If the Jiva is infinitesimal, how can his eternal dharma be full and pure? And if the natural function of the Jiva is formed at the time it is constituted, how can that function be eternal? And what is the Nitya-dharma, or Eternal, Constitutional Function of the Jiva?
Although the jiva is infinitesimal, his dharma is full and nitya (eternal). Minuteness is only a trait by which the jiva is identified. Sri Krishna is the one and only infinite substance, and the jivas are His innumerable atomic particles. Like sparks emanating from an undivided fire, the jivas emanate from Him, is the embodiment of immutable consciousness. Just as every spar Constitutional Function k is endowed with the potency of the complete fire, so each jiva is capable of displaying the full function of consciousness. If a single spark has enough fuel, it can kindle a blazing fire that will incinerate the whole world. Similarly, even a single jiva can bring about a great inundation of love, by obtaining Sri Krishna, who is the real object of love. As long as the jiva fails to contact the real object of his spiritual function, the infinitesimal, the conscious jiva is incapable of exhibiting the natural development of that function. In reality, it is only when the jiva is in connection with his object, that the identity of its dharma becomes apparent.
You must examine this question carefully. Transcendental love for Krishna (prema), is the jiva’s nitya-dharma. The jiva is a substance transcendental to mundane matter, and consciousness is that which it is constituted. His eternal function is divine love, and the nature of that pure prema is service to Krishna. Therefore, the constitutional function of the jiva is service to Krishna, which is the nature of prema.
Jivas exist in two conditions:
- Suddha-avastha, the pure liberated state;
- Baddha-avastha, the conditioned state.
In the liberated state, the jiva is completely spiritual, and has no connection with mundane matter. However, even in the liberated state, the jiva is an infinitesimal entity.
The jiva can undergo a change in condition, because it has the quality of minuteness. Krishna, however, never undergoes a change of condition, for by His very nature, He is the entity of infinite cognition. By His essential constitution, as a factual existent entity, He is Supreme, completely pure, and eternal, whereas the jiva, by his essential constitution, is minute, a part, liable to contamination, and subject to repeated change. Nevertheless, by virtue of the jiva’s dharma, or unadulterated spiritual function, the jiva is great, undivided, pure, and everlasting.
As long as the jiva is pure, his dharma displays its spotless character. However, when the jiva is contaminated by involvement with maya, its true nature is perverted, and the jiva becomes impure, bereft of shelter, and oppressed by mundane happiness and distress. The jiva’s course of material existence, comes into effect as soon as the jiva forgets its attitude of service to Krishna.
As long as the jiva remains pure, the jiva maintains its identity, and self-conception in accordance with his unadulterated spiritual function. The jiva’s essential, innate, and original egoism, is therefore rooted in the conception that it is a servant of Krishna. However, that pure egoism, recedes and assumes many different forms, as soon as association with maya, contaminates him. The gross and subtle bodies, then cover his pure constitutional identity, and as a result, a different egoism emerges in the subtle body.
When this combines with the soul’s identification with the gross body, a third form of egoism is assumed.
In the jiva’s pure spiritual form, the jiva is exclusively a servant of Krishna.
When the jiva identifies with the subtle body, its original, pure egoism of being a servant of Krishna is covered, and the jiva thinks that it can enjoy the fruits of one’s actions. The jiva then obtains a gross body, and thinks,
“I am a teacher; I am a king; I am poor; I am miserable; I am overwhelmed by disease and lamentation; I am a woman; I am the master of this person and that person”.
Thus, the jiva identifies himself with many different types of gross bodily conceptions.
When the jiva associates with these different types of false egoism, the jiva’s constitutional function becomes perverted. The inherent constitutional function of the jiva is unalloyed prema. This prema manifests in a perverted way, in the subtle body, in the form of happiness and distress, attachment, and aversion, and so on. This perversion is observed in a more concentrated form in the gross body, as the pleasures of eating, drinking, and contact with sense objects. You should understand clearly that the eternal function of the jiva, known as nitya-dharma, is manifest only in his pure state. The dharma that arises in the conditioned state is known as naimittika, circumstantial. Nitya-dharma is by nature complete, pure, and eternal.
The unalloyed vaisnava-dharma that has been depicted in the Srimad-Bhagavatam is eternal religion (nitya-dharma). The various types of dharma that are propagated in the world may be divided into three categories.
Anitya-dharmab, (impermanent religion), is that it does not speak about the personal existence of a Supreme Being and Lord; and does not accept the eternality of the soul. Things that come into being, arisen, and are dependent on causes, and conditions, moreover, they are impermanent. Impermanence, refers to the arising, passing away, changing, and disappearance of things that have arisen.
Naimittika-dharma, (circumstantial dharma). Naimittika-dharma acknowledges the existence of the Lord, and the eternality of the soul, but only endeavors to obtain the mercy of Lord through provisional methods; providing or serving only for the time being; temporary. Circumstantial is a condition or fact that determines, or must be considered, in the determining of a course of action; the sum of determining factors beyond willful control.
Nitya-dharma, (eternal vaisnava religion), strives to obtain the service of Bhagavan, by means of unalloyed prema, unalloyed pure love of Krishna.
Nitya-dharma may be known by different names, according to differences of country, race, and language. However, it is one, and supremely beneficial. The ideal example of nitya-dharma is vaisnava-dharma, which is prevalent in India. The pristine state of vaisnava-dharma is that dharma, which Bhagavan Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord of our heart, has taught to the world. It is for this reason that great personalities, absorbed in the bliss of divine love, have accepted these teachings, and taken help from them.
 Vaisnava-dharma—the eternal principle of service to the Supreme Lord, Visnu.