Vanity thought #590. Price of being right, part II

Let’s try to look at the facts of Jiva Goswami’s predicament that I described earlier in a practical light.

First of all – Jiva was Rupa and Sanatana’s nephew, unlike them he had never met with Lord Chaitanya but he had extensive association of Nityananda Prabhu who took Jiva on Navadvipa Parikrama. Question – did young Jiva know that Nityananda Prabhu was the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Not Krishna Himself but the other Godhead, you know.

At that time, I might remind again, there was no Chaitanya Charitamrita or Chaitanya Bhagavata yet. In Chaitanya Bhagavata Vrindavana Dasa Thakura goes out of his way to prove Lord Nityananda’s divinity and he talks quite a lot about people who didn’t accept it. So, where was Jiva in this debate?

Jiva Goswami didn’t write much about Lord Chaitanya and even less about Lord Nityananda, so, from the material POV, I think he had no idea that he was in the company of God Himself, or if he did it was in a matter of fact way because externally Lord Nityananda looked just like any other human. He was more or less like Arjuna and Krishna – yes, Krishna is God, if you must ask, but come on, he is my best buddy, we have a lot of fun adventures together, he is not busy ruling the universe or anything and if he does, in his spare time, it has no effect on our relationships.

And so a few years later Jiva arrives in Vrindavana and Rupa Goswami takes him under his wing. Question – did Jiva Goswami had divine visions of spiritual Vrindavana at that time? I would guess not. Materially speaking he was a young student and so he behaved like one and had to go through the same steps as any other aspiring devotee.

It was in the beginning of his Braj education that Vallabha Bhatta visited Rupa Goswami. Now, Vallabha Bhatta was a contemporary of Lord Chaitanya but he wasn’t Lord Chaitanya’s follower like Rupa and Sanatana were. He didn’t think Lord Chaitanya was God and he argued some philosophical points of difference. Back in Vrindavana he established his own school, too. He was also very old by that time.

So, from Jiva Goswami’s POV he wasn’t exactly Lord Chaitanya’s representative, he wasn’t in the parampara, so to speak. When Vallabha Bhatta tried to correct Rupa Goswami’s verse Jiva Goswami didn’t feel like he had the right to teach Lord Chaitanya’s true followers, and, perhaps, he thought that his behavior was putting Rupa, his guru, in a less favorable light.

The actual conversation, however, was not confrontational, Rupa Goswami didn’t object to being corrected at all, so Jiva followed Vallabha Bhatta and talked to him alone again. Jiva’s explanation was brilliant, no doubt about it, and it amused the old vaishnava that such a young boy had so much knowledge and so penetrating intellect. It appears he didn’t care for the argument itself at all.

Rupa Goswami didn’t care for the argument either – right or wrong, whether senior vaishnava liked it or not, Jiva could not try to present himself as being smarter than Vallabha Bhatta. It was not his place to argue with such an old and respected devotee and display his intellect.

It didn’t matter if Vallabha Bhatta was in guru parampara or not either – Rupa treated him as a senior regardless of his sometimes idiosyncratic behavior and Jiva should have followed his mood, too.

When Jiva returned there was no talk about substance of the argument, Rupa Goswami pointed out that Jiva had to learn patience first, before trying to make a devotional career in Braj. Whatever old people say we have to respect their opinions. Jiva also probably assumed that Rupa was swayed by Vallabha Bhatta’s argument and was going to change his mangala charana verses, this also means that he thought he was more intelligent than his guru, Rupa Goswami.

Would Rupa Goswami actually changed the verse? I doubt so, the amount of respect accorded to a seniors and the amount of authority they wield over our service are not the same thing. Considering Vallabha Bhatta’s propensity to argue and his position as a founder of his own movement, Rupa probably had not problem in quietly disagreeing with him at all.

That’s what he chastised Jiva about – Jiva had had no patience and no respect to live among exalted personalities populating the sacred land of Braja. He had to learn patience to mind his own business and his own service instead of arguing with seniors, not everything that comes to our minds need to be spoken.

Being banished, Jiva somehow figured out that he didn’t have to actually go back to Bengal. When Rupa Goswami accepted him back I doubt he ever mentioned that he sent Jiva to Bengal, not to Nanda Ghat, and I doubt Jiva ever brought that up either.

This is the same point once again – it’s more important to maintain proper relationships than to “know the truth” and rationalize everything.

One more thing – it appears no one had any idea why Jiva moved to Nanda Ghat, not even Sanatana Goswami. Or maybe some people knew but they didn’t make such a big deal out of it. Was it an injustice towards Jiva or did he fully deserve his exile? I doubt they cared one way or another, yet they surely had their own opinions. Sanatana Goswami thought that Jiva had to return asap but only after consultation with Rupa and only with Rupa’s permission.

This tells us that if we offend our guru other people might take our side, they might present lots of arguments why we are being treated unfairly and why our guru is wrong, but none of their opinions matter. Life would go on but it wouldn’t matter, the only thing that matters is the opinion of our guru, he is the only absolute and ultimate authority over us.

Theoretically Jiva could have stayed in Vrindavana in defiance of Rupa Goswami’s order, he could have studied shastra, defeated some pundits, made a name for himself but none of that would have mattered without Rupa Goswami’s acceptance. Such is the nature of this world – it can give us everything we want but for the only thing we need – the mercy of our guru, which is irreplaceable.

Many devotees assume that by becoming famous for their service, their erudition, their devotion, their knowledge of Radha-Krishna lila, they somehow become eligible to actually enter it, that by taking initiation at Radha Kund they can erase their offense of leaving Srila Prabhupada.

Jiva Goswami didn’t take that path.

This article appears rambling and not very well thought out even to me but this is the best I can do for now.

One last thing – by looking at this incident from a practical, materialistic point of view, one might think that I’m discussing Srila Jiva Goswami’s display of immaturity – how he didn’t recognize Nityananda Prabhu as Balarama Himself, or how he didn’t have enough respect for seniors, how he was just an ordinary brahmachari eager to progress but not very mindful of his steps and actions. Nothing can be further from the truth. Srila Jiva Goswami is an eternally liberated soul that has never ever been touched by material energy.

This incident of impatience should be considered in the same line as his appearance from a human womb and the fact that he had to go to the toilet like the rest of us. Externally he might have appeared to be conditioned but, and here’s the catch – conditioned by Krishna, not by maya.

He made a “mistake” that many devotees had been learning from for centuries – how’s that a mistake if he brings so many people closer to Krishna?

This we should never forget for a moment – no devotee acts independently of the Lord and no one should criticize devotees for doing something not to our liking.

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