Bhagavat Sandarbha, Part 63


Aug 01, 2019 — CANADA (SUN) — Sad Sandarbhas by Srila Jiva Goswami

Bhagavat Sandarbha
by Srila Jiva Goswami


The prayers of the personified Srutis acknowledge that there are unlimited living entities (Bhag.10.87.30 ):

"If the countless living entities were all-pervading and possessed forms that never changed, You could not possibly be their absolute ruler, O immutable one. But since they are Your localized expansions and their forms are subject to change, You do control them.

Indeed, that which supplies the ingredients for the generation of something is necessarily its controller because a product never exists apart from its ingredient cause. It is simply illusion for someone to think that he knows the Supreme Lord, who is equally present in each of His expansions, since whatever knowledge one gains by material means must be imperfect."

In this verse aparimita means immeasurable, or countless. While commenting on this verse Srila Sanatana Gosvami quotes a question Vajra Maharaja asked Sage Markandeya in the Vishnudharmottara Purana (1.81.12)

King Vajra said; O Brahmana, because time has no beginning therefore even if one person achieved liberation in each of the bygone kalpas, by now the world would be empty.

In answer to this, Sage Markandeya replied (Vishnudharmottar Purana 1.81.13,14)

"When someone is liberated, the Supreme Lord who possesses unlimited potency, creates another jiva and thus always keeps the world full. Those people who achieve brahma-loka become liberated along with Brahma. Then in the next Maha kalpa Lord creates similar beings."

Therefore, there is no need to assume that living entities fall from Vaikuntha to replace the liberated souls. The important word in Markandeya's answer is acintya-sakti. This has been described in greater detail in earlier sections of this book. Without accepting the existence of this most amazing energy of the Lord, one can never hope to understand Him properly.

But a natural doubt arises here. "Living entities are said to be beginningless (anadi-Bg.13.20). Then why does the above verse say that the Lord creates others?"

Srila Sanatana Gosvami answers that there are unlimited inactive living entities which the Lord activates as He desires. This is what is meant by the term "creates" in the above verse. Creation does not mean producing new living entities. This is accepted by all Vaishnavas. Actually srishyante is the word used to indicate "creates," and it comes from the root srija visarge, which means to create, or release. Here we must take the secondary meaning because use of the primary one will contradict other verses which state that the jiva is never created. Srishyante then means to release the jivas from the inactive state into the active state.

So the conclusion is that nobody, whether nitya siddha, or sadhana-siddha, ever falls from Vaikuntha. Here the natural question that arises is, "Where do we come from?" The simple answer is that we are nitya baddha. We have always been in the material world. There was never a time that we were not in the material world. The material nature, as well as the living entities are anadi or beginningless, as Lord Krishna says (Bg.13.20):

"Material nature and the living entities should be understood to be beginningless. Their transformations and the modes of matter are products of material nature."

The word "beginningless" (anadi) is very important in this verse. Not only are the living entities and the material nature beginningless, but so is their association. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Sripada Baladeva Vidyabhushana confirm this fact in their commentary on this verse. Tayoh samslesho'pyanadiriti bhavah. More details on this subject will be presented in the Paramatma-Sandarbha.

Objection: But there are verses in Srimad Bhagavatam which clearly state that living entity was with the Lord and fell down such as (S. Bhag. 4.28.53,54):

"The brahmana continued : My dear friend, even though you cannot immediately recognize Me, can't you remember that in the past you had a very intimate friend? Unfortunately, you gave up My company and accepted a position as enjoyer of this material world. My dear gentle friend, both you and I are exactly like two swans. We live together in the same heart, which is just like the Manasa Lake. Although we have been living together for many thousands of years (sahasra parivatsaran), we are still far away from our original home."

First of all there is no mention of falling down from the Vaikuntha in these verses. Srila Prabhupada mentions in the purport that the living entity falls into material world when he wants to enjoy. This falling is not from Vaikuntha. This is clear from the translation, "Although we have been living together for many thousands of years we are still far away from our original home."

The commentaries of previous acaryas clearly describe that these verses refer to the jivas residing with Maha Vishnu during the total annihilation. Sahasra parivatsaran (4.24.54), confirms this. "Giving up company" means taking birth in the next cycle of creation. Narada Muni describes this allegory to King Pracinabarhi and cannot be taken literally. It is indirect (parokshya) as stated by Narada himself (SB.4.28.65):

"My dear King Pracinabarhi, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes, is celebrated to be known indirectly. Thus I have described the story of Puranjana to you (indirectly). Actually it is an instruction for self-realization."

The words parokshyena "indirectly" and prokshayapriya "who like indirect description" must be noted.

From the above analysis, based on the authority of sastra, it is concluded without doubt that the living entity does not fall from Vaikuntha. Yet for the benefit of those who are not convinced, here is a fresh analysis of this topic from a different angle.

In Tattva Sandarbha Srila Jiva Gosvami accepted three pramanas, or types of evidence, while establishing the Gaudiya Vaishnava epistemology. These are sabda, anumana, and pratyaksha. All evidence from sabda clearly indicates that the jiva does not fall. Pratyaksha and Anumana shed no light on this topic. Pratyaksha, direct perception, is useless for deciding transcendental matters, but logic, which is part of anumana, can be used in analysing the scripture. Logic that agrees with the sastra is acceptable. Srila Rupa Gosvami, while giving the characteristic of an uttama adhikari writes (BRS 1.2.17)

"One who is expert in logic, argument, and the revealed scriptures, who has strong determination, and firm faith in Krishna, is the person most eligible to achieve bhakti."

Here yukti means logic and argument. Srila Jiva Gosvami comments that the logic referred to here, is that which follows scripture. To clarify, he quotes a verse from Vaishnava tantra.

"Proper logic is that which is used to reach the proper conclusion on the strength of understanding former and latter statements of sastra. Dry logic should be rejected."

Thus logic and argument are not completely useless. They can assist us to understand the conclusion of the scriptures and to resolve apparent contradictions. It is not uncommon to see contradictory statements in scriptures. For example the Vedas state: akshayyam ha vai caturmasya yajinah sukritam bhavati, "One who observes the vow of Caturmasya attains imperishable merit." Yet in another place it is stated, tat yatheha karma-jito lokah kshiyate, evamevamutra punyajito loko kshiyate (Chandogya 8.1.6). "Just as the results of material activities do not endure, so are the results attained in heaven by the performance of good deeds."

Naturally, both statements cannot be absolute. A secondary meaning must be applied to one of the statements in order to reconcile the contradiction. By understanding the speaker's intention, deliberating on the results of sakama karma, and studying the many statements indicating the temporary nature of heavenly existence, one can understand that the first statement is not absolute. It is meant to inspire lazy people to observe the religious ceremony of Caturmasya. If they do so, they will gradually reach the level of pure knowledge. Lord Krishna confirms this principle (Bg. 4.33):

O chastiser of the enemy, the sacrifice performed in knowledge is better than the mere sacrifice of material possessions. After all, O son of Pritha, all sacrifices of work culminate in transcendental knowledge. People in general are attached to the fruits of their activities and if one preaches that they should engage in the activities of pure devotion, they may lose faith even in karma-yoga.

Therefore Lord Krishna advises (Bg. 3.26):

So as not to disrupt the minds of ignorant men attached to the fruitive results of prescribed duties, a learned person should not induce them to stop work. Rather, by working in the spirit of devotion, he should engage them in all sorts of activities (for the gradual development of Krishna Consciousness).

Preaching is an art. An expert preacher is one who preaches in such a way that people accept, and they do not get confused or become degraded. The conditioned souls do not want to get out of the material world and want to be happy in this life, or at best, in the next. Yet a devotee preacher wants them to quit material existence. Hence, there is a clash of interests. To overcome this, the devotee often has to devise a technique, just as a father conceals medicine within candy to induce the sick child to take it. In Purva Mimamsa this is called Parisankhya vidhi, or using an injunction to accomplish something other than the apparent aim. Hence it is not easy to understand the conclusion of the scriptures. The sage Avirhotra confirms this (SB.11.3.43,44):

"Sri Avirhotra said: Prescribed duties, non-performance of such duties, and forbidden activities are topics one can properly understand through authorized study of the Vedic literature. This difficult subject matter can never be understood by mundane speculation. The authorized Vedic literature is the sound incarnation of the Personality of Godhead Himself, and thus Vedic knowledge is perfect. Even the greatest learned scholars are bewildered in their attempts to understand the science of action if they neglect the authority of Vedic knowledge.

Childish and foolish people are attached to materialistic, fruitive activities, although the actual goal of life is to become free from such activities. Therefore the Vedic injunctions indirectly lead one to the path of ultimate liberation by first prescribing fruitive religious activities, just as a father promises his child candy so that the child will take his medicine."

Mere citing of references will not establish the conclusive truth, but one has to analyse the scriptures thoroughly to understand the actual intent hidden within the hoards of recommendations for fruitive activities and the various apparent contradictions. One must successfully remove all apparent contradictions by properly understanding the strength of different scriptural statements. All scriptural statements do not carry equal weight or authority. Some can override others. For example the famous statement krishnastu bhagavan svayam (Bhag.1.3.28), "But Lord Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead," is recognized as the emperor statement, or a maha vakya. It overrules all statements which describe Krishna as an incarnation of someone else. It is not whimsically accepted as the most authoritative statement, but the accepted rules of logic are used. This will be demonstrated in the Krishna-Sandarbha.

In the four chapters of the Vedanta Sutra, the first is called Samanvyadhyaya, or the chapter on reconciliation. Thus one can imagine the amount of apparent contradictions present in the Upanishads. Hence tarka, or favourable logic, has an important role and thus Srila Jiva Gosvami has rightly accepted it as a means to know the sastric conclusion. But in all cases the conclusions reached must not contradict scripture.

One way of analysing a philosophical conclusion is by seeing the conformity of sadhu, sastra, and guru. Of these three, sastra is Supreme. Indeed without sastra we cannot even know the proper definition of the other two. It is on the authority of the sastra that the teachings of Lord Buddha are rejected, although He is one among the incarnations of Vishnu. But we must not forget that sastra is understood through the medium of guru and sadhu. Thus it makes the process not so simple as it may appear. Without taking instruction in a bonafide parampara, one will be lost in the jungle of scripture.

We have seen the sastric conclusions regarding the topic under discussion. These are accepted by all other Vaishnava sampradayas without any quibbling. Our stalwart acaryas like Srila Jiva Gosvami, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, and Srila Baladeva Vidhyabhushana confirm this view, and thus the sadhus are in agreement. For us, Srila Prabhupada's statements are siddhanta, and we see that he has made some statements indicating that the jiva has fallen from the spiritual world, and others indicating it is not possible to fall from Vaikuntha. Hence the need to reconcile his statements arises. I cannot see any reason he would make such statements except to fulfil some preaching purpose. This is my reasonable guess. Of course, presenting both conclusions is a manifestation of his mercy on the conditioned souls. Being a master of preaching, he knows best how to convince people to take up Krishna consciousness.

To reconcile any contradiction, and bring out the siddhanta, we have to resort to logic. One of the contradictory statements must be regarded as absolute and the other must be understood according to its secondary meaning. We understand that the statements made to the effect that jivas fall from Vaikuntha were made to suit a particular audience. On the basis of the evidence cited in sastra, and the statements of sadhus, we must conclude Prabhupada's statements indicating one cannot fall from Vaikuntha as primary, otherwise the need arises to interpret all statements to the contrary. However, there are no scriptural statements and no previous acarya has left any commentary describing a fall from the spiritual world. A sampradaya is based on the conclusions of prasthana trayi, or sruti (Upanishads), smriti (Bhagavad-gita), and nyaya prasthana (Vedanta Sutra). We see that the prasthana trayi does not support that the jiva fell from Vaikuntha. In Vedic culture every bonafide sampradaya establishes their siddhanta based on prasthana-trayi, and any conclusion against this is considered as apa-siddhanta, or a faulty principle.

Srila Prabhupada has certainly studied prashtana trayi, the Sat-sandarbha, and other works of our previous acaryas. In fact he wrote commentaries on Prasthana trayi-Bhagavad-gita (Smriti), Ishopanishad (Sruti), and Srimad Bhagavatam Nyaya (the natural commentary on the Vedanta sutra), as is customary for every prominent acarya. It is unimaginable that he would not conform to the view of the sastra and the predecessor acaryas. This is why he has not categorically stated that the jiva fell from Vaikuntha. For the purpose of preaching he sometimes spoke contrary to the sastra. We should not take those statements as ultimate siddhanta, otherwise we will end up in the same situation as the followers of Sankaracarya. Sankaracarya preached Mayavada philosophy to drive away the Buddhists. Once that was accomplished, his philosophy lost its utility. Thus it is no wonder that he composed verses praising Lord Krishna like the famous Bhaja Govindam, and Govindashtakam. But his followers stuck to his Mayavada doctrine and ruined their lives. One may ask why he did not disclose the secret to his disciples. This is not so simple. People would have lost faith in him. Thus he had to hint at it indirectly. Therefore, speaking indirectly is another characteristic of great people and this activity is supported by Lord Krishna (SB.11.21.35)


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