Bhakta Stanislav sent this query about the ability of the soul to change its relationship with Krsna in the spiritual world:

Question:

Hare Krishna!  All glory to Shrila Prabhupada and devotees! Your answer to question about svarupa reminded me of the saying of Srila Prabhupada’s in the introduction to Bhagavad-gita:

“Every living being, out of the many, many billions and trillions of living beings, has a particular relationship with the Lord eternally. That is called svarupa. By the process of devotional service, one can revive that svarupa, and that stage is called svarupa-siddhi—perfection of one’s constitutional position.”

Here Srila Prabhupada said that the soul has eternal and specific relationships. On the other hand, in a conversation that you have led, Srila Prabhupada said that a devotee can change his shape.

Here is one more interesting conversation on the morning walk (07/06/1976):

“Ramesvara: Srila Prabhupada, when the devotee is in the original relationship with Krsna, his siddha-deha, why is it that he sometimes changes his original rasa with Krsna?

Prabhupada: Hm?

Ramesvara: Each one of us has an original relationship with Krsna, some as plant, some as tree, some as cow, some as cowherd boy. So if that is re-established, why should the devotee desire to change it?

Prabhupada: Well, that is spiritual kingdom. You can change if you like.

Tamala Krsna: It is not static, Prabhupada once explained. Love is not static.

Prabhupada: Generally, it is not changed. Just like mother Yasoda, she’s mother all the time, eternally.

[end quote]

How properly to understand these points about what the soul already has eternal certain relations, on the other hand, it can change them? When is this happening?”

Answer:

I can’t claim to have any realizations about this topic at all. I can make some comments based on what I heard from Srila Prabhupada and if any reader has any deeper insights, they are welcome to add them.

I was present at the above conversation with Ramesvara prabhu.

And as you noted, I did participate in a short exchange with Srila Prabhupada in an after-class questions and answers session in Melbourne Australia on May 20 1975.

Prior to the class I had a debate with my Godbrother Yasomatinandana prabhu about the original spiritual form of the soul. He had read that every soul starts off as with a human form and then transforms. I held that since the spiritual form is eternal, that means it is always the same. Therefore, if one is a peacock in the spiritual world,

that is an eternal and unchanging form i.e. that soul could not have had a human form previously.

Consequently at the end of this particular class, Yaso prabhu put the question to Srila Prabhupada:

Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.1-4 — Melbourne, May 20, 1975

Yasomatinandana: Srila Prabhupada, you were saying that because the body has arms and legs, then the coat has a similar shape. Then does the spirit soul that’s within our body have arms and legs like that?
Prabhupada: Yes.
Yasomatinandana: Would the spirit soul that is within, say, a cow’s body, is in a different shape?
Prabhupada: Yes. It has got also legs. But the shape has taken according to his desire. Every animal has got these four things. Just like bird, it has got two wings, two legs. The animal has got four legs. And the man has got two hands, two legs. So the same parts of the body, they are appearing in a different type. But the four limbs of the body are there. Hm?
Yasomatinandana: Is the original body of the spirit soul a human form?
Madhudvisa: The question is that whether the eternal form of the spirit soul is a human form or is it…
Prabhupada: Yes, human form. God is also human form. “Man is made after the shape of God.” I think there is in the Bible. Is it not? So God is also like human form. Here you see Krsna, two hands, two legs.
Hari-sauri: How do we understand, then, that there are peacocks and flowers and trees in the spiritual world? Are these not eternal forms?
Prabhupada: Yes. They are more covered. Just like if you cover your body with blanket, the hands and legs are invisible. But you are not the blanket. So the trees and plants, they are more covered. They are not in full manifestation. The human form is the full manifestation of the soul.
Hari-sauri: They are covered in the spiritual world?
Madhudvisa: He is asking if they were actually covered in the spiritual world as well.
Prabhupada: Not in the spiritual world. There that is voluntary. Some devotee wants to serve Krsna as flower; they become flower there. If I want that “As a flower I shall lie down at the lotus feet of Krsna,” he becomes flower, voluntarily.
And he can change his…, from flower to human body. That is spiritual life. There is no restriction. If some devotee wants to serve Krsna as cow, he serves Krsna as cow, as calf, as flower, as plant, as water, as ground, field, or as father, as mother, as friend, as beloved, anything. Ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham [Bg. 4.11]. That is Krsna’s all-powerfulness, spiritual life.

At this stage I had only been in the temple just over three years. So my concepts of spiritual life were still very undeveloped. It was a revelation to me that spiritual forms could change, because I thought that change was a material symptom and something only wrought by time. I was thinking that if we have a form that is eternal, that means it will never change in appearance or rasa.
However in the above two references, Srila Prabhupada makes it clear that it is our relationship as eternal servants of Krsna that never changes. The particular way we engage in that relationship can change, and is subject to transformation due to desiring to please Krsna in a variety of ways.
Variety is infinite and therefore the ways in which we can serve Krsna are also infinite. Krsna provides the means to serve Him based on the desires of the devotee. So if, as Srila Prabhupada points out, a devotee wishes to change his particular way of serving, or wants to experience the flavor of another rasa, it is possible to do so. In the spiritual world anything is possible, by Krsna’s mercy. Generally though, devotees don’t change the particular way that they offer themselves for the Lord’s pleasure.


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