No One Falls From Vaikuṇṭha – Part 8 (Bhagavat Sandarbha, 51)

Another objection could be raised: Conditioned souls are called patita, or fallen, and this implies that previously they were not fallen. When we say, “This is a mashed potato,” it means that it was not mashed previously. So, although we are unable to understand how we fell, we must have, otherwise we would not be designated as “fallen.

Continuation of the commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa:

Another objection could be raised: Conditioned souls are called patita, or fallen, and this implies that previously they were not fallen. When we say, “This is a mashed potato,” it means that it was not mashed previously. So, although we are unable to understand how we fell, we must have, otherwise we would not be designated as “fallen.” The Supreme Lord, Caitanya Mahāprabhu, in the mood of a devotee, says that He has fallen into the ocean of birth and death—patitam maṁ viṣame bhavāmbudhau (Śikṣāṣṭakam 4). If we have fallen, it must have been from Vaikuṇṭha, because every other place is already a fallen position.

The defect in this argument is the assumption that the fallen condition is preceded by a non-fallen state. If one’s falldown has no beginning (anādi-patita), then that person is also called patita, as there is no other word to describe such a state. The adjective anādi is not always used. An adjective distinguishes one object from others in the same class and identifies a specific quality belonging to a particular object. For example, when we say “red lotus,” we are specifying that this lotus is different from blue or yellow ones. Nevertheless, the red lotus is also a lotus, and can be referred to simply as such when there is no need to distinguish it from others. Similarly, when patita is used without the adjective anādi, it refers to all fallen living entities. Hell is a fallen place and there was never a time when it was not fallen. Calling it a fallen place does not imply that it was not previously fallen.

Patita is a past participle, which according to Pāṇini’s grammar is formed when the kta suffix is added to the root, pat (to fall). This suffix is called a niṣṭhā (Pāṇini1.1.26) and is applied in various ways, some of which are described below:

1.    To indicate something done in the past—as in bhuktam (eaten), (Pāṇini 3.2.102).
2.    Used actively, it indicates the beginning of an activity. For example, prakṛtaḥ kaṭaṁ devadattaḥ, “Devadatta begins to make the mat” (Pāṇini      3.2.102 vārtika 3).
3.    The sense of present tense action applied to roots which end in a mute ñ, as well as to roots having the sense of desire, knowledge and worship    (Pāṇini 3.2.187-88). E.g., rājñām iṣṭaṁ, “desirable by kings.”
4.    As a verbal noun, such as hasitam, “laughter.” When used in this way, the word is always in the neuter gender (Pāṇini 3.3.114).
5.    When the word ending in kta is used as a name, as in Devadatta, it carries the sense of a benediction (Pāṇini 3.3.174 and its Kāśikā-vṛtti).

The suffix kta, therefore, is not always used to indicate the past. When patita is used to indicate a conditioned soul, it means he or she is in an eternally fallen state. In commenting on Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi 15.187, wherein he demonstrates the eternality of the Lord’s pastimes, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī explains the meaning of sannihita, which is also a past participle formed in the same way, by adding the suffix kta to the root dhā. He says that in that reference the kta suffix is used in the sense of the present tense, laṭ-pratyayavat kta-pratyayasya.

To substantiate his view, Jīva gives an example from the Śruti: ayam ātmāpahata-pāpmā, “The Lord is free from sins” (ChU 8.15.1). Apahata is formed with the kta suffix and when combined with pāpma, it literally means, “He has warded off or destroyed sins.” Does this mean that the Lord was previously sinful? No. Here the kta suffix signifies eternality, without any beginning. Thus, the statement means that the Lord is eternally free from sins.

The kta suffix has also been applied in the term pratilabdha, which was used to indicate eternality when the Lord spoke to the Kumāras:

On account of My service to you, the dust of My lotus feet has become so pure that it immediately destroys all sins, and I have acquired such a disposition that Lakṣmī Devī, for whose sidelong glance others observe all manner of rules and regulations, never abandons Me, though I am indifferent to her. (SB 3.16.7)

Here the Lord says, “I have acquired such a disposition” (pratilabdha-śīlam). This certainly does not imply that once upon a time He did not have such a disposition.

The word bhakta, a devotee or worshiper, is also formed by adding the kta suffix to the root bhaj, “to worship.” This word does not necessarily imply that the devotee it refers to was previously a non-devotee. Eternal associates of the Lord, like Nanda Mahārāja, are bhaktas. Does this mean they were non-devotees once upon a time? Therefore, it is incorrect to assume that the word patita (fallen) implies a previously liberated state.

The eternal associates of the Lord, such as Mother Yaśodā, are liberated souls, nitya-mukta.The word mukta is also formed with the kta suffix. However, it does not imply that all liberated souls were previously fallen. Similarly, patita (fallen) or baddha (bound), which are both past participles, may still indicate an eternal (i.e., beginningless) condition when used to describe the state of a jīva in the material world. It does not mean that those who are fallen were previously liberated.

(to be continued)

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