Anadi Again

By Swami B. V. Tripurari

In my recent article, Anadi For Beginners: We All Have to Start Somewhere…Or Do We?, I contrasted the approaches to the issue of anadi karma taken by some acaryas in the Bhaktivinoda parivara with that of sastra’s statements and pointed out the obvious differences that arise. Such differences force us to seek a means to resolve them. Certainly we do not think our acaryas did not know the correct siddhanta, and we also know that siddhanta and preaching are not always one. It has been said, “By hook or by crook, sell the book”—a questionable policy that nonetheless has some efficacy and is an acarya’s prerogative to pursue if he or she feels called by circumstance to do so.

Thus I have suggested that Thakura Bhaktivinoda formulated a preaching strategy that, while appearing to differ from scriptural statements, was nonetheless efficacious in his time and for some time thereafter. However, in this brief article I would like to present how I think we can best understand of the “strategy” of Srila Bhaktivinoda while at the same time keeping a focus on the siddhanta.

The strategy under discussion, having begun with Bhaktivinoda, has been repeated both verbatim and with some variation by numerous acaryas in the lineage. In this article I will focus on the details of the Thakura’s own siksa on anadi karma, careful study of which reveals that his strategy can be viewed more as an emphasis rather than a change of doctrine. Assuming that readers are familiar with his siksa on anadi karma and have read my earlier article and the lengthy discussion that ensued, let me continue.

When the Thakura writes that anadi means “beginning outside of time,” he is really only saying that karma is literally anadi, for there are no beginnings outside of time. In other words, this is just another way of saying anadi, which refers to something outside of time that necessarily has no beginning since all beginnings are inside of time.  So we don’t have to see this idea as a contradiction of sastra; beginning outside of time can be taken as a way of saying no beginning at all, or literal anadi.

When Bhaktivinoda speaks about the free will of the jiva, we must remember that the jiva is anadi and as such its free will is anadi as well. In other words, there is never a time that the jiva is without its will. It is not an automaton and the karma doctrine is not one of absolute determinism as many Westerners mistakenly think. Thus the jiva’s choice can also be understood as being anadi, its free will being part of its very constitution.1 And choice and karma are practically inseparable.

Therefore, looking at the Thakura’s words in this way, the idea that the jiva’s choice is at the heart of its karmic predicament is not objectionable. But this choice is not something that has a beginning any more than the jiva itself or its karma does. It has been choosing forever because it exists forever and choosing is what it does—anadi karma = anadi choice.

Thus the emphasis of Bhaktivinoda Thakura is on choice and away from destiny/karma, and to embellish this emphasis he has spoken figuratively about the very tatastha nature of the jiva as if it were a location, a “tatastha region.”2 This approach, presented as it was for a particular audience and being limited by the nature of language, makes it all sound like there is a choice with a beginning when in fact the choice is beginningless.  As I pointed out in my previous article, Bhaktivinoda Thakura has also addressed the fact that language has its limitations. He writes that although we say things like “the jiva has forgotten Krishna,” etc., such language is only figurative. Nonetheless, such language is often helpful when addressing the conditioned mind with regard to topics that transcend its limits.

With his strong emphasis on free will, which plays well to a Western religious audience, the illustrious Thakura has spoken figuratively about a tatastha region and a choice within it. A choice involves two options. Thus the option to go to the paravyoma has been posited along with the choice of material life. This choice is indeed present in sastra, but it begins in the manifest world, not before it manifests. The choice occurs when bhakti makes herself available to the jiva (after predisposing it to such a choice through bhakti sukrti). The choice presented is to proceed or not on the path of bhakti and at what pace. Some take the opportunity and go to the paravyoma while some do not.

So in this scenario, Bhaktivinoda’s strategy is merely his emphasizing the role of the jiva’s will and speaking figuratively about a tatastha region from where choice is made, when in fact the jiva is the “tatastha region.” Jiva-sakti and tatastha-sakti are synonymous, and the jiva does make a choice, and its choice is also based on some experience of both worlds. This is because the tatastha jiva has some experience of the material world, and when bhakti enters into its life it has some experience of the spiritual world.

Again, this way of thinking about the issue, I believe, takes us deeper into the mind of Thakura Bhaktivinoda. He formulated his preaching strategy as a particular emphasis—albeit including figurative elements—rather than a change of doctrine. So it is not that Bhaktivinoda Thakura fabricated out of thin air entirely new ideas contrary to sastra. Of course this has never been my suggestion. All of his ideas assembled in his presentation are rooted in siddhanta yet arranged in a particular manner and embellished with some figurative speech to better appeal to the West, and for that matter, to the conditioned mind in general, addicted as it is to “beginnings” and with its insistence on controlling/understanding reality.

  1. See Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s Govinda-bhasya 2.3.31-38 for his position on the jiva’s free will, or agency. He takes a compatibilist position with regard to determinism and agency. []
  2. When seeking to clarify the so-called “origin of the jiva” to inquiring students, B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami referred to the ‘tatastha region’ as a “fictitious demarcation.” Similarly, when pressed on the issue in a conversation recorded in his book, Journey of the Soul, B.V. Narayana Goswami stated that the idea of a geographical tatastha region is “imaginary.” []

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65 Responses to Anadi Again

  1. Respected Tripurari Maharaja,

    The last Anadi article had the tendency to project your view of BVT in a different light to some readers. This article, however, has clarified that and it has also clarified that BVT had only included figurative elements while keeping the underlying siddhanta intact.

    After reading all the posts of your last article, I am convinced that jiva has always been in this material world with its anadi karma. Its a rare opportunity when he gets close to sadhus who guide him to spontaneous and loving seva to SriKrishna.

    Dandavat pranams

  2. The following is from the Gita Bhusana of Baladeva Vidyabhusana, his comments on Gita 13.21:

    “Though the jiva is knowledge and bliss, he is situated in prakrti due to his impressions of beginningless karma. . . . In all of this, the jiva alone is the agent.

    “The cause of the association (between prakrti and jiva) is explained. The cause is beginningless desire for objects made of the gunas (guna sanah). The meaning is this: the beginningless jiva is contaminated with beginningless imprints in the form of karma. The jiva desiring enjoyable objects because of his being and enjoyer, will take shelter of prakrti equipped with the desirables that she offers to him until those imprints of karma are destroyed by devotee association.”

    I cite this in support of my position above in which I have harmonized the two ideas that, 1) the jiva’s bondage is a result of karma, and 2) the jivas bondage is a result of its free will. In the text cited BVB is saying both things, will and karma being inextricably entwined, and thus we have two ways of saying the same thing.

    But the important thing to remember in terms of siddhanta is that the two are literally beginningless. The to are the proverbial seed (desire) and tree (karma). And of course the jiva itself is also anadi.

    Notice that in the same sentence BVB states the the jiva and its karma are anadi. He offers no nuanced definition of anadi when referring to the jiva’s karma. Just as the jiva has no beginning whatsoever, the same holds true for its karma that is intertwined with its will. The baddha jiva has been desiring the enjoyable objects constituted of prakrti forever. Thus its karma is also anadi and it has no one to blame but itself and the nature of reality of which it is part.

  3. Forgive me if this has already been addressed. It seems that my mundane intellect requires some help here.

    You write:

    “The baddha jiva has been desiring the enjoyable objects constituted of prakrti forever. ….. and it has no one to blame but itself and the nature of reality of which it is part.”

    The hardware is provided, and the software is provided, and the whole machine is set in motion by God. So when you contend that:

    “no one is to blame but itself (the jiva)and the nature of reality..”,

    I have to ask Who designed that reality that the jiva has no choice but to obey?

    It is not that I wish to hold a grudge against God. I am simply seeking the perspective that will best serve my spiritual growth. In other words, I am O.K. with thinking:

    “God put me here. There was no choice for me to respond any differently. If we are to attribute responsibility, He is definitely resposible. But He is Perfect. So now let me cultivate devotion to Him.”

    But to say, “no one is to blame but itself (jiva) and the nature of reality..”, seems illogical. How can we agree that the jiva’s bondage is a result of his free will, when he can’t respond in any way other than karmically, until he meets a pure devotee?

    I am in favor of devotion. But my intelligence is not at one with this explanation. Are we just being diplomatic? Or am I missing something?

    • madan gopal das

      I have to ask Who designed that reality that the jiva has no choice but to obey?

      Tricky isn’t it Ishan? Thing is, you’ve slipped back into time based thinking. “Designed” implies that God thought up the creation and then created it, and therefore the blame goes to God because jivas are suffering. Simple, right? No, think back to the very first argument of the first anadi article which is referencing Vedanta Sutra: No, God is not to blame, rather karma is the law of the land, and karma is beginningless.

      God (in this case Maha Visnu) is beginningless, the jiva is beginningless and karma is beginningless – all of these together constitute “the world” which is also beginningless. So there is no tracing out a one time cause, or even a creation of this system.

      It is not that I wish to hold a grudge against God. I am simply seeking the perspective that will best serve my spiritual growth. In other words, I am O.K. with thinking: “God put me here. There was no choice for me to respond any differently. If we are to attribute responsibility, He is definitely resposible.”

      You are trying not to “blame” God, but then attributing “responsibility” is just another way of saying God is the cause. If you accept the will of God, you regard it as his will and responsibility, but if you feel like its unfair, you blame God. These are two sides of the same coin; one says God is responsible, the other says God is to blame. While you’ve tried to adjust your thinking that “He is perfect” and therefore avoid the blame game, attributing responsibility to God just changes the perspective, but still puts the onus on God for the situation of the jiva. In contrast, the proposition of “anadi” by the sastra is a transrational idea, it completely steps outside of this dualist thinking. God is not to blame, and he is not responsible for “designing a reality in which the jiva has no choice but to obey.” The jiva didn’t have a choice about being put in the material world, because there never was a time for such a choice, just as there never was a time when Maha Visnu first created “this reality.” This reality of the material world is beginningless, and the jiva (in human form) has choice/will every second.

      • Dear Madan Gopal Prabhu,

        I am trying, but I am not yet on solid ground.

        We have been culturally trained (I think) to conceive of God as “The Creator”. But if I understand you correctly, God is not the creator. He is not the creator because God and His energies are anadi, beginningless and without end. This beginninglessness and without end-ness applies to the jiva, to karma, to the marginal potential of the jiva, to the material energy.

        So I think you are saying that there never was a time when God willed the situation (that we find ourselves in) to exist. It simply has always been, as much as God has always been.

        Thinking like this causes circuit breakers to in my head to click off, and I go blank.

        To extrapolate, if I accept this anadi/ananta perspective, then just as the selfless devotional psychological orientation has always existed, so also, the self-centered me-first psychological orienatation has always existed. We didn’t choose it. Krishna didn’t create it. It simply exists, as part of God, as an expression of specific energies of God which are just as beginningless and endless as God Himself.

        It has always been a stretch for me to think of Krishna as the cause of all causes who Himself is uncaused. I can accept this – as long as I don’t think about it – because this is not my experience of reality. But now we are taking it a step further. Not only is God anadi and ananta, but also the context of duality, of good and evil, is anadi and ananta, is the expression of some of God’s eternal energies. But God is not responsible for this context.

        Is God responsible for anything? When Krishna decides to appear in this world, to establish dharma, to kill demons, to protect devotees, to give His association to devotees, He appears to be making purposeful decisions to do these things. When we say that these are His pastimes, His lila, wherein so many arrangements are made to support His lila, by His different energies, does this mean that He is subject to His energies although He is shaktiman?

        I have the same confusion with Radha and krishna. Radha is Krishna’s pleasure potency. She is Krishna’s energy, His shakti. But Krishna is overwhelmed by Srimate Radharani and turns helplessly to the bhaktas to facilitate His loving affaires with Her.

        So it seems that the division between God and the energies of God is not at all clear cut. Rather, it is all God, mysteriously unfolding.

        Yet we call Krishna param eshvara. But obviously He is controlled by the dance of His various energies.

        This anadi thing is a real mind-blower for me when I try to extapolate the concept.

        • madan gopal das

          Ishan wrote:

          But if I understand you correctly, God is not the creator. He is not the creator because God and His energies are anadi, beginningless and without end.

          Of course God (Visnu) is the creator of this world, but that creation is perpetual. The source of Visnu is Krsna, but these expansions never happened in a moment in time. We have a concept of time on microcosmic level, but we want to think in a linear way even though there are cycles all throughout our microcosmic experience. On the macrocosmic level, Visnu has been lying in slumber forever with world cycles coming and going forever.

        • Hare Krishna Madan Gopal Prabhu,

          “Of course God (Visnu) is the creator of this world, but that creation is perpetual.”

          From everything being said in this discussion, the jiva, the material energy, and karma are all anadi. The fact that the material dimension is alternately manifest and unmanifest is not indicative of “creation”. When it becomes unmanifest, it is not obliterated or destroyed. And when it comes into manifestation, it does not proceed from nothingness. The jivas still exist in susupti, on the one hand, and the material nature still exists, albeit in unmanifest form.

          E.g.,the compost behind my house which is filled with the remains of so many forms of vegetation breaks down to one homogeneous earthy substance. In that sense the forms become unmanifest. Then when that earthy substance is placed in my garden and the seeds are planted, that same homogeneous substance is assimilated into bodies of all different kinds of plant forms. This cycle may continue again and again. But we do not say that anything herein is “created”. It is simply transformed.

          “Creation” doesn’t mean “change of state”. It means bringing something into existence from where there was nothing to proceed it. Therefore if the material energy, the apara prakriti, is anadi, but only changes it’s state from manifest to unmanifest and then again to manifest – nothing has been “created” in the process. Therefore the so-called “material creation” is a misnomer. More properly it should be termed as the “material manifestation”.

          If God is “anadi”, this means He was never created. If His energies (including the material nature) are “anadi”, these energies also were never created. In other words the material world is brought into manifestation by transformation, not by creation. Therefore to refer to God as “the Creator” is a cultural concept that is not suported by shastra.

          Similarly, Lord Brahma does not “create”. He utilizes the material energy like an engineer in order to bring different forms into manifestation.

          As we were taught in school, “matter is neither created nor destroyed”, only transformed. e = mc squared. Einstein seemed to understand that matter and energy were one and the same. Therefore we say that the material nature is “shakti”, energy – God’s energy.

          What do you think, Bro?

        • Ishan, I’m really enjoying watching your engagement with the concepts that arise in this discussion. Just because we’re not kids any more doesn’t mean we can’t learn, eh?

          As I’ve pointed out more than once, these topics, being adhokshaja, are inherently beyond the mind and senses’ capacity to actually grasp. We should use our mind to its full capacity, of course, not to try to “grasp” the subject (the Absolute Truth, as my old Gandhian conditioning would have it), but to learn to embrace the apparent uncertainties that confront us as we grow. My younger daughter, Lalasamayi is fond of a quotation from Tolkien: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

          Let us together stick to our determination to follow this adventure to its end, to realize the prayojana together. Param vijayate Sri Krsna sankirtana!

        • Dear Babhru,

          Thank you for the friendly greeting and encouragement to press on.

      • “This reality of the material world is beginningless, and the jiva (in human form) has choice/will every second.”

        Choice is pretty limited, not there at every second. Till you meet a devotee, there is no choice and god is omniscient, so he can change the future and decide. You just have to accept how he has planned the sristi lila. To say that God has nothing to do with the karma and the design of sristi lila is taking away his omniscience and omnipotence. However, anadi is best resolution of the irresolvable problems.

        • The karma theory does not teach that the jiva has no material karmic choices. The theory is not one of absolute determinism, bhakti aside. Both the jiva and prakrti have causal roles, and to be thorough, God does as well. Gaudiya Vedatna teaches that prakriti’s role is the formation of objects under the influence of the gunas; the jiva’s role is the seed of desiring them; God’s role is like rain that makes it possible for the jiva’s desire to bear fruit. So God is involved in an indispensable sense and at the same time not responsible. He makes it possible for the jiva to realize material happiness and distress in accordance with their desires and the working of material nature.

        • Material choices count for nothing to finish the jiva’s misery because all choices lead to suffering. So there is no design where jiva’s material choices will lead him to escape until bhakti is offered. So the choices are meaningless till bhakti is offered. For 99.999% of time, when the jiva is not in human form, the choice never exists in the first place and it is pretty deterministic. And jiva has to keep on suffering there. I am not saying that it is bad or good. It just is so and you have to accept it. Sometimes, the jiva also needs to be treated more compassionately instead of putting the blame on it all the time. God has not made it too easy given that there are thousands of scriptures, thousands of interpretations and more interpretations are needed to cope up with conflicts with empirical evidence. In lila, there is no one to blame more or less. Just to give negative reinforcement to the jiva to put more hard work and feel guilty, jiva can be blamed

        • The fact that the jiva is to blame for its suffering is no reason to lack compassion for it. But you have to acknowledge that free will is present in the doctrine of karma, even if the jiva’s choices outside of bhakti do not lead to any permanent solution to its suffering.

        • In some sense, this question from the jiva where he/she thinks that why the creation has been designed to be this way is clearly given in the Vedanta Sutra also ‘lolukyat lila kaivalyam”. So all questions from the Jiva on this subject are like asking why God chose to have the football game instead of basketball game and why he/she not a part of the basketball game. Like you have pointed out, it is not our place to ask such a question. We are part of the sristi lila sport and we have to go according to the rules of that sport.

        • Yes free will in a compatibilist sense, which is super limited. “Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills”~ Schopenhauer. Omniscience entails “soft determinism” and almost leaves no free will.

          I also like the idea that there is no to blame as there is only God and his energies.

        • Others have argued that either a compatiblist or a libertarian view of free will are compatible with the karma doctrine. And there are many tupes of compatibilist views. I have stated the compatibilist view of Gaudiya Vednata acarya BVB. But in any case the point is that karma is not a doctrine that does away with the jiva’s moral responsibility. If it did, it would make no sense at all.

          But yes, no one is to blame from the abheda point of view. If we look at it from the bheda point of view, the jiva is blamed.

  4. Lalasamayi Sullivan

    Having just read the previous article and comments, as well as this article, I must say “wow!” After that bit of levity . . .

    If I understand a tiny bit of an inkling of Maharaja’s exceptional explanation: theodicy does not exist in Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Allowing for the elephant in a small room to be circumvented (i.e., the paucity of syntax in English—and other languages to a large degree—to describe anything of a spiritual nature), all hinges on infinity. There are no qualifications to infinity. If there is no end, there is no beginning; if there is no beginning, there is no end. It is impossible for us to comprehend infinity. We can know the term, the concept, but nothing in the experiential world (except one of a realized jiva) can “wrap their mind” around infinity. Note even the previous sentence is discombobulated when referencing infinity. Anadi and the world cycles are in no way mutually exclusive realities. The manifestation of spacial, temporal worlds coming in and going out of existent does not infer a beginning or an ending; only a bubble in the primordial soup, as it were. They eternally come and go as though Krishna breathes. To describe anadi as existing “out of time” is only to describe an in-breath—not “the” in-breath of birth. Krishna has no beginning, no end. It is a description for which we have no description.

    As such, there is no beginning to karma. If one can conceive that, then Krishna in no way can be responsible for evil. Justice and mercy, but not evil.

    Further, there are an infinite number of anadis/jivas, so there is no exclusivity inherent in the interwoven fabric of maya. Thus “to fall” or “not to fall” is not the question. Honestly, can darkness exist IN the sun? In this perfect union of theology, a shadow could never exist in Vaikuntha. Light rays create shadows, but if light rays are not necessary, for instance, for there to be light, then no shadow could exist. Nothing is lacking there. It is Krishna’s eternal abode.

    Thank you, Maharaja, for shining light on this all-important and esoteric subject. Your articles and subsequent comments encapsulate it beyond “my poor power to add or detract.”

  5. Hare Krsna,
    Dandavat pranama to all the devotees!
    In my opinion, Sripad Tripurari Maharaj’s statement
    “Anadi Karma = Anadi choice”,
    should settle the dispute.
    Now I don’t see much difference between the two sides of the argument.

    Your servant,

  6. Yes, habits formed in youth are hard to change with age. But if you don’t want to blame it on the jiva’s will, either blame karma or no one.

  7. Few thoughts… Since Maya and God exist eternally and God is never under her influence, it seems the only way he can explore material energy is through jivas. And this is sristi lila, Mahavishnu`s dream.

    Consciuosness creates and makes the world look as it is via desires of jivas. Every desire manifests as some aspect of material world and God`s fantasy through law of karma makes it possible. So when jiva realizes that he/she is part of a dream or game, such a person becomes karma free and suffering free. Not necessary in a sense that nothing bad can happen to him but rather it becomes like “conscious dreaming”.

    Does it make sense?

  8. The discussion of this subject matter among the devotees here and in other places reflects the complexity and mystery of “where do we come from?” question. The Vedic sages of the classical age, as well as of the modern period, left us a tantalizing record of their thoughts and ideas in that regard, but ultimately it is one of those ‘unknowable’ things almost by definition. We can trace our origin further and further away, yet we do not seem to find satisfaction in that knowledge, no matter how far back in time (or beyond time) we go. That is a practical observation rather than some philosophical statement.
    Personally, I think that everything we need to know can be gleaned by a careful observation and analysis of what we experience here and now. We see that to a great degree we ourselves are responsible for our choices, and that we do have a great degree of freedom to make these choices. How then can I blame somebody else for starting my karma account in some incredibly distant past? It seems natural to think that if there was such a ‘moment zero’, it was my choice as well. And if there never was such a moment – oh well, here we are now… deal with it.
    If such discussions allow us to learn from each other how to properly interact in the society of devotees (negative examples have their merit as well), then by all means we should participate in them. Otherwise there is this simple practical approach of “if it works for you, it must be true”… at least true on some level. To go on record: I’m quite happy not knowing for sure, and I have plenty of much bigger problems.
    Pranams to all.

    • Dear Kula Pavana Prabhu,

      I have to admit that your very laid-back, easy-going approach to this discussion is in a way attractive, in the sense that it will not tend to disturb anyone’s mind in a confrontational sense.

      On the other hand,

      “The Vedic sages of the classical age, as well as of the modern period, left us a tantalizing record of their thoughts and ideas in that regard, but ultimately it is one of those ‘unknowable’ things almost by definition.”

      When you write, “thoughts and ideas”, and “ultimately it is one of those ‘unknowable’ things”, this sounds like the thinking of a mundane philosopher, one who does not accept the concept of “revealed scripture”, or “Book Bhagavat”, the concept of shastra as the written form of God.

      “Personally, I think that everything we need to know can be gleaned by a careful observation and analysis of what we experience here and now.”

      Again, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati writes, “People are so much apt to indulge in transitory speculations even when they are to educate themselves on a situation beyond their empiric area or experiencing jurisdiction……… no clue of which could be discerned by moving earth and heaven through their organic senses.”

      To support this position of SBS, you write,

      “It seems natural to think that if there was such a ‘moment zero’, it was my choice as well.”

      This concept of “zero moment” or beginning, wherein the individual soul made a personal choice to come to the material realm is completely in disagreement with the shastric conclusions of these discussions.

      Then you continue,

      “If such discussions allow us to learn from each other how to properly interact in the society of devotees (negative examples have their merit as well), then by all means we should participate in them.”

      I agree with you that it is very, very important that we learn how to interact in a spirit of love and trust. However, this desire to find harmony between us should not cause us to abandon a solid understanding of the philosophy on which we base our lives. As Srila Prabhupada used to say, “Religion without philosophy is simply sentiment.” It cannot give us the desired result.

      Re: your statement, “If it works for you, it must be true…”, is more of your tendancy to seek harmony as a value that is more important than seeking an absolute ideology. Whereas the vaishnavas assert that harmony can only be attained under the umbrella of the absolute ideology.

      I do not mean to offend you. You seem to be good-hearted. But your laissez-faire approach may perhaps be indicative that you are content to be slipping away from the vaishnava path. And I wish to encourage you to pull up your socks. Personally I am not qualified to give you advice. In any case, Hare Krishna. Respectfully.

      • Ishan-ji, pranams…
        The concept of the ‘revealed scripture’ can be understood in several ways, and while my understanding is probably different than yours, it is still one of those within the current of Vaishnavism. To a very large extent what is written about this subject matter (origin of jiva) is criptic and often conradictory, and the result is the existing confusion and controversy among the devotees. That is an observation based on facts, not an opinion. For example, Srila Prabhupada wrote and spoke on this subject matter in very contradictory terms (jiva falls and does not fall from Vaikuntha), forcing his disciples to invent all sorts of strange and contorted ideas in their attempt to reconcile his teachings in this area, and ultimately dividing them into several different camps. That is a fact as well.
        When I spoke of careful observation and analysis, I meant that it is something to be done in conjunction with studying shastras and considering opinions of the sadhus. Sadhus do it all the time, and their opinions are not always identical, as this discussion amply proves.
        And I do prefer to keep my socks a bit loose because my experiences with devotees who pull them up all the way to their neck were generally quite unpleasant.

        • Dear Kula Pavana Prabhu,

          Hare Krishna!

          Thank you for your gentle response. I must admit to you that I am a third class (materialistic, unliberated) devotee. Therefore I have no realization regarding this subject matter. And if after reading all that has been said on all sides, you have your own conclusions, than it is not my place to try to impose my views on you.

          What you say is valid. Different opinions are put forward by different sadhus at different times and places to be received by different audiences.

          “And I do prefer to keep my socks a bit loose because my experiences with devotees who pull them up all the way to their neck were generally quite unpleasant.”

          Your remark causes me to chuckle. Yes, Prabhu, you are correct. I also have experienced a bit of the “tight sock” treatment. I guess I should be tighter with myself and looser with others.

          In the final analysis, I think you are a vaishnava, and because of that I offer you my obeisances and my gratitude.

          Hare Krishna! Ishan

        • Prabhu, thank you for your kind words… my realization in this area is very simple: we should rather be growing more corn, beans, and squash… after all, I’m a very PRACTICAL, un-liberated materialistic devotee, and such conclusions help me in my daily routine.
          Because you have a sense of humor, I offer you my full dandavats.
          Your servant.

        • Hey well, I prefer the loose socks aproach, expecially to this subject, which, as Kula says, is filled with seemingly contradictory ideas. I didn’t know where to cut in with this, but I didn’t see anyone state it, but it follows logic, that if there is no beginning to karma, there is no end. And what do we mean by karma anyway? Action? Action is inherent in the jivas makeup. Vaisnavas can agree to that. When the shastras talk about a ‘load’ of karma that the jiva has been carrying since, umm, time immemorial, are they not speaking about bad karma, or material karma? Then there is Krishna karma, or just the ability to do our actions in relationship to Krishna. And isn’t that just what karma is? What we have right now; our mindset, our desires. No beginning to that.. If there was, there would be an ending, and we don’t want that. We can just ride this horse right off into the sunset, no problem.. Just watch your karma!! If we are not responsible, then we have no power to change. So it makes sense, if you don’t get into such depressing ideas that we have been suffering since, umm, forever. Or that we got envious, and fell from grace. Rather it can be viewed as a grand adventure, that gets better all the time. Why not? We are always learning, and the so-called mistakes are part of it eh.. Krishna is all loving, and so makes the proper arrangements for, umm, everyone. That sort of faith is what Einstein was on about, when he asked if the universe is friendly, the essential question. Thanks for the intriguing subject matter!!

      • Ishan, here is a nice quote from Bhaktivinoda about understanding shastra

        Everyone has the right to discuss spiritual subject matter but people are divided into three categories according to their qualifications. Those who do not posses independent power of discrimination are in the first category and are called neophytes, or those with soft faith. They have no alternative to faith. If they do not accept whatever the compilers of the scriptures write as the order of the Lord, then they fall down. They are qualified only for understanding the gross meanings of the science of Krsna; they have no qualification for understanding the subtle meanings. Until they gradually advance by good association and instruction, they should try to advance under the shelter of faith. Those who have not yet succeeded in connecting faith with argument are second grade persons, or madhyama-adhikaris. And those who are expert in connecting these two are perfect in all respects. They are able to attain perfection by utilizing material resources in their independent endeavors. They are called topmost persons, or uttama-adhikaris.

        This is not for your gentle self, but for those who think that discussing controversial subject matter is taboo.. It may be taboo for them however.

        • Dear Tarun,

          Obeisances to you. Hare Krishna!

          Bottom line. I beleive I am that third class materialistic devotee. I like to get a clear idea of how it all is, so I can have something to hang onto – even if it’s a mental concept.

          I am just trying to become more sincere. But as soon as I engage in activites, interactions, I seem to fall into the same old patterns of mundane conception and emotion.

          But thank you for your kind words. This association of devotees is a great gift.


  9. Thank you Maharaja for your thoughtful explanations on BVT’s version. You mentioned about acarya’s preaching strategies. It makes sense to have a strategy for broadcasting a message according to time and circumstance. When the followers eventually come to know that an explanation is not in accordance with sastra, won’t this result in loss of faith in the acarya?

    On what basis can an acarya decide if a strategy is needed or not needed?

    For example, one can say that Srila Prabhupada used a strategy for 60s and 70s by talking about jiva falling down by free will.
    How can we think that this strategy may not be efficacious in the current time for westerners?

    • Pranam Vinodh,

      I think the fact that this subject has been and remains a prominent issue within the Gaudiya community is testament to the fact that for many, this is no longer an efficacious strategy. And it has indeed been a prominent issue for decades now. Of course, Prabhupada’s explanation still satisfies many, and Bhaktivinoda’s explanation from which Prabhupada’s developed satisfies many as well. But there are those who are not satisfied. Are they to be ignored and not given an explanation that makes sense to them and has the strong backing of sastra? Perhaps you are feeling that the issue is that in the course of spreading the anadi teaching, there are those who may struggle and be adversely affected. This may be true, but it is true of all situations. Furthermore, the people who are not satisfied by the strategies are left to struggle if they are not given the fuller understanding.

      As for your concern about people losing faith in the acarya when they find a strategy was employed, this is also a risk. But practically speaking we do not see this often being the case. After all, Tripurari Maharaja himself is a follower of the acaryas who his article explains used a strategy. But overall, preaching means taking risks. That is also why there are different acaryas, with different moods: they support the faith of a certain sector of the community. Seen this way, we can honor different acaryas and their different methods, while placing our full energy in the one who helps us the most.

      I think the basis on which an acarya decides to use or not use a strategy is their devotion in combination with their reasoning. We need not assume every idea and method employed by an acarya was whispered in their ear by Krishna himself. The acarya has a pure motive, and that, in combination with their personality and reasoning, largely dictates their preaching method. Therefore different acaryas come to different conclusions about how and when to preach. Provided their motives are pure, we should be able to honor all such conclusions, even ones that we may see as less effective than the acarya thinks they are.

  10. Dandavat pranams Nitaisundara,

    Thank you for your response and clarification to my questions.

    In understanding preaching strategies, I have another question Prabhu. How can we know if a teacher said something due to lack of knowledge or if he/she is using a preaching strategy?How can the followers distinguish between them? I know a friend who quit following Gaudiya Vaisnavism thinking that SP was incomplete in his understanding of soul’s origin.

    • I don’t know if there is any one way to resolve this issue. In one sense, preaching strategies necessitate us not knowing it is a strategy in order to be effective. So the issue you mention does not really arise unless one has already gone beyond the strategy and knows, or thinks they know, the siddhanta. At this point it would seem they could approach the teacher, humbly, with their understanding and see how he or she reacts. He may say the student is wrong and support his view with sastra. But even then the follower is only pacified if he/she accepts the teacher’s interpretation of sastra. So this is somewhat one of those situations where one can only be as certain as they are certain. I think the important principle is humility and sincerity. If they are in place, clarity will follow, whatever it may be.

      It is also worth noting that some acaryas may know the sastra more than others, and the ones that know less (they should still know it well, and fully in essence) may still be competent guides for some. Without wanting to make too many assumptions, I am inclined to think persons like your friend may not have had very firm faith to begin with. Not to attack the person, but the fact is that faith (and even sentiment) tends to overpower reason quite easily, therefore it seems unlikely that one would have very strong faith that is completely lost due to a subject like this one. Furthermore, we do find conclusive evidence in many places that Srila Prabhupada did know the siddhanta. Here is a great example in which he explains the proper way to understand the preaching strategy:

      Regarding your second question, have the conditioned souls ever seen Krsna? Were they with the Lord before being conditioned by the desire to lord it over material nature? Yes, the conditioned souls are parts and parcels of the Lord and thus they were with Krsna before being conditioned. Just as the child must have seen his father because the father places the child in the womb of the mother, similarly each soul has seen Krsna or the Supreme Father. But at that time the conditioned souls are resting in the condition called susupti which is exactly deep sleep without dream, or anesthetized state, therefore they do not remember being with Krsna when they wake up in the material world and become engaged in material affairs.

  11. Okay. I get the idea. Wow that’s a really crisp example!

  12. I have a question:

    According to what we are being taught herein, the jiva, when coming out of susupti and released into the material realm is described as marginal, tatastha sakti.

    If a given jiva, meets a pure devotee, and by the mercy of the pure devotee that jiva is blessed to also become a pure devotee, then very significant changes take place:

    That jiva, upon entering into participation in Krishna lila, becomes a resident of Krishna Loka. And we are instructed that anyone in Krishna Loka cannot fall down.

    Question: Has that jiva lost it’s status as marginal, tatastha sakti?

    Also, if that jiva becomes a pure devotee who is admitted into Krishna Loka, I am assuming that he/she will now have a role in Krishna lila that in some way is condicive to the pleausre of Krishna. Does that jiva become part of the aladhini pleasure potency of Krishna? What is the new designation of that jiva, in terms of his/her new role?

  13. Ishan,

    I asked a similar question to my Guru Maharaja and if I understood him correctly although the jiva can exist in either realm of material or spiritual when it is infused with svarupa-sakti, the jiva is experiencing its fullest potential (the idea being its ananda is fully expanded. Thereby being situated in prema cannot come down. Prema is apratihata.

    The nature of being infused with hladini is that one exists to love Krsna.

    • Hare Krishna! Prema Bhakti Prabhu,

      Thank you for your repsonse. Of course my request is of a technical nature, viz., designations, spiritual categories, etc., although I do have the understanding, per Tripurari Maharaja’s assurances, that once attaining prema bhakti there will be no falling down.

      Good to contemplate that the jiva can be infused with svarupa shakti while existing in either realm. I suppose pure devotees in our line are examples of this.

      This is unlike the Christian (or other religions) idea that when we leave our body, we then “wake up” in heaven. According to our siddhanta, our experience after leaving the material body is what it was before leaving it (spiritually speaking).

      I was wondering if that jiva, infused with svarupa shakti, while still on planet earth, for example,can still be categorized as tatastha sakti, since he/she is no longer “marginal” (cannot fall).

      Is such a jiva infused with hladini sakti, since he/she now exists to love Krishna?

      How would you translate the words, “svarupa sakti” and “apratihata”?

      • Pranams Ishan,

        I am not knowledgeable enough or well versed to answer your “technical” questions. I am fortunate to have the guidance of my Guru Maharaja, Swami Tripurari.

        From what I understand and tried to express is that yes the jiva always remains tatastha yet once it is infused with svarupa sakti, it will never again become influenced by maya-sakt. As stated in Jaiva Dharma, the jiva is by nature both an eternal servant of Krsna and a representation of his marginal potency. The jiva is both distinct from bhagavan yet is not separate from him. The jiva is both different and non different, bhedabheda-prakasa. That is the eternal distinction between the jiva and Bhagavan.

        In terms of explaining apratihata in the context of prema, I simply meant that it is indestructible. It can not be impeded. So once prema is attained there is no question of returning to mundane consciousness. What to speak of Krsna ever letting go of his prema-bhakta. Not gonna happen. I find great solace in that.

        • Dear Prema-bhakti Prabhu,

          Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga!

          Thank you for you you kind and articulate response. I am impressed with how well versed Swami Tripurari’s students are.

          So now I will begin this new day with the understanding that I am an indestructible part of Krishna, always as His tatastha marginal energy, His eternal servant, and when, by the grace of Guru and Gauranga, I become infused with Krishna’s svarupa sakti, I will attain prema, and there will be no question of ever being influenced by mundane consciousness again. Haribol!

          Your servant, Ishan

  14. Dear Ishan, I always like reading your comments. You obviously think quite deeply about these topics. I don’t know if you will find the following points to be helpful but they crossed my mind while I was reading yours. In regard to the jivas position here you may recall that Srila Prabhupada has described it as his (the jivas) causeless unwillingness to serve. So no sense in looking for a cause for the causeless. So as long as the jiva remains unwilling to serve, he remains bound by his desire to be the lord. Then there is causeless mercy and by causeless mercy only the jiva is released. Both situations are described as causeless. Freedom of will is increased as surrender is increased and it is conversely constricted with the inclination to lord it over matter. In the Brihad-bhagavatamrita, the residents of Vaikuntha are described by Gopa Kumar as having the freedom to do anything they like. His description of their freedom is breathtaking. Compared to them the non-devotional madrone trees in my yard are very restricted. The will mixed with karma is most often messy, but the will mixed with devotion is true freedom. The situation of both is based on something causeless. ….. In regards to God’s responsibility, I’m sorry I cannot give you the exact reference except that it can be found in SP’s Bhagavatam purports where Prabhupada states that God feels some indirect responsibility for the plight of the jiva and therefore He incarnates. Certainly He is compassionate but everything about Him is unlimited. So unlimitedly He is freeing conditioned souls and unlimitedly souls remain bound. C.C. states that Lord Chaitanya liberated the whole universe but then it filled up again. What to do? ys,pd

    • Dear Pabhanudas,

      Hare Krishna! All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga!

      Please accept my humble obeisances.

      Prabhu, since the early 80’s, I have had no association with devotees, mainly because of being so very dismayed about the way ISKCON was being managed, and the way in which the so-called leaders were conducting themselves, what they were preaching and how they were behaving.

      Then somehow, about a year or so ago, I came in contact with this wonderful family of devotees that is growing under the guidance of Tripurari Maharaja. Now I am feeling that I will not have to die out of the association of devotees, but will be surrounded by a wonderful kirtan when leaving my body. I am 68, so perhaps I have another 10 years ahead of me. We shall see.

      What I want to say, it that since associating a little in person, at Audarya, and through this site, I am having these so meaningfull interactions with devotees, such as recieving your kind words. With each interaction, my heart is beginning to fill more and more, and my Krishna consciousness is getting more impetus.

      In my own faltering way I am trying to say thank you for your warm and personal words. Your kindness is giving me life.

      Hare Krishna, Your servant, Ishan

      • Dear Ishan, dandavats, yes, I am 61. Death can’t be too far. According to my chart at most 20 – 25 years. Maharaj is doing a wonderful job with his preaching and I am also happy to assist him in my small spider like attempt. Thank you also for your kind words. Perhaps ,if I am fortunate, I will one day have the pleasure of meeting you in person. I live in Oregon so sometimes we make it down to audarya. As far as Iskcon is concerned, there were so many happy years especially when SP was here. I try to see any of the bad stuff a result of my own interest in sense gratification and leave the others out of it these days. I haven’t been in the organization officially for 23 or 4 years. So its easy to distance myself from any of its problems. I still have friends there. There are many nice devotees there but I feel the leadership is making a big mistake by not taking advantage of the association of Tripurari Swami. Hope you are well Ishan. ys, Prabhanu das

        • People today like to think that 60 is still middle age but statistics prove otherwise.

          The average life expectancy in America is 78 1/2 years (76 years for males and 81 for females).

          Japan has the worlds highest life expectancy with an average of 82 years and Swaziland the lowest with an average of 32 years.

          You can add on a few years for being vegetarian but not many, remember that Godbrothers Buddhimanta, Brisakopi, Rishobdev, Srutasrava and so many others died by natural causes around or below the age of 60.

          So I’m going to have to go with Ishan and Prabhanu on this one–over 60 means not much time left.

          Of course I’m only 59 so I don’t have to worry yet.

        • Much can be accomplished in 17 years (61-78). I am 63 and I am supposed to live to 93. I hope to contribute something meaningful to our parivara in the service of Mahaprabhu over the next 30 years and become humble trying.

        • My father is 92 and he just published his 20th or so documentary book on the history of WW2. He lives alone and is in full mental faculty and reasonable health for his age. We should not look at the statistics but simply concentrate on service to others and service to the Lord and His mission. Hopefully we will accomplish something of real value in our life, and that people will really miss us when we are gone from this world.

  15. Thanks to you Swami for adding this article. It helped to clarify this issue especially in regards to the reasons behind the preaching strategy.

  16. Of course a self-realized preacher can offer so much to the world, simply by their presence, their talks and books. Even if invalidy strikes in different ways, they will always be so greatly appreciated and valued.

    But for those of us who only have their hands and legs to offer and perhaps their intelligence, as age progresses, all else diminishes, as they become a burden to those around them. Not a very attractive prospect to look forward to.

    I confess I have no idea how it will unfold. I prey that I will come closer to Krishna.

  17. maharaj, you are right. in 25 more years of life or so possible for me in this body, assuming reasonable health, i should be able to accomplish something in the cause of sri guru and gauranga by their mercy and considering the inspiration i receive by witnessing your wonderful endeavors to spread krsna consciousness, i am one who hopes that your longevity will prove true and that myself along with so many others may benefit from your continued association.

  18. Hare Krishna! to all of you – my spiritual family. I am so grateful that you are all there, even though I don’t get to see you.

    Going through this “anadi” thing has been a process. And something unexpected is coming out of it. I say “is coming out of it” because it’s more like the ripening of a fruit. It takes its own time.

    And this is simply my experience. Although others may be able to relate. What I am talking about is this gradual dawning of understanding that although on the one hand I haven’t reached the stage of 100% anartha nivritti, on the other hand I’m not here in this material world because at some point in time I independently decided that I want to be Krishna.

    There’s a lot going on of course, regarding my own process. More than I can get real distance on. A very large part seems to be the quantity and quality of my sadhana, and how my experience of life is affected by that.

    But this understanding that I’m not here because I “fell from grace” just seems to leave a quiet empty space in my mind, where previously there was a hook on which I could hang various feelings of lack of self-worth. It’s sort of like, “Hey! Maybe I’m not so bad after all….. Maybe I’m just here, and Krishna’s out-reach program extended a helping hand at a time when I was capable of responding appropriately. And now all I have to do is just stay with the process, gradually amping up my sincerity, determination, taste and enthusiasm.”

    I was once alone in a room with Srila Prabhupada in England. Srila Prabhupada was sitting on the carpet, behind his little table. And he made the pantomime of a drug addict injecting drugs into his forearm. “You have seen this?”, Srila Prabhupada asked with a playful smile on his lips. “Yes.”, I nodded. “Krishna consciousness is like that.”, Srila Prabhupada encouraged. As if to say, “Just keep taking and you’ll get hooked.”

    It’s been about 44 years now. I don’t live in two different worlds yet, watching or participating in Krishna lila. But I’m beginning to see how powerful this process is when I simply give it all I have, and keep telling myself that this is all I really need to make everything else fall into place. My faith is increasing and I’m becoming more determined to simply take shelter of the process. Krishna is the transcendental choreographer. I just have to lean more and more in His direction, with the remembrance and conviction that this is my strongest asset.

    • Very nice reflections Ishanji! We’re all students forever.

      • Citta Hari Prabhu,

        Hare Krishna! Please accept my heartfelt obeisances.

        Whenever I think of you, I get the image of a samuria warrior, cutting a path through maya’s landscape. You give me strength.

        And your kind and loving words bring a tear to my eye.


  19. beginner_devotee

    When the Thakura writes that anadi means “beginning outside of time,” he is really only saying that karma is literally anadi, for there are no beginnings outside of time. In other words, this is just another way of saying anadi, which refers to something outside of time that necessarily has no beginning since all beginnings are inside of time.

    It is evident from Jaiva dharma 6th ch., that Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur didn’t consider anadi karma to be literally anadi.

    “Cudamani: So do you mean to say that nitya-sukrti comes about by chance?
    Vaisnava dasa: Everything comes about by chance. This is also the case on the path of karma. What is the circumstance by which the jiva first entered the cycle of karma? Can it be anything other than a chance occurrence? The mimamsa philosophers have described karma as anadi (being without beginning), but actually karma does have a root. The chance occurrence that brings one’s original karma into effect is indifference to Bhagavan (bhagavad-vimukhata).”

    And not all beginnings are inside of time. For example, Vrinda devi starts performing arati of Radha Krishna.

    • Well if it does have a beginning, then it’s not anadi. Otherwise eternal events in the lila have no beginning but only an appearance of a beginning, like Krsna’s birth. And bhagavad vimukhata as per SB has been explained earlier in this discussion. The verse is not speaking about a beginning, Look back over the thread. But yes, our karmic reality is rooted in turning away from God. Turning to God uproots it.

    • The mimamsa philosophers have described karma as anadi (being without beginning), but actually karma does have a root. The chance occurrence that brings one’s original karma into effect is indifference to Bhagavan (bhagavad-vimukhata).”

      The mimamsa philosophers?? Holy Cow!! BVT is saying this anadi karma isn’t even vaisnava philosophy?? Is there one place where the anadi evidence is collected?? Going through inteminable threads is tiring..

      • From Wikipedia

        Mīmāṃsā is also known as Pūrva Mīmāṃsā (“prior” inquiry, also Karma-Mīmāṃsā), is the opposing school of Vedanta. This division is based on the notion of a dichotomy of the Vedic texts into a karmakāṇḍa, the department of the Veda treating of sacrificial rites (Samhitas and Brahmanas), and the jñānakāṇḍa dealing with the knowledge of Brahman (the Upanishads).

        The school of Mimamsa consists of both atheistic and theistic doctrines and is not deeply interested in the existence of God, but rather in the character of dharma.

        It seems that Mimamsa is not concerned with moksha much and so probably does not posit a transcendental world from which we could have fallen. So of course they would think that karma is beginningless, like time and the world. Why worship Indra, Krishna argued, the results of our karma will come anyways.

  20. Well if it does have a beginning, then it’s not anadi. Otherwise eternal events in the lila have no beginning but only an appearance of a beginning, like Krsna’s birth. And bhagavad vimukhata as per SB has been explained earlier in this discussion. The verse is not speaking about a beginning, Look back over the thread. But yes, our karmic reality is rooted in turning away from God. Turning to God uproots it.

    Yes, it’s true.

    As far as I can understand, karma as potential (seed) for tatastha jiva always exists, it is literally anadi, as are jivas and Vishnu.

    If jiva doesn’t want to serve Vishnu and she becomes attracted to maya, she starts doing karma (tree) in material time which is cyclical, so you cannot define it’s start, therefore anadi.

  21. Sri Brahma-Samhita, Ch 5, text 54. Purport by Bhaktivinod Thakkur, as translated by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada:

    “God impartially induces the fallen souls to act in the way that is consequesnt on the deeds of their previous births and to enjoy the fruition of their labors but, out of His great mercy to His devotees, He purges out, by the fire of ordeal, the root of all karma, viz., nescience and evil desires. Karma, though without beginning, is still perishable. The karma of those, who work with with the hope of enjoying the fruits of their labor, becomes everlasting and endless and is never destroyed.”

    This elucidation seems to be telling us that God (Krishna) is both impartial and greatly merciful.

    In the case of the non-devotees, He “impartially induces” them to act in ways that are “consequent on the deeds of their previous births.” In other words, for every action there is a reaction, in a mechanical sense. The reaction is the tendancy to act in a specific manner. And God, having noted those previous actions, impartially induces the non-devotee to act again in that specific manner. In this sense God is impartial , but keeps us on our karmic track.

    However, “out of His great mercy to His devotees”, He becomes partial, and “purges out, by the fire of ordeal, the root of all karma, viz., nescience and evil desires.”

    Question: Can someone please explain the dynamics of the “fire by ordeal”? Does it mean that as the aspiring devotee willfully resists impulses to behave in non-devotional ways, and acts with determination in devotional ways, that Krishna will gradually remove his non-devotional tendancies? Is this phase like an uncomfortable fire that the devotee has to pass through, but that Krishna rewards him by removing these tendancies over time, eventually culminating in anartha-nivritti?

  22. Ishan prabhu, yes you are correct.

  23. Hare Krishna.

    Thanks to all for this very well developed discussion. I have some related questions:

    1) How does the bheda-abheda idea connect with this topic? Is there a way to see “inconceivably, simultaneous” fall and no fall to reconcile apparent contradictions rather than the idea of “preaching strategy”?
    2) One common idea expressed in relation to our material bondage is this – We exist to love Krishna, but this love would not be love if it were forced, therefore we always have the choice not to love. We exist in the msterial world out of our choice not to love, to turn away, to “envy”. Thus the purpose of the material creation is to reform this tendency in the jiva. I have heard and understood in this way for decades, but I can’t point to any sastric basis. Is there one?
    3) Some have mentioned the concept of sristi lila. What does this really mean? How does Sri Krishna enjoy this lila?

    Fortunately, I am getting of the age and stage of devotional development where I don’t personally care much about this. Rather, as Srila Prabhupada put it:

    “So the conclusion is that whatever may be our past, let us come to Krishna consciousness and immediately join Krishna. It is a waste of time for a diseased man to try to find out how he has become diseased; better to spend time curing the disease.”

    But for preaching, I see the need to try to reconcile the differences on this issue in our Gaudiya community. Therefore I appreciate very much this sober discussion.

    Your servant, Pancharatna dasa

    • Pancharatna dasa,

      1) You can’t use aicntya bhedabheda like that. This refers to the nature of reality. It is one and different at the same time in a manner that is translational. Love, for example, is about two becoming one while remaining two. That is logically inconceivable but nonetheless the nature of love. It transcends the limits of our logic. Giving is receiving, even though that is not logical. The word acintya in one sense implies “as it is” Reality as it is rather than one that better conforms with our logic and is thus all one (Sankara), all different (Madhva), sometimes one and sometimes different (Nimbarka), qualified oneness (Ramanuja), or pure oneness (Visnu Swami). The fact is that reality is one and different such that this identity and difference interpenetrate one another. How do they do that? Ah, that is accomplished by the acintya sakti of Bhagavan. It is not that we cannot conceive of it. Indeed we experience examples of it all the time. But HOW it can be so is what is inconceivable.

      2) We always have the choice to choose bhakti from a time without beginning. That said, technically it comes to us by God’s choice through unknowing involvement in bhakti (ajnata sukrti). Once bhakti enters into our life by her own free choice blessing us, we can then choose to go slow or fast, to offend her or embrace her.

      3? Sristi-lila is lila in the sense that lila is something engaged in out of fullness, out of joy, rather than something engaged in out of a necessity to accomplish something. God has no necessity, nothing he needs to accomplish, and this is most perfectly exemplified in Sri Krsna’s Vraja-lila, even more so than his Mathura or Dvaraka lilas, in which he establishes dharma. So Mahavisnu has no need to do anything, but when he desires to bestow salokya, sarsti, samipya, and svarupya mukti out of love, another world lacking these perfections manifests. And the One becomes many. Compassion is expressed out of fullness to help others, not for self gain. Another way to look at it is that there is a maya sakti and jiva sakti that make up this world. They are superficially bound together by karma. Visnu manifests avatars to free the jiva’s from maya. And there is no beginning to any of this.

      Regarding falling from Vaikuntha, one needs to know where to look for the answer. Vedanta-sutra is one such place, as is the fifth and thirteenth chapters of the Gita. But the question is more directly answered in the first chapter of the seventh canto of the Bhagavata Purana. Yuddhistira says that he does not believe that souls can fall from Vaikuntha because they have bodies constituted of svarupa-sakti. Narada thus explains the extenuating circumstances surrounding the “fall” of Jaya Vijaya, and all to his in relation to the subject of God’s impartiality. The quality of this reference trumps any quantity of contradictory ideas others come up with because it is found in the Bhagavata where the question itself is asked and answered. And it is in this section that Prabhupada clearly states more than once that “No one falls from Vaikuntha” Thank God!

  24. The assertion that Srila Bhaktivinoda misrepresented Vaisnava siddhanta as a “preaching strategy” is without support from any statement from Srila Bhaktivinoda himself and is so illogical as to be completely bizarre.

    To spell it out for you all, what you are saying is that to establish Vaisnava siddhanta, one should first invent something quite different.

    Then, having invented such an ‘off’ concoction, one should write book after book explaining and propounding this nonsense.

    Finally, after publishing book after book of this apa-siddhanta, one should never write one word describing the correct siddhanta.

    And then, “Hey Presto!” everyone will get the right idea. Err…

    A truly bizarre assertion. And an extremely offensive misrepresentation of the acaryas…

    No wonder your speculations and argumentation is so illogical.

    • That is a very insulting comment and it demonstrates that you have not read the article well. The article cites examples from Gaudiya history of preaching strategies: Jiva Goswami wrote everywhere in his books—Krsna-sandarbha, Gopala-campu,Bhrahma-samhita tika, Ujjavala-nilamani tika, etc—that there is no parakiya in Krsna’s unmanifest lila but rather only svakiya. Later VCT demonstrated in his Ujjvala-nilamani tika that this was a preaching strategy on the part of Sri Jiva. The entire Gaudiya sampradaya accepts this point. Furthermore, if you do not accept that BVT’s position on anandi karma was a preaching strategy, you are left with the burden of explaining why his position contradicts the sastra, as the article points out. I am waiting for that explanation. Without it and rejecting the preaching strategy explanation, you are left with every other Gaudiya parivara and Vaisnava sampradaya thinking BVT teaches appasiddhanta on this topic. The explanation of anandi karma given in the article conforms with that of every Vaisnava sampradaya and every lineage of the Gaudiya sampradaya, other than the lineage stemming from BVT himself. Note that the position of BVT on this subject is not that which is accepted in his own diska lineage prior to him, but again, stems within it from him.

  25. 1) The preaching strategy that you mention, you also mention that VCT explained that as a “preaching strategy”. SBT and the following acaryas did not at all ever say that their words were a “preaching strategy”, so obviously this example you have given does not correspond with the words of BVT.

    2) Your assertion that “the position of BVT contradicts sastra” is not acceptable because BVT in Chap 15 of Jaiva Dharma quotes the Brhat Aranya Upanisad that clearly and directly supports his perfect presentation.

    3) Furthermore, the jiva is tatastha-shakti, marginal potency, throughout Vedas. That is actually sastra and thus clearly supports BVT.

    Thus, by 2) and 3) above “my burden”, as you say, is lifted.

    4) Furthermore, your assertion that “every other Gaudiya parivara and Vaisnava sampradaya thinking BVT teaches appasiddhanta on this topic. The explanation of anandi (sic) karma given in the article conforms with that of every Vaisnava sampradaya and every lineage of the Gaudiya sampradaya, other than the lineage stemming from BVT himself.” Well this statement is inherently self-contradictory. Thus is not acceptable and indicates your lack of clarity.

    5) In all your posts you have yet to give any statement by BVT that all his many, many books he was misrepresenting siddhanta as only you say for a “preaching strategy”.

    6) Without such statement by BVT your assertion remains a speculation.

    7) You seem unwilling to admit the clear conclusion that BVT, BSP, and BVPrabhupada were actually correcting the deviations brought into Gaudiya Vaisnavism by the caste goswamis and deviant sahajiyas.

    8) This unwillingness shows where your allegiance actually lies – with the caste goswamis and sahajiya deviant sampradayas.

    • 1) VCT came about 100 years after JG. I am explaining BVT’s position on the topic as a preaching strategy. All you can say is you don’t accept my authority but you are unable to deal with the point raised: All the previous acaryas explain anadi karma literally, as does the sastra. BVT does not.
      2) The quotes form the Sruti have been addressed in the comments to this article. They do not say what BVT wants them to say. Again, that has been substantiated already.
      3) Yes, of course the jiva is referred to as tatastha. Everyone knows that. Your point has nothing to do with the points raised in the article. The fact that you think it does reveals that you do not understand the points raised. Your burden has not been lifted.
      4) The point I raised is that every other sampradaya understands the term anadi karma as it has been explained in the article. Furthermore every other Gaudiya lineage does as well.Only BVT differs.
      5) It is true that BVT did not say his position was a preaching strategy. That tells us nothing. Neither did JG say his svakiya position was a preaching strategy.
      6) Yes, the assertion is a conjecture, a reasonable one. Without it we are left with the idea that BVT did not know the actual siddhanta or that the predecessor acaryas did not know it, since the two positions are clearly at odds with one another. And this siddhanta has been clearly explained in the article but you do not appear to understand it.
      7) The Goswamis and Baladeva Vidyabhusana are not sahajiyas, etc. It is their words the article cites.
      8) You don’t know what you are talking about.Furthermore you have been belligerent. Thus I will not continue to entertain your comments.

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