My last post has solicited several comments, as predicted by a good friend. Most devotees have an opinion on this issue of how and why we came to this material world. Some suggested i could find the answer in Jaiva Dharma. They gave me specific chapters to read. Others gave me papers written by other devotees, quoting Prabhupada or scriptures to support the authors' own preconceived conclusions. There are also dialogues posted on the internet between devotees on this subject. Some are funny, like one devotee who complained: If we are Brahman here to experience suffering as one of the Lord's lilas, why didn't the Lord give us Bliss first?! Another said: If there is NO reason why we came here (as one devotee argued), this is asura vada, a demonic argument, similar to what the material scientists say about the laws of the universe.
Even after reading the relevant chapters in Jaiva Dharma and following the arguments of papers and internet dialogues, i still don't have an answer to my question. One thing that is interesting is that everyone else seems to (have an answer). But from reflecting, reading and replying to some of the devotees' comments, i am not sure anyone except the rare pure devotees really know the answer, and even they are not explicit. I do, however, have a few clues. First, above all, Krishna's role in this affair (of our coming to the material world) must be completely benevolent. Why? Because that's one thing that ALL the mahabhagavatas say.
For example, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakur said: "Everything about the Lord is merciful. Whatever He does is for the good of all living entities. Those conditioned souls who consider interference in their sense gratification inauspicious or as example of the Lord's cruelty, understand only one move of the chess game. They do not know what will happen four or five moves later." (translated from Bengali in Amrta Vani)
Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya wrote: "An atomic particle of the mercy of Mother Saci's son is able to purify and deliver the three worlds." (Sri Saci tanayastakam)
Locan das Thakur sang: " At the boat pier of my beloved Lord Gauranga, the ferry is taking everyone-- including the gross ones, the blind and the disturbed ones-- across the material ocean for free." (Ke jabi ke jabi bhai?)
Bhaktivinode Thakur sang: "To deliver you, Sri Krishna Caitanya has appeared in Navadwip. He has already taken so many miserable souls like you out of this material world." (Emona durmati)
So how could the all merciful Lord, who delivers everyone in Kali yuga as Gauranga Mahaprabhu, ever be unkind or sadistic towards the living beings? If He is famous as the deliverer of fallen souls, how could He have been cruel to these same souls by causing their suffering? While nothing is impossible for the Lord, one thing is clear: He always acts with Love towards his parts and parcels. Sometimes this Love takes the form of a blessing or a gift, and sometimes it takes the form of a curse or a lesson. But behind everything He does is Love. That is what the mahajans tell us.
The other clue i have is that i need to accept responsibility for being here, for being covered, for being weak and for being rebellious. If i insist that i am a passive victim of events outside of my experience, then i deny my individuality. Then i am no different than a stone. But I experience emotion, feelings, attraction and repulsion. I am a knower; therefore i must be a person. I may not like my circumstances, but as a person, i must accept that i somehow create my own enjoyment and suffering. This is a hard pill to swallow. But if i am to develop the motivation to surrender, i cannot be a victim. I must accept my free will, which gives me a chance to surrender. In other words, if i screwed up by falsely claiming independence from God, i have a chance, with the help of Srila Prabhupada, the all merciful previous acaryas and the most merciful sara avataras, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, to become whole (and holy) again.
One of my favorite verses from scripture, one that i hope to eventually follow:
tat te 'nukampam su samiksamano, bhunjana evatma krtam vipakam
hrd vag vapurbhir vidadhan namas te, jiveta yo mukti pade sa daya bhak
"My dear Lord, one who sincerely waits for Your causeless mercy, while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds, and offering You his respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, as it becomes his rightful claim." SB 10.14.8