Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Fourteen
Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Sixteen

Nitya-dharma: Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana
Part Three: The Jīva, the Eternal Individual Spirit Soul

by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Śrī Sarvabhāvana Prabhu)

Today, Vrajanātha came earlier than usual to Śrīvāsāṅgana. The resident Bābājīs and Vaiṣṇava devotees of Godruma—Śrī Premadāsa Paramahaṁsa Bābājī, Vaiṣṇava dāsa, Advaita dāsa and others—had also decided to come to Śrīvāsāṅgana to participate in the sandhyāārati. Arriving with the setting sun, they were now all seated in the temple hall, where Vrajanātha was keenly observing them, greatly attracted by their purity and thinking, “The goal of my life will be achieved in their association.” The Godruma Vaiṣṇavas blessed Vrajanātha whole-heartedly, noticing his humble manner and particularly his face, which was lit up with devotional fervour. After the sandhyāārati, Vrajanātha left the Śrīvāsāṅgana and walked southwards with Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī to Godruma. Along the way the elderly bābājī noticed the unrestrained tears streaking down the cheeks of Vrajanātha. Touched by the feelings of tender caring love he had developed for the young devotee, the kindly Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī asked, “My son, why do you weep?”

Vrajanātha turned to his master and replied softly, “Master, your wonderful association and instructions have overwhelmed me. Material existence and family life seem vacuous and meaningless, and I am now anxious to receive the shelter of Śrī Gaurāṅga’s lotus feet. My mind is feverish with one single question: Who am I in truth, and why have I taken birth in this world?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Wonderful! Your question has sanctified my heart! When good fortune strikes a person, this is the first query. Hear now the fifth verse of the Daśa-mūla-śikṣā and try to understand the purport:

sphuliṅgā ṛddhāgner iva cid-aṇavo jīva-nicayā
hareḥ sūryasyevāpṛthag api tu tad-bheda-viśayāḥ
vaśe māyā yasya prakṛti-patir eveśvara iha
sa jīvo mukto ‘pi prakṛti-vaśa-yogyaḥ sva-guṇataḥ

“‘Out of the flames of a fire fall innumerable tiny sparks, similarly, from the rays of the transcendental sun, Śrī Hari, emanate millions of minute particles of consciousness, the infinitesimal spirit souls, the jīvas. The jīva is non-different from the Supreme, Śrī Hari, and yet simultaneously he is distinct from Śrī Hari. The eternal difference between the Supreme Lord Śrī Hari and the jīva is that the Lord is always the master and controller of the māyāśakti, whereas the jīva, even in his liberated state by his very constitutional nature is vulnerable to come under the sway of the māyā-śakti.’”

Vrajanātha, “This is an extraordinary philosophical conclusion. I am eager to learn the Vedic scriptural evidences supporting this view. For me the verdict of the Supreme Lord as you have just given is sufficient, but if we can provide a quote from, for example, the Upaniṣads, then the common man is bound to accept the truth of the Lord’s words.”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “There are numerous supporting ślokas in the scriptures. I will quote a couple, so kindly pay attention. In the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad, 2.2.20, we find:

yathāgneḥ kṣudrā visphuliṅgā vyuccaranti evam
evāsmād ātmanaḥ sarvāni bhūtāni vyuccaranti

“‘Just as innumerable sparks cascade out of a flame, similarly, from Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is the Ātmā, the Universal Soul, the jīvas emanate who are His separated parts and parcels.’

“In another part of the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad, 4.3.9, we find:

tasya vā etasya puruṣasya dve eva sthāne bhāvata
idaṁ ca paraloka-sthānaṁ ca sandhyaṁ tṛtīyaṁ
svapna-sthānam tasmin sandhye sthāne tiṣṭhan ete
ubhe sthāne paśyati idaṁ ca paraloka-sthānaṁ ca

“‘The jīva has access to two places, both of which he may seek, this material world and the spiritual realm. He is situated in svapnasthānam, the dream-like third state, on the margin of these two worlds. From that middle position he is able to see both the material and the spiritual worlds.’

“Further, the following statement from the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka, 4.3.18, describes the nature of the marginal position of the jīva:

tad yathā mahā matsya ubhe kule’
nusañcarati pūrvaṁ ca paraṁ caivam
evāyaṁ puruṣa etāv ubhāv antāv
anusañcarati svapnāntaṁ ca buddhāntaṁ ca

“‘The symptoms of the marginal existence are like those of a huge aquatic who is capable of living on both the eastern and western sides of the river at his own will. Similarly, the jīva soul, situated within the waters of the Causal Ocean, which lies between the material and spiritual worlds, is able to reside in both the dream world of matter and the spiritual world of divine wakefulness.’

Vrajanātha, “What is the Vedic understanding of the marginal situation, known as taṭasthā?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The borderline between water and land is called taṭa. Yet, the water is contiguous to the land; where then is the taṭa, the margin? The taṭa is merely the demarcation that separates the water from land. This tata is a very subtle state; it cannot be perceived through mundane vision. From this allegory, we take the water as the spiritual world and the land as the material world, thus the fine line that divides the two worlds is the taṭa, the subtle demarcation exactly whereupon the jīva soul is located.

“The countless atomic particles that float in the rays of the sun give an inkling of the real position of the jīva. In one direction, the jīva sees the spiritual universe, and in the other, he sees the phenomenal world, created by Lord Brahmā, the world of māyā. The citśakti of the Supreme Lord is unlimited and the māyāśakti is enormous. Positioned exactly between the two are the innumerable jīvas. They are the products of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s taṭasthā-śakti and hence by nature the jīva is marginal.”

Vrajanātha, “What is the taṭasthāsvabhāva, marginal nature?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The jīva is situated in the middle with access to both worlds and he is constitutionally susceptible to come under the control of either of the śaktis. This condition is symptomatic of the taṭasthā-svabhāva. When the movement of river water shifts the bank of a river this seizes the land and converts it into riverbed. Alternatively, silt may deposit into embankments, which then gradually become land. Similarly, if the jīva looks towards Śrī Kṛṣṇa, his faith in Kṛṣṇa increases and he develops a stronger foothold in the spiritual realm. However, if he looks at māyā and turns his back to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, he thereby becomes enmeshed in the network of māyā. This choice is the natural characteristic of the taṭasthāsvabhāva.”

Vrajanātha, “Is the māyā-śakti in some way present in the constitutional structure of the jīva?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “No, the jīva is a product of spiritual nature. However, because he is infinitesimal in size, he lacks sufficient spiritual strength. Therefore, he is vulnerable and can be easily defeated by māyā, although māyā is actually totally absent in the constitution of the jīva.”

Vrajanātha, “One of my teachers taught me that a spiritual fragment of Brahman, the Supreme, became engulfed by māyā, and was thus transformed into the jīva. He gave the example of the sky, which is the borderless ether until it is captured within a boundary; for example, the portion of the sky enclosed within a pot. Similarly, he said, the jīva is by nature Brahman, but when his Brahman nature is covered by māyā, Brahman then becomes jīva. What is the correct understanding?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “This is simply the māyāvādī view. How can the māyā-śakti even touch Brahman, who is fully transcendental? Further, if one believes that Brahman is latent, unmanifest energy without śakti, then how can the māyāśakti even exist to approach Brahman? Furthermore, how may māyā be assertive when she has no independent potency and will? Brahman can never be deluded by māyā’s shroud of illusion. In addition, if one admits that Brahman is endowed with cit-śakti, how then can the māyā-śakti, an insignificant śakti compared to Brahman and the cit-śakti, defeat the cit-śakti and create the jīva out of Brahman?

“Brahman is immeasurable and indivisible. How then can Brahman be fragmented and filled up in pots like some mundane material, like gas? It is a totally unacceptable conclusion to say that māyā can influence Brahman. Māyā is completely uninvolved in the process of creation of the jīva soul. In spite of the miniscule size of the jīva, he is of a nature superior to māyā.”

Vrajanātha, “Another one of my professors once explained that the jīva soul is but a reflection of Brahman. Just as the sun is reflected on the surface of water, Brahman, when reflected upon māyā, is seen as the individual jīva soul. Does this make any sense to you?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “This is also another māyāvādī speculation. Brahman is boundless and unlimited, how can the boundless be reflected upon something mundane and thus limited? It is against the Vedic tenets to say that Brahman can be measured. This philosophy is illogical and aberrant.”

Vrajanātha, “Once an itinerant sannyāsī visiting Navadvīpa said in a public lecture that the jīva is non-existent, a product of illusion. If this illusion is removed, there is only the undivided, non-differentiated Brahman and nothing else. What was his point?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “This is yet another typically illogical māyāvādī argument. According to the Vedic dictum of Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 6.2.1:

sad eva saumyedam agra āsīd ekam evādvitīyam

“‘In the very beginning before creation, when only that One Eternal Non-dual Truth existed, was there anything besides Brahman?’

“So if Brahman was the only one in existence, where did bhrama, illusion, come from? Secondly, who is under illusion? If the answer is that Brahman is in illusion, then you are degrading Brahman from His supreme transcendental position to something insignificant and secondary, and thus Brahman is not Brahman, the Supreme. Furthermore, if one argues that illusion is a separate entity, then this proposal contradicts the concept of non-duality, monism.”

Vrajanātha, “I remember attending a debate in Navadvīpa where a brāhmaṇa paṇḍita tried to establish the point that the jīva is the only reality in existence. Thus, the jīva creates everything in his dream-state and therefore experiences happiness and distress until, when the dream ceases, he sees that he is the Brahman. Can you kindly explain this to me?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “This also reeks of illogical māyāvādī thought and word jugglery. If, as the māyāvādīs say, Brahman is undifferentiated, how is the dream state produced along with all this differentiation from Brahman-state to the jīva-state? Māyāvādīs will never succeed in establishing the concept of monism just by offering analogies such as, ‘Under illusion one confuses mother of pearl with silver, or a rope with a snake.’ Their arguments are shallow and misleading.”

Vrajanātha, “So far I have understood that the original identity of the jīva is beyond the circle of influence of māyā. Nonetheless, māyā is able to captivate the jīva because of the minute nature of his constitution. My question is: Did the citśakti create the jīva, endowing him with his intrinsic taṭasthā-svabhāva?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “No, the cit-śakti is the full and absolute spiritual energy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Her creations are all eternally perfect. The jīva is not a nitya-siddha, an eternally perfect being. The jīva becomes perfect through sādhana—that is he becomes a sādhana-siddha—and then experiences the same level of spiritual bliss as that of a nityasiddha. The four classes of sakhīs serving Śrīmatī Rādhikā are nityasiddha. Śrīmatī Rādhikā is cit-śakti-svarūpa, the embodiment of the citśakti, and these nitya-siddha-sakhīs are Her kāyavyuha, direct personal expansions. Thus, they emanate from the citśakti—Śrīmatī Rādhikā Herself.

“On the other hand, the jīvas are produced by the jīva-śakti of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the taṭasthā-śakti. The citśakti is pūrṇaśakti, the full and complete potency of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; whereas, the jīvaśakti is the apūrṇaśakti, the incomplete and partial energy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. All full and absolute principles are transformations of the pūrṇaśakti. In contrast, the jīvas, who are atomic particles of consciousness, are the transformations of the apūrṇaśakti. Śrī Kṛṣṇa expands Himself, taking up various forms appropriate for presiding over the different manifestations of His śakti. Correspondingly, He manifests different kinds of entities according to the different kinds of potencies He employs to create them. When presiding over the cit-śakti manifestation, Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifests His original form as Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Vraja, or as Śrī Nārāyaṇa, the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha. When presiding over the jīvaśakti, He expands as Śrī Balarāma, His vilāsa-mūrti, which is the expansion that assists Śrī Kṛṣṇa in His pastimes. When presiding over the māyāśakti, He accepts the triplicate Viṣṇu expansions of Kāraṇodakaśāyī, Garbhodakaśāyī, and Kṣīrodakaśāyī.

“As Śrī Kṛṣṇa, in Vraja, He brings into existence everything that is fully and wholly spiritual. In Vraja, expanded as Śrī Balarāma, He generates the nitya-siddha-pārṣadā, the eternally liberated associates and servitors, who execute the eight types of devotional service to Him as Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Vraja. In Vaikuṇṭha, Śrī Balarāma expands as Saṅkarṣaṇa, Ananta Śeṣa, to generate the nitya-siddha-pārṣadā of Śrī Nārāyaṇa who accomplish the eight kinds of service to Him as Śrī Nārāyaṇa in Vaikuṇṭha. Śrī Saṅkarṣaṇa then further expands as Mahā Viṣṇu to preside over the māyā-śakti. Mahā Viṣṇu generates the taṭasthā-śakti-jīvas, borderline potency souls, who are susceptible to the influence of māyā, and further expands accepting the form of Paramātmā as the heart of the taṭasthā-śakti-jīvas.

“As long as these taṭasthā-śakti-jīvas generated by Mahā Viṣṇu do not receive the shelter of the hlādinī-śakti, which is bestowed by His mercy alone, they are always prone to be subjugated by māyā. When captivated by māyā, they are obedient to the dictates of tri-guṇa, the three modes of material nature. Hence, the conclusion is that the jīva-śakti gives birth to the jīvas, the cit-śakti does not produce the jīvas.”

Vrajanātha, “Earlier you have explained that the spiritual world as well as the jīvas are eternal. How is it possible for eternal entities to have birth, appearance, or creation? If they appear at a certain time and did not exist before that, how does that confer eternality upon them?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Time and space as experienced in the material world is quite different from the time and space of the spiritual world. Material time is divided into three sections: past, present, and future. However, in the spiritual world, time is ever-present and without division. All spiritual activities and happenings of the transcendental realm are perceived in vartamāna, the present; whereas, whatever incidents are normally experienced here are rooted in the notions of mundane time and place. When we discuss spiritual subjects and say things such as, ‘Later the jīva became entangled with māyā,’ ‘The spiritual world was created,’ ‘Māyā has no function in the creation of the jīva,’ and so on, our words are being influenced by the concepts of material time. In our captive conditioned status this influence is very natural and to be expected. In all discussions about the jīva and transcendence, our thoughts cannot be freed from the concepts of mundane time, which automatically enter our deliberations. Thus, inevitably, we talk and think in terms of past, present, and future.

“However, when you consider the inner meaning of this topic, keep in mind that a person who is solely searching for realization of the pure essence of the Absolute Truth will perceive and apply the concept of the eternal, ever-present time factor in his understanding of these topics. Dear young man, you must be extremely cautious while deliberating upon this subject, simply absorb yourself in the spiritual concepts and reject the unavoidable mundane dross caused by the words.

“‘The eternal servant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the jīva, having forgotten his real identity, has been imprisoned by māyā, illusion.’ The Vaiṣṇavas repeat this sentence very often. However, all Vaiṣṇavas know that the jīva has an eternal nature of which there are two groups: nitya-baddha, eternally conditioned; and nitya-mukta, eternally liberated.

“The subject is put in this way because the ordinary human intellect is in the grips of pramāda, illusion, and therefore cannot fully comprehend transcendental matters. However, the introspective sage perceives spiritual truth in the quietness of his cit-samādhi, devotional meditation. All our speeches are mundane and covered with material contamination—it is up to you to discern the underlying pure truth. Concerning these topics, there is no room for debating and arguing, because applying logic and rhetoric to spiritual subject matters with their materially inconceivable concepts is a futile exercise.

“I am aware of the fact that you cannot immediately comprehend the depths of this line of spiritual thought. However, as your devotional practice and spiritual attachment increase, your power to discriminate between matter and spirit will be sharpened. Your body and its present activities are mundane, but in reality, you are not mundane, you are an infinitesimal spiritual entity. When you learn more about yourself, you will realize how superior and different the nature of your real self is from the phenomenal world.

“If I talk to you about your real self, or if you merely hear and read about it, these instructions will not be very profitable for you. You must begin the process by sincerely chanting harināma, thereby your spiritual identity will be manifest gradually and concordantly your perception of the spiritual world will take discernible shape. Both mind and words are material products, therefore, even untiring efforts in their application are unable to approach transcendental topics. Hence, in the Vedas, Taittirīya Upaniṣad, 2.4.1, we find:

yato vāco nivartante aprāpya manasā saha

“‘That is Brahman. If mind and words are searching for Him, they return unsuccessfully.’

“My advice for you is that you do not approach anyone and ask for a decision upon this philosophy. Try to feel and realize it within yourself. So far I have given you the hints and pointers.”

Vrajanātha, “You have said that jīva is like the spark of a fire and is also like an atomic particle of the rays of the spiritual sun. What exactly is the role of the jīva-śakti according to these analogies?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the conflagration, the Self-illuminating Spiritual Sun. Thus, everything within the burning flames of Sun is fully spiritual. The rays emanating from their source, the Spiritual Sun, are the subservient expansions of the svarūpa-śakti. The paramāṇu, atomic particles, comprising the rays of this Spiritual Sun are the jīvas. The svarūpa-śakti has manifested the Sun planet; however, the activities that take place outside the Sun globe are the activities of the jīva-śakti, the partial expansion of the svarūpa-śakti. Therefore, any activities pertaining to the jīvas are the action of jīva-śakti alone.

“According to the Vedic statement, Svetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.8:

parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate

“‘The citśakti is the para-śakti, the highest absolute potency.’

“Outside the spiritual realm of the cit-śakti and between this spiritual realm and the material realm of māyā there is the field of the taṭasthā-śakti where the cit-śakti manifests Herself in Her partial expansion as the jīva-śakti, thereby generating the eternal jīvas in the taṭasthā, marginal field.”

Vrajanātha, “A fire, the sun, and the burning sparks are all material inert objects. Why are they used as analogies to describe spiritual topics?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “I have warned you earlier that using mundane words to explain transcendental topics creates the situation wherein one has to deal with unavoidable conceptual imperfections. In lieu of other possibilities, one is forced to use the mundane analogies of the sun, sparks, and rays. In truth, Kṛṣṇa is a million and more times superior to the sun and the same is true of His abode and His bodily lustre. Nevertheless, one may use such comparisons because there is a helpful resemblance within them.

“However, these examples help to convey ideas for the elucidation of only a limited number of specific qualities—not all the qualities in their entirety and in all their aspects. The beauty and revealing luminosity of the sun and its sun-rays act as good analogies to show the corresponding qualities of the Absolute Truth. However, the intrinsic qualities of the sun and the sun-rays, namely their ability to burn and their state of being gross matter, are not comparable to spiritual objects. When one compares milk with water, one may be attempting to illustrate a particular similarity, namely their liquid state. Only that particular similarity of liquidity is being illustrated—not that milk and water are the same in all respects. Hence, analogies assist in highlighting the similarity of two entities on certain points, even if ultimately those two entities are of contrasting natures.”

Vrajanātha, “On one hand there are the rays of the transcendental Sun, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and on the other the atomic particles floating within these rays. These particles are non-different from the Sun and yet, as you have said, they are eternally different. How is this possible?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “One of the characteristics of material nature is that objects produced by other objects remain either attached to their source, or separate completely from their source. For example, an egg produced by the bird is totally separated from its source; whereas, the fingernails and hair grow upon the human body and thus remain attached to their source, as long as they are not cut and clipped. However, in the spiritual nature these matters are completely different.

“All emanations from the Spiritual Sun, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, are simultaneously one with and different from Him. The sun-rays and the atomic sun-ray particles are inseparable and the same. Similarly, the jīva-śakti is compared to the sun-rays and the innumerable jīvas are compared to the atomic particles of those sun-rays. The jīva-śakti and her constituent jīvas are generated by Śrī Kṛṣṇa and remain inseparably united with Him, just as the sun, the sun-rays, and the atomic particles of the sun-rays are all undividedly one. Furthermore, although they are one simultaneously, because of the minute independence the individual jīvas exercise, they are eternally separate from Kṛṣṇa. Hence, the eternal truth is that Śrī Kṛṣṇa and the jīva are simultaneously one with and different from each other.

“The paṇḍitas offer another example to drive home this point, though this example being mundane is naturally provincial. A piece of gold jewellery is made from a large block of gold and because it is gold the bracelet is not different from the gold block. Nonetheless, because it is a bracelet it is also different from the gold block. In spite of the inevitable inadequacy of this example one idea is unequivocally conveyed: The transcendental Sun, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is non-different from His transcendental energy—both are spiritual entities. Śrī Kṛṣṇa as the complete absolute divinity, source of all energies, is distinct in volume and status from His infinitesimal products. Therefore, the analogy of ghaṭākāśa, the sky in a pot, and mahākāśa, the unlimited sky, proffered by the monistic māyāvādīs is not well-balanced and appropriate in the spiritual context.”

Vrajanātha, “If spirit and matter differ generically in their natures, how could any analogous comparison be appropriate?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “In material nature there are gradations of status, which the naiyāyika, logicians, describe as nitya. However, such complete discrepancy of status does not exist between matter and spirit. Provisionally, we have discussed and established that cit, spirit, is reality and matter is merely its vikāra, vitiated transformation and reflection. The transformed material reality is distinguished in several ways from the original spiritual reality, although many affinities between the two remain. For example, in a sleet rain, half of the downpour is snow and the rest is cold rainwater. A portion of the snow has been transformed to produce the rainwater and has thus acquired a dissimilar status from its original condition as snow. However, the snow and rainwater are still similar because of their coolness. Similarly, in the case of hot and cold water, they are both the same in their quality of liquidity, but they differ in temperature. Hence, we can see that certain traits of the original object persist despite its transformation into a derivative object.

“This material world is a reflection and transformation of the spiritual world. Yet, because there are certain characteristics in material nature still similar to those of the spiritual world, spiritual subjects are discussed using appropriate explanatory analogies, which take advantage of these similarities. Another method is called the arundhatī-darśana-nyāya, the logical principle of recognizing something more hidden and subtle by the aid of a large and easily noticeable object that is near to the subtle object—the dim Arundhatī star is found in the night sky by first finding the bright and obvious star nearby. By comparing the gross characteristics of matter with its opposite nature, spirit, we can surmise the esoteric truths of the spiritual nature as certain characteristics inherent in the material nature are close to the spiritual truths.

“The pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa are absolutely spiritual; there is no contamination by mundane characteristics. However, when these supramundane topics of Vraja from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam are discussed in assemblies, individuals in the audience receive different results, each according to their level of spiritual consciousness. The gross materialist thinks that these narrations are stories similar to those in fiction novels about ordinary heroes and heroines. The madhyama-adhikārī applies the arundhatīdarśana principle and perceives the spiritual truth underlying the descriptions. He experiences sublime bliss because of his devotional mood and faithful approach to the subject. The uttamaadhikārī becomes immersed in these sublime pastimes and thus relishes the pure transcendental rasa.

“What other means are there besides these principles of nyāya to instruct the jīvas about the Absolute Truth? How may the conditioned soul realize an ineffable subject matter—which the faculties of the material mind and emotions cannot penetrate—and then bask in its illuminating glory? I see no alternative to analogies and principles such as the arundhatīdarśananyāya. The inherent nature of material objects is that they are found either similar to another material object or different from another material object. However, this is not the case with the Supreme Lord and His energies, which are simultaneously one and different. One must accept the reality that Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His jīva-śakti along with her product, the unlimited jīvas, are inconceivably and simultaneously one with and different from each other.”

Vrajanātha, “Wherein lies the distinction between Īśvara and the jīva?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “First, I shall enumerate the eternal similarities between Īśvara and the jīva and later their eternal distinctions. The Supreme Lord is the embodiment of knowledge; the symbol of omniscience; the greatest counsellor; the Self-manifest highest divinity; the illuminator of others; the kṣetrajña, the knower of the fields of action; the Self-determined; the enjoyer. These self-same qualities are also present in the jīva, but marginally. The Lord absolutely epitomizes these characteristics because He is the unlimited proprietor of the absolute supreme potency. However, in contrast, the jīva because of his diminutive size and infinitesimal potency possesses these same characteristics but in minimal degree. Thus, although there exists a disparity in size and nature between the Lord and the jīva, in respect to the qualities that both possess there is a close affinity.

“The omniscient Supreme Lord is the controller and master of the svarūpa-śakti, jīva-śakti, and māyā-śakti. These varieties of His śakti are His maidservants, ready to execute His bidding alone without individual prerogatives. The qualities of the Lord are certainly present within the jīva in miniscule amounts, nevertheless the jīva is still subject and subordinate to the dictates of the Lord’s śakti.

“In the teachings of the Daśa-mūla, fifth verse, the word māyā does not exclusively indicate the mundane jaḍamāyā; māyā also very definitely indicates the svarūpa-śakti of the Lord, which is also known as Yogamāyā. According to etymology …mīyate anayā iti māyā… ‘That by which one can measure is māyā.’ The śakti of the Lord that connects Śrī Kṛṣṇa to the spiritual world, to the jīva, and to the material nature is also known as māyā. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Lord of māyā and the jīva is Her captive slave. The Svetāśvatara Upaniṣad, 4.9-10, comments:

yasmān māyī sṛjate viśvam etat tasmiṁś cānyo māyayā sannirūḍhaḥ
māyāṁ tu prakṛtiṁ vidyān māyinaṁ tu maheśvaram
tasyāvayava-bhūtais tu vyāptaṁ sarvam idaṁ jagat

“‘The ingredients with which the Supreme Godhead, the Lord of māyā, creates this universe and into which the captive of māyā, the jīva, enters is known as prakṛti, or māyā. The Supreme Lord, controller of māyā, pervades the entire creation in His Universal Form.’

“According to this quotation from the Vedas the word māyī refers to the Lord of māyā, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The word prakṛti means the sampūrṇaśakti, the complete, absolute energy. This pre-eminent superiority and absolute nature is the divine prerogative of the Supreme Lord. The jīva neither possess these traits in the present conditioned state, nor even when he is liberated. The eternal distinction between the jīva and Bhagavān is stated in Brahma-sūtra, 4.417:

jagad-vyāpāra varjjaṁ prakaraṇād asamihitatvāt

“‘The work of creation, maintenance, and governance of the entire material and spiritual worlds can be enacted by the Supreme Brahman alone and no other individual can perform these activities. The liberated jīvas are able to conduct other works, but not His.’

“The comment of the Taittirīya Upaniṣad on this topic is:

yato va imāni bhūtāni jāyante

“‘The Supreme Brahman is the one who is the primal source of all the living entities, the sustainer of everything, and at the same time the destination into whom the total dissolution enters.’

“Even if one stretches the meanings of the words, the jīva, liberated or otherwise, is not indicated anywhere in this verse as performing the activities of creation, maintenance, and destruction. In the entire śruti and smṛti of the Vedic scriptures, Bhagavān alone has been accredited with controlling the universal affairs, never the jīva. Hypothetically, if the individual jīvas were to be entrusted with such immense powers of creation, maintenance, and destruction, then humanity would be faced with the unwelcome philosophical predicament known as bahv-īśvara-doṣa, the faulty concept of many individual īśvaras, controllers. Hence, one should clearly understand that even liberated souls are inadequate in the matter of creation, maintenance, and annihilation of the cosmic manifestation. This eternal distinction between the jīva and the Supreme Lord is always applicable and inescapable. Therefore, one should realize that the statement, ‘The jīva is the eternal servitor of Śrī Kṛṣṇa,’ is an actual mahā-vākya, an important dictum.”

Vrajanātha, “If the eternal difference is perfectly and conclusively proved, when and how does the principle of non-difference become an active principle? Furthermore, if this concept of eternal non-difference actually does become active shall we have to accept ultimately the concept of nirvāṇa, the jīva merging into Brahman?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “No, my dear son, that is emphatically not the case. At no stage does the jīva become non-different from the Supreme Lord.”

Vrajanātha, “Yet, did you not say that they are inconceivably and simultaneously one and different?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “On the basis of his spiritual nature and qualities, the jīva is eternally non-different from Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but on the grounds of his spiritual identity, the jīva is eternally distinct from Kṛṣṇa. Their oneness is eternal and their distinction is also eternal, and the aspect of eternal distinction between them is pre-eminent and conspicuous. For example, one may say, ‘This house is the property of Devadatta.’ Simultaneously, one may also state, ‘Devadatta is not present in the house.’ Of the two simultaneously correct statements, the fact that ‘the house is the property of Devadatta’ is clearly the pre-eminent statement of the two. Another example from the material world is the visible sky, it is inert matter and has a source, but in spite of its having oneness with its source—the general outer space—the visible sky is self-evident by its distinction from its source, outer space. In fact, its identity is discerned by this actual distinction from its source. Thus, the eternal difference of the jīva from the Supreme Lord, in spite of His simultaneous eternal oneness with the Supreme Lord, actually bestows upon the jīva his eternal identity and is thus the most important aspect of their eternal relationship.”

Vrajanātha, “Kindly tell me more about the eternal nature of the jīva.”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The jīva is an infinitesimal spiritual entity endowed by his very nature with consciousness, thus he has knowledge. He possesses self-identity, is an enjoyer, a thinker, and an intelligent being. The jīva is the proprietor of an eternal identity, which is extremely esoteric and subtle. The material human body is made up of limbs, ears, nose, etc. Similarly, the spiritual body of the jīva is embellished with perfect spiritual features and this is his eternal form. When the jīva becomes conditioned, two upādhis, false identities, cover his atomic, eternal, spiritual form. The first cover is his liṅgaśarīra, the subtle mental body, and the second covering is his sthūla-śarīra, gross physical body.

“Unavoidable for the conditioned jīva is the upādhi of the liṅgaśarīra, which he acquires from the moment of his captivity by māyā, and which remains with him until he becomes liberated. At the time of death, the jīva changes his old gross body for another one, but not his subtle body. The subtle body transports the jīva, with all his desires regarding material activity, when he leaves one gross body for another at the time of death. The details and the principles of this change of the material body are described in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad and the Brahma-sūtra. It is known as pañcāgni-vidyā, the five fiery substances, which are citāgni, vṛṣṭyāgni, bhojanāgni, and retohavanāgni, etc.

“The nature and tendencies of the conditioned jīva in his new life and body are decided by the desires and saṁskāras, purificatory ceremonies, of his previous life. He acquires his status and caste according to them. His works and actions in his present life are prompted by his position within the system of varṇāsrama, and after death and the subsequent rebirth into a new body the same process is repeated. These are the two coverings of the eternal spiritual identity of the jīva—the sthūlaśarīra and the liṅga-śarīra.”

Vrajanātha, “What is the difference between the nitya-śarīra, eternal form of the jīva, and his liṅgaśarīra?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The nitya-śarīra is fully spiritual and faultless and makes up the real identity of the jīva, his true self and ego. The liṅgaśarīra is acquired when the jīva comes into contact with matter. It consists of three vitiated transformations of the spiritual energy: mana, mind; buddhi, intelligence; and ahaṅkāra, false ego.”

Vrajanātha, “Are mana, buddhi, and ahaṅkāra material substances? If so, then why are they merited with jñāna, consciousness and knowledge, and kriyā, action?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The Bhagavad-gītā, 7.4-6, declares:

bhūmir āpo ’nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā

“‘Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.’

apareyam itas tv anyāṁ prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat

“‘Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.’

etad-yonīni bhūtāni sarvāṇīty upadhāraya
ahaṁ kṛtsnasya jagataḥ prabhavaḥ pralayas tathā

“‘All created beings have their source in these two natures. Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both the origin and the dissolution.’

“According to this quotation from the Gītopaniṣad, sarva-śaktimān Bhagavān possesses two distinct prakṛti, natures: the para-prakṛti, the superior spiritual nature; and the aparāprakṛti, the inferior material nature. His para-prakṛti is the jīva-śakti and his aparā-prakṛti is the jaḍa-śakti, which is also known as the māyāśakti. The jīva-śakti is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, hence it is known as the paraśakti, whereas the māyāśakti is the external material energy, so she is called aparā-śakti. The jīva is distinct from the aparāśakti. The inferior aparāśakti comprises the eight material elements, which are the five gross elements plus the three subtle elements. The three subtle elements are mana, buddhi, and ahaṅkāra. These three are the internal, subtle elements comprising the liṅgaśarīra, nevertheless they are wholly material. Although these three exhibit some form of consciousness and knowledge because of the presence of the jīva within them, it is not transcendental consciousness but mundane vitiated consciousness by the effect of the attachment of the jīva to the inferior māyā-śakti.

“The sensual impressions the mind receives from the material world are coloured by the residual material concepts and ideas held within the liṅgaśarīra from the many previous lifetimes of the jīva. Thus, this colouring of the conditioned mind is materialistic and not transcendental. Mundane intelligence then analyses this coloured display of information presented by the material mind to discern whether such information is acceptable or not. Then, the faculty that in the final analysis accepts or rejects this analysis of the material knowledge is the mundane false ego.

“These three material elements, mana, buddhi, and ahaṅkāra, energised by the presence of the jīva within them, amalgamate to produce a mundane, second identity called the liṅgaśarīra, which becomes so strong that it veils the actual eternal spiritual ego of the jīva. Since the jīva is eternally related to the transcendental Sun Śrī Kṛṣṇa as His integral part and parcel, the jīva’s original, spiritual ego is similarly eternal. When the soul attains liberation, this original spiritual ego becomes uncovered and is overtly manifest. However, as long as the eternal spiritual ego of the jīva remains hidden by his liṅgaśarīra, his identification with the material world will be the more pronounced and his spiritual ego non-assertive and practically absent. Being noumenal, the liṅgaśarīra of the jīva is covered by his sthūla-śarīra, which executes the desired kriyā, actions, of the bound jīva. The sthūlaśarīra then becomes identified with its false temporary ego in the form of status, position, etc., within the social system of varṇāsrama.

Mana, buddhi, and ahaṅkāra are indeed material, but because they interpret—perversely—the ātmāvṛti, inclinations of the real self, the soul within, they falsely lay claim to being the sources of consciousness, knowledge, and action.”

Vrajanātha, “Respected master, I have now understood that the eternal form of the jīva is atomic cit and that his limbs, features, and nature are all sublime and beautiful. In the conditioned state of the jīva, the liṅgaśarīra veils this beautiful form. Thus, the gross material covering completely corrupts and perverts the original and actual identity of the jīva. Is the jīva in his muktaavasthā, emancipated condition, completely flawless?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Since he is the atomic part and parcel of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the spiritual form of the jīva is certainly faultless, but incomplete because of the vulnerability of his extremely diminutive size. Thus, the only discernible weakness in his faultless condition is that in a close encounter with the powerful māyāśakti his spiritual nature can be eclipsed and concealed. The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, 10.2.32, describes this as follows:

ye ’nye ’ravindākṣa vimukta-māninas
tvayy asta-bhāvād aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ
āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ
patanty adho ’nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ

“‘O lotus-eyed one, those who think they are liberated in this life, but do not render devotional service to You must be of impure intelligence. Although they accept severe austerities and penances and rise to the spiritual position, to impersonal Brahman realization, they fall down again because they neglect to worship Your lotus feet.’

“Therefore we see that however elevated a position a liberated soul may attain, his dependent constitution remains permanent. This is, in fact, the definition of the jīvatattva. Therefore the Vedas reiterate that Bhagavān is the Lord of māyā, and that the jīva is, in all situations, susceptible to the subjugation of māyā being the taṭasthāśakti.”

Thus ends the fifteenth chapter of Jaiva-dharma, entitled: Nitya-dharma: Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana, Part Three: The Jīva, the Eternal Individual Spirit Soul

Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Fourteen
Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Sixteen

Share this chapter!

Read More Books by Bhaktivinoda Thakur