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The Fall of
the Jiva: Answer
by Umapati Swami
Thanks for your question about the fall of the jiva. It is true that there are statements supporting both fall and no-fall in Srila Prabhupada’s books, so you have asked for an answer by a learned devotee. I hardly fit the category, but I will refer to what Srila Prabhupada said when the question was put to him directly.
Here is an excerpt from a conversation:
"Devotee: It is said that once you achieve the Godhead, once you go back to Krsna, that you don’t fall down. But it is also said that we come from there originally. If we came from there, how did we fall if we were already there?
"Prabhupada: Yes. Just like this example that personalities like Brahma and Siva, they also sometimes become victims of maya. So our, I mean to say, potency of falling down is always there, potency. And because we are part and parcel of God and because we are now in the material world, it is to be understood that we have fallen down. But you cannot trace out the history when you have fallen down. That is impossible. But our position is marginal. At any moment, we can fall down. That tendency is there. Therefore we are called marginal. But one... Just like it is very simple to understand. Everyone is prone to fall diseased. Is it not? Now when you are diseased, there is no necessity of finding out the history when you became diseased. You are diseased, make your treatment, that’s all. Similarly, we are in the material condition of life. Just go on treating it, and as soon as you are cured, be careful not to fall down again. But there is chance of falling down, again becoming diseased. Not that because you once become cured, there is no chance of becoming diseased again. There is chance. Therefore we shall be very much careful. Yes." (Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.62-72, Los Angeles, December 19, 1968)
"Allen Ginsberg: How did the material covering begin?
"Allen Ginsberg: As the material shadow. How did we fall into that?
"Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. That is very natural. Just like... (knock on door) Come on. Because jiva, although para sakti, he has got independence. So when he wants to imitate Krsna... In the spiritual world Krsna is the enjoyer, and all others, they are enjoyed. Predominator and the predominating. The Lord is the predominating, so there is no disagreement. There they know, ‘The Lord is predominator. We have to serve.’ When this service attitude is impaired, that ‘Why serve Krsna? Why not ourself?’ that is maya. Then he falls down in the material energy. There is no scope... Just like in the government system, there is no scope of freedom. You have to act according to government state laws. So long you are agreement, then you are free. If you disagree, then you are placed within the prison house." (Room Conversation with Allen Ginsberg, May 14, 1969, Columbus, Ohio)
And here is an excerpt from a letter by Srila Prabhupada:
"Letter to: Madhudvisa
"Crow And Tal-Fruit Logic
"We never had any occasion when we were separated from Krsna. Just like one man is dreaming and he forgets himself. In dream he creates himself in different forms: now I am the King discussing like that. This creation of himself is as seer and subject matter or seen, two things. But as soon as the dream is over, the ‘seen’ disappears. But the seer remains. Now he is in his original position.
"Our separation from Krsna is like that. We dream this body and so many relationships with other things. First the attachment comes to enjoy sense gratification. Even with Krsna desire for sense gratification is there. There is a dormant attitude for forgetting Krsna and creating an atmosphere for enjoying independently. Just like at the edge of the beach, sometimes the water covers, sometimes there is dry sand, coming and going. Our position is like that, sometimes covered, sometimes free, just like at the edge of the tide. As soon as we forget, immediately the illusion is there. Just like as soon as we sleep, dream is there.
"We cannot say therefore that we are not with Krsna. As soon as we try to become Lord, immediately we are covered by Maya. Formerly we were with Krsna in His lila or sport. But this covering of Maya may be of very, very, very, very long duration, therefore many creations are coming and going. Due to this long period of time it is sometimes said that we are ever-conditioned. But his long duration of time becomes very insignificant when one actually comes to Krsna consciousness. Just like in a dream we are thinking very long time, but as soon as we awaken we look at our watch and see it has been a moment only. Just like with Krsna’s friends, they were kept asleep for one year by Brahma, but when they woke up and Krsna returned before them, they considered that only a moment had passed.
"So this dreaming condition is called non-liberated life, and this is just like a dream. Although in this material calculation it is a long, long period, as soon as we come to Krsna consciousness then this period is considered as a second. For example, Jaya and Vijaya. They had their lila with Krsna, but they had to come down for their little mistake. They were given mukti, emerging into the Brahmasayujya after being killed three times as demons. This Brahmasayujya mukti is non-permanent. Every living entity wants pleasure, but Brahmasayujya is minus pleasure. There is eternal existence only. So when they do not find transcendental bliss, they fall down to make a compromise with material bliss. Just like Vivekananda founded so many schools and hospitals. So even Lord Brahma, he is still material and wants to lord it over. He may come down to become a germ, but then he may rise up to Krsna consciousness and go back to home, back to Godhead. This is the position.
"So when I say Yes, there is eternal lila with Krsna, that means on the evidence of Jaya-Vijaya. Unless one develops full devotional service to Krsna, he goes up only up to Brahmasayujya but falls down. But after millions and millions of years of keeping oneself away from the lila of the Lord, when one comes to Krsna consciousness this period becomes insignificant, just like dreaming.
"Because he falls down from Brahmasayujya, he thinks that may be his origin, but he does not remember that before that even he was with Krsna. So the conclusion is that whatever may be our past, let us come to Krsna consciousness and immediately join Krsna. Just like with a diseased man, it is a waste of time to try to find out how he has become diseased, better to spend time curing the disease.
"On the top of the tree there is a nice tal-fruit. A crow went there and the fruit fell down, Some panditas, big big learned scholars saw this and discussed: the fruit fell due to the crow agitating the limb. No, the fruit fell simultaneously with the crow landing and frightened the crow so he flew away. No, the fruit was ripe and the weight of the crow landing broke it from the branch, and so on and so on. What is the use of such discussions? So whether you were in the Brahmasayujya or with Krsna in His lila, at the moment you are in neither, so the best policy is to develop your Krsna consciousness and go there, never mind what is your origin.
"Brahmasayujya and Krsna lila--both may be possible, but when you are coming down from Brahmasayujya or when you are coming down from Krsna lila, that remains a mystery. But at the present moment we are in Maya’s clutches, so at present our only hope is to become Krsna conscious and go back to Home, back to Godhead. The real position is servant of Krsna, and servant of Krsna means in Krsna lila. Directly or indirectly, always we are serving Krsna’s lila. Even in dream. Just like we cannot go out of the sun when it is daytime, so where is the chance of going out of Krsna lila? The cloud may be there, it may become very gray and dim, but still the sunlight is there, everywhere, during the daytime. Because I am part and parcel of Krsna, I am always connected. My finger, even though it may be diseased, remains part and parcel of my body. Therefore, we try to treat it, cure it, because it is part and parcel. So Krsna comes Himself when we forget Him, or He sends His representative.
"Awakening or dreaming, I am the same man. As soon as I awaken and see myself, I see Krsna. Cause and effect are both Krsna. Just like cotton becomes thread and thread becomes cloth, still, the original cause is cotton. Therefore, everything is Krsna in the ultimate sense. When we cannot contact Krsna personally, we contact His energies. So there is no chance to be outside Krsna’s lila. But differences we see under different conditions. Just like in the pool of water and in the mirror the same me is reflecting, but in different reflections. One is shimmering, unsteady, one is clear and fixed. Except for being in Krsna consciousness, we cannot see our actual position rightly, therefore the learned man sees all living entities as the same parts and parcels of Krsna. Material existence is impersonal because my real personality is covered. But we should think that because I am now covered by this clay, I am diseased, and we should think that I must get to business to get myself uncovered, not wonder how I got this way. Now the fruit is there, take it and enjoy, that is your first business. God is not bound by cause. He can change, He is the Cause of all Causes. Now don’t waste your time with this ‘Kaka taliya nyaya,’ crows and tal-fruit logic."
CHAKRA 28 November 2001
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