LettersBringing Children into the World (12/04/12)
LettersOur Relationship with Guru is Eternal (12/16/12)

Answers For ‘Doubting Thomas’ (12/14/12)

Dear Thomas,
Hare Kṛṣṇa.

I read your inquiry with interest. It is a little complicated, but please allow me to try and explain. First of all, when you listen to or read the discources of great Gaudiya Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, one has to give acute attention and also one has to have a background of prior understanding, otherwise it is easy to misunderstand what is being said.

You have mentioned, ” i.e. if at some time in the distant past we had everything we could possibly want, how could we make such an error in our decision making and misuse our free will?”

From this I can see that you are not familiar with the ‘marginal’ plane (the taṭasthā) of which Śrīdhara Mahārāja was speaking. In the marginal plane, the jīva souls do not have everything they could possibly want. There the jīvas have a hazy conception of Reality, imperfect discretion and minute free will. The marginal plane stands between the material and spiritual worlds. In the spiritual world all living beings do have everything they could possibly want and thus they never wander towards the world of Māyā (illusion).

The marginal plane is the generating energy of Kṛṣṇa and the source of the jīva souls. In the marginal plane (taṭasthā) the jīva is in somewhat of an embryonic stage and it is from there that the jīva first exercises free will, sometimes resulting in entering the material world and sometimes entering the spiritual world (Vaikuṇṭha)

If you wish to understand (according to Gauḍīya conception) the marginal plane, the origin of jīva souls, and how the jīva first came in contact with material energy, then I suggest you read “Jaiva Dharma” by Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and ” Subjective Evolution of Consciousness” by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja.

You also mention, “That sounds like Christian clergy who, when you ask them something they don’t know the answer to, they say, “Well, it IS a mystery.”  If it’s insane to ask, then all of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is an exercise in insanity.”

Please note that Śrīdhara Mahārāja answered the questions on the origin of the jīva and how the jīva came to be entrapped in material existance, he did not avoid the question by saying it was a mystery, as you have suggested. What Śrīdhara Mahārāja is pointing out after answering the question is that inquisitiveness never ends and unless it finally matures to the point of complete sraddha (faith) then one cannot properly pursue the path of bhakti to the ultimate end of kṛṣṇa-prema (love of God).

The highest stage of devotion is called jñāna-śūnya-bhakti, which means devotion free of knowledge, or devotion which is purely based in faith and love, not in knowledge. The next lower stage of devotion is called jñāna-miśra-bhakti, which means devotion mixed with knowledge. The lowest stage of devotion is called karma-miśra-bhakti, which means devotion mixed with the desire for material enjoyment.

Once having acheived jñāna-śūnya-bhakti (pure love and devotion) all knowledge-pursuing activities appear like a complete waste of time. For example, Mother Yaśodā is not at all interested in the knowledge that Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In fact, such understanding disturbs her purest love for Kṛṣṇa. That is jñāna-śūnya-bhakti. That is what Śrīdhara Mahārāja was alluding to.

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is a paramahaṁsa-grantha (a literature only understood by self-realised souls), so until we are disciples under the direct guardianship of a self-realised spiritual master, then the study of Bhāgavatam can be compared to licking the honey from the outside of the jar and not actually experiencing the real taste of the honey.

You are at this stage a ‘Doubting Thomas’ but don’t just take my word for what I have written. If you have the time and ability try to study the books I have mentioned above to broaden and deepen your understanding of Gauḍīya siddhānta. As everything in Kṛṣṇa consciousness depends on our connection with a bona-fide guru, I suggest that you pray to Lord Nityānanda (the principle of guru-tattva) to lead you to such a person who can guide you on the path of self-realisation and Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Best Regards,
Swami Narasingha

Otherwise I am never disappointed in my disciples because they are endeavoring sincerely and I am happy to see them serving Kṛṣṇa, guru and the Vaiṣṇavas.

_____ Mahārāja tells me that you are doing well and that you are a very sincere person. So remember the three qualities mentioned above, especially patience and you will be successful in your attempt to become purified in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Su Padre Espiritual,
Swami Narasingha

LettersBringing Children into the World (12/04/12)
LettersOur Relationship with Guru is Eternal (12/16/12)