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The Fall of the Jiva: The Question Strikes Back
by Atul Krishna (das)

In his article entitled "Fall of the Jiva: The Answer," Umapati Swami wrote:

"I hardly fit the category [of a learned devotee], but I will refer to what Srila Prabhupada said when the question was put to him directly."

I also hardly fit in the category of a learned devotee, but I’ll anyhow refer to how Srila Prabhupada repeatedly wrote in his books about how the residents of the spiritual world never fall to the material world. Perhaps any realized soul can explain these references properly. Properly means anything but stating that never means hardly ever and that no one means hardly anyone. These are not serious answers. References are as follows:

Sometimes it is asked how the living entity falls down from the spiritual world to the material world. Here is the answer. Unless one is elevated to the Vaikuntha planets, directly in touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is prone to fall down, either from the impersonal Brahman realization or from an ecstatic trance of meditation.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.29, purport)

The jiva potency, or the ksetrajna-sakti of the Lord, has the tendency to be overpowered by the external potency, avidya-karma-samjna, and in this way he is placed in the awkward circumstances of material existence. The living entity cannot be forgetful of his real identity unless influenced by the avidya potency.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.7.5, purport)

The living entities in the material world are forgetful of their eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This forgetfulness is called avidya, or nescience. The avidya-sakti, the avidya potency of the material world, provokes fruitive activity. Although this avidya-sakti (material energy, or nescience) is also an energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is especially intended to keep the living entities in a state of forgetfulness.

(Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya 6.154, purport)

The word dhama is significant. Dhama refers to the place where the Supreme Personality of Godhead resides. In the beginning of Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.1) it is said, dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi. In the abode of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no influence of material energy (dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam).

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.2.17, purport)

Maharaja Yudhisthira inquired: What kind of great curse could affect even liberated visnu-bhaktas, and what sort of person could curse even the Lord’s associates? For unflinching devotees of the Lord to fall again to this material world is impossible. I cannot believe this.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.1.34, verse)

From authoritative sources it can be discerned that associates of Lord Visnu who descend from Vaikuntha do not actually fall. They come with the purpose of fulfilling the desire of the Lord, and their descent to this material world is comparable to that of the Lord. The Lord comes to this material world through the agency of His internal potency, and similarly, when a devotee or associate of the Lord descends to this material world, he does so through the action of the spiritual energy. Any pastime conducted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead is an arrangement by yogamaya, not mahamaya. Therefore it is to be understood that when Jaya and Vijaya descended to this material world, they came because there was something to be done for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Otherwise it is a fact that no one falls from Vaikuntha.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.1.35, purport)

The conclusion is that no one falls from the spiritual world, or Vaikuntha planet, for it is the eternal abode. But sometimes, as the Lord desires, devotees come into this material world as preachers or as atheists. In each case we must understand that there is a plan of the Lord.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.16.26, purport)

Ordinarily, there is no possibility that the four sages could be so angry with the doorkeepers, nor could the Supreme Lord neglect His two doorkeepers, nor can one come back from Vaikuntha after once taking birth there. All these incidents, therefore, were designed by the Lord Himself for the sake of His pastimes in the material world. Thus He plainly says that it was done with His approval. Otherwise, it would have been impossible for inhabitants of Vaikuntha to come back to this material world simply because of a brahminical curse. The Lord especially blesses the so-called culprits: "All glories unto you." A devotee, once accepted by the Lord, can never fall down. That is the conclusion of this incident.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.16.29, purport)

This incident, therefore, proves that those who have once entered a Vaikuntha planet can never fall down. The case of Jaya and Vijaya is not a falldown; it is just an accident.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.16.12, purport)

Even if one reaches the post of Indra, Candra, or any other demigod, he must be dissolved at a certain stage. A devotee is never interested in such temporary pleasure. From Vedic scriptures it is understood that sometimes even Brahma and Indra fall down, but a devotee in the transcendental abode of the Lord never falls.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.15.48, purport)

A pure devotee continuously remembers the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krsna and does not forget Him even for a moment, not even in exchange for all the opulence of the three worlds.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.19, purport)

There are Vaikuntha planets in the spiritual world, and there are devotees who are all liberated. These devotees are aksara, which means they do not fall down into the material world. They remain in the spiritual world of the Vaikunthas.

(Teachings of Lord Kapiladeva, Chapter 6)

This ordinary living being is of two kinds-nitya-baddha or nitya-mukta. One is eternally conditioned and the other is eternally liberated. The eternally liberated living beings are in the Vaikuntha jagat, the spiritual world, and they never fall into the material world.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.11.12, purport)

The expansions of His separated forms are called living entities, and these living entities are classified according to the energies of the Lord. They are divided into two classes-eternally liberated and eternally conditioned. Eternally liberated living entities never come into contact with material nature, and therefore they do not have any experience of material life. They are eternally engaged in Krsna consciousness, or devotional service to the Lord, and they are counted among the associates of Krsna.

(Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 10)

The living entities are divided into two categories-the eternally liberated and eternally conditioned. Those who are ever-liberated never come in contact with maya, the external energy. The ever-conditioned are always under the clutches of the external energy. This is described in Bhagavad-gita: daivi hy ena guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya "This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome." (Bg. 7.14) The nitya-baddhas are always conditioned by the external energy, and the nitya-muktas never come in contact with the external energy.

(Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya 22.15-15, purport)

Amongst the devotees of the Lord there are several divisions, mainly nitya-siddhas and sadhana-siddhas. The nitya-siddha devotees never fall down to the region of the material atmosphere, even though they sometimes come onto the material plane to execute the mission of the Lord. The sadhana-siddha devotees are chosen from the conditioned souls.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.3.26, purport)

The fact is that those who are always engaged in Krsna consciousness and mature, pure devotional service are given the chance, after death, to gain Krsna’s association in one of the universes within the material world. Krsna’s pastimes are continuously going on, either in this universe or in another universe. Just as the sun globe is passing over many places across this earthly planet, so krsna-lila, or the transcendental advent and pastimes of Krsna, are also going on continuously, either in this or another universe. The mature devotees, who have completely executed Krsna consciousness, are immediately transferred to the universe where Krsna is appearing. In that universe the devotees get their first opportunity to associate with Krsna personally and directly.

(Krishna-Book, Chapter 28)

There are plenty of more references with similar content in Srila Prabhupada’s books, letters and conversations, but are not listed herein in fear that the text will become too voluminous.

Proper, serious answers and questions may be sent to Chakra editors and to

Thank you!

© CHAKRA 3 December 2001

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