Offenses at the Stage of Bhāva

Question: It seems that anyone who has doubts cannot completely believe in the words of śāstra. In SB 1.2.21 it is said that doubts are destroyed upon seeing Paramātmā at the jīvan-mukta stage. It follows that there must be doubts at the anartha nivrtti stage. How should I understand this?

Answer: The doubt is not whether the śāstra is right or wrong, as it is in the case of a hypothesis. This question is asking thinking that doubt is only about śāstra being right or wrong, but that is not true. The doubt may be about one’s own capability. One may have doubts such as, “Am I capable of realizing the goal?”  “Is the process I follow proper or am I missing something?” “Is Kṛṣṇa really the way He is described (such as having a yellow dress, blackish color etc.)?” In other words, it is not that the sādhaka is harboring doubts about the validity of śāstra, but rather doubts about oneself, one’s practice and one’s own understanding.  Moreover, it is not certain that everyone will have such doubts. The doubt may not be about whether something is right or wrong. One may simply not be very clear about a concept although one accepts it to be true. Please read the very definition of śraddhā in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Eastern Division, second chapter (sādhana-bhakti).

Question: You had mentioned in a lecture that there is no possibility of offense at the stage described in SB 1.2.21.  Any suffering is an arrangement of Kṛṣṇa. Am I correct in assuming that 1.2.21 is the bhāva stage? If yes, how to reconcile this with Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, where Śrī Rupa Gosvāmī mentions that one can descend from the bhāva stage if one commits offenses? 

Answer: SB 1.2.21 is the prema stage and at this stage there is no possibility of offense. Even otherwise when Śrī Rupa Gosvāmī says that one can descend from bhāva stage, it is not a common thing. Rather I would say that such a thing will also happen by the special will of Kṛṣṇa—either to teach others something, or to make the bhāva of the devotee very intense. Otherwise at the bhāva platform, offense is almost impossible. 

Question: Śrī Visvanātha suggests that Bharat Mahāraja fell from the bhāva platform on account of the deer only because of Kṛṣṇa’s will. Could Dvivida be considered as an example where someone fell from the bhāva platform due to their own offenses?

Answer: As I said above such a thing is almost an impossibility. Dvivida is given as an example, but I would say even his situation was only by the Lord’s will. 

Question: The bhakti latā-bīja is explained as nirguṇaśraddhā in bhaktiśāstra. Śrī Visvanātha in his writings likens the bīja to a raw mango, and prema to a ripe mango. It would seem that the bhakti latā-bīja is made of the antaraṅgāśakti. If yes, it seems that when one has the raw mango in the mind (i.e. prema in an unripe or immature stage), one can be covered by māyā (as a sādhaka is susceptible to offenses) but when one possesses the ripe mango of prema, one can never be overcome by māyā. Is it that when one has nirguṇa-śraddhā, that śraddhā will never ‘actually’ leave that person in any future lifetime owing to any offense or māyic action, and that is proof that the bhakti latā-bīja also is beyond the effect of māyā?

Answer: Yes, it can be covered but generally speaking it will not be lost, unless one commits some very heinous offense. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī says that by great offense one can loose bhāva or one’s bhāva can be downgraded. (BRS Chapter 1.3.54)

Question: The concept of dormant prema is clearly unsupported by śāstra. Prema has to be given, and it is given at the bhāva stage as a ‘ray’ of the sun of prema. How to understand then that after one gets bhāva—the sudurlabha ray of prema—one’s bhāva can become bhāvaābhāsa of different types according to the severity of offenses as mentioned in BRS. Is the person losing the bhāva after having obtained it? Would that go against the principle that the antaraṅgā-śakti is independent of māyā?

Answer: No, it would not go against the antaraṅgā-śakti being independent of māyā, but rather it proves that it is independent. When we think of antaraṅgā-śakti, we tend to think of it as some impersonal energy because we equate śakti to energy. But śakti is also a person and can make decisions. Therefore, when one is offensive, then the antaraṅgāśakti leaves that person.

 

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