There is no svarpa sakti inherent in the tatastha sakti. One’s svarupa is a bhava deha. Bhava is a blessing.

The sutras say that the mukta attains its own form. However, careful reading, study, and service to liberated souls reveals that this merely refers to the fact that the mukta attains its own nature of sat cit ananda. And the same chapter (4.4.1) goes on to explain that among those who so attain their nature, some do so in the context of desiring bodies for lila during their practicing life. And only those muktas attain appropriate bodies for lila seva, while others do not. Their will to attain such is realized by the grace of the svarupa sakti that bhava is constituted of. The sutras explain that such bodies and families, etc. are manifestations of bhava responding to the pure will of the mukta.

The baddha jiva is sesa bhuta parasya. It (bhuta) is a part and parcel (sesa/remainder) of the Paramatma (parasya). This implies that it has a natural affinity for or bond with its source. This is inherent in the jivatma. And that is part of its potential for love. Its ananda, however, is not like that of the svarupa sakti, which has both the power to dispel maya and overwhelm Krsna. Unto itself the ananda of the jivatma does not have the power to do either of these. But because is does have the inherent potential to love, when it is blessed by the svarupa sakti, it can enter the love lilas of Bhagavan with an appropriate spiritual body.

Bhakti comes only from bhakti. And bhakti is a blessing and it is the essence of the svarupa sakti.

From the Govinda Bhasya tika of Baladeva on 4.4.2:

“Therefore mukti is indeed the manifestation of one’s own form, which consists of remaining in one’s own natural condition, free from the body, etc., which is a product of karma. This bodiless condition, free from pleasure and pain, is mukti.”

So as you can see, “attaining one’s own form” in this section of Govinda Bhasya (svena rupena abhinispadyate) refers to a bodiless condition, not a bhakti svarupa, which is a particular blessing of Bhagavan upon his devotees, who desire to engage in liberated lila seva. “Svena rupena,” “one’s own form” refers to ones nature as an atomic jivatma constituted of sat cit ananda. It does not refer to a lila svarupa. That, again, is a blessing from Bhagavan in response to the devotee’s desire to engage in lila-seva.

Sri Nimbarka agrees with Baladeva Vidyabhusana on this.

Regarding the words “svarupa jnana” as they appear in Bhakti-tattva-viveka, the word “svarupa” is seldom used in reference to siddha deha or spiritual form in sakhya or madhurya rasa, etc.—a form of lila seva. That is a very particular use of the word. More readily it refers to the nature of the atma, or the constitution of the jiva. For example, in Cc we find “jivera svarupa hay nitya krsna dasa, “The jiva is an eternal servant of krsna.” This statement has nothing to do with a bhava deha or a form for participating in Krsna lila. It is not about dasya rasa. It speaks to us as to the subordinate nature of the jiva. It is by its nature (svarupa) a dependent entity.

BVT defines his term svarupa jnana thus: “… intrinsic knowledge (svarupa-jnana) concerning the sadhaka (the practitioner), sadhana (the practice) and sadhya (the object of achievement) is non-different from the inherent nature of suddha-bhakti.”

So svarupa jnana here refers to knowledge concerning the nature of bhakti, its sadhana and sadhya. BVT writes “Even for Vaisnavas who are duly initiated into the genuine sampradaya, the vasti-prabha or illumination of one’s eternal identity arising from the diksa-mantra that they received from their diksa-guru will not appear until they are fortunate enough to receive instruction on this intrinsic knowledge (svarupa jnana, or knowledge of the sadhana and sadhya of bhakti-devi).”

Knowledge of one’s eternal identity in bhakti (vastu-prabha) will not arise unless one receives, not only diksa, but also svarupa jnana, or knowledge concerning the nature of bhakti, its sadhana and sadhya.

But the idea of an inherent svarupa originates in BVT. However, careful reading of what he writes reveals that he is writing about one’s potential for bhakti, not a bhakti svarupa with hands and legs in seed form buried inside the jiva.

The jiva must be defined in terms of its potential. It is “tatastha,” and thus it is never unto itself. Its identity is determined by its association. And its eternal identity is determined by its association with Bhakti-devi, or the ingress of samvit and hladhini sakti of Bhagavan’s svarupa-sakti into the jiva/sadhaka. The ananda of the jivatma “in potential” is one with bhakti. In other words, its capacity to love is fully realized in conjunction with the ingress of bhakti. Just as a young man has the potential to be “more” when he has fallen in love with the right girl. Its potential is not brahmananda, but rather bhakti-ananda.

That said, not everyone reads or listens carefully. And certain aspects of the philosophy may not seem as important at one time as they do at another, or to some audiences as they do to another. Thus ideas can be passed down and slightly mis-presented because there may not have been a great need to look carefully at them.

The so called “fall of the jiva” is an example. In previous times and in the Eastern environment, anadi karma was just accepted, as it should be. But bring the teachings to the West and it sets off alarms. Incidentally, the idea of an inherent bhakti svarupa is related to the fall of the jiva. Thus sometimes we find modern acaryas speaking about it in what appears to be contradictory terms—contradictions between what they themselves have said and between what they have said and what previous acaryas have said on an issue. Such is the case with this issue, as it is with the fall of the jiva issue.

So as times change and topics that previously were not contentious become so for whatever reason, it becomes important to sort out the siddhanta on them. In other words, sometimes certain circumstances arise that cause us to look very deeply into a particular philosophical issue that was not looked into with the same scrutiny previously, and as a result, clarification will come. And that may involve explaining why it seems as though, or why it is, that one acarya said it differently from his or her previous acarya(s), and under scrutiny, also said it the same way.

No one falls from Vaikuntha

We are constituted of the tatastha sakti. Bhakti is constituted of the svaraup sakti. The maya sakti can never overcome the svarupa sakti that governs Krsna-lila. This sakti is so powerful that it even overwhelems Krsna! However, the maya sakti can overwhelm the tatastha sakti. Thus with the ingress of the svarupa sakti (bhakti) into the life of the jiva, maya readily is dispelled and the jiva is in a position to participate in Krsna lila. Such a liberated jiva an never then be influenced by the maya sakti nor is such a jiva even in the proximity of this sakti that has no presence in Krsna lila. Liberated souls are either eternally so (nitya siddha) or those that have attained perfection (sadhana siddha). Nitya siddhas cannot fall by the very nature of their being eternally liberated. And sadhana siddhas cannot fall because among other reasons Krsna repeatedly says that his abode is a place of no return. So there is no one to fall and no influence to present the possibility.

On the material side, Mahavisnu is without beginning (anandi). The world cycles compared to his breaching are also anadi. And thus karma is anadi as well, as it is repeatedly said to be in sastra. Karma is the binding force between the jivas and the maya sakti. In repeating world cycles that have no beginning, karma also has no beginning. If it did, there would be a material world before the influence of karma that was a material world without karma, which makes no sense whatsoever. and to say that Karma begins outside of time, is also only a preaching strategy, for in reality there can be no beginning outside of time, for it is time that marks all beginnings. “Beginning” implies the influence of time. So we follow sastra. It does no matter how appealing or not it may seem. Then again, sometimes in certain circumstances preachers may choose not to tell the student everything at once and thus speak about metaphysical truths provisionally, just as a mother my reply to her child’s question about where she came from by telling her she was dropped of by a big bird in the chimney.

So for preaching sometimes one may speak about suffering in a manner so as to overtly shift the blame from God to ourselves, lest persons blame God. But the fact is that there is no one to blame in that God is doing as God likes and we are also God, being one of his saktis that has no independent existence. This is how to look at it from the abheda (non difference) point of view. From the bhedea (difference) point of view we are failing to choose bhakti and thus we suffer and are the cause of our suffering. And we are both God and not God.

Incidentally, although Prabhupada, following the lead of Bhaktivinode, sometimes spoke as if jivas fall from lila as a strategy for the Wester Christian world, when the subject is addressed directly in Srimad Bhagavatam, he gives the siddhanta, which may not always be one with preaching. In Srimad Bhagavatam Yuddhistira Maharaja states that he cannot believe that souls (Jaya and Vijaya) can fall from Vaikuntha because they are completely under the influence of the illuminating power of the svarupa sakti and nothing is more powerful that this influence, not event the sages curse. He poses his disbelief in the form of a question and then answers his own question. Narada, with whom he is speaking, does not disagree. This is where the question of falling from Vaikuntha is addressed in the text, and in his purport Prabhupada clearly states that “No one falls from Vaikuntha.”

Otherwise we also find throughout the sastra that the souls in this world who are not nitya siddha or sadhana siddha but rather nitya baddha (materially conditioned) emanate from Mahavisnu. Sastra states this again and again. In the Gita, Krsna, speaking as Mahavisnu, says that he is the seed giving father that impregnates the womb of the world. By his glancing the world is manifest as consciousness (tatastha sakti) turns on the machine of material nature.

It is not that Mahavisnu, the oversoul of the world, makes a play out of our suffering. But rather that suffering is an inevitable consequence of his desire to become many. Why? Because he presides over the maya sakti, and when he becomes many the many are faced with its influence. Thus he seeks to remedy to situation by giving the opportunity for bhakti. Had he not desired to become many, what then?

Sometimes when we play, problems arise and we have to deal with them. It is not that Visnu sets up the play of suffering, but rather in the course of his play the problem of our suffering arises. This is the inevitable outcome of minute jivas being in touch with the area of his jurisdiction (maya sakti), that which he oversees. And you can’t do way with the maya sakti anymore than you can do away with God. It is one of his saktis, perhaps his subconscious. So the problem for the jivas arises and he who plays then becomes dutiful, establishing dharma etc. But Brajendranandana Krsna only plays. He has absolutely no duty to perform. It is the Visnu in him that performs this function of establishing dharma, slaying demons and so on. As much as God has no duty to preform is as much as Vraja Krsna is God in the fullest sense of the term. He personally has nothing to do with the cause of our suffering.

See also: Of Power and Play