First Wave: Siddhanta
“The Origin of the Jiva According to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura”
After this, Vrajanatha poses another question,
“If the jiva had not been given independence, what would have been the loss?”
Babaji explains that free will is the inherent quality of the jiva. Without it the jiva would become as worthless and insignificant as inert matter. The cause of suffering is misuse of this free will, but the Lord, out of mercy, comes to protect the jiva and manifest His wonderful pastimes in the material world. Even then the jiva is unable to understand the Lord’s pastimes. Then the Lord descends in Sri Navadvipa and personally explains His name, form, qualities, and pastimes. He also teaches others by His own example. Then how can such a merciful Lord be blamed? It is the jiva’s stupidity that he does not pay heed to the Lord’s teachings. Therefore, to rectify his mistake maya punishes him. To forget that “I am an eternal servant of Krishna” is the mistake on the part of the jiva.
Again, readers should keep in mind that this forgetfulness of the jiva is beginningless and thus the Lord is not to be blamed. Although he is beginningless, the jiva is not inert. He is conscious and does not have to remain in his ignorant condition. He can choose to get out of this miserable condition.
The conclusion is this: Krishna is supremely independent and the Supreme enjoyer. He performs various types of lilas and this is one among them. If He did not have this lila, He could not be said to enjoy endless varieties nor would He be complete. The jiva alone is to be blamed for his miseries because as the marginal potency the choice is always there between Krishna and maya. Krishna should not be blamed for this arrangement. This is also in agreement with Srila Jiva Gosvami and Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura as will be mentioned later on. Srila Prabhupada confirms the same thing in the Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila in his purport to 7.116, which we quote in part:
Someone may argue, “Why is there a need to create the spiritual sparks?” The answer can be given in this way. Since the Absolute Personality of Godhead is omnipotent, He has both unlimited and limited potencies. This is the meaning of omnipotent. To be omnipotent, He must have not only unlimited potencies but limited potencies also. Thus to exhibit His omnipotency He displays both. The living entities are endowed with limited potency although they are part of the Lord. The Lord displays the spiritual world by His unlimited potencies, whereas by His limited potencies the material world is displayed. . . .
If the Personality of Godhead did not possess both limited and unlimited energies, He could not be called omnipotent. Mahato mahiyan anuto’niyan. He is greater than the greatest and smaller than the smallest. He is smaller than the smallest in the form of the living entities and greater than the greatest in His form of Krishna. If there were no one to control, there would be no meaning to the conception of the supreme controller (isvara), just as there is no meaning to a king without his subjects. If all the subjects became king, there would be no distinction between the king and an ordinary citizen. Thus for the Lord to be the supreme controller there must be a creation to control. The basic principle for the existence of the living entities is called cid-vilasa, or spiritual pleasure. The omnipotent Lord displays His pleasure potency as the living entities. The Lord is described in Vedanta-sutra as anandamayo’bhyasat. He is by nature the reservoir of all pleasures, and because He wants to enjoy pleasure, there must be energies to give Him pleasure or supply Him the impetus for pleasure. This is the perfect philosophical understanding of the Absolute Truth.
A close scrutiny of this purport reveals that it echoes almost point for point the words of Babaji in the passages already quoted. A point worthy of note is that here Srila Prabhupada explains the reason for the existence of the jiva and the material world: The Supreme Lord, who is lilamaya, the performer of a variety of lilas, displays both His limited potency (bahiranga sakti), unlimited potency (antaranga sakti) and marginal potency (jiva-sakti) as a basic feature of His nature. If He did not do so, He could not be called omnipotent or complete or lilamaya. Thus according to His sweet will, He engages some jivas in His limited potency. After all, they are energies of the Lord and meant for His pleasure, “cid-vilasa.” Therefore, some get to participate in His lila with His limited potency and some get to be in His lila with His unlimited potency. All is done according to His own sweet will. Thus no stain or blame is to be attributed to the Lord for this state of events, for it is His very nature.
The jivas’ suffering is not inflicted by the Lord. Their suffering is on account of their desire to lord it over the material energy of the Lord. If the jivas give up trying to become isvaras, they would not suffer for being engaged in the Lord’s lila with His material energy. Their suffering is caused because of their exhibiting their lording-over propensity, which has no beginning. Indeed, for one who engages in pure devotional service there is no distinction between the material world and the spiritual world. Thus, conditioned souls are suffering not because the Lord wills it on them, but because they do not desire to act as His servant. They can reverse this entanglement by surrendering to the Lord in devotional service. Suffering serves as an impetus for such surrender. For those who take to devotional service, there is no difference between heaven and hell.
In other words, the unalloyed devotee makes no distinction between the spiritual world and the material world. Even if one argues that his being here is beginningless and therefore he could not have had any choice in the matter of whether he wanted to be in the limited potency or unlimited potency of the Lord’s lila, the fact remains that the decision to lord it over the limited potency is entirely his. The conditioned jivas always had the choice either to look towards maya or towards the Lord.
The jiva therefore is always situated in the tatastha condition. Once he reaches the spiritual sky, however, having attained the shelter of the internal potency of the Lord, he never comes back to maya. Now he has joined the eternal lila of the Lord in His unlimited potency, “which is never created or destroyed.” And those who have never been to the material world never fall because they have the protection of the cit-sakti. This is all very consistent with the passages cited from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who says that the Lord has diverse lilas in which He engages His energies and this is but one of His many varieties of lilas.
Readers should also take note that in both Srila Bhaktivinoda’s and Srila Prabhupada’s definitive explanations of the nature of the Lord and the bondage of the jiva, both are in agreement; and in both cases there is no mention of souls falling from Vaikuntha. If anyone doubts that this is the definitive description of the siddhanta, readers should take note of the concluding sentence in the passage from Srila Prabhupada, “This is the perfect philosophical understanding of the Absolute Truth.” Earlier in the same purport before the part that is quoted, he wrote, “This is pure philosophical understanding.” Such conclusive statements leave no room for doubt that in this purport Srila Prabhupada laid bare the siddhanta. And if someone says that it does not deal with the jiva issue, we hasten to point out that he does raise the question “Why is there a need to create the spiritual sparks?” and answers it.