The jīva is constitutionally the eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa, but when he misuses his own natural independence because of his marginal nature (taṭasthā-dharma), he becomes averse to Kṛṣṇa. At that time his pure constitutional form becomes covered by the gross and subtle bodies given by māyā, and he identifies himself with these material coverings.
Then he tastes happiness and distress in the cycle of material existence, taking birth in various species of life, sometimes on the heavenly planets and sometimes in the hellish regions. He is burnt continually by the threefold miseries: ādhyātmika, miseries arising from the body and mind; ādhidaivika, those arising from other living beings; and ādhibhautika, those arising from the natural environment. In this way, he goes on wandering throughout the material world. If by good fortune he attains the company of a pure Vaiṣṇava, who has full realized knowledge of tattva, then by his instructions the jīva’s ignorance is dispelled. Attaining kṛṣṇa-bhakti, he becomes qualified to render service to Kṛṣṇa.
‘nitya-baddha’—kṛṣṇa haite nitya-bahirmukha
‘nitya-saṁsāra’, bhuñje narakādi duḥkha
sei doṣe māyā-piśācī daṇḍa kare tare
ādhyātmikādi tāpa-traya tāre jāri’ māre
kāma-krodhera dāsa hañā tāra lāthi khāya
bhramite bhramite yadi sādhu-vaidya pāya
tāṅra upadeśa-mantre piśācī palāya
kṛṣṇa-bhakti pāya, tabe kṛṣṇa-nikaṭe jāya
The living entity is constitutionally the eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa, but when he misuses his natural independence because of his marginal nature, he becomes averse to Kṛṣṇa, and tastes heavenly happiness and hellish distress within this material existence. Because of the jīva’s fault of being averse to Kṛṣṇa, the witch māyā binds him in the covering of the gross and subtle bodies and inflicts punishment upon him by burning him with the threefold miseries – ādhyātmika, ādhidaivika and ādhibhautika. Controlled by the six enemies headed by lust and anger, the jīva is continually beaten by the witch māyā; this is the jīva’s disease. As he goes on wandering from high to low in material existence, he may by good fortune find a doctor in the form of a sādhu. Then, by the influence of the sādhu’s instructions, Māyā-devī abandons the jīva and runs away. This is just like a witch giving up her influence over a man and fleeing from the mantras of an exorcist. Only a jīva who is free from māyā attains kṛṣṇa-bhakti and is qualified to approach Kṛṣṇa.
The jīva bound by māyā is controlled by the saṁskāras (mental impressions) formed by his own fruitive actions, by the modes of nature (guṇas) and by self-identification with the body expressed through conceptions such as ‘I’ and ‘mine’. Thus he accepts birth in various species of life. While continuously wandering in this way, he may get association of saints, and by that influence develop transcendental faith (śraddhā). When he comes to know Śrī Kṛṣṇa through his inclination to render service, he attains release forever from all the bindings of māyā.
In Goloka Vṛndāvana, Śrī Baladeva Prabhu manifests unlimited jīvas who serve Vṛndāvana-bihārī Śrī Kṛṣṇa as eternal associates (nitya-pārṣadas). In Paravyoma Vaikuṇṭha, Mahā-Saṅkarṣaṇa manifests unlimited nitya-pārṣada jīvas to serve the original Lord of Vaikuṇṭha, Nārāyaṇa. Eternally situated in their own constitutional forms, they always remain attentive to the service of their worshipful deity. They are always inclined towards the object of their worship and they are always strong, having attained the strength of the spiritual potency, the cit-śakti. They have no relationship with inert matter, and do not even know that there is a śakti called māyā. Prema alone is their life. They are unaware of even the slightest semblance of birth, death, fear and lamentation.
Kāraṇābdhiśāyī Mahā-Viṣṇu is situated in the Virajā, which lies between the spiritual realm and the material world. By His glance towards māyā, the minute conscious jīvas are manifest in the form of atoms situated within the rays of His glance. Because they are in close proximity to māyā, these jīvas notice māyā’s wonderful nature. All the characteristics of the ordinary jīvas, which were previously mentioned, are found in them. Because of their being extremely minute by nature, and because of their marginal disposition, they sometimes look towards the spiritual sky and sometimes towards the material realm. The jīvas are extremely weak in the marginal condition, because at that time they have not yet attained spiritual strength, by the mercy of the object of their service and worship (sevya-vastu). Among these unlimited jīvas, those who are infatuated by sense gratification and want to enjoy māyā become bound by her. Conversely, those jīvas who ponder over their object of worship attain the strength of cit-śakti by the mercy of the sevya-vastu, and go to the transcendental abode.
Māyā is Kṛṣṇa’s potency by which He creates the mundane universe. He then engages the māyā-śakti in purifying the jīvas who are averse to bhakti. Māyā has two functions: avidyā and pradhāna. The function of avidyā is related to the jīva and the function of pradhāna is related to inanimate matter. The jīva’s desire to perform reward-producing activities is born from avidyā, and the whole inert universe has arisen from pradhāna. Vidyā and avidyā are two further dimensions of māyā, which are both related to the jīva. The bondage of the jīva comes from the function of avidyā, and his liberation comes from the function of vidyā. When an offensive living entity becomes inclined towards Kṛṣṇa, the actions of the vidyā function begin in his heart. However, when he becomes averse, the action of the avidyā function takes over.