First Wave: Siddhanta
“The Origin of the Jiva According to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura”
A class of “weak” jivas exist to enable the Lord, who is lilamaya, to have the full range of lila. Without this facility He could not be said to enjoy all varieties of lila. At the same time the weak jiva has the inherent capacity to reach the apex of development by taking to devotional service. Thus, the Lord, in another aspect of His variegated lila, incarnates within the material energy to teach. As the culmination of that form of lila, the Lord comes as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and teaches the fallen jivas the highest destination possible, the attainment of maha-bhava in the mood of the gopis.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura continues:
“Why does the Lord give trouble to the jivas for the sake of his lila?”
“The quality of free will in the jiva is a special mercy of the Lord on them, because an inert object without free will is very insignificant. Because of this independence the jiva gains lordship over the inert material world. Misery and happiness are states of mind. What we consider misery, a person attached to it considers happiness. The end result of all types of material happiness is misery and nothing else. A man attached to sense gratification ultimately attains misery. When this misery increases then it gives rise to the desire for happiness. This desire leads to discrimination, which brings inquisitiveness. Because of inquisitiveness one attains the association of saints, which gives rise to faith. By faith one ascends the path of progression. Just as gold is purified by heating it in fire and beating it with a hammer, in the same way the jiva who is affected with the contaminations of sense enjoyment and non-devotion to Krishna is purified by putting him on the anvil of the material world and beating him with the hammer of miseries. The misery of the conditioned jiva ultimately brings him pleasure. Thus, misery is an instance of the Lord’s mercy. Therefore, the misery that befalls jivas as part of Krishna’s lila appears auspicious to the farsighted and miserable to the short sighted.”
The Lord’s material energy is inert. No pleasure results from lila with inert matter, “because an inert object without free will is very insignificant.” The jivas, owing to their free will, attempt to lord it over matter and the duality of misery and happiness is set in motion. This is really a state of mind, but ultimately the sense of misery leads the jiva to inquire about happiness. So, misery has an important function—it serves as impetus for the weak jivas to take to spiritual life and become strong. The end result of material happiness is misery and the end result of misery, spanning many lifetimes (bahunam janmanam ante), is the happiness of Krishna consciousness. In this way, all aspects of lila are possible for the Lord, who is by nature lilamaya.
Srila Bhaktivinoda continues:
“The misery in the conditioned state is ultimately auspicious, yet it is painful at present. Was it not possible for the omnipotent Lord to find some other solution to this miserable process?”
“Krishna’s lila is very wonderful and of myriad types. This is also one type of astonishing lila. The supremely independent Lord performs all types of lila; why would He not perform this type? To maintain all varieties, no lila can be abandoned. Besides, even if some other type of lila is performed, the instruments (jivas) of that lila have to accept some form of trouble. Lord Krishna is a person (purusa) and an agent. All instruments (jivas) are under the will of the purusa. They are objects, or in other words, that which is acted upon by the purusa, whereas the purusa is the agent, or He who acts. Being under the will of an agent, it is natural that they will experience some misery. If that misery is ultimately pleasurable, however, then it is not misery. Why are you calling it misery? The apparent misery which nourishes Lord Krishna’s lila is supremely blissful for the jiva. Abandoning the pleasure aspect of Lord Krishna, the jiva, who has free will, has accepted the misery, which comes as a result of absorption in maya. If anyone is to be blamed then that is jiva, not Krishna.”
The unlimited and omnipotent Lord would be limited and impotent if He did not perform all varieties of lila, and He would not be supremely independent. The jivas are like the subjects that are ruled by the king, the agent. Their independence is minute, not absolute. They are under the will of the Lord and, being under another’s will, it is natural that one has misery. However, because this misery leads to pleasure it should not be taken as misery. And in any event, the choice is always open to the living entity to reject lording it over matter and accept the pleasure aspect of the Lord. Although he has never been in the nitya-lila of the Lord, and although he has been in the Lord’s material lila from a time without beginning (anadi), the choice to be in material consciousness or spiritual consciousness is made by the jiva. Hence the jiva alone is responsible for being in the bondage of karma in the material world.