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Subjective Evolution of Consciousness

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I have a question on the article “Subjective Evolution of Consciousness” by Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Swami.



The first position of a soul in the material world will be like that of Brahma, the creator. Then his karma may take him to the body of a beast like a tiger, where he is surrounded by a tigerish mentality, or to the body of a tree or creeper, where different impressions may surround him.



Can someone explain the first sentence? I always thought of the position of Brahma as being the highest one can get within the material world. There is only one Brahma per universe, so how can a soul’s first position be the station of Brahma? I’m a little confused.


I found the article very, very interesting. I’m curious to what degree Srila Sridhar Maharaj might have been acquainted with Western Philosophy especially the thinking of Plato. I’m not real conversant with Plato, but some of the ideas expressed in the article sounded similar in terms of a “world of ideas”. Vrindavan being the perfect expression of these ideas.



Everything is an idea. We are connected only with consciousness from the beginning to the end of our experience. Beyond consciousness, we cannot go. Everything is an idea: the stone, the tree, the house, the body - all are ideas.



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I just recently read Subjective Evolution of Consciousness for the first time.I remember thinking the same thing as you when I read that part.


Upon rereading it I noticed he says "...will be likethat of Brahma,the creator".To me that is not saying each soul will be posted as a Brahma.I picture the soul falling from the 'bottom' of the spiritual world down into the top of the material world.From there we become further entangled and drift downwards,back up again,sideways etc.


I am sure his students will help us more here.

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Gaurachandra and Theist,


Srila Sridhar Maharaj studied western philosophy while he was studying Law in Calcutta in the 1920's. He was fully acquainted with all the Western philosophers theories up till say, the 1930's. But he really didn't follow the development of western philosophy subsequent to that -- apart from some philosophical things devotees might have discussed with him from time to time. However, he always kept up to date with news and scientific developments, as he used to listen to the radio news and news shows. In the last 20 years or so that he was with us, he was blind in one eye and could only see partial vision with the other eye, so he couldn't read at all. Consequently he used to listen to the Bengali news radio to find out what was happening in the world. When you hear Guru Maharaj speaking and quoting verses, all the thousands of Sanskrit and Bengali quotes he used to refer to were all memorised by him 20 or 30 years earlier.


In regard to Subjective Evolution of Consciousness, which is really another way of descibing Sankhya and Vedanta, his thoughts were more in tune with what he had understood from studying the Unpanishads and the Vedanta commentaries of Sri Madhvacharya and Sri Ramanujacharya, instead of what he had read from Plato, Kant and Hegel. But Srila Sridhar Maharaj did repeatedly refer to Hegel when he spoke, he used to quote Hegel constantly, especially "Die to Live", "Dialectics", "Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis", and "Reality is By Itself and For Itself". Hegels philosophy is very close to the philosophy of Sri Ramanujacharya in many regards.


Really, Prabhus, this is a huge subject to discuss. I have spent 20 years studying different aspects of this Subjective Evolution teaching, and I can now see that this approach to philosophy provides a beautiful, aesthetic understanding of philosophy. And it also enables us to reconcile mainstream western science with Vedanta. But it is such a huge subject to discuss, I really don't feel it is possible to go through this in an internet forum. The issues are so complex that the discussions are bound to scatter into hundreds of directions in no time at all.


In the end, what Guru Maharaj was trying to express is that in Vrindaban every thing is spiritual. Every tree, bird and cloud. In this mundane world (cit-abhasa) everything is just a shadow of the pure spiritual entities of Vaikuntha, somewhat like in Plato's philsophy. But for Plato things such as a tree, house or rock are all imperfect representations of IDEAL UNIVERSALS whereas in the Vedic literature there is a conscious god (Deva) that is the prototype (universal) for every thing; for instance Indra is behind clouds and rainfall, Varuna is behind flowing water, Vishvakarma is behind machines, etc.


Srila Sridhar Maharaj explained that if an insect sits on a neem tree he instinctively gets the idea that this neem tree is not suitable to eat. The way this "instinct" works is that the "ancestors" of the insect will speak to the particular bug and say "don't eat this". That is, the Deva or prototype of a particular species of bug is resident in the psyche of every bug of that species. All bugs of that species are "representatives" or "icons" of that Deva, that being. I may become a bug for a lifetime, and in that bug life I will "instinctively" get message from my psyche/brain/Deva which I instinctively follow. I will be acting out the role of that bug for that lifetime. And for other creatues such as a fig tree it is the "Insect Deva" himself who is sitting on the branch; the fig tree is unaware of my individual personality, but it may have some perception that a type of being (insect deva) is eating its leaves. So, the individual insect sees the tree as a representation of the "Neem Tree Deva", and the fig tree sees the bug as a manifestation of the "Bug God". Similarly, someone can be born in a body where he will act out the story of Indra, or some other spirit who can live within fire or water. Complicated issues to discuss. I may be sounding foolish saying all this, in fact, because it is difficult to explain all this. As I said, the main thing is that we see that in Vrindaban every blade of grass is conscious and blissful.




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In regard to Srila Sridhar Maharaj saying the first position of the jiva is like that of brahma.


This issue is connected to the discussions about the origin of the jiva soul. Srila Sridhar Maharaj said that the soul originates from within the Brahman effulgence, and from there he chooses to go to Vaikuntha or Maya.


As I said, if we start discussing these things on a forum such as this, the conversation will very soon scatter into other discussions. Someone will say "the soul fell from Goloka so Sridhar Maharaj is wrong", or someone will say "the soul originated in Material existence - he is nitya-baddha" etc. etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum



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Taken from SANGA: www.swami.org/sanga



Q. Sometimes it is described that the fallen jiva takes his first birth as Brahma and then degenerates. At other times, we hear that the progressive soul can go "back to Godhead" along with Brahma at the final annihilation. It seems there must be different types of Brahmas, one going up and one going down. Is this correct? Also, if we first become a Brahma, what is the process for entering the lower species?


A. Brahma is the first born (although unborn/aja) jiva at the beginning of each cycle of creation. His position represents the most subtle form of karmic influence or deviation. It is not that every jiva first takes birth as Brahma and then descends to lower species of life. As consciousness individualizes in adherence to the principle of karma from its merged condition of susupti within Maha-Visnu, the first individual to appear is the leader among those under the rule of karma--Brahma. Only in this sense does the jiva first become Brahma. From the conglomerate of jiva-sakti the first individual jiva to emerge is Brahma. Others take their place in creation with his help in accordance with the determination of karmic law. Those who move step-by-step in the direction of liberation attain the planet of Brahma and are liberated with him at the end of the karmic cycle. With the beginning of the new cycle the best of those who have remained within karmic rule appears as Brahma.


Having said this, it is worth noting that Srila Prabhupada and other acaryas have for the sake of simplicity in preaching sometimes explained that the jiva falls from its spiritual position at some point in time, appearing first as Brahma and then gradually falling to the lowest species.


/Swami B.V. Tripurari

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Tripurari seems to be speaking to cycles of creation and not the original slip in this world by the jiva.


What do you think about the state in which we first enter this maya?

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From Bhaktivinodes Jaiva Dharma


Vrajanatha humbly submitted:


"O master, my mind has gone out of order as the result of your instructions and association; everything in our worldly life seems to be pith less and unsubstantial. I have grown impatient to seek protection at the Feet of Sri Gaura. Today a question has arisen in my mind, viz., who am I in reality and why have I come into this world?"


Babaji Mahasaya:


"You have glorified me with this question of yours. When the truly auspicious day arrives for a jiva, it is this question that he puts first of all. There will linger no more doubt in your mind when you will listen to the fifth shloka of the Dasamula and its meaning. Just as sparks come out of a blazing fire, so also from Sri Hari, the chit-Sun, come out the innumerable jivas, atomic chits. Though they are not different from Sri Hari(in respect of their chit constitution), yet the jives are ever separate from Him. The eternal difference between God and the jives is this, that God is the Entity due to Whose special Virtue the maya -potency is His ever-controlled servitor, He being by nature her Lord: whereas he, who is by nature capable of coming under the maya prakriti, even when free, is the jiva."




"The decision is excellent, no doubt. I am desirous of knowing its supporting authority from the Vedas; though the words of the Lord are as good as the Vedas, yet when they are substantiated by extracts from the Upanishads, people will be bound to admit them as conclusive."




"Several Vedic statements corroborate this truth; I am citing only a few of them; just listen. We have in the Brihadaranyaka: Just as small sparks come out from fire, so do all jivas come out of God " and "This entity (jiva) has two places, viz., this (material) region and the other (chit) region; there is a third place border tatastha region forming the juncture of the two; staying at that place of the juncture, he sees both the regions, this one and the other one." Herein has been stated the border characteristic of the jiva-potency. This Br.up says again: "just as a big fish in a river at one time visits its Eastern bank, at another the Western one so also does the jiva move to both the sides, viz., that of dream (nescience) and the other of wakefulness (sentience)."




"What is the meaning of 'tatastha' approved by the Vedanta philosophy?"




"The line between the water of a river and the land on the bank is called the ' tata'. The land is contiguous to the water; where is then the 'tata'? The 'tata' is only like a thread discriminating the land from the water. The 'tata' is a very fine line of distinction which is not discernible with the gross eyes. If the chit world is compared to water and the mayika or material world to land, then the 'tata' is the fine line dividing the one from the other; the place of the jiva-potency is that line of juncture between the two worlds. Just as there are glowing atoms in the sun-rays, so also are the jivas; they may have a vision of the chit world on the one side and on the other this world as built by maya. The chit-potency of God is boundless, so is His maya-potency also enormous; between them are there the innumerable minute jivas. The jivas emanate from the tatastha shakti (border-potency) of Sri Krishna; so is the nature too tatastha (border-potency) of Sri Krishna."




Of what sort is that 'tatastha' nature?"




"In it vision can be had of both the sides from the midway position between the two worlds. The capability of coming under the control of both the potencies (chit and mayika) is the tatastha nature. The 'tata' (line of demarcation) can come into the river being dug out by the force of water; again when the land is hardened, the 'tata' becomes land. If a jiva turns his vision towards Sri Krishna, he becomes confirmed within Krishna-shakti (i.e., chit) but when he turns towards maya and turns away from Krishna (i.e. becomes apathetic towards Him), he falls into maya's snare to be fastened in it. This nature is 'tatastha'.


(more information can be found in Visnu Maharaja's article: "Origin of the Jiva" on www.gosai.com)

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From Jaiva dharma.


"It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krsna because he is the marginal energy of Krsna and a manifestation simultaneously one and different from the Lord.


"Forgetting Krsna, the living entity has been attracted by the external feature from time immemorial. Therefore the illusory energy (maya) gives him all kinds of misery in his material existence.”


Forgetting Krsna? attracted?


"Spirit, which is conscious and pure, and matter, which is inanimate, are opposites. Therefore it is not really possible for the conscious spirit soul to have a relationship with unconscious and inanimate matter.


Not fall. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif


"The individual soul is a small particle of spirit. Nevertheless, one of the Supreme Lord’s potencies makes some individual souls somehow have a relationship with matter. The potency that does this is called tatastha sakti.


...Supreme Lord’s potencies makes some individual souls relationship with matter...called tatastha sakti.


"The individual soul is spiritual. Nevertheless the spiritual soul may be placed under the control of inanimate matter.


Fall. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif


"The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the master of the illusory potency maya. Maya is under His control. On the other hand, the individual spirit soul may in some circumstances find himself under the control of maya. Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the individual spirit souls and the illusory potency maya are three distinct entities eternally.


"The individual soul may sometimes find himself under the control of the illusory potency maya, but the Supreme Personality of Godhead is always the controller of maya. In this way the individual spirit soul and the Supreme Personality of Godhead are different eternally.


"The eternal nature and duty of the individual soul is service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If he forgets this duty, the individual souls comes under maya’s control. Then the soul stays away from Lord Krsna. That staying away from Lord Krsna means that the soul enters the material world.




THEN the stays away from LORD KRSNA.


It is not possible to give an historical account describing when, in time, the soul first fell into the material world. That is why it is said ‘anadi-bahirmukha’ (the living entity has been attracted by the external feature from time immemorial). This staying away from Krsna and the time of entering maya’s world are both different from the soul’s eternal nature. They are perversions of it.


"Lord Krsna is the totality of spiritual existence. He is like a sun from which many spiritual universes have come. The individual spirit souls are rays of light from that Krsna-sun. There are many individual spirit souls.




"To this I reply, You cannot speak in that way. If my opponent then protests, "Why not?" then I reply: From Lord Krsna limitless individual souls are manifested as His parts and parcels. Still, Lord Krsna is not diminished even slightly because of that.


From Maha-Visnu?


"In all the Vedas it is said that the individual souls are like sparks emanating from the blazing fire of Lord Krsna. However none of these comparisons give a completely accurate picture of the real truth. The examples of the great fire and the spark, the sun and the rays of light, and the alchemists stone and gold do not describe the entire situation. Therefore, rejecting these material analogies, one should look inside his heart and there he will understand the truth of the soul’s nature.


"Lord Krsna is the great spiritual being and the individual soul is the infinitesimal spiritual being. Lord Krsna and the individual soul are one in the sense that they are both spiritual. However, Lord Krsna is the complete whole and the individual souls are only parts of the whole. That is the difference between them.


"Lord Krsna is the supreme attractive, and the individual spirit soul is attracted to Him. Lord Krsna is the supreme controller, and the individual spirit soul is controlled by Him. Lord Krsna sees all, and the individual spirit soul is observed by Him. Lord Krsna is perfect, and the individual spirit soul is poor and lowly. Lord Krsna is all-powerful, and the individual soul is powerless. Therefore the eternal nature or religion of the individual soul is to be a faithful servant of Lord Krsna eternally.


But when the individual soul is in contact with the illusory potency maya, the soul’s pure state is not manifested


When he forgets the service of Lord Krsna, the soul finds himself situated in the material world of repeated birth and death.


However, when he comes into contact with the illusory potency maya, the soul becomes impure.


When he is in contact with the illusory potency maya, the individual soul is covered by a body of gross and subtle material elements.


First, the soul identifies himself with the subtle material body. Second, he identifies himself with the gross material body. Third, he identifies himself as the subtle and gross bodies mixed together. In this way the soul’s conception of his identity becomes changed. In his pure state the individual soul is an unalloyed devotee of Lord Krsna.


When the soul thus has a false conception of his identity, his original nature becomes perverted.


That pure love is seen in the gross material body in an even more perverted way as material eating, drinking, and a host of other so-called pleasures derived from contact with inanimate matter.




***Having said this, it is worth noting that Srila Prabhupada and other acaryas have for the sake of simplicity in preaching sometimes explained that the jiva falls from its spiritual position at some point in time, appearing first as Brahma and then gradually falling to the lowest species.


- jiva falls from spiritual position

- from time immemorial (As in the spiritual world there is no material time)


SP -


"Since time immemorial each living entity has accumulated the various reactions of his good and bad work. As such, he is continuously ignorant of his real constitutional position. Ones ignorance can be removed by the instruction of the Bhagavad-gita, which teaches one to surrender unto Lord Sri Krsna in all respects and become liberated from the chained victimization of action and reaction, birth after birth. Arjuna is therefore advised to act in Krsna consciousness, the purifying process of resultant action.


"Having forgotten that purpose since time immemorial, they are situated in different bodies, as men, animals, demigods, etc. Such bodily differences arise from forgetfulness of the transcendental service of the Lord.


The fragment of God, the living entity, may fall down into the material world, but the Supreme Lord (Acyuta) never falls down. ...."




Fall guru. SP.


The spiritual master must observe how inquisitive the disciple is and how eager he is to understand the transcendental subject matter. The spiritual master should study the disciple’s inquisitiveness for no less than six months or a year. A spiritual master should not be very anxious to accept a disciple because of his material opulences. Sometimes a big businessman or landlord may approach a spiritual master for initiation. Those who are materially interested are called visayi (karmis), which indicates that they are very fond of sense gratification. Such visayis sometimes approach a famous guru and ask to become a disciple just as a matter of fashion. Sometimes viсayйs pose as disciples of a reputed spiritual master just to cover their activities and advertise themselves as advanced in spiritual knowledge. In other words, they want to attain material success. A spiritual master must be very careful in this regard. Such business is going on all over the world. The spiritual master does not accept a materially opulent disciple just to advertise the fact that he has such a big disciple. He knows that by associating with such visayi disciples, he may fall down. One who accepts a visayi disciple is not a bona fide spiritual master. Even if he is, his position may be damaged due to association with an unscrupulous viсayй. If a so-called spiritual master accepts a disciple for his personal benefit or for material gain, the relationship between the spiritual master and the disciple turns into a material affair, and the spiritual master becomes like a smarta-guru. There are many caste gosvamis who professionally create some disciples who do not care for them or their instructions.


Harinama Cintamani. SBT.


Simultaneously, the initiating guru will be dragged down by his

share in these offenses. Very soon, he will be forced off the

path of devotional service.

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