Why are we here? Where did it all begin? Why do we suffer? Why was I created and when? Was I created at some point in time? Or have I always existed for all time?
Such questions often arise in a curious intellect. There are as many answers to these questions as there are people to ask the questions…uncountable! Recently, we discovered some good answers to these perplexing questions which we will now share with you.
- There is no such thing as IN THE BEGINNING or “When Krishna desires.”
In the introduction to Caitanya-caritamta, Srila Prabhupada said “Although we speak of ‘when’ Krishna desires, just when Krishna did desire we cannot say. We only speak in this way because in conditional life we take it that everything has a beginning. However, in that absolute or spiritual life there is neither beginning nor end.”
Sri Jiva Gosvami commenting on Srimad Bhagavatam 10.87.31 writes: “When Sridhara Swami says that the birth of the jiva (living entity) simply means the birth of the upadhi, it is to be understood that this birth of the upadhi (designation) is like a flow which has no beginning.”
The meaning is that the jiva (living entity) is experiencing a cycle of birth and death which has no beginning. Because it has no beginning, it is futile to ask, “Who did it?” or “When did it happen?” Such questions imply a lack of understanding of the meaning and implication of words like beginningless and causeless.
- ETERNAL IGNORANCE
This is the nature of all jivas stuck in the material world.
In his commentary (SB 3.7.10), Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti says, “Avidya (ignorance) which is anadi (without any beginning), is situated on the backside of Sri Krishna and has the nature of ignorance. Avidya covers the knowledge of the jivas (living entities) who are situated on the backside of the Lord and are non-devotees. Their non-devotion is anadi. There is no real reason or purpose for their knowledge being covered.”
Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti states here that Krishna does not put the jiva (living entity) in ignorance for any specific gain or purpose. Krishna is atmarama and everything happens out of His nature. The fact that the jivas, living entities, (you and me) are in ignorance is without any beginning and without any cause.
Admittedly, this is difficult to digest, and even more impossible to understand. That’s just the way it is, so why fight over how it happened or never happened or has been happening ad infinitum.
If fortune has “somehow or other” descended upon us, we may know something about Krishna and desire to serve and love Him. Then just do that and you will go to Krishna in the spiritual realm of Goloka Vrindavana. And from there, you will never ever return to this inexplicable domain called maya-jagat, the material world of birth, death, old age and disease.
Just as Krishna has no cause (anadi adi govinda), similarly there is no cause for the bondage of the jiva (living entity). Therefore, Krishna cannot be blamed for that which He is not the cause.
Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti often speaks about the beginningless bondage of the jiva (living entity) in his commentaries on Srimad Bhagavatam (see 3.7.9, 3.7.10 and 11.11.4).
Here is his wonderful commentary on Bhagavad Gita 13.20:
prakrtim purusham caiva, viddhy ANADI ubhav api
vikaramsh ca gunamsh caiva, viddhi prakrti-sambhavan
Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti said, “The essence of Sri Krishna’s words in this verse are the following. Sri Krishna is saying that because both maya and the jiva (living entity) are My potencies, they are both beginningless, and thus their union is also beginningless.
“In this verse (Bg. 13.20) Sri Krishna answers two questions: Why and when did the union of the jiva and maya occur? In other words, when did the jiva become covered by maya or illusion? The word anadi (Bg. 13.20) answers both these questions. The answer given by Sri Krishna is that the union of maya and the jiva (living entity) has no cause and no beginning.
Thus, Sri Krishna cannot be blamed for some jivas (like all of us) being in material conditioning. Krishna did not initiate this; it was not created in some point in time. It is also important to note that in his word/word meanings, Srila Prabhupada has translated the word anadi as “without beginning” (Bg. 13.20). And in his translation of the verse, Srila Prabhupada says anadi means beginningless.
Srila Prabhupada’s translation to (Bg. 13.20): “Material nature [maya] and the living entities [jivas] should be understood to be beginningless. Their transformations and the modes of matter are products of material nature [maya, tri-gunas].”
Srila Prabhupada’s clear and exact translation leaves absolutely no room for misinterpretation of the word anadi that Krishna speaks in this verse. Thus all the acharyas such as Srila Prabhupada, Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti and Sri Jiva Gosvami agree that the jivas (all of us) are without beginning. We have always been here, right where we are.
Now let’s examine Srila Prabhupada purport to (Bg. 13.20):
“Both material nature and the living entity are eternal. That is to say that they existed before the creation. The material manifestation is from the energy of the Supreme Lord, and so also are the living entities, but the living entities are of the superior energy. Both the living entities and material nature existed before this cosmos was manifested. Material nature was absorbed in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Mahä-Viñëu, and when it was required, it was manifested by the agency of mahat-tattva.
“Similarly, the living entities are also in Him, and because they are conditioned, they are averse to serving the Supreme Lord. Thus they are not allowed to enter into the spiritual sky. But with the coming forth of material nature these living entities are again given a chance to act in the material world and prepare themselves to enter into the spiritual world. THAT IS THE MYSTERY OF THIS MATERIAL CREATION.”
Comment: Srila Prabhupada ki jai! The above Gita verse and Srila Prabhupada’s purport CLEARLY EXPLAIN that the living entities as well as material nature remain absorbed in Maha-Vishnu during the period of dissolution. At the time of creation Lord Maha-Vishnu injects them into material nature. This cycle repeats itself again and again eternally, without beginning and without end, except for those individual jivas who somehow or other receive the causeless mercy of Sri Krishna or His devotees and take up the practice of Krishna bhakti-yoga.
III. Here Misery & Hatred—There Only Bliss & Love
The spiritual realms of Vaikuntha and Goloka Vrindavan are completely composed of pure loving consciousness, ever expressing itself in selfless activities of serving and pleasing one another in an infinite variety of tasty wonderful ways. There is absolutely no envy, hatred or malice whatsoever in the spiritual sky.
Now let’s look at the “desire/envy verse” from Bhagavad Gita 7.27:
iccha dvesha samutthena, dvandva-mohena bharata
sarva-bhutani sammoham, sarge yanti parantapa
Sri Krishna said, “The living entities are born into material nature, overcome by desire and hate (iccha, dvesh).”
Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti tika: “If someone asks, ‘O Krishna, since when are the jivas bewildered by Your maya?’ Sri Krishna speaks the current verse. At the beginning of the creation all jivas become bewildered. By what? By the desire and hatred which springs from the karma performed in the past [their previous material birth]. The past here means the previous cycle of creation [in the endless cycle of creation and dissolution from Maha-Vishnu].”
In his tika on this verse, Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana also states that one is influenced by the impression of desire and hatred from the previous birth [in the material world]. Thus, both commentators agree that the jiva (living entity) is suffering in a beginningless cycle of birth and death.
Why is it like this, how is it like this? The only answer is that it is the arrangement of God, God’s will only. It is His very nature since He, God, Bhagavan Sri Krishna is completely independent and omnipotent.
Whenever he described inconceivable subjects, acintya-tattva, like this in his books Srila Prabhupada used the phrase “SOMEHOW OR OTHER”. In fact, this phrase, which basically means that there is no reason, no cause and no explanation appears 2, 986 times on the BBT folio search engine!!!
- Creation Has No Cause
The Mandukya Ups. (1.9) explains the cause of creation thus: “Some say that Krishna creates the material world for His enjoyment, and some say Krishna creates for His play. Indeed, it is Krishna’s very nature. After all, Krishna is fully satisfied (apta-kama), so what desires does He have to fulfill, bhogartham srshtir ityanye, kridarthamiti capare, devasyaisha svabhavo’yam, aptakamasya ka sprha.”
The idea is that just as Krishna is causeless so are His activities such as the creation. It is not possible to attribute any ultimate cause for them except that it is Krishna’s very nature. Anyone who has energy will act. Everywhere we see that people act to attain something. But Bhagavan Sri Krishna is different.
Krishna and only Krishna is aptakama, one whose desires are fully satisfied. Therefore, Krishna, unlike us, does not “have to do something or need to do anything”. Sri Krishna’s activities are just part of His nature.
Conclusion: The subjects of creation, suffering, eternity, timelessness, cause and beginning are practically impossible to comprehend with our limited, linear thinking, logic/reasoning conditioned minds. In this regard, mahajana Bhishmadeva says, “Inconceivable objects are beyond logic and arguments, acintya khalu ye bhava na tans tarkena yojayet.” (Mahabharata, Bhishma Parva, 5.12)
So how can one know the unknowable? It is only by faith and bhakti that one can fathom that which is inconceivable. Sri Krishna says (Bg. 18.55): “By bhakti one can know Me in truth and come to Me eternally, bhaktyya mam abhijanati, yavan yas casmi tattvatah, tato mam tattvato jnatva vishate tad-anantaram.”
The plain fact is that for whatever reason/no reason, cause/no cause, we are all stuck here eternally and suffering!!!
Unless… the mercy, Sri Krishna’s causeless loving grace, somehow falls our way. Then a jiva may get the seed of bhakti, the way of pure love—and receive his ticket to eternity.
Perfecting a life of bhakti bhajan brings the jiva to an inconceivable realm of bliss eternal, where all are serving and sporting in the endless waves of Krishna’s infinite love, krishna prema ananta taranga.
(adapted, “Vaikuntha, Even Leaves Don’t Fall”, Dr. Satyanarayan Dasji Maharaja)
Ending beginningless ignorance ki jai! Bhagavan Sri Krishna ki jai!
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!