Q. What is the relationship between the jiva (individual soul) and Krishna’s svarupa-sakti, and where does the soul’s attraction to a particular relationship with Krishna come from?
A. Sri Krishna’s svarupa-sakti is his primary sakti, and thus all other saktis have their origin in it. The svarupa-sakti is constituted of sandhini (eternal existence), samvit (complete spiritual knowledge), and hladini (joy). The jiva-sakti is a partial manifestation of the svarupa-sakti and the maya-sakti (illusory energy) is a distorted manifestation of it. Because the jiva is a partial manifestation of the svarupa-sakti, it exists eternally, can know itself (brahma-jnana), and has the capacity to experience the joy of brahmananda. However, only when the jiva comes in contact with the svarupa-sakti through the guru-parampara can it realize its full potential to exist, know, and be happy. This is a potential that is not present in the maya-sakti, as all manifestations of the maya-sakti, including material knowledge and sense pleasure, are relative and fleeting, the latter ultimately only leading to greater degrees of suffering.
In connection with the svarupa-sakti, the jiva-sakti has the potential to experience an eternal relationship with Krishna, as it is a partial manifestation of the svarupa-sakti. When the jiva-sakti comes in contact with the svarupa-sakti through the guru-parampara, its dormant spiritual potential gradually awakens. This contact is Krishna extending himself to the jiva as he sees fit, which results in the jiva desiring a particular relationship with him in reciprocation. The relationship is inherent and dormant in the jiva in the same way that the capacity to walk is dormant within an infant. The relationship is eternal (krishna prema nitya-siddha) and is not created by the guru. Likewise, it is not created by the disciple though practice. Given the appropriate circumstances and nourishment, an infant will eventually walk; similarly, given the association with and nourishment from Krishna’s svarupa-sakti, the jiva will realize its dormant potential to live in love with Sri Krishna.
Through contact with the guru-parampara, faith comes into one’s heart. This faith is the guru’s realization, the backing behind his or her chanting of Krishna nama and Krishna mantra, as well as the guru’s blessing to chant. This is the seed of bhakti given to the disciple. This seed is like an initial investment in a business idea in which a start-up business realizes its potential through greater capital. With investment from Krishna’s svarupa-sakti, the jiva realizes its potential and goes public, and suddenly its shares are worth something. Similarly, with hearing, chanting, and so on (sravanadi), one’s consciousness is purified (suddha citte), and one’s relationship with Krishna begins to manifest (karaye udaya). When the one comes under the influence of Krishna’s svarupa-sakti, bhava dawns in one’s heart, and one’s life becomes meaningful in the fullest sense of the term.
Q. When we say that souls have an inherent relationship with Krishna does this mean that Krishna has already decided who will be a gopi or gopa in the spiritual world?
A. We cannot say that Sri Krishna does not know how he would like to accept service from us, and in consideration of this we can say that our svarupa is inherent and already determined. However, what is inherent in the jiva is only its potential to experience its eternal svarupa. The svarupa itself, which is constituted of svarupa-sakti, is in a dormant condition within the svarupa sakti.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta describes the jivatma as cit-kana, a particle of knowledge/consciousness, cit-kana jiva, kiran-kana sama. It also describes the soul’s eternal nature or dharma to be servitude/love, jivera svarupa haya krsnera nitya dasa. Caitanya-caritamrta also states that the svarupa of the jiva in prema eternally exists in a dormant condition and is awakened through bhakti, krishna prema nitya siddha sadhya kabhu naya sravanadi suddha-citte karaye udaya. Thakura Bhaktivinoda also explains the inherent nature of one’s svarupa in this way. He writes that one’s svarupa is inherent within the soul inasmuch as the jiva has the potential to love and service is its nitya-dharma. In his Tattva-sutra he writes that while the jiva soul is constituted of knowledge, its eternal nature or inclination is to love. This eternal inclination of the jiva is perfected when it is reposed in Sri Krishna, the perfect object of love, resulting in the awakening of one’s svarupa.
Thus one’s svarupa eternally exists and is realized by sravanam (hearing), kirtanam (chanting), and smaranam (remembering) under the guidance of the guru. The guru’s service is to identify our svarupa as it begins to manifest through natural attraction. The direct culture of one’s svarupa, however, is something that pertains more to higher stages of devotion, such as ruci, asakti, and bhava. In these stages it is cultivated directly, as the indirect work of cleansing the heart has for the most part been completed by the time these stages have been attained. Thus although one’s svarupa is eternally existing, it is also cultivated and desired or longed for at some point. First there is submission, and then there is longing. Submission is more applicable to sadhana-bhakti, and longing is more applicable to bhava-bhakti.
Commenting on vandanam (offering prayers) in Sri Rupa’s Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Jiva Goswami writes, “Prayers that have the purpose of firming the mind and senses in devotional service are known as samprarthana. Such prayers are characteristic of those who have not attained bhava. On the other hand, expressions of a desire for one’s specific personal service are known as lalasa. These are characteristic of those who have attained bhava.”
When Krishna’s svarupa-sakti dawns in the heart of a devotee, he or she develops from sadhana-bhakti to bhava-bhakti. Rupa Goswami describes bhava-bhakti as “the ingress of suddha sattva, the ray of the sun of prema.” When this ray shines in the heart of a sadhaka, he or she becomes a devotee proper. Such a devotee knows and experiences his or her svarupa, whether it is that of a gopi or a gopa.
Meditation on Siddha Deha.