Is Krishna Unfair to Us?

Originally published at the Jiva Institute of Vaisnava Studies.

Question: Sri Jiva Gosvami writes in his Paramatma Sandarbha (44):

tad evam ananta eva jivakhya tatasthah saktayah.
tatra tasam varga dvayam. eko vargah anadita eva bhagavad unmukhah anyas tu anadita eva bhagavat paranmukhah svabhavatah tadiya jnana bhavat tadiya jnanabhavac ca

“There are innumerable spirit souls and they are the marginal potency of God. There are two classes of them: one class is favorable to God from beginningless time, and the other class is turned away from God from beginningless time. The first class is naturally full of knowledge and the other is without knowledge.”

This seems to me so unfair. This statement makes Krishna out to be especially merciful to some jivas, and less so to others. That would contradict Krishna’s teaching in the Gita, where He says He is equal to all.

Answer: This does not contradict Krishna’s teachings. Such a doubt arises by not understanding the word anadi, beginningless. Krishna is not creating some jivas as nitya-baddha and others as nitya-mukta. If that were the case, they would not be anadi. Just as Krishna Himself has no beginning, His energies also have no beginning. His tatastha, or intermediary, potency also has no beginning.

This tatastha-sakti has two divisions, which are also beginningless. This is what Jiva Gosvami is saying in the above statement. Anything which is beginningless is also causeless. It, therefore, does not contradict Krishna’s statement. He is equal to both of them. It would contradict His statement if He would have personally put some jivas under the influence of maya and spared the others. Not understanding this fact, you are wrongly construing it is Krishna who has put some jivas in ignorance and others in knowledge. As I said above, such misconception arises because of the limitation of our material mind, which always thinks in cause and effect relations. It is inconceivable for the mind to think of something as beginningless. Therefore, although you are quoting Jiva Gosvami, you are giving your own meaning to it and hence the confusion arises.

It should also be noted that in this context, nitya-baddha doesn’t mean that the jiva is eternally condemned to be “baddha“, in a fallen state. It refers to being in that position since beginningless time.

By practicing sadhana-bhakti, the jiva becomes imbued with the svarupa-sakti, as a combination of its hladini and samvit aspects, descending into the heart of the jiva. Attaining svarupa-siddhi, the jiva becomes immersed in the endless ocean of unlimited bliss full of prema-bhakti.

If we fail to accept the fact that we are nitya-baddhas and if we waste our time trying to find out how something happened which never happened at all, we may lose the opportunity to engage all our precious time in attaining the highest goal of life.

It is as if we are lost in an ocean and above our heads we can see a helicopter, throwing us a life preserver, but we are still completely immersed in and totally occupied by finding out how the hell we ended up in this ocean.

We are in this ocean. We need to get out.

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5 Responses to Is Krishna Unfair to Us?

  1. 1. Kṛṣṇa is fair and nitya-baddhas are in a fallen state since beginningless time; and jīvas are nitya-baddhas also because no one knows the right moment in which they will be liberated in the uncertain future. But is it fair that Kṛṣṇa personally prolongs and worsens that “eternal condemnation” of certain spirit souls? See Bg. 16.19.

    2. When exactly does the jīva become bhagavad-unmukhī: at the time of initiation (Cc. 3.4.192) or in advanced stages of devotion?

    • Vayu,

      In Bg. 16.19, Krishna seems to be referring to those jivas mentioned in the previous verse (16.18) who specifically hate him.

      In Tripurari Maharaja’s commentary on 16.18, he mentions the commentary of Visvanath Cakravarti and Madhusudana Saraswati who both interpret 16.18 to refer to people who hate saintly people (Krishna’s devotees) and who commit vaisnava aparadha.

      There is a significant difference between the “sins of the flesh” which generate more karma and the “sins of the soul” such as overly offending Krishna’s devotees. The fact that Krishna becomes personally involved corresponds with his personal involvement in the life of advanced devotees. The original article does not address vaisnava aparadha but I think that is what Bg. 16.18 and 16.19 are referring to.

  2. Thank you, Gauravāṇī.

    In Bhagavad-gītā, chapter 16, Kṛṣṇa strongly condemn jīvas endowed with demoniac qualities just because they are turned away from him; he seems very unfair to them. Why condemn to eternal imprisonment those who are already tied up forever to māyā-śakti? Perhaps the vaiṣṇavāparādha is implicit in his statements but even bhaktas themselves (who do not possess āsurī-sampada) can commit serious offenses against Hari and his beloved servants.

    By the way, it seems that there is certain correspondence between bhagavad-unmukha and daivī-sampada — bhagavad-parāṅmukha and āsurī-sampada.

    • Vayu Prabhu,

      In chapter 16, Krishna is describing the nature and symptoms of asuras. He is doing so to encourage the readers of the Gita to turn away from the qualities and activities of asuras, as they are under the influence of rajas and tamas. Krishna does not condemn the asuras, the asuras condemn themselves through the misuse of their free will.

      I am not familiar with the terms bhagavad-unmukha, daivi-sampada, bhagavad-paranmukha, and asuri-sampada. Could you explain?

      I also think it is important to distinguish between Krishna and Paramatma in this discussion. In general, Paramatma passively observes and sanctions the karma of the jiva, while Krishna is actively involved in the life of parama-vaisnavas. Throughout the Gita, Krishna speaks adopting the position of Paramatma in some cases and sometimes his emotions for his devotees overflow and he speaks about them affectionately from his position as Vraja Krishna.

  3. It seems that there is a certain correspondence between the bhagavad-unmukha-jīva (the spirit soul favorable to God) and the daivī-sampad (the divines qualities) — the bhagavad-parāṅmukha-jīva (the spirit soul turned away from God) and the āsurī-sampad (the demoniac qualities).

    The term sampad is translated as assets, qualities or nature.

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