Banned in V.K. (Vai-Kuṇṭha)

Banned in V.K. (Vai-Kuṇṭha)

This is an extremely important purāṇik story, please hear it attentively. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.15.26:

Brahmā’s four sons became saturated with supreme, unprecedented delight when the force of their attachment granted them entry into Vaikuṇṭha, which is the only truly praiseworthy place, full of dazzling, amazing, transcendental crafts, and predominated by the Guru of All. They felt a bliss greater than they had ever felt before, because they anticipated that here they would receive the highest enlightenment from that supreme guru.

The “force of attraction” is yoga-māyā. Hari extended this to the Kumāras because he is the viśva-guru and wanted them to come to him to learn about bhakti.

With complete detachment, those four scholars passed through the gates of six walls, approaching Hari’s palace. At the seventh they saw two divine beings of the same age holding clubs and bedecked with incalculably valuable bracelets, earrings, crowns, and exquisite cloth. Delirious bees surrounded the flower-necklaces hanging from the bluish shoulders between their four arms. Their eyebrows frowned, their nostrils flared, and their reddish eyes, stirring to anger, glanced at the four boys.

“Why were they angry at the boys?” The gods asked Brahmā.

Brahmā explained that the boys had no sense of discrimination, no sense of property or boundaries, so they were habituated to simply going wherever they wanted and doing whatever they needed without asking permission. Therefore, they tried to open the gold-and-diamond doors of the seventh gate without asking permission from the doorkeepers.

The doorkeepers saw that the four naked five-year-old children had comprehended only the reality of oneness. So the held out their staffs, preventing the children from entering. They thought, “These monists are too proud of their powerful realization, and do not deserve to enter the palace. Their behavior will not please Hari.” But from another angle it was the door keepers who took their powerful post too seriously and displeased Hari by disregarding the fact that Hari is always pleased to meet a true spiritualist.

Many divine entities saw this and realized that the two gatekeepers had blocked the most deserving souls, so they hurried to inform Hari. Meanwhile, the eyes of the children suddenly flooded with anger, as a result of the obstacle to their most eagerly desired audience with the dearest friend of the soul, Hari.

Actually the four children did possess some type of seed of bhakti, because they had lobha (greed) to attain Hari’s darśan for the sake of learning about him. So they should not have been blocked. Being blocked from their transcendental greed, they developed transcendental anger. The verse uses the word kāmānuja for “anger”, it literally means “the younger brother of greed.”

“Who are you,” they incredulously asked, “to have attained such exalted service to the All-Attractive, yet to still have a character that generates disharmony among the harmonious residents here in Vaikuṇṭha?”

“We are gatekeepers!” they said, “We must guard against the possibility that Hari’s enemy may take the guise of a spiritualist to infiltrate the palace!”

“You are guarding the person who is the source of all peace and who has no enemy!” The sages pointed out, their anger flaring higher. “You alone among all the residents of Vaikuṇṭha do not have a nature similar to his! That must be why you suspect that there could be an enemy who might sneak into Vaikuṇṭha.

“Fools!” they continued, “just try to listen to reason.

The All-Attractive beyond this gate contains the entire cosmos within him and is the soul of every soul. Every soul is simply like a pot containing a portion of the sky that is Hari. You don’t seem to understand this. You two look like divine beings, so why have you developed this foolish idea that living beings are separate from Hari, and could possibly threaten him?”

The doorkeepers did not reply.

The children spoke amongst themselves,

“We should think of some punishment that would bestow a supreme blessing upon these two slow-witted servants of the Husband of Vaikuṇṭha.”

Then, turning to the doorkeepers, they declared,

“Leave here and enter the worlds where you can easily see the three awful results of your dualistic mentality: lust, anger, and greed — the only true enemies.”

Proponents of the theory that the living entity was established actively in a life in Vaikuṇṭha prior to entering the material world frequently refer to this incident in search of some support from śāstra for their conception. However this is not a tenable reference, for the following reasons:

1) The theory claims that aversion to Hari can develop in Vaikuṇṭha. However, the gatekeepers did not possess aversion to Hari, they simply made a bad decision on a difficult issue, as a result of their devotion to Hari making them feel the vatsālya-bhāva that they needed to protect Hari from possible enemies.

2) The theory seeks to explain why the living entity falls into delusion and forgets Hari. However, the gatekeepers did not fall into maya like an ordinary soul.

3) The astonishment of the Kumāras over their misconception that the doorkeepers were disharmonious with the nature of Vaikuṇṭha indicates that such a thing (disharmony in Vaikuṇṭha) would be impossible, inexplicable and astonishing.

4) The departure of the two doorkeepers from Vaikuṇṭha is an extremely uncommon event requiring the curse from extremely powerful brahmanas. Yet the theory seeks to use this incident as evidence for the eternal, normal generation of jīvas who are not in perfect harmony with Hari.

Therefore this incident does not at all illustrate the viability of the theory that we infinite living entities were previously in Vaikuṇṭha with Hari.

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