Happiness derived from pure devotional service is the highest, because it is eternal. The happiness derived from material perfection or understanding oneself to be Brahman is inferior because it is temporary. There is no preventing one's falling down from material happiness, and there is even every chance of falling down from the spiritual happiness derived out of identifying oneself with the impersonal Brahman.
Fall down from (CC and Other Books)
This discussion between Maitreya Muni and Parāśara Muni centered on whether devotees come down into the material world in every millennium like Jaya and Vijaya, who were cursed by the Kumāras to that effect. In the course of these instructions to Maitreya about Hiraṇyakaśipu, Rāvaṇa and Śiśupāla, Parāśara did not say that these demons were formerly Jaya and Vijaya. He simply described the transmigration through three lives. It is not necessary for the Vaikuṇṭha associates of the Supreme Personality of Godhead to come to take the roles of His enemies in all the millenniums in which He appears. The "falldown" of Jaya and Vijaya occurred in a particular millennium; Jaya and Vijaya do not come down in every millennium to act as demons. To think that some associates of the Lord fall down from Vaikuṇṭha in every millennium to become demons is totally incorrect.
Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa was influenced and allured by nomads or gypsies, who enticed him with women. Māyā is so strong that Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa left Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's company to join gypsy women. Even though a person may associate with Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he can be allured by māyā and leave the Lord's company due to his slight independence. Only one who is overwhelmed by māyā can be so unfortunate as to leave Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's company, yet unless one is very conscientious, the influence of māyā can drag one away, even though he be the personal assistant of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. And what to speak of others? The Bhaṭṭathāris used to increase their numbers by using women to allure outsiders. This is factual evidence showing that it is possible at any time to fall down from the Lord's association. One need only misuse his little independence. Once fallen and separated from the Supreme Personality of Godhead's association, one becomes a candidate for suffering in the material world. Although rejected by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa was given another chance, as the following verses relate.
Bhakti-siddhānta-viruddha refers to that which is against the principle of unity in diversity, philosophically known as acintya-bhedābheda—simultaneous oneness and difference—whereas rasābhāsa is something that may appear to be a transcendental mellow but actually is not. Those who are pure Vaiṣṇavas should avoid both these things opposed to devotional service. These misconceptions practically parallel the Māyāvāda philosophy. If one indulges in Māyāvāda philosophy, he gradually falls down from the platform of devotional service. By overlapping mellows (rasābhāsa) one eventually becomes a prākṛta-sahajiyā and takes everything to be very easy. One may also become a member of the bāula community and gradually become attracted to material activities. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has therefore advised us to avoid bhakti-siddhānta-viruddha and rasābhāsa. In this way the devotee can remain pure and free from falldowns. Everyone should try to remain aloof from bhakti-siddhānta-viruddha and rasābhāsa.
“"If one does not immediately leave upon hearing the Lord or the Lord"s devotee blasphemed, he falls down from devotional service.’” Similarly, Lord Śiva's wife Satī states in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.4.17):
- karṇau pidhāya nirayād yad akalpa īśe
- dharmāvitary asṛṇibhir nṛbhir asyamāne
- chindyāt prasahya ruśatīm asatīṁ prabhuś cej
- jihvām asūn api tato visṛjet sa dharmaḥ
"If one hears an irresponsible person blaspheme the master and controller of religion, he should block his ears and go away if unable to punish him. But if one is able to kill, then one should by force cut out the blasphemer's tongue and kill the offender, and after that he should give up his own life."
Unless one is a fully qualified brāhmaṇa, he cannot advance in the spiritual science. A real brāhmaṇa is never envious of Vaiṣṇavas. If he is, he is considered an imperfect neophyte. Impersonalist brāhmaṇas are always opposed to Vaiṣṇava principles. They are envious of Vaiṣṇavas because they do not know the goal of life. Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum (SB 7.5.31). However, when a brāhmaṇa becomes a Vaiṣṇava, there is no duality. If a brāhmaṇa does not become a Vaiṣṇava, he certainly falls down from the brāhmaṇa platform.
Every living entity is wandering within this universe in different species and on different planetary systems according to his fruitive activities. Out of many millions of living entities, one may be fortunate enough to receive the seed of the bhakti-latā, the creeper of devotional service. By the grace of the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa, one nourishes the bhakti-latā by regularly sprinkling it with the water of śravaṇa-kīrtana, hearing and chanting. In this way the seed of the bhakti-latā sprouts and grows up and up through the whole universe until it penetrates the covering of the material universe and reaches the spiritual world. The bhakti-latā continues to grow until it reaches the topmost planetary system, Goloka Vṛndāvana, where Kṛṣṇa lives. There the creeper takes shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord, and that is its final destination. At that time the creeper begins to grow the fruits of ecstatic love of God. It is the duty of the devotee who nourishes the creeper to be very careful. It is said that the watering of the creeper must continue: ihāṅ mālī sece nitya śravaṇādi jala. It is not that at a certain stage one can stop chanting and hearing and become a mature devotee. If one stops, one certainly falls down from devotional service. Although one may be very much exalted in devotional service, he should not give up the watering process of śravaṇa-kīrtana. If one gives up that process, it is due to an offense. This is described in the following verse.
“"If one simply maintains an official position in the four varṇas and āśramas but does not worship the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu, he falls down from his puffed-up position into a hellish condition."
“"My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, where is that woman within the three worlds who would not be captivated by the rhythms of the sweet songs coming from Your wonderful flute? Who would not fall down from the path of chastity in this way? Your beauty is the most sublime within the three worlds. Upon seeing Your beauty, even cows, birds, animals and trees in the forest become stunned in jubilation."
“"If one simply maintains an official position in the four varṇas and āśramas but does not worship the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu, he falls down from his puffed-up position into a hellish condition."
Men become strong and stout by eating sufficient grains, but the devotee who simply eats ordinary grains but does not taste the transcendental pastimes of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Kṛṣṇa gradually becomes weak and falls down from the transcendental position. However, if one drinks but a drop of the nectar of Kṛṣṇa's pastimes, his body and mind begin to bloom, and he begins to laugh, sing and dance.
All the devotees connected with the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement must read all the books that have been translated (the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā and others); otherwise, after some time, they will simply eat, sleep and fall down from their position. Thus they will miss the opportunity to attain an eternal, blissful life of transcendental pleasure.
A Vaiṣṇava should study the commentaries on the Vedānta-sūtra written by the four sampradāya-ācāryas, namely Śrī Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇu Svāmī and Nimbārka, for these commentaries are based upon the philosophy that the Lord is the master and that all living entities are His eternal servants. One interested in studying Vedānta philosophy properly must study these commentaries, especially if he is a Vaiṣṇava. These commentaries are always adored by Vaiṣṇavas. The commentary by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī is elaborately given in the Ādi-līlā, Chapter Seven, text 101. The Māyāvāda commentary Śārīraka-bhāṣya is like poison for a Vaiṣṇava. It should not be touched at all. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura remarks that even a mahā-bhāgavata, or highly elevated devotee who has surrendered himself unto the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, sometimes falls down from pure devotional service if he hears the Māyāvāda philosophy of the Śārīraka-bhāṣya. This commentary should therefore be shunned by all Vaiṣṇavas.
The members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement are advised not to take food from anywhere but a Vaiṣṇava's or brāhmaṇa's house where Deity worship is performed. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said, viṣayīra anna khāile duṣṭa haya mana: (CC Antya 6.278) if a devotee takes alms or food from the house of a karmī who is simply interested in money, his mind will become unclean. We must always remember that a devotee's life is one of vairāgya-vidyā, or renunciation and knowledge. Therefore all devotees are warned not to live unnecessarily luxurious lives at the cost of others. Gṛhasthas living within the jurisdiction of the temple must be especially careful not to imitate karmīs by acquiring opulent clothing, food and conveyances. As far as possible, these should be avoided. A member of the temple, whether gṛhastha, brahmacārī or sannyāsī, must practice a life of renunciation, following in the footsteps of Haridāsa Ṭhākura and the six Gosvāmīs. Otherwise, because māyā is very strong, at any time one may become a victim of māyā and fall down from spiritual life.
“(The gopīs said:) "My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, where is that woman within the three worlds who would not be captivated by the rhythms of the sweet songs coming from Your wonderful flute? Who would not fall down from the path of chastity in this way? Your beauty is the most sublime within the three worlds. Upon seeing Your beauty, even cows, birds, animals and trees in the forest are stunned in jubilation."
A devotee who is satisfied only with his own sense gratification certainly falls down from the service of Kṛṣṇa. Being attracted by material happiness, he later joins the prākṛta-sahajiyās, who are considered to be nondevotees.
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Nectar of Devotion
As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā, "He is the supreme enjoyer." So, whether one is a brāhmaṇa or a śūdra, one has to satisfy the Supreme Lord by one's activities. This is also confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by a verse which reads, "Everyone must be engaged in his particular duty, but the perfection of such work should be tested by how far the Lord is satisfied with such activities." The injunction herein is that one has to act according to his position, and by such activities one must either satisfy the Supreme Personality or else fall down from one's position.
The story behind this verse is that the two sons of Kuvera (the treasurer of the demigods) were puffed up on account of the opulence of their father, and so once on a heavenly planet they were enjoying themselves in a lake with some naked damsels of heaven. At that time the great saint Nārada Muni was passing on the road and was sorry to see the behavior of the sons of Kuvera. Seeing Nārada passing by, the damsels of heaven covered their bodies with cloth, but the two sons, being drunkards, did not have this decency. Nārada became angry with their behavior and cursed them thus: "You have no sense, so it is better if you become trees instead of the sons of Kuvera." Upon hearing this, the boys came to their senses and begged Nārada to be pardoned for their offenses. Nārada then said, "Yes, you shall become trees, arjuna trees, and you will stand in the courtyard of Nanda Mahārāja. But Kṛṣṇa Himself will appear in time as the foster son of Nanda, and He will deliver you." In other words, the curse of Nārada was a benediction to the sons of Kuvera because indirectly it was foretold that they would be able to receive the favor of Lord Kṛṣṇa. After that, Kuvera's two sons stood as two big arjuna trees in the courtyard of Nanda Mahārāja until Lord Dāmodara, in order to fulfill the desire of Nārada, dragged the grinding mortar to which He was tied and struck the two trees, violently causing them to fall down. From out of these fallen trees came Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva, who had by then become great devotees of the Lord.
Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī also says that if one is regularly discharging devotional service, there will be no question of a falldown. But even if circumstantially there is some falldown, the Vaiṣṇava need have nothing to do with the prāyaścitta, the ritualistic ceremony for purification. If someone falls down from the principles of devotional service, he need not take to the prāyaścitta performances for reformation. He simply has to execute the rules and regulations for discharging devotional service, and this is sufficient for his reinstatement. This is the mystery of the Vaiṣṇava (devotional) cult.
There are three ways of dealing with such insults. If someone is heard blaspheming by words, one should be so expert that he can defeat the opposing party by argument. If he is unable to defeat the opposing party, then the next step is that he should not just stand there meekly, but should give up his life. The third process is followed if he is unable to execute the above-mentioned two processes, and this is that one must leave the place and go away. If a devotee does not follow any of the above-mentioned three processes, he falls down from his position of devotion.
"Although our attitude toward You resembles loving affairs with a paramour, we cannot but wonder at how no woman can maintain her chastity upon hearing the vibration from Your flute. And not only women, but even stronghearted men are subject to falling down from their position at the sound of Your flute. In fact, we have seen that in Vṛndāvana even the cows, the deer, the birds, the trees—everyone—has been enchanted by the sweet vibration of Your flute and the fascinating beauty of Your person."
Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead
“Dear Lord, husband of the goddess of fortune, devotees who are dovetailed in Your service do not fall down from their high position like the impersonalists. Being protected by You, the devotees are able to traverse over the heads of many of Māyā’s commanders in chief, who can always put stumbling blocks on the path of liberation. Dear Lord, You appear in Your eternal transcendental form for the benefit of the living entities so that they can see You face to face and offer their worshipful sacrifices by ritualistic performance of the Vedas, mystic meditation and devotional service as recommended in the scriptures. Dear Lord, if You did not appear in Your eternal transcendental form, full of bliss and knowledge—a form which can eradicate all kinds of speculative ignorance about Your position—then all people would simply speculate about You according to their respective modes of material nature.”
Once, when Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were playing on the bank of the Yamunā, a demon of the name Vatsāsura assumed the shape of a calf and came there intending to kill the brothers. By taking the shape of a calf, the demon could mingle with the other calves. Kṛṣṇa, however, specifically noticed this, and He immediately alerted Balarāma about the entrance of the demon. Both brothers then silently approached him. Kṛṣṇa caught hold of the demon-calf by the two hind legs and tail, whipped him around very forcibly and threw him up into a tree. The demon lost his life and fell down from the top of the tree to the ground. When the demon lay dead on the ground, all the playmates of Kṛṣṇa congratulated Him, "Well done! Well done!" and the demigods in the sky showered flowers with great satisfaction. In this way, the maintainers of the complete creation, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, used to take care of the calves every day, beginning in the morning, and thus They enjoyed Their childhood pastimes as cowherd boys in Vṛndāvana.
Actually the cursing of Garuḍa—who is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to be of the stature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān—was an offense on the part of Saubhari Muni. Although Garuḍa did not try to retaliate, the Muni was not saved from his offensive act against a great Vaiṣṇava personality. Due to this offense, Saubhari fell down from his yogic position and afterwards became a householder, a sense enjoyer in the material world. The falldown of Saubhari Muni, who was supposed to be absorbed in spiritual bliss by meditation, is an instruction to the offender of Vaiṣṇavas.
While Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were enjoying the gifts of the rainy season in this way, the autumn season gradually arrived, when all the water reservoirs become very clean, and when pleasing and refreshing air blows everywhere. With the appearance of autumn, the sky was completely cleared of all clouds, and it recovered its natural blue color. The blooming lotus flowers in the clear water in the forest appeared like persons who have fallen down from yoga practice but have again become beautiful by resuming their spiritual life. Everything becomes naturally beautiful with the appearance of the autumn season. Similarly, when a materialistic person takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and spiritual life, he also becomes as clear as the sky and water in autumn.
"The only process to counteract all sorts of material desires is to engage oneself in the devotional service of Lord Viṣṇu. In this way a self-controlled person, even while remaining in householder life, should give up the three kinds of material desires, namely the desire for the acquisition of material opulences, for the enjoyment of wife and children, and for elevation to higher planets. Eventually he should give up householder life and accept the renounced order, engaging himself completely in the devotional service of the Lord. Everyone, even if born in a higher status as a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya or vaiśya, is certainly indebted to the demigods, to the sages, to the forefathers and to other living entities, and in order to liquidate all these debts, one has to perform sacrifices, study the Vedic literature and generate children in religious householder life. If somehow one accepts the renounced order of life without liquidating these debts, he certainly falls down from his position. Today you have already liquidated your debts to your forefathers and the sages. Now, by performing sacrifices, you can free yourself from indebtedness to the demigods and thus take complete shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. My dear Vasudeva, certainly you have already performed many pious activities in your previous lives. Otherwise, how could you be the father of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, the Supreme Personality of Godhead?"
Renunciation Through Wisdom
We learn from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that, due to māyā, which makes the living entity fall down from spiritual practice, certain obnoxious atheists try hard to create a smokescreen of philosophical jargon around the Supreme Lord to keep Him hidden from the general populace. The result of this effort is also described in the Bhāgavatam (12.3.43):
- kalau na rājan jagatāṁ paraṁ guruṁ
- prāyeṇa martyā bhagavantam acyutaṁ
- yakṣyanti pāṣaṇḍa-vibhinna-cetasaḥ
O King! In the Age of Kali people's intelligence will be diverted by atheism, and they will almost never offer sacrifice to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the supreme spiritual master of the universe. Although the great personalities who control the three worlds all bow down to the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, the petty and miserable human beings of this age will not do so.
O lotus-eyed Lord, although nondevotees who accept severe austerities and penances to achieve the highest position may think themselves liberated, their intelligence is impure. They fall down from their position of imagined superiority because they have no regard for Your lotus feet.
Attracted by material nature's external glare, such "liberated" souls have to come down to this earth and become wrapped up in some sociopolitical or altruistic work.
Besides the eternally conditioned jīvas, there are others, who are eternally liberated (nitya-mukta). They never come to this material world. Among the eternally conditioned jīvas (nitya-baddha) are those who make a big show of gaining liberation from this world. An analogy the Māyāvādīs often repeat is "All rivers flow into the ocean." This means that all jīvas merge into Brahman. But the truth that escapes them is that many large aquatics are permanent residents of the ocean and are never attracted to go and live in the river. The eternally liberated souls need not strive for liberation.
O lotus-eyed Lord, although nondevotees who accept severe austerities and penances to achieve the highest position may think themselves liberated, their intelligence is impure. They fall down from their position of imagined superiority because they have no regard for Your lotus feet."
Thus the yogic process a surrendered servant of the Supreme Lord practices is altogether different form Patañjali's eightfold yoga system, beginning with sense control, yogic postures, and breath control. These practices are, in a sense, meant to increase physical prowess for better sense enjoyment. The devotee, on the other hand, follows the best yoga system of God-realization, which is enunciated in the Bhagavad-gītā. His activities are not selfishly motivated, aimed at realizing his own cherished dreams, but are directed toward fulfilling the will of God on earth. This yoga is known as buddhi-yoga, wherein lies the entire world's good fortune.
Narada-bhakti-sutra (sutras 1 to 8 only)
Persons who are falsely puffed up, thinking they have become liberated simply by understanding their constitutional position as Brahman, or spirit soul, are factually still contaminated. Their intelligence is impure because they have no understanding of the Personality of Godhead, and ultimately they fall down from their puffed-up position.
According to the Bhāgavatam (1.2.11) there are three levels of transcendentalists: the self-realized knowers of the impersonal Brahman feature of the Absolute Truth; the knowers of the Paramātmā, the localized aspect of the Supreme, which is understood by the process of mystic yoga; and the bhaktas, who are in knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and engage in His devotional service. Those who understand simply that the living being is not matter but spirit soul and who desire to merge into the Supreme Spirit Soul are in the lowest transcendental position. Above them are the mystic yogīs, who by meditation see within their hearts the four-handed Viṣṇu form of the Paramātmā, or Supersoul. But persons who actually associate with the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, are the highest among all transcendentalists.