Tag Archives: Fall from Vaikuntha

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.

New Book Release: Jiva Tattva!

This long awaited book conclusively deals with the nature of the living being as per the Gauḍīya School of thought and related aspects. It also deals with various misconceptions about the jīva that are prevalent in Vaiṣṇava circles.

Knowledge about the jīva is gained from śāstra. However, if one does not know how to interpret it properly, śāstra can be misunderstood. It is for this reason that there are differences of opinion about the nature of the jīva in different groups of spiritualists. In this book, some basic principles are discussed that govern how śāstra is meant to be understood at different levels and how its true intentions are realized. 

On any spiritual path, including bhakti, there are three factors involved: the practitioner, the practice, and the goal to be achieved. To be successful in one’s spiritual practice, one must have a clear understanding of all three of these factors. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī calls them sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojana, respectively. As a practitioner on the path of bhakti, one must know one’s identity and relationship with Kṛṣṇa clearly. To practice bhakti successfully, one should also know what bhakti is and how it is to be practiced. And finally, one must have a clear understanding of the goal one is aspiring for in one’s practice. Jiva Tattva primarily focuses on providing authoritative knowledge about the practitioner, the jīva.

The main points that have are established are as follows: 

  1. The jīva is an eternal conscious being belonging to Kṛṣṇa’s intermediary potency (taṭasthā-śakti) and has the potential to act, know, and experience.
  2. In the conditioned state, the jīva is under the influence of Kṛṣṇa’s external potency, called māyā.
  3. The conditioning of the jīva has no beginning.
  4. The conditioning of the jīva can come to an end by the grace of bhakti.
  5. Bhakti is attained by the grace of a devotee or Kṛṣṇa.
  6. Bhakti is not dormant within the svarūpa of the jīva.
  7. When a jīva becomes perfected in bhakti, he is awarded a spiritual body at the time of giving up the physical body.
  8. The spiritual body is not dormant or inherent within the svarūpa of the jīva.
  9. The spiritual bodies attained by perfected jīvas exist eternally in the spiritual world and a particular spiritual body suitable to each particular perfected jīva is awarded to them for their eternal service to Bhagavān.
  10. Once the jīva attains a spiritual body, the jīva is never again conditioned by māyā.
  11. No jīva ever falls from the spiritual abode back down in the material world of māyā.
  12. There is no such thing as taṭastha region and thus there is no fall-down from there.

Jiva Tattva cover pageYou can order the book here from our Onlinestore. 

No One Falls From Vaikuṇṭha – Part 9 (Bhagavat Sandarbha, 51)

Continuation of the commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa:

Our disputant may set forth yet another objection: If this section is properly analyzed, we can conclude that it refers only to those devotees who reach Vaikuṇṭha from the material world. This can be ascertained by studying the six items that determine the import of a text, such as its opening and closing statements. These are described in the following verse:

The true import of a text can be decided by these six criteria: (1) that which is stated at the beginning and the end; (2) that which is repeated throughout the text; (3) that which is unique to it; (4) that which is stated to be the result; (5) that which is praised; and (6) that which is established by logical argument.

The disputant may argue that the opening verse, concluding verse and the Upaniṣad mantra quoted in the section currently under discussion, all refer to the jīva who attains Vaikuṇṭha from the material world.

Answer: This type of analysis is applied only when ambiguity exists about the subject of a book, chapter or essay. But such is not the case here. It is clearly evident that Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī is discussing the qualities of Vaikuṇṭha. He listed nine characteristics of Vaikuṇṭha in Section 49, and is now explaining them in detail. In this present section, he is arguing that one of Vaikuṇṭha’s divine characteristics and proofs of its transcendental nature is that no one falls from there (tato’skhalanam).

Moreover, even if one follows the method of analysis recommended above and concludes that the subject of the section is that those who attain Vaikuṇṭha from the material world never again fall, this does not prove that eternal associates fall. This section makes no such statements, directly or indirectly, and to form such a conclusion is highly improper. On the contrary, the second verse spoken by Lord Kapila (SB 3.25.38), clearly states that Kṛṣṇa’s devotees are never bereft of opulence. Jīva’s intention in quoting it is to say that they never fall.

Krishna, Balaram and gopas on Govardhan Hill / Vrindavan Art

Yet another objection may be raised: The cycle of creation and destruction of the material world is beginningless and has thus occurred innumerable times. During the maintenance period, some jīvas occasionally attain liberation. If living beings continue to exit the material world and no new souls enter by falling from Vaikuṇṭha, then the universe should have been empty by now. Thus, according to this reasoning, it would be logical to assume that an equal number of souls fall from Vaikuṇṭha to replace those who achieve liberation from the material world.

Answer: Such a concept results from ignorance of the unlimited nature of the Lord. There are unlimited material universes, and each contains unlimited living beings. Unlimited means that when some are removed, an unlimited number still remain. Even in mathematics, infinity minus infinity equals infinity. There are an infinite number of points existing in a line that extends from point A to point B. If this line is divided into two parts, say AC and CB, each line still contains an infinite number of points.

Moreover, the logic of the objection ultimately backfires. If nitya-siddhas fall to replace the jīvas who achieve liberation, and those who go to Vaikuṇṭha from the material world never come back, then, as time is beginningless (anādi), by now all the nitya-siddhas would have fallen into the material world and returned to Vaikuṇṭha, and there would be no virgin nitya-siddhas left to fall. Thus, the material world would be empty. Obviously this imagined state is far from the truth, otherwise I would not be here writing this commentary.

The prayers of the personified Śrutis (SB 10.87.30) acknowledge that there are unlimited or countless living beings (aparimita). In commenting on this verse, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī quotes Vajra Mahārāja’s question to the sage Mārkaṇḍeya from the Viṣṇu-dharmottara Purāṇa (1.81.12):

O brāhmaṇa, because time has no beginning, therefore even if only one person achieved liberation in each of the bygone kalpas, wouldn’t the world be empty by now?

Mārkaṇḍeya’s answer is as follows:

When someone is liberated, the Supreme Lord, who possesses unlimited potency, brings forth (sargeṇa) another jīva and thus always keeps the world full. Those people who achieve brahma-loka become liberated along with Brahmā. Then in the next cycle of creation (mahā-kalpa), the Lord emits (sṛjyante) similar beings. Material nature and the living beings should be understood to be beginningless. Their transformations and the guṇas of matter are products of material nature.

Therefore, there is no need to assume that living beings fall from Vaikuṇṭha to replace the liberated souls. The important word in Markaṇḍeya’s reply is acintya-śakti, or inconceivable power. This has been discussed in greater detail in earlier sections of this book. Without accepting the existence of this astonishing potency of the Lord, one can never hope to understand Him in truth.

A doubt may be raised, however, in regard to Mārkaṇḍeya’s statement. Living beings are said to be beginningless (anādi). Why then does Mārkaṇḍeya say that the Lord brings forth (sargeṇa) other jīvas?

Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī answers that there are unlimited dormant living beings, which the Lord activates as He desires. This is what is meant by the term “brings forth” in the above verse. The word sarga, or creation, does not mean producing new living beings. This siddhānta is accepted by all Vaiṣṇavas.

Actually, the verb sṛjyante (He creates) is used here to mean “emits.” It comes from the root √sṛj visarge, which can be used to mean either “to create” or “to emit.” Since the first meaning would contradict many other statements asserting that the jīva is never created, we must take the second meaning here. Sṛjyante then means to release the jīva from the dormant state into the active condition.

Continue reading part 10

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

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