Question: I read elsewhere that it is Paramātmā who is present everywhere, in the atoms and in the hearts of every living entity. So, do Kṛṣṇa and Paramātmā both exist everywhere? Or is it Kṛṣṇa that exists everywhere but some see Him as Paramātmā? I am trying to understand the difference in all-pervasiveness of Kṛṣṇa and Paramātmā.
Answer: Paramātmā is an expansion of Kṛṣṇa to look after the affairs of the material creation. He is nondifferent from Krṣṇa. It is Paramātmā who exists everywhere in the material creation. Kṛṣṇa thus pervades the creation through His Paramātmā aspect. This is hinted at by Him in Gītā 9.4–5.
Question: Kṛṣṇa says in Gītā 10.42, ekāṁśena sthito jagat. Does this mean that Kṛṣṇa pervades as Paramātmā and as well as He Himself? Because here He clearly says ekāṁśena.
Answer: He pervades by His part, Paramātmā, not personally as Kṛṣṇa. There is no need for Him to pervade the creation personally. He achieves His purpose through Paramātmā.
Question: Is it true that the Paramātmā of the devotees is Kṛṣṇa Himself, and not his aṃśa?
Answer: Yes. Paramātmā is the ruler of the nondevotees and when one takes shelter of Bhagavān, then such a person comes under the jurisdiction of Bhagavān. Bhagavān also takes the role of Paramātmā for such a person. Although there is no difference between Bhagavān and Paramātmā, yet there is also some difference. Paramātmā, also called Īśvara, means the regulator or controller. To do the function of the regulation, Kṛṣṇa expands Himself into the Paramātmā form. Paramātmā is like an official form of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is like a head of a state in His private life, with His family members. In the material world, a person with a big post may have an official dress but at home, he remains in his casual dress. In the case of Kṛṣṇa, He has two forms. You can compare the two forms and see the difference, which is indicative of the difference in their roles.
Is Bhakti Based on Sattva-guṇa?
Question: In one of your talks, you said that bhakti is not dependent upon sattva-guṇa and therefore can manifest in a rajasic or tamasic person. I have a doubt about this. In SB 1.2.24, it is said sattvam brahma-darśanam. This makes it seem that only those in sattva-guṇa can have darśana of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. After all, how could bhakti appear in a heart that is full of rajas and tamas? We may cite the case of Ajāmila or Prahlāda (being an asura) but aren’t such instances the Lord’s līlā? I am getting hung up on the fact that as devotees, we observe regulative principles, rise early, etc. in order to be in sattva-guṇa because when we are in sattva-guṇa, knowledge of bhakti may arise. It cannot arise when we are in ignorance or have too many attachments to the world. So, is it that sattva-guṇa is needed to become more favorable to Yugala Kiśora? If not, why not just eat, drink, and be merry? Bhakti will surely come… I understand that bhakti is all-powerful and supremely independent, and to say that bhakti is not dependent on sattva-guṇa is true, but I am trying to understand—why do we self-regulate?
Answer: When we speak or write, we have an intention to convey. The important thing is to understand the intention of the speaker or the writer. The next thing which is important to know is the context.
Therefore, when it is said that bhakti is not dependent on sattva-guṇa, what it means is that it is not that by becoming sattvic, bhakti will manifest automatically. Bhakti is the transcendental energy of Bhagavān. Therefore, it cannot be caused by anything material or by that which consists of the guṇas of prakṛti. In Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.3.31, it is clearly said that bhakti comes from bhakti. This is a very clear principle of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. However, for bhakti to manifest, certain factors may be more conducive than others.
I will explain this with an example. Imagine that you have seen cars running on the highway, but you have never used a car, nor have you ever sat in a car. Then someone tells you that a car runs on gas. But you see the car running on four wheels! You may then argue that how is it possible that a car runs on gas?! I see cars running all the time on wheels, but the fact is that even if you have wheels on the car, but there is no gas, it will not run.
Another example is that if someone is drowning in a river, and you are walking by, you are free to either save that person or not, even if that person is not asking for help. But you see the person struggling, and you may decide to help. On the other hand, if the person is asking for help, you may be more inclined to help. In both cases, you are free to help or not help.
Similarly, if one is following a sattvic life, then there is more possibility for this person to understand bhakti and to strive for it. On the other hand, if someone is following a rajasic or tamasic life, then one has a very bleak chance of understanding bhakti, let alone trying to practice bhakti. When it comes to the cause of something, there is a primary cause and assisting causes, but the assisting causes cannot produce the thing itself. Therefore, just because someone is sattvic, does not mean that bhakti will manifest in such a person. There are many people in this world who lead a sattvic life, and they don’t have the faintest idea about bhakti. If you tell them about bhakti, they may show no interest in it or may even argue against it because they see it as a disturbance to their sattvic life. So, sattva is favorable for bhakti, but it is not the cause of bhakti.
Concerning your quote from SB 1.2.24, it means that sattva helps you to reach Brahman, but it does not mean that it is the cause. In Bhagavad Gītā 14.26, Śrī Kṛṣṇa says very clearly that only by engaging in bhakti one can transcend the guṇas and then become Brahman-realized. By following sattvic life, one cannot transcend sattva. Without transcending the guṇas, one cannot have brahma-darśanam. Sattva is a gateway but not the cause of darśanam.
Emotion is only in the mind. You are neither happy nor sad, but beyond both of them. When you can watch the emotions and not become emotional, then you can decide with a rational mind what to do. Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita to remain balanced and watch these emotions come and go.
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Sattva, making the mind still enables correct perception of sensual input. As it is, to a great extent. It checks delusory thinking and helps one see and thus break free of past and current delusions. However, this clarity and lightness is called a fetter in the Gītā. There must me more then, a higher experience. Existence of a spiritual realm, this inference, the possibility of making or accepting this inference, is most probable in a sāttvic mind. The analogy of Plato’s cave starts making sense.