As Gaura-vijaya mentions, these verses from the Brihad-aranyaka are speaking about the dream and waking states of consciousness. The next section talks about deep sleep (susupti). The translations you gave are the extremely creative translations of Bhaktivinode Thakura. They are far from literally correct and do not conform with the context at all. This section is not about the origin of the jiva’s material sojourn.

The verse from Narada pancaratna cited by Sri Jiva in Bhakti-sandarbha says simply, “That which is tatastha, spiritual by nature, an emanation of cit, and which is tainted by attachment to the gunas is known as the jiva.” Nothing in Sri Jiva’s commentary says anything about choosing, etc.

For those concerned with fairness, the idea that the jiva has a faint impression of the paravyoma and the material world and from an intermediate position then chooses one or the other is problematic. Why? Because choice based on partial knowledge is not well informed choice. Freedom to choose between two worlds with only faint, partial knowledge of both is not much of a choice.

But the ideas you have presented are creative ways of talking about the issue of theodicy employed by Bhaktivinode Thakura as he reached out to the West with Vaisnavism for the first time. The overriding point he makes is that God is not responsible for the suffering of the jiva (evil). This is certainly something that the Western ear wants to hear.

Otherwise, previous to this kind of outreach we do not find the acaryas of any sampradaya taking this position. For Gaudiyas karma is anadi, beginningless. The choice of the jiva is to take up bhakti or not. And that is presented to the jiva in this world, nowhere else. Thus its positive value–sristi-lila.

This brings us to the brahmajyoti origins idea. Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja did use this word (Brahmajyoti) in Search for Sri Krsna, but if you study Subjective Evolution carefully you will see that he is really talking about susupti, which is often compared to being merged in Brahman because the physical and psychic dimensions of consciousness are suspended therein and consciousness is undifferentiated. In Subjective Evolution he talks about the jiva moving from homogeneity to hetrogeneity through cidabhas and so on. All of this is speaking about the sristi lila and the jivas moving from susupti to the waking state of consciousness and the individuality that arises from karma.

So the Gauidya idea pre Bhaktivinode Thakura is simple. The baddha jiva emanates from Mahavisnu. This is stated everywhere again and again. This occurs in the context of the sristi lila. The one becomes many out of joy. Thus the many have the opportunity to experience ananda. But they are small and maya sakti is also under the jurisdiction of Mahavisnu. Thus the two jiva and maya must meet. But that the jiva may meet its maker, Mahavisnu appears in various avataras and the Veda is made manifest, guru parampara, etc. Thus the jiva has is presented the choice to ascend.

But don’t look to hard for fairness. There is ultimately only One—sakti and saktiman are abheda. The one is doing as he sees fit. This is lila. There is no other to blame. But this does not sit well with the Western mind…

The fact that no one falls from Vaikuntha is directly addressed in the Bhagavatam in the story of Jaya Vijaya. Praiksit Maharaja asks precisely this question. He astounded to think that falling could be possible. Sukadeva then assures him that no one falls.

The plight of the jiva in terms of its being covered by ignorance and God’s responsibility in this is directly addressed in the Gita in chapter 5 and in Vedanta sutra chapter 2. The creative ideas of Bhaktivinode Thakura are not supported therein, but hopefully you can see the wisdom behind them nonetheless. I certainly do.

comment by Swami B. V. Tripurari on the article “Harmonizing Contradictions.”

Leave a Reply

* Name, Email, and Comment are Required

Subscribe without commenting