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Different Levels of Jivas
Q. Are all souls of one type, or are there different relative levels?
A There are different relative levels among the jivas.
Q. How many types of levels are there?
A. There are two types: those living in the reality of their natural eternal form (svarupa), and those living in the dream of their false material designation (upadhi).
Q. What is the material designation of the soul?
A. The soul's material designation consists of all the forms of maya that captivate the soul as a result of having turned away from Krishna.
Q. Why don't souls remain in their true position, free from material designations?
A. Those souls who accept nothing other than service as their eternal occupation do not give up their transcendence to material designations, which is natural in their true position (svarupa). Their attraction to facing Krishna is everlasting. But those who consent to the notion of selfishly seeking the enjoyment of their own so-called happiness turn away from Krishna, and for this reason they are shackled within the prison-house of the material world made of maya.
Q. It would be very good if Krishna protected spirit souls from such unfortunate misconceptions; why doesn't He do that?
A. In this regard, I would like to say that Lord Krishna gives His expanded spirit souls a quality of independence — a free will that allows them to chose between loving Him or pursuing selfish illusions. If a soul choses to misuse this independence, then its svarupa or essential eternal form falls into a position of dull matter. In this stupefied condition, the soul cannot perceive the bliss of its own true spiritual independence, a boundless joy which is natural for a soul composed of eternal consciousness (cit).
Q. What is the eternal form (svarupa) of the jiva?
A. The jiva is made of cit, and enjoying ananda is its only dharma.
Q. How many relative levels are there among souls situated in their natural, eternal position (svarupa)?
A. There are five types, because there are five eternal mellows (nitya-rasa) in the spiritual world. Being naturally situated in their own respective mellows, the jivas thereby represent different levels of eternal existence.
Q. What are the five different mellows?
A. Neutrality (santa), servitude (dasya), friendship (sakhya), paternity (vatsalya) and conjugal affection (srngara).
Q. Please explain the meanings of these five words?
A. 1) Attachment to Krishna that does not involve a close personal relationship with Him is called santa-rati; 2) Attachment to Krishna that has a personal relationship, but which consists of a mood of service endowed with awe and reverence is called dasya-rati; 3) Attachment to Krishna which has a personal relationship, which is devoid of reverence to the point of friendly confidence is called sakhya-rati; 4) Attachment to Krishna which has a personal relationship, and is full of an overflowing caring mood of love (sneha) is called vatsalya-rati; 5) Attachment to Krishna which attains the level of a lover's familiarity, and which is endowed with sheer brilliance of beauty is called Srngara-Rati.
Q. Are there any different aspects of love (rati) or mellow (rasa)?
A. Love is nourished by the combination of these four ingredients: 1) Vibhava ---- (supporting characters and specific stimulants), 2) Anubhava --- (13 resultant ecstatic symptoms), 3) Sattvika --- (8 especially disruptive ecstatic symptoms) and 4) Vyabhicari - (33 transitory accompanying emotions). The divine interweaving of these four ingredients stimulates the continuous gushing of the eternally perfect mellows.
Q. How many different levels are there in the materially designated conditions?
A. There are three basic types: 1) Jivas with concealed consciousness, like trees and plants, etc. 2) Jivas with constricted consciousness, like animals and birds, etc., and 3) Jivas with budding consciousness, like people bereft of devotion, etc.
Q. How many different types of jivas are there in regard to being either materially conditioned or spiritually liberated?
A. There are three basic types: 1) Nitya-mukta or eternally liberated souls, they are transcendental to matter; 2) Baddha-Mukta or those who are living in the material world but not caught up in it; and 3) Nitya-baddha or perpetually conditioned souls who are completely entangled in material perplexities.
Q. What type of souls are classified as nitya-baddha (perpetually conditioned)?
A. The three types of souls are concealed, constricted and budding consciousness are considered to be Nitya-baddha.
Q. How many types of Baddha-Mukta souls are there?
A. There are two types: 1) Those with blooming consciousness, like practicing devotees (sadhana-bhaktas); and 2) Those with fully flowering consciousness, like devotees who are relishing the outpourings of ecstatic devotional service due to being situated in their natural eternal mellow (sthayi-bhava-bhaktas).
Q. Where do the Nitya-Baddha and the Baddha-Mukta souls reside?
A. They live in the world of maya.
Q. Where do the Nitya-Mukta souls reside?
A. In the spiritual world of Vaikuntha (the place of no anxiety).
Q. How many comparative levels of souls are there with budding consciousness?
A. There are many, but it is possible to roughly classify them into six general types thusly: 1) Uncivilized tribes of ignorant people, like the Pulindas (aborigines) and the Sabaras (mountain people), etc. 2) Civilized races which have a development of materialistic knowledge and science, as well as an emphasis on industrialized production of material goods; they do not know what is proper moral conduct, nor do they have actual faith in God; these are the characteristics of the mlecchas (meat-eating races), etc. 3) Races which have no personal God, but which are very fond of the natural beauty of the material world, like the Buddhists, etc. 4) Races whose ethics are endowed with a philosophy and faith of an imaginary God, just like the karma-vadis (worshippers of various demigods, etc., who do good with the hope of being elevated to higher planets. This is called imaginary because they believe various demigods to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead). 5) Races which accept the true Lord of Creation, but do not perform devotional service unto Him. 6) Races who are fond of the nirvisesa-vada (doctrine of ultimate impersonal oneness), like the jnana-kandis (those who practice the path of intellectually-wrangled spiritual knowledge).
Q. What are the different levels of all these classifications of souls?
A. From the concealed-consciousness entities up to the budding-consciousness entities, they are all classified according to the degree of their engagement in the principles of devotional service unto the Lord (bhakti-tattva). Among the blooming-consciousness entities (devotees) and the fully-flowering-consciousness entities (ecstatic devotees), the comparative levels are obvious.