Śrīman Mahāprabhura Śikṣā

Chapter 8
Taṭastha gaṭhana vaśataḥ jīva mukta daśāya prakṛti mukta

(The jīva’s natural marginal constitution is to be in a liberated condition, free from matter)

Although the jīva is bewildered by māyā, and bound by the restraints of beginningless impressions and karma, he never loses his marginal constitution and nature. Even in this condition, although the nature produced by the influence of māyā is powerful, and the jīva’s intrinsic consciousness of kṛṣṇadāsya (servitorship to Kṛṣṇa) is almost invisible, it still remains. Given a little opportunity, he will eventually become acquainted again with his real nature. Proper association is the only opportunity. Therefore, the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad states:

yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmānaḥ
(Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.23)

The significance and meaning of the Vedas is revealed to the māhātmā who has faith in great bhakti, in other words, śuddhabhakti, and has the same type of faith in the sādhu-guru. In the Caritāmṛta it is said:

saṁsāra bhramite kona bhāgya keha tāre
nadira prabhāve yena kāṣṭha lage tīre

(“While wandering through the world of birth and death, someone may be fortunate enough to cross that, just as in the flow of a river, a large piece of driftwood may reach the bank.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.43)

 kona bhāgya kāro saṁsara kṣayonmukha haya
sādhu saṅga kare kṛṣṇe rati upajaya

 (“When one is fortunate and the experience of the material world begins to diminish, then by sādhu-saṅga, attraction for Kṛṣṇa arises.”– Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.45)

 sādhu saṅga sādhu saṅga sarva śāstre kaya
lava matra sādhu saṅge sarva siddhi haya

 (“All the śāstra declares, ‘Sādhu-saṅga! Sādhu-saṅga!’Even accepting sādhu-saṅga for a fraction of a second can lead to all perfection.”– Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.54)

 kṛṣṇa tomāra hau yadi bale ekabāra
māyā-bandha haite kṛṣṇa tāre kare pāra

(“If somebody says, ‘Kṛṣṇa! I am Yours!’ even once, then Kṛṣṇa releases him from the bondage of māyā.”Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.33)

When, by destiny, someone’s material life diminishes, he becomes inclined to associate with sādhus. Concerning this statement, one may ask what is that destiny? If destiny alone is the cause of the removal of material life, then how can one say that śraddhā or sādhusaṅga is the cause of all auspiciousness? Destiny is a blind occurrence, and if that is the only cause of auspiciousness for the jīva, then the jīva will have no inclination to make any endeavour himself. Although this subject seems simple to ascertain, it is actually very complex. In order to come to a correct conclusion, it is necessary to examine every foundational aspect of jīva-tattva. At the time when the jīva’s inherent nature is formed, the only active operative is Īśvara and no one else. Independence is intrinsic to the formation of that which has a spiritual nature. Thus, the supremacy of the Creator also remains with that which is created. Later, all their activities have no connection with the original Creator. Initially, the fully independent jīva becomes either favourble or averse to Bhagavān. This is the first action of the jīva. Through this, the jīva is the initial operative. At the time of this action, Īśvara is the accompanying Operative, who gives him the results of his activities. After entering into avidyā, the operatives again become threefold. The jīva always remains the primary operative in his activities at all times. Matter, which assists him, becomes the indirect operative. Īśvara, who grants the results of those, becomes the accompanying Operative. Although the jīva is voluntarily preoccupied with avidyā, his position as the primary operative never ceases. After entering avidyā, whatever activities the jīva executes that produce results are known by the word bhāgya (destiny). The destiny of the atheist is not the same as the destiny of the theist. A jīva’s destiny is judged according to the specific results of his activities. All these activities are twofold – spiritual and material. Material activities produces a material destiny. Spiritual activities produces a spiritual destiny. Everything that is performed with a spiritual objective is spiritual – such as service to sādhus, chanting Bhagavān’s Name and service to Bhagavān. No matter what tendency a jīva has, by performing all these activities, they create a type of impression, that takes on the form of a desire for bhakti. When this impression is gradually nourished, it is known as the jīva’s  saubhāgya (good fortune). As that saubhāgya increases, the jīva’s attachment for the material world becomes weak. When it becomes weaker, then that saubhāgya increases and is nourished, transforming into śraddhā, aided by the association of sādhus, and that śraddhā produces more association, and awards all perfection. The gradual development of saubhāgya may be examined from the life of Śrī Nārada. In the Bhāgavata:

ahaṁ purātīta-bhave ’bhavaṁ mune
dāsyās tu kasyāścana veda-vādinām
nirūpito bālaka eva yogināṁ
śuśrūṣaṇe prāvṛṣi nirvivikṣatām
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.5.23)

ucchiṣṭa-lepān anumodito dvijaiḥ
sakṛt sma bhuñje tad-apāsta-kilbiṣaḥ
evaṁ pravṛttasya viśuddha-cetasas
tad-dharma evātma-ruciḥ prajāyate

tatrānvahaṁ kṛṣṇa-kathāḥ pragāyatām
anugraheṇāśṛṇavaṁ manoharāḥ
tāḥ śraddhayā me ’nupadaṁ viśṛṇvataḥ
priyaśravasy aṅga mamābhavad ruciḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.5.25-26)

Nārada said, “O Vyāsa! In the previous kalpa, I was the son of a maidservant. I was engaged in the service of some followers of the Vedas who were bhaktiyogīs. They lived in one place during the rainy season. Since my mother was their maidservant, I began to get rid of all my contamination by eating the leftovers of those devotees. Due to this activity, my consciousness became purified and śraddhā for bhajana of the Supreme was born within me. Gradually that śraddhā increased by constantly hearing hari-kathā and my inclination towards Kṛṣṇa arose.

evaṁ kṛṣṇa-mater brahman nāsaktasyāmalātmanaḥ
kālaḥ prādurabhūt kāle taḍit saudāmanī yathā

prayujyamāne mayi tāṁ śuddhāṁ bhāgavatīṁ tanum
ārabdha-karma-nirvāṇo nyapatat pāñca-bhautikaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.6.27-28)

“O brāhmaṇa, in this way I became a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, then I suddenly died. My body made of the five gross elements disappeared and due to my śraddhā, I attained a spiritual form. As one becomes free from māyā, attraction towards that which is spiritual gradually appears.”

Now the conclusion is that after many births, when there are results from sukṛti, bhāgya appears, and through sādhu-saṅga, śraddhā manifests. From śraddhā, then there is gradually bhajana, anartha-nivṛtti, niṣṭhā, ruci and after asakti, then kṛṣṇa-rati (attraction for Kṛṣṇa) arises. When bhāgya appears in one’s life, śraddhā is also is observed. Because of this, śraddhā and sādhu-saṅga is the root of all auspiciousness. In this regard there is a kārikā:

evaṁ pañjara-bandho’yam jīvaḥ śocati sarvadā
kadācit sat-prasaṅgena tasya mokṣo vidhīyate

“The subtle and gross bodies are like a cage that incarcerate the spiritual jīva. In this condition, the jīva constantly laments. Occasionally, by the appearance of good fortune, he is released from the bondage of māyā by the association of sādhus.”

mukta-bandha-daśā-bhedāc caitanyasya daśā-dvayam
muktir hitvānyathā rūpam svarūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ
atyanta-duḥkha hānau sā cit-sukhāptir na saṁśāyaḥ

 “Bondage and liberation are the two conditions of a jīva. In other words, the name of that state wherein one abandons his adverse condition is called liberation. With this liberation extreme misery ceases and one attains divine bliss. There is no doubt about this.”

The Śvetāśvatara says:

juṣṭaṁ yadā paśyaty anyam īśam
asya mahimānām iti vīta śokaḥ
(Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 4.7)

“When he looks towards the Supreme Controller, who is the sevanīya-vastu (object of service), then his misery disappears and he achieves glory in his position as a servant of Kṛṣṇa.”

Liberation and bondage are the two conditions of a jīva. There are two kinds of liberated jīva, namely nitya-mukta (eternally liberated) and māyāmukta (liberated from māyā). Those who are nitya-mukta have never been bound by māyā. The māyāmukta has entered māyā, and later, by the association of devotees, becomes freed from māyā and enters the divine pastimes. Now what is considered to be his form at liberation? Some say that when all misery ceases for the jīva, that is called liberation. Some say that merging with Brahman or merging with Īśvara is called liberation. However, the opinion of those that are omniscient is this:

muktir-hitvānyathā rūpaṁ svarūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ

(“Liberation is the attainment of one’s intrinsic form, which is achieved when one discards the gross and subtle bodies.” – Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.10.6)

The jīva has a spiritual nature; he is a pure servant of Kṛṣṇa. By entering into māyā, his nature becomes mutated. When he rejects that and is situated in his true nature that is called liberation. If knowledge about his true nature becomes completely obscured, there is a tendency to merge into Brahman, and when his nature is unambiguous, he achieves the position of being a pure servant of Kṛṣṇa. Liberation is not merely the termination of misery. The characteristic of liberation is the termination of misery and the attainment of divine bliss. The characteristics of liberation are described in the Chāndogya:

evam evaiṣa samprasādo’smāc charīrāt
samutthāya paraṁ jyoti-rūpa-sampadya svena
rūpenābhiniṣpadyate sa uttamaḥ puruṣaḥ
sa tatra paryeti jakṣan krīḍan ramamāṇaḥ
(Chāndogya Upaniṣad 8.12.3)

“That jīva who achieves liberation, relinquishes these gross and subtle bodies, and is supplied with a spiritual effulgent form along with a transcendental nature. He is a superior being. In that divine realm, he eats, plays and becomes absorbed in the bliss of union.”

It is the opinion of the Vedas, that this liberation is the highest type of liberation. The Chāndogya also described the eight states attained when the jīva achieves liberation.

ātmā’pahata-pāpmā vijaro vimṛtyur
viśoko vijighatso’pipāsaḥ satya-kāmaḥ
satya-saṅkalpaḥ so’nveṣṭavyaḥ
(Chāndogya Upaniṣad 8.7.1)

Apahata-pāpa means he is free from the tendency to engage in pāpa in connection with māyā, avidyā etc. The word virajo means that the nature of old age is gone – in other words, he is eternally young.  The word vimṛtyu means there is no fall down. The word viśoko refers to complete peace, meaning the expectancy of freedom from lamentation and distress. The word vijighatso refers to having no subtle desires for material enjoyment. The word apipāso means being devoid of any other desires other than wanting to perform service for one’s most Beloved. The word satya-kāma refers to the desire to render appropriate service to Kṛṣṇa, and only to render that service without any fault. The word satya-saṅkalpa means the desire to become perfect by doing so. These eight qualities do not exist within a bound jīva. One should understand the difference between the bound and liberated jīvas by researching all the śāstra.

Liberation is valued highly and is the highest attainment for a jīva, however, it must only be for achieving happiness in the service of Bhagavān. Thus, if one hopes for secondary results, one will not see the primary result so easily. For this reason, the desire for liberation should not appear in the heart.  Those who have the desire for liberation in their hearts from the very beginning will not be able to achieve any advancement in eternal bhakti-rasa. No matter how much jñāna or karma one may adopt, without Kṛṣṇa’s mercy through bhakti-yoga, one will never be liberated. Among the ten topics of the Bhāgavata, liberation is the ninth, and āśraya-sukha (the bliss of taking shelter of Kṛṣṇa) is the tenth topic.

daśame daśamaṁ lakṣyam āśritāśraya-vigraham
śrī-kṛṣṇākhyaṁ param-dhāma jagad-dhāma namāmi tat

(In the tenth Canto, Śrī Kṛṣṇa the āśraya-vigraha [the form of He who gives shelter] who gives refuge to the devotees is described.  I offer obeisance unto that He who is known as Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the supreme abode, the abode of the universe. – Bhāvyartha-dīpikā 10.1)

Those who develop bliss from that Shelter within their hearts, have the other nine subjects in their grasp, including liberation. In order to make this point clear, Śrīman Mahāprabhu said:

cāri varṇāśramī yadi kṛṣṇa nahi bhaje
sva-dharma karite sei raurave paḍi maje

 (“If the followers of the four varṇas and āśramas do not worship Kṛṣṇa, even by following their duties, they will fall into a hellish condition.”  – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.26)

 jñānī jīvan-mukta daśā pāinu kari māne
vastutaḥ buddhi śuddha nahe kṛṣṇa bhakti vine

(“The jñānī thinks that he has attained the state of jīvan-mukta [liberated while in this body]. In reality, his intelligence cannot be purified without kṛṣṇa-bhakti.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.29)

No one can be liberated by the means of karma, jñāna, yoga, tapasya etc., which is why seekers of jñāna take shelter of a kṛṣṇa-bhakti, although that shelter is only a semblance. Those who are qualified for śuddha-bhakti never pray for liberation, however liberation is inclined to very humbly submit herself to their service.

bhaktis tvayi sthiratarā bhagavan yadi syād
daivena naḥ phalati divya-kiśora-mūrtiḥ
muktiḥ svayaṁ mukulitāñjali sevate ’smān
dharmārtha-kāma-gatayaḥ samaya-pratīkṣāḥ

(“O Bhagavān, if you consider that our bhakti is firm, then kindly reveal Your divine youthful form within our hearts. Then any prayers for the four goals of dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa are no longer required. That is because, with folded hands, mukti stands like a maidservant, waiting to serve us. Also when dharma, artha, and kāma are necessary, they wait for our command to serve Your lotus feet.” Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛta 107)

Liberation for devotees is of two kinds, namely svarūpa-mukti (liberation when one knows one’s eternal identity) and vastu-mukti (liberation when one achieves that identity). Whoever, through bhajana, directly attains that, even while in this mundane world, is served by mukti before the death of the material body. Although the body is owned by māyā, the ātmā is directly immersed in the bliss of the spiritual realm. They have achieved the state of svarūpa-mukti. When they give up the material body, by Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, they achieve vastu-mukti.

The sāyujya-mukti sought after by the followers of the Advaita doctrine is of two different types, namely brahma-sāyujya (merging into the effulgence of the Lord) and īśvara-sāyujya (merging into the form of the Lord). These kinds of liberation are not the natural condition of the jīva. In this regard, the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa states:

siddha-lokas tu tamasaḥ pare yatra vasanti hi
siddhā brahma-sukhe magnā daityāś ca hariṇā hatāḥ

(“The abode of Brahman, known as Siddhaloka, lies beyond the māyika world. There, the māyāvādīs that are immersed in the bliss of Brahman reside, along with asuras such as Kaṁsa etc, who are slain by Bhagavān.”)

Although the jñānīs and yogīs attempt to separate themselves from māyā by meditating upon Brahman as ahaṁ brahmāsmi and tat tvam asi, they never become situated in their spiritual forms nor achieve the supreme transcendental refuge.