First Wave: Siddhanta
“The Origin of the Jiva According to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura”
When we study the writings of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, we find that whereas other acaryas previously explained anadi in philosophical terms he explained it in a novel way. Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s explanation is more for the common man. His explanation is misunderstood by some as support of the theory that the jiva falls from the Lord’s nitya-lila in Vaikuntha, but close scrutiny of his writings show that he does not explicitly state this anywhere. If our conclusion was merely a matter of our interpretation, then we may have grounds for a protracted debate with the fall-vadis. We find, however, that Bhaktivinoda Thakura himself offers an explanation for the conditioned soul’s existence that clearly does not include fall from Krishna-lila or Vaikuntha. This makes it clear that citing his writings as evidence for the fall position is a misuse of the Thakura’s teachings in that it contradicts his own explanation.
About the word anadi he writes, (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter One):
Service to Lord Krishna is the eternal duty, nitya dharma, of the jiva. Forgetting that, the jiva is possessed by maya. From then on, the soul turns his face away from Krishna. Because this non-devotion to Krishna is manifest only at the time he enters the material world, there is no history of the jiva’s fall within the time of the material world. For this reason, the words anadi bahirmukha (the living entity’s non-devotion to Krishna is beginningless) are used. From the time of non-devotion to Krishna, and entry into maya, the eternal duty of the jiva becomes perverted.
From this some understand that the jiva enters the material world from somewhere else. This is not the true view, however, because something that is beginningless cannot, have a prior state of existence, as will be explained further along.
In Sri Caitanya Siksamrta (First Shower, Fourth Flow) Thakura Bhaktivinoda writes:
“Because the jiva is bound before entering the material world his bondage is called anadi, or beginningless. Therefore, he is called nitya-baddha. Those who are not bound in this way are called nitya-mukta. And those who are bound are called nitya-baddha.”
And in Jaiva Dharma (Chapter Sixteen) he writes:
“Therefore, karma has no beginning in material time. Thus, it is called anadi, beginningless.”
“This is pretty conclusive for the fall down theory,” fall-vadis say, thinking that prior to having karma the jiva was somewhere else, and that somewhere else was Vaikuntha, but this is only because of a deep bias and a lack of proper deliberation.
First of all, even if we accept this as proof of some sort of fall down, he never mentions that the jiva falls from Vaikuntha. That is conjecture on the part of the fall-vadis to accommodate their belief in the fall theory.
On the contrary, in Jaiva Dharma, Chapter Fifteen, Srila Bhaktivinoda writes:
“In the svarupa of the jiva there is no product of maya. This has to be accepted. The nature of the jiva can be influenced by maya. This I have also understood. Now I want to know if the cit-sakti has created the jiva by giving it the marginal nature?” (Vrajanatha is asking about the conditioned jivas).”
“No, cit-sakti is the complete potency of Krishna. Whatever it manifests are all nitya-siddha objects. The jiva is not nitya-siddha; he becomes sadhana-siddha through sadhana and enjoys bliss like the nitya-siddha. The four types of sakhis of Sri Radha are nitya-siddhas; they are kaya-vyuha manifestations of Sri Radha, who is the personification of the cit-sakti.
All the jivas have appeared from the jiva-sakti of Lord Krishna. Just as cit-sakti is Krishna’s complete potency, similarly the jiva-sakti is His incomplete potency. All complete objects have appeared from the complete potency, similarly from the incomplete potency come the innumerable atomic jivas. Lord Krishna, presiding over each of His potencies, manifests His various expansions correspondingly. Presiding over the cit potency, He manifests His Krishna form and that of Lord Narayana, the Lord of Vaikuntha. Presiding over His jiva-sakti, He manifests His vilasa form of Baladeva in Vraja. Becoming situated in His maya-sakti, He manifests the three Visnu forms—Karanodakasayi, Ksirodakasayi, and Garbhodakasayi.
From His Krishna form in Vraja, He manifests all the cit entities. From His Baladeva form as Sesa tattva, He manifests the nitya-mukta jivas who are associates that render service in eight ways to Lord Krishna, the Sesi tattva. Again, becoming Sankarsana as Sesa rupa, He manifests eight types of eternal associates to render service in eight ways to Sesi, Narayana. Maha-Visnu, an incarnation of Sankarsana, becoming situated in the jiva-sakti as Supersoul, manifests the living entities of the material world. All these jivas (coming from Maha-Visnu) are disposed to maya. Until they attain the shelter of the hladini-sakti of the cit world by the mercy of the Lord, they are prone to be defeated by maya. The unlimited conditioned jivas being defeated by maya remain under the influence of her three modes. Therefore, the principle is that only the jiva-sakti manifests jivas and not the cit-sakti.”