Krishna and dopas

No One Falls From Vaikuṇṭha – Part 3 (Bhagavat Sandarbha, 51)

Continuation of the commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa:

Transcendental entities do not get converted from spiritual to material. Moreover, Vaikuṇṭha is unlimited—it has no bounds. It is anantam, as stated in the Bhāgavatam:

This abode is truth, consciousness, the unlimited, the indestructible spiritual effulgence that silent sages witness in their trance of spiritual absorption after the material qualities have been effaced. (SB 10.28.15)

Vaikuṇṭha is all-pervading, just like the Supreme Lord, who exists everywhere and never leaves His abode. This means that His abode exists everywhere. The material world cannot contain the extent of His being. Thus, the Śruti asks, “Where is the Lord situated?” and answers, “in His own glory,” meaning in His own abode (ChU 7.24.1).

Objection: But if Vaikuṇṭha is unlimited, how is it that we do not see it or exist in it? And why is it said that when a devotee is liberated, he leaves the material world and enters into the spiritual world?

Answer: We do not experience Vaikuṇṭha because our consciousness is absorbed in and identified with matter. Going to Vaikuṇṭha actually means becoming of the nature of Vaikuṇṭha (sat-cit-ānanda), or in other words, to exist exclusively in and for Kṛṣṇa, to be fully conscious of Him in every arising moment, to radiate His own potency of bliss in order to expand His personal bliss. A television has many channels, yet while tuned to a particular channel, we cannot see programs shown on other channels. Transmission waves of numerous channels are broadcast into the atmosphere and are received by the television; we then choose which one to view, and it appears on the screen. Similarly, there are basically two channels in existence, Vaikuṇṭha and māyā, and a person views one or the other according to his or her particular state of consciousness.

Everything exists in the Lord and the Lord exists everywhere. The Lord is always situated in His own abode, and so His abode exists everywhere. since matter does not exist there.

If we accept that the jīva falls from Vaikuṇṭha, we must admit it is a material event from beginning to end. Although a material act cannot occur in Vaikuṇṭha, let us assume for the sake of argument that it could somehow happen. Falling can have either a material or a spiritual cause. Below are six conditions often thought to precede a falldown. Following the list, we will discuss each of the conditions in greater detail.

1. The jīva wishes to come to the material world, inspired by his free will;
2. He commits sin;
3. He is cursed by a devotee or the Lord;
4. He offends a devotee;
5. He offends the Lord; or
6. The Lord decides to make him fall, as He is free to do as He likes.

It is not possible for a devotee to fall from Vaikuṇṭha for any of these reasons. Here is why:

(1) The devotee’s very nature, svarūpa, is to be in undiminishing, unbreakable, all-consuming love for God, to long only for His bliss through naturally arising service in devotion. Such devotees do not desire material or spiritual opulence without devotional service, because, in fact, they desire nothing independent of the Lord. Their will, too, being of the same transcendental nature, exists simply for the pleasure of the Lord. This is the import of Lord Kapila’s statement, quoted above, “They do not hanker even for the transcendental glory of God” (śrīyaṁ bhāgavatiṁ vāspṛhayanti). Furthermore, spiritual opulences, and for that matter, even material opulences, are fully available to them as experiential possibilities at every moment, by the mercy of the Lord (mama māyayācitam, SB 3.25.37). So why yearn for that which eternally sits in the palm of one’s own hand?

Elsewhere, Lord Kapila states:

Without being assured of My service, a pure devotee does not accept any kind of liberation, whether it be residence on the same planet with Me (sālokya), opulence equal to Mine (sārṣṭi), proximity to Me (sāmīpya), endowment with a form identical to Mine (sārūpya) or becoming one with Me (ekatvam), even though I may offer these to him. (SB 3.29.13)

Vinā mat-sevanam here means, “without My service.” This means that a devotee would accept one or more of these different types of liberation only if they prove conducive for his service to the Lord, but not for independent enjoyment. A devotee certainly has no desire to come to the material world. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī says that devotees have no interest in material enjoyment because they consider it completely devoid of significance or substantiality—tasyātitucchatvena. Why should a discerning person abandon a touchstone to acquire a piece of glass (kāca-maṇi)? On the contrary, a devotee never conceives, even for a moment, of leaving Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. Everything else is simply of no interest. King Parīkṣit confirms this while speaking to his wisdom teacher:

A person whose heart has been washed clean never abandons Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. Like a traveler who has arrived home, he is relieved of all distress. (SB 2.8.6)

In Section 7 of Prīti-sandarbha, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī writes that one should not think that Jaya and Vijaya chose to become enemies of the Lord in order to quickly relieve themselves from the curse of the Kumāras—na ca tayor eva svāparādha-bhoga-śīghra-nistārārtham api tādṛśīcchā jāteti vācyam. Pure devotees of the Lord do not accept even sālokya-mukti if it is bereft of bhakti, and are prepared even to go to hell for the sake of bhakti. Indeed, Jaya and Vijaya’s only request was, “But we pray that Your compassion be invoked on seeing our penitence, so that as we descend ever downward, we will not be overtaken by the bewilderment that causes forgetfulness of the Lord” (SB 3.15.36).

Thus, for a Vaikuṇṭha resident to give up the Lord’s service and voluntarily come to the material world is highly illogical and against scriptural conclusions.

The Lord has endowed the devotees with freedom of will for the purpose of serving Him, not for leaving Him. Lord Kṛṣṇa says that everyone follows his own nature, and that it is very difficult to give it up (Gītā 3.33). This is also commonly experienced by everyone. So, if abandoning one’s acquired, and hence spurious, material nature is so difficult, how much more difficult would it be for a resident of Vaikuṇṭha to give up his eternal, and hence true, nature—the nature to love and serve the all-conscious, all-blissful, all-encompassing Being to whom we eternally belong! Just as fire cannot exist without heat, a pure devotee in Vaikuṇṭha cannot exist without service.

Freedom of will does not mean acting frivolously, nor does it imply having the power to manifest whatever it is one may desire (i.e., omnipotence). We have freedom of will, but even if we desire to do so, we haven’t the power or capacity to stand on our own shoulders. Moreover, the mere fact that drinking poison is within the range of decision making possibilities doesn’t mean that a person would likely choose to do so. How then would a Vaikuṇṭha resident choose something that is altogether outside their range of experience and interest?

Continue reading part 4

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