Sripad Bhaktivedanta Suddhadvaiti Swami

Sripad Bhaktivedanta Suddhadvaiti Swami


Correct Jiva tattva By Sripad Bhaktivedanta Suddhadvaiti Swami

Part One


The origin of the conditioned souls
This paper is addressing two misconceptions, one, held usually by many ISKCON members, according to which

we fell from Krishna-lila in the spiritual world due to our envy towards Krishna, the other, held by the followers of Haridas Sastri of Vrindavana and propagated by Satya Narayana in his books, according to which we have always been in this material world.

As this paper has been retranslated from the French, there will be some differences with the original quotes in some cases.

Were the conditioned souls of this world previously inhabitants of the spiritual world who fell from there? Or have they always been conditioned by material energy, as suggested by their name, nitya-baddha? Or do they come from somewhere else, from another place or another plane of consciousness?
In the beginning of his preaching in the West, in a few letters and classes, it seems that Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has explained our origin by stating that we fell from the spiritual world. But he never wrote this conception in his books, which are the true authoritative sources of his teachings and of our siddhanta, his letters and classes being given according to time, place and circumstances. Still in a lecture in New York, on January 8th 1967, Srila Prabhupada clearly said,

“There are many living entities which are eternally liberated. They never come to this world.”

When Srila Prabhupada has presented a conclusion in his books, it is incumbent upon us to accept it as being the siddhanta. If, for example, a guru asks his disciple to bring him a glass of milk, and, as the disciple is going to fetch it, calls him back and asks for a glass of water instead, is it a proof of faithfulness and obedience on the part of the disciple to bring him back a glass of milk anyway, under the pretext that it was what his guru asked first, and to ignore his desire of water that he expressed later? The conclusion cancels whatever can have been said before. This conclusion is clearly expressed by Srila Prabhupada in his books:

“The conclusion is that no one falls from the spiritual world.”
(Bhag 3.16.26)

“The nitya-siddhas never fall in the realm of the material atmosphere;”
(Bhag 3.3.26)

“A devotee who is in the spiritual abode of the Lord never falls from it.”
(Bhag 3.15.48)

“Sometimes it is asked how the living entity falls down from the spiritual world to the material world. Here is the answer. Unless one is elevated to the Vaikuntha planets, directly in touch with the Lord, he is prone to fall down, either from the impersonal Brahman realization or from an ecstatic trance of meditation.” (Bhag 3.25.29)

“The eternally liberated living entities are in the spiritual world, vaikuntha jagat, and they never fall into the material world;”
 (Bhag 5.11.12)

“There are Vaikuntha planets in the spiritual world, and the devotees there are all liberated. These devotees are aksara, which means they don’t fall down into the material world…

It is a fact that no one falls from Vaikuntha.”
(Bhag 7.1.35)

“The eternally liberated souls never come in touch with material energy.”
(CC Madhya 22.14, 15) and CC Madhya 20.269, 270)

An inhabitant of the spiritual world cannot become an ordinary conditioned soul of this material world. This is an established fact.
One shouldn’t however conclude that the conditioned souls have always been in a fallen condition, that they never had a choice before being in that condition and that their free will gets an opportunity to express itself only when Krishna or His representative gives them out of mercy a chance to choose His service.
We have not fallen from the spiritual world, but we have not always been conditioned by material energy either. There is a third explanation about the origin of the presently conditioned souls.

Part One

Thesis and antithesis: fall from the spiritual world or eternal conditioning?

Srila Prabhupada didn’t always give the complete siddhanta when he was answering questions about the origin of the conditioned souls. Sometimes the acaryas give explanations which are easy for aspiring devotees to accept and understand, according to their level of advancement. So he sometimes simplified some concepts for a particular audience. But he has clearly explained the essential reason of our presence in this material world: We had the choice between serving Krishna and not serving Him and we have made the wrong choice by not utilizing properly our free will, our little margin of independence, this very valuable gift granted by the Lord.
We have not fallen from the spiritual world, but we are coming from somewhere. It’s not from a state of being already conditioned by the three gunas of material energy that we have had a choice to make. We chose to misuse our independence and so we have been put in prison for the offence of having neglected Krishna’s service; we don’t originate from the prison itself. Where have we made this choice, where have we committed this offence?

A different origin

The Vaisnava Acharyas have explained that the conditioned souls or baddha-jivas have a different origin and nature than the nitya-siddhas, the eternal associates of the Lord, and also that they have known another state of being, prior to their present state of conditioned souls: the tata “region” also called the River Viraja, or the Causal Ocean. The Lord manifests His marginal energy or tatastha-sakti between the spiritual and material world. It is comprised of spirit souls. It is said that the jivas there are not subjected to the three gunas neither to the influence of material time. But they are also not under the protection of the cit sakti energy of the Lord and are therefore in a condition of weakness, inaction and indolence. They don’t have the realization of their constitutional position of eternal servants of the Lord. They have a certain consciousness of the two worlds and therefore have a choice to make. In one particular crucial and fateful moment, as they were standing in the tata line between the two worlds they looked towards the Lord’s external energy, thinking that happiness could exist separately from Him. They chose to remain indifferent to the service of Krishna, not to serve Him; thereafter, they contemplated maya, which appeared very attractive to them and showed them the ways they could enjoy on their own, apart from the Lord. They saw that all beings were enjoying sense-gratification. They then thought they had the right to enjoy. They fell from their marginal position and became her prisoners. Their weak condition explains why, although they are coming from an energy which is superior to maya, the jivas can succumb to the temptation of enjoying maya. The Maha-varaha-Purana, quoted in a commentary of the SB (10.77.30) states:

“On the other hand, the separate expansions of the Lord only possess an infinitesimal power, being only invested with a tiny quantity of the power of the Lord.”

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes in Tattva-viveka (2.4):

“One should understand that the individual soul or jivatma is neither produced from the material world neither created in the spiritual world. The souls originate from the marginal line between the transcendental sphere and the material sphere.”

Srila Jiva Goswami explains in the Paramatma-sambhava (37.9) as well as in the Bhakti-sandarbha (1.1) that the very nature of the tatastha-jiva is ‘paramatma-vaibhava’, which means that he is a manifestation of the energy of Paramatma, or Mahavisnu, not of Bhagavan Sri Krishna Himself: paramatma-vaibhava ganane ca tatastha-sakti-rupanam cid eka rasanam api.

The tatastha-jiva is not a product of cit-sakti.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura also clarifies the origin of the baddha-jivas in the Jaiva-dharma:

“The tatastha-jiva is not a product of cit-sakti. Cit-sakti is the complete potency of Krishna and its manifestations are all eternally perfect beings, nitya-siddhas. The jiva coming from tatastha is not nitya-siddha…”

Krishna manifests different types of living entities according to the sakti He manifests them from:

“All jivas have manifested from the jiva-sakti. The cit-sakti is His complete potency, whereas the jiva-sakti is His incomplete potency. The complete entities are all transformations of the complete potencies, and the innumerable atomic, conscious jivas are transformations of the incomplete potency… Srimati Radharani has four kinds of sakhis who are nitya-siddhas, and they are direct expansions, or kaya-vyuha, of the personified ci-sakti, Srimati Radharani Herself…Baladeva manifests the nitya-mukta-parsada-jivas, the eternally liberated associates of Goloka Vrindavana. The nitya-siddhas of Vaikuntha are manifested by Mula-Sankarsana, and the jivas of tatastha-sakti are manifested by Maha-Visnu, who situated Himself in the heart of the jiva-sakti as Paramatma, and manifests them. These jivas are susceptible to the influence of maya, and unless they attain the shelter of the hladini-sakti by Bhagavan’s mercy, it’s possible that they will be defeated by maya…The conclusion is that it is the jiva-sakti which manifests the tatastha-jivas, not the cit-sakti…”

The jivas of the ‘tata region’ were within the pores of the body of Mahavisnu in seed form, and they are manifested through His glance. This origin is confirmed in the Brahma-samhita (11):

“The Lord of the mundane world, Maha-Visnu, possesses thousands upon thousands of heads, eyes and hands…He generates thousands upon thousands of individual souls.

The Scriptures and the Acaryas only mention three types of jivas: the nitya-siddhas, those who have never been conditioned; the nitya-baddhas, those who have been conditioned from time immemorial; and the baddha-muktas, those who were previously conditioned but who have achieved freedom from the clutches of material energy. To state that one can fall from the spiritual world introduces the idea of a fourth type of jivas, say, the “mukta-baddhas”, who are supposed to have been free at the beginning but who later have become conditioned, but…that no sastra nor no acarya ever mentioned!

Prapancika Vaikuntha

There is in the material world a Vaikuntha planet created by Lord Visnu at the request of Sri Laksmidevi. It is mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam (8.5.5). A jivan-mukta may be elevated to this particular Vaikuntha planet, but he can fall from it if he commits an offence. Srila Jiva Goswami mentions it in the Bhakti-sandarbha where he quotes the Skanda Purana, which states that even if someone is elevated to a Vaikuntha planet, if he eats grains on Ekadasi, he will fall from it. The Vaikuntha planet referred to here is prapancika Vaikuntha, this particular Vaikuntha planet which is situated in the material world. It is the only Vaikuntha planet one may fall from.

We are always in the lila of Krishna.

In the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 21.104. Purport), Srila Prabhupada wrote:

“Krishna has many pastimes, among which the lilas of Goloka Vrindavan are the most sublime. He also has pastimes in Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. In His pastimes in the spiritual sky, he lays down on the Causal Ocean…”

Srila Prabhupada also wrote a letter on this subject matter to the presidents of his temples in Australia, in 1972:

“Directly or indirectly, always we are serving Krishna’s lila. Even in dream. Just like we cannot go out of the sun when it is daytime, so where is the chance of going out of Krishna’s lila? The cloud may be there…but still the sunlight is there, everywhere, during the daytime. Because I am part and parcel of Krishna, I am always connected…Therefore everything is Krishna in the ultimate sense. When we cannot contact Krishna personally, we contact His energies. So there is no chance to be outside Krishna’s lila.”

So we don’t automatically need to say that when Srila Prabhupada has more or less said in some classes and letters that we have fallen from Krishna’s lila it was a ‘preaching technique’. We don’t belong originally to the lila of Krishna in Goloka or in Vaikuntha. We belong to His lila as Maha-Visnu, the form of the Lord who is manifesting the jivas of this world. But we can be elevated to His eternal lila of Goloka Vrindavan.

Why is the conditioning of the jiva called anadi?

The word ‘anadi’ means ‘beginning-less’. One doesn’t have to conclude, however, that it means that the baddha-jiva did not have a prior state of being, that he has prag-abhava or non preexistence, neither in material time, neither before falling in the material world and becoming conditioned by it. Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains in Jaiva-dharma:

“Because this non-devotion towards Krishna manifests only at the time where he is about to enter into the material world, there is no history of the fall of the jiva within material time. It is for this reason that the term ‘anadi-bahirmukha’, which means ‘the non-devotion of the jiva towards Krishna has no beginning’, is used. The eternal duty of the jiva becomes distorted starting from the moment of his non-devotion towards Krishna and his entry into maya.”

It is not the conditioning of the jiva by maya which is anadi but his non-devotion, bahirmukha. As this doesn’t happen within the frame of the duration of the time of this material world, this non-devotion is considered beginning-less. It is called thus not because the jiva doesn’t have a state of being prior to his conditioned state, or prag-abhava, but because it happens just before the fall of the jiva within the frame of the time of the material world. The words ‘entry into maya’ are used, showing well that the jvas have an origin preceding their fall into this world. What is this origin? They are emanating from the glance of Mahavisnu.


Bhaktivinoda Thakura quotes in Jaiva-dharma two verses of the Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad, which explains somewhat the position of the jiva in this tatastha ‘region’:

“The jiva has the possibility of two residences, the material realm and the spiritual realm, both of which he may seek. He is situated in a third position, which is a dreamlike condition, svapna-sthana, and is the juncture, tatastha, between the other two. From that middle position he is able to see both the material and the spiritual worlds.” (4.3.9)

“The symptoms of the marginal existence are like those of a big aquatic who is capable of living on both the eastern and western side of the river at his own will. The jiva soul, situated within the waters of the Causal Ocean, which lies between the material and spiritual worlds, is able to reside in both the dream world of mater and the spiritual world of divine wakefulness. (4.3.18)

The Prema-vivarta contains a verse which explains also the jiva’s position:

Krsna bahirmukha hana bhoga vancha kare
Nikatastha maya tare japatiya dhare

“Desiring to enjoy material pleasure, the jiva turns away from Krishna. Maya who is nearby catches him and slaps him.”

‘Nikatastha maya’ means ‘maya who is nearby’. If one analyzes, one can see that maya is not near Vaikuntha. Between maya and Vaikuntha there is the Viraja River. Maya cannot cross this river and she has therefore no access to Vaikuntha, as confirmed by the Srimad Bhagavatam (2.9.10):

“In the abode of the Lord there is no influence of the three gunas. The time has no influence there, what to speak of maya; she cannot enter there, na yatra maya…”

It is also mentioned in the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madya 20.269):

“The Viraja or Causal Ocean, is the border between the spiritual world and the material world. The material energy is situated on one shore of that ocean and cannot enter onto the other shore, which is the spiritual sky.”

Similarly, in the Tattva-sandarbha (6.32), it is said that there is no possibility of any influence of maya, which is very far from there. It is therefore quite clear that we did not fall from the spiritual world. Maya is only on ‘our’ side of the Viraja River, which separates the spiritual and material world. As indicated in the verse above, she is nearby the River Viraja, just against it, and it is from this ‘region’ that the jiva who allows himself to be seduced by her falls within her clutches.
The word ‘nikatastha’ wouldn’t be used either to describe maya’s position in connection with the jiva if he had always been within her clutches, because she doesn’t simply stand nearby the baddha-jiva, she holds him tightly within her grip. This verse therefore clearly refers to a third ‘region’.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura continues his explanation in the Jaiva-dharma, ch 16, mentioning again the weak condition of the tatastha-jiva:

“The atomic conscious jivas who emanate from Mahavisnu’s glance upon His maya-sakti are also innumerable. Since these jivas are situated next to maya, they perceive her wonderful workings…Because of their minute and marginal nature, they sometimes look to the spiritual world, and sometimes to the material world. In this marginal condition, the jiva is very weak because up to this point he has not attained spiritual strength by the mercy of his worshipful Lord. Among these unlimited jivas, those who want to enjoy maya become engrossed in mundane sense gratification and enter a state of slavery to her.
On the other hand, the jivas who endeavor to serve the Lord receive spiritual power by His mercy and enter the spiritual world. It is our great misfortune that we have forgotten our service to Sri Krishna and have thus become bound in the shackles of maya.”

The jiva is also described here as being situated next to maya, not as being already within her clutches; being next to her means in the ‘tata’ region. As taught in the Bhagavad Gita, there is a category of weak souls and another category of infallible souls:

“There are two kinds of beings, the fallible and the infallible. In the material universe all are fallible, whereas in the spiritual world it is said that all are infallible.” (Gita 15.15)

The weak souls can make the wrong choice; they are not condemned nor forced to do it. They are susceptible to choose maya; it is not that they are already within her clutches. According to their choice, the jivas become therefore either conditioned, either liberated, as indicated by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati in his commentary on the Brahma-samhita (16):

“An unlimited number of atomic conscious particles emerge from the spiritual rays of Paramatma as the aggregate of the living entities. These innumerable jivas have no relation with the mundane world when they come to know themselves to be the eternal servants of the Supreme Lord. At that time, they are incorporated into the realm of Vaikuntha.”

He is clearly saying that these jivas emanate from the Supersoul, which, here, indicates Mahavisnu, who is also called the Paramatma of the material Universe. He clarifies the position of the tatastha-jivas:

“The souls who are situated in the tata region have a free will. By utilizing this free will, each of them can use or misuse his margin of independence. They have two possible fields of action, in two different directions. They can choose either of them to act…
In this marginal position, the souls don’t manifest any activity. They are in a indolent state.”
The Lord possesses another energy to create all the human souls. These are emanations of His tatastha-sakti which is found between the temporary world and the eternal world…The human soul has two different tendencies. If he desires to serve God, he is allowed to enter into the eternal world. If he wants to enjoy the material world, he comes down there to enjoy in different ways the products of the illusory energy.”

“Before acquiring material designations, the jiva is supremely pure. Even if he is not engaged in the service of the Supreme Lord, he remains in the neutral position of santa-rasa, due to his marginal nature. Although the jiva born from the marginal energy doesn’t manifest then a taste for the service of the Lord due to lack of knowledge of spiritual realization, his direct propensity to serve Him remains nevertheless within him in a dormant stage. And although the indirect propensity for material enjoyment, which is opposed to the service of the Lord, is not found within him then, indifference towards the service of Sri Hari and the seed of material enjoyment, which follows this state of indifference, are nevertheless present in him. The jiva, which belongs to the marginal energy, cannot remain indefinitely indifferent by repressing these two propensities, the devotional one and the non-devotional one. In his marginal position, he therefore contemplates activities foreign to his constitution. Just like a person dreams that he is acting in the physical world whereas he is not actually engaged in these activities, when the indifferent and ‘asleep’ jiva of the marginal energy manifests even a bit of apathy towards the Lord’s service and situates himself in a neutral and stable position even for a little time, he contracts the virus of impersonalism. This is the reason why the conditioned soul desires to merge into the impersonal Brahman…But since he neglects the eternal service of the Lord and therefore develops aversion towards Him, the jiva cannot remain stable in this position. His aversion towards the Lord breaks his mental concentration and makes him position himself as the master of this world of enjoyment. Maya then incites him to enjoy this world by exercising her two powers (praksepatmika and aranavatmika) and shows him thus the reality of the state of having aversion towards the Lord’s service. The jiva then considers himself the king of the enjoyers of this world, and, being in raja-guna, comes down to brahmapada, Brahmaloka, and begins to procreate. “

Srila Prabhupada confirms that when the jiva falls within this world, he first takes the human form of a demigod (Bhag 4.29.4. Purport)
Srila BV Narayana Maharaja has explained during a morning walk in Badger, California, in 2008:
« The species in which the jiva takes birth depends on Krishna. The jiva gets a body according to the degree of his desire to enjoy this world…So his appearance in different species of life depends on the will of Krishna and also according to the degree of his desire to enjoy separately from Krishna…Some jivas desire a little independence, or a small sense of autonomy, while others desire total independence.

Narayana dasa, a Godbrother of Srila Prabhupada explains:

“The jivas are of two kinds, nitya-mukta and nitya-baddha. The nitya-muktas never become baddha. They are ever serving the Lord in His kingdom where there is neither change, neither destruction nor suffering. The border where the spiritual and material worlds meet, as the narrow line of demarcation where land and water meet, is called tata. The energy manifested by the Lord at this border or tata is called tatastha-sakti, marginal energy. The jivas who are a manifestation of this energy have the inherent and oscillating tendency and capacity to go to one world or the other. The tata not being a dwelling place, the jivas must choose to go one way or the other. Those who prefer the non-spiritual world, a-cit, fall into the tentacles of the octopus called maya, which inflicts upon them the punishment of the perishable dresses of the material mind and body…Thus the jiva’s attempt to lord over maya turns the jiva into her slave.” (Vaisnavism, real and apparent. Prof. Nishikanta Sanyal. Narayana dasa.)

Synthesis: our true origin

The tatastha-jivas are originally tiny particles of jiva-sakti. They are manifested by the marginal energy of Maha-Visnu, the Universal Soul or Paramatma, between the spiritual world of cit-sakti and the material world of maya-sakti. This ‘region’ is under a particular status, being at the junction of the two worlds. The tatastha-jivas have the possibility to adapt to either of these worlds without having a prior experience of neither.

Srila BR Sridhara Maharaja, another Godbrother of Srila Prabhupada, explains:

“We must always remember, ‘I am a product of tatastha-sakti, the marginal energy. This is where I am born. I am a child of that sakti. But I must go to the world of svarupa-sakti, which is far superior to me. There, even the ground is made of a higher stuff than the one I am made of…’ The tatastha-jiva is very tiny, and his freedom is also imperfect, defective. Freedom doesn’t automatically mean absolute freedom. He has no real depth of discrimination, only a little bit. He can therefore make a mistake in judgment. This is the position of those who are situated in this marginal position. The first cause of our entanglement in maya is that we have taken interest in her out of curiosity, as a game. At the beginning, our interaction with her was minimal, just like someone experimenting with drugs. The beginning of this interaction has implied the voluntary misuse of our free will. This is what has brought us into our present condition where she has devoured us, because as soon as we get involved with her, she devours us and we fall within her clutches. Maya, illusion, represents our attraction for intoxication. She is there where attraction for exploitation exists. And truth, reality, is the very opposite of exploitation: to dedicate everything to Krishna.”

Maya doesn’t manifest her presence in this ‘border region’ or jiva-jagat, the eternal place of the manifestation of this category of jivas. However, due to their infinitesimal nature, these jivas have a leaning towards maya. When they are misusing their free will and their margin of independence, they nourish the desire to enjoy independently and separately from Krishna, and, forgetting their very function as the Lord’s servant, they are first attracted to maya, then seduced by her, after which they fall under her influence.

“Before the pure soul is able to develop a material consciousness, he must first go through an hazy reflection of consciousness, cid-abhasa, something like the mind. Only then can he experience material consciousness (as well as matter, which which he didn’t have any affinity to begin with.)
The deviation from our normal spiritual condition is based on the attractive perspective of separate interest. This is the root cause of all misgivings. The loss of awareness of the Center, Krishna, is the basis of all material existence. Our detachment from Him is the cause of all our sufferings…This material reality appears in the soul like a dream appears in the mind. It is created by the attitude of rebellion of the soul.
The souls are suffering from a collective hallucination or delirium which makes this world appear real. Delirium doesn’t have an independent existence. It is caused by the disease. It is in a diseased condition that one experiences delirium. The hallucination doesn’t exist outside the mind of the person experiencing it. To end up delirium, one has to treat the patient. The world of delirium disappears then. If the souls are substracted from this world, nothing remains. The soul is reality…It is due to a provincial interest for enjoyment that we have accepted this creation of the Lord as the reality. Our vision is tainted by the different colors of our variegated selfish interests. When these illusions will be fully dissipated, we will see that everywhere is Krishna…We are making too much of the covering of the reality. We dedicate ourselves to this external covering instead of diving deep into the substance, which is under it as the fruit is under its skin.” (Srila BR Sridhara Maharaja)

The Krishna consciousness of the tatastha-jivas in the marginal position is not complete; they only have some awareness that they are the servants of the Lord. This “Vasudeva consciousness” or hazy consciousness of Krishna when he is not with His internal energy is mentioned in the SB (3.26.21, 22).They are not tasting premananda but only a small quantity of brahmananda. If they remain conscious of Krishna‘s service, for which they are destined, they don’t fall under maya’s control. Obtaining strength from the cit-sakti, they enter the spiritual world and occupy different positions, as revealed in the Jaiva-dharma:

“With the view that the jiva could become an active partner for His various spiritual pastimes, the Supreme Lord has made him versatile and capable of rising from his humble position as a marginal being to the stage of the gopis’ love for Krishna, maha-bhava.

  • The jiva originates from Brahman, but he is not there in a merged state as those who merge into the impersonal Brahman.
  • Srila Prabhupada writes in the Srimad Bhagavatam (4.30.5):
  • “The conclusion is that the effulgence emanating from the body of the Lord is the origin of all life.”

And in the Sri Isopanisad, he explains that Brahman is wherefrom the jiva-sakti is generated, whether as conditioned or as liberated souls. Brahman is a combination of tiny particles or spiritually conscious sparks, the jivas or cit-kana. It is the original reservoir, the constant source of the jivas. When Krishna desires to create, He manifests as Maha-Sankarsana. Imbued with this desire, the latter manifests as Maha-Visnu. Maha-Visnu then desires to create and His desire takes the form of an eternal light, emanating from between His eyebrows. (The shadow or semblance of that light is Sambhu-linga, Siva). The tatastha-jivas emanate from His glance, which is non-different from the brahmajyoti. Although they are manifested from the radiance emanating from the body of the Lord, it is in the ‘tata region’ that they first manifest their activities. It is from there that those who use their free will properly go to the spiritual world, and those who misuse it fall into maya. It is said that the passage of the tatastha-jivas in the ‘tata region’ and their choosing either world is very brief, almost instantaneously to their being manifested by Maha-Visnu. The Lord gives them a limited time to choose. The comparison is made with mustards seeds dropped on the sharp edge of the blade of a sword and falling either to one side or the other. Without independence the jivas could not look towards one side or the other. It is their free will to look towards the spiritual world and be at once helped by yogamaya to go there, or to look towards the material world and be attracted by mahamaya who then drags them down.
Being conditioned by our awareness of the passage of time that we know through its three phases of past, present and future, we cannot conceive of nor speak about anything without situating it in time. Similarly, we cannot conceive of an origin which would not be a place. To help us understand the inconceivable and situate things, sastras and acaryas speak about the tata region as being the place where the jivas originate from, whereas they are coming from the glance of Maha-Vsnu. The logic used to explain the inconceivable is sakha-candra-nyaya, the example of the moon seen on the branch of a tree. The moon is not on the branch, but its position is indicated by pointing at it as being such. To say it is on the branch helps to situate it. Here the branch is the ‘tata region’. It is an imaginary place. It is not a specific geographical place, but rather a condition. It is spoken about as the tatastha-avastha, the tatastha condition. The Karana or Causal Ocean is mentioned, but karana literally means the cause of the jivas. It is therefore the causal ingredient of the jivas rather than a place. It is said that the universes are floating in the creative will of the Lord…

« The brahmajyoti, the undifferentiated marginal plane, is the source of an unlimited number of jivas, spiritual particles with a non-differentiated nature. The effulgence emanating from the transcendental body of the Lord is called brahmajyoti, and a ray of this brahmajyoti is called the jiva. He is an atom of that effulgence… In this brahmajyoti, their equilibrium is somewhat perturbed and they begin to move. Thus, from the undifferentiated state comes the differentiated state, from uniform consciousness individual conscious units emanate. And because the jiva is alive, he has free will. Also, from his marginal position, he can choose exploitation or dedication…In the brahmajyoti, we, electrons of consciousness, are in neutral equilibrium in the marginal energy. Consciousness indicates free will. One cannot conceive of consciousness devoid of free will. An atomic particle of consciousness has a very weak free will, and by misusing it he can go down in the material world. He refuses to submit to the supreme authority and wants to dominate…Why has the soul come to the world of exploitation instead of the world of devotion? It is imputable to his intrinsic nature, which is imbued with free will. It was a free choice…The soul is responsible, and the Lord has nothing to do with the present condition of the jiva…The soul, by the use he makes of his free will, is the only responsible agent of his bondage to the world of matter. The soul is conscious, and consciousness implies freedom. Because the soul is an atomic particle, his knowledge is imperfect and vulnerable. He can therefore take the wrong direction and misuse his free will. That is why some jivas fall in the material world, whereas other jivas go to the spiritual sphere. It is the individual soul’s responsibility…Why has the Lord granted such a freedom to the jiva? Without freedom, the soul is just matter. Freedom gives us an alternative: good or evil…Freedom doesn’t guarantee that we’ll act properly. It is independent from good and evil. Free will is absolute only in the case of the Absolute Truth. Because we are tiny, our free will is tiny. We can therefore make mistakes. Our first choice was to want to dominate, thus we have gradually fallen into the world of domination. It is all coming from that.” (Srila BR Sridhara Maharaja)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains again:

“The spiritual energy in the form of jiva-sakti, produces unlimited tiny conscious particles which compose the glaring effulgence of the Lord’s divine body. All these souls are manifested with the natural marginal characteristic of limited independence. Maya captures and enslaves all those who choose to oppose the Lord.” (Gita-mala 1.8)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura further explains in Jaiva Dharma:
“The tata is a demarcation line between the cit world and the mayik world. The dwelling place of the jiva-sakti is this place of juncture between the two worlds. The jivas have a vision of the cit world on one side, and they see on the other side this world manifested by maya…In this position, one can have the vision of both from this half-way position in between them.”

Krishna is supremely independent, so the desire to be independent is also always present in the jivas, his parts and parcels. When they use this independence properly, they remain correctly inclined to His service, but when they misuse it, they become indifferent to Him. It is this state of indifference which gives rise to their desire to enjoy maya. Because of this desire, the jiva develops the false conception that he can enjoy sense-gratification. At that time, the five coverings of ignorance, namely avidya, asmita, raga, dvesa and abhinivesa, (or tamah, moha, maha-moha, tamisra and andha-tamisra) cover his pure nature. Liberation or bondage depend on the proper use or the misuse of his minute independence.”

Forgetfulness of Krishna is indirect.
In his purport to the key verse of CC (Madhya 20.117), krsna bhuli sei jiva anadi-bahirmukha’, Srila Prabhupada explains:
« The jiva is sometimes attracted by the external illusory energy when he remains in the marginal position, and this constitutes the beginning of his material life… The forgetfulness of the jiva is described here as anadi, which indicates that it has existed from time immemorial…”
This forgetfulness is actually not forgetfulness of Krishna Himself, but of the jiva’s constitutional position. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta writes in his commentary to the Bhagavatam (2.9.35) that this forgetfulness is indirect. The jiva is said to be in a state of forgetfulness because he is not engaged in serving Krishna, not that he knew Krishna then forgot Him. That the jiva is the Lord’s eternal servant doesn’t necessarily imply that he has been in personal contact with Him. Mayadevi is Krishna’s maidservant but she has never been in direct contact with Him. Srila Prabhupada writes in Krishna Book, ch 28:

« The mature devotees who have completely executed Krishna consciousness are immediately transferred to the universe where Krishna is appearing. In that universe the devotees get their first opportunity to associate with Krishna personally and directly.”
When Srila Prabhupada writes that love of Krishna turns into lust in contacting material energy, he also speaks in an indirect manner. He doesn’t refer, of course, to prema, love for Krishna fully manifested and blossomed, but to the opulence which the potential to love Krishna represents, and which is eternally in the jiva’s nature. This manifests as lust in contact with the material energy. This opulence is the very nature of the jiva, as confirmed in the CC: jivera svarupa haya krsnera nitya-dasa. This nature is simply momentarily covered. It is not altered, diminished or annihilated but simply not manifested. It is not Krishna-prema which is covered, but the jiva’s potential to love Krishna. One shouldn’t make Prabhupada say what he doesn’t say…

No more distinction
On the other hand, when a tatastha-jiva goes to the spiritual world, either from the marginal position of the tata (by making the proper choice between both worlds), either from the material world (where he fell after making the wrong choice), when he has achieved the grace of a mahabhagavata already belonging to the kingdom of svarupa-sakti (a svarupa-sakti pusta parikara), the acaryas make hardly any distinction between the nitya-siddhas and the sadhana-siddhas or the nitya-siddhas.
“By the grace of the svarupa-sakti or internal energy of the Lord, the individual souls which compose the marginal energy can be admitted in the lilas manifested by the svarupa-sakti in Goloka.” (Brahma-samhita 6) The svarupa of the tatastha-jiva is sat-cid-ananda. It is non-different fom himself.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains in Jaiva-dharma, ch 15 and 16 :
“The jiva possesses a very subtle, eternal form or svarupa. It is a spiritual body, cinmaya-svarupa; it is extremely beautiful, it is composed of spiritual limbs…It is the jiva’s original body, his real body. It is free from defect. It is the real object of the jiva’s ego or self, his real “I”…This body is not manifested when the jiva is under the control of maya. It is then covered by the gross and subtle material bodies…The ego or self-identification of the conditioned jiva with his material body is very strong and it is covering his identification with his spiritual form. The ego of his eternal nature in relation with Krishna is the eternal, pure ego, and this ego manifests in the liberated condition. As long as the subtle body covers his eternal body, material identification remains very strong, and therefore the conception of the relationship of the jiva with the spiritual nature is practically absent…The material mind, intelligence and false ego, are distorted transformations of the function of the soul, atma-vrtti…”

“Although he is atomic in size by nature, the jiva has inherent value, function, knowledge and happiness, the latter in the form of a fraction of spiritual bliss, bindu-cidgata ananda. He has the svarupa of a spiritual particle, cit-kana, which, although of an atomic size, is like the humanlike form of Krishna…By his eternal constitution, the jiva is an eternal servant of the Lord. Maya punishes the jivas who are opposed and indifferent to Him and who have given up their constitutional function, preferring to absorb themselves in material enjoyment.”

In the tatastha condition, the eternal svarupa of the jiva is not manifested either; it is just like a seed containing everything in a latent state, as when the jiva is in the conditioned state. The complete form of the jiva is there in his constitution, but it has never been developed and has never functioned. Srila Prabhupada confirms this fact, as well as his eternity:

“In further reference to your question about the form of the spirit soul of the conditioned jiva, yes, he always has a spiritual form, but it develops fully only when the jiva goes to the spiritual world. This form develops according to the jiva’s desire. Until this perfectional stage is reached, the form is lying dormant as the form of the tree is lying dormant in the seed.” (Letter to Rupanuga 1969)

The Srimad Bhagavatam (2.10.6) defines mukti or ultimate liberation as giving up one’s gross and subtle material bodies, muktir hitvanyata-rupam and be situated in one’s original spiritual form, svarupena vyavasthitih.
Why is karma called anadi, beginning-less ?

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains in Caitanya-siksamrta :
“Many people cannot come to understand how karma has no beginning. The time of the material world, jada-kala, has its origin in cit-kala, eternal time, which is of a transcendental nature, and of which it is only a material reflection. Cit-kala having no beginning, the origin of the jivas’ karma and their aversion towards God have taken place even before the time of the material world. Therefore the root of karma exists before this jada-kala, and for this reason karma has been described as anadi.”

The Thakura expresses the same thing in Bhaktya-loka (2.2) :

“The word ‘nitya’ in ‘nitya-baddha’ is used in connection with the time of the material world.”

The same explanation is found in Jaiva Dharma, ch 16:

“Why is karma called anadi? Because the root of karma, avidya, which is the name of the soul’s forgetfulness of his essential nature (“I am Krishna’s eternal servant”) has not begun during the duration of material time but has manifested when the jiva was in the tatastha position. Therefore one cannot trace back the beginning of karma within the frame of material time, and for this reason karma is called anadi, ‘beginning-less’”.

It is to be noted, that those who cannot understand clearly why it is said that karma is anadi, beginning-less, conclude erroneously that the jiva has always been within the material world, because they reason that if karma is beginning-less, the question of the reason of the jiva’s fall within maya’s clutches creates unsolvable philosophical problems. They argue correctly that no material activity or karma can take place in the spiritual world, and therefore correctly eliminate the latter as the origin of the jiva (supposedly fallen from there out of envy towards the Lord, as claimed by some). But the cause of the jiva’s fall within maya’s realm, and the concomitant suffering, don’t have karma as origin, as we saw earlier, but indifference towards the service of the Lord, which is the very root of ignorance, itself being the mother of karma. Srila Prabhupada explains:

“The living entities have fallen in the material world being attracted by the desire to rule over it. This is a real fact.” (SBhag 4.1.22)
“The reality is that as soon as the jiva desired to become a master, he was put under the control of maya under the Lord’s direction” ( SBhag 2.9.11)
“When the jivas manifest the desire to become God, the Lord allows them to enter material creation, where they can try to fulfill this desire.” (Sri Isopanisad 16)
« Although one cannot trace back the origin of the conditioning of the living entity in the material world, it remains a fact that life within matter started at a precise moment, since all the individual souls have a spiritual origin…The living entities appear in this world at a precise moment, but no one can determine exactly this moment.” ( Krishna Book ch 86)

They (these unfortunate apprentices in philosophy, who have rejected their genuine spiritual masters and are therefore undergoing the effects of vaisnava-aparadha, which veils their knowledge and condemns them to an inauspicious destiny according to sastra) also entertain another misconception, logically born from the first one, which is that the jivas are nirvisesa, attribute-less, having only eternal existence, sat, but no cit nor ananda. This is dismissed by the Srimad Bhagavatam (10.87.38) quoted by Jiva Goswami in his Bhagavata-sandarbha, anuccheda 25, where he mentions Sridhar Swami’s commentary on the same verse. He says that the jiva loses his natural spiritual opulence such as bliss and knowledge: svarupatam jusan apeta bhagah :

« Because the jiva embraces ignorance and considers the material body as being his identity, absorbed in material energy, he sees his natural spiritual opulence almost completely disappear in contact with it. (He is apeta-bhaga.) You, on the other hand, O Lord, do not see your eternal opulence covered or diminished by maya when You come down in this material world. (You are atta-bhaga.) »

These unfortunate people also think that the jivas don’t have an eternal svarupa and only obtain one by the grace of a guru. They think that the guru doesn’t reveal their svarupa to them but that he gives them one. However, in Bhakti-sandarbha (243) Jiva Goswami defines diksa, initiation, as the transmission of transcendental knowledge, divya-jnana, which consists in knowledge of the original form of the Lord, bhagavata-svarupa-jnana, along with the specific knowledge of the relation between this particular soul, the disciple, with Krishna, bhagavat-sambandha-visesa-jnana. At the time of initiation, the guru transmits this divya-jnana in a seed form within the mantra he reveals to his disciple. Only a qualified guru can perceive the svarupa of his disciple. It is first imprinted in his heart, then, from his heart, he imprints it in the disciple’s heart by transmitting to him the gayatri-mantra through which he initiates him. The guru then gives his disciple a general indication of this relation, sambandha-jnana, and recommends him to serve with this sentiment. This will thicken and become more and precise according to spiritual progress. What happens at the time of diksa if the guru is not qualified? “He only spits a blank-fire mantra in the disciple’s ear” said Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja. Srila BV Narayana Maharaja says that if the guru is on the ruci platform, it will be Krishna’s responsibility to make the arrangements for that disciple to get the real thing. That means that He will guide that devotee to a higher siksa-guru…

Others, who also think that the jiva doesn’t originally have a svarupa, base their reasoning on the Priti Sandarbha 11 where Jiva Goswami quotes the Srimad Bhagavatam,1.6.28, where it is said that the devotee obtains a spiritual body, explaining that the Lord gives him such a body. Here ‘to obtain’ actually means that his eternal body manifests once ultimate liberation has been achieved, and ‘the Lord gives him such a body’ means that He frees him from his material envelopes, and that the form they were covering then completely manifests, in order to be able to directly serve Krishna.

They also base themselves on the Priti Sandarbha 10 which mentions « vaikuntha-murtayaha, the innumerable forms of the individual souls which reside in Vaikuntha and which are manifested from little fragments of the Lord’s radiance», to conclude that the spiritual bodies emanate from the effulgence of the Lord’s body, that they are lying inactive in the spiritual world, as if waiting on coat-hangers to be utilized, so to speak, and that the spiritual bodies which are imagined during sadhana become one with these inactive bodies, which then become animated, according to their interpretation of the Priti Sandarbha 13 . This is a variation of the idea that they are given by the guru. It is however a misinterpretation of the words ‘mentally conceived’ used by Rupa Goswami. Jiva Goswami explains in his Durgama sangamani tika that the sadhaka must serve in meditation in a ‘seva upayogi deha’ a body appropriate for the desired service. This body is not an imagined body. More or less on the asakti level, the sadhaka conceives first mentally, internally, his spiritual body, according to the guru’s indications, before being able to really see it fully and identify with it. On this stage, asakti, the disciple begins to vaguely perceive his svarupa, he has sphurti, brief visions of it, like flashes. He sees it briefly as behind a shop’s window, without being able, however, to fully recognize it and identify with it and serve the Lord through it. On the next level, the level of bhava-bhakti, he is then capable of doing so, and the guru reveals to him its eleven characteristics, ekadasa-bhava. When bhava matures, the jiva loses his gross and subtle bodies, his false ego being dislodged by a ray of mercy of his guru, and he then becomes established in his original, pure, spiritual, eternal body. It is therefore not a question of imagination. Imagination is strongly warned against. Bhaktivinoda Thakura specifies in his Bhajana rahasya that if someone prematurely starts the practice of bhajana and meditates on his spiritual body, (which will be thereby imaginary), before having the adhikara for such meditation, adhikara na labhibe siddha deha-bhave, the result will be that his intelligence will be derailed from its spiritual function and will turn back towards sense enjoyment, since he will lack the spiritual power necessary to assimilate the objet of his meditation : viparita-buddhi janme saktira abhave. His seva-vrtti will turn back into bhoga-vrtti.

The fact that the svarupa or spiritual body of the jiva is eternal is confirmed by the verse of the Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu (I.2.295) seva sadhaka-rupena siddha-rupena catra hi, in which Rupa Goswami teaches that the sadhaka of raga-marga, or raganuga-bhakti, the stage where devotion towards Krishna has become spontaneous, must serve Krishna with a sentiment similar to the sentiment of His eternal associates, place himself under the direction of one of those and follow in his footsteps. It is specified that this method is applicable both during sadhana when one is still conditioned, meaning in his body of sadhaka, as well as in the sadhya stage, the level of self-realization, when one is a siddha-purusa, situated in his siddha rupa, perfect body, or svarupa.

Part 2 Questions and answers
In Jaiva-dharma, different doubts are presented then clarified, but one should know that our presently conditioned intelligence doesn’t allow us to fully reconcile these issues:

Why has Krsna, who overflows with mercy, created some weak jivas who can fall under maya’s influence?
« He overflows with mercy, but He also overflows with desire to taste a variety of lilas. He is Lilamaya, He who has all varieties of lilas. Desiring to enact different lilas, He has made the jiva eligible for all different conditions. The jiva has the inherent capacity to attain the highest spiritual level by adopting the path of devotional service. Thus, the Lord, in another aspect of His variegated lila, descends into His creation to teach. »

But why must some jivas suffer in order for the Lord to have lilas?
« The jiva’s free will is a manifestation of the Lord’s special mercy, because an inert object devoid of free will is very insignificant and worthless…By misuse of their free will, the jivas try to enjoy the inert world of matter, which sets into motion the cycle of the duality of suffering and happiness. These two perceptions are actually mental states: indeed, one who is attached to it considers as happiness what we consider as suffering. The result of material happiness is ultimately suffering. But this suffering plays an important role: it gives rise to aspiration for happiness, which brings about discrimination, itself leading to enquiry; this brings about sadhu-sanga, the source of faith, which puts one on the path of progress towards ultimate happiness, the path of bhakti.

Just as gold is purified by being heated and beaten, the jiva, contaminated by the desire for sense enjoyment and non-devotion, is placed on the anvil of the material world and beaten by the hammer of the different kinds of sufferings. Thus, the jiva’s suffering ultimately brings him happiness and it is therefore a manifestation of divine mercy. The suffering acts as stimuli for the weak jivas to adopt spiritual life and thus obtain strenght. Therefore, the suffering undergone by the jivas as part of the divine lila is considered auspicious by those who have a long term vision; only those who have a short term vision consider it as miserable. »

Admitting that this suffering is ultimately profitable, it is nonetheless painful in the meantime. Couldn’t the all-powerful Lord find a less troublesome alternative to this painful process?

« Krsna’s lilas are astonishing and there are very different. This one is another kind of lila. The Lord has all sorts of lilas. Why not this one? Why should this lila be neglected ?Even if another lila was substituted to this one, the jivas, as instruments of this other lila, would have to tolerate a certain inconvenience. All the instruments are under the will of the Supreme Master. They are His subjects. He is the Supreme Controller. To be under the control of someone naturally brings about some inconvenience. If this inconvenience ultimately gives rise to happiness, then it is not suffering. The apparent suffering which nourishes the Lord’s lila is supremely joyful for the jiva. Having abandoned the ecstatic aspect of the Lord, the jiva has accepted out of his own full accord the suffering which is consecutive to absorption in maya. If someone is to be blamed, it is therefore the jiva, not Krsna. The jiva can choose to adopt the path leading out of this miserable position. He is conscious, not inert. He is not forced to remain in his condition of ignorance. »

These questions are asked simply from the point of view of a conditioned jiva who thinks himself independent from Krsna and therefore entitled to enjoy something independently from Him. But since the jiva owes his very existence to Krsna, even if Krsna had wanted to create him in the material world, (as believed by the followers of the other religions), He would have been completely entitled to do so. He is supremely independent. He can do as He pleases since nothing exists outside of Him and His energies. He is the sole proprietor, and He has an absolute right over His property.

Moreover, without patitas, there is no possibility of a patita-pavana. How would the Lord manifest His mercy if no one needed it? Therefore there must be a kind of weak jiva, who is susceptible of making the wrong choice. The jivas alone are to be blamed because they always had and still always have the choice between maya and Krsna. Srila Prabhupada explains that this choice always exists, whether in the spiritual world or in the material world. In the spiritual world, the living entity, imbued with the power of the spiritual energy of the Lord, cit-sakti or bhakti-sakti, never makes the wrong choice, whereas in tatastha-avastha, the jiva, who is not yet invested with the power of the cit-sakti or bhakti-sakti, can make the wrong choic out of weakness; he can do so similarly within maya-sakti. But it is up to the jivas to seize the opportunity offered by the Lord to get out of maya. He is constantly inviting us to join Him in His abode and thereby free ourselves from all misery.
The Lord manifests His limited an unlimited energies, without which He couldn’t be called all-powerful and complete. After all, the jivas are His energies, and they are made for His pleasure. Some jivas participate in His lila with His unlimited energy, and other jivas with His limited energy, while being able to switch when they are tired of material pleasure and the concomitant sufferings. To deny the Lord the right to have this type of lila means to deny Him the right to have external and marginal energies and to want to limit His pleasure to His internal energy only. But who are we to deny Him anything? He is God, which means the Supreme Proprietor, Controller and Enjoyer.

The suffering of the jivas is not imposed upon them by Krsna. They suffer due to their desire to control His material energy, that’s all. If they stop wanting to try controlling it, they’ll stop suffering. They had the choice to begin with between serving Krishna and being indifferent to that and therefore choosing maya. They chose maya, but they can decide to change direction anytime and turn towards Krsna, who is helping them in various ways. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes about this:

« The more the jiva becomes depraved, the more the Lord gives him opportunities to attain the highest spiritual perfection, by appearing before him with His spiritual abode and His eternal companions. The jivas who take advantage of this merciful opportunity and sincerely endeavor to attain the higher position gradually reach the spiritual world and attain a state similar to that of His eternal associates» (Jaiva dharma)

But why has Srila Prabhupada sometimes more or less said that we fell from Krsna-lila?
The sruti surpasses the smrti whenever there is a contradiction between them. Similarly, the books of Srila Prabhupada surpass his letters and lectures when there is a contradiction between them. The fact that Srila Prabhupada has made contradictory statements is in itself a proof that he had a preaching strategy because the two positions are incompatible. One of them must be the main position, the siddhantic one, and the other one must be secondary, the preaching technique. We have to determine which one is the main one, and which one is the secondary one, by reconciling both, sastra-sangati, which means by consulting the sastras and the acaryas to resolve the issue. If fall from the spiritual world is the true message of Srila Prabhupada, we must then reconcile all his statements that no one ever falls from the spiritual world by stating that this was his preaching technique. But we face the problem that this would be going against the sastras and the acaryas!
For the needs of preaching, a saintly person may sometimes adjust the siddhanta, for instance, according to an audience lacking in maturity and not having the adhikara, or eligibility to hear the complete truth; but one shouldn’t mistake a preaching technique with the siddhanta, which is that nobody falls from the spiritual world.

An expert preacher utilizes the faith or present beliefs of the people he preaches to, in order for them to gradually develop faith in Krsna. He must act according to time, place and circumstances. In the Western countries, the Judeo-Christian concept of fall from Eden is known to all. A preacher may decide to utilize this belief: it gives the neophyte a sense of attachment to Krsna, because he then thinks that he has already lived in His association, while it gives him the sense of his own responsibility. He his personally responsible of his own suffering and it is up to him to get out of it by turning again towards Krsna.

The capacity to ask a question doesn’t automatically qualify one to understand the answer. We assume that Srila Prabhupada gave us the ultimate answer to all our questions, but he may have estimated that we didn’t have the necessary maturity.

The guru speaks not only according to his disciple’s capacity of comprehension, but also according to his disciple’s persisting inquiry, just like a cow doesn’t give her milk as long as her calf has not shown sustained persistance.

Preaching is an art: to preach in a way that people don’t become confused and in a way that they adopt the path of bhakti. The conditioned souls are very attached to this world, and therefore preaching is confronted to a resistance, which Srila Prabhupada called ‘causeless unwillingness to serve’. To counter this difficulty, the preacher must determine what is essential and what is less so in order to present philosophy. The topic of the origin of the baddha-jiva is susceptible to distract one from what is essential.

Our origin and the reason for our falling into maya are not easy to grasp, and if someone doesn’t understand them correctly, it may make him blame Krsna for one’s unfortunate condition, thus creating an obstacle to one’s spiritual progress. Indeed, a neophyte devotee may ask the question asked by so many karmis: « What kind of God has created this world of suffering? » It indeed requires some spiritual maturity to accept one’s responsibility. The conditioned soul always has the tendency to refuse to acknowledge the fact that he is responsible of his fallen condition, and that it therefore behooves him to surrender. Instead of concentrating on the solution, he prefers to raise the question of who is responsible and to blame Krsna. Being aware of this tendency, Srila Prabhupada preached Krsna consciousness in a way which made it clear to us that we were fully responsible of our present condition. One way to establish that was to suggest … that we had fallen from the spiritual world.


Arguments against the theory according to which the presently conditioned souls are inhabitants of the spiritual world who fell from there:

The arguments in favor of this theory are false logic, kutarka. They cast an imperfection on the perfect world and the perfect devotees.

1- If one can fall from the spiritual world, then you cannot trust anyone in this world, including the spiritual master, because if maya can catch someone in the spiritual world and pull him down from there, what to speak when one is within her realm, the material world?

2- If one cannot fall back from the spiritual world one cone has reached it, according to Krishna’s statement in the Gita, how is it that those who are there can fall from it? The acaryas do not make distinction between the siddhas.

3- If the nitya-siddhas can fall down, why does Krsna state in the Gita (15.16) that the inhabitants of the spiritual world are infallible?

4- Maya cannot enter the spiritual world. Under which influence could one fall from it? Maya covers Brahman? This is mayavada philosophy!

5- Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura specifies :
« The nitya-siddhas, invested with cit-sakti, are always strong. They have absolutely no connection with the material energy. They actually don’t even know that it exists. Since they live in the spiritual world, maya is very far away from them and doesn’t affect them at all. » (Jaiva dharma)

If the nitya-siddhas ignore maya’s very existence, how could they choose to chase after her and misuse their free will?

6- A devotee cannot fall from the spiritual world because pure bhakti is never lost, diminished or covered by anything. The nitya-siddhas cannot be influenced by any anartha. They are under the protection of the internal energy of the Lord. Is it fallible? Is maya stronger than them? Again mayavada philosophy! Maya can cover the marginal energy but not pure bhakti, which is the internal potency of the Lord, and which is as infallible as Him.

7- To say that an eternal associate of the Lord, who possesses an eternal body like His (Bhagavata sandarbha 75-78), is susceptible to fall down and be covered by a material body is tantamount to say that it is also possible for the Lord Himself, because it is said that both are on the same level. (Sbhag 11.29.34). Again mayavada!

8 – « One cannot even imagine that the Lord could ever want the liberated souls to fall down, neither that they could ever wish to leave the Lord, due to the extreme love they mutually feel. Moreover, the Lord has the determination to never forsake His devotees, and His determination is never broken by anything. He is satya-sankalpa. » ( Baladeva Vidyabhusana. Gandabhasya)

9 – « Even a devotee who accompanies the Lord, when He descends into the material world, is not implicated by the karma of the activities he accomplishes during his sojourn within this world. » (Padma Purana. Uttara Kanda.229.57-8)

10- If a pure devotee is so attractive that even Krsna Himself feels attracted to him, how could such a devotee feel attracted by anything besides Krsna?

11- Even the sadhana-siddhas, who are still dwelling within their material body after having reached perfection, have no attraction whatsoever for material pleasure. What to speak of the nitya-siddhas? If an uttama-adhikari sadhana-siddha or krpa-siddha cannot fall from the level of prema while he is within this material world, how could a nitya-siddha be less infallible and fall from the spiritual world?

12- « The jivas who are situated before the Lord, the devotees, never fall under the influence of maya because maya never presents herself before the Lord. » ( Sbhag 2.5.13)

13- « A pure devotee cannot forget the lotus feet of Krsna even for half a moment, even in exchange for the boon of governing and enjoying the opulence of the whole universe. » (Sbhag.11.2.53; 1.5.19)

14- « The nitya-siddhas have no conception of enjoying or even desiring anything independently from Krsna. They cannot tolerate to remain even a moment without Krsna. They have an eternal form. » ( Laghu-Bhagavatamrta 1.143)

15- « In Vraja, everyone considers himself as being dearer to Krsna than anyone else. He is the personification of irresistible charm, being more fascinating even than millions of Cupids. How can anyone neglect Him? » (Brhad Bhagavatamrta 2.6.211)

16- « It is the very nature of Goloka that, even without Krsna’s association, one desires to live there and nobody wants to go anywhere else. » (Brhad Bhag 2.6.366)

17- « The gopis taste a pleasure ten millions times superior to the pleasure that Krsna tastes by seeing them, even if they don’t aspire after it. » ( Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 4.186-7)

18- « In Vaikuntha, there are two kinds of inhabitants: those who are the nitya-parikaras, the eternal associates of the Lord, and those who have come from the material world after having reached perfection. »(Brhad Bhag.2.4.194)

It is not said that there are those who never fell down but may fall, and those who fell down and who came back!

19- To say that only those who fell down and came back cannot fall again, according to the logic that their experience of the material world is sufficient to inspire them to remain with Krsna, is in contradiction with the sastras, which state that any remembrance of the material word is erased before one reaches the spiritual world. (cf SBhag 3.25.33 and Brhad B.2.6.359). It also implies that devotion born from fear (of falling back) is superior to devotion born from love, prema-bhakti, because only this fear-based devotion can guarantee to be fully protected by the Lord. This places the nitya-siddhas in a position inferior to the nitya-baddhas and means that they cannot learn from the experience of someone else; it means that it is better for them to fall down as soon as possible to be sure that they can never fall down again once they will be back!

20- There is no historical example in the sastras of anyone falling from the spiritual world, whereas there are many examples of elevation to the spiritual world.

21- The Lord is a devotee of His devotee (cf Sbhag 10.86.59: bhagavan bhakta-bhaktiman). He is eternal as is His devotion towards His devotee. How could His devotee, who is the object of the Lord’s devotion, lose this position? In the domain of pure bhakti, everything has an eternal nature. How can one renounce his eternal nature of love for Krsna, which is described as ever-increasing?

22- « The nitya-siddhas love Krsna millions of times more than their own self. They all possess eternal ecstatic qualities like Krsna. » (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 2.1.290)

23- « The Vrajavasis are eternally dear to Krsna. He has a natural innate love towards them. » (B.r.s 2.1.293-5)

24- The Lord promises in the Gita that He preserves what His devotee has and provides him with what he lacks.

25- Some people argue that if the soul is not free to leave Vaikuntha at will, he is then no better than a slave and Vaikuntha is just a prison. But on the level of prema, Krsna is the very life of the devotee, who considers having no independence (cf Sbhag 7.5.14), which is stated by the Lord Himself (cf Sbhag 9.4.63). This loss of independence is a product of pure love. It is not slavery. The devotee doesn’t become a robot, an inert machine. He possesses free will, independence, but he only utilizes it for a loving relation with Krsna.

26- A pure devotee can transform many conditioned souls into pure devotees by his preaching. It is said that his heart is bleeding to see the sufferings of the conditioned souls. How could billions upon millions of pure devotees could tolerate to see one of them fall from Vaikuntha?
Srila Prabhupada said it was more important to keep the devotees than to worry about making new ones…Except in Vaikuntha?

27- Krsna-katha is always available in the association of pure devotees and has the power to charm both ear and heart (satam prasangam…). Doesn’t it have the same power and effects in Vaikuntha than here where it produces liberation, devotion and pure love?

The theory of fall down from the spiritual world is not our siddhanta. This theory has ten defects:

  • 1) It is not confirmed by sastras.
  • 2) Neither by the acaryas of our line.
  • 3) Neither by the acaryas of the other vaisnava sampradayas.
  • 4) It is not based on logic.
  • 5) No satisfying reason is given for such a fall down.
  • 6) This conclusion would make us into an apasampradaya.
  • 7) It is tinged with mayavada:( svarupa-sakti would e covered by maya.)
  • 8) It implies that Krsna is incapable of protecting His eternal devotees, since so many have fallen down in maya.
  • 9) It implies that Vaikuntha, in spite of its name, is not a place free from anxiety. (Who is the next one to fall down?)
  • 10) It implies that Vaikuntha is not beyond the reach of maya, who can come at any time pull down the nitya-siddhas, from the rasa dance, for instance, or that maya has hardly any power there, but still enough to seduce billions upon billions of pure devotees, and pull them away from the personal association of the most attractive Supreme personality of Godhead!
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One Response to “

  1. Swami BV Nemi says:

    Very nice article. Well researched and well argued, with very appropriate reasoning. I was happy to see the arguments against the assumed-svarupa philosophy.

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