Jiva Underground Classic Now Published as E-book

We have decided to publish the treatise In Vaikuṇṭha Not Even the Leaves Fall as our first Kindle e-book since it is about to go out of print. It is a systematic and thorough analysis of the bondage of the soul or jīva according to Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava theology. The book was banned by ISKCON and has since become an “underground” classic. 

 

There is a long history behind the making of this book. Here I will just give a summary. I wrote the book in 1994 to settle a philosophical controversy that arose within ISKCON (International Society of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness) over the origin of the jīva in its conditioned existence. At that time, I had been serving as a Sanskrit teacher in the Bhaktivedanta Swami International Gurukula, Vrindavan. Although my service was to teach Sanskrit to Gurukula students, I also had begun teaching śāstras privately in my room at the request of several local devotees. I taught various books, including Bhagavad Gītā and Śrīmad Bhāgavata with the Sanskrit commentaries of our previous ācaryas. Incidentally, this was also the period when I was studying under my teacher, Om Viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrī 108 Śrī Haridāsa Śāstri Mahārāja.

One of the books that I began teaching was Śrī Tattva Sandarbha of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, which is the first of the six books of the Ṣaṭ Sandarbha. Around this time (1988), Bhūrijana prabhu started the Vrindavan Institute of Higher Education (VIHE), which offered one-month courses on different subjects during the month of Kārtik. I taught the first two Sandarbhas as part of the VIHE for two consecutive years.

While I was teaching Tattva Sandarbha, some devotees proposed that I should translate the Six Sandarbhas of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī. Although feeling unqualified, I took up this project as a service to the devotees and the paramparā. Kūrma Rūpa prabhu, who was an āśrama teacher at the Gurukula and my good friend, volunteered to do the editing. Jālandhara, a gurukula student, typed out my handwritten manuscripts. On Kūrma Rūpa prabhu’s request, Kuṇḍalī prabhu also came to Vrindavan and joined our Sandarbha project. Kuṇḍalī prabhu had been living in Thailand, working as an English teacher, and had experience as an editor for Back To Godhead magazine.

Kuṇḍalī prabhu began attending my classes and was impressed with the work of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī and with my commentaries on the Sandarbhas. He thought what I was doing was unique in the whole of ISKCON and that therefore, the Sandarbhas should be published by the BBT.

From my part, I wanted to have an educational institute in ISKCON where devotees could systematically study the Gosvāmī literature. I observed that although Śrīla Prabhupāda had successfully founded ISKCON, a great preaching movement, and established hundreds of temples worldwide, the movement seemed to lack a place to deeply study the scriptures. I felt that we should fill in this lacuna for the benefit of the devotees and Śrīla Prabhupāda’s society and thus formulated the idea of establishing the Jiva Institute for Vaiṣṇava Studies. My plan was to primarily translate and comment on the works of our previous ācaryas and to teach them to interested devotees. Both Kūrma Rūpa and Kuṇḍalī prabhus were enthusiastic about the idea, so we printed a small booklet describing the aims and objectives of Jiva Institute, which we called, in short, JIVAS.

From an ISKCON-leaflet 1994: Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa with team.

To solicit support for our plan, Kuṇḍalī prabhu sent a proposal to Harikeśa Swami, a prominent ISKCON guru, BBT trustee, and director of the Swedish BBT, which was one of the BBT’s most active and flourishing divisions. Kuṇḍalī’s proposal included the translation work that we were doing and our future plan to have an educational institute. He also sent him a draft of my translation and commentary on Tattva Sandarbha. Harikeśa Swami was highly impressed by the proposal and our work, so much so that he wrote that after Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books, these books would be most important. He was one of the prominent GBCs of the Māyāpur project and for years had not visited Vrindavan. However, he came to Vrindavan to meet me, being eager to manifest the Jiva Institute.

Harikeśa Swami had long talks with me and raised various questions to understand my real intention. Being convinced of its importance and utility, he decided to support the entire project financially, to print the Sandarbhas under the Swedish BBT, to buy land for Jīva Institute, and to fund the construction. The Swedish BBT purchased a large piece of land very close to where Jīva Institute is located today. Construction work soon began under the supervision of Kāliya Kṛṣṇa prabhu, a disciple of Harikeśa Swami and the headmaster of Bhaktivedanta Swami International Gurukula. Harikeśa Swami also appointed Gopīparāṇadhana prabhu, who had worked on the Śrīmad Bhāgavata volumes printed after Śrīla Prabhupāda’s departure, to be our Sanskrit editor. Draviḍa prabhu was appointed as the final English editor. Upendrānatha prabhu had also joined us in Vrindavan, helping with typing and proofreading. We thus had a team of nine people.

The project was moving at great speed and full enthusiasm, and there was growing excitement about it in ISKCON at large, and especially at ISKCON Vrindavan. While teaching the Sandarbhas in the VIHE, however, a controversy arose over the issue of the conditioning of the living entity, the jīva. Śrī Jiva Gosvāmī clearly states that the jīva’s conditioning in the material world has no beginning and that no one can fall down from Vaikuṇṭha. He uses the word anādi (lit., beginningless) to describe the conditioning of the jīva.

My Sanskrit editor Gopīparāṇadhana prabhu was reluctant to accept my translation of anādi as beginningless. He proposed to translate it as “from time immemorial” to accommodate the ISKCON understanding that the jīva has fallen down from Vaikuṇṭha.

The controversy soon spread throughout ISKCON. We received many emails from devotees in different parts of the world, presenting their arguments against our view. There were also devotees supportive of us who shared their arguments and śāstric references.

When Tattva Sandarbha was almost ready to go to print in 1994, the translation of the word anādi was still unresolved. Gopīparāṇadhana and Draviḍa did not agree with my translation and explanation of the term; they therefore complained to the BBT trustees. The BBT then appointed Jayādvaita Swami to meet with us and mediate the controversy before the annual GBC meetings held at ISKCON headquarters in Mayapur, West Bengal. This is a time when temple presidents and GBC members meet to discuss various issues and institutional policies before the Gaura Pūrṇimā festival.

In Mayapur, Kuṇḍalī and I held long discussions with our two editors in the presence of Jayādvaita Swami. The issue, however, could not be resolved because the editors as well as the mediator refused to accept my translation and explanation of the word anādi. Since the book was to be published by the BBT, a meeting was held with all the BBT trustees. I was very firm on my view, while Gopīparāṇadhana, Draviḍa, and Jayādvaita Swami were firm on theirs. They proposed that I change my translation and accept the popular ISKCON understanding. I refused, because doing so would undermine the words of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī himself. To resolve the conflict, I suggested that Gopīparāṇadhana translate the Sandarbhas and write the commentaries himself. I offered my assistance with the translation work on the condition that my name not be mentioned in the work. Gopīparāṇadhana refused to accept this solution and said that he was incompetent to translate and comment upon the Sandarbhas.

After more discussion, the trustees proposed that my translation and commentary be published without changes. However, a footnote would be added to explain Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position, which differs from that of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī. The footnote would include acknowledgment that ācaryas do have differences of opinion and that there was no harm in bringing out this difference. Kuṇḍalī and I agreed to this suggestion, but Gopīparāṇadhana, Draviḍa, and Jayādvaita Swami were still opposed.

At that time, Harikeśa Swami put pressure on Gopīparāṇadhana and Draviḍa to cooperate. Both devotees were receiving monthly remuneration from Harikeśa Swami for their contributions to the project. Therefore, after a long struggle, they agreed. With the consent of the BBT trustees, it was thus decided that Tattva Sandarbha would be printed with a footnote, explaining the opinion of Śrīla Prabhupāda.

After the meetings, we returned to Vrindavan and sent the final manuscript of the book to the Swedish BBT for printing. However, Gopīparāṇadhana, Draviḍa, and Jayādvaita Swami had not agreed from their hearts. When they returned to the United States, they made a plan to sabotage the printing. They held a meeting among themselves and with other devotees such as Hṛdayānanda dāsa Goswami, and devised a plan to stop the publication, utilizing a letter written by Drutakarma prabhu, which was published in the original Forward of this book. This letter was sent to all GBC members, temple presidents, and prominent ISKCON devotees. When Harikeśa Swami received the letter, he realized that he would be heavily criticized by ISKCON leaders if he printed the book under the auspices of the Swedish BBT. It is my conjecture that to avoid this, he immediately scraped the project, calling his disciple Kāliya Kṛṣṇa Dāsa in Vrindavan to inform him that the Sandarbha project was cancelled.

When Kāliya Kṛṣṇa relayed this news to me, I was taken aback. No explanation was given, so Kuṇḍalī called Harikeśa Swami to ask the reason for the cancellation. Harikeśa Swami simply forwarded Drutakarma’s letter in reply.

This happened on Janmāṣṭamī, so I accepted the decision as the will of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, although it was very disheartening at that time. The dream that we had nurtured for so long and that was about to manifest was crushed in a moment.

Anticipating some hidden grace from Kṛṣṇa in this whole drama, I decided not to take action against Drutakarma’s letter. I had a meeting with Kuṇḍalī and Kūrma Rūpa prabhus, my closest supporters, about our next step. We decided to print Tattva Sandarbha on our own, which we did a year later. However, Kuṇḍalī prabhu was not satisfied with this alone as he was a fiery person and loved to debate. During the period of controversy, we had numerous email exchanges with different devotees who tried to refute our point of view. Kuṇḍalī loved handling all such communication, as I had no access to a computer.

We coined the term fall-vādis for our opponents, who believe that the jīva falls down from Vaikuṇṭha out of envy for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. I had no intention of writing anything other than what Kuṇḍalī had already written during his communication with other devotees. The letter of Drutakarma, however, made him furious and he wanted to give a fitting reply. Therefore he prodded me to write a detailed refutation of the arguments presented by fall-vadis and to end the controversy once and for all. For this purpose, he presented me with a summary of their arguments.

It was on his inspiration that I wrote the first draft of this book. To give it a little sense of humor, we entitled it “In Vaikuṇṭha Not Even the Leaves Fall.” Kuṇḍalī prabhu edited my first draft and added material he had compiled from different sources. Kūrma Rūpa prabhu did the typing and Navadvīpa prabhu gladly agreed to edit it. We wrote, edited, and printed the book in about four months and then sent copies to Mayapur with Upendranātha prabhu to sell at the annual festival of 1995.

To our dismay, as soon as the books were displayed in Māyāpur, ISKCON authorities confiscated them and Upendranātha was not allowed to sell any copies. I received a phone call from Gopāla Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī, the GBC of the Vrindavan temple, asking me to come to Māyāpur immediately and to appear before the GBC board. Kūrma Rūpa and I then traveled from Vrindavan to Māyāpur. The GBC had formed a sub-committee to deal with the issue. We first appeared before the sub-committee where I had to explain why I had written the book. I told them that I had written the book to explain the truth and that I didn’t haven a hidden agenda to deviate ISKCON from śāstric principles or to become a prominent ISKCON leader, as alleged by Drutakarma in his letter. They could not argue on the philosophical points, but asserted that the book would be a great disturbance to the devotee community and therefore should be banned. I answered, “First of all, we do not know if it will disturb or satisfy the devotees. I suggest that you select a random sample of 100 devotees. Let them read the book and then see if they are disturbed by it.” My second argument was, “What I presented is not my concoction but is the view of our previous ācaryas, which is based on śāstra. Thus it is truth. If a devotee is disturbed by knowing the truth, then he is not truly a devotee.” The sub-committee did not accept my arguments and insisted that my book would be a great disturbance.

Since they were in the majority and I was alone, I had no desire to continue arguing.  Their arguments were not logical nor could they present śāstric references to refute mine. They reported to the full GBC board that this book is very dangerous and would create a disturbance throughout ISKCON. The next day I was called to appear before the full GBC body, where I was again asked why I wrote the book. I gave my reply and they again stated their reasoning that the book would be a disturbance to the society. They therefore decided to ban this book. Along with this decision, they stipulated that I was not allowed to study outside of ISKCON nor was I allowed to give public lectures. I was only permitted to continue my service as a Sanskrit teacher at the Gurukula.

After some contemplation, I realized that my time in ISKCON was over. I had given 16 years of my youthful life in the service of ISKCON and Śrīla Prabhupāda and now had to leave to follow my convictions. Overnight I lost my connections and acquaintances, all of which were ISKCON-related. I was branded as “ an envious snake,” “a demon,” and “a killer of Prabhupāda.” I began my life anew, from scratch. This is how I left ISKCON and came to establish Jiva Institute, with the help of my family members.

Every Gaudīya Vaiṣṇava wanting to understand the nature of the jīva should read this book. Śrī Jiva Gosvāmī explains that the essence of śāstra is to impart knowledge about sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojana. Sambandha includes knowledge about the jīva and its relationship with Bhāgavan. It is crucial for an aspiring devotee to have clear understanding of the nature of the jīva to engage in abhidheya or the practice of bhakti to attain the ultimate goal, the prayojana. If our first step is misplaced, we cannot expect to reach the ultimate goal as enunciated in the Gosvāmī literature.

This book does not attack Śrīla Prabhupāda, ISKCON or anyone else; nor does it minimize Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position, or assert that he was wrong. Instead, it attempts to synthesize his views with the statements of our previous ācaryas.

Satyanarayana Dasa

“In Vaikuṇṭha Not Even the Leaves Fall” – Summary

This book consists of five parts or waves. Each wave is divided into chapters. The First Wave presents the conclusion or siddhānta of the Gauḍīya school and the verdict of the śāstra on the jīva’s bondage. Within the First Wave, the first three chapters relate the explanations ISKCON’s predecessor ācaryas Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatīon the jīva’s origin and the three types of jīvas. The Fourth Chapter gives references from the writings of Śrīla Prabhupāda, the Founder Acarya of ISKCON, who sometimes said that no one falls from the highest spiritual abode, Vaikuṇṭha, and at other times stated that jīvas fell from Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. Why Prabhupāda made seemingly contradictory statements on this issue is answered in the Second Wave. The Fifth Chapter of the First Wave gives evidence from Śruti, Vedānta Sūtra, Govinda Bhāśya, Āgama, and the Nārada Bhakti Sūtra, all of which deny the possibility of a fall-down from Vaikuntha. Chapter Six gives further evidence from Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s commentaries on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Chapter Seven includes evidence from the writings of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī, and Śrī Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī – the most prominent Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācaryas. In the following chapters of the First Wave, the term anādi (lit.,“beginningless”) is explained in detail. It is the philosophical term most commonly used by the ācaryas for describing the conditioned jīvas and is often misunderstood.

In the Second Wave, while establishing that preaching does not always mean presenting the siddhānta, we cite some historical examples of such preaching strategies being used by ISKCON’s predecessor ācāryas, including Śrīla Vyāsadeva. We conclude this wave by reconciling the siddhānta of no fall with Śrīla Prabhupāda’s statements that the jīva fell from Vaikuṇṭha. The Third Wave refutes the main objections of those who believe that the jīva fell from the spiritual world and became conditioned. In the Fourth Wave, more scriptural and logical arguments in favor of the no-fall down siddhānta are presented. The Fifth and last Wave lists the many philosophical inconsistencies in accepting a doctrine that eternally liberated spiritual beings, nitya-siddhas, can fall from Vaikuṇṭha, and then states the conclusion.

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For some devotees, this book was a turning point in their spiritual lives. If you would like to share your realizations with other interested readers, please consider leaving a review on Amazon.

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Comments ( 30 )
  1. scooty ram

    Definitely an underground classic – a must read mostly for iskconites to come out of their shell. When my mind was reeling over different views on the subject amidst several back and forth arguments , the very name of the book “Not even a leaf..” was like a sixer shot for me! It was like “You guys are saying big big jivas can falldown but here is a book that said “Not even a leaf can fall from vaikunta”..Go figure! kind of attitude.. and I liked it . It also showed me a world outside of iskcon where scholarship meets devotion on contrast to a wrongly interpreted belief in iskcon that studying sastras will take one far from devotion. Iskcon showed amazing devotion in practice and this book showed the intelligent side of it. It was like the meeting point of Brain and heart – “sAstriya sraddha”.

    I dont have amazon account but please feel free to post it there.

    Dasan

  2. Parikshit

    At a time when I was confused about the ontological position of the jiva and had received blatant and fictitious responses from the cherished preachers of a particular Society – which is on the mission to save the world, this book, as it claims, put to rest my doubts for once and all.

    Malafide opinions, in my experience with a popular offshoot of the movement initiated by Sri Chaitanya, are not only openly propagated by their adherents, but consumed by the hoi polloi for a simple reason — most Indians are not aware about the rich philosophic tradition of their own country, and specifically of Chaitanya Vaishnavism — effectuated by intellectual giants such as Sri Jiva.

    To make good money or have a good status in society, one is advised and implicated by the schools and parents, in general, to give the pure sciences disproportionate focus. Later, these children enter the celebrated educational institutions of India, get alluring jobs, but end up proselytized — through multiple organizations in myriad ways.

    My journey toward a sound and clear understanding of the truth began with this book and it shall remain the ‘Eureka’ for me!

    Thank you so much for posting Hon’ble Sri Babaji’s photo of his youth.

  3. Saulius

    In my humble opinion it doesn’t matter whether Jiva falls from spiritual world or not. The main thing is that whether or not this sadhana process is working to achieve the end result Krsna prema. So if the process is bona fide and working then those philosophical details doesn’t really matter. In this case you follow the instructions and get the result. Our understanding is very limited and we don’t have a right to criticize the works of all the previous saint persons even if we see the philosophical controversy. Only we have a choice to follow or not to follow.However if the process is fake then all philosophical sophistication is just a waste of time and it doesn’t matter whether it is ISKCON or other organisation/family.

    • The process of sadhana has to be done with proper understanding. There are two ways to do sadhana- the right way and the wrong way.

      If the theology is so irrelevant, why has Iskcon distributed 500 million books so far? And why did such an organization feel so threatened that they banned one single book by Sri Babaji?

      Why do you think Jiva Goswami took the pains to write the Sandarbhas? And why are we studying day and night at Jivs institute?

      Iskcon has an *enormous* impact on people’s lives and the people have the right to ask- is this knowledge really as it is? It is an ethical question. It’s a question of accountability.

      The saintly status of Prabhupada is irrelevant in ascertaining whether or not – he made a mistake when he said we fell from the spiritual world. And by the way, when we call this person or that a saint, we assume that we are qualified enough to judge another’s saintliness. I.e. we are claiming we have access to some mystical knowing ourselves.

      All we can discuss here is the validity of concepts. Because concepts determine whether our actions will yield proper results.

      Everything else is just a diversion.

    • Malatimanjari Post author

      Yes, we can judge by the result. But what is the result? Is their sādhanā process working for devotees to achieve prema? And which sādhanā are we talking about? There is a variety of processes among Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. Further, if someone believes that jīvas can fall from Vaikuṇṭha, then how does their understanding of prema, which is the prayojana, match with śāstra? Or their understanding of sambhandha? As Babaji points out above, it is crucial to have a proper understanding of the nature of the jīva and his relationship with Bhagavān. “If our first step is misplaced, we cannot expect to reach the ultimate goal as enunciated in the Gosvāmī literature.”

  4. Here are some more points to think about:

    1. The notion that whether the jiva fell or not is unimportant and has no relevance to one’s sadhana, is actually also from Prabhupada.

    2. For those who think the ‘fall of jiva’ has no relevance, it actually has very real consequences.
    Here is an anecdote, and then a general observation.
    I know of a genuinely kind Prabhupada disciple who suffers from the deep-seated guilt that he rejected Krsna. This guilt gnaws at him, so much that as a reaction to it, he basically has ‘given up’ on his chances of succeeding in the bhakti in this life. After all, what prevents him from doing it again? He had a good thing and he threw it away. How fallen can one be?

    Guilt undermines our confidence in performing bhakti and also just in going about our usual tasks. Further, this psychological unhealthiness of ‘being fallen’ – which is constantly how we perceive ourselves in this worldview- makes us angry inside. Angry at ourselves, and by extension angry at the world. This may be one reason why deep down, most devotees dont trust anyone except the one person who did not fall, but was ‘personally sent by Krsna’. Nobody is trustworthy. Everybody rejected Krsna.

    • Bhushan

      @T. Krsna dasa
      I agree. The nature of prema-bhakti should be understood, else one may aim for the wrong thing.

      I know sadhakas who fervently believe in envy-vada. They say that it inspires them to practice bhakti, because it makes them feel responsible for their envy. Something like, “I left Krishna out of envy, it is my fault and now it is my responsibility to get back to Krishna”. One of their practice is to discover or look-for envy in their heart and then cry out to Krishna to remove it because envy is simply suffering. Thus in their practice, the stage of nishtha is reached when one is fixed on praying to Krishna inspired by acknowledging the anartha of envy in their heart. To me, this practice resembles the practice of fervent contrition in Christian prayer and meditation.

      It seems to me that this “repentance sadhana” logically follows from assuming that one left Krishna due to envy and fell down from Vaikuntha. Thus fervently praying to Him out of repentance and contrition is nishtha which will lead to ruchi, asakati and bhava. I have no idea what results this sadhana will actually give.

    • @Bhushan

      Such concepts are a form of psychological abuse. As if people dont have enough problems to deal with already, now they have to labor under false notions of committing a terrible crime which they did not commit. Sadhana bhakti is supposed to get rid of klesas (suffering), not create new (and worst) imaginary klesas. Such sadhana is not sadhana at all. It creates psychological problems and distorts initially normal people into paranoid shadows of their former selves. All this in the name of being ‘saved’.

  5. Sibusiso Nkambule

    What i find amazing about this topic is that its explained briefly and with sheer sweetness and simplicity by Srila Visvanatha Chakravati’s Saratha Varsini Tika commentary of Bhagavad Gita 13.20: ” You have described the Paramatma as the knower of the field. But speaking of the jiva is also the knower of the field, how does the jiva come in contact with maya and when does it start?”
    “Know that maya (prakrti), and the jiva(purusa) are both without an origin(anadi), having no first cause.This is because they are saktis of me, the Lord who is also without origin (anadi). From this it is understood that , because matter and jiva are both without origin, being my saktis, their connection is also without origin (anadi)…”
    This is so concise and its from the most respected or central text in one particular modern Vaishnava sect. I guess its true that one searches for truth and when it reveals itself in sheer simplicity one rejects it for a more complicated concept.

    • I do not think Visvanatha Cakravarti’s Gita is the most respected or central text in ISKCON. Has anyone *ever* seen someone give a lecture in an ISKCON temple out of Visvanatha Cakravarti’s Gita? Or Jiva Goswami’s Sandarbha? Even if one did that, it would first have to be mangled in translation to fit Prabhupada’s books (an example was Gopiparanadhana dasa). Otherwise forget it.

      Here is the logic:
      “Everything is in Prabhupada’s books. Why go anywhere else? Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura did not make the journey to the USA, enduring two heart attacks. Nor did Jiva Goswami. They are not senapati bhaktas. Prabhupada is the greatest acharya of Gaudiya Vaisnavism because he brought this theology to the West at great personal risk. He cannot be wrong and the previous acharyas have to be understood through his books.

      And even if he did make some minor adjustments to the philosophy for preaching purposes, so what? Preaching is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s desire, and all these bhajanandis are not pleasing Mahaprabhu. Without Prabhupada, you and I would not be even discussing these things. Remember, Prabhupada is the founder acharya of ISKCON. Not Jiva Goswami or Visvanatha Cakravarti. ”

      This is at least honest, and there is nothing wrong for an institution, formed by Prabhupada, to follow Prabhupada. But, *it is dishonesty* to claim that Iskcon gives knowledge “as it is” coming down in the parampara from Jiva Goswami. Iskcon wants it both ways- use Jiva Goswami to prop up its credibility (particularly with the Indians), and then either discard him or mangle his writings when challenged about that claim.

  6. Caitanya Krsna Dasa

    I would like to read about this topic in the different Vaishnava sampradayas, does anyone know about references in this regard?

  7. Kurt Shoemaker

    Haribol!!! Thank you for sharing the background story that led to the publication of this literary ‘Tour de force’.I was not aware this was originally slated to be an ISKON publication. Over the years I had read some information about the controversy surrounding it, but not enough to dig deeper into the history. It must have been very difficult to stand by your convictions in the face of such adversity. I can only imagine the difficulty. We are all so fortunate that you did and I for one am eternally grateful for you doing so. This book holds a special place in my heart. Reading it one can be transported back in time to the birth of Jiva institute and the spirit of presenting Jiva Goswami’s works in unadulterated purity. Thank you for taking the time to recount this very personal account and sharing it with the world.

  8. Ramaṇa

    The old pictures of Mahārāja are wonderful. His literary services have been glorious through the years.

  9. Radha Raman Das Post author

    Very interesting story.
    The next step for Iskcon was to make a law, during the GCB meeting in Mayapur 1996 that forbids any devotees to preach, speak in favor of the no fall. And to avoid bad association with the fall vadis.

    The title of this book is genius.
    This is from this controversy that I started to awaken slowly from a deep tamasic slumber that Iskcon was unable to remove despite very strong sadhanas for years even before mangal aratika. This is my practical experience.

    The fall theory means that antaranga shakti can be overpowered by bahiranga shakti.
    What a curious conception of the spiritual energy?
    I wonder if these kinds of paradigms applied on sadhana what is the final destination.

  10. Sandipa Krishna Dasa

    Thanks Babaji Maharaj for sharing the details which led to the publishing of this book.

    Like the book they are enlightening and bring forth the HYPOCRISY of an organisation that stands for and supposedly propagates ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

    I lived in that hypocrisy for quarter of a century and being inquisitive whenever I tried getting to the truth, I was bamboozled emotionally saying that the founder was a VAIKUNTHA MAN and how can I know or try to enquire more than what he has given. But when things are based on falsities, they don’t hold and that organisation today has so many offshoots. Further when the foundation is a wrong concept you create further hoaxes like the Ritvik and likewise. Nonetheless they have a smart marketing agenda wherein they are able to convince the gullible unknowledgeable people they they alone are the genuine parampara and rest all are fake.

    Making no headway there, it was some great fortune of mine that I came in contact with a student of yours and through him got to know of Jiva, the website, this book and your other books. As I started reading them and interacting with you, the fog of misconceptions started dissipating.

    It is really very difficult to unlearn wrong conceptions, more so when they have been learned in an emotionally surcharged manner. But I genuinely wish to thank you that you have been very kind and patient both in person and through your books and helped me and many others like me and you are continuing to do so.

    DANDAVATS.

  11. Acyutananda das

    In NYC 1966 for weeks we debated and even pestered Prahupad on this point. Finally he roared out, ‘WE ARE ETERNALLY FALLEN” Then echoing Jaiva Dharma he instructed us ” It is on the spiritual dimension Do not speculate or argue or debate this with faulty mind and inteligence. The subtle body is after all material and cannot approach Vaikuntha things. Continue sadhana and it will be revealed.”
    My example–The psychiatrist asks the patient ‘Tell me about your dreams” the patient says ‘I can’t they’re always blurry” the psychiatrist says ‘Tonight before you go to bed put your glasses on”

    • Malatimanjari Post author

      If this is what Prabhupada said, then all his other statements to the effect that the jivas fell (of which there are quite a few) would only confirm what Babaji tries to bring out in his book – that these statements were made for preaching purposes. If that is the case, then what was the need for ISKCON to ban the book?

      Babaji wrote the book to reconcile philosophical discrepancies, not to create dissension and conflicts. As website editor, I would therefore like to point out that all comments are the personal realizations and experiences of individual devotees and do not reflect the spirit and mood of Babaji or Jiva Institute.

    • Acyutananda das

      Part 2 I feel the need to clarify, The example of the psychiatrist telling the patient to wear glasses to see dreams in focus refers to the inability of the subtle body to perceive aprakrt Vaikuntha .
      I am banned from some Iskcon temples for explaining how baddha jivas eternally appear in and out of the mahatattva. I was speaking from Nityananda/Balaram tattva from CC chap 5 and came to Mahavishnu and Maha Sankarsan. Then Brahma Samhita and the delivery of the jivas from Mahavisnu’s glance by the instrument of Sambhu Siva. I got resistance, Since Prabhupad had instructed us to ”get on with sadhana and not argue or speculate on this” I never bothered to accumulate an arsenal of quotes to debate. At the time I didn’t even know this was such a sore point in Iskcon. I was immediately told to leave (Uttamasloka prabhu has pointed this out in his very thorough book that ‘fallavad’ is only and Iskcon issue)
      Regarding the ”Prabhupad only” argument please refer to CC chap 2 verse 117 purport- Those who suggest we not read the works of the previous acaryas are akin to impersonalists who take it for dry philosophy.
      But overall, as stated in Gita chap 18 verse 67, and elsewhere in sastra we are warned not to instruct those who are insincere, who are devious or envious. When someone inquires to know the jiva tattva we can explain. If they want to debate in a spirit of vitandi we can at once know that they are not sincere. Hence they ban books and devotees and now it seems even the entire Ramanuja Sri Sampradaya. They are “BANasuras” (BTW even Adam and Eve were created on earth) When describing the jiva tattva, know that fallavadis may conclude that God is cruel, or we are not responsible for our own conditioned existence etc. And most of all they fear that they will be humiliated if proven wrong. Keep this in mind when talking to fallavadis.
      We can say this to let fallavadis off the hook- “We explained fallavad for beginners. Now that you have some spiritual maturity the detailed, complete and wonderful Srsthi lila can be told.” They can save face and get on with sadhana. Or they will go on believing they are, as one fallavadi said ‘we are like Tulsi trees that have a body here and in Vaikuntha’ Or have to concoct stories like ”the valley of sleeping souls in Vaikuntha’ (nidra van???)” All his justifies their thinking “my used car lot business is my lila” I have actually heard this
      All the acaryas make concessions for disciples according to their adhikar. eg Jiva Goswamipad had disciples who could not accept Parakiya Bhav. Krishna in Gita Chap 12 verses 8 thru 12 gives concessions.’If you can’t do this then do this’ etc
      Fallavad will backfire on them though. The disciples will consider ”If we all fell, why is guruji worthy of my service? Maybe this is my first birth and gurujis ten millionth birth”
      I have actually heard this
      Now that Not Even Leaves Fall book is available devotees can have responses to objectors.

  12. Prem Nidhi Das

    DOCTRINAL CONTROVERSY AND THE GROUP DYNAMIC

    CONRAD JOSEPH (KUNDALI DAS)

    In 1994-95, a long-simmering doctrinal controversy came to a boil in ISKCON. It turned around the question, Where did the souls in this world originally come from? Did they fall down from Vaikuntha, the kingdom of God? Did they come here from some other place? Were they always here? Concerned devotees were not satisfied with the stock response of the society’s leaders, which was that souls fall here from Vaikuntha, for it seemed inconsistent with other parts of the Gaudiya philosophy. They kept pressing the question. Eventually the issue reached an inflamed emotional pitch. In the end, although the leaders of ISKCON never delivered a sound philosophical explanation for their verdict, based on scripture, those who disagreed with the official position were dubbed heretical.
    Part 1 of this paper presents a case study of that doctrinal controversy. Here I show five things: (1) a significant number of ISKCON members consider it a virtue to take the founder’s words as absolute, that is, uncritically or blindly; (2) the methodology ISKCON commonly uses for determining doctrinal deviation, because it is not based on rigorous epistemological procedure, is arbitrary;
    (3) several of lSKCON’s top scholars-and tlle GBC as a whole-have a fundamentally wrong understanding of the scriptural tradition they represent; (4) ISKCON’s concept of heresy results in confusion, because it is not based on proven deviation from divine revelation or scriptural canon but on perceived deviation from the teachings of lSKCON’s founder, Swami Prabhupada; (5) the inescapable outcome of these four failings is that ISKCON commits heresy against its own tradition.
    In part 2, using this case study as a backdrop, I pursue a broader discussion of the dynamics within ISKCON, drawing primarily on Erich Fromm’s and Abraham Maslow’s theories of social psychology. I conclude by stating briefly the key step in addressing the problem of destructive group dynamics.

    PART I

    Though ISKCON has a bulky law book, it has no official definition of heresy. Accordingly, we must deduce its position from the official reaction to events deemed heretical, and from unofficial published statements of some of ISKCON’s long-standing leaders. One such leader, the late Tamal Krishna Goswami, besides being a Governing Body Commission (GBC) member and guru, is a respected ISKCON academic. At the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (New Orleans, 1996), he presented a paper entitled, “The Perils of Succession: Heresies of Authority and Continuity in the Hare Krishna Movement.” So far the most thorough treatment of the topic in print, it subsequently appeared in the ISKCON Communications Journal (5 [1] [June 1997]). Citing Joseph Tyson (1984:410), Tamal Krishna Goswami defines heresy as follows:

    The word heresy is derived from a Greek word meaning “choice.” It had been used to designate the particular teachings of philosophical schools, and it denoted the opinion that each one had chosen. Christian writers began to use the term and soon gave it a pejorative significance. To them it indicated that a person had chosen a human opinion and rejected divine revelation. In this sense heresy has an evil significance, and the heretic is considered evil.

    All orthodox systems of Indian spirituality accept the divine origin of the Vedic scripture, so the Gaudiya tradition implicitly agrees with Tyson that heresy means choosing a human opinion over divinely revealed scriptural canon. When we look at Tamal Krishna Goswami’s application of the term “heresy,” however, he is inconsistent with his own stated definition. Issues that should merely be called controversy are labeled heresy. For instance, he labels a 1976 power struggle between the ascetics of ISKCON and the householders. This was a power play that involved no canonical dispute as such, though it greatly displeased Prabhupada, for it threatened schism among his followers. Another misplaced item on Tamaľs list is the controversy that erupted when some ISKCON members wanted to emphasize the esoteric aspect of bhakti, which focuses on the erotic pastimes of Krishna. That episode also incurred the extreme displeasure of Prabhupada, who considered his disciples’ interest in spiritual eroticism premature, but it hardly qualifies as a rejection of divine revelation. There were two occurrences of such emphasis on premature eroticism in ISKCON’s history. Confirming his misapplication of heresy, Tamal Krishna Goswami listed them both as instances of heresy.
    Tamal Krishna Goswami, in summarizing the GBC’s resolution, states: “Regarding philosophical controversies, Prabhupada’s instructions and personal example are to be the first and primary source for ISKCON’s devotees. Vedic literatures, the writings of the past acharyas, and even the current teachings of any bona fide non-ISKCON acharya must be viewed through Prabhupada’s teachings.” This suggests that for the GBC, Prabhupada’s utterances are the yardstick for truth claims, not an epistemological analysis of the divine revelation of scripture. We will see more evidence to tllis effect.
    According to the GBC’s outlook on doctrinal controversy, to question, sift, and sort the statements of Prabhupada, even in light of canonical statements and the views of previous commentators in the Gaudiya line, is to risk being heretical. Instead, one should do the reverse, understand all matters by filtering them though Prabhupada’s explanations. Indeed, to this effect, Tamal Krishna Goswami cites Hridayananda Das Goswami, long-time GBC member (now retired), and respected ISKCON academic with a Harvard Ph.D.: “The members of ISKCON, who live perpetually at the feet of Shrila Prabhupada, may speculate how Shrila Prabhupada’s statements are true, but they may not challenge his statements, or claim that they are false. This is precisely what it means to accept Shrila Prabhupada as the founder-acharya.”

    Hridayananda Das Goswami, one of the main players in the controversy under discussion, has clearly articulated his orientation: the line between heresy and orthodoxy is not based on the divine revelation of scripture but on Prabhupada’s utterances. To question these, or to examine any contradictory statements with a critical eye, is unacceptable scholarship, in Hridayananda’s view, and unacceptable conduct for a follower of Prabhupada. And this orientation, he says, “is precisely what it means to accept Prabhupada.” So, if Prabhupada said brass is gold, for example, a good disciple can try to justify how his statement is true, but does not dare have a goldsmith test a sample. Accept his opinion as your own; if it is questioned, generate arguments to bolster his words and you are the true believer. Tamal Krishna Goswami agrees witll this stance. Thus, to follow Prabhupada, in the eyes of two of ISKCON’s leading lights, means to do so uncritically, blindly.
    For several years prior to 1994, the question of the fallen souľs origin was high on the agenda of the GBC’s Philosophical Committee. Eventually, the chair of that committee, Suhotra Swami, gave up his post, declaring that the committee was unable to resolve the question. Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, Satyanarayana Das and Kundali Das1 were both involved in translating and commenting on the Sandarbhas,2 a six-part treatise by Shri Jiva Goswami, a prominent disciple of Chaitanya in the sixteenth century and one of the principal formulators of the Gaudiya philosophy. All Gaudiyas accept Jiva Goswami’s exegesis as the most systematic and conclusive work on Chaitanya’s philosophy.
    Word got out that Kundali and Satyanarayana’s view on the origin of embodied souls in this world, reflecting Jiva Goswami’s teachings, was that no one falls from the spiritual realm, but rather the souls were always here in the samsaric material world. Not knowing any of the evidence or reasoning from these two authors, another reputed ISKCON academic, Drutakarma Das, circulated a vitriolic e-mail to the GBC members on August 24, 1994 making serious charges against them. His message revealed a fervor that did not invite discussion: “To kill Shrila Prabhupada’s teachings (by whimsically explaining them away) is to kill Shrila Prabhupada. So let him [Satyanarayana] go and publish his nonsense interpretations elsewhere. At least we will know that we have preserved Shrila Prabhupada’s teachings intact and insured against that thing Shrila Prabhupada most feared, that we would change or relativize what he taught us.” From his words it is clear that Drutakarma, like Tamal Krishna Goswami and Hridayananda Das Goswami, believes that to question Prabhupada’s words is to “relativize” his teachings, a vile deed. Conversely, the height of virtue and righteousness must be to take Prabhupada literally and without question.
    Did Prabhupada teach this to his disciples? Was this his mission in coming to the West? Did he try to establish a cult of personality? He wrote more than 60 books, and his recorded lectures and conversations are in the hundreds. More than 4,000 of his letters are archived, and there are several films of him as well. So there is no shortage of data we can examine to see what most typifies his orientation, his personality, and his character. Such an examination shows that he taught that scripture, not quoting and counterquoting his own words, is the litmus test for truth claims: “The proces s of speaking in spiritual circles is to say something upheld by the scriptures. One should at once quote from scriptural authority to back up what he is saying” (Bhagavad Gita 17.15, purport). Prabhupada’s view accords with Tyson’s definition of heresy. Then how and why did some of his most learned followers end up with the very opposite idea of what he was all about?

    Drutakarma’s vitriol raised the controversy to an emotional pitch that precluded any equitable procedure or due process. He backed the leaders into a corner over the translation efforts of Kundali and Satyanarayana. He also authored an unpublished manuscript, “Once W e Were with Krishna,” which was circulated via the Internet. In it he laid out his understanding of what came to be called “the jiva issue.” Kundali and Satyanarayana were prevailed upon to respond to both his e-mail and his book. Lnitially, they refused, sensing that a philosophical discussion was hopeless. Eventually, however, a further missive from Drutakarma Das appeared in an Internet discussion group for ISKCON members. In an attempt to exalt Prabhupada’s greatness and show love for him, Drutakarma made claims implying that Prabhupada had started his own line of disciplic succession, the “Prabhupada Parampara,” or “Prabhupada Sampradaya,” which is something Prabhupada never claimed for himself. Rather, he insisted that he did not add or subtract anything from his predecessors.
    At this point, Kundali and Satyanarayana resolved to respond to Drutakarma and to clear up the jiva issue for posterity. In the spirit of open debate, they decided to write a book refuting Drutakarma’s idea that the souls in this world originally fell from the spiritual world. They would do this via an epistemological analysis and show that Prabhupada’s final conclusion on the question agreed with his predecessors in the Gaudiya lineage. The book was called In Vaikuntha, Not Even the Leaves Fall.
    In researching Prabhupada’s statements about the origin of the soul, Kundali and Satyanarayana found that at different times he in fact had given three different kinds of responses to the question:

    1. Typically, his answer was that all living entities were once with Krishna, but misused their free will and opted out of that perfect situation. As a result they fell from the spiritual kingdom to the material world. Now, in the human form of life, they have the chance, by perfecting their bhakti, to return to Krishna’s kingdom.
    2. At other times, notably when Prabhupada was not responding directly to the jiva question from disciples but addressing it in the context of a lecture or in his writings, he was emphatic that no one falls from Vaikuntha (Bhag. 3.16.26, purport): “The conclusion is that no one falls from the spiritual world, or Vaikuntha planet, for it is the eternal abode.”
    3. Sometimes Prabhupada discouraged dwelling on the question: “What does it matter how you got here? If you are drowning, the important thing is to get out of the ocean. Solve this problem. Later you may understand how it happened.” In a variant of this category of response, Prabhupada sometimes compared it to arguing whether the fruit fell from the tree because the bird flew off the branch or the fruit fell first, causing the bird to take off; in other words, the question was a fruitless speculative enterprise.

    In short, on some occasions Prabhupada said that the souls did fall from the Kingdom of God; on others, that they did not; and sometimes he discouraged dwelling on the issue at all.
    One naturally assumes that all three versions cannot be the conclusive truth under the Gaudiya view; but how to ascertain the correct one? Despite the assertions of Tamal Krishna Goswami, Hridayananda Goswami, and Drutakarma, quoting Prabhupada back and forth will never solve the problem, because those who are fortified with counterquotes in support of the version they favor will simply not accept the opposing view. A better approach would be to turn to epistemology. This would be impartial and conclusive. As Will Durant (1961) pointed out, epistemology is more a part of science than philosophy proper, because its purpose is to validate truth claims.4 So in efforts to settle possible heretical deviation, epistemology is indispensable.
    To Kundali and Satyanarayana, therefore, their task seemed simple. They had only to apply the standard epistemological proofs to each of Prabhupada’ s three replies to the jiva question and see which one had the support of scriptural canon. It was not a matter of lacking faith in Prabhupada, relativizing him, or one-upmanship over the institution’s leaders. It was a matter of reconciling Prabhupada with revelation and rendering a service in resolving a controversy they did not even start. As it happened, the very text they were working on, the six-part exegetical work of Jiva Goswami, mentioned earlier, details the Gaudiya epistemology in Tattva Sandabha, the first of the six-part treatise. Jiva Goswami explains that the Gaudiya epistemology is essentially a triad composed of scriptural testimony (shabda), inferential reasoning (anumana), and direct perception or experience (pratyaksha).
    Scriptural testimony, which for Gaudiyas is the same as divine revelation, is considered infallible because it is not of human origin and is therefore free of the four human defects-making mistakes, being deceived, cheating, and having imperfect senses. Reason (anumana) and sense perception (pratyaksha) are not considered as reliable because, having human origin, they are subject to the four defects. It is important to note, however, that despite these defects, Jiva Goswami does not reject reason and direct experience as sources of knowledge. While they are not as reliable as revelation, they are valid means of knowledge. His point is that though not totally reliable, they are not totally invalid, either-they just cannot stand as independent means but must work in concert with revelation.
    Indeed, to properly understand revelation, so there is no inconsisteney between different statements in the scriptures, reason (anumana) is essential.

    Consequently, Baladeva, another major formulator of Gaudiya thought in the nineteenth century, was careful to mention in his treatise on Vedanta Sutra that while revelation is the source of understanding, we must not leave out reason. Commenting on Sutra 1.1.3, Baladeva writes: “Uha, or right reasoning, is that by which we find out the true sense of a scriptural passage by removing all conflicts between what precedes and what follows it. But one should abandon all mere dry speculation.”5
    Dry speculation means attempting to understand the subject matter without referring to the revelation of scripture, whereas right reasoning is the attempt to reconcile the various utteranees of scripture, resulting in a clear understanding. Prabhupada taught this epistemological method to his disciples:

    The devotee in the first or uppermost class is described as follows. He is very expert in the study of relevant scriptures, and he is also expert in putting forward arguments in terms of those scriptures. He can very nicely present conclusions with perfect discretion and can consider the ways of
    devotional service in a decisive way. . . . The first-class devotee never deviates from the principles of higher authority, and he attains firm faith in the scriptures by understanding with all reason and arguments. When we speak oj arguments and reason, it means arguments and reason on the basis of revealed scriptures. (29-30; italics mine)6

    As for sense perception (pratyaksha), the third epistemological proof, that too has its role. In the Bhagavad Gita (9.2) Krishna declares that because bhakti gives “direct pereeption of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion.” Revelation, then, when properly understood and applied via reason, culminates in direet experience, the final measure of any truth claim. Thus, the three methods of knowledge work together, with revelation essentially guiding the other two.
    As the quote above shows, Prabhupada was aware of and taught proper epistemological procedure. Further, implicit in his encouragement to subject Chaitanya’ s teachings to the cold light of reason (vichara) is the invitation to do the same with his own words as well:

    Nyaya-kovidah means nyaya-nipuna. Bhagavad-dutas, those who are gosvamis, they place everything with nyaya, or logic. Their instructions are not blind, dogmatic. Naya-kovidah. Everything, what is said by Krsna or His representative, they are not dogmas. Those who are not representative of Krsna, they wilI say simply dogmas . . . in Bhagavata religion, Bhagavata-dharma, there is no dogma. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Bhagavata- dharma, the Chaitanya-Charitamrita’s author, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, says, therefore, that caitanyera dayara katha karaha vicara. Vicara means you just try to understand the gift of Lord Chaitanya by logic, vicara. Don’t follow blindly. Following blindly something, that is not good. That will not stay. But one should take everything with logic . . . the servants of God, they put everything in logic. Caitanyera dayara katha kara- ha vicara. . . . Study the Chaitanya’s philosophy with logic and argument. . . . Don’t go by sentiment.

    Also, in commenting on Gita (4.34), the central verse supporting the rule of surrender to the guru, Prabhupada writes: “In this verse, both blind following and absurd inquiries are condemned.” In the same purport, he stresses that a disciple must seek “a clear understanding” via submissive service and questioning the guru. From this and the passage above, we see that the dogmatic orientation implicit in the statements of Hridayananda Das Goswami, Tamal Krishna Goswami, Dmtakarma, and others is not Prabhupada’s outlook. His rational and epistemologically sound approach rules out the method of anyone who advocates that the primary category of proof is Prabhupada’s statements, not scriptural canon, and that a follower’s task is simply to reconcile scripture with Prabhupada rather than reconcile Prabhupada with scripture.
    Such a mindset suggests literalism, dogmatism, fanaticism, and the inevitable confusion these traits bring, because like any other thinker in history (or any scriptural text), Prabhupada said many things that require intelligent consideration and reconciliation in order to derive a clear understanding. This means his utterances cannot have equal weight in every context. Literalism flies in the face of Prabhupada’s own stated aim, which was to inspire a class of thoughtful, reasonable people who would assimilate the Gaudiya philosophy so well they would eschew all dogmatism in establishing its tenets.
    How can a sincere disciple validate all Prabhupada’s statements when he gives three different answers on the same question? Even the most zealous blind follower is hard put by this requirement to go three ways at once. Indeed, Tamal Krishna Goswami, Drutakarma, and Hridayananda Das Goswami could not go three ways themselves; they favor one of the three answers, though in every case their verdict was reached without applying the Gaudiya epistemology. The GBC body could not go three ways either, or it would not have had a philosophical committee working on the issue for several years, nor would it have an official ruling favoring only one of the three options-a ruling, we shall see, in which it does not acknowledge the aforementioned “conclusion” of Prabhupada that no one falls from the spiritual world, or reconcile this with its verdict.

    Also relevant is why among ISKCON members there is a general failure to understand and apply Gaudiya epistemology properly, despite Prabhupada explaining Jiva Goswami’s version. Part of the confusion is because, typically, when ISKCON members discuss reason and sense perception, they equate “fallible” with “invalid,” and from this basic miscalculation, distort their whole approach to epistemology, and, ultimately, to Gaudiya Vaishnavism itself. They strive to eliminate, or at least undermine, two out of the three proofs and leave only revelation.
    This tendency is seen in another essay that appeared in the ISKCON Communications Journal entitled, “Doubt and Certainty in Krishna Consciousness.”8 The author, Suhotra Swami, also a GBC leader, guru, and former chair of the GBC’s Philosophical Committee, initially argues correctly for the interrelationship between revelation and reason, but quickly sets this aside and proceeds to undermine reason, instilling in the unsuspecting reader a disdain for reason rather than a heightened awareness of its utility and importance when combined with or guided by revelation, which is the actual Gaudiya standpoint. There is an interesting subtext to this practice. Since shabda, or revelation, loosely interpreted, also means “hearing from authority,” eliminating reason and sense perception takes on a special significance in the ISKCON context, especially since followers are not supposed to question the authority of divine revelation, for to do so brings their faith into question. Before long “authority” in the scriptural context is used interchangeably with “authority” in the organizational sense-human authorities. This occurs in Tamal Krishna Goswami’s application of the term in his paper on heresies of authority, and the same is implied in Suhotra Swami’s essay on doubt and certainty. According to him, ultimate authority for an ISKCON member is not divine revelation, as upheld by Jiva Goswami and other recognized Gaudiya masters. Suhotra Swami’s last sentence in his opening paragraph unwittingly redefines authority, putting the guru and other devotees on a par with revelation: “Therefore, when a devotee of Krishna is asked about the certainty of his beliefs he usually answers by quoting authority: guru (the spiritual master), shastra (the Vedic scriptures) and sadhu (other devotees respected for their realization of the teachings of guru and shastra).” Thus, Suhotra Swami does not explain Gaudiya epistemology at all, but substitutes a new triad in its place. Instead of the triad Jiva Goswami taught-revelation, reason, and direct experience-he posits revelation, guru, and respected saintly persons. He elevates guru and respected devotees (which includes GBC members, among others) to an equal footing with canon.

    There is an explanation for this confusion. Suhotra Swami’s triad is part of the Gaudiya system, but it is not part of epistemology proper, a distinction one fails to make. In the tradition, trinity functions as a frame of reference in the sense that one may confer with a more experienced lawyer for insight about the law but should recognize that his expert opinion is not itself the law; it should be in accord with the law, but one does not blindly assume that it is. Similarly, even after applying the proper proofs for truth claims-scriptural canon, reason, and experience-one may still want to confer with a guru or a saintly person, to seek confirmation that one has applied the method correctly and arrived at the right conclusion. That is the proper utility for the triad Suhotra Swami advocates as the actual epistemological method. For him, revelation, guru, and “respected saintly persons” are all equal and interchangeable authorities. Accordingly, if challenged, a devotee invokes authority to justify his beliefs rather than explaining them with logical arguments, which is an abstruse way of saying a devotee blindly follows authority.
    These leading devotees are not atypical examples within ISKCON. Their writings are read across the society, yet no readers challenge the philosophical blunders they propound. This in turn suggests that for a large segment of Prabhupada’s followers, their guru became what Erich Fromm called “the voice of swallowed authority,” an authority so idolized-and so feared-that none dares examine his words with a critical eye, even when he is teaching precisely such an analytical approach to life itself: “Don’t follow blindly. Following blindly something, that is not good. That will not stay. But one should take everything with logic . . . the servants of God, they put everything in logic. Caitanyera dayara katha karaha vicara. . . . Study Chaitanya’s philosophy with logic and argument. . . . Don’t go by sentiment.”
    Sentiment is the very thing in evidence here, substantiated by a twisting of the Gaudiya teachings. I suggest that the mindset reflected in the words and attitudes of Tamal Krishna Goswami, Hridayananda Goswami, and Drutakarma Das, and indirectly in the words of Suhotra is endemic in ISKCON. The same confusion is reflected in the GBC resolution regarding the book that Kundali and Satyanarayana wrote to air their side of the controversy.
    To assess the book, the GBC formed a nine-member subcommittee. The chair was Ravindra Svarupa Das, another highly respected ISKCON academic as well as a reputed ISKCON reformer. Out of the nine, however, only two members, Ravindra Svarupa and Jayadvaita Swami, read the book they were to pass judgment on. These two told the others what to think, and the committee voted to ban the book. In ISKCON two members of a jury can hear a case and decide the verdict. In this case, the jury was composed of top leaders in the society and no one of them protested the ethos involved. That committee in turn informed the GBC body what to think, and the body ruled on the issue in 1995, telling the whole society in turn what to think. GBC resolution number 79 for that year reads as follows:

    1. Vaikuntha is that place from which no one ever falls down. The living entity belongs to Lord Krsna’s marginal potency (tatashtha shakti). On this we all agree. The origin of the conditioned life of the souls now in this material world is undoubtedly beyond the range of our direct perception.

    We can therefore best answer questions about that origin by repeating the answers Shrila Prabhupada gave when such questions were asked of him: “The original home of the living entity and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the spiritual world. In the spiritual world both the Lord and the living entities live together very peacefully. Since the living entity remains engaged in the service of the Lord, they both share a blissful life in the spiritual world. However, when the living entity, misusing his tiny independence, wants to enjoy himself, he falls down into the material world” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.28.54, purport).
    No ISKCON devotee shall present or publish any contrary view as conclusive in any class or seminar or any media (print, video, electronic, etc.). 2. In resolving philosophical controversies, the teachings, instructions, and personal example of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada shall be the first and primary resource for ISKCON devotees. We should understand Vedic literature, the writings of previous acharyas, and the teachings of current bona fide acharyas outside ISKCON through the teachings of Shrila Prabhupada. Where we perceive apparent differences, we may attribute them to our own lack of understanding or (more rarely) to “differences among acharyas.” When acharyas apparently differ, we shall defer to what is taught by His Divine Grace, our Founder-Acharya. 3. The GBC rejects the speculation that Shrila Prabhupada, while teaching about the original position of the jiva, did not mean what he said. The GBC finds this speculation unwarranted, poorly supported, unintentionally offensive to Shrila Prabhupada, and, as a precedent, dangerous.
    The GBC therefore directs that, effective immediately, the book In Vaikuntha, Not Even the Leaves Fall shall be prohibited from sale and distribution at all ISKCON centers and by all ISKCON entities. The GBC members and temple presidents shall be responsible for carrying out this resolution. The GBC appreciates Satyanarayana Dasa’s willingness to withdraw the book.

    One readily sees the singular consistency between the GBC’s attitude and the examples already cited from Tamal Krishna Goswami, Hridayananda Goswami, Drutakarma Das, and Suhotra Swami-emphasis on Prabhupada’s words without any pretense of canonical support. Rather than actual philosophy, Prabhupada’s name is invoked, making it difficult to disagree with those invoking it for fear of being perceived as argumentative with the founder, which is believed to be a mode of conduct unthinkable to his authentic follower. To question too keenly can instantly ruin the credibility of a questioner, regardless of the true motive or the actual content of the inquiry. Credibility is not all that may get ruined. Those with power may feel justified in teaching a lesson to punish the offensive questioner in any way they see fit. The clear point is that the entire GBC body labors under a conception that to question Prabhupada, or to appear to disagree with him, is heretical. It appears that ISKCON’s top leaders learned to parrot Prabhupada’s words, and are unable to apply his teachings in terms of the Gaudiya norms.
    Moreover, not content to merely suppress the opposition, the next year the GBC published an official rebuttal to the banned book. No doubt the ethos of airing to the public only one side of a debate says something about the inner workings of ISKCON. The book, called Our Original Position,9 had three authors, Gopiparanadhana Das, a Sanskrit scholar and translator, widely regarded in ISKCON as an authority on Gaudiya philosophy, and the aforementioned Suhotra Swami and Hridayananda Goswami. In the preface, Hridayananda Das Goswami reveals the book’s slant when he declares that it is not his aim to resolve the issue, but “simply to restore within ISKCON the proper spiritual culture within which we may study the issue. The proper spiritual culture is to submissively accept the statements of our Founder-Acharya as fact, and then try, through devotion and service, to realize the purport of his statements.”
    According to Hridayananda Das Goswami, it is not proper spiritual culture to cleave to Gaudiya epistemology in studying the issue, but to accept as fact whatever Prabhupada said, even if he gave three different replies to the same question. Yet none of the three authors could accept all three replies as equally valid, for their book echoed the verdict of the GBC resolution. So it is not even a matter of accepting unequivocally all three versions of what Prabhupada said, but rather of accepting the one approved by ISKCON authorities: ignore divine revelation, ignore reason, ignore Prabhupada’s “conclusion,” or be guilty of heresy.

    Kundali and Satyanarayana opted to stick to canon and the philosophical approach to Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Their research turned up no scriptural statements supporting the view that soul fell here from the spiritual world. On the other hand, there are numerous statements saying that residents of the spiritual world cannot fall down to the material world. (Ironically, even the GBC resolution states this before proceeding to contradict itself.) The souls in this world, as stated in Gita 13.20, are here “beginninglessly” (anadi). They never fell here from elsewhere. Hence, the word “fallen” in the expression “fallen soul” refers, not to some past event, but to the soul’s existential condition in this world, which is a fallen situation.
    The banned book, based on research in more than 80 works covering all schools of Vaishnavism and consistent with the Gaudiya epistemology, agrees with the second of Prabhupada’s answers cited earlier-“The conclusion is that no one falls from the spiritual world, or Vaikuntha planet, for it is the eternal abode.” Kundali and Satyanarayana felt, therefore, that when they agreed with the authority of the scripture and with the expressed conclusion of Prabhupada, and when both these versions made logical sense, then the charge of heresy leveled against them was a terrible blunder, a rationalization for some other motive, a testimony to the deep-seated irrational dynamics and political rivalry within ISKCON, or perhaps all three. Whatever the truth of the matter, by disagreeing with “the conclusion” and by not practicing proper epistemological procedure, the accusers fit the charge of heresy more than the accused.

  13. Vinoda Vani dd Post author

    I for one am grateful for Babaji’s presentation on the jiva issue and for his scholastic publications of the Sat Sandarbhas. This particular small book offered the teachings of Sri Jiva Goswami as the gold standard of our tradition and suggested that Srila Prabhupada’s (and his predecessors’) adaptations were preaching strategies targeted for modern audiences. It was meant to reconcile opposing viewpoints, not to disparage the character of Srila Prabhupada.
    Srila Prabhupada very much believed in the teachings of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and being in disciplic succession from them, chose to continue that tradition. As such, Prabhupada was “honest” to the Gaudiya Math mission.
    The reality, however, is that small deviations or adaptations of the bhakti philosophy and practice may foster a culture of misrepresentation, mistakes, revisions, and speculation, such that the original connection with sastra is eventually lost. Loyalty to the institution overrides loyalty to the original teachings of the tradition. It is a fair question, then, for a sadhaka to wonder if he has been deviated from the goal, Krishna prema, by institutional politics.
    As sadhakas, we do need to take responsibility for our decisions and past actions. If we are not satisfied with our choices or institutional affiliations, then seek association with an affectionate, advanced Vaisnava of a similar mood and move on.

  14. Acyutananda das

    When Madhwacarya met Vedavyasdev in the Himalayas Madhwa asked ‘How shall I present the Vedic Truth’ Vedavyas replied ‘In a straightforward manner. The sincere souls will understand and be attracted and the devious will not”
    See Bhag Gita chap 3 verses 26 and 29. The wise do not disturb or unsettle the minds of the foolish for they are attached to fruits of their labor by the 3 modes’
    This is why Bhaktivinod Thakur and Srila Prabhupad instructed not to argue this point.
    You can shoot down fallavadis arguments but not convince them. You can then at once know that
    they have commercial interest or pratistasha–desire for prestige –which is the most difficult of the
    anarthas Also Krisnadas Kaviraj in preface to the Adi 4 chapter of Caritamrita says “I cannot reveal the internal cause of Mahaprabhu’s pastimes to the general public yet it must be told. I will write in such a way that the sincere devotees will understand and fools will not Who in the 3 worlds could be happier than me?”
    The fallguys think ”once upon a time we fell from Vaikuntha’ But in Vaikuntha time does not exist. no past present or future. This is inconceivable in our conditioned state so they concoct fictional stories. These are not brahmabhuta people. They only think in relative measurements under the 3 modes.and lack of sukrti.(and a lot of duskrti)

  15. Acyutananda das

    Caitanya Caritamrita Adi lila says Some of Jiva Goswami’s disciples could not accept parakiya rasa
    so Jiva supported svakiya to show mercy on them. Did all of his disciples take to svakiya? No. All acharyas make concessions for disciples who cannot comprehend some siddhantas. They don’t ban them. That is not deviation that is mercy and adaptation.
    e.g. I overheard PP asking one of his lady disciples ‘We need you to help cooking” she said ‘I want to sew’ “But we need more cooks” “I want to sew’
    PP said ‘alright you sew’ She came out of his room and announced ”Prabhupad has ordered me to sew, no cooking ” This is adaptation, concession and mercy.
    The fallawallas will say ‘But we are making devotees and building temples’ I say, Muslims have more members and more and bigger buildings. (they have an edifice complex) Bigger numbers of followers and higher buildings don’t confirm truth. Neither is making people vegetarian or moral matter. Many people are becoming vegetarians because they love animals People become moral when they convert to Jesus. That is not evidence of truth.
    I also want to give my appreciation to the name ‘Jiva Institute’ No one can say sahajiya to that, it is a work of wisdom,

  16. Acyutananda das

    A temple president asked PP ”How should I manage the temple? ” Prabhupad said ”You must be very strict, you must be very liberal”

  17. jennifer

    Jiva = separate and not separate, different and indifferent, fallen and not fallen…lovable but needing to be kept behind bars.

  18. Prem Nidhi das

    Srila Prabhupada has written:

    “The conclusion is that no one falls from the spiritual world, or Vaikuntha planet, for it is the eternal abode”. (Srimad Bhagavatam, 3.16.26 purport.)

    The amazing and amusing thing is that people who fault Mahant SND and Kundali D. for there no-fall position over the jiva issue, claim that they speculate, or relativize Prabhupada, or they deviate from his teachings, but here he has stated clearly, so clearly that a very small child can understand, “the conclusion”Prabhupada writes that ,those disciples who don,t accept the conclusion in the Sat sandharbas are false devotees.
    False devotees don’t accept the conclusion, yet they claim to adhere to Prabhupada’s teachings. What can be done for such people, I don’t know. And while they reject the conclusion they claim to be more faithful to Srila Prabhupada than Mahant SND and Kundali das. Is this Kali-yuga or what? (Most of us tend to remember that Kali-yuga is the age of quarrel, but tend to forget that it is also the age of hypocrisy).

    When I confronted a purportedly learned swami about “the conclusion”, the swami, who was accusing Babaji SND of deviating, and of twisting the words of Prabhupada, without batting an eye, reportedly said, “I know that Prabhupada said this is the conclusion, but we know what he means”.
    Right. Prabhupada doesn’t know what he means when he says “the conclusion” but “we” know.

    Amazing. Here is a similar version of this logic. You are talking to a Christian and you are pressing home the point that the Lord has ordered in His ten commandments “Thou shall not kill”.

    So this Christian waffler rebuts with, “We know what He said, but we know what he means”. Which means that Thou shall not kill does not really mean what is plainly written there. And we condemn such people as wafflers etc etc, etc, but when we waffle with Prabhupada’s words, it is okay. We know what he means. He means the opposite of what he says is the conclusion. Brilliant.

    And then, my good God, the absurd articles in BTG, preaching mayavada with a twist, instead of brahma satyam jagan mithya teaching goloka satyam jagan mithya, just to win a debate. No regard at all for the truth, for siddhanta. Why? Because it is Kali-yuga and hypocrisy is now a virtue. Prabhupada wrote all those volumes of books so we would present mayavada in BTG? Amazing.

    As for the embarrassing book, “Our Original Position” well, one thing for sure, those positioning themselves to be acaryas, whose name appear on that pathetic work of pseudo-philosophy, had better forget about being known as an acarya. “Laughingstock” is far more likely to be the title they will receive. Time is a ruthless judge of events.

  19. Acyutananda das

    THIS I HAVE HEARD
    First the fallguys say we misused our free will and chose to fall down to enjoy That’s why we’re here..
    When Prabhupad says ‘No one falls from Vaikuntha” They say, ”we are not really here We are asleep in Vaikuntha and only dreaming we’re here.

    Well fallawallas, which is it?

  20. Willi Müller

    The spirit of the book seems to be in a different tone than many commentaries given here. Babaji’s intention with the book is to reconcile and not to divide. It gives an analysis of the different statements of different ācāryas, including Prabhupāda, and shows how his statements can be seen as an ingenious preaching strategy that clearly assigns the responsibility for one’s spiritual growth to the individual. I’d like to let the authors speak and cite from the book the following six possible reasons:

    “To conclude this portion of the book (the Second Wave), we present six possible reasons why Śrīla Prabhupāda’s preaching strategy entailed the idea of fall from Vaikuṇṭha. In doing so, we must take into consideration all that has been discussed in the First Wave as well, because the ācārays and śāstra clearly explain that the soul cannot fall from the spiritual world and because Prabhupāda is a faithful follower of the previous ācāryas. These reasons are not stated in any
    particular order of preference:

    1.) We were unqualified to understand the abstract philosophical points because of our background and upbringing and due to lack of knowledge of Sanskrit and Vedic logic.

    2.) Prabhupāda expected us to sort it out as we grew spiritually and studied the Gosvāmī literature, which he recommended us to do in his purports and letters.

    3.) He was keen on extending his mercy to as many souls as possible. Therefore he simplified a point in the philosophy he did not consider vital for advancement in devotional service. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta used the same technique in preaching to Westerners. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura did a similar thing in that he tried to explain anādi for the “rational” mind. Before him the ācāryas did not try to explain anādi, because their audience understood what was meant.

    4.) He also may have thought that the real answer, if not fully understood, may cause the beginner to blame Kṛṣṇa for his miseries. This would be an obstacle to progress in spiritual life.

    5.) The majority of Prabhupāda’s audience were schooled in the Judeo-Christian tradition, which believes in the fall of man from the kingdom of God. On the principle of na buddhibhedam janayed, it may have been much easier to dovetail that understanding with Kṛṣṇa consciousness and not get mired in the complex acintya understanding.

    6.) Part of Prabhupāda’s strategy was to divert the newcomers from this question, “What kind of God created this world of suffering?” It takes philosophical sophistication to appreciate the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas answer to this question: the Lord is līlāmaya. It takes spiritual growth to fully appreciate the nature of the Lord and that He is not the least bit to be blamed for the baddha-jīva’s misery. Otherwise it is hard for the tāmasic conditioned soul to accept responsibility for getting out. Thus Śrīla Prabhupāda gave us the spiritual equivalent of the-stork-brought-the-baby story.

    The singular virtue of the fall-vāda version is that the position and character of Kṛṣṇa is not questioned. The jīva did it all by misusing his free will.

    In the end we may not agree as to the reasons why Prabhupāda preached fall from the nitya-līlā. Whatever the reason or reasons, one thing is clear—because it differs from the siddhānta—it was a preaching strategy. That, as far as we can discern, is the only reasonable explanation. If others come up with a more reasonable alternative, we are open to suggestions that do not compromise the siddhānta.”

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