“It is not necessary for the Vaikuntha 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 Vaikuntha in every millennium to become demons is totally incorrect.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 5.36 Purport)
We are familiar with the two central components of Vedic teachings. The individual is spirit soul that is infinite in its duration of existence. Meaning, it never takes birth and it never dies. There is visual confirmation, if one is trained enough to perceive. There is also the more important definitive word of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan.
न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचिन्
नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतो ऽयं पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे
na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.20)
This reveals the truth about reincarnation. The transmigration of the soul. The one person moving from place to place. Though typically understood in terms of lives and lifetimes, transmigration occurs at every second. I am no longer a child. That lifetime is over. That body will never return. And yet I am still as much vibrant today as I was many years ago.
We have the concept of reincarnation established, and there is also the mechanism to influence its direction. There is a way to find the dead-end road, so to speak. Consciousness is key. Particularly that measured while quitting the body, the influence is on the state of being in the subsequent birth.
यं यं वापि स्मरन् भावं
त्यजत्य् अन्ते कलेवरम्
तं तम् एवैति कौन्तेय
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ
tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)
Again, there is visual evidence. The variety in tendencies in children means that there is some factor determined from the past influencing the direction. A person is said to be a “natural” at a particular sport. They exhibit dexterity at the different movements at a young age. Another person learns to read even before getting out of diapers. They have the tendency, and no one knows for sure from where it came.
बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि
जन्मानि तव चार्जुन
तान्य् अहं वेद सर्वाणि
न त्वं वेत्थ परन्तप
bahūni me vyatītāni
janmāni tava cārjuna
tāny ahaṁ veda sarvāṇi
na tvaṁ vettha parantapa
“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)
Shri Krishna gives the more important confirmation of the past lives. Only He can remember them; we cannot. Memory is never a determining factor in existence. I have experienced so many incidents in my life, but sometimes I cannot recall what a friend who shared the time with me brings up. They are telling the truth; I simply have forgotten.
The person who thinks of Krishna while quitting the body attains a nature similar to His. They become sach-chid-ananda in terms of a merging of body and spirit. The dichotomy no longer applies. They turn into a beautiful, eternally existing being who gets to associate with Him. The key difference is that Krishna is always that way, whereas we have to work towards the achievement.
Vedic literature describes a historical incident involving two gatekeepers. They are brothers, Jaya and Vijaya. They make an accidental mistake. They are not malicious in their behavior. There is no intent to disrespect an important personality, but they do so anyway.
The result is a curse. The brothers must leave Vaikuntha and their posts. They will have to suffer births in horrible forms for several iterations. Man-eating ogres. Daitya demons who terrorize the innocent. There is a saving grace. The Supreme Lord Himself, the person whose gate they were previously keeping, will descend and personally offer liberation.
The issue may be raised that Vaikuntha is supposed to be the imperishable realm. In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna promises that a person who reaches His abode never leaves. How were these gatekeepers vulnerable, then? Why the vulnerability? What is the deal?
We know that the story ended well. The brothers returned to where they were previously. So many lessons were taught in the meantime. The worst among mankind could not stay in power forever. The entire episode was like a dream; nothing of lasting impact took place to the participants.
But what will happen to us? If we move to Vaikuntha, if we somehow attain liberation, is it a permanent achievement? Is Krishna not truthful in His promise? What will be our fate? If it can happen to Jaya and Vijaya, then can’t it happen to any of us?
The explanation is that no one actually falls from Vaikuntha. The supposed birth in the material world is something like a dream. A fleeting moment in time. Nothing of substance. A guaranteed return.
Moreover, the view of the transcendentalist at the highest stage of understanding is that everything is spiritual. There is no longer a distinction between the energies, material and spiritual. It is something like being aware of the dream while inside of it. I know that I will wake up, so there is nothing to be concerned over.
The paramahamsa has, in fact, woken up. They extract the spiritual essence from everything they witness. Every experience is already like Vaikuntha to them, so they are liberated prior to death, jivan-mukta. The achievement is rare, but entirely possible, and it substantiates the promise of Krishna to His devotees.