Tag Archives: Jiva Fall

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. 

Origin of the Jiva and Beginningless Karma

Question: Can you explain where the jivas have their origin. I understand it is in Paramatma, but Krsna also says that the living entities are his eternal fragmental parts (Gita 15.7). So what exactly does it mean?

Answer: The simple principle, which I am sure you know, is that Bhagavan has three distinct saktis, namely antaranga, bahiranga and tatastha. The Jiva is neither part of antaranga nor of bahiranga sakti. Jiva is part only of tatastha sakti. Paramatma is in charge of bahiranga as well as tatastha sakti. Therefore, truly speaking, jiva is part of Paramatma’s tatastha sakti. This is stated by Shri Jiva Gosvami in Paramatma Sandarbha.

There are three Paramatmas, namely Karanadakasayi Vishnu, Garbhodaksayi Vishnu, and Ksirodaksayi Vishnu. Karanodaksayi Vishnu is the Paramatma for the aggregate material nature (samasti prakriti) and the aggregate, or samasti, jivas. Garbhodaksayi Vishnu is the Paramatma for the individual universe, and Ksirodaksayi Vishnu is the Paramatma for the vyast, or individual, jivas.

If there is total annihilation, or samasti pralaya, then all jivas enter into Karanodaksayi Vishnu. But really speaking, it never happens. There are always some universes manifest and some are dissolving. Universes are at different stages of a cycle. Everything is cyclic. But even if you consider a total annihilation, then Karanodaksayi Vishnu enters into Sankarsana (part of caturvyuha in paravyoma , or Vaikuntha) with the totality of prakriti and the jivas, i.e., samasti bahiranga and tatastha saktis. When it is time to create, then Karanodaksayi Vishnu manifests from Sankarsana along with the complete material nature and the jivas.

So when Krsna says mamaivamsa jivaloke, He means that jiva is part of Paramatma’s tatastha sakti. Paramatma is His part, so there is nothing wrong in His statement.


Karma without Beginning

Question: I’ve been having a discussion with someone about the topical issue of the origin of the soul, and have argued in favor of the traditional Vedāntic viewpoint of beginningless, or anādi karma. The person I’ve been debating subscribes to a less-than-literal reading of the word anādi, and believes karma is not actually without beginning, but that jīvas originally lie in a dormant state within Brahman, and their karma has to be actuated at some point, prior to which there is no karma as such. I naturally disagreed with this but would still like to hear from you as to whether my understanding is scripturally sound.

Title page: "In Vaikuntha not even the Leaves Fall"Answer: Yes, your understanding is proper because anadi means beginningless. Karma is literally beginningless. There are no statements in scripture indicating that it is not beginningless. Sanskrit language is very precise and doesn’t lack words to convey a meaning. If karma were anything else than beginningless, other words would have been used.

In so many places the word anandi has been used in scripture and by commentators such as Sri Jiva Gosvami, BaladevaVidybhusana and Visvanath Cakravarti Thakura. If the word anadi in some particular verse had meant anything else, they would have made it very clear in their commentaries. While commenting on BG 13.20 (in some editions 19), both Baladeva and Visvanath Cakravarti clearly state that the conditioning of the jiva is beginningless:

Prakriti and jiva [and their combination] are without origin. Also, in SB 11.22.10 Krsna very clearly says that the jiva is covered by beginningless ignorance: anādy-avidyā-yuktasya.

However, we have to understand that karma per se is not beginningless. It is perpetual, because every individual karma has a beginning and an end. If jiva is in Brahman and karma were actuated at a particular point, then what kind of karma would such a jiva get? Does he/she start with a zero karma? If yes, how would he/she relate with anybody or anything in this world? What would cause him/her to have a first material body, which is supposed to be the product of past karma and the field for the future karma?

Question: During the course of the discussion, the classes of living entities in existence were equally touched upon, and there ensued a comparison of the terms nitya-siddha and nitya-baddha. In particular, the following point was put forward:

‘I think this misconception of some jivas never having to undergo sadhana starts with a misunderstanding of what Jiva Goswami wrote in Paramatma Sandarbha:
tadevamananta eva jIvAkhyAs taTasthAH zaktayaH. Tatra tAsAM vargadvayam. Eko vargo’nAditaH eva bhagavadunmukhaH, anyas tvanAditaH eva bhagavat-parAGmukhaH-svabhAvatastadIya jJAna-bhAvAt tadIya-jJAnAbhAvAcca.

“In this way the marginal energies called jivas are unlimited. They have two classes. One class is devoted to the Lord beginninglessly (anadi) and the other is not devoted to the Lord beginninglessly (anadi). This is because the former class of jivas naturally have knowledge of the Lord and the second class of jivas naturally do not have knowledge of the Lord.”

Now it would appear as if this supports the idea of two inherently different classes of jivas, if what he says is taken in the wrong way.

Answer: Yes, it is true that there are two different classes of jivas and it is clearly stated in this text—one is nitya mukta and the other one is nitya baddha. How can it be taken in the wrong way?

Question: That makes Krishna out to be especially merciful to some jivas, and less so to others. That would contradict Krishna’s teaching in the Gita, where he says he is equal to all.

Answer: This does not contradict Krsna’s teachings. Such a doubt arises by not understanding the word anadi, beginningless. Krsna is not creating some jivas as nitya baddha and others as nitya mukta. If that were the case, they would not be anadi. Just as Krsna Himself has no beginning, His energies also have no beginning. His tatastha (or intermediary) potency also has no beginning. This tatastha shakti has two divisions, which are also beginningless. This is what Jiva Gosvami is making the above statement. And anything which is beginningless is also causeless. It therefore does not contradict Krsna’s statement. He is equal to both of them. It would contradict his statement if he would have personally put some jivas under the influence of maya and spared the others.

Question: We know from śāstra that there are many, many more souls in the paravyoma than there are in the material world, and that most of these liberated beings have never been conditioned, i.e. they are nitya-siddha. Are these eternally liberated bhaktas, who have never been in touch with maya, then not jīvas at all, but another category of entity, e.g. expansions of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa?

Answer: In the spiritual world there are two types of devotees, the first category are those who are an expansion of the Lord. They do not belong to the tatastha potency. These are usually referred to by the word parsada. The devotees of the second category belong to the tatsatha potency. These devotees have never been conditioned and will never be conditioned by maya.

Question: Is it a fact that all jīvas, as he says, by definition have to undergo sādhana before they can attain the transcendental realm?

Answer: For the above mentioned reason it is not true that every devotee has to do sadhana to become perfect. Only those who are in the conditioned state, nitya baddhas, have to undergo sadhana to get freedom from their conditioning




No One Falls From Vaikuṇṭha – Part 7 (Bhagavat Sandarbha, 51)

Continuation of the commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa:

It has been shown logically that falling from Vaikuṇṭha is not possible under any circumstances. Nor is there any scriptural evidence to support such an event. However, there are many scriptural texts to the effect that it is impossible to fall down from the spiritual world, regardless of whether one has resided there eternally or has attained it after many lifetimes in the mundane world.

Still, to address any possible remaining doubt, we ask, “Have the nitya-siddhas attained Vaikuṇṭha or not?” If the answer is in the affirmative, then they cannot fall down. If they have not, where are they? They must be in Vaikuṇṭha, otherwise they are not nitya-siddhas. So how is it that they exist in Vaikuṇṭha, but have not attained it? Or is it that they are not in Vaikuṇṭha? If yes, then there is no falldown; and if no, then there is no falldown.

The reason most verses dealing with this subject use verbs like “having attained,” or “after reaching,” is because these instructions are meant for the conditioned souls. The Lord has no need to say this to the nitya-siddhas. First, the nitya-siddhas are not in ignorance of this knowledge. Second, when something is denied, it indicates the possibility of opposite action. If the Lord were to tell a nitya-siddha, “You will never fall because you are my devotee,” this would imply the possibility of falldown, otherwise why the reassurance? But the Lord never says that one can fall from Vaikuṇṭha (nor do they have any experience of this), and thus there is no need to reassure the nitya-siddhas. But the Lord does assure the conditioned souls that His abode is distinct in nature—it is a place of no return. He does this because conditioned souls know from scriptures that one can and does fall from the heavenly planets.

Scriptures inform us about subjects that are unknown to us and which we are unable to know by ourselves—śāstro’jñāta-jñāpakaḥ. Scriptural instructions are meant for the conditioned souls. Perfected souls are called nirgrantha (SB 1.7.10) and dūre-yamā (SB 3.15.25), “beyond the rules and regulations of scripture.” Lord Kṛṣṇa says, “You will step beyond everything that has been heard or is to be heard” (Gītā 2.52).  Pure devotees hear scriptures to relish the Lord’s pastimes, not to be given assurance that they will not fall. For them there is no difference between heaven and hell (SB 6.17.28).

Therefore, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī says tato’skhalanam—Vaikuṇṭha is a place of no falldown. He did not say “a place of no return,” otherwise he could have said tato’nāvartanam. He knows very well the difference between the two statements. Vaikuṇṭha is called acyuta-padam (SB 4.12.37). This can either mean the place of Lord Acyuta, or the place from where no one falls. Acyuta is a name of the Lord which means, “one who never falls,” and also, “one whose devotees never fall” (na cyavati cyāvayati vā ity acyutaḥ). This is confirmed in Skanda Purāṇa:

His devotees do not fall down even during the great dissolution; therefore, He is supreme, imperishable and omnipresent in all the planetary systems. (SkandaP 4.20.10)

Thus, Kṛṣṇa’s abode is here referred to as acyuta-padam—the place of no falldown. Lord Kṛṣṇa says:

No effort on the yoga path is ever lost, nor can any obstacle ever hold one back forever. Just a little progress on this path can protect one from the greatest fear. (Gītā 2.40)

(to be continued)

Gopal / Vrindavan Art


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