|Chapter 15||Realization of the Ultimate Truth||Verse 7|
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The query may arise that if when attaining the Supreme Lord Krishna's eternal abode the jiva or embodied being does not return to material existence then at the time of pralaya or dissolution when all jivas are merged into His manifestation of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence they become one essence as confirmed in the Chandogya Upanisad VI.IX.II beginning te yatha tatra na vivekamlabhante meaning: As the pollen of different flowers forms the essence of honey and lose their individual identities in the same manner all jivas lose their individual existences when they merge into the brahman although they know not in their varigated forms from whence they have come forth. If this is the case then who really is a transmigrating jiva. Apprehending such a query Lord Krishna describes a samsarin or transmigrating jiva in this verse and the next four. Lord Krishna explains that an eternal portion of Himself is within the etheric heart of every jiva in existence in the form of paramatma the eternal, omnipresent supreme soul which exists next to the atma or individual immortal soul as a witness. The jiva although eternal in essence having an eternal portion of the Supreme Lord, through ignorance and false identification of the physical body becomes a samsarin drawn by the desires and attachments of the previous existence to suffer or enjoy as precisely dictated by karma or the reactions to actions performed in past lives. This is accomplished on the subtle plane by a specifc and unique algorithm for every jiva along with senses, mind and vital force which involuntarily draws them back down into mundane existence on the physical plane automatically adjusting the karma and tabulating the merits or demerits from the exact same position by which they were merged at the time of pralaya. So although it is true that all jivas attain the state of the Supreme Lords brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. At the time of dissolution they are unconscious of it and of the Supreme Lord due to being covered in ignorance, over burdened with the impressions of past lives and overwhelmed by the karma of the previous life. Thus with such consciousness they only qualify to attain His transitory external nature of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and not His eternal transcendental nature as brahman. Therefore such jivas revolve in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death due to ignorance of their eternal nature and attachment to the desires and sense objects. But for one situated in atma tattva or realisation of the immortal soul by bhakti or exclusive loving devotion unto the Supreme Lord there is never mandatory return to material existence.
Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna explains a manifestation of His divine form. Due to the atma or immortal soul although distinctly different is similar in quality to the Supreme Lord it is sometimes spoken of as a partial manifestation. The Supreme Lord when enveloping the physical body, energises the five senses and activates the mind relative to prakriti the material substratum pevading physical existence. The statement that the mind is drawn toards sound may give rise to the misnomer that the jiva or embodied being is independent. Lord Krishna clarifies this in the very next verse..
Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The atma or immortal soul within all jivas or embodied beings constitutes an eternal portion of Lord Krishna and thus is also eternal. Yet because the jiva is inextricably emeshed in material existence from time immemorial it is enslaved by the nescience of its own karma or reactions to actions and revolves incessantly in samsara the perpetrual cycle of birth and death. Precisely based on this karma a jiva is forced to accept a suitable body such as a demigod, human, animal etc., attracting with it five senses and a mind exactly appropriate to maximising the chances of survival for such a jiva. But when the jiva through association of the Vaisnava spiritual master becomes enlightened from hearing his unequivocal instructions and surrenders fully unto the Supreme Lord Krishna as one's only refuge then Lord Krishna Himself releases the jiva from the bondage of samsara and the jiva becomes situated in atma-tattva or soul realisation. Other than taking exclusive shelter of Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations as revealed in Vedic sciptures it is impossible for the jiva which is very much handicapped in terms of intelligence and potency to achieve moksa or liberation. This is due to the heavy burden of unresolved karma attached to the jiva that they must carry with them life after life. But all actions performed for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord have no karma attached to them. This is the difference.
Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:
It might be asked that since the attributes and potencies manifesting from the Supreme Lord Krishna are His eternal portions; then why does the atma or immortal soul which also manifests from Him and is an eternal portion subject to the forced incarceration of transmigration. Lord Krishna clarifies this point by stating that finite reflections cannot be proved of having eternality neither that they are beginningless . This is because they are generated due to accessories and adjuncts such as water reflecting the sunlight. The sun is always present but it may be obscured by clouds and then again there is no reflection at all during night. Because the sun is perceived externally by reflection it is known to exist but to peceive the atma in its eternal state it must be perceived internally. In this way due to limitations of the jiva or embodied being, there are some conditions which cannot be seen, experienced or perceived attached to realising the atmas eternality which is beyond the purview of the mind and senses. Thus the atma cannot be proved by reflection. One in nescience and ignorance by the obscuration of knowledge is unable to ever understand the atma or comprehend its infinite nature; so how can one imagine its reflection. Contrarily if the finite nature of the atma is accepted the atma still cannot be proved as a reflection because of the established doctrine confirmed in the Mundaka Upanisad III.I.IX beginning: eso anuratma cetasi veditavyo meaning: The atma or immortal soul is infinitesimal and difficult to realise but when one achieves spiritual enlightenment by self- realisation the atma shines within the etheric heart. Also the Vedanta Sutras II.III.XVIII beginning utcranti gat yagatinam states: The atma is infintesimal, sub-atomic and able to pass in and out from body to body. Also in II.III.XXII beginning guna dva lokavat meaning: The atma resides in the heart but by its potency of consciousness pervades all the body like candle light pervading a room. So although the individual soul is eternal it is infintesimal; but paramatma the Supreme soul is eternal, unlimited and infinite.
The conclusion is that if an adjunct is infinite it can not be reflected because it is beyond perception. Thus any conception of the atma being a reflecion of the Supreme Lord is illusion and would be like considering the suns rays to be a reflection of the sun. Such ideas and conceptions are false and delusory and contradict Vedic scriptures. So whenever Lord Krishna speaks of His portion or His potency, it always denotes eternality as every part of Him is eternal and is not a seperate entity or consciousness. Lord Krishna already declared in chapter 7, verse 5 that he has an internal and external nature. Although the power and the powerful appear as seperate energies they cannot exist independent of each other even though eternally exemplifying unity in diversity as is evidenced by the jiva or embodied being, which is confined to inhaling air or water as the case may be in various organisms. The jiva has been bewildered by the latent tendncy of enjoying sense objects since time immemorial and subsequently ensnared by their actions to the law of karma or reactions to actions from such material enjoyment and exploitation by the five senses which awards every jiva the appropriate body to inhabit corresponding to what one eats and what reactions one has acquired in te form of the effect called the indivual flase ego.
Those not fully situated in spiritual knowledge have the opinion that the atma is the highest self and that it only appears limited due to the covering of nescience which is like ether appearing limited in a pitcher. When the limiting adjuncts are no longer in contact with each other then the ether is perceived without limitations and in the same way when the adjunct of nescience is removed the true nature of the atma is revealed. But this supposition is directly refuted in this verse by the word sanatana meaning eternal because it is a part of Lord Krishna. The singular usage of the compound words jiva-bhuta refers to the category of jiva and includes all jivas in every dimension throughout all creation.