Question: In Paramātma Sandarbha, Annucheda 93, it is said, “Bhagavān did not rescue Gajendra out of empathy for his pain, but rather because of his surrender in the form, ‘You are my only shelter.’”
But He resides within the heart of every jīva as Paramātmā. How does He remain neutral to the threefold miseries of the jīvas? How should one understand this?
Answer: What is the problem in understanding? Paramātmā is neutral, just like a state government is neutral to a common citizen. A non-devotee does not want any interference from Paramātmā. He wants to enjoy, so the Paramātmā stays neutral. But if he wants help of Paramātmā, then Paramātmā is willing to help. Moreover, He is not completely neutral. He has given śāstra, He comes personally as an avatāra to teach and he sends His devotees. But He does not impose Himself.
Question: Then what about the BG verse 7.16:
catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ, janāḥ sukṛtino ‘rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī, jñānī ca bharatarṣabha
Doesn’t the Lord help those who are not fully surrendered, like Gajendra and Draupadi?
Answer: Kṛṣṇa says, ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham. So He helps according to the level of surrender. Those who approach him with a motive, also have some surrender, although it is motivated.
Question: Ok, the Lord cannot feel the suffering but does He understand the suffering of the devotees?
Answer: When a person becomes surrendered to Kṛṣṇa, then he becomes linked with Kṛṣṇa through bhakti. A non-devotee is not linked with Kṛṣṇa because he does not have bhakti. You become linked with Kṛṣṇa through bhakti. Bhakti is the relation between a jīva and Kṛṣṇa.
Question: Does it mean that unless one approaches the Lord for help, then, even though being a Supreme Father, He does not voluntarily help?
Answer: A father also does not help the son if the son is working against the father, misusing the father’s property, and is not interested in having any relation with the father. Yet, the father waits for the son to become rectified. Non-devotees do not want any help from Kṛṣṇa. They do not even acknowledge His existence. Yet they use all the material objects for their own pleasure. All material objects belong to Kṛṣṇa. Is it not Kṛṣṇa’s grace that He allows materialists to enjoy His material nature without charging them anything? He graciously does not interfere in their pleasures. Yet, He wishes them to turn their minds towards Him. For this purpose, He has given śāstra, His Name, His vigraha, His devotees, and holy places to help the people of the world. But if they do not want any help, then what God can do? If someone does not want to eat, can you force him to eat?
When a person surrenders, it means he is willing to accept help. So God helps him. What is the difficulty in understanding it?
Question: According to Jīva Gosvāmi, the main difference between the Lord and the jīvas is that the Lord is personified condensed bliss, self-satisfied, completely beyond all kinds of sins, and free from the touch of māyā. If there is no possibility of any darkness in the sun, the great powerful source of light, there is no possibility of experience of any misery in the Lord, who is supremely blissful.
So does the Lord never fulfill the prayer of distressed sakāma-bhaktas, as is said, akāmah sarvakāmah… tivreṇa bhakti yogena? If He does fulfill, then it contradicts the statement, “He is always absorbed in His own divine bliss and therefore cannot feel the pain of the conditioned souls. Mercy can only appear by realizing the misery of other jīvas. As the Lord is the embodiment of condensed bliss, though all-powerful, His mercy to the bound jīva soul is impossible.”
Answer: Is it necessary to feel the pain to fulfill the prayer? If some sick person comes to you and begs you for some money for medicine, then is it necessary that you have to feel his sickness to help him? Can you not help just based on his pleadings? Help can be given because of two reasons. One, that you feel empathy with the suffering of a person and want to help. The suffering person has not asked for help, but you want to help seeing the suffering. Second, the suffering person pleads to you for help. Although you are not empathizing with His suffering you can still help him. So God can also help because of their pleading.
Question: Jīva Gosvāmi and Viśvanātha Cakravarti Thākura (VCT) appear to give different reasons for Bhagavān’s real purpose for avataraṇa. Jīva Gosvāmi says the real reason is to give pleasure to the devotees. Therefore He does not give His kṛpā to the abhaktas because He cannot feel their pain of suffering, but because He is linked to His devotees, He can feel their suffering and gives them His grace. As it is said in the 9th Canto, sādhavo hṛdayaṁ mahyaṁ sādhūnāṁ hṛdayaṁ tv aham mad-anyat te na jānanti nāhaṁ tebhyo manāg api (9.4.68).”
Whereas Bhag 1.8.35 says: “Some say that you have appeared in this world to help those suffering due to their actions arising from material desires arising from ignorance by engaging them in hearing and remembering about you, so that they can attain prema.” VCT then comments and says: “This is the real reason for the Lord’s appearance.” [Bhanu Swami’s translation].
VCT specifically says “sva matam – in my opinion”. How to understand this?
Answer: sva-matam does not mean that it is the opinion of Viśvanātha. These are the prayers of Kunti.
Even if you take it as VCT’s opinion, he does not contradict Jīva Gosvāmi. All it means is that when He comes here and performs His pastimes, which according to Jīva Gosvāmi are in relation with His devotees, the non-devotees benefit by hearing and remembering His pastimes. VCT does not say that Kṛṣṇa feels the pains of the conditioned souls when He comes here and then gives His grace to them. All he says is that He acts, and by hearing about it, the suffering people of this world become liberated. This is what Kunti is saying. So there is no contradiction. What are those activities that He performs? Primarily they are related with His devotees, and other people also benefit from hearing them.
Question: Nitya-siddhas, like the Pāṇḍavas, are a part of the Lord’s līlā. They are not under the influence of māyā but seem to appear like that. How can the Lord make such nitya-siddhas, who are very dear to him, suffer in this material world?
Answer: Nitya-siddhas do not suffer in this world, they only appear to be suffering. This is the meaning of līlā, or play. It is like in a play, where a person appears to suffer, but in reality, does not. When Kṛṣṇa disappeared from the rāsa-līlā and the gopīs suffered in separation from Him, their suffering should not be compared with the suffering of conditioned beings. Kṛṣṇa has answered Himself why He behaved in such a way in response to the gopīs’ queries. Please read verses 11.32.17-22.
Like Kṛṣṇa, the devotees are free from the three guṇas and thus no material suffering can touch them. Just as a conditioned being is under the influence of māyā, the associates of Bhagavān are under the influence of the antaraṅga śakti, which is blissful by nature.
Question: If they do not experience material suffering, how can nitya-siddhas then feel compassion for the suffering of baddha-jīvas?
Answer: It is not possible for them to empathize with others’ suffering.
Question: So can they have compassion?
Answer: Why should they only give grace when they see material suffering? Then can also give grace otherwise. If someone associates with them and listens to them, they can give grace.
When Nārada Muni heard from the sages, they gave him their grace. Narada Muni also gave his grace to Dhruva Maharaja. Jaḍa Bharata also gave his grace to King Rāhugaṇa, even though he was not suffering.
Question: Do they only deal with those who have at least some bhakti already?
Answer: No, they can also deal with people who don’t have any bhakti.
(end of this posting)
You have to ask yourself if you are doing something genuinely for the Guru’s benefit, or if you are doing something for praise, or for attention. If you keep your mind alert, and are honestly introspecting, you will know the difference and adjust your actions accordingly.
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