jīva-tattva

Can bhaktas remember their material lives in Vaikuṇṭha?

The human mind possesses a superpower – that of imagination. Once one accepts a false premise, the imagination can lead the mind to all sorts of ‘insights’, which are totally false. One such idea is that bhaktas can remember their material lives in Vaikuṇṭha. This idea demonstrates ignorance of how knowledge is recalled, and is fundamentally opposed to Śrī Jīva Goswami’s exposition of the jīva’s basic qualities.

As we have seen in many articles on this website, Śrī Jīva explains very clearly that all content-knowledge- knowledge of past, current and future events in our lives- is part of the citta. Memory is nothing but recall of this stored information. This citta is part of the material mind; it is not to be confused with the ātmā. By analyzing Śrī Nārada’s attainment of a new form as Bhāgavan’s associate, Śrī Jīva explains that the material body drops when the ātmā accepts a spiritual form. The verse he examines is SB 1.6.28, where Śrī Nārada explains how his material body dropped (nyapatat pāñca-bhautikaḥ) simultaneously with the attainment of a spiritual form (prayujyamāne mayi tāṁ śuddhāṁ bhāgavatīṁ tanum) . This means, naturally, that the material citta, which is part of the material body, drops. As such, all memories of the previous body are also dropped. Such memories have no function in Vaikuṇṭha.

Now, Śrī Nārada remembers his previous life-experiences which he recounts in the Bhāgavata. Bhāgavan grants such special memory only to some bhaktas who have a purpose in the material world- that of facilitating Bhāgavan’s līlas in the material world. But there is no use of such memories in Vaikuṇṭha, and so a bhakta can not remember anything from the material world. Considering that we cannot remember any of our unlimited past lives that we have lived in the material world, it is absurd to posit that we would do so in Vaikuṇṭha where the very hard-drive that contains those memories, the citta, is missing! In its place is a new hard drive, a citta made of the svarūpa śakti of Bhāgavan.

Such ideas stem from a lack of understanding of the basic properties of the ātmā. The ātmā cannot store content-knowledge inside of it. If this misconception is rejected, then everything becomes clear. Studying the Paramātmā Sandarbha can be very helpful in this regard. If not, one is bound to invent imaginative stories that will only misguide oneself and others.

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