BEFORE THAT EVEN

by Kailasa Candra dasa

"As soon as we try to become Lord, immediately we are covered by Maya. Formerly, we were with Krishna in His lila or sport, but this covering of Maya may be of very, very, very, very long duration. Therefore, many creations are coming and going. Due to this long period of time, it is sometimes said that we are ever-conditioned . . . Unless one develops full devotional service to Krishna, he goes up only to brahma-sayujya but falls down. After millions and millions of years of keeping oneself away from the lila of the Lord, when one comes to Krishna consciousness, this period becomes insignificant, just like dreaming. Because he falls down from brahma sayujya, he thinks that may be his origin, but he does not remember that, before that even, he was with Krishna." THE ORIGIN OF THE JIVA: BRAHMAJYOTI OR KRISHNA LILA? Australian conversation with Srila Prabhupada Transcribed as Nectar of the Month, BBT Report, January, 1982

"The fallen souls come from the marginal position within the brahmajyoti and not from Vaikuntha."--A godbrother of Srila Prabhupada; a mahant of the Gaudiya Math in Mayapur

These two statements are at odds. From the Vaishnava perspective only one of them is false. From the Absolute perspective, they cannot be successfully neutralized--they remain as polarities. Causal conflicts produced by apa-siddhantic assertions can only be resolved. They cannot be compromised.

The latter statement is held by the Gaudiya Math, and this appears to have been the case for many decades. This assertion may well also now be the majority view even amongst Prabhupada’s Western devotees, also. Some of them overtly preach it.

The first statement is quite to the point. If indeed it is now the minority opinion amongst Vaishnavas worldwide, such may not be the case for all of the remaining 9,500 years of Lord Chaitanya’s Golden Age.

Simply because some kind of assertion or conclusion has been in vogue and held for many decades by various Vaishnava groups does not automatically mean that it concurs with Srila Prabhupada’s preachings and that it is Absolute Truth. He never encouraged us to blindly accept anything, especially when it contradicts what he was (and is) saying.

Although this topic should be presented in a shastric, logical, and considerate context, there is no way that it can be entirely devoid of confrontational elements. Controversial topics must be confronted for the purpose of ascertaining the Absolute Truth. One should not avoid them, because, as long as they are as important and essential as this topic, they work to strengthen the mind spiritually, no matter how controversial they may appear to be.

Isn’t the quotation by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada (above) so glaringly clear and self-evident that any one of his devotees should already know where the Truth of this issue is situated? For those who still have some doubts or want to see the topic discussed in a more threadbare manner, the remainder of this treatise will make the siddhanta of this topic even more self-evident.

ETERNAL INDEPENDENCE

"A living entity misuses his little independence when he wants to lord it over material nature. This misuse of independence, which is called maya, is always available. Otherwise, there would not be independence. Independence implies that one can use it properly or improperly." Srimad Bhagavatam 3.31.15

"They are all self-realized souls who are nitya-mukta, everlastingly liberated. Although they could conceivably declare themselves Narayan or Vishnu, they do not do so. They always remain Krishna conscious and serve the Lord faithfully." Srimad Bhagavatam 6.1.34

BHAKTIJANA:"When the souls that were never conditioned at all . . . do they have the independence?"

PRABHUPADA:"Yes, but they have not misused . . ."

The living entity has eternal independence in the matter of properly or improperly using his free will. If his primeval origin was the brahmajyoti, where does the misuse of independence come in? This will be even more clearly discussed in the next section of the treatise. The inconceivability argument by our protagonists is a bit of a stretch here, and this will be made clear when the service attitude is brought into the discussion.

If a teacher gives a student full knowledge, and the student still chooses wrongly, then the student is at fault, not the teacher. If God originally made the jiva nothing more than an impersonal spark in the brahmajyoti, how is it that that spark’s "equilibrium somehow became disturbed"? How could such a falldown be the jiva’s responsibility? It would be God’s responsibility if that were the case, and the so-called free will of the jiva would be a hoax.

One may contend that the ability of the jiva to initially become envious of God is a constitutional fault. Actually, it is a symptom of the jiva’s free will, which is one of his constitutional glories. Subconsciously (or even consciously), those who cling to the belief that the living entity originally came from the brahmajyoti must feel that evil is supreme, and that is one of the reasons why that apa-siddhanta is covert mayavada.

The inconceivability side of this point comes into play when the query of just how and why a specific jiva individually fell is enunciated. While still in the conditioned state, we cannot know the specifics of this, and, as such, it remains achintya or inconceivable.

". . . so the potency to fall under the influence of the lower energy is always there." Letter to Rayarama, 12.2.68

"So, there is chance of falling down even from the personal association of God . . ." Room conversation, 9.19.73

"The souls are endowed with minute independence as part of their nature. And this minute independence may be utilized rightly or wrongly at any time, so there is always the chance of falling down by misuse of one’s independence." Letter to Jagadish, 4.25.70

TURNING AWAY FROM SERVICE

"When the living entities desire to enjoy themselves, they develop a consciousness of duality and come to hate the service of the Lord." Srimad Bhagavatam 4.28.53

"When the living entity thus turns away from the Supreme Lord, he also forgets his own constitutional position as a servant of the Lord." Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.37

 

How can you hate (dveshya) the service of the Lord (seva) and turn your face away from that service (bahirmukha) when you are not engaged in any service whatsoever while floating around in the brahmajyoti? Even in shanta rasa in Vaikuntha, there is at least some kind of service. There is no service at all, however, in the brahmajyoti.

For the soul to become disturbed in the first place, he has to have an innate nature of something more than the non-differentiated state of existence. Otherwise, what is there for him to become disturbed about? That innate something else is his service attitude in combination with his original, personal relationship with the Supreme Lord. If the jiva has infinitesimal free will, how can he develop an aversion to service if he has never previously been engaged in it? The proof of our eternal service is that we are still serving here, although we are now serving the maya. Only in the brahmajyoti can a jiva’s perverted desire to cease serving altogether be facilitated by the Lord.

FORGETFULNESS OF RELATIONSHIP

"The living entity cannot be forgetful of his real identity unless influenced by the avidya potency." Srimad Bhagavatam 3.7.5

"We have come from the spiritual world into this material world. We have forgotten our Father. So we have to revive this relationship with our Father, or God--or Krishna." Lecture, 10.07.75

" . . . but, in the material world, by the spell of maya or illusion, this eternal relation with the Supreme Personality of Godhead is forgotten . . . "?Srimad Bhagavatam 1.15.25-26

Our original relationship with Krishna is never lost. It was ripped away from us by the prakshepatmika-shakti of Maya, and we were then covered over by her avaranatmika-shakti of forgetfulness. As such, our original relationship with the Lord is forgotten, and this has tragic consequences for the jiva. We futilely try to re-establish that personal relationship with material liaisons, and this is ultimately only productive of misery.

"The living entities are not without spiritual senses. Every living being in his original, spiritual form has all the senses, which are now material, being covered by the body and mind. Activities of the material senses are perverted reflections of spiritual pastimes." Sri Ishopanishad, Verse 11

This tragedy is only very rarely transcended by artificially adopting mayavada and self-imposing the belief that we have never had any personal relationship with Krishna.

"Yes. The conditioned souls are parts and parcels of the Lord and thus were with Krishna before being conditioned . . . similarly, each soul has seen Krishna . . ." Letter to Jagadish, 2.25.70

"We are all originally Krishna conscious entities . . ." Address to large audience--Prabhupada on the Hare Krishna album

Our protagonists counter with this quotation from Prabhupada:

"The all-pervading feature of the Lord, which exists in all circumstances of waking and sleeping as well as in potential states, and from which the jiva-shakti (living force) is generated as both conditioned and liberated souls, is known as brahman." Sri Ishopanishad, Verse 16

Please note that the adverb "originally" is nowhere to be found in this quotation. Jivas may descend or generate many times in this way from brahma-sayujya, but that does not make the brahmajyoti their original home.

 

IT CUTS BOTH WAYS

"These are the secrets of the acharyas. Sometimes, they conceal the real purpose of the Vedas--explain the Vedas in a different way. Sometimes, they enunciate a different theory just to bring the atheists under their control." Cc. Madhya, 25.42

We all know that Lord Buddha was an empowered incarnation of God. He was sent on a mission to curtail animal slaughter in the name of the Vedas. He preached some atheistic nonsense along with facts about the law of karma. He accomplished the mission. We all know that Lord Shankaracharya was an empowered incarnation of Shiva sent later on a different mission to curtail Buddhism and re-establish Vedic authority. He preached a covert form of atheism, along with many Vedic truths, in order to accomplish the mission. His brand of impersonalism is still prominent in India today. Some influence of it even penetrates into various Vaishnava camps.

Our protagonists cannot simply ignore all of the many quotes which we have brought out (and there are others) in this article. They have an interesting way of explaining those quotes away, in one fell swoop. The dismiss the validity of those self-evident statements by rationalizing that Srila Prabhupada was simply presenting this different theory in order to win over the Christians, and perhaps the Jews, also.

An interesting theory. The argument goes that Prabhupada was recruiting his disciples primarily in the West, which is dominated by Judeo-Christian thought. As such, he warped the philosophy in order to bring those sentimentalists who were attracted to his movement under his control.

We counter this by saying: It cuts both ways, gentlemen!

In order to explain this two-edged sword, we need to briefly digress to an important, related tangent. First, ask yourself this question: Who was Prabhupada really trying to influence when he presented what could be construed as "different theories"? In the West, he was predominantly converting drug-crazed atheists, agnostic students, and pantheists (hippies). Most of these people were so degraded, bewildered, and rebellious that they were inclined to accept any and everything he said. Had he told us back then that we all originally emanated from the brahmajyoti, we would have simply accepted--and we would have pushed it.

Was there any record of Prabhupada really trying to affiliate his movement with any of the Christian sects. Almost all of them couldn’t even accept his arguments against meateating! He met with a cardinal or a priest here and there, but discussions about unification and affiliation--where do we find any of those?

Now, there was a place where Prabhupada did enter into discussions with various sects, testing the waters for cooperation, affiliation, and possible unification. That was in India. There are plenty of letters, morning walks, room conversations, and even photos which establish this. Of course, Prabhupada insisted that any such unification could and would only take place if his movement was predominant in the newly-formed organization and His Divine Grace was accepted as the ultimate leader.

The opportunity, unfortunately, was never taken up by any of these Indian groups. It was particularly not taken up by the Gaudiya Math. Still, Prabhupada thought that there was a chance and made repeated efforts.

If those efforts had ever reached the point of coming close to fruition, then long held misconceptions by these groups would have to be either confronted or finessed. The mother of all such philosophical differences would have been this original-emanation-of-the-jiva controversy. Prabhupada may well have wanted to get the cooperation and affiliation going some before confronting this subtle form of mayavada.

We contend that the handful of references found in Prabhupada’s books--those which give some rather indirect indication that the jiva may have original come from the brahmajyoti--were purposefully put there by His Divine Grace in order to give these groups the facility of gradually acquiescing to the Absolute Truth of this issue.

In effect, he wanted to cushion the blow. As far as that goes, since Prabhupada was such a liberal sampradaya acharya, there is also no small chance that he wanted to give the mayavadis something, also. After all, Lord Krishna left some kind of apparently material body.

Of course, on the whole, let the record note that Prabhupada smashed the arguments of the mayavadis.

What about these contra-indicators? We make no claim to be able to site all of them. Those on the other side of the argument will almost certainly be able to present more to you, if you want to know about them. However, one important point bears noting here. Wherever such quotations are said to be made in either Bhaktivinode’s writings, or in the sandarbhas, etc., remember that all such translations into English may be flawed. We can only take advantage of those literatures when the translations are accurate, and, most importantly, when they do not contradict Prabhupada’s writings.

Ever get the idea that mixing the flowery discussions of personal svarupa with Krishna along with the impersonal origination theory is a bit of a rasabhasa? Ever consider that listening to such presentations, or reading them, may be counterproductive to advancement on the path of sadhana bhakti? In what direction do these kinds of talks or writings take us--up or down? Are they truly pleasing to the heart?

"Srila Svarupa Damodara Goswami wanted to impress upon Bhagavan Acharya that even though someone firmly fixed in devotion to Krishna’s service might not be deviated by hearing the mayavada bhashya, that bhashya is nevertheless full of impersonal words and ideas . . . Upon hearing all of these nonsensical ideas from the nondevotee, a devotee is greatly afflicted, as if his heart and soul were broken." Cc. Antya, 2.99

ASCERTAINING THE SIDDHANTA

Vaishnava unity can only be achieved when all conflicting and contradictory devotional philosophies are eliminated from our intelligences . . . and from our hearts. Previous to this--a development which is a necessity for the Golden Age--all apa-siddhantas will continue to tear at cross-purposes against the realization of the spiritual science as it is. That philosophy entails the acceptance of ultimate personal responsibility. It is logical. It indicates that the status of the Supreme Absolute Truth is both personal and All-Good-Absolute. The transcendental truth that the living entity originally fell from the spiritual world is present in some form in all genuine theologies of the world. It is also present in Prabhupada’s writings, which establish it as self-evident:

"Regarding your questions concerning the spirit soul’s falling into maya’s influence, it is not that those who have developed a passive relationship with Krishna are more likely to fall into nescient activities. Usually, anyone who has developed his relationship with Krishna does not fall down in any circumstances, but because the independence is always there, the soul may fall down from any position or any relationship by misusing his independence. But his relationship with Krishna is never lost. Simply it is forgotten by the influence of maya, so it may be regained or revived by the process of hearing the Holy Name . . ." Letter to Jagadish, 4.25.70

N.B.: All emphases added, and all shastric citations refer to purports, of course.

OM TAT SAT

 


Quotes from the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are copyright by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

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