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The Fall of the Jiva: One More Question
by Umapati Swami

My thanks to Atul Krishna Prabhu for his article "The Fall of the Jiva: The Question Strikes Back." The article gives many quotations from Srila Prabhupada stating that no one ever falls from the spiritual world. One question, however, remains unanswered: How did the fallen jivas come to the material world in the first place?

The quotations given by Atul Krishna Prabhu do not cover this topic, and when devotees asked the question directly to Srila Prabhupada, he answered with the passages I have quoted in my article "Fall of the Jiva: Answer."

To support the idea of not falling, some devotees say that the fallen jivas have never been in the spiritual world at all. Either they originated in the brahmajyoti or they have eternally been in the material world, but these ideas go against Srila Prabhupada’s statements that we are originally Krsna conscious:

"Krsna claims that ‘I belong to everyone.’ Therefore, originally, you are all connected with Krsna. Simply you have forgotten." (lecture, San Francisco, March 17, 1968)

"As living spiritual souls, we are all originally Krsna conscious entities, but due to our association with matter from time immemorial, our consciousness is now adulterated by the material atmosphere." (TYS 6)

"The spirit soul is within this material body, but the spirit soul has no material body originally. There is a spiritual body of the spirit soul eternally existing, and the material body is simply coating of the spiritual body." (Philosophy Discussions, Origen)

"But as far as the spirit souls are concerned, they are one qualitatively with the Supreme Lord. Therefore, the rasas were originally exchanged between the spiritual living being and the spiritual whole, the Supreme Personality of Godhead." (SB 1.1.3, purport)

Srimad Bhagavatam confirms that we were originally with the Lord:

"The brahmana [Supersoul] continued: My dear friend, even though you cannot immediately recognize Me, can’t you remember that in the past you had a very intimate friend? Unfortunately, you gave up My company and accepted a position as enjoyer of this material world." (SB 4.28.53)

Srila Prabhupada elaborates in the purport:

"This is an explanation of how the living entity falls down into this material world. In the spiritual world there is no duality, nor is there hate.... When the living entities desire to enjoy themselves, they develop a consciousness of duality and come to hate the service of the Lord. In this way the living entities fall into the material world. In the Prema-vivarta it is said:

krsna-bahirmukha hana bhoga-vancha kare
nikata-stha maya tare japatiya dhare

"The natural position of the living entity is to serve the Lord in a transcendental loving attitude. When the living entity wants to become Krsna Himself or imitate Krsna, he falls down into the material world. Since Krsna is the supreme father, His affection for the living entity is eternal. When the living entity falls down into the material world, the Supreme Lord, through His svamsa expansion (Paramatma), keeps company with the living entity. In this way the living entity may some day return home, back to Godhead.

"By misusing his independence, the living entity falls down from the service of the Lord and takes a position in this material world as an enjoyer. That is to say, the living entity takes his position within a material body." (SB 4.28.53, purport)

The next verse continues:

"My dear gentle friend, both you and I are exactly like two swans. We live together in the same heart, which is just like the Manasa Lake. Although we have been living together for many thousands of years, we are still far away from our original home." (SB 4.28.54)

Srila Prabhupada explains:

"The original home of the living entity and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the spiritual world. In the spiritual world both the Lord and the living entities live together very peacefully. Since the living entity remains engaged in the service of the Lord, they both share a blissful life in the spiritual world. However, when the living entity wants to enjoy himself, he falls down into the material world." (SB 4.28.54, purport)

Again, in the purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 4.20.37: "Because the Supreme Personality of Godhead is all-spiritual, He can descend from the spiritual sky without changing His body, and thus He is known as acyuta, or infallible. When a living entity falls down to the material world, however, he has to accept a material body, and therefore, in his material embodiment, he cannot be called acyuta. Because he falls down from his real engagement in the service of the Lord, the living entity gets a material body to suffer or try to enjoy in the miserable material conditions of life. Therefore the fallen living entity is cyuta, whereas the Lord is called acyuta." (SB 4.20.37, purport)

Now another problem with the idea that we have never been in the spiritual world is that it places the blame for our predicament on Krsna Himself. "It is not my fault that I am in the material world," we can say. "I have never known anything else."

Srila Prabhupada, however, explains in many places that we come to the material world by misuse of our own independence:

"The Bhattatharis used to increase their numbers by using women to allure outsiders. This is factual evidence showing that it is possible at any time to fall down from the Lord's association. One need only misuse his little independence. Once fallen and separated from the Supreme Personality of Godhead's association, one becomes a candidate for suffering in the material world." (CC Madhya 10.65, purport)

"When this service attitude is impaired, that ‘Why serve Krsna? Why not ourself?’ that is maya. Then he falls down in the material energy." (Room Conversation with Allen Ginsberg, May 14, 1969, Columbus, Ohio)

"Both the Lord and the living entity, being qualitatively spirit soul, have the tendency for peaceful enjoyment, but when the part of the Supreme Personality of Godhead unfortunately wants to enjoy independently, without Krsna, he is put into the material world, where he begins his life as Brahma and is gradually degraded to the status of an ant or a worm in stool." (SB 9.24.58, purport)

Finally, in "The Fall of the Jiva: Question," Bhakta Mick asks for a synthesis of fall and no-fall. There is no need to invent one, however, as Srila Prabhupada has already provided it:

"Usually anyone who has developed his relationship with Krsna does not fall down in any circumstance, but because the independence is always there, the soul may fall down from any position or any relationship by misusing his independence. But his relationship with Krsna is never lost, simply it is forgotten by the influence of Maya, so it may be regained or revived by the process of hearing the Holy Name of Krsna and then the devotee engages himself in the service of the Lord which is his original or constitutional position. The relationship of the living entity with Krsna is eternal as both Krsna and the living entity are eternal; the process is one of revival only, nothing new." (letter to Jagadisa Feb 27, 1970)

© Umapati Swami

CHAKRA 5 December 2001

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