Again and again I ran into people accusing us of this or that because they read some arguments from, invariably, ex-ISKCON devotees. I’m not talking about cults and brainwashing here but issues of siddhānta. There’s this idea that these people know what’s right but we, in ISKCON, are pretty much still in ignorance.
The fall of jīva is a never dying argument that is picked up even by so called advaitins. What have they got to do with this, one might ask, but they exploit this issue when we challenge them to explain how it is that Brahman falls into māyā.
According to advaitins there’s absolutely no difference between us, jīvas, and God, and it’s all called Brahman. They would argue with this wording, too – there are no jīvas, they’d say, there’s only Brahman and everything else is “mithya”, whatever that means to them. At this point conversation should become pointless because it’s mithya, too, and so are books like Bhagavad Gītā with Śankarācārya commentaries because they are clearly not eternal. The debate never stops, however. For some reason they can’t let it go and need to engage in “mithya” arguments until cows come home.
Anyway, we say that Brahman should never come under the influence of māyā and so we are either not in māyā or not Brahman, and this is where they bring the issue of fall down – it never happened, we are not in māyā, the concept of “we” or “I” is mithya, a false identity, and so our ISKCON’s theory of fall from the spiritual world is wrong and it’s not accepted in Gauḍiyā vaiṣṇavism.
Sadly, by Gauḍiyā vaiṣṇavism they mean people who claim to speak on its behalf while professing loyalty to no one but their own brains. It’s mostly done by ex-ISKCON devotees and their only source is works by one Satyanarayan, the author of that book about leaves not falling from Vaikuṇṭha. Satyanarayan’s guru has already departed and left no writings delineating his philosophical views. We have no idea what his opinion on “going back to Godhead” was or what he thought about the origin of the jīva. Satyanarayan now answers to no one but himself. I’m sure he is a great devotee in many respects but making up his own theories by cherry picking quotes is hopefully not his greatest accomplishment.
I should also say that origin of the jīva is a murky subject that will always remain inconceivable to conditioned souls. Consequently, our ācāryas did not spend much time speculating about it. Only a fully liberated being can, theoretically, know all that happened before being snatched by māya, if concepts of “before” and “after” even exist outside the influence of material time.
We also can’t expect liberated souls to tell us all the stories about each one of us. Say Nārada Muni has the ability to tell us how exactly we ended up in this world but we can’t expect him to inform each one of us about it. There is a story, told by Maitreya, about falldown of Jaya and Vijaya, for example. It’s certainly a notable example and it clearly deserves a place in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam but we can’t expect similar narrations for lesser personalities who ended up with no connection to the Lord whatsoever. Why would liberated sages talk about them at all? And why would that be recorded in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam?
The point is that origin of jīva is unknown, the “fall from Vaikuṇṭha” is unknown, it’s all very speculative and we don’t spend time discussing our personal fates. We only know that we need to go back to Godhead and none of our ācāryas had any problems with that concept. Just scroll to page 6 of this paper where there are quotes from previous ācāryas on this subject. They are further elaborated in the body of the text as well. I can’t count how many times they said “forget” in various ways. There are four quotes using the word “back” from Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī as well.
None of it matters to followers of Satyanarayan as they focus on quotes that talk about jīvas emerging from the body of Viṣṇu or some such. There’s no attempt at reconciliation, nothing. It’s as if our ācāryas never ever even thought about going back to Godhead at all.
What they do not forget to mention is that they know Gauḍiyā siddhānta. Repeat this plenty of times and our atheist/advaitin opponents would start to believe them.
Another confusion that ex-ISKCON devotees plant in people’s minds is that Gauḍiyā vaiṣṇavism has no connection to Madhva sampradāya. To be fair, some members of Madhva sampradāya hold this view, too, even though we have plenty of support and denunciations from their senior members. The argument goes that there was no connection between Mādhavendra Purī and actual Madhvas and the line cited in our literature does not match the one kept by Madhvas themselves.
First of all, it’s unthinkable to say that Mādhavendra Purī made false claims about his own lineage. It’s unthinkable to say that Lord Caitanya did not know what line Mādhavendra Purī came from. It’s unthinkable to say that Mādhavendra Purī’s direct disciples like Advaita Ācārya did not know what sampradāya they were initiated into. We can argue about records from centuries ago all we want but we should immediately reject the conclusions that make above mentioned personalities into liars. If they said they Mādhavendra Purī belonged to the line coming from Madhvācārya then it was so, as simple as that.
Secondly, who are we taking these arguments from? Afaik, on our side it’s the infamous Jagat. His devotion to Śrīla Prabhupāda will always remain unshakable but as far as his actions go they are downright disgusting. He left Prabhupāda’s shelter first for Lalita Prasad, then for some other ostensibly “traditional” Gauḍiyā, then he experimented with drugs, then with sex – joining real life prakṛta sahajiyās full time, then he became an academic, and recently he dropped kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ and took a vow of silence. What kind of authority on spiritual matters is this? He is bound to get it wrong no matter what he tries. Why do we have to listen to his opinions who represents the paramparā and who doesn’t?
It’s not the first time that I complained about bogus “gurus” and “academics” hijacking our siddhānta and making annoying claims but it’s the gift that keeps giving and they get cited again and again, hence continuous reactions.