No One Falls From Vaikuṇṭha – Part 5 (Bhagavat Sandarbha, 51)

Continuation of the commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa:

(4 and 5) A perfected devotee never commits an offense. Offenses are committed due to ignorance, resulting from forgetfulness of the Lord. Offense (aparādha) means an act that causes displeasure. A siddha devotee never forgets the Lord, and he never desires to displease the Lord; he thus never commits offenses, knowingly or unknowingly. He is guided by the internal potency of the Lord, just as a conditioned soul is always under the influence of the external energy. The internal energy is always favorable to the Lord.

In Mādhurya-kādambinī, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has made a minute analysis of offenses while describing a devotee’s progress from śraddhā to prema. In the third chapter, he explains that when a devotee has attained prema, he is completely free from all types of offenses, and that when he attains the lotus feet of the Lord there is not even the slightest possibility of committing an offense.

For the enlightenment of those who think Mahārāja Citraketu offended Lord Śiva after having attained the darśana of Lord Śaṅkarṣaṇa, Viśvanātha writes that the king did not really offend Lord Śiva. He gives more details on this in his commentary on the 17th chapter of the Sixth Canto. The effect of an offense is that one’s affection for the Lord diminishes, but we see that even after King Citraketu took birth as Vṛtrāsura, he retained his love for the Lord.

According to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī (BRS 1.3.54), an offense committed to the Lord’s dear devotee can cause one’s bhāva, or permanent devotional disposition of being, to be lost altogether, transmuted into a mere semblance (bhāvābhāsa), or downgraded to a lower bhāva, depending on the gravity of the offense. But none of these things can happen once a devotee has attained the platform of prema. The conclusion is that a perfected devotee who has attained the Lord is free from all offenses. Readers can also refer to Prīti-sandarbha, Section 7, for more details.

(6) The last possibility is that the Lord Himself sends a devotee away. This is also impossible, except in cases where He deliberately sends one of His eternal companions to the material world for the purpose of assisting Him in His pastimes. The Lord positively told Durvāsā Muni:

O brāhmaṇa, I am completely under the control of My devotees, as if I had no independence at all. My heart has been fully captivated by My virtuous devotees, for I am their only beloved.

O brāhmaṇa, I have no desire to delight in My own Being, nor to enjoy My eternal opulences, separate from my virtuous devotees, to whom I am the supreme goal of life.

How could I possibly abandon those sādhus who, for My sake, have given up home, wife, children, family members, wealth, life and all hopes for happiness in this world and the next?

I am conquered by the virtuous whose hearts are tied to Me while showing equanimity to all beings, just as a virtuous wife wins over her pious husband’s love.

My devotees are completely satisfied by their service to Me. They have not even the slightest interest in the four kinds of liberation (sālokya, sārupya, sāmīpya and sārṣṭī) automatically available to them as a mere side-effect of their service. How could they yearn for anything that is destroyed by time?

I am the heart of the devotees and they are Mine. They know nothing other than Me, and I, nothing other than them. (SB 9.4.63-68)

These verses lucidly describe the Lord’s intense affection for His devotees. They were spoken with respect to Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, who was in the material world, so imagine how much more they must apply to devotees who are supremely perfect and have been eternally rendering service to the Supreme Lord in transcendental bodies, within the spiritual domain. Kṛṣṇa assured Arjuna in similar fashion:

O son of Kunti! Such a devotee very quickly becomes righteous and attains eternal peace. Therefore, declare it loudly: My devotee will never perish. (Gītā 9.31)

This verse is spoken in reference to devotees in the material world who accidentally engage in abominable action, sudurācāra. Even they do not fall into the material conception of life. Inauspiciousness does not exist for devotees of the Lord (MB 13.149.131).

It has thus been shown that none of the above conditions that could hypothetically lead to a devotee’s falldown exist even as possibilities in Vaikuṇṭha, for it is the place free from all such fear. One may still, however, suspect that there may be non-devotees in Vaikuṇṭha to whom such arguments do not apply. Such persons could fall down due to any of the six aforementioned possibilities, could they not?

We reply that there are no non-devotees in Vaikuṇṭha. As stated earlier, mukti means being free from foreign elements and being situated in one’s own svarūpa. The nature of the living being is spiritual—he is a part of Kṛṣṇa. This means he is a servant of the Being who is his Source. As stated in the Padma Purāṇa, “The living being is exclusively a servant of Lord Hari and nothing else” (PP 6.226.37).

Continue reading Part 6