(right) Srila Prabhupad with Rupanuga das and the other original members of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, surrounded by the New Hastinipur devotees and guests. The devotee standing behind Rupanuga das is Brsakapi Prabhu, the temple president. Seated L. to R., Swarup Damodar das Brahmachari and Sadaputa das Adhikary, with Madhava das Brahmachari far right. July, 1976.

Betwixt and Between

Some devotees do not fully comprehend the nature of free will. One result has been the misconception that jiva tattva, marginal potency or tatastha refers to a location rather than to an energy or potency of Lord Krsna, characterized by consciousness and free will. What does free will have to do with it? Everything! The explanation for that assertion is as follows.

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Siksastaka describes the essence of devotional service in those eight verses, all of which are concerned with different aspects of humility. Therefore, humility is required for spiritual advancement. That humility is based upon the preliminary realization of the spirit-soul's fallen position here in this material world, the limited domain of inferior spiritual energy. This realization demands a clear understanding of the personal responsibility inherent in the absolute nature of and individual free will – a free will Lord Krsna does not override. Love of God, Lord Krsna, includes the freedom not to, otherwise it is slavery. As Srila Prabhupada once remarked, "I cannot bend your arm and make you love me." Lord Krsna doesn't require slaves, He desires to reciprocate with loving servitude, the hallmark of all the rasas.

Some spirit-souls in this conditioned jurisdiction, the prisonhouse of the Kingdom of God, cannot understand how they would be so foolish as to voluntarily leave the spiritual world of sat-citananda for a world of hard work and death. They will not acknowledge "an offense in their eternal relationship with God." Nor do they like the idea that it is possible to fall down again, or even be a three-time loser. It's possible because of the free will. When Srila Prabhupada was asked on a morning walk in Los Angeles about the Gita verse which states that spirit-souls do not have to come back again to this material world, he said that means "generally." Another devotee asked, "Do you mean one could come back again?" There was a pause, and Srila Prabhupada said, "Free will." The devotees were silent.

The so-called "Neo-Gaudiya" does not want to accept any personal responsibility for falling from the spiritual world into this material ocean of sense enjoyment. He concocts a "marginal" location between the material and spiritual worlds. This is supposed to be a place from which the marginal potency or soul must choose to go either to the material world, or to the spiritual world where none of the inhabitants have ever fallen down.

Actually, Krsna is being blamed here, because supposedly He has designated some jivas to be in the "marginal" position while other jivas are permanently safe in the Vaikunthas, with no possibility of becoming a criminal in this material prisonhouse. But Lord Krsna is all good, never arbitrary, and He doesn't play favorites without reason. Therefore He says, "As they surrender to Me – I reward accordingly." (Bhagavad-gita 4.11, 1st Ed.). "I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him." (Bhagavad-gita 9.29 1st Ed.) Lord Krsna is above blame.

On the first ISKCON record album, "Krsna Consciousness" (1966), Srila Prabhupada says, "This chanting of Hare Krsna Hare Krsna… is the sublime method for reviving our Krsna consciousness. As living spiritual souls we are all originally Krsna conscious entities…" Krsna consciousness means to be conscious of Krsna the Person in the mode or rasa of eternal servitude. So Krsna is known by all jivas, either as Lord Krsna, Lord Narayan or His plenary portions. But some have forgotten Him, even though they are part of His internal potency: "…the jivas are members of the samvit attribute of Chit-shakti." (Letter to Rupanuga, March 7, 1970) Samvit means cognition or consciousness (of), and is one of three divisions of internal potencies: hladini, sandhini and samvit. The relationships of these three potencies are wonderfully explained in Adi-lila, Chapter Four, verses 59 through 71, etc. For example, it is written, "The Lord and His devotees simultaneously perceive the hladini potency directly by the power of samvit."

Sriman Bahushira dasa covers the sastric evidence for the jiva's constitutional position very nicely in his article in the Sun entitled, "Condescending Pride about Jiva Tattva." But there is a typo in the quote from Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.5.19, which the "Neo-Gaudiyas" might misconstrue. It should read, "the eternally (not external) transcendental living entities…" The beginning of that sentence reads, "Because they are between the internal and external potencies, the eternally…" Between means not exactly location, but potency. So when the term 'marginal' is applied to (all) jivas, who are eternally samvit, it means the jivas have a capacity differentiated from other spiritual potencies. That capacity is to turn away from the service attitude to become selfish. The existence of that minute capacity or proneness not to continue to love Krsna is part of the completeness (purnam) of the Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead.

It's an embarrassment to be here in this material prisonhouse! But Lord Caitanya stands ready to release anyone. The "Neo-Gaudiya" misconception is a stumbling block to receiving Lord Caitanya's divine dispensation intended for the most fallen. But to accept that mercy and convince others to do so requires humility. Neo-Gaudiyaism is really a philosophical word-jugglery to hide the old rebellious attitude toward the service of the Lord. The "Neo" may not admit to being a bad servant, but then how can a service attitude be cultivated without humility? The "Neo'" marginalism is actually a speculative betwixt and between, where it's too difficult to revive love for the arbitrary God they have dreamed up.

The conclusion is that philosophical proofs from sastra to demonstrate the real position of the jiva tattva are all well and good. But "without humility understanding is harmful." (Bhagavad-gita 13.8 purport, 1st Ed.) In other words, no one can fully understand the true position of the jiva without first following the instructions of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu on how to develop humility or a humble state of mind.