṭha, the action becomes material. This is, of course, absurd.

Continue reading part 3