Harmonizing Contradictions

2263300547_ec19fcb87cBy Gaura-vijaya dasa, originally published on August 24, 2009

One aspect of life that we come across all the time is that of contradiction. For example, in society we want to balance the two opposing elements of individual freedom and societal order, yet one generally comes at the cost of the other. The entire subject of macroeconomics seeks to adjust the contradictory requirements of low inflation and high growth rate, and the current economic crisis is a testament to the Herculean nature of such a task.

Some may argue that the need to balance out contradictory elements is an unnecessary one and that there is no utopian existence where opposing elements can co-exist together. But with the inception of quantum mechanics, some puzzling things were found in material nature, which seem to suggest otherwise. At the subatomic level, the complementary states of wave and particle exist in superposition with each other. Depending on the action of the observer, either of these states can manifest exclusively, but the state cannot be determined before the action of the observer. Such discoveries are problematic because, according to classical logic, which has its roots in Aristotelian thought, an element cannot be a member of a set and its complement at the same time. For example, an object cannot be an orange and not be an orange simultaneously. Through this ‘reasonable’ logic we arrive at distributive laws. Most of classical physics is based on this logic, but in order to accommodate the perplexing phenomena that arise in quantum mechanics experiments, the field of quantum logic was opened up. Still, people have yet to come to terms with quantum mechanics via their logic and reason.

We face similar difficulties when we deal with the relationship between God, material nature, and individual souls. Is there complete unity between all of them, or is there duality? This perennial question has been answered differently in different metaphysical traditions, some preferring dualism and some monism.

According to Gaudiya Vaishnavism, neither of the two concepts does complete justice to the nature of the Absolute. In Gaudiya Vedanta, God is simultaneously one and different from his energies, including material nature and the individual soul. God has both transcendent and immanent features that co-exist together. The Gaudiya tradition proclaims that it is only by the inconceivable power of God, acintya-shakti, that these apparently contradictory attributes simultaneously exist in the Absolute. According to the nature and approach of the seeker of the Absolute—much like the observer in quantum mechanics—one can experience God as complete singular consciousness with no concept of the other, or one can experience him in a dynamic unity, wherein the aspirant enters into the play of God, one in will yet with individuality intact. The former is the experience of Brahman and the latter the experience of Bhagavan, or Krishna. Although the aspirant in the Gaudiya tradition prefers to have an experience of dynamic unity with the Absolute due to its unique charm and beauty, the experience of singular consciousness that many mystics in different traditions have talked about is also acknowledged in the tradition. There are detailed and subtle aspects of the Gaudiyas’ concept of dynamic unity that can be accessed by examining and participating in the tradition more deeply.

By his own will, Krishna, as he is addressed in the Gaudiya tradition, takes on a finite appearance to facilitate the exchange between the infinite Absolute and the finite soul. This finite form does not diminish his infinite nature, rather it enhances it, and the subsequent sweetness of the exchanges between Krishna and the individual souls enchant and captivate the hearts of many who come in touch with the Krishna conception. Contradiction is an indispensable part of the Gaudiya metaphysic. In the land of Vrindavan—the destination of the Gaudiya Vedantin, where Krishna plays with cowherd boys and maidens—there appears to be conflicts, fights, and activities that may appear  immoral from certain standpoints. Krishna, the supreme Absolute truth, who is the fountainhead of dharma, is seen stealing butter from neighbors and dancing with married girls during the pitch of midnight. Here lies the beauty of Vrindavan!

When we say that God is the source of everything, then even apparent evil or wrong behavior should find its proper function in relation to him. Hence, the greatest conception of transcendence is one in which supposedly negative elements are accommodated and harmonized, thereby enhancing the beauty of the Absolute. That is the Krishna conception in Vrindavan, as given by the Gaudiya mystics. Vrindavan is a plane of consciousness that can be approached only through self-sacrifice done without even spiritual calculation. Such self-sacrifice leads to the finite soul’s self-forgetfulness, which in turn promotes loving exchanges with Krishna, who is the infinite Absolute truth. The all-powerful, unconquerable Absolute becomes helpless in front of the selfless love of a finite soul! This is indeed a beautiful contradiction.


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111 Responses to Harmonizing Contradictions

  1. Sadhu, sadhu! Aniyor, aniyor!

  2. Vikram Ramsoondur

    ‘Tis a well-thought-out, incisive condensation of Caitanyite metaphysics, Vivek. A fine read indeed.

  3. Thanks your for this elegant article, Gaura-Vijaya.

    Where does the contradiction lie? It is just because of our limited frame of reference that we base our understanding on duality: it’s either this or that, but not this and that at the same time. Lord Caitanya has presented the law of acintya-bedhabheda tattva, simultaneously one and different, to console us and to give us a glimmer of that which coexists and is the absolute reality in the realm of spirit, not matter.

    Even though we may dabble in quantum logic and distributive laws, etc., we still have to transcend material logic. These systems may help us start to conceive the possibility of other realities, of other ways of perceiving. In a way, that is what Buddhist koans try to help us do: to abandon the world of our sensory experience, filtered through our mind and intelligence, to reach the other shore, the infinite, inconceivable shore where we finally “know.”

    • The idea of the article is essentially what you are speaking of: how things which appear contradictory can exist in harmony, which is essentially acintya-bhedabheda. These were just some ideas to point in that direction. In our limited material experience also we find some hints of these contradictions. Material experience is a reflection of the spiritual (like the inverted banyan tree) experience, so it is difficult to harmonize contradictions on the material plane and we have to transcend that plane to enter the spiritual where contradictions can co-exist. This was what I wanted to convey.

  4. In the attempt to ‘harmonize contradictions’ some people will resort to extreme contortionism, such as can be observed with the ‘fall of jiva’ issue. In such cases, instead of harmony, something entirely different is created: complete bewilderment and discord.

    Most of the time the harmony is connected to intellectual honesty: without telling the truth there can be no harmony. If we don’t know something for sure, why do we feel obligated to pretend like we have all the answers? Sometimes harmonizing the contradictions is allowing both opinions to circulate freely in the society of devotees, leaving it up to the individual’s taste to adopt either choice, and respecting such choices on an equal basis. Why not allowing contradictions to exist?

    Yes, we can cover up any contradiction by invoking the magical acintya-bhedabheda spell… after all, how can you argue about something that is by definition inconcievable? Yes, just about any nonsense can be covered up with enough magically sounding words. We have seen it done before. But do you feel the resulting harmony? No. This is where the rubber meets the road, the ‘taste test’. Here you are cooking for the feast, and you have two contradictory recipies to ‘harmonize’… and believe me, the people will easily tell a difference between harmony and nonsense when it comes to cooking. I flat out refuse to eat the nonsense cooked up in the name of ‘harmonizing’ or ‘resolving’ various contradictions that float around us. I would much rather stick with the choice that appeals to me and not worry that somebody else thinks differently.

    • The fall of the jiva issue is not a good example. You cannot use bhedabheda for this! Bhedabheda refers to the simultaneous unity and difference between sakti and saktiman. And you cannot leave this issue up to the individual to choose and honor both fall and no fall conclusions, in my opinion. But it is true that sometimes opposing ideas on certain issues are best harmonized by letting persons choose which one they favor.

      • I wonder who among the disciples of Srila Prabhupada has the courage to address the fall of jiva issue and the contradictory statements of their guru on this subject matter with complete honesty and without resorting to intellectual contortionism. Even BR Sridhara Maharaja let that one slide without any attempt of ‘harmonizing’ (which he did offer for the sun and moon distance for example). He simply presented the traditional parampara explanation of the jiva’s origin, allowing disciples of SP who took his shelter to make up their own mind.

        • This assumes you know why Prabhupada said fall at times and no fall at other times. Preaching and siddhanta are not always one. That is my explanation. And it is a good one. What is yours?

          • No, I do not really know why sometimes he would say that we all fell from direct contact with Krsna in his lila. I can ‘assume’ he did this to promote his idea of personalism to his disciples, despite the fact that such explanation contradicts what his guru preached on the issue.

            The explanation: “Preaching and siddhanta are not always one” is certainly reasonable in this situation. The larger question is: Why resort to such divergence, as it invariably leads to tremendous confusion and loss of faith among the followers? Did Lord Caitanya preach like that? Did acharyas like Madhva or Ramanuja preach like that? How about the Six Goswamis?

            And where do we draw the line between misleading people in the name of preaching and becoming an apa-sampradaya? A guru who tells his disciple that the snake is a rope to help him overcome the fear of snakes ultimately has the responsibility of setting the record straight, or risks creating a line of snake-deniers.

          • Narasingha Maharaja and I brought this point up to Dr. Kapoor, Prabhupada’s gurubhai twenty years ago. We said that preaching and siddhanta are not always one. He agreed. “Yes, that was the strategy of Guadiya Matha, but as a scholar I could not fully appreciate it.” Then we said “Yes, but we are here because of that strategy,” and Dr. Kapoor replied with a chuckle, “Yes, me too!”

          • The idea of preaching and siddhanta not always being the same is really just an outgrowth of preaching according to time, place, and circumstance, the former being a greater degree of the latter. Most points made in preaching, whether siddhantic or not, could be made more explicitly or given in a more developed way, but it is the task of the preacher (who ought be fueled by seva and practice) to discern what the audience can handle, and sometimes that may be a conception that ultimately will have to be discarded. This same principle takes place even within the siddhanta, as in the Gita when Krishna says one must do their duty, only to later tell them to abandon it. So really it is a continuum, not an issue of only siddhanta or not siddhanta.

            There is certainly a precedent for deviating from siddhanta in order to inspire faith. In his Gopala-Campu and his commentary to Ujjvala nilamani, Jiva Goswami says that the paramour (parakiya) relationship of Radha and Krishna only takes place in the manifest lila and that in the unmanifest lila they are wedded (svakiya). Later, in his own commentary to Uj. Nilamani, Visvanatha says that Jiva goswami made his claim as a tactic for the readers of his time, who may not have been able to digest the idea of parakiya in the unmanifest lila. He then goes on to explain a way in which Radha and Krisna’s love is svakiya, similar to what Srimad Bhagavatam says: Krishna is even the husband of the gopi’s husbands, for everything ultimately belongs to him.

            With Bhaktivinoda we seem to see increased occasions where preaching and siddhanta differ, and why not? Bhaktivinoda was the first to actively take Gaudiya Vedanta to the international scene, presenting it to people from drastically different cultures with very different mindsets and points of reference. What we have to understand is that there is no one right way to preach. Mahatmas and general devotees use their mind, informed by their experience, to try to discern what is the best way to encourage others to take to Krishna Consciousness with a healthy orientation. But again, a healthy orientation does not in any way mean one cookie-cutter approach. Devotees are different, pure devotees are different, and their different presentations will attract different people. This is an acceptable variety. There is a place for contemplating the effectiveness of a preaching strategy and perhaps even voicing concerns to the preacher employing them, but unceasingly trying to measure and calculate the most effective way for causeless mercy to dispense itself is not only futile (you can’t quantify causeless), but can start to become somewhat of “looking a gift horse in its mouth.”

            In hindsight we can always question if a different strategy may have been better. In response to this, Prabhupada would likely tell us that rather than speculating, we should set a better example. But before we can test out our theories about the “right” way to preach, we first have to embrace and deepen our faith, which—have no doubt— is a product of someone else’s successful preaching tactics.

          • No, I believe that we are here despite of that strategy. That is certainly true in my case. I do not believe that such departures from siddhanta helped me in any way whatsoever. And it would be much easier for me to describe the negative effects of that strategy.

            Just because the overall strategy of GM or Srila Prabhupada enabled Vaishnavism to take root in the West, we should not give a blanket approval to every preaching method or technique used to facilitate that effort.

          • That may be true with regard to a specific issue, but you are a product of the overall preaching strategy of Gasudiya Matha and its offspring, Iskcon. “By hook or by crook sell the book” had its day.

          • This whole attempt to weigh one preaching technique against another only goes so far. A good teacher no doubt toils over what the best approach is, but there is no conclusive truth. Are we to judge best strategy merely by number of recruits and temples? Of course not. Perhaps by spiritual advancement? Ok, and how do you suppose we will quantify that? And do we calculate from their overall advancement or from the amount of advancement made within this lifetime. Do we factor in the guru’s vocabulary (which directly effects their preaching), country of origin, number of years preaching, etc, etc etc? My point is that the whole thing cannot be meaningfully scrutinized in this manner, it is far too complex and involves too many incalculable elements, bhakti foremost among them.

            If guru A has 35 disciples who progressed from sraddha to higher stages of anartha nivrtti in one life and guru B has 35 disciples who remained within nistha, which they had attained previously, who has the better preaching strategy? The question itself does not even follow.

            This is why Prabhupada lamented that he had no one adequate to share ideas with and brainstorm how to reach out to the people. It is no simple task. Understanding it in this way will also help us to respect different approaches and sangas.

          • B.B Visnu Maharaja(under Narinsgh Maharaja) had used Jaiva Dharma as authority to conclude that Jiva fell down from tatastha, not from Vaikuntha. Jaiva Dharma section itself was a preaching strategy because it did not match the previous commentaries. So why replace one preaching strategy with another false one and then blame people for not picking the right one?

            I feel yes we are here because of preaching strategy, though I am not sure how SP or BSST’s explanation helped me in coming to Krsna more than the anadi karma explanation. In fact, I found more problems with the former explanations than the latter. All the time SP stressed he is giving everything as it is and suddenly here he uses his preaching strategy on siddhanta issue. It does make things harder for people. Most people in the BVT parivar believe in the preaching strategy as Absolute truth. I will ask Narayana Maharaja (or even Narsingha Maharaja) if he believes that we fell from brahmajyoti and I bet he will say yes. Then I should ask him (or Narsingha Maharaja) whether it is a preaching strategy. I will see what he says then! I have a hunch they both will say we fell down from brahajyoti or tatastha is true and perhaps they even believe in it. who knows? What is need for preaching strategy on siddhanta? How far can you go with it?
            How are people who have not even attained nistha and bhava supposed to sort this out as they just have put faith one way or the other. Sometimes I have to put more faith in BVT’s Krsna Samhita and Bhagavata, which also is a preaching strategy and not siddhanta according to many and sometimes I stick to traditional commentators. Will Krsna punish us for making wrong decisions on things we do not know and in which we are mislead by his representatives?

          • I am certainly glad that some things like “By hook or by crook sell the book” had not only their day but also their sunset.
            Just as the idea of “Preaching and siddhanta are not always one”, they are extensions of “End justifies the means” doctrine, or the preference for preyas (short term gain or benefit) over sreyas (long term benefit).

          • Kula Pavana : I just request me to find one sastric quote which shows that jivas fall from brahmajyoti or tatastha region? This is not accepted by other sampradayas at all and not by anybody till BVT. You are as wrong as others!

            My idea here is to determine the right from the wrong is not as easy as you think.

        • I think some of SSM’s disciples and people in missions outside ISKCON who are influenced by BSST believe that jiva fell down from brahmajyoti or the tatastha region where the jiva made a choice to go up or down. And they don’t believe that it is a preaching strategy, but Absolute truth. So I think they are as much on the wrong side as ISKCON people if you compare with traditional commentaries. Only thing is devotees psychologically don’t care about brahmajyoti, so anything can be said about it without problems.But does that make their conclusion or belief right?

          So BSST or BVT’s explanation are not traditional parampara explanations either.

          • I believe that an acharya has every right to present his interpretation of a particular philosophical point for the benefit of their disciples. But they usually propose a cohesive and singular understanding which does not contradict the already established doctrine. However we may understand the ‘tatastha’ point of origin, it is clearly incompatible with thinking we fell from Krishna-lila. At least this is my point of view. On top of that, the belief we fell from Krishna-lila contradicts several other doctrinal points and scriptural references. And it simply does not make much sense from the logical point of view.

            So for me it is not about a departure from traditional (pre BVT) parampara explanations but about cohesion, logic, and lack of contradictions.

          • So for me it is not about a departure from traditional (pre BVT) parampara explanations but about cohesion, logic, and lack of contradictions.

            Are you trying to say that you do not mind contradiction between different acaryas, as long as each of their explanation is cohesive in itself? Because earlier in your post you said “But they usually propose a cohesive and singular understanding which does not contradict the already established doctrine.” This seems to indicate it is an issue if their explanations contradict eachother.

            If your issue is only one logical inconsistencies, how pressing was the “jiva issue” to you, prior to finding out from someone else that it was an “issue”? Furthermore, it is not the logical shortcomings or contradictions that keep this topic alive today, it is the lack of proper conception of guru-tattva (Prabhupada fanaticism) and the fact that certain Vaishnavas have completely divorced themselves from the rest of the sampradaya. Were these facts not the case the entire global community would have likely integrated a proper conception and moved on.

            I do not think your issue the mere presence of contradictions, it is the “ends justify the means” mentality that underlies it. Is the notion of ends justifying means inherently wrong? From what point of consideration?

          • Nitai, I agree with your idea overall and you make some good points. My point was just that people with weak experience should not be expected to make the correct decision about truth because truth relies on faith in their guru. Now you can say that we check sastra and previous acaryas, but like you pointed out even previous acaryas have used preaching strategy. I think Jiva Goswami’s point is actually true according to tattva, thought not according to rasa (All gopis are in fact wives of Krsna). It is not a wrong explanation. Fall of jiva from brahmajyoti or vaikuntha is just plain incorrect according to traditional commentaries (tattva or rasa anyway). I just went further and asked whether we can ever be sure what we believe is true at all and should we be held responsible for having incorrect beliefs that arise because of preaching strategy of teachers? Do you think we are fair to people who made a “wrong” choice because of SP’s or BSST’s preaching strategy and then mock at them? How do we know that nitya baddha jiva explanation is not a preaching strategy of vedanta sutra where so many philosophies are argued against. All traditional commentators were also using preaching strategies and nobody can know their truth either.

          • Jiva Goswami’s point is true, of course, but he did not make it on that basis. Remember, he was contrasting that the manifest lila is parakiya and the unmanifest lila is svakiya. This is different than the siddhantic point of svakiya, which is true in every realm and of everyone. He also includes a verse in that commentary that indicates he may speak about something one way within that comm., but he may personally think about it differently. This lends to VCT’s stance that it was a preaching tactic.

            I do not think we are unfair to people who maintain a “fall” stance regarding the jiva. The issue is not that they adopted that view, the issue is that so much more has surfaced since Prabhupada spoke like that and some have failed to take advantage of those people and texts that shed more complete light on the issue. Any critique or criticism of those who subscribe to this idea is directed at the failing to embrace the guru parampara and sastra that prabhupada made available and their understanding of what it means to follow him, not at their desire to follow Prabhupada.

          • Kula Pavana: But does cohesion and logic determine the truth? Logically how can so much (cows, people etc) fit inside the physical Vrindavan and how can somebody with a finite form be difficult to bound by a rope?

            What scriptural support do you have from the fall from brahmajyoti or fall from tatastha region? It contradicts the understanding that karma is begin-less!! and you never fall from brahmajyoti!!!
            And apart from the fact that Krsna says that those who go to him kingdom never return in B.G, I have not seen any direct scriptural statements in sruti or smriti like B.G. S.B or Upanishads(not commentaries which can be strategies again) that address the issue of fall at all. For the most part scripture is silent on this issue. Do you think it is consistent and coherent for Krsna to say he is inside of everything, but he is outside of everything, he is detached and impartial but he is attached and partial to his devotee. Are things consistent enough for human logic? Are material nature and God sub-ordinate to human logic and consistency? Do they care about human logic?

          • Yes, to a very large extent my problem is with the ‘end justifies the means’ mentality. Why? Because it invariably leads to tremendous abuse and bad results… and there is plenty of history to prove it, not just in Iskcon.

          • Kula Pavana: Also, why not study the Nyaya philosophy or mathematical logic which culminated in Godel’s incompleteness theorem? Logically consistent and coherent model that encompasses the whole creation is beyond has yet to arrive. You can try to find it. And what you will find logically coherent may not be according to some other and vice versa.

            Nitai:Can’t we also say that SP’s preaching style was such that he demanded complete subscription to his views, so obviously many of his disciples turned out to be black and white thinkers?
            Yes deeper light on the issue of the jiva has been thrown, but even that light like the extensive description of the falldown from brahmajyoti is a preaching strategy. Shouldn’t we also blame the devotees for believing in the fall down from brahmajyoti theory, which is as “wrong” as the fall down from Vaikuntha theory, according to the Vedanta Sutra and other traditional commentators. Actually somehow taking things out of context, the GBC paper on Fall of Jiva could use even quotes from Sri Vainava acaryas like Ramanuja to prove jivas have fallen. If you want to prove something, there will something available in the scriptural canon to support you. For example one argument goes like this: When Krsna tells his devotee inS.B that he had been waiting for so long to receive him, has he forgotten Krsna etc, the GBC paper argues that for the devotee to have some memory he needs to have been there before. I guess logically deficient and taken out of context, but an argument nonetheless.

            I think going deeper just makes you more uncertain and also realize how difficult it is know many things for sure. But then, can most people live in the grey world with uncertainty?

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            The inclusion of Sri Vaisnava and Madhvaite references in ‘Our Original Position’ and other similar exercises in sectarian apologetics, in an attempt to render the falsehood of the idea of an initial fall from transcendence somewhat more reputable, should be comprehended for what it really is. These so-called evidences are not really there, for members of the above lineages certainly do not embrace the preponderant ISKCON stance on the issue by any stretch of the imagination. Quite the opposite in fact! Hence, the inescapable conclusion is that these are, more than anything, misreadings of the commentaries of Ramanujaites and Tattvavadis by Drutakarma dasa et al. In fact, what has me positively floored is that zealous proponents of the ‘fall’ conception, in quoting commentators from other schools of thought in support of their biased viewpoints, fail to observe the obvious, namely that the followers of the very acaryas and teachings they quote have an understanding of the same material that diverges from their own diametrically .

  5. I don’t know, I just said on the spiritual plane contradictions exist and can be harmonized. We are on the material plane or the material world, which is a distorted reflection of the ideal world, so contradictions have to remain as they are for the most part without resolution.
    Anyway, the ideas in this article were inspired by my reading of SSM’s writings on harmony. And it was speaking about contradictions that make it hard to understand the Absolute truth or Krsna. He is everywhere, but outside of everything. He has a form which in infinite. All these things are contradictions, I was referring to and I was trying to see them through the lens of acintya bedabedha.

    On the jiva issue, I take my Guru’s opinion and that of Vedanta Sutra to be good for me where jivas are eternally conditioned and don’t have their origin in brahmajyoti or vaikuntha. There are people in other GV institutions that laugh at the fall from vaikuntha theory, but believe in the fall from brahmajyoti as Absolute truth. I have no way to know which one of these three is true . Neither of the three opinions completely satisfies my logic and I have to just rely in faith in my Guru. If you found my writing above objectionable, I have no problem. I maybe wrong. I just attempted to write something.

    • Vikram Ramsoondur

      On the jiva issue, I take my Guru’s opinion and that of Vedanta Sutra to be good for me where jivas are eternally conditioned and don’t have their origin in brahmajyoti or vaikuntha.

      This is the explanation I also happen to favour in regard to this subject matter. I find Kundali dasa’s writings in this respect to be quite compelling, philosophically and intellectually.

    • No, I do not find your article objectionable. I apologize if I come across like that. I merely shared my views on harmonizing contradictions.
      I know how hard rank and file devotees try to reconcile and harmonize the various contradictions they come across in their devotional life. I applaud them for their efforts. But perhaps not all contradictions can be harmonized. For me there is no way to reconcile the right and wrong, or the true and false. You just pick the one you like and you learn to live with that.

      • In one sense, you also want to know why SP would say things that are false to mislead people and that is your need to harmonize things of your Guru without rejecting him for preaching apasiddhanta. The reason according to Swami Tripurari is that it was a preaching strategy and not siddhanta. I feel that is a way to harmonize the contradictions, but it does not satisfy you and many others. What other reason could you find? SP believed that jiva fell down sometimes and sometimes he believed jiva did not fall or he got different revelations at different time or he did not know or he thought he had a new revelation (but we think it is wrong because it does not match with previous revelation).

        What about BSST explanation that jiva fell from brahmajyoti? You seem to have no objection to it even though it contradicts previous acaryas.

        I guess we can say that SP and BSST are wrong and not right (that is all), but I feel giving explanation for why they said the wrong things is a need you have too.

        Like I said, the thrust of the article was that contradictions exist in harmony in the spiritual plane of Vrindavan, and they do not exist in harmony in the material plane. That was my simple message. Fall of jiva etc issues are all related to our material conception of life where contradictions will always exist without harmony.

      • How do you know if the previous acaryas and the original revelations and commentaries are siddhanta and not preaching strategy? Just because they came earlier than BVT, they are true and later ones are false. I mean do you have a way to determine that what is true and what is false in issues like this apart from using logic that suits you. Most people have no direct experience of even all their previous lives or even being in susupti of Mahavisnu. We just rely on faith. But perhaps it is a preaching strategy!! I enjoy my life that as I don’t feel that I can know anything for sure at this stage of my life(we can know somethings with more certainty than others like human life is temporary or sun will rise in the east (even that one may say who knows it will be true always)). There is no need to be sure, you have to eventually embrace uncertainty and let the Absolute reveal himself when he so desires. Till then keep on serving.

    • Radha Krsna dasa

      On the jiva issue, I take my Guru’s opinion and that of Vedanta Sutra to be good for me where jivas are eternally conditioned and don’t have their origin in brahmajyoti or vaikuntha.

      This raises several questions for further discussion and clarification.

      I understand the word “anadi” (meaning having no beginning but having the potential for end) refers to the jiva’s conditioned nature, as is mentioned in Goswamis’ sandarbhas and also in Kundali/Satyanarayan’s “Leaves” book. If such is true, then how do we understand the word “tatastha” or marginal? For example, it is stated in the sastras:

      “The jiva-purusa should inquire about two locations, the material world and the spiritual world. The jiva is situated in a third position, called svapna sthana, on the border between these two places. Situated in this marginal place, he can see both the material and spiritual worlds”. (Brhadaranyaka Upanisad 4.3.9)

      “Just as a large fish living in the river wanders from one bank to the other, so the jiva is of similar quality, and is equipped to wander in the Karana waters between the material and spiritual worlds (svapnanta and buddhanta).” (Brhadaranyaka Upanisad 4.3.18)

      JIVA GOSVAMI writes in his commentary to Sri Brahma-samhita 5.21 and quotes Sri Narada-pancaratra:

      yat-tatastham tu cid rupam sva-samvedyad vinirgatam
      ranjitam guna ragena sa jiva iti kathyate

      “Although spiritual and conscious by nature, the jiva lives on the border between the spiritual and material worlds. When it chooses to enter the material world, it becomes contaminated by the modes of nature. That is said to be the spirit soul.” (Source: http://gosai.com/writings/jivas-and-the-marginal-plane)

      If the jiva has eternally been conditioned, then where is the question of choice between choosing the spiritual and material world? There must be a reference point of “time” (even outside of material “time”) when the tatastha jiva first made the choice to enter the material world. It is my understanding that this initial choice must have been made from the tatastha position in between the material and spiritual worlds. Even if we accept the idea that tatastha does not refer to any particular region or space but is a state of being, it still leaves the question whether the jiva chose to enter conditional life in the material world or somewhere else.

      Is it wrong to think that jivas who are in the material world (except for those who descend from the spiritual world for the purpose of preaching) are indeed eternally conditioned, but the original choice to enter conditional life is made in the brahmajyoti/tatastha region in between the material and spiritual worlds? Have the previous acaryas stated anywhere that when the orginal choice to enter conditional/material life was made, the jiva was already conditioned?

      I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that the word “eternal” as in “jivas are eternally conditioned” is really an approximation, and as such, it means, for a very very long “time”, so long that one cannot trace out the point in “time” when the jiva made the choice to enter “conditioned” life. Otherwise, we are forced to accept that “eternal” means either (1) the jiva was already conditioned when he first decided to enter material world/conditioned life or (2) there was no such choice to choose between the material or spiritual world. Both of these latter ideas are not attractive to me.

      I would appreciate some feedback from Sripada Tripurari Maharaj and other learned contributors here on what I have stated above.

      • I really appreciate your quotes. The translations of the Upanishad verses pertain to dream and wakeful states of consciousness and it can be interpreted in multiple ways like this one http://www.celextel.org/108upanishads/brihadaranyaka.html?page=4.
        Other sampradayas do consider the jivas in the material world to be eternally conditioned, but obviously this can be a new revelation of GV. I don’t know.Thanks again.

      • As Gaura-vijaya mentions, these verses from the Brihadaranyaka are speaking about the dream and waking states of consciousness. The next section talks about deep sleep (susupti). The translations you gave are the extremely creative translations of BVT. They are far from literally correct and do not conform with the context at all. This section is not about the origin of the jiva’s material sojourn.

        The verse from Narada pacaratna cited by Sri Jiva in Bs says simply, “That which is tatastha, spiritual by nature, an emanation of cit, and which is tainted by attachment to the gunas is known as the jiva.” Nothing in Sri Jiva’s commentary says anything about choosing, etc.

        For those concerned with fairness, the idea that the jiva has a faint impression of the paravyoma and the material world and from an intermediate position then chooses one or the other is problematic. Why? Because choice based on partial knowledge is not well informed choice. Freedom to choose between two worlds with only faint, partial knowledge of both is not much of a choice.

        But the ideas you have presented are creative ways of talking about the issue of theodicy employed by BVT as he reached out to the West with Vaisnavism for the first time. The overriding point he makes is that God is not responsible for the suffering of the jiva (evil). This is certainly something that the Western ear wants to hear.

        Otherwise, previous to this kind of outreach we do not find the acaryas of any sampradaya taking this position. For Gaudiyas karma is anadi, beginningless. The choice of the jiva is to take up bhakti or not. And that is presented to the jiva in this world, nowhere else. Thus its positive value–sristi-lila.

        This brings us to the brahmajyoti origins idea. Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja did use this word (Brahmajyoti) in Search for Sri Krsna, but if you study Subjective Evolution carefully you will see that he is really talking about susupti, which is often compared to being merged in Brahman because the physical and psychic dimensions of consciousness are suspended therein and consciousness is undifferentiated. In SE he talks about the jiva moving from homogeneity to hetrogeneity through cidabhas and so on. All of this is speaking about the sristi lila and the jivas moving from susupti to the waking state of consciousness and the individuality that arises from karma.

        So the Gauidya idea pre BVT is simple. The baddha jiva emanates from Mahavisnu. This is stated everywhere again and again. This occurs in the context of the sristi lila. The one becomes many out of joy. Thus the many have the opportunity to experience ananda. But they are small and maya sakti is also under the jurisdiction of Mahavisnu. Thus the two jiva and maya must meet. But that the jiva may meet its maker, Mahavisnu appears in various avataras and the Veda is made manifest, guru parampara, etc. Thus the jiva has is presented the choice to ascend.

        But don’t look to hard for fairness. There is ultimately only One—sakti and saktiman are abheda. The one is doing as he sees fit. This is lila. There is no other to blame. But this does not sit well with the Western mind . . .

        The fact that no one falls from Vaikuntha is directly addressed in the Bhagavatam in the story of Jaya Vijaya. Praiksit Maharaja asks precisely this question. He astounded to think that falling could be possible. Sukadeva then assures him that no one falls.

        The plight of the jiva in terms of its being covered by ignorance and God’s responsibility in this is directly addressed in the Gita in chapter 5 and in Vedanta sutra chapter 2. The creative ideas of BVT are not supported therein, but hopefully you can see the wisdom behind them nonetheless. I certainly do.

        • Maharaja, with all due respect… in the modern age where the flow of information is unstoppable, using deliberate distortions of siddhanta in the name of reaching Western minds is a very, very risky approach. Once somebody finds out about it, they usually begin to lose faith in their teachers, and the line about ‘disciplic succession transmitting unchanged message of God’ starts to look dubious as well.

          The additional risk is in creating an apa-sampradaya of followers who refuse to acknowledge that their teachers took such liberties with the siddhanta. This is what clearly happened in Iskcon.

          Thus it is rather natural to wonder about the wisdom of such distortions done for the sake of preaching. You may see it, and someone else may not.

          • You look at a strategy conceived of 100 years ago and judge it by today’s world. that is not judicious. The flow of information was nowhere near then what it is now. You have to judge a strategy in light of the times it is hatched in. Risks are there no doubt and strategies are relative. They have their goods and bads and some may be more bad than good.

            BVT was looking at the Christian West with its fall from the garden and the fallen angel in relation to presenting a doctrine that has no fall and no other. One that in the East satisfied questions of origins and evil with the principle of anandi karma. “God must be unfair because we see inequality in the world.” “No, the inequality of the jivas is their own karmic doing.” “But in the beginning there was no karma.? “No, karma has no beginning.” I suppose he could have given this orthodox answer, but he chose to do otherwise and meet the Western mind half way. It’s easy to look back with hindsite and make the call.

            But all BVT is saying is that the jiva chooses at some remote point outside of time. Granted, Prabhupada’s development of this idea is potentially more troublesome. But really the trouble today lies in religious fanaticism, not what BVT or Prabhupada have said on the issue. Take away the fanaticism and give us a successor of substance that can teach what may have been propaganda in the early attempts to transplant the tradition in a new culture and what is the siddhanta on any given issue and we do not have the problems you speak of. You are mixing two things together to get the problems you are concerned with: A preaching strategy on a particular issue and religious fanaticism. While there may be a place for the former, the latter should be preached against. Indeed the strategy itself speaks of something much more nobel than religious fanaticism and mere adherence to the letter of the law.

          • When you read BVT, it does seem like he is trying meet the western mind “halfway” like Swami has pointed out. For example, the quote below seems to be an attempt at bringing people closer to an understanding of “the problem of evil.” Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is there so much suffering in the world if it is God’s creation?

            “Babaji” in Jaiva Dharma by Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakur:

            Gold is purified by heating and hammering. Being indifferent to Krsna, the jiva has become impure through engaging in mundane sense gratification. Therefore, he must be purified by being beaten with the hammers of misery on the anvil of this material world…By this process, the misery of the jivas averse to Krsna finally culminates in happiness. Suffering is therefore just a sign of Bhagavan’s mercy. That is why far sighted people see the suffering of jivas in Krsna’s pastimes as auspicious, though the near sighted can only see it as an inauspicious source of misery.

            So although you could say that BVT may have created a problem in coming halfway by bringing in a jiva “choice” argument, he has also done his part for removing God from blame by proposing a unique argument about the problem of fairness; God is all good, this lila of the material world is his mercy ultimately. This way of removing God from blame would never have been present in a western religion dominated worldview which does not accept reincarnation, karma, etc.
            I find the “strategy” quite ingenious actually!

          • Maharaja: “You look at a strategy conceived of 100 years ago and judge it by today’s world. that is not judicious. The flow of information was nowhere near then what it is now. You have to judge a strategy in light of the times it is hatched in.”
            So what are you trying to say? That it is OK to twist the siddhanta as long as you don’t get caught? IMO the strategy was as wrong 100 years ago as it is today, because sooner or later all such things come to light and the price for them has to be paid. Such things place in question the validity of the claim that our sampradaya transmits an unchanged stream of knowledge.

          • BVT getting caught saying that the jiva chooses material life in a creative way that was not done by previous acaryas is BVT getting caught at crafting a preaching strategy to take Gaudiya Vaisnavis into the modern world. So at any rate you are stuck on this point alone: One should never tell a lie, not even a white one. To me that is all you are saying. And there is some truth to that, but I do not think it is the whole, absolute truth. Sanatana Goswami says that the Brihat-bhagavatamrita is not his own writing, but rather an otherwise revealed text. Who believes that and who cares? Perhaps he wrote that because he felt this was required at the time to give the book credibility when forming the sampradaya. So these are of course ends justifies the means issues. But some day you may find yourself doing that. Prabhupada gave the example of telling the child who would not take her medicine to close her eyes and she would get a sweet. The “sweet” of course saved her life.

            So you do not like the strategy of BVT. On this issue I am not that fond of it either. But I do not condemn him for it and see some value in it from his perspective. This is what he thought he had to do. Maybe he didn’t have to. No preaching strategy is perfect in all respects. But you find not value in his strategy. So we differ.

          • So what are you trying to say?

            Necessity is the mother of invention. Our glorious acaryas see Krsna’s necessity, that the jiva relates with him in bhakti, and “by hook or by crook” they find ways to connect everyone they come in contact with to the divine source.
            Again, this goes back to the difference between preaching and siddhanta. Siddhanta is what is maintained through parampara, not preaching. Preaching is fluid and will change.
            Bringing it home, here we are, down the line from a great acarya like BVT who fulfilled the lord’s necessity. There are a few souls who are stuck on the “problem” created by his preaching, but grappling with that is likely a very small part of the life he gave them when they bought the book, or swallowed the hook (line and sinker)!

          • Some say that ‘creativity’ regarding how jiva chooses material life was not the only questionable preaching technique BVT engaged in, pointing to some of the ancient manuscripts he supposedly discovered, like Caitanya Upanishad, most likely being his own writings.

            And it is entirely untrue that I do not find value in his preaching strategies, especially in his attempts to explain Puranas in a more rational way, his socio-religious views, or his practicality, humility, and compassion in general.

            When is a white lie no longer white? Deception is a very slippery slope. Once you create a precedent it is very hard to take it back. We have all seen devotees engage in clearly improper activities in the name of preaching. We can’t change what has already happened but we must not defend the ideas which ultimately stand as the roots of those problems.

          • As has already been pointed out, why stop at BVT. It starts with Sri Jiva and Sanatana. They saw fit to do things you say are wrong and unnecessary. Somehow I think they and BVT may have been more right than you think. Brihat-bhagavatamrita was invented by Sanatana Goswami, and in many respects it is the prememinent book of GV. Radha Govinda are married in Gopal Campu in the aprakata lila and this is the finest work of JG.

          • madan gopal das says:
            “Necessity is the mother of invention. Our glorious acaryas see Krsna’s necessity, that the jiva relates with him in bhakti, and “by hook or by crook” they find ways to connect everyone they come in contact with to the divine source.”

            Since when the truth is subject to inventions?

            Besides, I absolutely fail to see a ‘necessity’ of inventing anything that has to do with compromising the siddhanta our line is supposed to present.
            What I see is a temptation to present KC in what we consider ‘a more appealing form’, experimenting with the truth in good intention.

          • Jiva Goswami says that the paramour (parakiya) relationship of Radha and Krishna only takes place in the manifest lila and that in the unmanifest lila they are wedded (svakiya). Later, in his own commentary to Uj. Nilamani, Visvanatha says that Jiva goswami made his claim as a tactic for the readers of his time, who may not have been able to digest the idea of parakiya in the unmanifest lila.

            So here you have Jiva Goswami doing exactly what Kula-pavana objects to. But for the last 500 years what he did has been considered glorious by the entire sampradaya. Still KP makes some good points. But his fears seem to lie more in the realm of what lesser devotees may do in the name of such inventiveness. However, there has always been an emphasis in the sect on the difference between empowered persons and what they can do and those who are not empowered. Surely some do not know theie place, but should the empowered check themselves from their perceived need for inventiveness in preaching on account of that? I guess we will have to judge by the results, which will inevitably be mixed.

            As for white lies, I think such lies do exist and they are distinguishable from just plain lies. Take the Polish farmer hiding his Jewish neighbors in his basement, who tells the Nazi SS that there are no Jews in the neighborhood anymore. White lies are those that do more good than the truth, which is what makes them white.

          • Kula-pavana, are you are assuming that the siddhanta would be easily understood and readily accepted if it were presented without consideration of context and audience? If so, I disagree.

            I don’t think most people can digest Gaudiya siddhanta. Most folks aren’t interested in selflessness and some might even scoff at Mahaprabhu’s ecstasy, mistaking it for pain.

            The difference between preaching and siddhanta is necessary because of the extent of our material bondage and the depth of the ego-effacing Gaudiya ideal.

          • when a guru claims to present an unchanged siddhanta of his sampradaya, he is not playing games with me (at least this is what I used to assume).
            And I am also assuming that when most people find out they were deceived in the name of preaching,

            Sorry Kula-pavana prabhu, but I feel like you are superimposing your modern day experience onto previous times and teachers that you have not had a relationship with. I just don’t think it is fair to compare current bad experiences of people quite possibly manipulating the teaching for ulterior motive, with an acarya from the past who is creative in preaching. It is very difficult to objectively judge the past, because we aren’t in it!
            BVT or Jiva Goswami “lies” are not the same as so-and-so guru telling Kula-pavana that he’ll get Krsna’s mercy if he rips off the greatest number of people on the pick and engages their laxmi in Krsna’s service (for example), though I completely appreciate the disillusionment that can come from deceptive use of siddhanta in my current life, with current vaisnavas I’ve had relationships with. If there were disciples of these purva-acarya’s who had problems with the way they were preaching, that would be between them and their guru, but we find examples of followers harmonizing their contradictions… I think it is perfectly appropriate to voice objection to one’s current teacher’s tactics, I just don’t see what good it does to object to a previous teacher, like they have purposely manipulated the teaching for us, now.
            As for the Gita, don’t forget that at the dharma-ksetra where it was spoken, Krsna, out of devotion to his devotees encouraged Yudhistira to tell a “white lie.” “Asvatthama is dead!”

          • Gauravani:”Kula-pavana, are you are assuming that the siddhanta would be easily understood and readily accepted if it were presented without consideration of context and audience? If so, I disagree.”
            No, I am assuming that when a guru claims to present an unchanged siddhanta of his sampradaya, he is not playing games with me (at least this is what I used to assume).
            And I am also assuming that when most people find out they were deceived in the name of preaching, their faith in their teacher is diminished.
            I do not see Krsna doing anything like that in the Gita, which for me is the gold standard for the transfer of knowledge.
            And most importantly, I look at the mess created by such departures from siddhanta and seriously wonder if it was worth it.
            And I don’t buy the notion that I can’t handle the truth… 😉

          • And I don’t buy the notion that I can’t handle the truth…

            Well the truth is that sometimes our acaryas do what you object to. Jiva Goswami is the prime example.

          • Madan: So we do have to harmonize contradictions after all. 🙂 The best possible way to that is to say one is siddhanta and other is a preaching strategy. I don’t find any other way to do that. Only other way is to say like Kula Pavana one is plain wrong and one is plain right.

        • Radha Krsna dasa

          I thank both Gaura-Vijaya Prabhu and Sripada Tripura Maharaja for pointing out that the the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (BU) verses are speaking about the dream and waking states of consciousness, and that BVT’s translations are novel and creative. I was not aware of this before, as BVT’s translations were the only one that I knew of. However I find the translations at this site quite terse and in need of further editing to make it more suitable to reader. Is anyone aware of any translations of BU by Vaishnava acaryas in English that is more readable and adheres to the traditional understanding, or any reference to them by the Goswamis in their writings?

          I am writing to seek further clarifications from Maharaj and others. Last night I read again the pertinent sections from Pujyapada Sridhar Maharaja’s Search for Sri Krishna (SSK), Subject Evolution of Consciousness (SEC)as well as BVT’s Jaiva Dharma (JD)ans Sanatan Goswami’s Paramatma Sandarbha (PS)(the edition by Kusakratha dasa)and have the following doubts/questions.

          This brings us to the brahmajyoti origins idea. Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja did use this word (Brahmajyoti) in Search for Sri Krsna, but if you study Subjective Evolution carefully you will see that he is really talking about susupti, which is often compared to being merged in Brahman because the physical and psychic dimensions of consciousness are suspended therein and consciousness is undifferentiated. In SE he talks about the jiva moving from homogeneity to hetrogeneity through cidabhas and so on. All of this is speaking about the sristi lila and the jivas moving from susupti to the waking state of consciousness and the individuality that arises from karma.

          I agree with Maharaja that in SEC, Sridhar Maharaj is talking about sristi lila but don’t find that to be the case in SSK, in the sense that in SSK he also talks about choice on the jiva’s part from the marginal position:

          The brahmajyoti, the nondifferentiated marginal plane, is the source of infinite jiva souls, atomic spiritual particles of nondifferentiated character. The rays of the Lord’s transcendental body are known as the brahmajyoti, and a pencil of a ray of the brahmajyoti is the jiva. The jiva soul is an atom in that effulgence, and the brahmajyoti is a product of an infinite number of jiva atoms.Generally, souls emanate from the brahmajyoti which
          is living and growing. Within the brahmajyoti, their equilibrium is somehow disturbed and movement begins. From nondifferentiation, differentiation begins.From a plain sheet of uniform consciousness, individualconscious units grow. And because the jiva is conscious,it is endowed with free will. So, from the marginal position they choose either the side of exploitation or the side of dedication.Krsna bhuli sei jiva anadi bahirmukha. Anadi meansthat which has no beginning. When we enter the land of exploitation, we come within the factor of time,space, and thought. And when we come to exploit,action and reaction begins in the negative land of loan. Although we strive to become masters, really we become losers.

          I don’t see here any difference from BVT’s presentation.

          From BVT’s JD (Ch 16), it appears that there are three kinds of living entities (jivas in a broad sense), only one of which are of the tatastha kind, who emanate from Mahavisnu. Some of these jivas enter the material world (nitya baddha), and others enter the spiritual world directly from the tatastha position. It seems to me that those jivas who attain the spiritual world directly from the tatastha position without entering the material universes, cannot be considered to be fully to be engaged in sristi lila and do not have anadi karma to deal with. Is this understanding correct?

          The other living entitities, who are not of the tatastha type, are manifested from Lord Sankarshan (these entitities serve in Vaikuntha planets) and Lord Balarama (these entitites serve in Goloka Vrindavan), and not from Mahavishnu.

          So the nitya mukta jivas are of three kinds: those from the tatastha line, from Mahavishnu, those from Lord Sankarshan, and those from Lord Baladeva.

          I will continue with my comments and questions later when I have more time.

          • Generally, souls emanate from the brahmajyoti, which is living and growing. Within the brahmajyoti, their equilibrium is somehow disturbed and movement begins. From nondifferentiation, differentiation begins. From a plain sheet of uniform consciousness, individual conscious units grow.

            My point is that this description better fits the sristi lila—disturbing the equilibrium, from nondifferentiation to differentiation, etc. This all occurs during the sristi lila. There is no description in the core texts of anything like this occurring in the Brahmajyoti. All references in the core Gaudiya texts to falling from Brahman refer to jivan muktas, not those who have attained final emancipation. Even if they did refer to souls in the state of videha mukti merged in Brahman, they would be talking about liberated souls falling from a liberated condition. This is problematic. But it does sound like BVT.

            Again the standard description is that the baddha jiva emanates from Mahavisnu. BVT himself takes this position as well: Jivas emanate from Baladeva for Goloka lila; jivas emanate from Maha Sankarsana for Vaikuntha lila; jivas emanate from Mahavisnu for sristi lila. I have not been able to find any references for the equilibrium of Brahman being somehow disturbed, and from that disturbance individual jivas develop, and then from there they go to a region called tatastha (?) from where they choose to enter the world (into susupti?), or go back into Brahman (?), Vaikuntha, or Goloka. The can’t just choose to enter the world from Brahman and then appear here in some form. The world comes from Mahavisnu, the One who chooses to become many. And the many are in an undifferentiated condition called susupti that is described as very similar to Brahman in all the texts. From nondifferentiation to differentiation/individuality determined by karma they emerge. Nowhere in any core text is there description of some of them deciding to go to Vaikuntha instead of entering the world. No, all the souls in susupti are bound by temporarily suspended karma that is anadi. All of this is clearly stated in numerous texts again and again very clearly.

            The citations from Brhadaranyaka are not cited by the Goswamis anywhere. They do not refer to the so called origin or fall of the jiva in terms of the context in which they appear. The first one is very terse. The second of them (4.18) is simple. The straightforward translation is “Even as a large fish moves between the banks of a river from one side to the other, so also this person (the atma) moves between the two states of dreaming and waking consciousness.”

          • Regarding free will, the freedom to choose is relative to the choices presented. In Vaikuntha the jiva has full knowledge, and thus there is no real option to choose ignorance, which does not even exist therein. There the jiva has already chosen to make its will one with the will of the Godhead. Thus it is fully satisfied, yayatma suprasidati.

            In Brahman there is generally no perception of another, no perception of Vaikuntha, no perception of the material world, and no disturbance—shanti, shanti, shanti. No desire means no disturbance. No desire means no choice.

            In susupti, the unmanifest material world, there is desire but it is suspended. Thus it is also peaceful with no perception of another to differ with. So there is also no choice to make there.

            When Mahavisnu chooses to become many again, suspended karma is animated and the world of choices begins. In the manifest material world the jiva is in ignorance, but it has the opportunity to choose bhakti/knowledge and this opportunity includes seeing/meeting liberated souls. Thus the only realm of meaningful choice is Devi Dhama. And this is the realm in which choice—free will—is so highly valued.

            Nowhere in any core text is a “realm of tatastha” unto itself mentioned. Tatastha implies being on one side or the other. The “border” of tatashtha is the imaginary line of demarcation between water and land, matter and consciousness.

            So which side are you on? The choice is yours. Are you with me or against me? yathecchasi tatah radha krsna dasa. I love you even if you make the wrong choice. 🙂

            Please note here that I have no objection to the idea of choice before time from tatastha as a preaching strategy of the past, while I see little utility for it in the present, as Eastern thought and sensibility and the Guadiya perspective as well have become much more widespread in the West.

          • Thank you Maharaja, for these excellent explanations. I should copy and save these passages of yours, to reproduce/quote them whenever the need arises, not that this is a theme I’m particularly drawn to discussing. Still, some people don’t seem to be capable of bringing themselves to letting others be content with notions that differ from those they themselves embrace. As a case in point, not long ago, I was forced to take somebody off my Facebook list, for nearly every other post of that person’s was aimed at driving home the bogus concept of a fall from grace, and that became exceedingly irksome in the end.

          • Maharaja, thank you for your scholarly and helpful comments. I am happy that you love me if I make the wrong “choice” in subscribing to the idea of choice before time from tatastha as a point of siddhanta rather than a preaching strategy. 🙂

            The points you make are also in harmony with the “Leaves” book:

            Before the time of Bhaktivinoda none of our äcäryas wrote at length explaining the origin of the jéva prior to conditioned life. The question of whether the jéva fell from Vaikuëöha or any other place simply did not come up. In Bhagavad-gétä (13.20) and in other places the çästras state that both the material nature and the living entity are anädi, beginningless, and the äcäryas repeated that. The understanding being that the relationship between the jiva and material nature is also anadi. Everyone understood that there can be no prior condition to a beginningless event and so the need for elaboration was nonexistent.

            Our äcäryas simply stated that conditioned existence of the jéva is anädi, without any beginning, then go on to explain devotional service as the answer to the miseries of conditional existence. In Western culture we have no equivalent word for the concept of anadi in the English language, in philosophy or in logic, therefore the term is not properly understood and thus questions about the origin of the jiva prior to conditioned life arise. (Later on, we have two chapters explaining the philosophical import of the word anädi both from the philosophical and the logical point of view). Our predecessor acaryas did not have this problem. While it is a fact that they did not go beyond anädi to explain the origin of the jéva they did clearly state that no one–whether a nitya-siddha or sädhana-siddha–falls from Vaikuëöha.

            When we study the writings of Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura we find that whereas other acaryas previously explained anadi in philosophical terms he explained it in a novel way. Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura’s explanation is more for the common man. . . . About the word anädi he writes, (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter One):

            Service to Lord Kåñëa is the eternal duty, nitya dharma, of the jéva. Forgetting that the jéva is possessed by mäyä. From then on the soul turns his face away from Kåñëa. Because this non-devotion to Kåñëa is manifest only at the time he enters the material world there is no history of the jéva’s fall within the time of the material world. For this reason the words anädi bahirmukha (the living entity’s non devotion to Kåñëa is beginningless) are used. From the time of non devotion to Kåñëa and entry into mäyä the eternal duty of the jéva becomes perverted.

            From this one understand[s] that the jiva enters the material world from somewhere else. This is not the true view however, because something that is beginningless cannot have a prior state of existence, as will be explained further along.

            My question however is that even though the “core” texts and the previous acaryas before BVT did not explain “anadi” in the way BVT did, can not BVT’s explanations be regarded as further details/explanations adding to the core texts or to the previous acaryas without considering them to be a part of preaching strategy distinct from siddhanta? This is where I am having the most trouble – how does one differentiate siddhanta from preaching strategy?

            In some caseses such distinctions are quite apparent because the direct statements of the “preaching strategist” are in stark contrast with or contradict the direct statements of sastra. For example, Srila Prabhupada’s statement: “We have also come down from Vaikuntha some millions and millions of years ago.” (Lecture on Bhagavad-gita, August 6, 1973.). However, even here, Prabhupada’s statement can be harmonized with BVT’s idea if “millions and millions of years ago” is assumed to be a rough approximation of “time immemorial” or “beyond the time of the material world” and “Vaikuntha” is taken to mean the tatastha position/brahmajyoti.

            However, to me at least, BVT’s interpreatation of “anadi” does not have to be taken as a direct contradiction of the core texts but can be considered to be somewhat different explanation from that of the previous acaryas. Anyway, just some thoughts. I could be wrong.

            All references in the core Gaudiya texts to falling from Brahman refer to jivan muktas, not those who have attained final emancipation. Even if they did refer to souls in the state of videha mukti merged in Brahman, they would be talking about liberated souls falling from a liberated condition.

            Maharaja, is sayujja mukti (merging into the form of the Lord) the same as “a soul in a state of videha mukti merged in Brahaman”? If not, could you please explain what you mean by the latter? Also could you please provide a reference for the idea that such souls who attain such nature as a final emancipation never fall from such a position?

            Also, could you further clarify what the gaudiya “core texts” are that you are referring to. I would think Srimad Bhagavatam, Brahma samhita, the puranas, upanishads, the Goswami literatures? Anything else? By “core texts”, are you also referring to the commentaries of previous acaryas like VCT?

            Also, where is the support in the core texts of BVT’s idea in JV that other than the jivas that emanate from Mahavisnu, there are jivas emanating from Baladeva Prabhu and Sankarasana?

            The plight of the jiva in terms of its being covered by ignorance and God’s responsibility in this is directly addressed in the Gita in chapter 5 and in Vedanta sutra chapter 2.

            I do not have any knowledge of vedanta sutra Ch2, but Sridhar Mhj. in SSK quotes Gita 5.14 and suggests that such covering is due to its misuse of free will:

            Why has the soul come to the world of exploitation,and not the world of dedication? That should be attributed to his innate nature, which is endowed with free will. It is a free choice. This is substantiated inthe Bhagavad-gÈtÅ (5. 14)[quotes 5.14]
            “The soul is responsible for his entrance into the
            land of exploitation.” The responsibility is with the
            soul; otherwise, the Lord would be responsible for his
            distressed condition. But Krishna says that the soul’s
            innate freewill is responsible for his entanglement in the material world. The soul is conscious, and consciousness means endowed with freedom. Because the soul is atomic, his freewill is imperfect and vulnerable. The result ofthat free choice is that some are coming into the material world, and some are going to the spiritual world. So, the responsibility is with the individual soul.

            The exact same idea regarding free will/choice is also mentioned in SEC:

            Student: I have heard it said that according to Vedic ontology, the soul is marginal. Do the jiva souls in the marginal or ta$astha position have knowledge that there is an upper and a lower world, that there is suffering in the material world and divine service in the spiritual world?
            SSM: A jiva soul has adaptability of both sides; marginal means “endowed with adaptability towards
            both the spiritual and material worlds without participation or any experience of either.” The marginal soul {tatastha jiva) has only seed adaptability towards both. He is situated in the margin between the spiritual and material worlds, and the margin strictly means that one is in a position to analyze adaptability. He can go towards the spiritual world and he can come towards the material world. The possibility of either is there in potentiality, but he is left to exercise his freedom. Because the soul is a conscious unit, he has free will. Freedom is inseparable from consciousness. A conscious unit and freedom are one and the same. Conscious atom means endowed with freedom. Without freedom, it is matter.

            Student: The soul has freedom, but does it have knowledge of the different aspects of reality?
            SSM: Because the soul is very small, his freedom is also imperfect; a soul in the marginal position is very vulnerable. Freedom does not mean absolute freedom. Because the soul’s existence is small, his freedom is defective; there is the possibility of committing a mistake. Freedom of the minute soul does not mean perfect freedom. Complete freedom would be perfect reality, but the minute soul is endowed with the smallest atomic freedom. This is the position
            of the atoms of consciousness, and this is why they
            are vulnerable. They may judge properly or improperly;
            that is the position of those who are situated in the marginal position. If the soul were not endowed with the freedom to determine his position, we would have to blame God for our suffering. But we cannot blame God. The starting point of the soul’s suffering is within himself.

            The suffering of the soul in bondage is similar to the suffering of one who is addicted to a drug. Before one
            begins taking intoxication, the first step towards addiction is curiosity. Then after one has taken intoxication for a certain amount of time, he cannot do without intoxication.Our attachment to måyå, or misconception, is like addiction to a drug. At first we are curious, but when we become habituated to the intoxication of misconception, we are forced to continue using that intoxicating substance. Before beginning the habit it might never have begun. But once you have begun, as much as you cultivate an addiction, the intoxication will devour you. The first cause of our entanglement with material nature was our mixing with måyå in a play of curiosity. But as much as we make friends with her, so much she comes to devour us. In this way we are in the clutches of måyå. But in the beginning our involvement was very slight, like one experimenting with drugs. The beginning of our play with
            måyå involved the voluntary misuse of our free will, and that has led us to this present stage where måyå has devoured us. Måyå means our attraction for intoxication: where there is love of exploitation, there is måyå. And truth is the opposite of exploitation. Truth is found in dedicating everything
            for the center, for Krishna.

            Student: If in the marginal position {ta$asthå} the soul has exposure to both reality and illusion, why doesn’t he have enough discrimination to come to the right path?

            SSM: He has no real depth of discrimination;
            only a little discrimination. But it is there. However
            small it may be, it is there.

            Student: Can he also go to the spiritual domain of the Lord?

            SSM: Yes, and some souls do go to that
            side. Some go to that side, and some come to this side.
            The soul has independence. Not all come to one side or the other. Then there would be some compulsion. But there is no compulsion. It is a free choice; some are coming to this side, and some are going to that side.
            Student: Is there any knowledge that can come from
            outside, or is it possible for the soul in the marginal position to get help from an outside agent?

            SSM: At every stage in our existence, outward help is present. But in the undifferentiated stage of spiritual existence in the marginal plane, only higher agents can help. An ordinary saintly person cannot detect the defects or transcendental qualities in the undifferentiated soul. Such help is the work of a higher personality. Only God Himself or an exalted or empowered saintly person can help a soul in that condition. Suppose you have a newborn baby. Only a doctor who is a specialist with advanced
            knowledge can treat the newborn. But when the child is a
            little grown up and can talk, he can explain the symptoms of what is paining him. At that time, an ordinary doctor may help him. Ordinary saints cannot help us in every stage of life. They can guide us and help us only up to a certain standard. But the Lord Himself and those highly empowered saints who are closely connected to Him can help us in any stage of our spiritual development.

            Is the above preaching strategy (like BVT) and not siddhanta?

            Please note here that I have no objection to the idea of choice before time from tatastha as a preaching strategy of the past, while I see little utility for it in the present, as Eastern thought and sensibility and the Guadiya perspective as well have become much more widespread in the West.

            With all due respect Mahraja, I’m not sure if I can agree with this. The concept of “Origin of the Soul” is hard enough to understand even for intelligent people, whether from East or West. Furthermore, the idea of “free will” and “choice” are very much part of modern thought, East or West. They also have their origin and place in the Vedic literature, including in such concepts as karma and reincarnation. So I believe that even if the idea of choice before time from tatastha is a preaching strategy, it still has its place and utility in the modern era.

          • My question however is that even though the “core” texts and the previous acaryas before BVT did not explain “anadi” in the way BVT did, can not BVT’s explanations be regarded as further details/explanations adding to the core texts or to the previous acaryas without considering them to be a part of preaching strategy distinct from siddhanta? This is where I am having the most trouble – how does one differentiate siddhanta from preaching strategy?

            In some caseses such distinctions are quite apparent because the direct statements of the “preaching strategist” are in stark contrast with or contradict the direct statements of sastra. For example, Srila Prabhupada’s statement: “We have also come down from Vaikuntha some millions and millions of years ago.” (Lecture on Bhagavad-gita, August 6, 1973.). However, even here, Prabhupada’s statement can be harmonized with BVT’s idea if “millions and millions of years ago” is assumed to be a rough approximation of “time immemorial” or “beyond the time of the material world” and “Vaikuntha” is taken to mean the tatastha position/brahmajyoti.

            However, to me at least, BVT’s interpreatation of “anadi” does not have to be taken as a direct contradiction of the core texts but can be considered to be somewhat different explanation from that of the previous acaryas. Anyway, just some thoughts. I could be wrong.

            Yes, I believe you are wrong. It is quite a different explanation and to make it credible as siddhanta you have to interchange terms like brahmajyoti, tatastha, viraja, and Vaikuntha with one another in different ways at different times, as you have done above. It’s a lot of foot dancing, all of which in unnecessary if we see BVT’s position as a preaching strategy.

            And BVT, like Srila Prabhupada, has said contradictory things on this issue. For example, he has also explained in Jaiva Dharma that the nitya-baddha jiva emanates from Mahavisnu, who like Baladeva in Goloka and Mahasankarsana in Vaikuntha manifest jivas for these realms. So do they come from the “tatastha region” or from Mahavisnu? Do they fall from Vaikuntha or does no one fall from Vaikuntha?

            But there are other problems as well. If anandi does not mean beginningless, then with regard to karma this is a problem. Why? Because then the Vedanta-sutras’ answer to the charge that God is partial is defeated! While the sutras explain away the idea that God is partial by attributing the sufferings and inequalities of the baddha jivas to karma, this answer is challenged by the reply that karma cannot explain the inequality seen in the world because when the creation first began there was no karmic distinction between jivas. In other words, if in the beginning before the world manifests there are no jivas bound by karma, then they must have been created with inequalities and thus God is seen to be partial. If all had been created equal, there is no reason to hold that their acts would be different. Thus the sutras in order to refute this claim state, “No, because karma is anandi (beginningless).” Baladeva Vidyabhusana gives the example of the seed and the tree (which comes first?) to help us wrap our head around “beginninglessness” and to further distance anadi karma in this connection from the fault of infinite regression.

            So to change beginninglessness to “a long time ago” creates other philosophical/theological problems. It should also be noted that anadi karma does not speak of absolute determinism. If it did, Sri Baladeva would not have strongly refuted determinism in the same commentary on the sutras in which he supported anadi karma.

            Thus, without going into greater detail, I think that if you look carefully enough at the idea that anadi means “a rather long time,” as opposed to “beginningless,” you come up with almost as many problems/contradictions as you do when you say the jiva falls from Vaikuntha. And if you go this route you are still left with the burden of explaining what the Thakura or SP meant when they said the opposite: No one falls/the nitya baddhas emanate from Mahavisnu. Saying that they emanate from Mahavisnu is saying what all the scripture says. Saying no one falls from Vaikuntha is also saying what all the scripture says. Saying otherwise is a preaching strategy. After all, if someone asks you how we got here and you reply, “We were always here,” they very well may say, “That’s not fair! God is partial! What does that mean?” Sometimes simpler answers are better because they allow one to go forward with that by which (sadhana) in time they will be able to understand what they cannot at first.

          • Maharaja, is sayujja mukti (merging into the form of the Lord) the same as “a soul in a state of videha mukti merged in Brahaman”? If not, could you please explain what you mean by the latter? Also could you please provide a reference for the idea that such souls who attain such nature as a final emancipation never fall from such a position?

            Yes, it’s the same in terms of Gaudiya philosophy other than Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s position on sayujya which is different. Regarding falling from this position, again, all the texts refer to falling from the status of jivan mukti, not otherwise. Acaryas from the time of BVT onward have sometimes written about falling from Brahman, but the texts that they cite to substantiate this when studied in light of the original commentaries of the Goswamis are shown to have been speaking about either jivan mukti or less—verses such as ye ‘nye ‘ravindaksa vimukta-maninas (SB 10.2.32), which is probably the most often cited. Read Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti’s commentary on this verse. Read also in Cc where this verse is cited twice. Therein KK first gives his Bengali rendition of this Bhagavata veres. The first time it is cited he says, jnani jivan-mukta-dasa . . . The second time it is quoted he says suska-jnani jivan-mukta aparadhe adho maje.

            The jnani jivan mukta is not fully liberated. He or she has not attained sayujya. Sayujya is a form of mukti. Brahman is a formless from of God. Liberated souls do not fall from their position. Final release comes when karma is finished. There is no karma and no gunas in Brahman.

            Also, could you further clarify what the gaudiya “core texts” are that you are referring to. I would think Srimad Bhagavatam, Brahma samhita, the puranas, upanishads, the Goswami literatures? Anything else? By “core texts”, are you also referring to the commentaries of previous acaryas like VCT?

            Yes such texts and the commentaries of the Goswamis, who are our sastra gurus. They have written or revealed our bhakti sastras.

            Also, where is the support in the core texts of BVT’s idea in JV that other than the jivas that emanate from Mahavisnu, there are jivas emanating from Baladeva Prabhu and Sankarasana?

            I have not looked for any such support but there may be a seed of support in Cc,1.5. But the important point relative to the discussion is that BVT says the baddha jivas emanate from Mahavisnu, a point supported everywhere.

            You ask if the long section you cited from Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja’s preaching is following in the line of BVT’s preaching strategy. It appears so. The real point being raised in these sections is that God is not responsible for the jiva’s plight. In one sense if any such explanation works for you and allows you to go forward with your practice, that is the desired result.

          • Further, regarding the meaning of anadi, if you change the menaing to mean at point in time long, long ago, verses like this one from Visnu sahasra nama become problematic.

            anadi-nidhanam visnum
            sarva-loka-mahesvaram
            lokadhyaksam stuvan nityam
            sarva-duhkatigo bhavet

            In the beginning of creation the Supreme Personality of Godhead spoke and from His words the eternal, beginningless, endless, transcendental Vedas were manifested. From the Vedas all other scriptures have come, and without rival.

            And from the Bhagavatam

            visuddham kevalam jnanam
            pratyak samyag avasthitam
            satyam prnam anady-antam
            nirgunam nityam advayam

            The Personality of Godhead is pure, being free from all contaminations of material tinges. He is the Absolute Truth and the embodiment of full and perfect knowledge. He is all-pervading, without beginning or end, and without rival.

            There was never a time when Visnu first came into existance, and there is no time in the future when He will cease to exist. He is the supreme master of all planets, all living entities, and all the demigods who control the universe. He is the all-pervading, all-knowing witness who sees everything. A person who regularly glorifies Him becomes free from all material miseries, and in that liberated condition becomes full of transcendental bliss.

          • With all due respect Mahraja, I’m not sure if I can agree with this. The concept of “Origin of the Soul” is hard enough to understand even for intelligent people, whether from East or West. Furthermore, the idea of “free will” and “choice” are very much part of modern thought, East or West. They also have their origin and place in the Vedic literature, including in such concepts as karma and reincarnation. So I believe that even if the idea of choice before time from tatastha is a preaching strategy, it still has its place and utility in the modern era.

            My point is that our Vedantist philosophers of India all embraced cyclical time and the idea of no beginning, as opposed to linear time and a beginning of time. Vedanta does not acknowledge a creation as Christianity does—creation ex nihilo. The concept of free will in Vedanta is a very limited free will in comparison to that of the modern West. And I think that these Eastern notions are much more widely embraced in the West today than they were 100 years ago. Many educated people have identified with Buddhism in the West today for example. And Vedanta has also had a sizable impact, even making inroads into the scientific community. Cyclical time is posited in string theory, etc. Reincarnation is far more popular, as is the notion of karma, both of which speak of cyclical thinking. So given these developments the concept of anadi karma and the beginningless world that goes with it, etc. can be more easily presented now in the West than they could 100 years ago.

            Otherwise overall I am merely presenting some of the problems you will eventually run into with making BVT’s position the scriptural conclusion (siddhanta). In my opinion it is good to be aware of these problems.

            The relative sections of Vedanta sutra are 2.1.34-35. Regarding Bg 5.14, Baladeva Vidyabhusana writes that this verse answers the charge that God is responsible for the suffering of the jivas. He explains that the jivas are bound up by beginningless karma and this karma is responsible, not God.

          • Nowhere in any core text is a “realm of tatastha” unto itself mentioned. Tatastha implies being on one side or the other. The “border” of tatashtha is the imaginary line of demarcation between water and land, matter and consciousness.

            I do not know about support in any core text, but in a Vedabase search for “causal ocean”, I found the following (transcript from a handwritten essay by Prabhupada on CC, Adi, Ch 5, pre 1967):

            The impersonal glowing effulgence known as Brahman is the outerspace of the Vaikuntha planets in spiritual sky. Outside that impersonal Brahman there is a great ocean which is (?) causal water lying in between the material and spiritual skies. The material energy or Nature is offsuit (sic?) of this causal ocean. The causal ocean is the margin between spirit and matter.

          • Viraja means without the influence of the gunas. It refers to the Karana ocean in which Mahavisnu resides and from where he manifest the material world. Nowhere is it referred to as the “tatastha region.” BVT does not equate the two.

          • Yes, I believe you are wrong. It is quite a different explanation and to make it credible as siddhanta you have to interchange terms like brahmajyoti, tatastha, viraja, and Vaikuntha with one another in different ways at different times, as you have done above. It’s a lot of foot dancing, all of which in unnecessary if we see BVT’s position as a preaching strategy.

            My point in quoting Prabhupada was not to indicate that it is the same as BVT. I was merely trying to indicate that Prabhupada used very simple concepts compared to even BVT, but that one who has read BVT’s JV can see how they (Prabhupada’s preaching technique and BVT’s presentation) can be harmonized in a very approximate way. I am not advocating interchanging of the terms.

            But there are other problems as well. If anandi does not mean beginningless, then with regard to karma this is a problem. Why? Because then the Vedanta-sutras’ answer to the charge that God is partial is defeated! While the sutras explain away the idea that God is partial by attributing the sufferings and inequalities of the baddha jivas to karma, this answer is challenged by the reply that karma cannot explain the inequality seen in the world because when the creation first began there was no karmic distinction between jivas. In other words, if in the beginning before the world manifests there are no jivas bound by karma, then they must have been created with inequalities and thus God is seen to be partial. If all had been created equal, there is no reason to hold that their acts would be different. Thus the sutras in order to refute this claim state, “No, because karma is anandi (beginningless).”

            I would answer to this charge as follows (I am expressing my doubts as well as playing the devil’s advocate): If we assume that each jiva who enters the universe enters the universe enters as Lord Brahma (or a controller like Brahma – the highest position within th universe) and this is possible since there are unlimited jivas and unlimited universes so there is no problem for Mahavisnu to place each jiva who wants to enter the material world as a Brahma in each universe and then karmic results begin to manifest in the form of different material bodies within material universes. If every jiva starts out as Lord Brahma, then there is no inequality and thus God cannot be seen as partial.

            Of course, this still does not answer the ultimate question of fairness- i.e., why there should be an energy called tatastha sakti that manifests the tatastha jivas- who are prone to fall down to the material world. This question can only be answered by saying that the Lord is lilamaya and if He is not allowed to manifest just energy, he wold be incomplete.

            But the above scenario at least indicates that the tatastha jiva at least has independence, even though it is minute or incomplete.

            Baladeva Vidyabhusana gives the example of the seed and the tree (which comes first?) to help us wrap our head around “beginninglessness” and to further distance anadi karma in this connection from the fault of infinite regression.

            Maharaja, please provides some additional details as to how he uses the example to explain “beginninglessness”.

            And BVT, like Srila Prabhupada, has said contradictory things on this issue. For example, he has also explained in Jaiva Dharma that the nitya-baddha jiva emanates from Mahavisnu, who like Baladeva in Goloka and Mahasankarsana in Vaikuntha manifest jivas for these realms. So do they come from the “tatastha region” or from Mahavisnu? Do they fall from Vaikuntha or does no one fall from Vaikuntha?

            Now I am a little confused by your question here Maharaja. I am not undestanding exactly what you are asking. But let me venture to say that if by “they” in your last sentence above you are referring to jivas, my guess would be that BVT would say that those jivas manifested by Baladeva and Mahasankarsana are not “tatastha” jivas but are living entities (who have emanated from cit sakti rather than tatastha sakti) similar to (but not the same as) the “tatastha” jiva, in that they don’t have the same potency as the Lord. This would presumbably then refer to the original eternal associates (parikaras) of Lord. In the case of Goloka, they would indicate friends such as Sridama, Subala, etc. or His parents like Nanda and Yasoda.

            But I agree that there is some confusion at least for me in JV, even in the Bengali reading (my mother tongue) because BVT often uses the word jiva in a generic sense without specifying whether they are “tatastha” or not.

            With regard to your question about fall/no fall from Vaikuntha, I am confused. BVT never says that any jiva- whether tatastha or not-ever falls from Vaikuntha.

            Thus, without going into greater detail, I think that if you look carefully enough at the idea that anadi means “a rather long time,” as opposed to “beginningless,” you come up with almost as many problems/contradictions as you do when you say the jiva falls from Vaikuntha. And if you go this route you are still left with the burden of explaining what the Thakura or SP meant when they said the opposite:

            Instead of using “a rather long time” I would say “an instance outside of material time”. Your last sentence again is confusing to me. BVT never said jiva falls from Vaikuntha. Prabhupada’s statements are bit more problematic, but even he has said as a final conclusion: “The conclusion is that no one falls from the spiritual world or Vaikuntha for it is the eternal abode”(Bhag.3.16.26, purport.

          • If we assume that each jiva who enters the universe enters the universe enters as Lord Brahma (or a controller like Brahma – the highest position within th universe) and this is possible since there are unlimited jivas and unlimited universes so there is no problem for Mahavisnu to place each jiva who wants to enter the material world as a Brahma in each universe and then karmic results begin to manifest in the form of different material bodies within material universes. If every jiva starts out as Lord Brahma, then there is no inequality and thus God cannot be seen as partial.

            Of course, this still does not answer the ultimate question of fairness- i.e., why there should be an energy called tatastha sakti that manifests the tatastha jivas- who are prone to fall down to the material world. This question can only be answered by saying that the Lord is lilamaya and if He is not allowed to manifest just energy, he wold be incomplete.

            But the above scenario at least indicates that the tatastha jiva at least has independence, even though it is minute or incomplete.

            Your ideas about Brahma are confused, as I will explain below, but you fail to acknowledge that I have already demonstrated that the jiva has free will in conjunction with anadi karma. There is no need to look elsewhere for it, speculating, etc.

            Brahma is the purest of those souls under the influence of the principle of karma, as well as the embodiment of all such beings. He is thus both a jiva
            soul and the samasti-jiva. Srimad-Bhagavatam describes both his lotus seat sprouting from the navel of Narayana and Brahma himself as the collective
            of all materially conditioned souls. Brahma alone is born from the lotus, but his desire to create the world is largely a result of his being the
            embodiment of innumerable jivas, whose desires necessitate the creation of the world for their fulfillment. In this sense the materially conditioned
            soul is fist born as Brahma after each cycle of creation.

            The samasti-jîva is the collective status of individual souls just prior to their individual manifestations in accordance with the rule of karma. The jiva souls are merged in a state of deep sleep (susupti) within Mahavisnu, and when the time for the creation to manifest arises, these jivas move toward differentiation by first appearing as a collective within Brahma and then expressing their individuality in accordance with their latent karma. It is only in this sense that the baddha-jiva
            “first takes birth as Brahma.” This Brahma the vairaja-purusa or vairaja-jiva, represents the srivatsa of Narayana when the universe is conceived of as
            Narayana’s form. See SB 11.3.12 commentary of Srila Bhaktisiddhånta Sarasvati Thakura and also also SB 3.20.16

          • You ask what I am asking in this paragraph:

            And BVT, like Srila Prabhupada, has said contradictory things on this issue. For example, he has also explained in Jaiva Dharma that the nitya-baddha jiva emanates from Mahavisnu, who like Baladeva in Goloka and Mahasankarsana in Vaikuntha manifest jivas for these realms. So do they come from the “tatastha region” or from Mahavisnu? Do they fall from Vaikuntha or does no one fall from Vaikuntha?

            I am saying that just as Prabhupada said contradictory things about the “fall” of the jiva, so too has BVT. One place he says they come from the tatastha region and in another he says they come from Mahavisnu in susupti. Just as Prabhupada says in one place no one falls from Vaikuntha and in another he says they fall from there. But my overall point was that just as saying the jivas fall from Vaikuntha is problematic, so to is it under scrutiny problematic to say that they fall from “tatastha.” As I have pointed, out many problems arise.

            Again, there is always a material world. It is anadi. And it must from anandi (beginningless time) have jiva souls in it. So if you change the meaning of anadi with reference to when the jivas come to the world, you must also change the meaning of anadi with reference to when the world begins. In other words you do away with the reality of Vedanta’s cyclical time and the actual beginningless nature of the world. I have also demonstrated how anadi is also used to refer to Bhagavan. You can not change the meaning just for your purpose and keep it the same in all other instances.

            You as a jiva have no beginning. The world has no beginning. The world always has jivas in it driven by karma. You have always been under the influence of karma. You act and karma accrues. Which comes first the karma or the action? It is like the seed and the tree. Nonetheless you have minute free will. So make the right choice NOW.

            I think I have explained myself sufficiently with reference to scripture and application of sastra yukti, but perhaps your faith in another and his or her explanation citing BVT is influencig your ability to grasp the simplicity of what I am saying—what sastra says in a straightforward manner. I can’t do much about that.

          • Viraja means without the influence of the gunas. It refers to the Karana ocean in which Mahavisnu resides and from where he manifest the material world. Nowhere is it referred to as the “tatastha region.” BVT does not equate the two.

            Technically it may not be referred to as the “tatastha region”, but conceptually what is the harm in referring to any marginal position between the spiritual and material world as “tatasha” Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhar Maharaja (SSM) certainly seem to use to use them in that sense.

            CC Madhya,TEXT 172:

            eka uḍumbara vṛkṣe lāge koṭi-phale

            koṭi ye brahmāṇḍa bhāse virajāra jale

            SYNONYMS

            eka uḍumbara vṛkṣe—in one uḍumbara tree; lāge—there are; koṭi-phale—millions of fruits; koṭi—millions; ye—which; brahmāṇḍa—of universes; bhāse—float; virajāra—of the Virajā River; jale—in the water.

            TRANSLATION

            “Just as there are millions of fruits on the uḍumbara tree, millions of universes float on the waters of the river Virajā.

            PURPORT

            Virajā is a river that divides the material world from the spiritual world. On one side of the river Virajā is the effulgence of Brahmaloka and innumerable Vaikuṇṭha planets, and on the other side is this material world. It is to be understood that this side of the Virajā River is filled with material planets floating in the Causal Ocean. The name Virajā indicates a marginal position between the spiritual and material worlds, but this Virajā River is not under the control of material energy. Consequently it is devoid of the three guṇas.

            The above purport is essentially a translation of Saraswati Thakur’s (ST) anubhasya commentary on this verse. Although ST does not use the word “tatastha” in the original Benagali, conceptually it is clear that it is between the material world and spiritual world. Hence, it can be considered to be “tatastha”.

            From Brahma-samhita 5.16 purport:

            The innumerable jévas as spiritual particles emanating from the oversoul in the form of pencils of rays of effulgence, have no relation with the mundane world when they come to know themselves to be the eternal servants of the Supreme Lord. They are then incorporated into the realm of Vaikuëöha. But when they desire to lord it over Mäyä, forgetting their real identity. the egotistic principle Çambhu entering into their entities makes them identify themselves as separated enjoyers of mundane entities.

            So here “the rays of the effulgence of the oversoul” is what SSM refers to as brahmajyoti in SSK and SEC. The oversould must be referring to Mahavisnu. Since the unlimited tatastha jiva souls emerge from the brahmajyoti of Mahavisnu lying in causal ocean (tatasha-between material and spiritual world) for exhibiting sristi lila, SSM calls the brahmajyoti here “tatastha”.

            But I understand your points Maharaja and they do merit consideration.

            I would like to ask whether you have had any discussion on these points (i.e., that the idea of BVT in JD includes a lot of preaching strategy rather than siddhanta (especially with regard to his interpretaion of “anadi”) with any current or past gaudiya math acarya and if so, have they agreed with you? Also, what about Narasingha Maharaja? Have you had discussions with him on these points and does he agree with your conclusions? Because, in his website, he quotes BVT heavily on the “origin of the jiva” issue. Thank you again Maharaja for your insightful comments.

          • You are not saying anything new. Souls emanate from Mahavisnu like pencil rays. This is not saying anything other than the One Mahavisnu lying in the causal ocean/viraja becomes many. The many were lying in susupti.

            But I understand your points Maharaja and they do merit consideration.

            Yes. They are well supported.

            No, I have not discussed this topic with any other acaryas. So perhaps I will bring it up with them at some point in or outside of time. But I can’t help but feel that this parting question of yours is an effort to cast doubt on my own qualification more than anything else, despite your inability to do so through philosophical discourse.

      • but you fail to acknowledge that I have already demonstrated that the jiva has free will in conjunction with anadi karma.

        I acknowledge it, but my understanding of what you are saying is that the jiva expresses this free will after entering and experiencing the material world. In the material sphere, the jiva either turn toward the Lord and engage in bhakti or not turn toward the Lord and continue his/her sojourn in material existence. However, you are not allowing the possibility that a tatastha jiva who has not entered the material world can and does turn toward the Supreme Lord and enter the spiritual world directly. You are saying all tatastha jivas have been in the material world since beginningless time. But BVT, BSST and SSM paint a different picture.

        In other words, if in the beginning before the world manifests there are no jivas bound by karma, then they must have been created with inequalities and thus God is seen to be partial. If all had been created equal, there is no reason to hold that their acts would be different. Thus the sutras in order to refute this claim state, “No, because karma is anandi (beginningless).”

        My understanding is that unlimited worlds/universes manifest and disappears in cycles by the inhalation and exhalation of Mahavisnu who is lying in the causal ocean, and that this lila of the Lord as Mahavisnu is both beginningless and endless.

        The jivas that are bound by karma before a particular universe manifests are only those jivas who before the manifestation of such universe were in susupti with Mahavisnu, i.e., they had experienced another universe previously before it got unmanifest/destroyed and the playing out of their karma is suspended until they enter another universe. And before that they experienced other universes also. In that sense their karma can be thought of as anadi. But, according to my understanding, this does not preclude the possibility that a tatastha jiva who beginninglessly is existing as a spark within the brahmajyoti of Mahavisnu (i.e., who has not experienced/entered the material world) can enter the spiritual world directly from that position.

        The facts are

        1. The material world has no beginning.
        2. The jivatma has no beginning.
        3. The material world requires jivatmas to exist.
        4. There are always jivatmas in the world.
        5. The jivatmas in the material world have no beginning.
        6. The jivtmas in the material world are always active.
        7. All action on the part of the jivatmas in the material world is called karma.
        8. Karma has no beginning.

        But my overall point was that just as saying the jivas fall from Vaikuntha is problematic, so to is it under scrutiny problematic to say that they fall from “tatastha.” As I have pointed, out many problems arise.

        BVT, BSST and SSM have all accepted the above 8 points as well as the possibility of the jiva attaining the spiritual world or entering material world from the tatastha position. They have not pointed to any philosophical problems resulting from “fall from tatastha” as far as I am aware. It seems that if this is entirely a preaching strategy and in contradiction with the core texts and commentaries of previous acaryas, they would have addressed it. But as I have said before, your analysis also has some strong points and merits consideration.

        One place he says they come from the tatastha region and in another he says they come from Mahavisnu in susupti.

        Maharaja, could you point the chapter where BVT. It may be that he is using susupti/tatastha/bhahmajyoti synonymously. We have to look at the context.

        I think I have explained myself sufficiently with reference to scripture and application of sastra yukti, but perhaps your faith in another and his or her explanation citing BVT is influencing your ability to grasp the simplicity of what I am saying—what sastra says in a straightforward manner. I can’t do much about that.

        No Maharaja, no such faith in another as such, but I admit that I am not quite comfortable yet with the position that what BVT has taught in JD with regard to jiva tattva, and which appears to be in line with the teachings of BSST and SSM is preaching strategy rather than siddhanta. Perhaps you are right. I have no ability in my fallen condition to ascertain the veracity of such conclusion independently. But I would feel more comfortable if other currently living gaudiya acaryas of your stature confirmed this.

        What BVT has essentially said could be looked at like this. There is something called tatastha (tatastha-sakti). It has will and exercises this will. It exercises its will outside of time. This could be construed to be a reference to susupti, where the collective will of the jiva begins to manifest itself again as the One desires to become many, causing the material world to manifest. The manner in which the tatastha exercises its individual will determines its place of residence.

        This is essentially what he is saying. If you stretch this out you get a figurative tatastha region outside of time from which the jiva chooses the material or spiritual realms. This could be construed as a way of talking about the facts stated above to a particular audience.

        Maharaja, could you please define susupti as you believe BVT sees it. Where does he mention the word in the context of jiva tattva in JD? Is it not true that susupti is the state in between manifest and unmanifest state of material universes and as such the jivas in susupti have previously experienced a manifested material universe?

        Also what is the idea behind the One desiring to be many? As I see it, such desire on the part of the Lord is already fulfilled in the spiritual world where he exists eternally with his associates.

        Even in the context of the material world, innumerable jivas are present in the universes that are manifest as part of his sristi lila. Aren’t these events all eternal? Does the manifestation of Mahavisnu in sristi lila ever end?

        • . . . my understanding of what you are saying is that the jiva expresses this free will after entering and experiencing the material world. In the material sphere, the jiva either turn toward the Lord and engage in bhakti or not turn toward the Lord and continue his/her sojourn in material existence. However, you are not allowing the possibility that a tatastha jiva who has not entered the material world can and does turn toward the Supreme Lord and enter the spiritual world directly. You are saying all tatastha jivas have been in the material world since beginningless time. But BVT, BSST and SSM paint a different picture.

          Yes. My position is supported by the Goswami granthas, Vedanta sutra, etc. The other position is not. This is the point. Everything you write is either supported by our Bhaktivinoda parivara or coming from your head, but none of it is supported by our sastra gurus. This is the issue we are discussing.

          We need to find a way to frame and understand why our parivara differs on this point. I have suggested we see it a s a preaching strategy. This suggestion has merit and you yourself seem to have accepted that Prabhupada’s extension of BVT’s position is such a strategy. So your task in this discussion is to demonstrate how this attempt at resolving the difference between the Goswamis and our parivara is less credible than your idea that our parivara’s position is either in concert with the Gowamis or it constitutes new light that retires their position. You have not done either of these things to my satisfaction.

        • The jivas that are bound by karma before a particular universe manifests are only those jivas who before the manifestation of such universe were in susupti with Mahavisnu, i.e., they had experienced another universe previously before it got unmanifest/destroyed and the playing out of their karma is suspended until they enter another universe. And before that they experienced other universes also. In that sense their karma can be thought of as anadi. But, according to my understanding, this does not preclude the possibility that a tatastha jiva who beginninglessly is existing as a spark within the brahmajyoti of Mahavisnu (i.e., who has not experienced/entered the material world) can enter the spiritual world directly from that position.

          But I have already pointed out that this would mean that all baddha jivas came to the world with karma that has a beginning and thus the sutras reply to the charge that God is responsible for the inequality would not hold. When the sutras say that God is not responsible but that karma is, the purvapksin replies “Well in the beginning all souls were equal and there was no karma. This is the position you are taking. But the sutras reply that while that would make God responsible, it is not so because karma is anadi—beginningless. I have already explained this and given you the reference to the sutras and Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s commentary. My time is not well spent repeating myself.

        • BVT, BSST and SSM have all accepted the above 8 points as well as the possibility of the jiva attaining the spiritual world or entering material world from the tatastha position. They have not pointed to any philosophical problems resulting from “fall from tatastha” as far as I am aware. It seems that if this is entirely a preaching strategy and in contradiction with the core texts and commentaries of previous acaryas, they would have addressed it. But as I have said before, your analysis also has some strong points and merits consideration.

          Of course they have not addressed the points I have raised, and there are more points as well. They are the ones who have employed the preaching strategy. So they are not going to show how it is problematic and is only such a strategy. That would undermine their preaching strategy! I have brought it up because by circumstance it has come up on its own, as one would expect over time. And at such a time I have suggested that the strategy has seen better days and may no longer be as useful. If it was a strategy, one would expect this discussion to arise in due course. If it was not and it was the siddhanta, it would be demonstrable in a way that did not put it at odds with the purvacaryas, etc.

          Take BVT’s position on namabhasa. This is an example of theologizing. He has taken the seed understanding of namabhasa and developed it such that his position is understandable as an improvement or development of the core discussion of the topic. This development does not stand in contradiction to the core discussion. His position on saranagati is similar. But his position on the jiva issue is not like that, and there is good reason to conclude that it involves a preaching strategy, especially when we readily attribute the extension of this position sometimes voiced by his follower Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to be a preaching strategy and also when we consider the Western mind on this issue that BVT sought to influence.

        • Also what is the idea behind the One desiring to be many? As I see it, such desire on the part of the Lord is already fulfilled in the spiritual world where he exists eternally with his associates.

          There is a difference between Krsna and Mahavisnu. The fact that Krsna is surrounded by devotees endowed with prema madhurya has no bearing on Mahavisnu. Mahavisnu’s desire to become many is the basis of the sristi lila. This desire manifests at the dawn of each creation. It has no beginning and neither do the many who are part of this lila. Thus we have the nitya baddha jiva and anandi karma. Although this sristi lila has no end (manifesting and becoming unmanifest with no beginning or end to such cycles), the nitya baddha jivas within in it can be liberated from it. This liberation is brought about by Mahavisnu appearing (avatara) within the world.

          • But aren’t Krsna and Mahavisnu more “one” than Krsna and the jiva ? I mean is Mahavisnu independent of Krsna, how can he have a desire independent of Krsna?
            I think said that Jiva Goswami concludes that in the material world Krsna’s pastimes are more complete at least from Yasoda’s perspective and also Krsna can also enjoy vira rasa here more. I was just trying to see how Mahavisnu’s desire is connected in some way to Krsna’s desire. Perhaps he (Mahavisnu and indirectly Krsna) likes the idea of souls choosing to accept his love voluntarily.

          • The point is that the “One”—Mahavisnu—desires to become many. The reason for this is stated as well, lokavat tu lila kaivalyam. This means that there is no reason. Such is lila. This is what sastra tells us. Don’t look for another answer. Accept the one that sastra gives. The same idea can be applied to Krsna in Goloka and Narayan in Vaikuntha, but the “One becoming many” statements are speaking directly about the sristi lila. It is meaningless to say “But why does Mahavisnu become many?” The sastra says he becomes many for no reason. He does not answer to reason. He has no purpose to fulfill.

            So it is with these questions about origins, etc. Sastra takes a strong position on these questions. It says there is no answer, no reason. Stop asking the question. Asking this question is the problem. “Anadi” does not compute. One asks about the beginning and sastra says that there is no beginning—anadi. That means your question is a non question. Stop asking it. Do sadhana. This is the siddhanta and this is the answer Prabhupada really gave. The question—the need to put God under reason—will dissolve in sadhana. Reason is nothing next to The One, next to lila. It has no standing there an it will not give you any standing there.

          • Thanks for the answer. Ultimately like you said everything is a play. I just asked the question because you gave the reason for Mahavisnu’s play when the questioner above asked Krsna does not need this play (sristi lila) because he is already satisfied in Vrindavana. As you pointed out, Krsna does not need a reason for his play in Vrindavan either. It is lila after all. Thanks again.

  6. There was merit to that strategy at a previous time when perhaps the credibility of religion was good overall. Now people even question the original revelation itself (Puranas in particular) and if they are also preaching strategies themselves because if we take an academic approach, it is easy to see that SB and many other Puranas were not written in one sitting. So there is doubt cast on the original text and the authors of the original texts as well because they also have used preaching strategies. It will be hard to distinguish preaching strategy from siddhanta. But perhaps the siddhanta is that Krsna or the Absolute wants to use preaching strategies to attract the soul back to him and that is true in one sense. 🙂 Essentially Vedic literatures (Puranas with stories and then even Upanishads with debates) are preaching strategies to the conditioned souls. Apart from some core principle like karma and reincarnation, there is a lot of fluidity in the preaching of the Vedas. In today’s times, it will be hard to just say it is pure disciplic succession so accept this one, others are non-bonafide!

  7. In view of all this, please let me know, what is the siddhanta on this topic of the jiva? Thanks. Jay Sri Radhe!

      • Maharaja, I think you should write a comprehensive article (perhaps a small book?) on the fall of jiva. Some of the stuff devotees write on this subject matter is beyond atrocious…especially when combined with Prabhupada’s statements that this world is like a dream.

          • Well, count it two!

          • Yes please, a booklet!!! Guru Maharaj, you have an incredible knack for writing succint truths in a few sentences, compared to the GBC’s almost 300 page book which makes falling from Vaikuntha as clear as mud.
            The paragraphs above about the realms of choice, your comments about anadi vs. “long, long ago”, explanations about the motivation for preaching strategy and ability to differentiate preaching from siddhanta would at the very least make a wonderful contribution to modern Gaudiya siddhanta, but could more likely help many devotees comprehensively understand this issue and move on, content with a comprehensive and final understanding of the truth. Sadhu, sadhu!

          • Swami,
            what can you comment on this teaching of Srila Prabhupada Swami?
            L.A. Dec. 14, 1973

            Just like the margin is explained: tatastha. That is… We have translated into “marginal.” Just like we go on the Pacific beach. Some day we find the water is covering the beach, and some day we see it is open. There is no water. So that is called marginal. Marginal. Sometimes it is covered by water; sometimes there is no water. Similarly, we, being marginal potency, we are sometimes influenced by this material nature, not always. Because at the present moment for sometimes we are under the material nature, now, if we try, then we can get out of this covering of material nature and come to the spiritual nature. That is Krsna consciousness movement. Krsna consciousness movement means don’t remain in the marginal position. Come in the land so there will be no disturbance by the water. This is the position. If you remain on the marginal position, then sometimes you will be covered by the water and sometimes it will be dry. But if you little come forward this side, land side, the ocean has no power to touch you.

            So, are the souls dwelling in the spiritual world ever to be really classified as “marginal” entities?
            How can a marginal energy exist within the internal energy without losing all marginal qualities and connection?

            The jiva is actually constituted of internal spiritual samvit energy. When he enters into the internal energy of Krishna, how can that jiva still be a marginal energy?

            This is my question.
            This theory that marginal entities exist within the internal potency seems to contradict the concept that everything of the spiritual realm is of the internal potency.
            Maha-Vishnu lies down in the Causal Ocean also called Viraja River which is known as the marginal plane between the material and spiritual worlds and manifests the jivas there and therefore they are known as “marginal” energy. Those same souls when having attained full accomplishment in the knowledge and bliss potencies are fully “internalized” and removed from the marginal existence in beetween the material and spiritual energies.

            Otherwise, the Gaudiyas are saying that somehow this marginal energy can exist within a realm that is so fully known to be wholly internal energy.
            Marginal energy in reality can only exist in the marginal plane between the material and internal realities.

            What do you think?

          • There are different kinds of liberated souls. Upon attaining prema by following in the wake of the bhava of one of Sri Krsna’s parikars constituted of his svarupa sakti, the liberated jiva remains distinguishable from such parikars. BVT has raised this point in Jaiva Dahrma, and VCT has raised it as well. In his commentary on Ujjvala-nilamani 8.129 he makes a distinction between these two:

            Those devotees who are to be followed for the attainment of spiritual perfection should be nitya-siddha or eternally perfected souls. Those who are labdha-siddha, having become perfected either through grace or long practice, are seen in a slightly lesser light. This difference has existed since time immemorial . . .

            The labdha-siddha is a tatastha-sakti jiva that has made the right choice. Its nature is such that it can live on either side, identified with maya or infused with svarupa-sakti.

  8. Three with us.
    Thank you for all you do to help us.

  9. The facts are

    1. The material world has no beginning.
    2. The jivatma has no beginning.
    3. The material world requires jivatmas to exist.
    4. There are always jivatmas in the world.
    5. The jivatmas in the material world have no beginning.
    6. The jivtmas in the material world are always active.
    7. All action on the part of the jivatmas in the material world is called karma.
    8. Karma has no beginning.

    What BVT has essentially said could be looked at like this. There is something called tatastha (tatastha-sakti). It has will and exercises this will. It exercises its will outside of time. This could be construed to be a reference to susupti, where the collective will of the jiva begins to manifest itself again as the One desires to become many, causing the material world to manifest. The manner in which the tatastha exercises its individual will determines its place of residence.

    This is essentially what he is saying. If you stretch this out you get a figurative tatastha region outside of time from which the jiva chooses the material or spiritual realms. This could be construed as a way of talking about the facts stated above to a particular audience.

    • We find the word tatastha used in the Vaishnava literature in a number of ways. There are “tatastha” or marginal aspects to a number of objects or features in Vaishnava shastra.
      The jivatmas that have attained perfection are referred to as marginal entities for our understanding that they have ascended from the ranks of the marginal energy.
      Otherwise, in my opinion there are NO marginal entities within the spiritual planets. There WERE marginal and have attained the internal platform through some spiritual circuit.
      If you study the meaning of “tatastha” there is no way that such a category of entity exists with a siddhe-deha in Vaikuntha.

      I think the “tatastha” theory as passed down to the present day is unclear and confusing.
      The very notion that the liberated souls of Vraja are “marginal” entities contradicts everything shastra states about the internal devotees of Krishnaloka as being expansions of internal energy.
      The same jiva expanded through the material energy is tatastha.
      The same jiva having attained perfection is internal energy without any marginal qualities.
      To say that perfect souls in Vraja are “marginal” energy is one of the obvious inconsistencies in your Gaudiya philosophy, but probably just one of those concepts that gets little muddled when dumbed-down for western consumption.
      Maybe I am just the one confused, but I find your “tatastha” theory to be somewhat in conflict with other shastric statements about the internal nature of the Goloka residents.

      • “My tatastha theory” is the theory of VCT and BVT. I have simple related their position on the topic. Nowhere in the Goswami granthas is it stated that the tatastha jiva becomes the svarupa sakti. What is described is that the tatastha jiva is embraced by the svarupa sakti. This begins in bhava-bhakti, sudha sattva visesatma . . . . There is always a distinction between souls like Subala and Yasoda and the labdha jivas who attain the same bhava as such parikaras of Sri Krsna. We should not try to blur this distinction. Raganugas follow ragatmikas.

        Otherwise the word tatastha is used throughout GV philosophy in terms of its referring to marginal characteristics of a particular tattva as opposed to its svarupa or principle characteristics. For example, suddha-bhakti has both svarupa and tatastha characteristics. But such usage of the term tatastha is not related to its use in refernce to the jiva sakti. Jiva-sakti is synonymous with tatastha-sakti.

        The very notion that the liberated souls of Vraja are “marginal” entities contradicts everything shastra states about the internal devotees of Krishnaloka as being expansions of internal energy. The same jiva expanded through the material energy is tatastha.

        No, this is not correct. Again, souls like Yasoda (expansions of Krsna’s internal energy) are different from souls who aspire to attain her bhava. And souls like Yasoda are different is several ways, one of which is that they do not come under the influence of the maya-sakti, they are never “expanded through the material energy.” That sounds like they fell from Goloka! Again, the souls expanded from Mahavisnu are constituted differently from those expanded by Baladeva or Radha in Goloka. You can read more about this distinction in Paramatma-sandabha.

        • Are there souls coming from Ananta in Vaikuntha marginal or only baddha jivas in the material world are marginal?
          I mean are there any marginal souls in spiritual world apart from those gone from the material side?
          The details about the souls in the spiritual world must be new revelations in GV (by Jiva Goswami) as it is hard to get these details directly from mainstream Vedic literature.

          • I believe BVT acknowledges a nitya siddha tatastha jiva. Otherwise I am not aware of anyone else writing on this topic.

          • It’s quite amazing to me that so few devotees have been able to grasp the truth of tatastha-shakti. It does require a little special attention, but with a little research it should be quite obvious that the marginal jiva becomes fully an internalized bhakta-tattva spirit soul when attaining siddha-deha. According to CC. the shakti-tattva and the jiva-tattva are both in the same category when the jiva attains cit-bala and departs the marginal position for the internal realm of Vrindavan.
            I could present proper support from SP,BVT and more, but I seem to be having a hard time getting my posts up anymore since I revealed that I was a Jesus freak.

            The fall of the jiva confusion is also closely related to such ignorance of tatastha-tattva.
            There are no jivas in Vrindavan.
            Jivas are conditioned souls.
            The jiva becomes bhakta-tattva through bhakti and ascends his lowly estate as a marginal conditioned jiva.
            In Vrindavan you will be bhakta-tattva not jiva-tattva.

          • Your position has not be substantiated and the one I have cited has not been addressed. You need to do that before jumping in with such unsupported statements.

            Jiva tatva is always sakti tattva. It’s called jiva-sakti/tatastha-sakti. Jivas are referred to as both baddha-jiva and mukta-jivas. I have already cited VCT’s comments in UN on the eternal difference between nitya-siddhas and labdha siddhas. I also mentioned BVT’s position on this difference. Here is what he says in JD, ” . . . The constitution of the jiva will always remain incomplete, no matter how elevated a stage the liberated jiva may achieve. That is the inherent nature of jiva-tattva . . .”

          • KB: What you are saying is not obvious to me at least. It is not easy to draw conclusions like what you did above and be confident of them.

          • If anyone wants to discuss this point further, they need to explain how BVT’s statement and VCT’s statement do not mean what I cited them as support for and then they need to cite evidence in support of a differing position. Blurting things out as if they were the Bible is not useful.

  10. So perhaps I will bring it up with them at some point in or outside of time.

    I really like the subtle humor in this sentence Maharaja. Thank you.

    But I can’t help but feel that this parting question of yours is an effort to cast doubt on my own qualification more than anything else, despite your inability to do so through philosophical discourse

    Maharaja, I did not intend to cast doubt on your own qualifications. I apologize and beg forgiveness at your feet sincerely if it came across that way. I do not wish to commit any apraradh at your feet.

    I am trying to do my best with my limited understanding and enquiry with the points you raise, and while I appreciate and to some extent understand these points, I also have some doubts, still, about whether what BVT has presented in JD and what Sridhar Maharaja has presented in SSK and SEC are preaching strategies rather than siddhanta. It is because of these doubts that I wrote like that.

  11. This discussion is confusing. Isn’t tatastha (marginal) a type of energy? ie situated between the spiritual and the material describes it’s essential nature and not a geographical location of any kind. Tatastha is not somewhere we came from, its who we ‘are’.

    Marginal energy can look, or be conscious of, one side or the other. When you are absorbed in the spiritual side ie service to Krishna you are in the spiritual world and when you are not conscious of that service connection you are in the material world. So every day you are moving from one side to the other. Forgetting and remembering Krishna and the spiritual nature.

    I can’t understand how there can be a disagreement over the beginning of it. How can you ask when eternity begins or ends? It doesn’t make sense.

    • Our tatastha nature in this world is such that we can participate in relationship with either svarupa-sakti, or maya-sakti, but participation in relationship with svarupa-sakti does not situate us “in” the spiritual world completely, until we have reached that place from which having gone “one never returns.” The nature of our tatastha corresponds with our level of spiritual attainment.

      There is no disagreement over the beginning of our tatastha nature except by persons who do not embrace the anadi (beginningless) siddhanta. Such persons are confused. There has been some confusion here about the ending of tatastha nature, but as Swami has pointed out, the perfected souls who attain the divine realm remain in a different category from svarupa sakti. This does not imply that they are tatastha in the sense that they are still at risk of embracing maya-sakti. She doesn’t exist there.

  12. I had a question for HH Tripurari Maharaja.

    BVT’s explanation of the verses from Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, and indeed his concept of tatastha are directly taken from the 5th chapter of ‘Dasamula Rasa’ written by his diksa-guru, Bipin Bihari Goswami. This voluminous book was the work that BVT based his Dasa-mula Niryasa on, and consequently he used it to delineate the dasa-mula concepts in Jaiva-dharma and Chaitanya Sikshamrita.

    So these are not the preaching strategies of BVT – if they are preaching strategies at all, they are actually the preaching strategies of his diksa-guru!

    So who was the audience that Bipin Bihari Goswami was preaching to?

    • Bipin Bihari Goswami cites BVT’s own writing in his Dasa-mula-rasa, and it is obvious to the unbiased reader that this entire book was inspired by the writing of BVT. This is the learned opinion of Jagadananda, BBG’s grand student. BBG aslo wrote in English himself for the The Education Gazette, probably also with the inspiration he got for such outreach from BVT. But regardless, there are problems, as I have pointed out, with the “preaching strategy” or whatever else one wants to refer to it as.

    • What I find truly refreshing is that Bipin Bihari Goswami was not afraid to see one of his disciples as a source of serious inspiration and knowledge in his own bhajana.

    • By the way, have you read the 5th chapter of Dasa-mula-rasa?

      • Yes, it’s basically the same as BVT’s chapter on jiva-tattva, only with a more ‘long-winded’ explanation. BBG’s Bengali is not as simple or terse as BVTs.

        Hmm…I wonder if in 100 years from now, people will read this website and say that, “Tripurari Maharaja’s stance on the tatastha was simply a preaching strategy!” 🙂

        • Hmm…I wonder if in 100 years from now, people will read this website and say that, “Tripurari Maharaja’s stance on the tatastha was simply a preaching strategy!”

          Let me make it clear then for the dull headed that my position is not a preaching strategy. Nor did I find your comment humorous. If anyone wants to think of BVT/BBG’s position on anadi karma the Gaudiya siddhanta, they have some explaining to do—beginning with the meaning of “anadi.”

          • Maharaja, I’m sorry if my last comment offended you. Please believe me, it certainly wasn’t my intention.

            However, I have a serious problem with the idea that BVT simply invented the concept that the jiva came from the tatastha. And the problem is because I’ve heard a similar accusation from some of those following the babaji line who claim that BVT should be rejected because he preached apa-siddhanta.

            It’s very convenient to call his view a ‘strategy for preaching’ but then what will you call all the other points of contention that BVT has apparently ‘invented’?

            For example –

            BVT claims that Mahaprabhu resides eternally in the spiritual sky in Goloka Navadvipa. There is no shastric evidence for this. Was this also a preaching strategy?

            It is also ‘the learned opinion of Jagadananda’ that BVT falsified certain books (Chaitanya Upanishad, Prem Vivarta and Nabadwip Shatakam) in order to give credibility to his claim that Mayapur was the birthplace of Mahaprabhu. Did BVT really write these books, and if so, was this also a preaching strategy?

            So just where do we draw the line?

            When is something a preaching strategy and when is something divine revelation?

            And more importantly, who actually has the adhikara to say?

            With respect (and I sincerely hope that you don’t take this the wrong way), there have been so many learned acharyyas and sannyasins since the time of BVT up to the present day – is it that only one of them (namely your good self) has figured this out and everyone else was/is in total ignorance regarding this topic?

          • Regarding the idea of a nitya lila of Mahaprabhu, this is widely accepted. I believe both Kavi Karnapura and Prabhodananda refer to it in their writing. Visvanatha Cakravarti Thrakura wrote an astakam about it as well. This idea is not one embraced only by the Bhaktivinoda parivara, nor does embracing it bring up the problems that the jiva issue has or any problems at all for that matter. It brings up no theological inconsistency.

            As for the books you mention, there is considerable evidence that BVT may have written them. So what. Who wrote Brihat-bhagavatamrta? It is common in the spiritual lineages of Inida to write a book and attribute it to the one who inspired it rather than putting one’s own name on it. And again, if BVT wrote books and attributed them to other authors, we need to see what is written in the books. Do they present theological or philosophical problems like the kind we are finding in the jiva issue? No they do not.

            You ask why no acarya before me has brought this up. There could be any number of reasons, but the real point is that the points are there to be brought up. You can ignore them if you like, or you can insist that they represent the siddhanta on the issue, but if you choose the latter you have to answer the questions that this position brings up. And they are big questions/problems. I am just pointing them out, Why am I doing so? Because they come up when you explore this issue in depth. Why explore the issue in depth? Because it has come to the fore as a major issue in the Gaudiya community today. Do you have any problem saying that Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s statements about falling from Goloka constitute a preaching strategy? It seems to be an extension of what BVT has written.

            Your reasoning is not good. It suggests that if we acknowledge the problems with BVT’s position on the jiva, we are faced with greater problems than if we do not. I disagree, and I am quite familiar with all the differences between BVT ‘s position of various issues that differ from the position of other lineages. But I am not prepared to call them preaching strategies because they do not bring up the problems that his position on the jiva brings up. Furthermore the topic of origins, etc, so much lends itself to adopting a preaching strategy in relation to outreach to the West. And we see that one of BVT’s successors has adopted such a strategy. Nor do I think that suggesting that BVT has adopted a preaching strategy makes less of him. It ranks him with Sanatana Goswami and Jiva Goswami, who did the same.

            Again, just look at the facts. The fact that others are bothered by them is not my fault. And if you or anyone can resolve the problems raised and demonstrate that BVT’s position is siddhanta and not a preaching strategy, I will embrace that conclusion. But to do that you have a mountain to climb. Finally the fact that I as an acarya in the lineage of BVT have raised points that no previous acarya in the lineage has raised is of little if any consequence. This is what acaryas are supposed to do. There is a time for everything.

  13. If the main goal of preaching/knowledge/scripture is to eradicate the ignorance of “birth/death/old age/disease” ie. temporary suffering of jiva under organic sense perception, then there must be an incredibly simple manner of doing this with all the tools available currently.

    Just look at how we are all speaking to eachother across the globe. I’m in “South Africa” for Krsna’s sake and I can instantaneously correspond with “Americans”! Distance and Time don’t matter one bit. The current material reality is a blessing for spreading transcendental conceptions.

    The main thing that all human beings need to understand is that their personal individual souls are occupying space suits that decay. It’s like playing a game of “Doom” and lamenting when you die in the game. Pure Transcendental knowledge is almost like using “cheats” or “walkthroughs” in the game. (PS. I’m not claiming “mastery”)

    In any case, the individual soul will learn its own cosmic story and origin once it enters Vaikuntha and speaks with Visnu, its creator. Personally, I’d love to know my cosmic background just for the sake of aesthetic transcendental sentimentalism (In Eternity, this will take about 10 nanoseconds). The “Entire Universe” is more dynamic than we can imagine…..Some of us come down to help others out and others are coming up, having recently incarnated into human form.

    Just out of interest sake, has anyone on here had a Paramatma realization, where individual soul personalities are directly experienced as fractal functions of the larger whole ?

    The reason why I’m asking is because this experience puts into context the “historical/mayic” function of all material phenomena that are currently available and it seems to me that there aren’t too many people who approach the “preaching strategy” creatively with regards to the current situation, ie. The Supersoul.

    The current empirical science situation still perfectly lends itself to rescuing souls from the purgatory of temporary anxiety. You can rescue someone from quicksand,the ocean,a river, or a spiderweb using a rope, or a stick, or by hand. There are so many methods…… Ultimately the purpose is setting up a civilization that ushers the incoming jivas from birth through to eternity with minimal uncertainty.

    I apologize if I went off topic or rambled on subjects already mentioned, but I think that there should be a “Bottom Line” practical approach to the entire situation.

  14. Taruna Krsna dasa

    108th comment, aww yeah! Great article Gaura-Vijaya, a very succinct and beautiful piece of work! After reading the last dozen comments I obviously need to start from the beginning and catch up on the debate! 😀

  15. I’m late on this thread but I am seeking some info, so anyone who can answer, I would much appreciate. On this thread there is much mention of “core texts”, and “original commentaries” regarding anadi karma and tatastha jiva. If anyone could provide a list of at least some of the prominent sources I would find it very helpful.
    I have seen at least 3 or 4 bhagavatam references that use the word anadi in reference to karma, but nothing is really said in explanation.

    • The best reference is Vedanta-sutra, Govinda-bhasya of Baladeva Vidyabhusana. I don’t have the sutra numbers but they are cited on this thread somewhere. Otherwise the word anadi is used throughout Sat-sandarbha and it always means “beginningless.” Brahma-samhita starts with anadir adi govinda sarva karana karanam. See Jiva Goswami’s commentary. Core material refers to the Goswami commentaries and the books they refer to. This is the core material that Gaudiya acaryas derive their precepts from and must be faithful to in order to be credible. Not that new light does not come down, but it does in ways that draw upon the core conclusions.

  16. beginner_devotee

    Sincerely thank you Srila Tripurari Maharaj, dandavat pranam. By your help I could better understand now. That all three are right.

    Mahavishnu is anadi, his sristi lila is anadi and karma is anadi. Anadi karma in dormant state. Like Krishna-prema can be in dormant state (nitya-siddha krishna-prema sadhya kabhu noy).

    That conditioned jivas have fallen from Vaikuntha (Srila Swami Maharaj) means that we have an eternal loving relationship with Krishna in seed (dormant) form, but we didn’t give water to that, but to anadi karma seed.

    That conditioned jivas fell down from tatashta/brahmajyoti (BVT, Sridhar Maharaj) means we didn’t give water to Krishna-prema seed but to anadi karma seed.

    That conditioned souls are doing anadi karma from anadi/begininglesness (core texts) means they are giving water to anadi karma seed, instead of Krishna-prema seed.

    Tatashta jiva means he has three seeds. Karma, jnana and bhakti. Where she is giving water, that will grow. Anadi karma is anadi yes, but in seed form. If jiva gives water to that it will grow.

  17. ” …… in society we want to balance the two opposing elements of individual freedom and societal order, yet one generally comes at the cost of the other.”

    If we regard individual freedom in terms of self-centered tendancies, then yes, such behavior will ultimately be in opposition to societal welfare, societal order.

    However, if individual freedom takes the shape of ishavasya (God-centered) devotional engagement, this watering of the root will bring about the highest benefit for society as a whole.

    Not only is the ishavasya orientation auspicious for society as a whole, but also, it is the only actual platform of individual freedom. Whereas the self-centered persuit of freedom is not freedom at all, but rather, it is the unskillful voluntary enlistmentment in service to the bondage of Krishna’s illusory energy.

    Therefore the highest measure of individual freedom and service to society as a whole are one and the same.

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