Question: This question is regarding sayujya-mukti, where there is no personal relationship with the Lord. If a living entity attains this mukti (after practice), then does he eternally remain in that liberated state or does he fall back to the material sphere due to lack of love for the Personality of Godhead? According to my understanding, if he has attained mukti (any of the five types), then it means that he is liberated for good; there is no chance of again coming into the material realm.
Answer: Yes, your understanding is correct. Mukti means permanent freedom from bondage. Such a person has no karma, so what kind of body would he get if he were to come back? The material body is a product of past karma. If he came back, when would this happen? How much time would have to pass? How then is mukti different from going to heaven? All these questions arise. So he does not come back.
Question: But one objection is that since the natural state of every jiva is to serve Krishna (jivera svarupa haya krsnera nitya-dasa), how is it that the jiva can stay contented in the state of sayujya-mukti since there is no conception of serving the Lord in that state of existence.
Answer: Just being within His effulgence is service. Just as if you decorate the temple with a flower, then the flower is doing service. So being within brahmajyoti is service, and there is no difference between Krsna and Brahman – vadanti tat tattva-vidah.
Or you can understand that his svarupa has the potential to do seva, but he is not doing seva. Just as if you have a servant and he is sleeping, so you do not say that he is not a servant because he is not doing seva. Although he is sleeping, his identity is still that of a servant. So svarupa is the potential, and that potential may be active or inactive. In our conditioned state also, we do not serve, yet our svarupa is dasa.
Question: You said, “The servant is sleeping”. He is allowed to sleep eternally?
Answer: Please understand that an example is given to make something understandable. It should not be taken literally. Sayujya mukti is eternal but it is not sleeping. It is like sleeping. Just as in deep sleep one feels nothing external and remains absorbed in one’s own self and feels happy, in sayujya mukti one feels inner bliss.
Mukti means freedom from both the subtle and the gross body. It is of two types, personal and impersonal. In personal mukti, a mukta gets a spiritual body in Vaikuntha. In impersonal mukti, a mukta has no body – material or spiritual. In sleep one is still bound with material bodies – subtle and gross.
Question: CC Madya 8.257 seems to say that after merging in Brahman one gets a sthāvara-deha.
Answer: That is not true. Read the payar carefully. It says yaiche (= just as). It is like getting sthavara deha, not actually getting it. So the correct meaning is that one will be situated (avasthiti) just like (yaiche) in a sthavara deha. It means one is without any external consciousness, which is the same example I gave – like sleeping.
Question: Then what is the meaning of the second part of that line; someone desiring bhukti gets the body ‘just as/ like’ a demigod. Dimmock actually has instead of bhukti –-> bhakti: ‘Those who desire bhakti are ultimately perfected’, the body of a deva then means Vaikuntha, not going to the heavenly planets. Both bhukti and bhakti are possible. But this ‘just like/as’ is puzzling in regards to this deva-deha.
Answer: What is puzzling in this? Such people go to heaven and get suitable bodies similar to devas, the residents of heaven.
Question: Why similar to a deva? One gets a body *as* a demigod. To put your words as you phrased them for the sayujya mukta, but then for the bhogi it says yaiche = just as. It is like getting a deva deha , not actually getting it. So the correct meaning is that one will be situated (avasthiti) just like (yaiche) in a deva deha?
Answer: Going to heaven does not mean one becomes a deva. Not everybody is a deva in heaven. So one gets a body similar to devas. What is the difficulty in understanding that?
Question: Caitanya-candrāmṛta (5) describes this merging into Brahman as hell (kaivalyaṁ narakāyate). One is in some type of hell for eternity.
Answer: That is also not true. Please read carefully. It is hell for a devotee, not for the one who is in it. He wanted it. He got it. He is happy with it. But devotees consider it worse than hell, not even hell. Why? Because there is no bliss of doing seva in such a mukti. There is only brahmananada but no bhaktyananada or premananda. A devotee is not interested in brahmananda, so he considers it as hell or even worse than hell. There is a chance to come out of hell and be a devotee. But from brahma-sayujya there is no such possibility to come out. Thus a devotee considers it as worse than hell.
Question: You write, ‘no possibility to come out of brahma-sayujya’. There one is forever in some state of bliss– how is that possible, the soul wants ananda : ‘Variety is the mother of enjoyment/ the spice of life’. How can the soul be happy in homogeneousness?
Sanatana Gosvami in Brhad Bhagavatamrta 2.2.215 and commentary, describes the happiness in the brahmajyoti as plain, monotonous, undeveloped and so vague as to be virtually nonexistent. Here is the verse:
paraṁ samādhau sukham ekam asphuṭaṁ
vṛtter abhāvān manaso na cātatam
vṛttau sphurad vastu tad eva bhāsate
’dhikaṁ yathaiva sphaṭikācale mahaḥ
“The happiness felt in impersonal samādhi is plain, isolated, vague, and limited because in that samādhi the functions of the mind have ceased. But when the object of meditation appears in the active mind, that object is more vividly manifest, like sunlight reflected on a crystal mountain.”
Thus if in impersonal samādhi any happiness is tasted, that happiness must be monotonous and undeveloped, so vague as to be virtually nonexistent.
Answer: Vague means indescribable. The word used is aspastam. It is so because in this state of samadhi there is no variety, no distinction of subject and object. It is monotonous but not non-existent. There are no manasic vrittis and thus no variety.
I gave the example of deep sleep. When you wake up from deep sleep, you can only say, “I slept happily”. If someone asks, “Can you describe your happiness?” there is nothing you can say. But happiness in Vaikuntha has variety and something can be said about it. So vague means no words to describe it.
As for “virtually non-existent” – I doubt that Sanatana Gosvami says it in the commentary. Please check the Sanskrit.
Question: This ‘virtually nonexistent’ is a translation of ISKCON BBT. But then Bhakti rasamrta sindhu 1.1.38 says bliss of brahmananda accumulated by samadhi lasting for half of Brahma’s life cannot compare to a drop of the ocean of bhakti. How can one be eternally happy with that if there is something superior?
Answer: First try to understand what it means to have brahma-sayujya mukti. There is no mind, no intelligence, no body – physical or material. Thus there is no way to think or discriminate in this state. This is what Sanatana Gosvami is saying in the verse cited above. It is just like the state of deep sleep or going into coma. One can remain in coma for years. Like that one can be in brahma-sayujya forever. You can come out of deep sleep because you have a material body. But in brahma-sayujya there is no body – material or spiritual, so there is no possibility of coming out of it. Again, the only example I can give is that of deep sleep.
Question: Also 1.1.39 and 40 say brahmananda is as insignificant as water in the hoof print of a cow / as insignificant as grass, and Sri Jiva Gosvami comments that there are plenty of such statements. How did these souls get in that position of Brahman? It is an unlimited area of effulgence.
Answer: That is anadi, without a beginning. Just as there are unlimited jivas in the material world. How did they get here? It is all anadi.
Question: Did they get elevated / promoted from the earth planet or are they are eternally in it? Why put on such low happiness for eternity?
Answer: One can also go from here to brahma-jyoti. That is matter of personal choice. Why do some people commit suicide? It does not make sense to a normal person, but when one is frustrated, one choses to kill oneself. Similarly, some people decide to have brahmananada, being frustrated with material suffering and ignorant of the bliss of bhakti.
Question: Some souls are eternally designated for Vaikuntha, some for brahma-yjoti (from which they can never ever get out?), some are in the dungeon of Durga. And there is nothing these jivas did to deserve these states, while all the positions in the material world—naraka, bhauma, svarga– are due to papa, punya- something one did to get that.
Answer: Those who are in Vaikuntha are happy. Those in brahma-jyoti are also happy, brahmananada. Those in the material world are given the chance to be happy. Bhagavan comes here to teach us. You may object that those in brahma-jyoti are not enjoying. But they are also not suffering. Moreover, they do not make this comparison between them and bhaktas that you make.
Neither any jiva nor Bhagavan have done anything for a jiva to be in Vaikuntha, in brahma-jyoti or in the material world. So neither any jiva nor Bhagavan is to be blamed or praised for it. Some things are just the way they are. They are beyond logic (acintya). Only shastra is pramana, and nothing else.
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