Of Power and Play
Published on May 26th, 2014 | by Harmonist staff69
The following is excerpted from Aesthetic Vedanta: The Sacred Path of Passionate Love by Swami B. V. Tripurari, available for download.
The lila, or divine play of God, is not easy to comprehend, and the lila of Krishna is all the more difficult. Being play, it is beyond comprehension, rhyme beyond reason. Yet it is not unreasonable. That God “plays” is not a notion outside Western thought. Plato indicated it indirectly when he described human beings as God’s “toys”—“and with regard to the best in us, that is what we really are.” We are thought by Plato to have been the verse of God’s poetry, although responsible for what we are at present. This implies both action under the law of karma as well as God’s life beyond the karmic realm of cause and effect. The phenomenal world is the play of God, and at the time he has his own life transcendent to the phenomenal world. As Meister Eckhardt says, “This play was played eternally before all creatures.” Vedanta tells us that the phenomenal world is caused by nothing more than this play of God. Thus the Absolute moves out of joy in aesthetic rapture.
If we do play, such play arises out of accumulated power, either the power of others or that of our own. As children, our play arises out of the power base of our elders. In adult life, we play as much as we can afford to. If we play without concern for accumulating a power base, we suffer in the long run. If children forgo education, from which one acquires the power of knowledge, their potential for future play is damaged. Thus play requires power, and that expression of the Absolute in which play alone is depicted is also the most powerful.
We are obliged to work as a result of the need born of forgetfulness of our own nature, a need arising out of material identification. This is the karmic struggle. The Absolute, on the other hand, along with those who forget him not, play rather than work. Illusioned souls, ignorant of their potential for relationship with the Absolute, work out of a perceived necessity, while the liberated play not because of what they need, but because of what they are.
In Sanskrit, gods are called devas. The Sanskrit root for the word deva is ‘div,’ which means “to play.” Gods play, and the most powerful God does nothing else. Krishna has described himself thus in the Bhagavad-gita:
O son of Prtha, there’s nothing in all the three worlds that I must do, nothing I need to attain, yet still I act.1
Of all the Gods, no one plays more than Krishna. Krishna lives forever in the magical land of his own fantasy. He does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and yet in acting so he is loved by all, for he is never proud, or vindictive. He lives not in a palace seated on a throne, but in a common rural setting, accessible to all. Only when the occasional demon enters his play in Vraja are we reminded of his Godhood. Although he descends to earth to destroy the miscreants, his Vraja lila has no purpose, relatively no connection with this aspect of his mission. Thus Vraja Krishna is not an avatara, descending with a mission, but the avatari, the source of all avataras, who has no mission to fulfill. Carefree, beautiful, inviting, he embodies all that is unnecessary in life, its luxuries and leisure, without which life would not be worth living. In all of Krishna’s play, he stands on equal footing with his cowherd friends and lovers, and thus he invites all souls to play with him as well. If we enter his life, we too will play in aesthetic rapture.
- Bhagavad-gita 3.22 [↩]
Dear Swami Tripurari,
I am trying to understand why God acts. I know that he does but why does he do this? He has no need then why act?
He has no need to act out of a sense of incompleteness, but does nonetheless does so out of his fullness. This movement is called “lila.” If I am fully self satisfied, I may rise and dance to celebrate this condition. Such is the movement of Sri Krsna. He is static and dynamic at the same time. He is a static immovable weight that moves under the dynamic influence of his svarupa-sakti, which is one with him.
“The phenomenal world is the play of God.”
Of course the entire book has not been quoted above, but a statement like this has to be qualified.
There are spiritual groups who embrace the idea that God has no form or relationship in the spiritual realm, and therefore has created and come to this material world in order to have form and relationship. These people believe themselves to be the forms that God has taken, and consider their lives to be God’s lila or play. In this sense they see themselves as no different from Krishna, because they believe that Krishna’s form was material like theirs.
Therefore, let us state clearly that Krishna is God, the source from Whom this phenomenal wolrd emanates. When He comes to this phenomenal world, he is still 100% God, in spiritual form. His activities in this world are His divine play. But our activities here (with the exception of a very few very highly elevated spiritual beings) are not.
Our activities in this world are not God’s play. If we understand that we are all being moved like God’s puppets, by His influence as the in-dwelling, all-pervasive supersoul (Paramatma), then we can perhaps envision our activities as God’s play. But this “God’s play” is certainly not experienced as play by us, in our struggle for survival and our endless repetition in the terrible cycle of birth, old age, disease and death.
We can see, by the innocent question immediately raised by Natalia, that if the basics are not covered, people may become perplexed.
I am more than confident that Swami Tripurari understands the basics and needs no help from me in this regard. But if we come online and simply broadcast that this phenomenal world is the play of God, we may be contributing to confusion, and encouraging a great deal of inauspicious behavior here on planet earth.
I once raised a question with Srila Prabhupada about the nature of siddha deha, or spiritual form in the spiritual realm which can and does enter into Krishna’s arena of play. In response Srila Prabhupada very sternly and sharply shot these words at me: “First come to the understanding that you are not this body!”
So although I am attracted to hearing about Krishna’s arena of play, I also understand that no one can enter into that arena before they become liberated from their identification with this material body as the self – not intellectually, but factually, beyond all material attraction and repulsion.
Therefore, in taking stock of my own spiritual process, it has occured to me that more awe and veneration and respect for Krishna’s Godhood, moment to moment, as he presents Himself in Bhagavad-gita, might be helpful to me for reaching this liberated stage.
“We are obliged to work as a result of the need born of forgetfulness of our own nature, a need arising out of material identification. This is the karmic struggle. The Absolute, on the other hand, along with those who forget him not, play rather than work. Illusioned souls, ignorant of their potential for relationship with the Absolute, work out of a perceived necessity, while the liberated play not because of what they need, but because of what they are.”
“Thus Vraja Krishna is not an avatara, descending with a mission, but the avatari, the source of all avataras, who has no mission to fulfill.”
How you think one might mistake this article to be speaking about mayavada is beyond me.
Hare Krishna Maharaja, respectful greetings.
“….. The phenomenal world is the play of God, and at the time he has his own life transcendent to the phenomenal world.”
I think that the word “same” has been left out in the above sentence, in the phrase “and at the time”. Perhaps it should read, “and at the same time”.
Maharaja, actually I do not think that you are speaking about mayavada. But as I have written above:
“There are spiritual groups who embrace the idea that God has no form or relationship in the spiritual realm, and therefore has created and come to this material world in order to have form and relationship. These people believe themselves to be the forms that God has taken, and consider their lives to be God’s lila or play. In this sense they see themselves as no different from Krishna, because they believe that Krishna’s form was material like theirs.”
So when you write that: “The phenomenal world is the play of God.”, the people I have described above would agree with you. But their meaning would be different from yours, of course. I have met such people, friends of my wife, Victoria. They call themselves Sufis. There are many Sufi groups, each with their own metaphysical twist. But this group believes that they are God and that they have come to this realm to have lila. And they feel, in this sense, that “The phenomenal world is the play of God.”
But now that you have rejected my concerns, I am inclined to put the question before you. Is there anywhere in Bhagavad-gita where Krishna says this phenomenal world represents His play, or that the activities of the conditioned souls in this realm represent His play? How then can we say that this phenomenal world is the play of God?
Dear Tripurari Maharaja,
Please know that it is my tendancy to be emotionally frightened and to feel rejected by you when you disagree with what I have written. Still, you have encouraged me that I must ask questions, so I will press on.
It is my understanding that the words “phenomenal world” refers to this material creation. Also, that the reason for creating this realm is two-fold.
First, it is created for souls like myself who would like to be ignorant of their constitutional relationship with Krishna as His loving servant, so that we can have a go at trying to be God by trying to lord it over material nature.
Secondly, the material world is designed such that the experience of fear, frustration, anxiety and sufferings of all kinds will inspire us to enquire and to recieve teachings that will enable us to revive our wholesome Krishna consciousness, and ultimately return to the spiritual realm as Krishna’s loving servants.
Srila Prabhupada has said that this material world is no place for a gentleman. He has called it the world of the cheaters and the cheated.
It seems that you are describing the role that Krishna plays when He comes to this realm. And also the attitude of play that is experienced by those who become pure devotees while on planet earth. Srila Prabhupada may very well have been “playing” but it always seemed to me that he was actually working very hard, relentlessly in his service to Krishna, pushing himself to the max. Sometimes he seemed very angry, very upset, very critical, even resentful of certain catagories of humans, calling them fools and rascals, again and again. Was this all in the mood of play?
So can we say that for Krishna and his pure devotees the phenomenal world is the play of God – but for the conditioned souls it serves a very different purpose?
Again, I have to say that your way of expressing yourself is sometimes more sophistocated than I am immediately equipped to deal with and I may be slow to comprehend your meaning. Please bear with me.
The world is the “play of God” because it is his sristi-lila. The Vedanta sutra states lokavat tu lila kaivalyam, “The world is only lila.” The idea here is that the world is not manifested out of any lacking in Mahavisnu. No. Out of joy and for no reason or necessity the One becomes many and the world issues forth. However, because the one also presides of the maya sakti, the many, who are small, find themselves in difficulty. Thus the one descends as the avatara (s) to remedy the situation, extending bhakti to the many. And all of this has no beginning.
The world was not created to punish rebellious souls. But those who do not take to bhakti and thus “turn away from God” do suffer, and in this sense the world provides negative impetus for spiritual life.
Dear Swami Maharaja,
What you are writing is very different from what I have been thinking for so many years. I was actually thinking that I had fallen from the spiritual realm because of having had at some point the thought or desire to be the center, just as Krishna is the center. And so I was made to take birth in the material realm where I could persue this orientation in forgetfulness of Krishna and of my service orientation.
If I understand you correctly, the material world was not created to accommodate souls who make the mistake of desiring innappropriately. It is only created, by God, “out of joy and for no reason or necessity…”. Simply “the one becomes many and the world issues forth.”
This is confusing to me because our movement was “Back to Godhead”, as if to say we had gone astray but now, being informed we could return to the spiritual realm. But you seem to be saying that this materail world is not about us, any need to accommodate us, or any need to reform us, but that the whole show is simply God having fun. That is very new and quite confusing, and even upsetting to me.
At the moment I cannot remember any quotes in support of what seems to be my misconceptions, but I will begin being on the look-out for quotes that indicate that this material creation is provided because we wanted to forget devotional service and wanted to try our hand at being number one.
It almost sounds like God created this world out of joy, out of play. And He sent us into this realm. And He also created it with maya shakti being part of program, and so we find ourselves “in difficulty”. And “Thus the one descends as the avatara (s) to remedy the situation, extending bhakti to the many.” And all of this is simply His lila, His joy!
If I understand you correctly, this comes as quite a shock. It may be God’s joy, but it has been a terrible time for me. And although I have some small sense of affection for Krishna, if this is true, then I can’t help wishing he had done things differently.
Is my understanding really on track?!
The difficulty you are having with this is why some tend to teach about it the way you have understood it. This is a provisional preaching strategy. However, under scrutiny is it clear that no one cal fall from or rebel in Vaikuntha. If they could, that would be a very disturbing reality!
We are constituted of the tatastha sakti. Bhakti is constituted of the svaraup sakti. The maya sakti can never overcome the svarupa sakti that governs Krsna-lila. This sakti is so powerful that it even overwhelems Krsna! However, the maya sakti can overwhelm the tatastha sakti. Thus with the ingress of the svarupa sakti (bhakti) into the life of the jiva, maya readily is dispelled and the jiva is in a position to participate in Krsna lila. Such a liberated jiva an never then be influenced by the maya sakti nor is such a jiva even in the proximity of this sakti that has no presence in Krsna lila. Liberated souls are either eternally so (nitya siddha) or those that have attained perfection (sadhana siddha). Nitya siddhas cannot fall by the very nature of their being eternally liberated. And sadhana siddhas cannot fall because among other reasons Krsna repeatedly says that his abode is a place of no return. So there is no one to fall and no influence to present the possibility.
On the material side, Mahavisnu is without beginning (anandi). The world cycles compared to his breaching are also anadi. And thus karma is anadi as well, as it is repeatedly said to be in sastra. Karma is the binding force between the jivas and the maya sakti. In repeating world cycles that have no beginning, karma also has no beginning. If it did, there would be a material world before the influence of karma that was a material world without karma, which makes no sense whatsoever. and to say that Karma begins outside of time, is also only a preaching strategy, for in reality there can be no beginning outside of time, for it is time that marks all beginnings. “Beginning” implies the influence of time. So we follow sastra. It does no matter how appealing or not it may seem. Then again, sometimes in certain circumstances preachers may choose not to tell the student everything at once and thus speak about metaphysical truths provisionally, just as a mother my reply to her child’s question about ehere she came from by telling her she was dropped of by a big bird in the chimney.
So for preaching sometimes one may speak about suffering in a manner so as to overtly shift the blame from God to ourselves, lest persons blame God. But the fact is that there is no one to blame in that God is doing as God likes and we are also God, being one of his saktis that has no independent existence. This is how to look at it from the abheda (non difference) point of view. From the bhedea (difference) point of view we are failing to choose bhakti and thus we suffer and are the cause of our suffering. And we are both God and not God.
Incidentally, although Prabhupada, following the lead of Bhaktivinode, sometimes spoke as if jivas fall from lila as a strategy for the Wester Christian world, when the subject is addressed directly in Srimad Bhagavatam, he gives the siddhanta, which may not always be one with preaching. In SB Yuddhistira Maharaja states that he cannot believe that souls (Jaya and Vijaya) can fall from Vaikuntha because they are completely under the influence of the illuminating power of the svarupa sakti and nothing is more powerful that this influence, not event the sages curse. He poses his disbelief in the form of a question and then answers his own question. Narada, with whom he is speaking, does not disagree. This is where the question of falling from Vaikuntha is addressed in the text, and in his purport Prabhupada clearly states that “No one falls from Vaikuntha.”
Otherwise we also find throughout the sastra that the souls in this world who are not nitya siddha or sadhana siddha but rather nitya baddha (materially conditioned) emanate from Mahavisnu. Sastra states this again and again. In Gita Krsna, speaking as Mahavisnu, says that he is the seed giving father that impregnates the womb of the world. By his glancing the world is manifest as consciousness (tatastha sakti) turns on the machine of material nature.
It is not that Mahavisnu, the oversoul of the world, makes a play out of our suffering. But rather that suffering is an inevitable consequence of his desire to become many. Why? Because he presides over the maya sakti, and when he becomes many the many are faced with its influence. Thus he seeks to remedy to situation by giving the opportunity for bhakti. Had he not desired to become many, what then?
Sometimes when we play, problems arise and we have to deal with them. It is not that Visnu sets up the play of suffering, but rather in the course of his pay the problem of our suffering arises. This is the inevitable outcome of minute jivas being in touch with the area of his jurisdiction (maya sakti), that which he oversees. And you can’t do way with the maya sakti anymore than you can do away with God. It is one of his saktis, perhaps his subconscious. So the problem for the jivas arises and he who plays then becomes dutiful, establishing dharma etc. But Brajendranandana Krsna only plays. He has absolutely no duty to perform. It is the Visnu in him that performs this function of establishing dharma, slaying demons and so on. As much as God has no duty to preform is as much as Vraja Krsna is God in the fullest sense of the term. He personally has nothing to do with the cause of our suffering.
The only static aspect of Krishna is in the infinity of the unqualified absolute. Static infinity is a rather interesting concept to ponder.
Yes, you could say that. Brahman is everywhere. How can it move? Bhagavan is Brahman moving nonetheless, and the reason is sakti. Then again, Brahman is an aspect of Bhagavan, in as much as being (sat) is an aspect of loving (ananda). One could exist and not love, but one cannot love and not exist. And the Bhagavatam teaches us that Krsna is nondual consciousness (advaya jnana tattva), known variously as Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan.
I was using the terms “static” and “dynamic” as they are used in physics.
Yes, Krishna is Brahman and more than that,he is Parabrahman – the supreme Brahman. Brahman usually indicates the unqualified absolute, whereas Parabrahman indicates the qualified absolute – the absolute with qualities beyond the impersonal form of Krishna. Brahman generally indicates the impersonal form of the absolute. The jiva soul is vijnana-brahma whereas Krishna is ananda-brahma.
Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that Brahman is subordinate to him.
Bhagavad-gītā As It Is 13.13
jñeyaḿ yat tat pravakṣyāmi
yaj jñātvāmṛtam aśnute
anādi mat-paraḿ brahma
na sat tan nāsad ucyate
I shall now explain the knowable, knowing which you will taste the eternal. Brahman, the spirit, beginningless and subordinate to Me, lies beyond the cause and effect of this material world.
Thank you for the reply Swami Tripurari.
So the reason Krsna acts is because of the “dynamic influence of his svarupa-sakti” which is Sri Radha, right? So does that mean the force is pure love and the outward celebration of that love?
Yes, his movement is the interplay of himself and his svarupa sakti: radha krsna pranya viritir haldhini saktir asmad.The One (Krsna) moves in becoming Two (Radha Krsna). One soul two bodies, rasarja/mahabhava. Love makes his world go round. As it should be. And bhakti is the essence of his svarupa sakti.
How does this relate to why the individual souls act? In the material world souls are under the influence of the three gunas but it would seem that us being the same in quality as Krsna our ultimate perfect position must be to also act only from love.
Is the reason that individual souls even exist, the love of Krsna and the ability to reciprocate that love by the individual souls?
Individual souls act either under the influence of the modes of nature or under the influence of bhakti.The latter constitutes their highest prospect and potential.
Based on Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur’s Jaiva dharma, I understood that God made jivas with free will, without which love between them would not be possible. At first they are situated on tatashta platform, which is neither in Krishna-lila nor in the material world, but in between. From tatashta platform, which is beyond material time, they make a choice. If they choose to enjoy material world, they enter into it. Since choice was made beyond material time, their karma in this world is called anadi (beginingles), because you cannot put any beginning date. This world is like a prison house (house of correction) for those who didn’t want to serve God. It is true that God made prison, but he never forced anyone to enter. We entered by our own choice. After experiencing material sense enjoyment in many different species, we get human birth, in which we again get a chance to choose to serve God. When by practising service to God we loose all other desires, except service to God, we can enter into His realm, from where there is no return back to this material world. Did I understood anything wrong?
As I mentioned, the notion you present is a preaching strategy begun by BVT in dealing with the West on theodicy. But from the vantage point of siddhanta it is problematic and under scrutiny its logic fails. There is no tatastha region mentioned in sastra. Jivas are in susupti (in deep dreamless sleep within Mahavisnu) before the world manifests in one of its beginningless cycles. As I alredy pointed out, one cannot have a beginning outside of time. Logically you cannot say beginningless karma is something that starts outside of time. If it starts, it begins, and this implies the influence of time. An again, Visnu is anadi. Does that mean he has a beginning outside of time? No, he has no beginning. In this context this is the only real meaning of anadi or beginningless. Similarly the world cycles that are compared to his breathing are also anadi in the same sense. His breathing has can have no beginning. And Karma is the same, beginningless in the full sense of the term. Again, there are no beginnings outside of time. Outside of time everything exists with no beginning and no end. Only time demarks beginnings and endings. And there is no meaning to a material world that has no karma, or in which karma will begin at a point in time, for then one would have a material world that at one point in time had no karma. That is not a material world at all.
And in susupti there is no choice. And with regard to free will, what is the meaning of choice if one is not fully informed as to the consequences of either choice? So to say the jivas have a vague idea of both sides, As BVT writes, and from there they choose, is to say that they make choices that are uninformed, and this in turn does not say much for free will.
Still I do appreciate this position as preaching strategy.
How it can be, Jaiva dharma was originaly written in bengali?
Tatashta is mentioned by Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami in Chaitanya Charitamrita along with “anadi bahirmukhata”. And Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur has given Upanishadic evidence and explanation of it in 15th chapter of Jaiva dharma. Brihad-aranyaka upanishad 4.3.9 and 4.3.18.
Tatashta plane is beyond the influence of material time of material world. When jiva makes choice on tatashta plane to enjoy maya, she then comes under the influence of material time. Then karma starts. So for karma we cannot make a beginning date in material time, because cause of it is beyond influence of material time. It has no beginning in material time. This is anadi bahirmukhata.
Anadi for for Vishnu and His breathing is something else.
The cause of material karma of jiva starts beyond material time of material world. That is why anadi bahirmukhata (or anadi karma).
For example, goverment builds a prison house because potentiality is there that certain citizens may do crime. Goverment is not putting anyone in prison house or inducing anyone to do crime, but if someone does it, because he has free will, he will be put in prison.
Like that, by the will of God, jivas have free will (for love’s potentiality). Since there is free will and therefore also chance of misusing it (for jiva coming out of tatashta sakti), God made material world or prison house. It may be without prisoners also, when only mahattattva. But when jivas want to enjoy, it becomes active.
Susupti for jiva means, she is not active in either side. Not actively serving Krishna-lila and not dreaming of being independent of Krishna. But potentiality for both, according to choice.
Still it is free will. Gradually jiva gathers more experience.
What may be preaching strategy for one, may be siddhanta for another and vice versa. What values in both or what is truth is love for Krishna. I appreciate your love for Krishna.
1.Regardless of the fact that Jaiva Dharma was written in Bengali, the fact remains that BVT’s preaching was aimed at addressing modernity and the West, even within India where its influence was considerable. Also for the sake of consistency he wrote in Jaiva Dharma on this issue as he did elsewhere in English. And his book Krsna-samhita was also written in Bengali but very much aimed at addressing moderninty and notions of the West.
2.”Tatashta” is not mentioned in Cc as a region, but rather another name for jiva sakti, one that explains it position as marginal in that it can function of either side of the divide. Whereas susupti is clearly the situation the baddha jiva finds itself in before any particular world cycle manifests.
3. The Sruti that BVT cites when examined in context are not found to be commenting on the issue we are discussing. So to cite them is a creative stretch in my estimation. But that is not something that has not been done before by other acaryas, to stretch and cite as support something from the sruti out of context. Still when bearing down on this particular issue it makes these references much less substantial, unfortunately.
4. Anadibahirmukha does not say anything about a turning way that has a beginning. It says just the opposite.
Here you are merely repeating what BVT says. I know that. But you fail to explain it. You cite no reference to a tatastha region and ignore the region/condition of susupti described in sastra. And according to sastra karma does not start. It has no beginning. You say it has no beginning in material time but a choice that causes it begins outside of time. By saying this you are saying that karma has a beginning, being caused. Sastra does not say this. It says that nitya baddha jivas come into the world as Visnu determines to become many and that this event has no beginning.
No it is not. This is explained in Vednata-sutra. And I have explained it above. The three go together: Visnu, his breath, and karma area all anadi in the exact same context.
That is a creative explanation, but I prefer to refer to sastra, which explains that the world issues forth out of love/joy/ananda–lokavat lila kaivalyam.
I do agree that the jiva has will, but it is not dependent on what you have explained.
I appreciate your nistha for BVT. I have that too! As I do for my gurudeva. But as I have had to come to the conclusion that my gurudeva invoked a strategy for explaining our material condition that sometimes involved saying souls fall from lila, etc., I have no difficulty coming to the same conclusion regarding BVT’s statements on the topic that are similar yet different. This I say after a careful examination of the core texts. So I am not finding fault in BVT, but rather appreciating his willingness and ability to develop a strategy for preaching. Such is not uncommon. Jiva Goswami has done the same with regard to the svakiya/parakiya issue. Buddha has also done this.
Tata means shore or border and stha means situated, which implies place, that is in between two other saktis, svarup and maya.
The verses from Upanishad clearly desribe jivas as being situated/placed (sthan) in between.
Yes, the turning away from Krishna by jiva is her right to choose, which she has a spiritual being. This causes her anadi (beginningles) aversion (bahirmukhata) by which she starts karma (action under the influence of false material ego) by which she suffers.
Tatashta region’s evidence are those two shlokas cited by BVT.
Karma is action by jiva under the influence of false ego. She comes under the influence of false ego, when she chooses to enjoy maya. Choice can be made only by spiritual being, not matter. So choosing happens beyond material time, so karma is anadi, as it has no start in material time.
Yes, karma has a beginning (if jiva wants to enjoy maya), but not in material time, that is why it is called anadi (beginningles). That Vishnu determines to become many, doesn’t imply that He also places jivas in material world and forces them to do karma. Vishnu made jivas as conscious beings, with freedom to choose in regard to action. karmanyevadhikaraste ma phalesu kadacan (Gita 2.47).
Yes, he makes karma area (prison house) as his lila, to facilitate desires of those jivas who would choose to enjoy it, but not automaticaly placing jivas there and forcing them to do karma. Only those jivas who choose to enjoy maya go there to be imprisoned and do karma.
Yes, the creation of world is lila, but that doesn’t imply that jivas are forcefuly placed there and forced to do karma. Only those jivas who from tatashta region choose to enjoy maya go there and do karma.
Yes, by the will of God who desired to become many, he made conscious jivas, i.e. with free will (without which loving relationship is not possible). They are not made as baddha (conditioned by false ego) jivas. But they can become baddha if they choose to enjoy maya instead of serving Him. When free will is there it can also be misused, so the prison house is also made, as His lila of course. Those baddha jivas who were doing karma (have not achieved liberation in love of God), enter at the end of creation to Mahavishnu in susupti and are again placed in the world to continue their karma when new creation starts, but not all jivas.
And I heard that majority of jivas choose to serve Krishna from tatashta place. They never enter baddha state (prison house).
It means that the jiva sakti can dwell under either influence, maya sakti or svarupa sakti. It does not speak of a third abode, domain, region. there are two regions. No limbo other than susupti in Gaudiya Vaisnavism.
The Sruti quotes do not speak of a third region of tatastha limbo. Here is what they say:
“And there are only two states for that person (the self): the one here in this world and the other in the next world. The third, the intermediate, is the dream state. When he is in that intermediate state, he surveys both states: the one here in this world and the other in the next world. Now, whatever support he may have for the next world, he provides himself with that and sees both evils (sufferings) and joys.
And when he dreams, he takes away a little of the impressions of this all—embracing world (the waking state), himself makes the body unconscious and creates a dream body in its place, revealing his own brightness by his own light—and he dreams. In this state the person becomes self—illumined.” (4.3.9)
“As a large fish swims alternately to both banks of a river—the east and the west—so does the infinite being move to both these states: dreaming and waking.” (4.3.18)
This section is not about a tatashta region, but about the three states of waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep. The latter, dreamless sleep, is often compared to susupti within Mahavisnu, which in turn is also compared to turiya, or Brahman realization.
But for the sake of argument, if these verses did actually speak of a third tatastha region, how would that fit in? Jivas are in Mahavisnu in susupti. What is next? That they go to tatastha? When did they go there? At the beginning of the first world cycle? But there is no beginning to the world cycles. That you have already agreed to.
You state here that that which is beginningless is caused and has a beginning. To say it has a beginning outside of time makes no sense. I have pointed this out numerous times but you don’t seem to be able or willing to grasp it. To follow you argument we have to posit a questionable limbo in which a choice is made that starts beginnigless karma outside of time. So karma does begin in your argument. And it begins outside of the material world. But another problem with this is that the material world itself has no beginning inside or outside of time and karma is always in effect within it. And again, How can something begin outside of time? You have not explained that but merely stated that it happens, that something begins outside of time. If it begins, it is under the influence of time. Time is what determines beginnings. The jiva itself has no beginning. When did it choose? You are not making any sense to me.
Problem here! They are not made at all. They have no beginning. And they are called nitya baddha. Jivas are nitya siddha, sahdana siddha or nitya baddha. You have posited a fourth type that at some point “outside of time” BEGINS to be called nitya baddha? There is no support for this type of soul in sastra.
Dear Swami Tripurari,
Thank you for the wonderful explanation.
Now I understand that I have not fallen from grace, not fallen from the realm of Vaikuntha because of desiring to play the role of number One. Rather, as tatastha sakti, I have emanated from Maha Vishnu along with His cyclic creation of the material universes, and have fallen under the spell/influence of the maya sakti which obscures the vision of and taste for devotional service to God. However, when Lord Vishnu sees that we are suffering, He chooses to descend into this material world in order to offer us various aspects of dharma ultimately culminating in bhakti siddhanta.
So, other questions arise for me. Is the three fourths : one forth equation of the spiritual world : material world still in place?
It seems that very few souls in the material world are attracted to the path of pure devotional service (as compared to “kaitava dharma”), and that of those who are attracted to bhakti very few become pure devotees who will go to Vaikuntha. Krishna makes this point in Bhagavad-gita also. Does this mean that this is the way this “play” of God is set up, and that we should just make the most of it?
I once said to Srila Prabhupada, “I am a butcher’s son, yet I have become attracted to what you are sharing. How is that?” And Srila Prabhupada simply said, “You are intelligent.” I pressed him further with the same question, but he simply repeated the same answer.
So is it true that then, as Krishna says in gita, that very few of us will ever come to know Him in truth? If that is so, when I think of the nightmare of this realm that history teaches, it seems a sad thing to accept, that most of us will endlessly go on in this birth and death cycle. Is there anything you can say about this?
Again, is it still intact that our advancement in Krishna consciousness is dependent on grace alone, and that such grace can only be achieved by the mercy of the self-realized pure devotee?
If we live the monastic life and are not in the front line (like yourself) as preachers, is there any chance that we can receive that kind of grace? This question is very troublesome for me.
The tatastha is the viraja river also known as the causal ocean. The jiva is classified as tatastha-shakti inasmuch as Maha-Vishnu lies there when he manifests the material elements as igrediants for the material universes. The viraja is the marginal plane between the material and spiritual worlds. Because the jiva-shakti is applied by Maha-Vishnu at this marginal plane, the jivas are referred to as marginal energy even though they are constituted as a particle of the spiritual energy. The tatastha is a place; the viraja river, not a spirit soul.
Visnu lies in the Causal Ocean and the jiva’s reside within him therein, not outside of him. That condition of residence is called susupti.
No, the jiva is classified as tatastha inasmuch as it is capable of residing on either side of the divide. It has no separate residence other then within Visnu.
The term tathastha-sakti is synonymous with the term jiva-sakti. The jiva is a unit of tathastha-sakti.
What a fantastic excerpt. This comment thread is sure to be priceless.
My understandig is that the jiva souls are jiva-shakti. When that jiva-shakti is manifest at the borderline of the viraja it is referred to as tatastha-shakti. When a jiva soul goes back to God he is no longer a marginal entity but enters into the internal energy as a shakti-tattva. Bhaktivinod explains in Jaiva Dharma that tatastha jivas are incomplete entities and that they need completion with the compliment of bhakti-shakti to become complete souls.
The problem I have with this idea is the word “when.” “When it is manifest . . .” The only manifestation spoken of in the core texts is the manifestation of heterogeneity from homogeneity that occurs at the manifestation of a new world cycle. This manifestation is compared to the glancing of Visnu that impregnates pradhana or the material nature when it is in a state of equilibrium. And although there is “when” to this, because the world cycles have no beginning, neither is their a first manifestation of jivas from Mahavisnu nor from any borderline. Again such language can be found in the writing of BVT, but it has only a no correspondence with anything in the core texts any more than falling from Vaikuntha does. Hence my position in calling it a strategy.
Other than that Cc gives jiva sakti as a synonym for tatastha sakti: antaranga—cic-chakti, tatastha—jiva-sakti bahiranga—maya . . .
The jiva sakti cannot realize its potential to love without the ingress of the svarupa sakti in the form of bhakti. In his chapter on sakti tattva BVT dscribes the jiva as a partial manifestation of the primary sakti constituted of sat cit ananda, that with the removal of ignorance, can experience up to brahmanada and brhaman jnana, not haldhini and samvit. They comes only with the ingress of bhakti. However, he also writes that the jiva infused with the svarupa sakti does not become the svarupa sakti. You could say that it changes but only as one changes when in love, which means one does not become a different entity but rather an entity whose potential for experience (love) is expanded. We also find in the Ujjvala nilamani tika of VCT that the prana sakhis (manjaris) as new recruits are in a slightly different position from that of the nitya sakhis (manjaris as well) who are nitya siddhas. The implication of this is that the tatastha sakti or jiva sakti does not transform into the svarupa sakti, but rather is infused by it (with the love that it is).
But again, the term tathastha in reference to the jiva refers to its capacity to dwell on either side of the divide. It literally refers not to a place but rather the line that demarks two places, say water from sand. You cannot put your finger on that line.
Let me conclude this discussion at this point with the folowing citation from Jaiva Dharma. BVT writes,
He writes this after he explanation of tathasta, etc. What he is saying here is that the truth of the matter is that there are eternally liberated and eternally conditioned souls. However acaryas talk about this reality in different ways using language and its limitations and in doing so say that the jiva has forgotten Krsna or chooses not to serve him, etc., when in fact the “fallen” jiva is eternally so from a time without beginning (anadi). Here he gives the siddhanta that I am espousing and speaks of the fact that strategies to talk about this differently to conditioned souls have their place.
I just heard a lecture of Srila Prabhupada the other day where he said “you are marginal energy but you should not stay in this marginal position, you must go back home back to Godhead” It was an old lecture from 1969 in New York as best I can recall. I will try to find it again.
Maharaja, I found that reference from Srila Prabhupada. It was LA December 14, 1973 he said:
“We are spirit soul. We are put into marginal because… 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 Krishna consciousness movement. Krishna 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.”
SB 1.15.36 lecture purport
So, I try to support all my positions with what I have heard from Srila Prabhupada.
Thank you Visnumurti. I appreciate your efforts to support your understanding.
Yes. And she can dwell under the influence of maya or svarup sakti according to her own choice, as she is a spiritual being, with free will. She is not forced by Bhagavan for this or that side, although Bhagavan lovingly inspires her to act under svarup sakti.
When jiva is undecided to act on either side, that is called her tatashta state of consciousness which also implies a place. Where? In between svarup and maya saktis of Mahavishnu. True, susupti is a place where jivas with seeds of karma of previous creation are situated till next creation. So you could also say that undecided (tatashta jivas) are staying somewhere in susupti (where those many which God desired are coming from) together with those baddha (conditioned) jivas of previous creations.
It says that purush can see idam (this) loka – material world, and para (that) loka – spiritual world, not the “next” loka. From where? His own place in between, the third place (tritiyam).
Evils means material world and joys means spiritual world.
Yes. Waking state means undecided spiritual state of tatastha. If jiva chooses to act in maya she makes her (spiritual) body unconscious and creates a dream body (material body).
And even when she dreams (acting in material world), she has some of the impressions of waking state (sat-cid-ananda), that is why conditioned (baddha) jiva never wants to die, doesn’t want to remain foolish and unhappy.
Yes, she can be “awake” or “dream”, according to her choice.
I will check about the context with a Vaishnava and can come back.
For the sake of argument, susupti can accomodate baddha jivas of previous world cycle and tatastha (undecided) jivas.
Since jiva is spiritual, her decisions are made on spiritual platform, which is not under material time. If she desires to enjoy maya, karma starts.
If we take the word nitya baddha jiva from scripture literally, then how would yout then explain sadhan-siddha jiva mentioned in same scripture. If jiva is nitya baddha (eternaly conditioned) then how she could at any time become liberated (sadhan siddha) ? And what then would be the use of avataras to give chance for liberation?
Actually, jivas are not forced to act in this way or that way by Bhagavan, otherwise they would be no better than matter. And Bhagavan wants to become many for the sake of loving relationship, which is possible only between two spiritual (free) persons.
And because freedom of jiva is there, prison house is also there. Certain jivas go there by their own choice and Bhagavan comes as Avatar to inspire them for ras (loving relationship) with Him.
Even Mahaprabhu said : ayi nandatanuja kinkaram patitam mam visame bhavambudhau – Krishna, I’m your eternal servant, but have fallen into this world. Fell from where? From tatashta platform, which as undecided spiritual is higher than material world. He didn’t say “I was placed in material world so now please take me to You.”.
As explained by BVT and sastra elsewhere, there are many categories of “nitya mukta” jivas and also many categories of “nitya baddha” jivas.
nitya baddha jivas are those who (from tatashta plane) have potential to become conditioned by material energy and those who are already conditioned. And both have potential to come under the influence of svarup sakti and enter into sadhan siddha category of nitya mukta jivas.
As explained by BVT and sastra elsewhere, there are many categories of “nitya mukta” jivas and also many categories of “nitya baddha” jivas.
nitya baddha jivas are those who (from tatashta plane) have potential to become conditioned by material energy and those who are already conditioned. And both have potential to come under the influence of svarup sakti and enter into sadhan siddha category of nitya mukta jivas.
This is not correct. Where in sastra are different kinds of nitya baddha jivas described? And where is it described that some are already conditioned and others are not yet conditioned? You are describing the conditioning of jivas as an event in time. It is not. Please cite the core texts if you choose to reply in support of your points.
Thanks for sharing such a nice excerpt from your book. I like the idea that God(personification of all love) has forgotten He is God and is playing in very natural setting. It may or may not be true but at least it is feasible and also some mystics have claimed that they have even experienced this.
However what I find a bit strange is that the general public is excluded form the ‘play’ club. I don’t have questions on why we were excluded at the first place ( origin of jive etc) since you have written a lot about it. The difference between general public (let us call it as ‘us’) and those who are included in the play ( call it ‘them’) as per Vedanta is due to the disease of illusion which has infected ‘us’.
Now in Chaitanya Charitamrita we find people like Amogha (the son-in-law of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya) who was cured of illusion instantaneously by the grace of Shri Chaitanya. Which means that there exists a method by which the extremely hard and herculean task of removing illusion can be bypassed. Now the obvious question is if there exists such a person who knows such a method why did he not apply it to everyone or at least those who wanted it?
Now, one answer is maybe he wants to maintain the ratio of persons saved to the unsaved so that mercy looks better than justice. Hence hence there is a constraint on number of people one can help and hence all can’t be included in the play club. But concepts such as justice and mercy are only applicable to ‘us’, not ‘them’. So bestowing grace to one and all, will remove the concept of mercy and justice. Including everyone in the ‘play’ club will not diminish the ‘play’ club as its value does not depend on number of people outside the club (if it does then I don’t want to join such an elitist club). The lila itself has an intrinsic value which remains undiminished.
So I am unable to see a reason why, a person who has access to the ‘play’ club and has the power to bestow the access instantaneously to others, won’t do so.
And anyways, why make it so difficult ? It dosen’t make sense. Some people compare this process to a child learning to walk or a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. These two processes are surely difficult for the baby and the caterpillar, but difficulty level is manageable, since we see lot of caterpillars turning into butterflies and babies learning to walk and so on. However we do not see people obtaining( even those who want to) entrance into lila. Even those who are simply trying to become saintly write books on how hard it is to transform the mind.
Pure Bhakti has been compared to a rare diamond. But I think it is a spurious analogy. A diamond is valuable only because it is rare. While pure bhakti has a priceless intrinsic value(to the bhakta) and it is not dependent on its rarity. If we wake up tomorrow and see that everyone has become a pure devotee enjoying the lila, it will not diminish the experience of pure loving devotion.
So why hasn’t the entrance into the play been made more accessible ? Why did Shri Krishna( or whoever/whatever) design a mechanism(avidya) which takes an insane amount of effort to dismantle ? And then why not at least design a good counter mechanism which helps everyone(not just a few) to dismantle avidya. ( On a lighter side) Maybe it is because Shri Krishna is more of a Republican rather than a Democrat. Or more of a Capitalist rather than a Socialist.
It would be nice if you could shed some light on these questions.
Bhushan, please can you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org? Thank you.
No way. You haven’t even introduced yourself. Prove to me first that you are not a spammer or a malicious entity trying to obtain email addresses. Or maybe we can just communicate on this blog.
Of course, I understand your hesitation, Bhushan. It is quite natural to be cautious. I assure you I am just another fellow seeker, trying to make sense of life. I feel like your post speaks on behalf of numerous seekers, maybe even practitioners. I am not sure of the origin of the problem of theodicy, but it may be a historical response to siddhantas such as anadi karma and shristi-lila. So, I can see why BVT and others use preaching strategies( such as fall from Vaikuntha) to deal with the western mind, as the Swami pointed out.
I can see how the conditioned intellect has a hard time grasping this idea of shristi lila.
I hope to hear from you.
Some quandries are left to be answered by scripture alone, and its answers to some questions may not satisfy out intellect’s thirst to “know.”. One who has faith in this notion is suited to tread the path of bhakti. This notion stated otherwise is that perfect knowing requires a perfect method. That method is that the prefect reveals itself to the imperfect (usually in the context of sadhana), and on its own time it would seem. But we are pressed by our intellect to “know,” and perhaps to know first and to follow only thereafter. That may work to an extent, but it seems that it fails ultimately if we don’t come to know how to love and give up as folly knowing comprehensively in any other manner.
Attaining bhakti is rare and bhakti is only an easy path by way of comparison to other paths. Why is it rarely attained? Why is it so hard to enter the play of God proper? Why does he not more readily bestow prema. Gaudiya sastra speaks about this thus. Here I cite the commentary of Ananta dasa babaji on VCT’s Madhurya Kadambini:
While this may not entirely satisfy one’s intellect, it is not the task of sastra and sastra-yukti to lay prostrate before the intellect. For some, insistence on such may be the primary cause of failing to attain bhakti in a progressive manner that encourages one and strengthens one’s resolve.
Of course the position of the learned Ananta das leaves something to be desired. Perhaps we should add that there are exceptions to every rule. And lila itself is an exceptional circumstance, wherein such exceptions are found. Otherwise, when in the line for mercy it is not wise to call for justice.
Thanks for the quote from Madhurya Kadambini. Yes, the post modern 21st century intellect will most likely not be satisfied by this, unless there is some previous sukriti/samskara/vaishnav kripa, I guess.
In fact, what if such a conditioned intellect reasons thus: ” if Vishnu wants to play with his parts, in his shristi lila, then why not just embrace our beginningless conditioned state as the will of Vishnu? Why even bother fighting our conditioning? Why obstruct his play? Anyway, our conditioning seems to be ( at least partially) a result of his desire to play, right?”
And the response inevitably is that argument/reasoning are inconclusive. Gaudiya sadhana bhakti is a leap of faith, after all, I guess. Like all other traditions. 🙂
To preserve the idea of an all loving God, one attempts to assign the major part of the responsibility to the jiva soul’s reluctance to chose bhakti by making that leap of faith.
It would have been easier, if one could quantify the responsibility: for example: 50% Ishvar and 50% jiva. And, if the jiva’s free will is only infinitesmal, then it is logical to conclude that the majority of the responsibility lies on Ishvar.
Such is the burden of the intellect, I guess 🙁 (big sigh!)
No, Visnu makes it clear that he wants us to engage in bhakti. His play is nit that we suffer. His play is to become many. The fact that the many become overwhelmed by maya is an inevitable consequence of this pay given the fact that maya is Visnu’s jurisdiction. But here I repeat myself.
Here is the relevant section from Jaiva Dharma. It is from Bhaktivednata Narayana Maharaja’s edition and seems to be a much better translation than other editions I have read. Looking carefully at this section one can see that it does not say anything about the jiva being in a tatastha region at the time of creation and from there choosing the material or spiritual world. It merely explains that the jiva is tatastha and that it can live in one world or the other by its tatastha nature. It also says that the jiva’s will is involved in determining which world it resides. Because it is at the sandhyam of the two worlds in terms of its marginal constitution it can “see” both worlds and should inquire about them both. He uses the sruti reference about the dream state that lies between the waking and sleeping state to illustrate his point. The sleep state in his rendering and purport is compared to transcendence (as it often is). The waking state is compared to material life (as it often is). Then he compares the jiva itself (tatastha-sakti) to the dream state (this is unique) and says it should inquire about the other two and that is can “see” both. But he does not explain this in the context of explaining an event in or out of time that determines the “fall” of the jiva, but rather he is merely explaining the reality of the jiva’s marginal position: its ability to live in one world or the other and the fact that it is a unit of will, the exercise of which is a determining factor in which world it resides. I am glad I looked at this section and this translation, as it does not really contradict my position derived from the core texts. I first read this section and the entire book over 30 years ago. This is a much better translation than the edition I originally read.
Babaji: This tattva is described in many places in the Vedas. I will
cite a few of them:
“Innumerable jivas emanate from para-brahma, just like tiny
sparks from a fire.
“There are two positions about which the jiva-purusa should
inquire – the inanimate material world, and the spiritual
world. The jiva is situated in a third position, which is a
dreamlike condition, and is the juncture
between the other two. Being situated at the place
where the two worlds meet, he sees both the inert
world and the spiritual world. BA 4.3.9)
This sloka describes the marginal nature of jiva-sakti. Again, it
is said in Brhad-aranyyaka Upanisad (4.3.18):
“Just as a large fish in a river sometimes goes to the eastern
bank and sometimes to the western bank, so the jéva, being
situated in karana-jala (the water of cause that lies between
the inert and conscious worlds), also gradually wanders to
both banks, the place of dreaming and the place of wakefulness.
Vrajanatha: What is the Vedantic meaning of the word tatastha?
Babaji: The space between the ocean and the land is called the
tata (shore), but the place that touches the ocean is actually nothing
but land, so where is the shore? The tata is the line of distinction
separating the ocean and the land, and it is so fine that it
cannot be seen with the gross eyes. If we compare the transcendental
realm to the ocean, and the material world to the land, then
taöa is the subtle line that divides the two, and the jiva-sakti is situated
at the place where the two meet. The jivas are like the countless
atomic particles of light within the sunrays. Being situated in
the middle place, the jivas see the spiritual world on one side and
the material universe created by maya on the other. Just as
Bhagavan’s spiritual sakti on one side is unlimited, maya-sakti on
the other side is also very powerful. The innumerable subtle
jivas are situated between these two. The jivas are marginal
by nature because they have manifested from Krsna’s tatastha-sakti.
Vrajanatha: What is the tatastha-svabhava (marginal nature)?
Babaji: It is the nature that enables one to be situated between
both worlds, and to see both sides. Tatastha-svabhava is the eligibility
to come under the control of either of the saktis. Sometimes
the shore is submerged in the river because of erosion, and then
again it becomes one with the land because the river changes its
course. If the jiva looks in the direction of Krsna – that is, towards
the spiritual world – he is influenced by Krsna sakti. He then enters
the spiritual world, and serves Bhagavan in his pure, conscious,
spiritual form. However, if he looks towards maya, he becomes
opposed to Krsna and is incarcerated by maya. This dual-faceted
nature is called the tatastha-svabhava (marginal nature).
Here is the relevant section of Jaiva Dharma that speaks about anadi bahirmukha (beginningless turning way from God)
“The nitya-dharma of the jiva is servitorship to Krsna. When he
forgets this, he is subjected to the tyranny of maya, and from that
very moment he becomes diverted from Krsna. The fall of the jiva
does not take place within the context of material time. Accordingly,
the words anadi-bahirmukha are used, meaning that the jiva
has been diverted since time without beginning. From the moment
of this diversion and the jiva’s entry into maya, his nitya-dharma
Here BVT is simply saying that the jiva is turned away from God without any beginning in time. he is not giving a novel meaning to anadi, as others have stated. His use of phrases like “when he forgets,” “from that very moment,” “the fall,” and “the moment of this diversion,” are merely speaking about the literal beginningless (anandi) nature of the jiva’s material conditioning in terms of how the conditioned mind tends to think about things. That is, in terms of time and beginnings. This is what he said in the text I cited earlier. That all vaisnavas tend to invoke such terms like “back to Godhead” “fall” and so on as if they are events in time when in fact they are not.
Note that the will of the jiva is involved it its opportunity to choose bhakti in this world or to be averse to her. There is no real “before the world.” And it is important in all of this to understand BVT in light of the core texts and the tikas of the foundational acaryas, the Goswamis. To interpret him otherwise is not the route to go when determining siddhanta.
Dear Maharaj, please read also 16th chapter in Jaiva dharma, there it is written.
And I’m pasting in direct english words from BVT in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, His life and precepts :
The soul, according to Sri Chaitanya is an atomic part of the Divine Soul. It is a sort of God’s power to produce beings who are spiritual in essence but liable to be enthralled by ‘Maya’, when they forget their position as eternal servants of the Deity. God here is compared with the sun and the souls are said to be the atomic portions of that sun’s rays unable to stand freely, unless they are protected by another competent attribute of God’s power.
By the word part is not meant to be portions cut out of a piece of stone by the axe, but is meant to be like one lamp lighted from another, or gold produced from an alchemist’s stone as believed by the ancients. The souls are also compared with separate atomic emanations of the burning fire. Each soul has drawn from its Fountainhead a proportionate share of the attributes and consequently a small proportion of the free will. These souls are naturally located between the chit jagat, and mayik jagat. Those who chose to serve their God were protected from fall by the interference of the hladini attribute of the Supreme chit sakti. They have been admitted as eternal servants of the Deity in various ways. They know not the troubles of maya and the karma-chakra or the rotative principles of mayik action and its result.
Those who wanted to enjoy were grasped by maya from the other side. They are in maya’s karma-chakra, ending only when they again see their original position as servants of the Deity. These souls, whether liberated from maya or enthralled by her, are separate responsible beings depending on the Deity. Hari is the Lord of maya, who serves Him at His pleasure. The soul or jiva is so constructed as to be liable to be enthralled by maya in consequence of want of power when unassisted by the hladini-sakti of the Deity. Hence, there is a natural and inherent distinction between God and jiva which no pantheistic maneuver can annihilate. P lease avoid this misleading question, “When were these jivas created and enthralled?” The mayik time has no existence in spiritual history, because it has its commencement after the enthrallment of jivas in matter, and you cannot, therefore, employ mayik chronology in matters like these.
Certain souls are engrossed by prakriti or illusory energy. Prakriti, God’s maya, pradhan, prapancha and avidya are different names of the same principle on account of its different phases and attributes. Maya is not an independent sakti from the supreme svarup-shakti. She is simply a reflected and outward phase of the Supreme Power, serving God in executing His penal orders on those who became ungrateful to Him. In fact maya is in charge of God’s house of correction. Those jivas who, in abusing their free will forgot that they were eternal servants of the Deity and thought of enjoying for themselves, were grasped by maya for their penal servitude and correction. Maya has three attributes satva, rajas and tamas. Those attributes are just like chains used to tie up the ungrateful souls.
Maya then applied a double case on the spiritual form of the soul. The double case is described by the words linga and sthul. The mayik existence has twenty-four substances:—the five elements : the earth, the water, the fire, the air and the firmament; the five properties : the sound, the touch, the sight, the taste and the smell; and ten Indrias i.e., the five senses ; the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue and the touch and five working organs such as hands, legs etc. These twenty form the sthul or outer case.
The mana, the buddhi, the chitta and the ahamkar, i.e., the mind, the understanding, the attention and the perverted ego compose the linga deha or the inner case. Then after encasing the spiritual form of the soul, Maya employs the fallen souls to work. Mayik work is composed of karma, akarma and vikarma. Karma is conventionally good action done to obtain punya or virtue, such as performance of duties enjoined by the varnasram dharma of the smartas. Akarma is omission to do duty . Vikarma is sin or crime. Karma procures heavenly elevations up to the Brahmalok. Akarma gives an unpleasant state on earth. Vikarma, hurls down souls to hell. The fallen souls travel from body to body with their linga-deha doing karma or vikarma, rising up to the heavens and again coming down at the exhaustion of their virtues, going down to hell and after suffering punishment again rising up to the platform of work. Thus the state of the fallen souls is deplorable in the extreme.
There, they ,enjoy and suffer massacre and murder and go on in this state, sometimes smiling as princes and sometimes crying as sufferers. The world is, therefore, a prison or a house of correction, and not a place for enjoyment as some people assert.
Citing the books of BVT is not what I meant by citing the core texts of the Goswamis. And this discussion is not really about what BVT says, but rather the extent to which BVT’s position differs or agrees with the core texts. That said, it is clear to me that you interpret BVT in a manner that takes his provisional explanations as definitive explanations and literal truths on the issue and you make no effort to demonstrate how such explanations and assumed literal truths are supported by the core texts. I on the other hand have shown how his provisional explanations (as he himself has described them) can be understood in light of the definitive position found in the core texts and also how in much of his writing on the subject he is not taking as literal truths such notions as “falling,” etc. So we differ. I have made my position clear. I will leave it at that.
Maharaj, perhaps you didn’t read my post where I tried to explain them in relation to susupti. The one before replying to your nitya mukta and nitya baddha citation of BVT. Where at the end I also wrote that even Mahaprabhu Himself (compiler of all sastra and Guru of Goswamis) used the word patitam visame bhavambudhau and tried to explain that.
I will further research the relation between tatastha and susupti.
No, I read it. But you don’t seem to understand the points I raised or those of BVT when he explains how and why words like “fallen,” etc. are used by devotees to talk about beginningless topics. Because of this I am not interested in discussing the issue further with you. Good luck with your research.
Same goes with the literal understanding of word nitya baddha jiva.
Anyway, thank you for your good wishes and please forgive me if I have commited any offence to you. I still consider you far more advanced devotee than am and I don’t mind if you think of BVT’s words differently than I. Thank you for your time and kindly please bless me with love of Krishna.
Even Srila BR Sridhar Maharaj explains it in his “Origin of the jiva soul” (http://bvml.org/SBRSM/ootjs.html) in the same manner as Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur in his Jaiva dharma. Maharaj places tatastha in brahmajyoti and only certain jivas by their own desire (misuse of their free will) enter into the material world of exploitation.
The literal understanding of nitya-baddha does not suffer from the same flaw as the one you are proposing. Obviously nobody believes that material conditioning cannot come to an end. But your position is both that it has a beginning and an end, which makes it in every sense temporary. The understanding Maharaja is advocating also has an end, but no beginning. That is eternity. It does not even really compute in our heads, but if something extends backward eternally, then it is eternal. Therefore in your view ‘nitya’ becomes a completely meaningless word, whereas from the other angle it still fulfills its meaning. Further support is added to this by the fact that sometimes the word anadi is used, which is a more precise term for the idea of eternity via non-beginning (as opposed to non-ending).
Lord Krishna deals with this issue in his instructions to Uddhava in the 11th canto 11th chapter of the Bhagavatam. His answer is quite mysterious, he says:
So, from Lord Krishna’s absolute position he sees that really the living entity is never really conditioned or liberated. From our relative position in time and space we have this subjective view of being conditioned or liberated but from the absolute consideration neither is a fact. The idea of eternally conditioned is a finite perspective from the position of time and space. Beyond time and space there is no such conception as eternally conditioned or liberated.
While this verse (11.11.1) does have relevant keywords to the present discussion, it is both quite cryptic and your attempt to apply it to your argument does not seem to hold up. Firstly, to attempt to make the wording of this verse the exclusive conclusion on this subject falls short very quickly. Only 3 verses later Krishna says, “O intelligent Uddhava! The bondage of the jiva, who is my one part or tatasthasakti, by avidya, is without beginning. By vidya, he achieves liberation which has a beginning.” Not only does this verse speak of both bondage and liberation as things that do exist (in contradiction to your reading of the verse you posted), it also speaks of anadi bondage. That these two verses contradict each other indicates each is true, but only from certain respective angles. It is clear then that one can speak about bondage and liberation both as real or as not actually existing. Obviously this entire discussion necessarily takes place in reference to the sense in which bondage and liberation do exist, and therefore this quote amounts to nothing more than changing the subject, although they are similar in appearance.
Here is Visvanath’s rendition of the 11.11.1 verse:
My best attempt to sort this verse out would be to say that bondage is not actually a quality of the soul and in some sense never even touches it/ does not exist. Obviously the verse is saying that there is a state of avidya, and the later verse (11.11.4) acknowledges vidya, as well as bondage and liberation. What is avidya if not, in some sense, binding and real? This is one of the points that distinguishes us from the Sankarites. We do not say ‘jagan mithya’ (the world is false).
Your attempt to tie the verse you cited to this ongoing discussion is somewhat dubious as well, as you conclude by saying the verse defeats the idea of “eternal conditioning or liberation” when in reality the verse does not speak about nitya baddha or mukta. Furthermore, if you want us to read the verse as you have, you would need to explain how liberation is not eternal, which contradicts the standard understanding amongst Gaudiyas. I fear the only way to do so is to adopt the stance of the fall-vadis, but I really hope we don’t have to go there.
VCT’s commentary on 11.11.1 states:
While this does not shed immense light on the verse, it seems to indicate that the way in which bondage is unreal is that the gunas do not truly have a relationship with the (spiritual) jiva, but “inconceivably” in conjuction with avidya the subjective experience of bondage occurs.
Thanks for clarifying this. The words “nitya” and “anadi” have interesting connotations. And even though the common use of the word “eternal” is without beginning and end, I guess it may be used to refer to something that has no beginning, but could potentially end. It would have been easier, if the texts say “anadi baddha” instead of “nitya baddha” 🙂 !
I have often thought the same—why not “anadi baddha”—but then again the term anadibahirmukha is used as synonymous with nitya-baddha.
If we look at the word “nitya” in the Sanskrit dictionary though we can find that “eternal” is not the only meaning that “nitya” can have. It can also mean “ordinary , usual , invariable , fixed , necessary , obligatory”
As such “nitya baddha” does not necessarily mean “eternally conditioned”. It can also mean obligatory conditioning etc.
You have to look at the word nitya in relation to anadi. Then it is clear that nitya in this context refers to a material conditioning that has always been present.
Thank you for pointing this out, although I am not sure your objective. If anything it seems to add support to Tripurari Maharaja’s explanation that the conditioning of the jiva is not merely rooted in their free will. That is what ‘obligatory conditioning’ would imply: that some other force had a hand in the jiva’s conditioned state.
One could say that jivas are obligated by their choice. So overall looking up words in the dictionary is not a comprehensive method for arriving at siddhanta. In this case we have plenty of examples in sastra as to what nitya baddha means, and every acarya translates it “eternally conditioned.” Again, the synonym here is anadi, beginningless. Only in recent times has this word been tweaked by some acaryas beginning with BVT to kind of say something other then beginningless. However, as we have seen, they too actually do understand it in this way: BEGINNINGLESS, just like the the world cycles and Visnu himself. Any other nuanced explanation is merely a way of trying to talk about a concept that does not fit well between the ears in order to help sadhakas get a handle on a difficult topic–theodicy–and go forward with their practice. This is the clear and strong concluding emphasis of BVT in Jaiva Dharma, a conclusion consisting of several paragraphs, the essence of which I have cited.
Sometimes we hear of the material world as a “prison house”. But, I am not very comfortable with that label. Srila Prabhupada has explained that “Durga” means “fort”. Now, a fort is different than a prison. A fort is like an outpost in the wilderness built for the protection of the occupants.
Personally, I see the material creation as a sort of greenhouse or an orchard where the seeds of the living entities are cultured and grown to maturity.
Personally, I prefer this greenhouse or “orchard” concept as described by Srila Prabhupada in the above quote over the “prison” concept. When we understand that all sin and evil in the world are the product of spiritual immaturity, we can understand that in time all these evil persons will spiritually mature and become eligible to leave the fort and enter the civilized society of souls.
Maha-Vishnu sows the “seeds” of the living entities into the material energy and the great creator Gods like Lord Brahma take charge of the “orchard” to try and produce the fruit.
Of course we know that in every orchard there are some bad apples and some worm infested fruit, but that doesn’t make the orchard a prison house. It is still an orchard with the occasional bad apples.
Young children often misbehave but that doesn’t mean that they are evil, they are just immature. When a child is punished and sent to his room for a “time-out” that doesn’t mean that the home has become a prison. It is still a home or a fort for all the well-behaved children.
I think that the “seed” concept of the conditioned soul is the best description over the “fallen soul” idea.
Perhaps the world is ready for a preaching strategy that focuses on the “seed” concept over that of a “fall”. It is a very natural way to look at things, given how analogous it is to the workings of material nature, as per what science shows about the architecture of the limited aspects of maya that we are able to perceive. On the other hand, it is difficult to get around the material fall of elevated embodied souls such as “gurus who have fallen down”.
The “fall” concept in a simplistic way seems to allow the conditioned jiva to relate to imperfection in one’s everyday life and it does explain how even a guru, priest or sadhu might “fall”, even as we know that there is no falling once one has completed surrendered and attained liberation, which is according to his or her desire. All one has to say is that the fallen jiva must not have been liberated to begin with – they were a fake, a cheater.
I would rather judge the merit of a concept on the basis of how it influences the jiva’s consciousness instead of based on the concept’s perceived rightness. In this light, there seems to be room for both representations of the truth to be harmonized for practical application. Personally, I hope to see the “fall” concept go away because the one thing that I have never seen explained is how the concept of oneness and togetherness does not exist prior to the beginning of the experience of maya by the jiva. The implication seems to be that the jiva’s are just independent entities unaware of each other, having no actual relationship to each other. However, that is not what we see in material nature, so why should that be the case in the spiritual (source) world?
It seems to me that we came here to play, but that our concept of play is immature. We walk through life with the seed of genuine spiritual play, ready to make itself available to us if we surrender to the source of the seed, Sri Krishna. Taking on the qualities of Sri Radharani we become naturally eligible to taste divine play through the vibration of love that matures within us. Our play eventually becomes the chase for the love of Krishna until we transcend this material world by choice (via the focus and purity our consciousness at the time of death). Once we have been captured and fully claimed by Krishna, we have no need of or desire for the realms of maya.
anAdi means “beginningless” or without a beginning. Taken literally it would mean that it never began and as such never ends. From the absolute perspective of Krishna there is neither conditioned nor liberated stages of the spirit soul who is eternally pure spirit soul. Ultimately, from the absolute perspective conditioned life never begins and as such cannot have an ending. As such…….anAdi.
It is true that the jiva’s material conditioned life is an illusion. The jiva is not what it thinks it is in this condition. Therefore what is the question of liberation for one that is already liberated and only thinking one is matter? However, the traditional meaning of anadi in sastra is literal beginningless that can come to an end. The illusion that the jiva is matter has no beginning, but this illusion can come to an end. You cited 11.11.1. I suggest you read 11.11.4 with VCT’s tika for more insight on this.
I am not an intellectual. Still, I feel that philosophy is important. However, when reading through a discussion like this, I question the value of it.
Those persons who are not liberated from maya’s influence can only avail themselves of a conceptual capacity that cannot really comprehend experientially the meaning of words like “eternal” or “beginningless”, “eternally conditioned”, or “eternally liberated”. Therefore what is the point of splitting hairs in this connection?
Why not simply put our energy more into developing a devotional mood? Or meditating on the meaning of Sisastakum, verse #3, which we are told is the doorway to devotional service above the mental platform.
It makes me think of persons who are on the dock, about to board a ship for China. But they are so involved in discussing concepts of Chinese culture, that they miss the boat.
Pure devotional service, we are told, can shrink the ocean of ignorance to the amount of water contained in a calf’s hoofprint.
Perhaps I am missing the point here.
There is no hair splitting going on. The different positions are quite far apart. And there is no falling either. Indeed, there is no falling from bhakti at all:
nehabhikramanaso ‘sti pratyavayo na vidyate
svalpam apy asya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat
But it is true that the non liberated will have difficulty understanding this topic. Still they should try to some extent. And when they reach an impasse, yes, they should humbly chant Harinama.
“Being situated in the middle place, the jivas see the spiritual world on one side and the material universe created by maya on the other. Just as Bhagavan’s spiritual sakti on one side is unlimited, maya-sakti on the other side is also very powerful. The innumerable subtle jivas are situated between these two. The jivas are marginal
by nature because they have manifested from Krsna’s tatastha-sakti.”
Dear Swami Tripurari,
If the jivas can see both sides why wouldn’t they automatically be attracted to Krsna having seen the spiritual world? Krsna is all attractive after all. Would the spiritual world not be far more attractive then the material world to every jiva?
Yes, Mahavishnu is anadi and His breathing is anadi and karma is anadi. Anadi karma in the form of Maha-maya sakti. Jiva comes under anadi karma if she chooses to do so. From where she may choose? From her svarup as eternal servant of Krishna, being His tatashta sakti.
So you are pressed to continue. What you say here is really little or no differnt from saying the Jiva falls from Vaikuntha.
Maya-sakti is not synonymous with karma.
Karma, the world, and Visnu all go together in the context of the sristi-lila. In this context all three have been described as anadi. There is no reason to interpret the word anadi differently for karma than how in this context it is used to describe Visnu and the world. In this connection in his Govinda-bhasya tika on Vednata-sutra where the subject of anadi karma is addressed, Baladeva Vidyabhusana gives us an example to help us understand the word anadi as it applies in the context of sriti-lila to all three, Visnu, the world, and karma in particular. He writes that contemplating the question of which comes first the seed or the tree may help us to understand the concept of anadi or beginninglessness.
BVT has given a different idea about anadi that speaks of it as being linear and having a beginning. In doing so he departs from sastra and previous Gaudiaya acaryas and acaryas of all other sampradayas. They have all clearly explained anadi as I have. They have not stated that the jiva free from the influence of time “begins” its karma, which is a logical contradiction. And they have also very clearly over and over again explained the meaning of other relevant terms such as susupti, tathastha, viraja, etc.
In suggesting this logical contradiction, BVT seeks to emphasize the that will of the jiva is at the heart of its conditioning. Just as Prabhupada did in sometimes saying the jiva falls from the spiritual world. However, as I have pointed out, one need not take this course to validate the jiva’s will and exonerate God from evil and the suffering of others.
I assume that those arguing that BVT’s position is siddhanta and not a preaching strategy do consider Prabhupada’s statements describing the fall of the jiva from the spiritual world a strategy and not siddhanta. For the many reasons I have stated throughout this discussion, I consider BVT’s position a preaching strategy as well. Indeed the two are not far apart. As Natalia has stated regarding BVT’s position, how could one have a general view of Krsna and a general view of the material world and choose the material world if Krsna is all attractive? So for this and other reasons I find BVT’s position logically and scripturally as problematic as some of Prabhupda’s statements about falling from the spiritual world. Nonetheless I do not consider it wrong for either of them to have adopted such a strategy and I find sufficient evidence in their overall writing and even their writing directly on this subject in support of the actual siddhanta, indicating that much further that they have taken two positions on the subject, one a strategy the other siddhanta.
So one can cite BVT all day and night in objection to my position but that only misses my point. I know very well what he has said on the subject and studied Jaiva Dharma before some of the people on this forum were born. I understand his position on anadi as a strategy. So merely citing it again and again does not address my point. And to simply assert one’s faith in one’s chosen realized souls does not add anything to the discussion. The fact that there is a place for such strategies is clear. In this connection I have also supported my position with reference to Jiva Goswami and his svakiya/parakiya strategy that is universally accepted by all Gaudiya acaryas. And the siddhanta that precedes “fall strategies” is even more clear. All acaryas previous to BVT have clearly explained anadi in the manner I have explained it herein, as they have explained susupti, causal ocean, viraja, tathastha, etc.
As devotees become more realized they will be able to understand the reality of literal beginningless karma and the nature of the sristi-lila and how it does not efface free will. Given the time and circumstances in which we live today, as a present day acarya of the Gaudiya sampradaya, I find it important to make clear the siddhanta on this issue and differentiate it from previous preaching strategies that had greater utility in the past. With that I suggest the moderator end this discussion. Everyone has made their position clear.