Nirguṇa dāsa: Do those who reach the brahma-jyoti (impersonal Brahman effulgence of the Lord) lose their existence, or do they come back?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They will not come back; they will remain there forever. That is why it has been said:

asad-vārtā–veśyā visṛja mati-sarvasva-haraṇīḥ
kathā mukti-vyāghryā na śṛṇu kila sarvātma-gilanīḥ
api tyaktvā lakṣmī–pati-ratim ito vyoma-nayanīm
vraje rādhā–kṛṣṇau sva-rati-maṇi-dau tvaṁ bhaja manaḥ

(Śrī Manaḥ-śikṣā, Verse 4)

O my dear brother mind, please abandon altogether the prostitute of contemptible mundane talk, which plunders the entire treasure of pure wisdom. You must un equivocally give up hearing all talk of impersonal liberation which, like a tigress, devours your very soul. Furthermore, please abandon even the attachment to Lakṣmīpati Śrī Nārāyaṇa, which leads to Vaikuṇṭha. You should live in Vraja and worship Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, who bestow upon devotees the precious jewel of love for Them.

Mukti is like a tigress; she swallows them forever. But the Brahmavādīs may be saved:

brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām

(Bhagavad-gītā 18.54)

One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.

In the case of a Brahmavādī, if such a person associates with an exalted devotee he can attain para-bhakti (vraja-bhakti); otherwise it is not possible.
Vrajanātha dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, Māyāvādīs are different from Brahmavādīs, correct?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Brahmavādīs and Māyāvādīs are not the same. Do you understand?
Nirguṇa dāsa: What is the difference?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Sanaka, Sānandana, Sanātana, Sanat Kumāra, and Śukadeva Gosvāmī were not Māyāvādīs. At first they were Brahmavādīs, and after that they became pure bhaktas.
Nirguṇa dāsa: What was their goal when they were Brahmavādīs?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The Brahmavādīs accept the existence of Brahman, but they think that He is without form. They do not criticize or deny the glories of Kṛṣṇa when He comes to this world, but due to lack of association they do not understand Him. The Māyāvādīs are offensive, but the Brahmavādīs are not.

Vṛndāvana dāsa: Gurudeva, yesterday, in the beginning of your class, you discussed the difference between a Brahmavādī and a Māyāvādī. The Brahmavādīs reside in Siddha-loka?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: An example of the Brahmavādīs is the four Kumāras: Sanaka, Sānandana, Sanātana and Sanat Kumāra. They reside in Tapa-loka. They are always meditating upon Kṛṣṇa in His four-armed form as Nārāyaṇa. They can also manifest a form similar to His. They have such power. At first they were Brahmavādīs, and after that they became bhaktas.
Vṛndāvana dāsa: What about Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He was previously a Brahmavādī; in the beginning stage.
The four Kumāras can also go to Vaikuṇṭha; they have that power. When they went to Vaikuṇṭha, Jaya and Vijaya made a ‘mistake’ by the influence of Yogamāyā. They could not understand the actual identity of the four boys.
Vṛndāvana dāsa: Do they again come into the material world?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes. Their permanent abode in this material creation is Tapa-loka. From there they can go anywhere in the material world and also up to Vaikuṇṭha.
Śacīnandana dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, who or what do the Brahmavādīs meditate on, if they do not meditate on a form?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They try to meditate on nirguṇa-brahma – God who has no shape and no qualities.

Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: Kṛṣṇa comes to this world, then Lord Caitanya, and then the ācāryas. So, each time Lord Caitanya comes, do the same ācāryas come after Him, and in the same sequence? And do they perform the same pastimes each time they come?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Where is this written?
Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: I am asking you.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It is not written in śāstra whether or not the same ācāryas will come each time. Śāstra discusses the incarnations, but the ācāryas are not incarnations, so I cannot tell. I have not seen this written anywhere. Whether Rāmānuja will come at the same time, or at another time, or whether there will be no Rāmānuja, or no Madhvācārya, I cannot say what will be.
Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: And what about you, Gurudeva?
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: His question is this: after Mahāprabhu came, others came in His line, like Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhakura…
Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: My Guru Mahārāja [Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja], and then you, Gurudeva…
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Will the sequence be like this, or will there be some change? This is his main question.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: That is not written anywhere. I have not read about this in Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhakura’s own books or in his explanations of others’ books, or anywhere else.
Vrajanātha dāsa: But Nṛsiṁhadeva will come.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: These kinds of questions are not relevant.
Śrīpāda Sādhu Mahārāja: Gurudeva, in Jaiva-dharma, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhakura sometimes mentions the names of Mahāprabhu’s associates who were not necessarily present with Mahāprabhu when He came. So, are they from different kalpas, or…
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: This is also not written anywhere; we cannot say.
Kiśori-mohana dāsa: I’ve heard from many speakers that when the jivātmā (individual spirit soul) goes to brahma-sāyujya*, he can come back to this material world of birth and death, whereas if that soul goes to īśvara-sāyujya*, he is annihilated. But I have also heard from Bhagavad-gītā that the soul can never be destroyed. So, I am confused on this point.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: In a special case, one who goes to brahma-sāyujya may come back to this world, as we see with Gopa-Kumāra. He went there, but he did not merge into the Lord’s body or effulgence. Rather, he left there at once. For others, though, it is as you are telling.
Who has come from īśvara-sāyujya? Can you say?
Kiśori-mohana dāsa: Is īśvara-sāyujya real, or only imagination?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It is not imagination.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Īśvara-sāyujya is more dangerous than brahma-sāyujya.
Baladeva dāsa: What’s the meaning of kāma-gāyatrī?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: This cannot to be told in public. You can come to me alone, after taking bath. I will explain it to you then.
Devotee: Gurudeva, in Jaiva-dharma, the guru of Premadāsa Mahāśaya Bābājī [Pradyumna Brahmacārī] served Nṛsiṁhadeva. Why did he serve Nṛsiṁhadeva and not Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: But his aim was Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: His aim was Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, but he lived in Devapallī, the place of Nṛsiṁhadeva. We have to give honour.
For example, we do bhajana of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. We also observe the holy days of Rāma-navamī vrata and Nṛsiṁha Caturdaśī, but our aim is Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Śrīdhara Svāmī’s worshipful Deity was Nṛsiṁhadeva, but his ultimate goal was rādhā-kṛṣṇa prema, as evidenced by his commentary on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
So many persons chant japa of Nṛsiṁhadeva [Nṛsiṁha-kavaca or any other special nṛsṁha-mantra], but only for vighna-vināśa (to remove obstacles or give special protection in case of emergency).
Do you understand? It is only for vighna-vināśa.** But our ultimate goal is Mahāprabhu’s line – rādhā-kṛṣṇa-prema.
Devotee: Is it bona fide if someone in our saṅga has a śiva-liṅga inside the temple room next to the Deities?
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: And they worship him as Gopīśvara Mahādeva.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No. The liṅga may be kept anywhere separate – not in the same temple, unlike Girirāja Govardhana, who can be kept everywhere.

*Excerpts on brahma-sāyujya and īśvara-sāyujya:

(1) An excerpt from a lecture by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja on December 12, 2006, in Vṛndāvana, India:

A lower class Vaiṣṇava may want four of the five kinds of mukti: sāmīpya, sālokya, sārūpya, and sārṣṭi, but he will never desire sāyujya under any condition. Why not? In sāyujya-mukti a man becomes like a zero, like a stone, like dry wood. That person has no identity – no sense of ‘I am’. Our guru-mahārāja, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, explained to us that although it is advertised as blissful, sāyujya-mukti is not blissful at all. It is like being stool; there is no difference at all between sāyujya-mukti and stool. Sāyujya is opposed to bhakti, and therefore even the lowest class of devotee doesn’t desire it.

(2) An excerpt from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 269, purport by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja:

brahme, īśvare sāyujya dui ta’ prakāra
brahma-sāyujya haite īśvara-sāyujya dhikkāra

Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya continued, “There are two kinds of sāyujya-mukti: merging into the Brahman effulgence (brahma-sāyujya) and merging into the personal body of the Lord (īśvara sāyujya). Merging into the Lord’s body is even more abominable than merging into His effulgence.”

The followers of the Pātañjalī yoga system actually want to merge into the body of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This indicates that they do not want to engage in His service despite their knowledge of Him, and thus their position is even more abominable than that of those who want to merge into the Lord’s effulgence. These yogīs meditate on the four-handed Viṣṇu form of the Lord in order to merge into His body. […] The followers of the Pātañjalī system therefore accept the eternity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, yet, according to them, […] they believe that in the perfectional stage, the conception of puruṣa is vanquished. According to their description, citi-śaktir iti, they believe that when one becomes perfect, he cannot remain a person. This yoga system is therefore abominable because its final conception is impersonal.

(3) An excerpt from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 257, purport by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja:

“And what is the destination of those who desire liberation and those who desire sense gratification?” Srī Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked. Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “Those who attempt to merge into the existence of the Supreme Lord will have to accept a body like that of a tree. And those who are overly inclined toward sense gratification will attain the bodies of demigods.”

PURPORT: Those who desire liberation by merging into the existence of God do not desire sense gratification within the material world. On the other hand, they have no information about serving the lotus feet of the Lord. Consequently, they are doomed to stand like trees for many thousands of years. Although trees are living entities, they are non-moving. The liberated soul who merges into the existence of the Lord is no better than the trees. Trees also stand in the Lord’s existence because material energy and the Lord’s energy are the same. Similarly, the brahma effulgence is also the energy of the Supreme Lord. It is the same whether one remains in the brahma effulgence or in the material energy because in either there is no spiritual activity. […] The last destination of the Buddhist philosophers is to become just like a stone, which is immovable and has neither material nor spiritual activity.

(4) An excerpt from The Science of Self-Realization, Chapter 8, by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja:

The impersonalists and voidists may preach dry philosophical treatises on ahaṁ brahmāsmi (“I am spirit”) but ultimately who will be attracted? What is the difference between someone who thinks, “I am a stone,” and someone who thinks, “I am void?” Why should we become stone, wood or void?

(5) An excerpt from Śrī Śrī Prapanna Jīvanāmṛtam, Chapter 9, by Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja:

When My dedicated pure devotee never accepts any of the four kinds of positive liberation (sālokya, etc.), even if they avail themselves to him by dint of his service unto Me, then why will he ever wish for materialistic enjoyment and ultimate emancipation in brahma (sāyujya-mukti), which are very swiftly vanquished by the march of time? By sāyujya-mukti, the soul’s eternal status falls into the jaws of death. Thus, sense enjoyment and monistic liberation hold no permanence.

(6) An excerpt from Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion, Volume 1, Chapter 9, by Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja:

If the māyāvādī can make you enter into the cell of sāyujya-mukti, the liberation of merging with the Absolute, you are finished. There is no calculable time when you will be able to emerge from it. But if you are [absorbed] in materialism, viṣaya, the recruiters may come to you. You may get the chance of meeting a preacher in this material world. But in sāyujya-mukti you are nowhere. It is very difficult and rare to awaken you from the deepest possible sleep. So that is more dangerous, as half-truth is more dangerous than falsehood.

(7) An excerpt from Jaiva-dharma, Chapter 17:

Jīvas who attempt to merge into the impersonal effulgence during their period of sādhana attain sāyujya-mukti when they are liberated. They merge into His effulgence, and are thus completely destroyed in the form of brahma-sāyujya.

(8) An excerpt from Ṭṛnād Api Sunīcena, Introduction, by Śrīla Gaura Govinda Svāmī:

Mahāprabhu has said that the māyāvādīs are the greatest offenders at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa – māyāvādī kṛṣṇa aparādhī – because the māyāvādī sannyāsīs are thinking themselves as the Lord, one with the Lord. […] The ultimate destination of such māyāvādī sannyāsīs is that of sthāvara, they get the bodies of trees and mountains. Such a destination.

(9) An excerpt from Heart and Halo, Chapter 6, by Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja:

So, “ignorance is bliss.” If there is no consciousness, there is no question of pain. It is like the existence of a stone. The extreme liberationists reach such a stage as that of a fossil or a stone. They want peace, so they are given a stone-like state of peace.

(10) An excerpt from Jaiva-dharma, Chapter 18:

How is it possible to experience prīti in impersonal liberation? Who is the personality who is supposed to experience such bliss? If I lose my identity, who will exist to experience brahma? The very concept of the bliss of brahma is meaningless because whether there is pleasure in brahma or not, the theory of impersonal liberation does not admit that anyone actually exists in the liberated state to enjoy such pleasure.

**Some of Śrīla Gurudeva’s disciples chanted the following mantra when he was performing his final manifest pastimes:

oṁ ugram vīram mahā-viṣṇuṁ jvalantaṁ sarvato mukham
nṛsiṁhaṁ bhīṣaṇaṁ bhadraṁ mṛtyur mṛtyuṁ namāmy ahaṁ

May my head be protected by the moon-coloured one, who is the greatest among all beings. My obeisances unto the ferocious and powerful, the great Viṣṇu, the fiery one, whose faces are on all sides, the fearful one, Nṛsiṁha, who causes the death of even death personified (or, who can overcome death).

Walking with a Saint – Morning Walks and Conversations
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