The Whys and Hows of a Nitya Navadvipa (Part 1)

By Bhakti Pranaya Padmanabha Swami. Read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

Introduction

Gaura lila is nothing but the overflowing of Krishna lila, extending the real-life story of the Absolute into heights unknown and shores undiscovered, even to him—yet to be discovered and inhabited not only by him, but by many, ourselves included. The very word lila speaks to us about the loving interaction between Bhagavan and his bhaktas.1 Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that whenever Krishna lila needs to expand and present itself as Gaura lila, its participants will adopt corresponding identities to be part of this expansion. I say “new” because although in linear thinking one lila may seem to be the outcome of the other, actually both of them represent an eternal ongoing principle, a nondual reality expressing itself in two intertwined and inseparable venues: Vrndavana and Navadvipa.2

While these two realms have their corresponding extensions here on Earth, Gaudiya Vedanta teaches that these two are possessed of their own specific attributes in the unmanifest (aprakata) spiritual domain in the form of Goloka Vrndavana and Goloka Navadvipa (aka, nitya Navadvipa). Among dozens of theological implications, one implication is the unique prospect of inhabiting two simultaneous spaces in transcendence in two different spiritual embodiments.3 This is not to be rationalized away by common three-dimensional thinking—we are speaking here about sacred geography or a sense of location that is exclusively inhabited by conscious atoms or, even more so, by touchstone.4

Sri Goloka is figuratively depicted as a divine lotus that when closely observed will reveal its center in the form of the passion-taster, Sri Krishna. If even closer attention is given, a further whorl will manifest in the form of Radha-Krishna, the very personification of visceral bliss. But if we keep looking in the direction of this axis, a new lotus will open in the form of nitya Navadvipa, a second rustic paradise in the form of Vraja’s other self. Sriman Mahaprabhu will be its central shining deity, and he will be accompanied by a robust retinue fully dressed in egolessness—members of a divine clan whose identity (abhimana) is absolutely free from any trace of distorted ego (ahankara).5 Along with the bucolic setting of celestial Vraja, it is here where most Gaudiya Vaisnavas want to go.6

But why only most? Well, variety is the spice of life, and Gaudiya siddhanta is no exception to this rule. According to Mahaprabhu’s devotional Vedanta, there is enough room to accommodate unlimited perspectives, especially in the context of tasting rasananda. In this regard, Thakura Bhaktivinoda has said that some devotees will be inclined mainly toward Krishna lila, others toward Gaura lila, and even others toward both of them equally, all acquiring forms corresponding to their own spiritual affinity.7 But although the possibility of an aprakata nitya Navadvipa has been presented by acaryas even prior to Bhaktivinoda,8 there are certain Vaisnava groups (actually only one, and only a section of it) who claim that this idea is basically implausible. Thus, in an attempt to clarify this conundrum, I will present some of the main purvapaksa (objections) expressed as well as some possible replies to these arguments according to well-accepted parameters within Gaudiya siddhanta.

Arguments and Counterarguments

Those who consider the impossibility of a Gaura lila in the spiritual domain do accept that Gaura lila (and its correspondent abode) is nitya, or eternal, as is every other lila of Bhagavan. But their conception of a nitya Navadvipa is that Gaura lila is traveling from universe to universe in the prakata-lila. In other words, the eternality of Navadvipa is derived from the fact that the abode is manifesting continuously in some material universe, on some Earth. In this regard, Srila Jiva Goswami speaks about three manifestations of the lila: prakata (manifest), aprakata (unmanifest), and prakata-aprakata (manifest and unmanifest).9 While the first one refers to Bhagavan’s lila on Earth and the second to its similar expression in the spiritual sky, the latter applies to those moments when the lila of Bhagavan is not outwardly manifesting on Earth although remaining present and active there as an ongoing invisible reality. According to this view, some people consider Gaura lila to be only prakata and prakata-aprakata, but not aprakata

The main pramana (evidence) presented by those against the possibility of an aprakata nitya Navadvipa is known as abhava-pramana. This refers to the idea of an object’s nonexistence being perceived by the cognition of its absence. In this particular case, it is implied that something cannot be true if not mentioned in sastra.10 According to this viewpoint, sastra will be exclusively understood as the books of the Six Goswamis, who were personally instructed and empowered by Mahaprabhu to establish the sadhana and siddhanta of the Gaudiya sampradaya, and who apparently never spoke about an aprakata Gaura lila. While this argument may be sufficient and conclusive for some, there is more to be said and considered in this particular context. 

First of all (and duly accepting the authoritative position of the six Goswamis as our sastra-gurus), we should be open to also accepting the Goswamis’ conclusions in the form of the evidence presented by later acaryas who did write about an aprakata Gaura lila. The implications of sastra are naturally experienced by sadhus, who have shared their insight and made the fact of their existence explicit. Second, there are also interpretations of sastra that must be considered. For example, where is it stated that Visvambhara Misra is the yuga-avatara of Kali? We come to many such conclusions by way of interpreting sastra, as the Goswamis themselves did in a very dexterous way, pointing to the reality of Gaura lila.11 Taking these initial ideas into consideration as a general template, let us analyze some of the implications of the Goswamis’ teachings in connection to the viability of an aprakata nitya Navadvipa.

Read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

  1. Krishna is especially connected to this principle, being Lila Purusottama. []
  2. In this connection, Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami used to recite a very famous verse from Caitanya-caritamrta (2.25.271), commenting, “Although Caitanya lila appears later than Krishna lila, Caitanya lila is the source, the foundation,” thus implying that some devotees may prefer to subjectively conceive of Gaura lila as the fountainhead of Krishna lila, while others may conceive of it in the opposite way. See Swami B. R. Sridhar, The Golden Volcano of Divine Love (Soquel, CA: Ananta Printing, 2014). []
  3. Transcendental “space” is trans-spatial by its very nature. []
  4. While Caitanya-caritamrta 1.5.53 says that from Vaikuntha upward even a speck of dust is a conscious entity, both Sri Brahma Samhita 5.29 and Narottama dasa Thakura’s song Gaurangera duti pada (verse 3) characterize the lands of Vraja and Nadiya as both being made of touchstone. In regard to the latter, Narottama dasa interestingly says, “One who knows the divine abode of Sri Gauda-mandala to be transcendental touchstone (cintamani) is in truth a resident of Vrajabhumi, Sri Vrndavana.” []
  5. In relation to this, Sri Narottama dasa Thakura says, “One who accepts the associates of Sri Gauranga as nitya-siddhas is certain to be elevated to the spiritual kingdom to become an associate of the Supreme Lord.” (Gaurangera duti pada, verse 3). The term nitya-siddha can refer to the fact that Gaura’s associates are eternally perfect beings or that their forms in Gaura lila are eternally existent since the word siddha can refer to both possibilities simultaneously (see also Caitanya-caritamrta 2.22.107). Thus, Mahaprabhu’s associates are eternally existent in their eternally perfect forms in nitya Navadvipa. []
  6. For a brief depiction of the eternal daily dynamics of Mahaprabhu and his associates in aprakata nitya Navadvipa, see Swami B. V. Tripurari’s commentary to Gaura’s asta-kaliya-lila. []
  7. Here I choose to quote Thakura Bhaktivinoda first because of his outstanding devotional feats, especially his complementing the Goswamis’ contribution by overtly emphasizing the ontology and significance of Gaura lila. See Bhaktivinoda’s commentary to Brahma Samhita 5.5 as well as his entire Navadvipa-bhava-taranga. See also Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Jaiva-dharma, trans. Sarvabhavana Dasa (Brhat Mrdanga Press, 2004), 276. []
  8. The possibility of a nitya Navadvipa in transcendence first appears in the works of Sri Caitanya’s contemporaries, such as Gopala-guru Goswami’s Gaura-govindarcana paddhati, Prabhodananda Saraswati’s Caitanya-candramrta, and Kavi-karnapura’s Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika. It also appears in the paddhati of Gopala-guru’s own disciple, Dhyanacandra Goswami (who for the first time describes the asta-kala-seva of Sri Gauranga in verses 73 to 77), and through the writings and songs of stalwarts such as Vrndavana dasa Thakura and Narottama dasa Thakura, respectively. Since then, this concept has become widely accepted and prominently featured in more contemporary writings, such as Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s Sri Gauranga-lilamrta and Siddha Krishnadasa Baba’s Gutika, which from beginning to end describe the details of nitya Navadvipa and explain the intertwined asta-kaliya-lila of both Gaura and Radha-Krishna. Here I am not quoting any specific section of the latter two works, since their entire content serves as supporting evidence for the existence of a nitya Navadvipa. Nonetheless, they can be read in Sri Gauranga Lilamrta and Gutika-Gauranga astakala-lila. []
  9. See anuccheda 153.1 of Srila Jiva Goswami’s Krishna-sandarbha. []
  10. According to Srila Jiva Goswami, there are a total of ten pramanas, or means of valid knowledge, which he lists in his Sarva-samvadini commentary on anuccheda 9 of his Tattva-sandarbha. Each school recognizes a certain number of these as valid independent means and either rejects the rest or subsumes them under the accepted pramanas. []
  11. Some of the Goswamis’ commentaries to verses from the Bhagavata (such as 10.32.22) are prime examples of this. []


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10 Responses to The Whys and Hows of a Nitya Navadvipa (Part 1)

  1. Sakhya-rati Devi Dasi

    Wow, such a rich article!

    I have a question. In footnote 5, you said to read CC 2.2.107. I wanted to ask you which translation to read in this context, as the BBT translation does not seem relevant, implying that bhakti is inherent.

    And the link to Guru Maharaja’s commentary to Gaura’s asta-kaliya-lila is not working 🙂

    🙏🙏🙏

    • Swami B. P. Padmanabha

      Pranama Sakhya-rati, thanks for your appreciation, questions and remarks.

      / The link is already working.

      / And regarding Cc. 2.2.107 you are right, BBT´s rendition is not the most accurate at all. Here is a more plausible one:

      nitya-siddha kṛṣṇa-prema ‘sādhya’ kabhu naya
      śravaṇādi-śuddha-citte karaye udaya

      “Love for Kṛṣṇa is eternally perfect. It is not to be created and it is not a ‘new attainment’. It arises in the heart which is purified by hearing and chanting Kṛṣṇa’s glories.”

      And here an excerpt of a future series of articles regarding the non-inherency of bhakti in the jiva, which is connected to the present verse:

      “Although Srila Prabhupada’s translation seems to leave no room for any doubt, it is important to consider some important details: first, this verse speaks to us about what sadhana-bhakti is, as well as the eternal nature of prema-bhakti. Here then it is said that divine love is something “eternally perfect” or “eternally established” (nitya-siddha), but nowhere in the verse is it actually mentioned “in the hearts of the living entities”. And in case we would like to nonetheless consider this last idea, we should then have to conclude that the living entities referred to in this verse are not the baddha-jivas but the eternal associates of Sri Krishna in Vraja, whose very being (atma) is composed of love (raga) for Sri Krishna (and are thus known as ragatmikas) and whose hearts are the perpetual reservoir of such emotions, since prema is not something that “is produced” at some point in time, but rather, when the jiva is purified by engaging in sadhana-bhakti (all of which is mentioned in the last part of this verse) such prema is transferred from the hearts of such eternal associates into the heart of the qualified jiva. Indeed, this famous sloka is presented in the Sri Caitanya Caritamrita as a Bengali rendition of Sri Rupa Goswami´s own definition of sadhana-bhakti given in his Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu (1.2.2), which is quoted two verses before this “nitya-siddha…” verse written by Krishna Dasa Kaviraja, and which clearly establishes each one of the points explained above:

      kṛti-sādhyā bhavet sādhya-bhāvā sā sādhanābhidhā
      nitya-siddhasya bhāvasya prākaṭyaṁ hṛdi sādhyatā

      “The actions of the senses that produce the bhava stage are called sadhana-bhakti. The attainment of bhava-bhakti that is achieved through sadhana is an eternal sthayi-bhava which is not created, but is simply manifested within the soul through the spiritual energy of the Lord.”

      In this way, being the Caitanya Caritamrita quoted verse (nitya-siddha…) a kind of version that Krishna Dasa Kaviraja makes in connection to this definition by Sri Rupa about sadhana-bhakti, it will then be obvious that the meaning of Krishna Dasa´s sloka has to follow that idea which is already present in the Sri Rupa’s original verse, on which it is based. And as we can see, this important statement clearly establishes how bhakti, in its various stages, manifests itself within the soul “through the spiritual energy (svarupa-sakti) of the Lord.” In their commentaries to this precious verse from Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu, both Srila Jiva Gosvami and Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura agree on this same point, saying thus: “The intention of including sadhana within bhakti is to show that bhakti is only produced from bhakti and not from anything else. Bhakti in its mature stage is something eternal, which simply appears in the heart; this is because this appearance (but not its creation) will take place in the future, by the special actions of the most excellent transformations (samvit and hladini) of the Lord’s svarupa-sakti, which are perfect and eternal.” On the other hand, the third most popular commentator on the Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu was a disciple of Krishna Dasa Kaviraja known as Mukunda Dasa Gosvami, and in his commentary entitled Artha-ratnalpa-dipika, he mentions how the term nitya-siddhasya bhavasya (from Sri Rupa’s recently quoted sloka) refers to the bhava of the nitya-siddha associates of Bhagavan, and not to the fact that prema is present in the heart of all jivas. Visvanatha Cakravartipada confirms this point in his commentary to verse 1.2.228 of this same work, saying that it is due to association with devotees that the outbreak of bhakti, which is very extraordinary, appears. Thus we can repeatedly corroborate how bhakti only arises from bhakti, and such a process occurs through the intervention of the svarupa-sakti into the life of a fortunate jiva.

      In fact, when analyzing this apparently controversial sloka in depth we will see how there is actually no controversy at all. There it is mentioned that krishna-prema is an eternally (nitya) established perfect substance (siddha) that arises (karaye udaya) in the heart (citte), which has been purified (suddha) by sravana and other devotional practices – in other words, prema arises from nitya-siddha devotees. On the other hand, the expression ‘sadhya’ kabhu naya (“not to be attained at any time”) indicates that bhakti is self-manifest and independent and therefore is not caused by anything separated from itself, because in that case bhakti would become subservient to that particular thing that causes it. Thus the idea here is that prema (referred to in this verse as sadhya, or “that to be attained”) is not created by sadhana-bhakti, but is an eternal reality/substance in itself. If such a thing were to be sleeping in the jiva (as some suggest), Krishna Dasa Kaviraja would have used in this verse expressions such as jagrita (“awakening”) and not udaya (“arising”), or we would find in sastra expressions such as supta/nidrita-prema (“sleeping love”) to indicate this condition – but we do not find them anywhere. After all, how could that substance which fully activates Bhagavan himself (and indeed keeps him awake all night and makes him dance eternally) sometimes be found in a state of inertia? How could prema sleep?”

      🙏

      • Sakhya-rati Devi dasi

        Dandavat Pranama Maharaja,

        Thank you for the answer, I’m looking forward to the rest of this series and the other up coming series!

      • Bv Suddhadvaiti Swami

        Yes, indeed, Maharaja ji. Prema, by definition, cannot be diminished nor covered.

        “Love enriched with the feeling of possession, in which one feels, ‘the Lord is mine’ is called prema. The devotee relishes the nectar flowing from the fruit of prema in the form of concentrated bliss, sandrananda. The sublime nourishing potency of this nectar is its power to attract even Krishna, sri-krishna-karshini. Prema is in its intrinsic nature a dense, consolidated and ecstatic bliss.” (Madhurya kadambini Ch.8)
        If Shri Krishna Himself is attracted by that prema – which belongs to the Lord’s spiritual pleasure potency, hladini-shakti – how could it ever be covered by Maya
        “It is a most ludicrous argument to say that the Supreme Lord is overpowered by His own material energy.” (SBhag. 3.7.9, purport).
        Pure love, prema, is ever-increasing; it never diminishes.
        “In the liberated state of affairs, the full-fledged affection for the Lord is awakened. As such, there is an unlimited flow of everlasting happiness, without the fear of its being broken as we have experienced here in the material world. The relationship with the Lord is never broken; thus there is no grief and no fear.” (SBhag, 2.7.47)
        “Pure love of God manifests as the subtlest type of consciousness, devoid of material qualities and material desires, increasing at every moment, and never interrupted.” (Narada-Bhakti-Sutra, 54)
        “With the appearance of prema, the anarthas are completely eradicated. When a devotee attains the Lord, the eradication of anarthas is absolute and there is no possibility of their reappearance.” (Madhurya Kadambini Ch.3)
        It is said that prema feeds on obstacles just like a lion feeds on the elephant it has killed. So, if the jivas found here were previously in the spiritual world, where everyone is endowed with pure krishna-prema, how could that prema be covered by a Maya which cannot even enter that spiritual sphere?
        It is not prema itself but the potential for it which is in the conditioned souls.
        If we already have prema within but covered – which cannot be because it never diminishes but always increases – why is it said that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to distribute prema and not to “revive” or “awaken” it?
        dhanyasyayaṁ nava-prema yasyonmilati cetasi antarvaṇibhir apy asya mudra suṣṭhu sudurgama:
        “Even a most learned scholar cannot understand the activities and symptoms of an exalted personality in whose heart love of Godhead has awakened.” (C.c. Madhya-lila 23.40)
        The verse mentions ‘nava-prema’ or “new love”. This clearly indicates that this love was not formerly present in the soul. For awakening, it must already be present in the soul…
        It is said that bhakti is the function of the internal energy, or svarupa-shakti of the Lord; since we are tatastha-jivas, belonging to the tatastha-shakti and not to the svarupa-shakti, we can only perform bhakti if that shakti mercifully gives its qualities to our mundane mind and senses so that we can engage them in bhakti. This is called tadatma and is compared to fire giving its qualities to a piece of iron put into it long enough. It is mentioned in Madhurya-kadambini in connection with prema:
        “Though previously the countless emotions of the devotee were tightly bound by the ropes of attachment to body, family, relatives, home and wealth, prema now effortlessly sunders those bonds. Then prema by its own power takes the same emotions, though material, and dips them into a well of divine nectar, whose mere touch completely transforms them into spiritual emotions. Then it firmly binds these spiritualized emotions to the sweetness of the Lord’s name, form and qualities.” (8)
        Srila Rupa Goswami expresses the same idea while quoting the Narada-pancaratra:
        “That which reverts the feelings of mine-ness towards body and home into feelings of mine-ness (mamata) towards the Lord is called prema by the saints.”
        The potential to love Shri Krishna purely, and not prema itself, is in the heart of all conditional souls. When someone’s heart is fully purified by the practice of sadhana-bhakti, this potential can awaken. Prema is eternally present in the nitya-siddha living entities. They want to share it with human beings. Practically speaking, the way it works is that when the heart of a devotee has been fully purified, a devotee of that higher spiritual level, whom the sadhaka accepts as his raganuga-bhakti guide, transfers it from his own heart unto that purified heart.
        “My dear Sanatana, please now hear about the regulative principles for the execution of devotional service (sadhana-bhakti). By this process, one can attain the highest perfection of love of Godhead, which is the most desirable treasure. When transcendental devotional service, by which love for Krishna is attained, is executed by the senses, it is called sadhana-bhakti, or the regulative discharge of devotional service. Such devotion eternally exists within the heart of every living entity. The awakening of this eternal devotion is the potentiality of devotional service in practice. The spiritual activities of hearing, chanting, remembering and so forth are the natural characteristics of devotional service. The marginal characteristic is that it awakens pure love for Krishna.” (C.c. Madhya-lila 22.104-106)
        Srila Prabhupada writes about this (purport to verse 105):
        “Because living entities are minute, atomic parts and parcels of the Lord, devotional service is already present within them in a dormant condition.”
        And in purport to C.c. Madhya-lila 19.151)
        “Dormant devotional service to Krishna is within everyone. Simply by associating with devotees, hearing their good instructions and chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, dormant love for Krishna is awakened. In this way one acquires the seed of devotional service. Guru-krishna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija.”
        This is very clear: One receives from a qualified guru at the time of initiation the seed of the plant of bhakti and this awakens the natural dormant tendency to love Krishna which is in everyone’s heart. This is the beginning of the path. Attaining prema is at the end of the process. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu concludes this chapter by saying,
        “My dear Sanatana, I have briefly described the process of devotional service in practice, which is the means for obtaining love of Krishna. It cannot be described broadly.” (C.c. Madhya-lila 22.167)
        Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes in Chaitanya Siksamrita,
        “By the gradual performance of sadhana-bhakti the marginal symptoms (tatastha-laksana) of prema will first manifest like a cloaked fire, and when one attains freedom from the subtle body, upon the attainment of complete perfection (vastu-siddhi), the intrinsic qualities of prema (svarupa-laksana) will appear.”
        What is covered is not prema, but the natural dormant potential to develop prema, inherent in every soul. The example of a parrot is given; it is said that every female parrot has the latent potential to learn how to speak, but that it will not manifest unless some hunter catches that parrot and sells it to someone else who will teach it how to speak.
        The example of fire being latent in wood is also given. There is fire latent in every piece of wood because trees are born from the heat of the sun. However, it will not manifest until put in contact with another piece of wood already burning. The latent fire in the first piece of wood will be kindled in contact with that burning wood.
        In the same way, every tatastha-jiva has the dormant or latent potential to develop krishna-prema. He may develop it from the tata area if he makes the right choice of accepting his eternal function as the Lord’s servant. He is then transferred to the spiritual world by Yogamaya’s arrangement and naturally immediately develops that prema. Or he may develop it gradually here in this world by entering into contact with a guru who has achieved bhava-bhakti, a “jata-rati Vaishnava.” (extract from a booklet of mine, Paramatma-vaibhava)

        • Swami B. P. Padmanabha

          Pranama Maharaja ji, thanks for your time and gentle reply. And yes, we are on the same page: bhakti/rasa/prema/svarupa is not inherent in the jivatma but the POTENTIAL for it (in due association with bhakti-sakti) is already present in all of us. This is of course a subtle difference, but an important one yet.

          Now with all your respect, I beg to disagree with your the point presented in the last paragraph of your reply, when you mention that:

          “In the same way, every tatastha-jiva has the dormant or latent potential to develop krishna-prema. He may develop it from the tata area if he makes the right choice of accepting his eternal function as the Lord’s servant. He is then transferred to the spiritual world by Yogamaya’s arrangement and naturally immediately develops that prema.”

          Although this is another topic from the original one, it´s quite connected, so I take your permission to share some points in this regard, with the hope that this exchange may be nourishing for all the assembly of Vaisnavas:

          Of course the jivas don´t fall from Vaikuntha/Goloka. But they do not fall from “the tata area” either. There is no fall whatsoever. There is no single verse in our goswami-granthas which speak conclusively about falling from Brahman, the tata area, and so on. And even if for the benefit of the doubt we may like to consider such a possibility, we will undoubtedly meet a number of contradictions to be resolved, such as:

          a) Since the jiva does not have (according to this theory) a previous experience on either plane (either spiritual world nor material world), what is the value of such a choice? How can one choose between two things that one does not know at all?

          b) If partial knowledge about Krishna and maya were available to the jiva to choose from in a condition of limbo, how could the jiva possibly choose maya over Krishna, if he is indeed “all attractive”?

          c) How could the jiva choose (and thereby ascend to) Vaikuntha without bhakti (just “choosing”)?

          d) Since in Brahman “there is no one” (in the sense that there is no sense of individuality there), how then would it be possible for someone to make a choice (since a choice implies individuality)?

          In fact, there is no specific geographic area between the spiritual and material worlds called “tatastha”. Tatastha as a line between the two worlds is imaginary. Tatastha is what the jiva is constitutionally, and nothing else. Tatastha is not a “place” but as a sakti of the Supreme, which can live both under the influence of maya-sakti and svarupa-sakti.

          Mahavisnu is found neither in the material world nor in the spiritual world, but in between them, he is situated in tatastha-sakti: from there he becomes Paramatma, and from Paramatma all the jivas come. This is stated in the first verse of the Bhakti-Sandarbha with the term paramatma vaibhava, “the living entities are expansions of the sakti of Paramatma.”

          In the words of my Guru Maharaja: “Vedanta Sutra declares that God is not responsible for the suffering of the jiva as there was no beginning to karma. End of story, no further questions asked. All acaryas up to the point of Bhaktivinoda Thakura have supported that position. He and some of his followers have taken the essence of the sastras’ teaching on the subject (relieving God from blame) and tweaked it according to their “relative view in time and space” which was one where the concept of cyclical time without beginning was unheard of and the idea of “fall from grace” was prominent. Such flexibility and willingness to tweak the teaching are the hallmark of great preachers, but they do not imply absolute truth. Again and again it should be considered: preaching and siddhanta aren’t always one.”

          The actual siddhantic conclusion about the “origin” of the jiva is the concept of anadi-karma, established all along the Vedas, Vedanta, Bhagavatam, Gita and our goswami-granthas as well. And the term is pretty specific: anadi, or “without beginning”: Sanskrit is not lacking in specific words and Sri Jiva Goswami (who spoke about this in his Sandarbhas), being a great scholar, knew all this, but when talking about the conditioning of the jiva he always used the same term, anadi.

          If an event without beginning (such as karma) is associated with an entity without beginning (such as the jiva), naturally this implies that both are simultaneous (and therefore without beginning). In other words, if the jiva and karma are both anadi, their relationship is also anadi.

          Karma is also anadi because the Lord himself and his sristi lila are anadi, and this lila involves karma, the principle of justice. The Lord defers to this principle in general. If he did not, he would be faulted for not being just. Yet he is also merciful, and thus sometimes he overrides karma by bestowing bhakti, or granting mukti. Without the principle of karma there would be no mercy. If the Lord had no mercy, he would not be worthy of the highest regard.

          In this connection, my Guru Maharaja usually gives the example of a man who does not know Sanskrit, his ignorance of it being without a beginning. Due to that ignorance he is suffering, but surely Krishna cannot be blamed for this, because he has given him the human way to learn Sanskrit in this case, and if this man does not do it it is his choice / error. Thus, one cannot blame Bhagavan since he never put the jiva in Maya: if this had been so, such conditioning would have a beginning. So God is not to be judged by what he creates (because he does not create anything) but rather by how he acts in relation to what already exists.

          In conclusion, karma is anadi, so therefore it was never imposed on us at any point in time. Therefore we cannot say that God caused us to be in a suffering condition. On the other hand, we have not made a choice that has caused us to fall from grace. And until we come in contact with a sadhu, there is no way that we can embrace the path of bhakti. Therefore, the conditioned soul is also not to blame for his suffering condition. So, if God is not to blame for our suffering and we are not to blame for our suffering, then the concept of “blame” is simply null and void: it simply is what it is. Sometimes it appears that the fault-finding or blaming propensity is an expression of the illusory conception of life, in which the conditioned soul mistakenly sees himself and others as independent “doers”. And therefore, as we grow spiritually, proportionately our inclination to find fault disintegrates and is replaced with a growing sense of compassion. And again, if there is no blame, no fault, then everything is perfect, as it is. And there is always room for improvement.

          As one godbrother of mine put it once nicely: “So we are part of God’s lila, the great drama of sristi-lila. The climax of this great drama is the good fortune the jiva attains when svarupa-sakti descends and graces the world. Without grace, the jiva is playing the part of tragedy in this drama. The bhaktas who roam the material world are the great heroes in this lila. Thus, everything is perfect in a sense, and blame is a tendency of those under an illusory material vision. The only suggestion would be that the only imperfection in the world is the lack of Krsna consciousness. Having been graced with good fortune ourselves, we must assist in creating good fortune for other jivas, for the awakening of potential bhakti in the jiva’s existence is what makes this srsti-lila the greatest story ever told!”

          So these are some thoughts on the topic Maharaja ji, hoping they may increase our understanding for further develppment of our devotional eagerness. And in this connection and to conclude I may add that in the same way that no one can fall from the tatastha-region because there is no such place, there is actually the possibility of achieving Brahman realization (sayujya-mukti) and remaining there forever, without any fall whatsoever. But that´s maybe another chapter of our discussion. 🙂

  2. Syamananda dasa

    Dandavats Suddhadvaiti Maharaja,

    

Please accept my pranam. Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir ki jaya!

    

Thank for the beautiful exposition of prema.



    As you know, your teachers and those of Padmanabha Maharaja teach different definitions of the term anadi karma. I’m not in a position to call either a misconception, because I have no memory of any previous life whatsoever, no memory of choosing the material world, what to speak of remembering a countless amount of previous lives since a time without beginning.

    

I have a suggestion for a clarification regarding the teaching, if you will ever produce a new edition of Paramatma-Vaibhava:



    You write that the jiva is transferred to the spiritual world where prema develops. It sounds like here that you are talking about the aprakata-lila, the unmanifest pastimes of Sri Krishna in Goloka. If this is what you mean, that would have to be reconciled with the teaching of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura in his Raga-vartma-candrika. There, in the 7th text of the second illumination, he states that since the dealings in the lila are human-like, without taking birth from the womb of a gopi, one wouldn’t be able to answer a question like: “Whose daughter is this?” 


    Srila Narayana Maharaja comments: “Upon approaching the stage of prema from svarupa-siddhi, one cannot attain the perfection of his transcendental identity without taking birth from the womb of a Gopi in prakata Vraja.”



    I have heard from a friend that Srimati Krishnapriya Didi and Srila Madhusudana Maharaja have been discussing this contradiction. Perhaps you can ask them if they came to a conclusion.

    

In service,


    Syamananda dasa

    • I’m not in a position to call either a misconception, because I have no memory of any previous life whatsoever, no memory of choosing the material world, what to speak of remembering a countless amount of previous lives since a time without beginning.

      It is not a question of memory, which can be faulty.The question is answered through sastra-yukti. See Govinda-bhasya 2.2.34-35 and Bhagavad-gita 5.15 Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s tika.

      • Swami B. P. Padmanabha

        Since for us Gaudiyas the Bhagavata is considered our amala-pramana (topmost unalloyed source of revelation) I was curious about how many times it speaks about anadi-avadya, or beginningless ignorance for the jive (and thus no fall from anywhere). I did a very quick research on both the Bhagavata verses as well as one of our main commentaries in the tradition, the Sarartha-darsini of Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada. Here I share a list of verses where this term (anadi-avidya/anadi-karma) is directly mentioned and/or explained, whether in the context of the verses themselves, or in Visvanatha (VCT)´s words (I´ll clarify in each case). Combining both statements (Bhagavata and Visvanatha Cakravarti) I found totally 35 references. Here they are for the ones who would like to study them:

        2.5.19 (VCT)
        2.9.1 (VCT)
        3.7.9 (VCT)
        3.7.10 (VCT)
        3.26.5 (VCT)
        4.22.32 (VCT)
        5.6.23 (verse & VCT)
        5.11.12 (verse & VCT)
        5.13.25 (VCT)
        5.14.1 (verse & VCT)
        5.25.3 (verse & VCT)
        6.5.11 (verse & VCT)
        6.15.8 (verse & VCT)
        6.17.23 (VCT)
        8.24.46 (verse & VCT)
        11.2.36 (VCT)
        11.11.4 (VCT)
        11.11.7 (verse & VCT)
        11.19.1 (VCT)
        11.19.7 (verse & VCT)
        11.20.8 (VCT)
        11.22.10 (verse & VCT)
        12.10.41 (verse)
        12.11.29 (verse & VCT)

  3. Pranama to all and gratitude to each one for increasingly overflowing their progressive Vaisnava spirit in revealed sustenance, from the evidence not only scriptural that clarify giving the corresponding Light?. . “1 Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that whenever Krishna lila needs to expand and present itself as Gaura lila, its participants will adopt corresponding identities to be part of this expansion. I say “new” because although in linear thinking one lila may seem to be the outcome of the other, actually both of them represent an eternal ongoing principle, a nondual reality expressing itself in two intertwined and inseparable venues: Vrndavana and Navadvipa. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that whenever Krishna lila needs to expand and present himself as Gaura lila, his participants will adopt the corresponding identities to be part of this expansion.” Could it be that these types of blogs invite an exchange to continue discovering, reconsidering and expanding inspiring details in genuine respect, tendency and ever increasing inclination in Krsna Consciousness? Remembering the Words of Bhaktivinod Thakur in his book “The Bhagavata” … “In reality, most of readers are only repositories of facts and statements of other people. However, that is not research. The student should read the facts with a view to creating and not for the purpose of vain retention. As
    that satellites, students should reflect any light they receive from the authors, and not imprison facts and thoughts just as magistrates imprison convicts
    in jail. Thought is progressive. The author’s thinking should
    progress in the reader in the form of correction or development. He
    best critic is one who can show development
    subsequent of an old thought; but a simple whistleblower is the enemy of progress and, consequently, of nature ”… Again thank you very much… I join the request of Sakhya-rati Devi Dasi, Jaay! =)

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