Question: We hear repeatedly that our goal is to become eternal servants of Śrī Rādhā Kṛṣṇa in Goloka Vrindavan. So when one reaches that position, for example as gopī or gopa, and is engaged in one’s eternal service, then at that time what about Gaura-līlā?
Answer: I am sure you know that our ācāryas like Srī Rūpa Gosvāmī have their mañjarī svarūpas. They are also part of Gaura-līlā. This implies that a Gaudīya Vaiṣṇava can have two siddha-svarūpas, one in Gaura-līlā and one in Kṛṣṇa-līlā.
Question: So it means one can have a double existence in the spiritual world, serving in Gaura-līlā and Kṛṣṇa-līlā at the same time? Does the consciousness split into two?
Answer: Exactly. However, the consciousness does not split into two but expands. Just as Kṛṣṇa can expand into many forms, so also a devotee can expand to render service. When Kṛṣṇa married 16,000 princesses simultaneously in 16,000 different palaces, it is not that only He expanded into 16,000 forms but also His brother, parents, and other relatives. A marriage in Vedic culture requires all these relatives to be present. Similarly, a devotee can be in both Gaura-līlā and Kṛṣṇa-līlā.
Question: Is the offering of prasādam considered āropa-siddhā bhakti or svarūpa-siddhā bhakti? By nature, food items are material and yet they become prasāda after being offered to Kṛṣṇa. In the same sense, the faculties of speech and hearing are material but are also connected to Kṛṣṇa. It seems difficult to differentiate between svarūpa-siddhā bhakti and āropa-siddhā bhakti.
Answer: Any activity that is directly related to Bhagavān is svarūpa-siddhā bhakti, such as cleaning the temple, deity seva (which includes the offering of bhoga), nāma-japa, kīrtan, reciting stotras, etc.
Question: In general understanding, a pure devotee has offered himself through his mind, words, and actions to his guru or iṣṭa-devatā and hence all his actions are nirguṇa, including going to Loi Bazaar.
Answer: Yes, in the case of a devotee who has surrendered in the true sense of the word, all his acts are devotion. The mind, body, and senses of such a devotee are used only in service. He goes to Loi Bazar only for service and not for loafing around. That is the meaning of surrender.
From Brahma-sayujya to Vaikuntha
Question: What is your opinion on Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta 2.2.207 and Sanātana Gosvāmī’s commentary in relation to the possibility that some jīvas may go from brahma-sāyujya to Vaikuṇṭha? I also heard that Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa wrote something similar but I cannot remember the exact quotation.
Answer: It is possible for liberated jīvas to move out of brahma-sāyujya. This is what Sanātana Gosvāmī says in this verse. He does not mention anything more but explains the possibility. The basic point that he is making is that a jīva has a distinct identity even in brahma-sāyujya. The jīva does not become absolutely one with Brahman.
The words tayā śaktyā in the verse refer to the power of bhakti. From this, I conjecture that if a jñānī who was performing sādhanā for brahma-sāyujya develops an attraction for bhakti by bhakta-saṅga, then as per his former wish, he will enter into Brahman and then into Vaikuṇṭha. It is like the example of Dhruva who performed tapasyā for obtaining a kingdom but after seeing Viṣṇu, he lost interest in it. So, he did not ask for a kingdom but because this was his wish to begin with, he had to accept the kingdom and later enter into Vaikuṇṭha. This is how I understand the verse.
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