Q: As far as I understand, we’re all female by our original position. The only male is Krishna. Does this mean that when we back to Godhead, will we become gopis? 

 
A: Femininity is not a matter of biology or genitalia.  Femininity is a state of being, associated with but not identical to female physical gender.  
 
All things are feminine in relation to Krishna, because all things are dependent on him, like a wife depends on the stability of the husband, and all things receive his energy and develop it into something beautiful to expand his world, like a wife receives a seed from the husband and develops it into a wonderful child. 
 
The femininity of things in relation to krishna is why the most original and primal associates of krishna are female in form, the gopis. But each one of them manifests many forms to associate with krishna in many ways, and some of them are male forms. The female nature is not bound to a female form, it can also express itself in a male form. Thus the gopis are not the only companions of krishna. He is also surrounded by gopas sometimes, who are actually expansions of the gopis, and thus also essentially feminine, though expressing that nature in a male form.
 
 
 
Q: Some say Rādhārāṇī  is a part of Krishna, some say They’re equals, some say She is the “energy” of Krishna. This is not so clear to me.
 
A: She is the original, complete root of Krishna’s energies. Energies are an integral part of the energetic, and they are equal in importance, for neither one has any relevance or meaning without the other. So all three descriptions of Rādhārāṇī are correct: She is a part of Krishna – they are equal in all respects, and she is the energy of Krishna.
 
Q:  Krishna is the only male, His consort is Radharani, but at the same time we all belong to Him. This makes me confused. 
A: Rādhārāṇī is the complete root of all Krishna’s energy. This means that she is the ultimate root of everything. You and I are jīva atma- we are tathastha shakti, one of the energies Rādhārāṇī manifests for krishna. So our place in relation to Rādhā and Krishna is that we are a part of what Rādhārāṇī creates for krishna’s pleasure. Our role, therefore, is to assist her and her expansions.
We belong to Krishna because she belongs to Krishna and, in the ultimate analysis, we belong to her.
 
 
 
Q: Another issue which makes my mind busy is the creation. As far as I understand, there is no time when we were not. We always were, are and will be as parts and parcels of God. But at the beginning, we were in our original, spiritual position. Then we wanted to “have” or “dominate” something, and God created this material world for us. But shouldn’t be our original position perfect? If we were with Krishna, if our souls know what is like to be with Him, how could we want to dominate something or someone? Because if there is full satisfaction, then why want something else? Doesn’t that mean that being with Krishna was not so satisfying?
 

A: you are right. This understanding is very confusing, and doesn’t really work within the logical boundaries established by śāstra. Here is a short attempt to clarify:

We are “jīva.”

The jīva is an eternally manifest individual consciousness (ātmā), described by Sri Caitanya (cc m.20.117) as “anādi bahirmukha” – begininglessly extrinsically oriented.

The word anādi (“without anything previous”) literally communicates that there was no “prior” state “before” we became extrinsically oriented (a.k.a. “entered the material world”). Then why!? Why are we extroversive? Why are we in the material world?

It is not by chance or whimsy. It is a result of our intrinsic constitutional nature, our intrinsic individual personality. Our individual nature makes us, from the very “beginning,” interested in the extrinsic world (anādi bahirmukha). This interest in extrinsic things is possible only because we do not begin with any experience of anything at all, intrinsic or extrinsic. If we began with an experience of the intrinsic reality centered on All-Attractive Krishna, we would not be able to explore any interest in anything extrinsic, because the bliss of experiencing Krishna is “sandrānanda viśeṣa” – it completely obliterates awareness of any other massively inferior form of happiness or fascination. Therefore Sri Jīva Goswāmī describes the jīva as anadi-bhagavad-ajnāna (“beginninglessly unaware of the All-Attractive”).

This is fairly abstract philosophical stuff because it involves causality that is not time-based, but is consciusness-based, or personality-based (our involvement in the extrinsic world is the result of who we intrinsically are, not the result of some event we participated in.) Prabhupāda illustrated it and made it easier to grasp by often using a narrative that involves “leaving Krishna” and “returning to Krishna.” There is no problem here, and no fault in Srila Prabhupada. This narrative is useful, but we are at fault if we give the illustration more importance than the concept being illustrated.

– Vraja Kishor

12 thoughts on “Questions About Rādhārāṇī and the Origin of the Jīva

  1. My question is : it is often repeated in the sastra that all the goddesses of fortune emanate from Radha. The Jiva in the position of gopis are also intended as goddesses of fortune. In this post you are saying that all the jivas are emanating from Radharani, gopis/gopas. Bhaktivinoda Thakur says that Jiva residing in Goloka emanate from Krishna or Balarama, in Vaikuntha they emanate from Sankarsana and in the material world from Mahavishnu.
    Could you shed some light on this? Thank you.

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    1. Jīvātmā is a ray from paramātmā, this is an incontrovertable verdict of Bhāgavatam, established definitely by Jīva Goswāmī in Sad Sandarbha. Paramātmā / Viṣṇu is an expansion of Saṁkārṣaṇa, who is an expansion of Krishna. The “expansion” is the śakti of the particular manifestation of śaktiman. So, when the individual (“jīva”) exists in the extrinsic world, it is manifest as a śakti-ray of paramātmā viṣṇu. When it exists in the intrinsic world, it manifests as a śakti-ray of saṁkārṣaṇa. When it is in the core of the intrinsic world, Śrī Vṛndāvana, it manifests as a śakti-ray of Śrī Krishna. In other words, in Vṛṇdāvana, the jīva is associated as a component of Rādhārāṇī’s lusterous retinue (its hard not to use fancy words here, sorry).

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      1. So, as we return to our constitutional position we take up a spiritual body emanating from Radha if we are in the core of the intrinsic world .. does this reconciles with the vision described by BVT in the Navadvip Taranga where he says to have seen a svarup form of a girl and stated “I understood she was I”? It is a long time I had this questions thanks for answering.

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  2. Hare Krsna Prabhu,
    Many thanks for your wonderful explanations and clarifications.
    One question I have always wondered, you have nicely answered above regarding creation. I would, however like you to further explain, if you would; if we have beginninglessly had an interest in the extrinsic world, despite no prior experience with it (how is this actually possible?), what then was the purpose of this interest, is the interest manifest from Krishna, if so, is material life a sort of test? As opposed to having fallen due to a desire to dominate?
    Please forgive my ignorance.
    Haribol

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    1. It’s not about “interest” so much as it is about WHO WE ARE by nature. We are extroversive by nature, and the extrinsic world exists as a result.

      It’s not a “decision”, so there is no “purpose” to it.

      In the source (Krishna) there is both intrinsic and extrinsic awareness, but intrinsic is much more delightful. Thus, among the emanations (who include you and I) there are entities with both intrinsic and extrinsic focus. Both experience joy, but the instrinsic focus is much more delightful.

      The interest is only indirectly manifest from Krishna, in the sense that he is the ultimate root of everything. The direct cause of the extrinsic focus, however, is the individual’s nature.

      Material life is not exactly a “test.” It is simply a state of existence where consciousness fulfills its extrinsic desires. The only difference between it and the intrinsic world, is that it is all external to the essence of what consciousness is (a sentience focused on its intrinsic root). Its neither a test nor a punishment. It is the best arrangement for extrinsic consciousness. There is no perfect arrangement for extrinsic consciousness because by nature extrinsic consciousness always has plural focus, and therefore lacks harmony. We have different centers when we focus on the extrinsic. Your focus is different from mine – our desires often conflict – and this causes discord.

      I hope this may have answered your questions? You might still have questions about it?

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      1. Many thanks Prabhu, I appreciate you giving your time to share your knowledge. You have insightfully answered my question and I am satisfied. As you ask, I do have one small question in reponse. I know you have mentionned previously but would like confirmation. When we speak of “going back to Godhead” is this less of a literal returning to Krishna from Whom we left and more “going back to where we constitutionally belong”? . Once again many thanks.

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        1. “Going back” is part of a narrative that helps describe the emotional essence of what it means to come into touch with one’s true root. But technically speaking, we have never been in touch with our true root. So, it feels like “going back” because we are going to a place where we truly belong – but we have never been there before.

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  3. I have few quotes on your topic, from SP and BVT.

    “living entities, we also belong to the spiritual prakriti, we are expansion of spiritual prakriti. Just like Srimati Radharani is always engaged in the service of the Lord, anaradhyate. […] So everyone is meant[…] We being expansion of the spiritual Lakshmi, or Radharani, our duty is to serve Radharani, and through Radharani to serve Krishna. This is Krishna consciousness movement.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.1, December 16, 1975, Bombay)

    “Sri Radhika is the Source of all individual souls whose function is to be employed in the service of Sri Krishna by the alternative methods [of] loyal conscious submission, neutrality or actual opposition. The individual souls serve Sri Krishna as constituents of Sri Radhika. When they forget that they are constituents of Sri Radhika they forget the nature of their own selves, and engage in the abnormal activities of the mundane plane.” He writes three pages later:

    “Siva and mahamaya are closely connected with the jiva. The connection of jiva with Siva and mahamaya is established only when he is disassociated from the service of Sri Sri Radha Krsna.” (Sri Caitanya’s Teachings, p. 615)

    In this passage, we learn that the original position of the soul is to serve Krsna as a constituent of Sri Radhika. The three ‘alternative methods’ means the different positions or roles servants take in the pastimes or lila’s of the Lord. Only when they forget this do they “engage in the abnormal activities of the mundane plane.

    Hare Krishna

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    1. Regarding Prabhupāda’s lecture quote:

      There is nothing to disagree with or explain. It is perfect and clear. We are all supposed to be engaged in Krishna’s service. jīvera svarūpa-haya kṛṣṇer nitya-dāsa. This does not mean that we were once engaged in Krishna’s service and then gave it up.

      Regarding the quote from Bhaktivinode Ṭhākur :

      Are you referring to Śrī Caitanya-siksamrita? If so this book is written in Bengali, not English. The word “when” is likely introduced by the translator, or appears in the original in a context which has already established that the word must be taken ontologically, not historically. If we don’t place emphasis on the English word “when” in the translation, then there is nothing to disagree with or explain – everything is clear and perfect: We are meant to serve Krishna. It doesn’t mean we once served Krishna, but now we gave up on it to try something else.

      We should be careful not to translate or interpret an author in a way that would establish meaning that contradicts what the author would have learned from his or her own gurus. The Gauḍīya Paramparā clearly teaches that the jīva has no prior condition and, by intrinsic nature is extrinsically oriented. We should not do a disservice to that Paramparā by interpreting or translating one of its members in a way that contradicts its clear verdict.

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  4. It’s not a “decision”, so there is no “purpose” to it.

    Why you link purpose to a decision? Does the purpose of a kidney has anything to do with a decision?

    Btw, ‘decision’ part is also problematic. Prabhupada’s answer is that soul falls due to independence. This is not the bottom line, though. Because in this case independence was abused by a decision. I may have an independence to jump off the building, but I never decide to do so. So, the question is not if there was or was not an opportunity, the question is why we took that opportunity.

    This is how I understand your explanation:
    So, soul is eternal, it is eternally inclined to being extrovert, but once experiencing that and returning back to Godhead, it never manifests that eternal inclination again. It is like a switch then, which is turned off eternally, until once it was turned on, and then it get stuck there forever, since light was a good experience. All this is fine. But then…

    We are non-different from Krishna in quality, but only in quantity. Then we also have both intrinsic and extrinsic awareness, but we choose the latter due to the lack of quantity. So, size matters.

    Problem is that if a mood of anger is a legitimate Krishna’s pastime, and it cannot be manifested in a perfect world, an extrinsic manifestation would break forth. And jivas would follow that lead, to serve. In this case extrinsic was chosen by God, regardless the size. Unlike us, due to His size, God can escape on His own. And then God would be the source of evil, just as the Old Testament says. So, can this be a take on the subject by a Vaishnava siddhanta from modern perspective? If not, what are alternatives?

    You are right about “logical boundaries established by śāstra”, but not the shastra alone. No religion, no scripture, no prophet ever provided the satisfactory answer to the problem of fall. Free will is a poor excuse. It is a noble attempt, to try solving this issue, due to it’s importance. But, I suspect that solving this one may not be by merely philosophizing, the answer would be something like a revolution. We learn so many different things from shastra, but even avatars were all silent on this, the most interesting of questions. And the answer seem to be not so transcendental at all, not too difficult to understand. It would not require a shift of consciousness to accept it. For example, if it would be possible that God was the source of evil, that we can understand, and continue with the practical problem – how to get out of here. So providing the answer will be as or even more striking than the appearance of avatar.

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