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The jiva's liberation from maya
Though the jiva, overcome by maya, is bound by the chains of beginningless impressions and karma, he does not lose his marginal form and quality. Though the influence of maya is strong, and the inherent consciousness of being the servant of Krishna is weak, it still remains intact. Given the opportunity, his real nature will gradually manifest. The opportunity is provided by the saintly devotees of the Lord. Thus the Shvetashvatara Upanishad says:
yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakashante mahatmanah
The meaning of the Vedas is revealed to the person who has devotion to the guru as he has pure devotion for the Supreme Lord.
Shvetashvatara Upanishad, 6.23
In the Chaitanya Caritamrita it is said:
samshara bhramite kona bhagya keha tare
nadira prabhave yena kashtha lage tire
kona bhagya karo samshara kshayonmukha haya
sadhu sanga kare, krishne rati upajaya
sadhu sanga sadhu sanga sarva shastre kaya
lava matra sadhu sange sarva siddhi haya
krishna tomara hau' yadi bale ekabara
mayabandha haite krishna tare kare para
There are unlimited conditioned souls who are bereft of Lord Krishna's service. Not knowing how to cross the ocean of nescience, they are scattered by waves, time and tide. However, some are fortunate to contact devotees, and by this contact they are delivered from the ocean of nescience, just as log, floating down a river, accidentally washes upon the bank.
By good fortune, one becomes eligible to cross the ocean of nescience, and when one's term of material existence decreases, one may get an opportunity to associate with pure devotees. By such association, one's attraction to Krishna is awakened.
C.C.Madhya 22.43, 45
The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment's association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.
One is immediately freed from the clutches of maya if he seriously and sincerely says, 'My dear Lord Krishna, although I have forgotten You for so many long years in the material world, today I am surrendering unto You. I am Your sincere and serious servant. Please engage me in Your service.
C.C.Madhya 22. 33
When, by destiny (bhagya), a person's entanglement in maya decreases, he becomes qualified for association of devotees. One may ask concerning this statement, "what is destiny?" If destiny is the cause of destruction of samshara, then how can one say that faith or association with devotees is the cause? Destiny is moreover a blind or impersonal factor. If that is the sole cause of auspiciousness for the jiva, then the jiva will have no inclination to initiate his own attempts. Though it is easy to reason in this matter, it brings about a lot of difficulty in the end. To find the real truth, it is necessary to examine the basic tendency of the jiva.
When the jiva's nature (svabhava) is formed, the only doer, or responsible being, is the Supreme Lord. No one else exists. Free will or independence is implicit with formation of anything spiritual. The relation to the creator remains only in the creation itself. All actions of the spiritual jiva after his creation have no relation to the Lord. The jiva equipped with full independence first becomes either favorable or averse to the Lord. This is the first act of the jiva. In that, the jiva is the prime doer. At the time of that activity, the Lord is only the accompanying doer, in that he gives the results to the jiva's activities. Having entered ignorance, the material realm, the doers become threefold.
1. The jiva becomes the prime doer for all activities.
2. Matter, which assists the jiva, becomes the secondary doer.
3. The Lord, in giving the fruits, becomes the associated doer.
Though the jiva by his free will has become overcome by ignorance, he does not lose his responsibility as the prime doer. Whatever actions the jiva performs after entering the material world are called destiny or bhagya when they begin to yield their reactions. The destinies of an atheist and religious person are not judged in the same way. According to the actions of the jiva, the particular results are given. The results of action are of two types: material and spiritual. Through action motivated by material gain, a person receives material results. Through actions aiming for spiritual goals, a person develops a spiritual result. All actions performed with spiritual intention, such as service to devotees, chanting the name of the Lord and service to the Lord, are spiritual.
All these devotional actions, performed in whatever manner, produce an impression, in the form of desire for devotion. When this impression gradually grows, it attains the name of good fortune, saubhagya. With the advancement of this saubhagya, the attraction for material enjoyment weakens. When the material desires become very weak, the saubhagya (desire for devotion) becoming stronger, and transforms into faith, by the association of devotees. This faith produces more association, and bestows all success. The steps in the creation of saubhagya for the jiva may be studied from the life story of Narada.
In Shrimad Bhagavatam it says:
aham puratita bhave'bhavam mune
dasyash ca kasyashcana vedavadinam
nirupito balaka eva yoginam
shushrushane pravrishi nirvivakshatam
ucchishta lepan anumodito dvijaih
sakrit sma bhunje tad apasta kilbishah
evam pravritasya vishuddha-cetasas
tad dharma evatma rucih prajayate
tatranvaham krishna-kathah prajayatam
tah shraddhaya me'nupadam vishrinvatah
priya-shravasy anga mamabhavad ratih
O Muni, in the last millennium I was born as the son of a certain maidservant engaged in the service of brahmanas who were following the principles of Vedanta. When they were living together during the four months of the rainy season, I was engaged in their personal service.
Once only, by their permission, I took the remnants of their food, and by so doing all my sins were at once eradicated. Thus being engaged, I became purified in heart, and at that time the very nature of the transcendentalist became attractive to me.
Vyasadeva, in that association and by the mercy of those great Vedantists, I could hear them describe the attractive activities of Lord Krishna and thus listening attentively, my taste for hearing of the Personality of Godhead increased at every step.
evam krishna mater brahman nasaktasyamalatmanah
kalah pradur abhut kale tadit saudamini yatha
prayujyamane mayi tam shuddham bhagavaiim tanum
arabdha-karma-nirvano nyapatat panca- bhautikah
And so, O Brahmana Vyasadeva, in due course of time, I, who was fully absorbed in thinking of Krishna and who therefore had no attachments, being completely freed from all material taints, met with death, as lightning and illumination occur simultaneously.
Having been awarded a transcendental body befitting an associate of the Personality of Godhead, I quit the body made of five material elements, and thus all acquired fruitive results of work stopped.
The conclusion is this: when bhagya arises from many births of sukritis, faith also arises, through association of devotees. From this faith arises devotional action, clearance of material desires, steadiness, taste, attachment and attraction for Krishna. Where bhagya appears in a person's life, faith also is seen. Therefore faith and association of devotees is the root of all auspiciousness.
There is a karika in this connection:
evam panjara-bandho'yam jivah shocati sarvada
kadacit satprasangena tasya moksho vidhiyate
The subtle and gross bodies bind the jiva in a cage. In this situation the jiva is always lamenting. Sometimes, through good fortune, he is released from bondage by the association of devotees.
mukta-bandha-dasha-bhedac chaitanyasya dasha-dvayam
muktir hitvanyatha rupam svarupena vyavasthitih
atyanta-duhkha hanau sa cit-sukhaptir na samshayah
The jiva has two conditions: in bondage and liberation. Giving up false conditions, and becoming situated in ones real condition is called mukti or liberation. There is no doubt that, with liberation, suffering ceases and bliss is attained.
Shvetashvatara Upanishad says:
jushtam yada pashyaty anyam isham
asya mahimanam iti vita shokah
When the jiva looks towards the Supreme Lord, worthy of his worship, his lamentation disappears and he attains glory as a servant of Krishna.
Shvetashvatara Upanishad 4.7
Liberation and bondage are the two states of the jiva. Liberated jivas are of two types: eternally liberated (nitya mukta) and liberated from maya (maya mukta). The eternally liberated jivas are never bound by maya. The maya muktas, first having entered maya, later enter the spiritual pastimes after being liberated from maya by association of devotees.
What is the form of the jiva in liberation? Some say that the jiva's liberation is the absolute cessation of misery; some say it is merging with the Lord or brahman. However, those who are wise say:
muktir hitvanyatha rupam svarupena vyavasthitih
Liberation means being situated in ones eternal original form, which he attains after giving up the changeable gross and subtle bodies.
The jiva is a spiritual form, the pure servant of Krishna. Entrance into maya is a distortion to his form. When he rejects maya and becomes situated in his true form, that state is called mukti, or liberation. When knowledge of his true form becomes extremely indefinite, he has a tendency to merge into the Lord, and when the knowledge of his form is clear, he attains the status of a pure servant of Krishna. Liberation is not merely the cessation of all miseries, but the attainment of spiritual bliss along with the cessation of miseries. The characteristics of liberation are mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishad:
evam evaisha samprasado'smac charirat
samutthaya param jyoti-rupa-sampadya
svena rupenabhinishpadyate sa uttamah purushah
sa tatra paryeti jakshan kridan ramamanah
Having attained liberation, giving up the gross and subtle bodies, the jiva becomes equipped with a spiritual effulgent form. He is a spiritual person. In the spiritual world he eats, plays and becomes absorbed in bliss.
Chandogya Upanishad 8.12.3
According to the Vedas, this is the ultimate liberation. The Chandogya Upanishad also described the eight qualities attained by the jiva in liberation.
atma'pahata-papma vijaro vimrityur
vishoko vijighatso'pipasah satyakamah
The jiva is without sin, or free from relation with sin and ignorance. He is free from old age, being ever young. He is deathless, never leaving his spiritual body. He is peaceful, being free from lamentation, suffering and craving. He is devoid of desire for enjoyment. He is without thirst, with no desire other than to serve the Lord. He has only desires to serve the Lord favorably. Whatever desires he has are fulfilled.
Chandogya Upanishad 8.7.1
These eight qualities do not exist in the conditioned jiva. One should know the difference between the conditioned and liberated jivas by searching the scriptures.
Though the goal of liberation is laudable, the final attainment in liberation must only be the happiness of service to Bhagavan. As there is a danger of losing sight of the main goal by aspiring for secondary goals, it is better not to aspire for liberation. Those who hold in their hearts the desire for liberation from the beginning cannot attain advancement in the eternal rasas of bhakti. However much a person may take shelter of karma or jnana, without attaining the mercy of Krishna, he cannot attain even mukti. Among the ten topics of the Bhagavatam, liberation is the ninth, but the happiness of service to the shelter, Krishna, is the tenth.
dashame dashamam lakshyam ashritashraya- vigraham
shri-krishnakhyam param dhama jagad dhama namami tat
In the tenth canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam, the tenth subject matter, the shelter of the devotees, is described. I pay my respects to that supreme goal, the goal of the universe, whose name is Krishna.
Those who develop the happiness of serving Krishna in their heart have in their grasp all the other nine topics of Bhagavatam, including liberation. To make this fact clear, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said:
cari varnashrami yadi krishna nahi bhaje
sakarma karite sei raurave padi maje
jnani jivan mukta dasha painu kari mane
vastutah buddhi shuddha nahe krishna bhakti vine
The followers of the varnashrama institution accept the regulative principles of the four social orders and four spiritual orders. However, if one carries out the regulative principles of these orders but does not render transcendental service to Krishna, he falls into the hellish condition of material life.
There are many philosophical speculators belonging to the Mayavada school who consider themselves liberated and call themselves Narayana. However, their intelligence is not purified unless they engage in Krishna's devotional service.
Since mukti cannot be attained by practice of karma, jnana, yoga, austerity or any other process, even the jnanis utilize bhakti, though in a polluted form, to attain liberation. The pure devotee does not even pray for such liberation, but that liberation humbly submits herself to their service.
bhaktis tv ayi sthiratara bhagavan yadi syad
daivena nah phalati divya kishora murtih
muktih svayam mukulitanjali sevate'sman
Oh Lord, if you think our devotion is fixed, then reveal your transcendental youthful form in our hearts. Prayers for dharma, artha, kama and moksa are no longer necessary, because mukti herself, with folded hands, stands waiting to service us. Dharma, artha, and kama remain waiting our orders to serve your lotus feet.
Krishna Karnamrita 107
The liberation obtained by the devotees is of two types: svarupa mukti and vastu mukti. One who, due to practice, attains his spiritual form even in this material world, is served by liberation before giving up the material body. Though the body belongs to the material world, the soul is absorbed directly in the spiritual world. One should understand that such a person has attained svarupa mukti. When such a person gives up his material body he attains vastu mukti by Krishna's mercy.
The liberation of the advaita vadis is of two types: brahma-sayujya (merging into the effulgence of the Lord) and ishvara-sayujya (merging into the Lord's body). Neither of these types of liberation is the natural position of the jiva. In the Brahmanda Purana these people are described:
siddha-lokas tu tamasah pare yatra vasanti hi
siddha brahma sukhe magna daityash ca harina hatah
Siddhaloka, the abode of brahman, lies beyond the material world. In that place reside the asuras such as Kamsha killed by the Lord and the mayavadis absorbed in the bliss of brahman.
The jnanis and yogis, though they attempt to separate themselves from the material energy by meditations such as "aham brahmasmi" and "tattvam asi", do not obtain the supreme spiritual goal of being situated in their spiritual bodies.