No One Falls From Vaikuṇṭha – Part 6 (Bhagavat Sandarbha, 51)

No one can enter or remain in Vaikuṇṭha unless he has attained devotion for the Lord. Lord Ṛṣabhadeva confirms this: When the living being is covered by tamo-guṇa, his mind is subject to result-oriented action. Therefore, the jīva cannot be released from attachment to the body until love dawns for Me, Lord Vāsudeva.

Continuation of the commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa:

No one can enter or remain in Vaikuṇṭha unless he has attained devotion for the Lord. Lord Ṛṣabhadeva confirms this:

When the living being is covered by tamo-guṇa, his mind is subject to result-oriented action. Therefore, the jīva cannot be released from attachment to the body until love dawns for Me, Lord Vāsudeva. (SB 5.5.6)

In the principal verse (SB 3.25.38) of this anuccheda, spoken by Lord Kapila, it is said that devotees have different relationships with the Lord. According to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, there are five basic rasas, or aesthetic experiences, that the Lord enjoys with His devotees. These varieties of aesthetic experience are rooted in, and arise out of, five foundational moods of loving devotion. Out of these five, the devotees immersed in peaceful devotion, or śānta-rasa, have the least intensity of love for the Lord. Nonetheless, they are completely devoid of material desires and have strong faith in Him. Śānta-bhaktas cannot be considered non-devotees, nor is there any possibility of their falling down.

In commenting on this verse (yeṣām ahaṁ priya ātmā sutaś ca sakhā guruḥ suhṛdo daivam iṣṭam), Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī says that those who consider the Lord as priya, or the beloved, refers to devotees in amorous devotion; similarly, those who consider Him as ātmā, the Self, refers to those in peaceful devotion; suta, or son, to those in parental devotion (vātsalya rasa); and sakhā, friend, to those in devotional friendship (sakhya-rasa). Those who consider Him as guru, in this case a respectful elder, refers to devotees with a specific type of respectful devotion (dāsya-rasa); suhṛda, bosom friend, to devotees in a specific type of devotional friendship (sakhya-rasa); and the words iṣṭam, the worshipful Deity, and daivam, the Lord, to those in different kinds of respectful devotion (dāsya-rasa).

The words śānta-rupe, the abode of unalterable peace, in the same verse, mean that Vaikuṇṭha is beyond the material guṇas (viśuddha-sattva.) Although Vaikuṇṭha is a place, its nature is identical to that of the Lord—eternal, conscious and blissful—and it is thus unlike any material place. The opulence of the devotees in Vaikuṇṭha never perishes. That is to say, they never descend to the material dimension. This is confirmed by hundreds of verses both in Śruti and Smṛti. The Chāndogya Upaniṣad states:

Drawing his senses within, he does not cause violence to any being, other than in circumstances of mortal danger where scripture may call for appropriate aggression. Remaining in this condition till the moment of death, he attains the spiritual abode. He does not return. He does not return. (ChU 8.15.1)

Śrīla Vyāsa Muni concludes the Vedānta-sūtra by repeating the words: “There is no return (from Vaikuṇṭha) because the scriptures declare this as truth” (anāvṛttiḥ sabdād anāvṛttih śabdāt, VS. 4.4.22).

Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, while commenting on this sūtra, confirms the same by quoting the following mantra from Chāndogya Upaniṣad:

He leads them to Brahman. This is the path of the godly (devas) that leads to the Lord. Those who walk on this path do not return to this human life. Surely they do not come back. (ChU 4.15.5)

Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa says that the Lord is determined not to abandon His devotees, and His devotees are equally determined to love Him. Thus, they can never leave Him. One should never doubt this.

While instructing Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja in the Āraṇya-dvādasī-vrata, Lord Kṛṣṇa says:

Therefore, they attain the auspicious and blissful abode of liberation. Having attained it, they neither lament for anything nor return to the cycle of birth and death. (Bhaviṣya-purāṇa, Uttara-parva 66.26)

In Bhagavad Gītā, Lord Kṛṣṇa says:

Not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire, such is My supreme abode, attaining which one never returns to this material world. (Gītā 15.6)

And there are many other such verses in the Gītā.

Despite the clarity of this evidence, one might claim that the above verses mean that those who reach Vaikuṇṭha from this material world never return, and that only those who have never been to this material world can fall down. In other words, those who achieve Vaikuṇṭha have experienced the miseries of the material world, but the nitya-siddhas are ignorant of these and are subject to falldown. The logic is that a person who has burned his tongue with hot milk is so careful that he even blows on buttermilk before drinking it.

This is an inconsistent argument. Before reaching Vaikuṇṭha, the devotee casts off his gross and subtle bodies. The experience of the material world remains in the subtle body, so the devotee does not carry it with him. In the material world we carry a stock of impressions in our subtle body, but how much of it do we remember? Indeed, we cannot recollect most of the things we have done even in this lifetime. How then is it to be expected that a liberated soul would remember the miseries of the material world? And why would he? What is the gain? Is the remembrance of past material miseries more captivating than the immediate and present ecstasy of service to the Lord? Whenever sustained joy fills a person’s life, memories of past pain or suffering fade into the background.

Moreover, even if the devotee, after attaining Vaikuṇṭha, wanted to recall his former material experience, he no longer has a subtle body in which all the impressions would be stored. Those memories are wiped clean without a trace. In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.1.23), Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī writes that bhakti destroys all varieties of karma.

(to be continued)

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Comments ( 6 )
  1. scooty ram

    Namaste ,
    Thank you for a very elaborate article on Jiva-Fall down topics.

    Its mentioned “Moreover, even if the devotee, after attaining Vaikuṇṭha, wanted to recall his former material experience, he no longer has a subtle body in which all the impressions would be stored. Those memories are wiped clean without a trace. ”

    However in Chandogya Up it is mentioned : ”
    sa yadi pitru loka kamo bhavati sankalpad eva asya pitarah samudtishthanti.”

    A mukta can bring pitru/pitru loka in his front by His will.

    Does this not imply a mukta can have recollection of memories in material world? – Of course everything is in relation with God in spiritual world.

    Regards

  2. snd

    This description of Chandogya is not about a devotee in Vaikuntha. It is about a person who has become qualified to enter into Vaikuntha but is still in the material realm. At this point he/she has two choices. Enter into Vaikuntha directly. This is called atyantika mukti. Or he/she can chose to visit some realms in the material world and then go to Vaikuntha. This is called krama mukti. The part you refer to from Chandogya is speaking about krama mukti. The other one is described in Chandogya 8.2.4. Refer to Bhagavata 2.2.22 for krama mukti.

    • scooty ram

      Thank you for the response.

      I think in Brahma sutra , sutras in 4.3 section talks about the path- arciradi etc.
      adhikaranas/sutras in 4.4 talk about nature of liberated souls. In this even sri baladeva quotes the verse from chandogya while discussing if liberated souls have capacity to create worlds.

      Please kindly clarify.

      Regards

  3. snd

    The prakarana where Sri Baladeva cites Brihad Aranyaka about seeing pitris is about a mukta purusa having satya-sankalpa (free will). It is not to prove that he remembers his past life. If you read the whole prakarana, the commentator also says very clearly that a mukta has no material body – subtle or gross. Moreover this quote (8.2.1) has the word yadi in it. It is only a to show that such a power exists in a mukta purusa. Not that a mukta will actually ever desire it. He is absorbed in the bliss of loving service. Where is the chance to be pitrikama? Just as Krsna says api cet suduracaro bhajate mam ananyabhak… The idea here is to show the importance of bhakti and not that a bhakta should not care for sadacara. Similarly the idea of the BA passage is of satyasankalpata and not of having desire for pitris. The next sutra clearlys says that he is under the control of the Lord (4.4.9). He has no independent desires. Later he cites BA 2.4.14 in sutra 4.4.12 – The mukta sees through the eyes of Brahman, hears through the years of Brahman. It means that the mukta does not have any idea related with past life unless the Lord wants it. Moreover the sankalpa is to be practiced from the sadhana stage. Once u become siddha or mukta u do not have new sankalpas. This is the tat-kratu nyaya.

  4. Saulius

    Namaste,

    I’m a bit confused by the first sentence which states that “No one can enter OR REMAIN in Vaikuṇṭha unless he has attained devotion for the Lord”.

    Seems to me that the wording “no one can remain” precludes that still it is possible that under certain circumstances the devotee may no longer be present in Vaikuṇṭha, which obviously contradicts what is stated in the remaining of the text.

    May I ask you to clarify? Thank you.

  5. snd

    There are some instances where a non-devotee can enter Vaikuntha but cannot remain there permanently. There are statements in sastra that somebody visits Vaikuntha for a fixed period as an outcome of some meritorious deed. Another instance is that the Lord brings in someone into Vaikuntha just for fun and then sends him back. Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti writes that it is like a king bringing in a lion or tiger into his court just for amusement.

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