Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Fifteen
Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Seventeen

Nitya-dharma: Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana
Part Four: The Jīva Swallowed by Māyā, the Illusory Energy

by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Śrī Sarvabhāvana Prabhu)

Vrajanātha returned home, pondering over the true nature of the jīva as he had just heard from the Daśamūla. Lying in his bed at night, he considered, “My question regarding, ‘Who am I?’ has been answered and I realize now that I am but a spark of a ray emanating from the transcendental Sun, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Although minute in size, I am inherently eternal, cognizant, and of the nature of a drop of unlimited transcendental bliss. Even though I am infinitesimal, I possess a spiritual identity and my spiritual form closely resembles the spiritual form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. As a consequence of my spiritual form being unmanifest, I am presently experiencing the misfortunes of material life. My good fortune will arise once I sincerely endeavour to reawaken my spiritual form and identity. I must understand why this pall of misfortune has come to hang over me and will clarify this matter with my guru tomorrow.”

Sleep stealthily crept in around midnight and in the hours before dawn Vrajanātha dreamt of giving up material life and becoming a Vaiṣṇava. After awakening, he lay contemplating the hope that perhaps the Lord would help him escape his material entanglement. He had just gone out and taken a seat in the courtyard upon the raised platform used for religious festivals when a group of his young students came and touched his feet, offering him their respects and addressing him as follows, “We have learnt innumerable arguments on logic from you in the past. Now our desire is to be tutored on the famous book of logic, Nyāya Kusumāñjali.”

Vrajanātha replied unpretentiously, “I have packed away all my books for good, and just like the illustrious Nimāi Paṇḍita I am determined to take a new path. You should approach another teacher.”

At the same time that the students were leaving, Śrī Caturbhuja Miśra came in to see Vrajanātha’s grandmother with a marriage proposal for Vrajanātha. He explained to her, “Śrī Vijaynātha Bhaṭṭācārya hails from aristocracy and his daughter is very beautiful. She would be an excellent match for your grandson. The Bhaṭṭācārya has not yet promised his daughter to anyone. Vrajanātha may accept the proposal right away.”

Having overheard this conversation, Vrajanātha thought, “What a dilemma! Here I am seriously considering leaving family and home and, at this most inopportune moment, along comes a marriage proposal arranged by my grandmother.”

The question became a most contentious issue, driving his mother, grandmother and the other elder ladies of the family to one side of the dispute. On the other side, Vrajanātha found himself alone. The entire day became wasted in argument and counter-argument, and eventually the evening descended almost unnoticed. However, soon rain clouds announced their presence with deep rumblings and bolts of lightning, which served to mute the loud discussion. A heavy downpour soon followed, and so it became impossible for Vrajanātha to go to Māyāpura that day. Early next morning the continuing contention on the marriage issue again spoiled Vrajanātha’s mood and appetite. Not until after dark could Vrajanātha leave his house. He then hurried to the little kuṭīra of Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī and falling flat upon the ground offered prostrate obeisances.

The revered Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī said, “The rains must have kept you from coming last night, I am very happy that you have come now.”

Vrajanātha burst out saying, “Dear master, suddenly I have been faced with a serious problem, which I would like to explain later. For now I request you to clarify a certain question: The jīva is of pure spiritual substance, why then does he have to descend into the degraded material world?”

A gentle smile appeared on Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī’s lips and he replied with the sixth śloka of the Daśamūla:

svarūpārthair hīnān nija-sukha-parān kṛṣṇa-vimukhān
harer māyā-dandyān guṇa-nigaḍa-jālaiḥ kalayati
tathā sthūlair liṅgai dvi-vidhāvaraṇaiḥ kleśa-nikarair
mahākarmālānair nayati patitān svarga nirayau

“‘By his svarūpa, eternal constitution, the jīva is the surrendered servitor of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and is meant to serve the Lord eternally. The conditioned souls who are alienated from their svarūpa are wallowing in the illusion of false pride and material enjoyment. They have rejected Śrī Kṛṣṇa; hence, they are being penalized by the māyāśakti, who binds them with three chains in the form of the three material modes, namely sattva, rāja, and tama. Furthermore, she covers the svarūpa of the jīva with the subtle body and then the gross body, thus imprisoning the jīva in the excruciating cycle of karmic reactions, which at times heaves him up to Heaven, or pushes him down to Hell.’

“In Goloka Vṛndāvana, Śrī Balarāma manifests unlimited nitya-pārṣadās, eternal associates, belonging to the jīva category for the service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Similarly, in Vaikuṇṭha, Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa manifests unlimited nityapārṣadās also of the jīva category for the service of Śrī Nārāyaṇa. These nityapārṣadās are eternally engaged in serving their object of worship, the Supreme Godhead, who is absorbed in rasa. They are eternally situated in their svarūpa, remain constantly engrossed in satisfying their beloved Lordship, and ever possess enthusiasm and affection for the Lord that never diminishes. They are forever extremely spiritually potent, being imbued with the cit-śakti of the Lord. They have no connection with māyā—they are even unmindful of her existence. They are permanent residents of the spiritual world and are very far away from māyā. They are fully absorbed in simply relishing the bliss of devotional service to their beloved Lord. Selfish material joys and sorrows are totally alien to these eternally liberated souls. Prema being their life and soul, they do not even know that lamentation, death or fear actually exist.

“Also, countless, infinitesimal jīvas emanate from Kāraṇodakaśāyī Mahā Viṣṇu, lying within the Causal Ocean, whose glance impregnates the māyāśakti. As these jīvas are the neighbours of māyā, they witness her variegatedness. The symptoms of the general mass of jīvas as discussed earlier are also present in these jīvas. However, because they are minuscule in size and situated at the margin, their constitutional nature is to look at both the material world and the spiritual sky. Their marginal condition makes them vulnerable because—up to this point of time—they have not been reinforced with citbala, the strength of spiritual potency, by the mercy of the Supreme Lord, their worshipable object. Those amongst them who desire to enjoy material nature become absorbed in matter and are thus eternally enthralled by her, while those endeavouring to serve the Divine Worshipable Object, upon receiving His mercy, are elevated to the spiritual world. Therefore, my son, we are in a most wretched state. Having forgotten our devotion and service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, we are held as the captives of māyā, and thus, in lieu of our original transcendental status, we are in this miserable situation.”

Vrajanātha, “Dear master! I understand that the jīva is the taṭasthāśakti of the Lord and is situated at the taṭa, junction, of both worlds. However, why are some jīvas subsequently engrossed in material existence, while others are elevated to the spiritual sky?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The transcendental qualities of the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa are also present in the jīva, but up to a very small degree. The quality of free will natural to Śrī Kṛṣṇa is therefore innate to the constitution of the jīva and microscopic in content. When the jīva makes proper use of his independence, he remains connected with Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but by misusing of his independence, he dissociates himself from the Lord and is attracted to exploiting and enjoying material nature. Developing the despicable quality of false pride, he thinks, ‘I am the enjoyer of everything I survey.’ Thus, the five levels of nescience—tāmisra, rebellious rejection of the Lord’s service; andhatāmisra, considering death to be the ultimate conclusion; tamas, ignorance of one’s position as a jīva; moha, the illusory bodily conception of life; mahāmoha, attachment for material enjoyment——cloud the pure spiritual consciousness of the jīva. The sole cause of why the jīva becomes either liberated or conditioned lies in the proper or improper use of his minute independence.”

Vrajanātha, “Śrī Kṛṣṇa is karuṇamaya, unlimitedly merciful, yet why did He create such weak jīvas? As a result of their weakness, they become lured into subjugation by māyā.”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “What you say is true. Kṛṣṇa is karuṇamaya, but He is also līlāmaya, dynamic and eternally engages in pastimes. With the view that the jīva could become an active partner for His various līlās, the Supreme Lord has made him versatile and capable of rising from his humble position as a marginal being to the soaring heights of mahābhāva, the highest spiritual consciousness, which is unlimited and transcendental. To make the jīva strongly determined and facilitate his ascension to this divine position, the Lord has also created the various levels of material energy from gross matter up to ahaṅkāra, which reaches its depths with misidentification with matter. Should the jīva choose the path of material progress the inert matter presents practically insurmountable obstacles in the jīva’s search for supreme happiness. The jīvas, who are moving down to this material entanglement, seeking only to satisfy their senses, are divorced from their svarūpa and thus increasingly distance themselves from the Supreme Lord. They become more and more depraved, but the infinitely compassionate Lord, with His transcendental abode and eternal associates, descends to earth and appears before them in person to offer them the opportunity of elevation to the highest spiritual destination. The jīvas who take this opportunity to elevate themselves gradually rise to the transcendental realm and acquire the same position as the nityapārṣadās.

Vrajanātha, “Why must the individual souls suffer so that the Lord can enjoy these līlās?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “One should consider that to possess and exercise free will is indeed a special grace of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Inert matter is without free will, hence non-essential and extraneous. The jīva, on the other hand, by asserting his free will has attained the position of lordship over the material world. Suffering and pleasure are different conditions of the mind. What we call suffering, another person attached to the same condition will define as pleasure. The final outcome of all material pleasure, however, is pain. The materially engrossed person accumulates only misery in the end and upon experiencing the worsening of his situation he desires undiluted, endless happiness. Intensification of this desire arouses his conscience and power of discrimination, leading to inquisitiveness and enquiry into the ultimate reality. The attitude of sincere enquiry leads to sādhusaṅga, which bestows śraddhā and thus installs the jīva on the path of self-elevation.

“Therefore suffering is ultimately a boon. Impure gold is purified by firing and repeated hammering; similarly, when the jīva is contaminated by the fancy to enjoy his senses to the extreme—making him turn away from Kṛṣṇa—he needs to be purified by the fire and hammering of excruciating material experiences. In this sense the sufferings of a gross materialist are auspicious and the mercy of the Lord. Therefore, the misery suffered by the jīva in the pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is considered as good and beneficial by far-sighted visionaries, while the myopic materialists abhor it as deathly suffering.

Vrajanātha, “I agree that the sufferings of the conditioned jīvas are ultimately beneficial, but presently it is very painful. Was it not within the means of the omnipotent Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa to change this torturous path of material existence into an easier one?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The līlās of Śrī Kṛṣṇa are unlimited and variegated; hence, this also is another of His many unique activities. When the Supreme Autocrat wilfully engages in a kaleidoscope of pastimes, why should it be unusual for Him to enact this particular pastime? If the principle of variegated līlās is kept intact, not a single type of līlā can be rejected. Whatever the līlā, the participants assisting the Lord may have to accept many hardships and pain. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the puruṣa, the Supreme Enjoyer and Absolute Master. All the upakaraṇa, participants and paraphernalia, are fully under the control of the puruṣa and they are the working tools of the Supreme Creator. In fully surrendering oneself to the sweet will of the Supreme Lord, it is only natural that one may have to accept adversities also. If finally this material adversity turns into an auspicious state that is far from miserable, then why ultimately should one call it adversity? On the transcendental platform, the tribulations of the jīva while trying to satisfy the Lord in His pastimes are by all accounts pleasurable. Yet, the conditioned soul by misuse of his free will denies himself the exultation one experiences whilst directly assisting Śrī Kṛṣṇa in His transcendental pastimes. Instead, he embraces māyā who gives him only acute harassment. If anyone is to blame for this dilemma, it is the jīva, and definitely not Kṛṣṇa.”

Vrajanātha, “If the jīva were not allocated his share of free will, would anything have gone amiss? Śrī Kṛṣṇa is omniscient, so He knew that the jīva would have to suffer if given free will. Considering this case, is Śrī Kṛṣṇa not to be made responsible for the misery of the jīva?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Svatantratām, free choice, is indeed the rarest of gems. If none of the many entities in the material world were given free choice that would imply the existence of far fewer significant beings, and ultimately, if the jīva were not endowed with free will, he would simply be reduced to inert and insignificant matter. The jīva is part and parcel of cidvastu, the absolute transcendence; hence, he possesses the same qualities as the Absolute Whole, but in minute measure. Supreme independence is the intrinsic characteristic of the ultimate spiritual substance, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and to separate a substance from its innate characteristics is of course impossible. Therefore, free will is certainly present in the nature of the jīva, but proportionate to his infinitesimal size. The intrinsic constitutional presence of free will has elevated the jīva to a much higher status than matter and has made him its lord and master in the material sense. It has also favoured him with the possibility of becoming the dearmost servitor of the Supreme Lord.

“Yet when the same jīva misuses his innate free choice and thus becomes engrossed in material activities, the merciful Śrī Kṛṣṇa is stricken by compassion and concerned about the bad fortune of the jīva. Lamenting, the Lord shadows the movement of the jīva, planning means to save him. Śrī Kṛṣṇa knows that His nectarean and immortal līlās are not available to the conditioned jīva and thus out of deep compassion, He manifests His acintyalīlā, inconceivable and wonderful pastimes, from within the material nature for the edification of the conditioned jīva. However, realizing that the jīva in his conditioned state is unable to properly comprehend His transcendental activities, Śrī Kṛṣṇa has descended to earth at Navadvīpa, appearing as the most munificent incarnation, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Acting as the divine spiritual master, Śrī Mahāprabhu has initiated the jīva into a supremely efficacious method for his salvation. He has explained the esoteric truth about the transcendental name, form, qualities and pastimes of the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, simultaneously taking the position of a pure devotee and teaching the science of pure devotional service by His own exemplary conduct. My dear boy! Could one possibly think of blaming such a magnanimous Lord? The compassion of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is immeasurable, and the condition of the fallen souls is most lamentable.”

Vrajanātha, “Does not the māyāśakti embody our ill fate, and is she not our enemy? If the omnipotent and omniscient Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa had dissipated māyā, then would not the torment of the jīva have been alleviated?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The māyāśakti is the shadow of the svarūpaśakti of the Supreme Lord, thus she is a vitiated transformation of that purely transcendental energy. The Lord uses māyā as a tool to purify the contaminated jīva and make him eligible for elevation. Māyā Devī, the embodiment of the māyāśakti, is a maidservant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa who chastises and cures the errant conditioned souls estranged from Kṛṣṇa. When the jīva, a fully spiritual entity, forgets his position as an eternal servant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, he unnecessarily commits a serious blunder. As a consequence of this aberration the jīva is sentenced to repeated punishment carried out by Māyā Devī, who looms before the jīva like a witch. The material world is a prison for the errant jīva. Just as a king builds prisons out of kindness to protect his subjects from harm, similarly, the munificent Śrī Kṛṣṇa has provided this material creation as a reform-house for the jīvas and Māyā Devī takes the role of the prison superintendent.”

Vrajanātha, “If this material world resembles a jail, what then are the fetters?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Māyādevī is armed with three types of chains made respectively from sattvaguṇa, rājaguṇa, and tamaguṇa, and with these chains the condemned jīvas are bound. Whether bound by sattva, rāja or tama, all the conditioned jīvas are in fetters. Chains may be made of gold, silver or iron—the metals may differ, but nonetheless they are chains.”

Vrajanātha, “If we agree that the jīva is spiritual, how then can the chains of māyā bind or hold him in bondage?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Spiritual nature is absolutely beyond the circle of influence of the material nature. However, as soon as the jīva falsely claims to be the enjoyer of māyā, he is enwrapped in a liṅgaśarīra based upon ahaṅkāra. Māyā Devī then shackles this subtle body of the jīva with her chains.”

“The jīvas covered by ahaṅkāra in the mode of goodness are residents of the higher material heavenly planets; these devatās are shackled in the golden chains of sattvaguṇa. The jīvas covered by ahaṅkāra in the mode of passion have a mixture of the propensities of the devatās and the human beings; they are bound by the silver chain of rajaguṇa. The jīvas covered by ahaṅkāra in the mode of ignorance are hopelessly inebriated by abominable carnal cravings meant to squeeze out gross material happiness; they are fettered in the iron chains of tamaguṇa. The chained-up jīva souls cannot step out of the prison house, they are caged in by boundless miseries.”

Vrajanātha, “What are the activities of the jīvas held captive in the prison house of Māyā Devī?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “First of all, their activities are aimed at satisfying their particular inclinations for materialistic sense enjoyment. Secondly, they act to gain relief from the constant sufferings that accompany prison life.”

Vrajanātha, “Please explain in more detail the first type of material activity of the jīva—the search for sense enjoyment.”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The gross covering of the jīva is his material body, which passes through six phases: one, it takes birth; two, it grows; three, it attains maturity and maintains; four, it produces by-products; five, it deteriorates; and six, is destroyed. These six transformations are inherent in the gross material body; additionally, the body undergoes hunger, thirst and other discomforting needs. The conditioned jīva, now residing in the gross body, is instigated to constant activity by these interminable desires to gratify his senses and is thus enslaved by the urges of eating, sleeping, mating and defending, etc. All his activities are ultimately directed to excite and satisfy his senses.

“To acquire such desired objectives, he may take the option of material piety and from his birth to his last breath perform the ten Vedic puṇya saṁskāras, pious ritualistic activities, to maintain himself and acquire his material goals. Additionally, he may execute the eighteen sacrificial rites as taught in the Vedas with the motive of accruing sufficient piety in his present birth to ensure his elevation after death to the heavenly planets, wherein celestial yet nevertheless material delights await him. Returning to earth thereafter, he is certain to take birth in a brāhmaṇa family or some other high family, and lead a life of contentment.

“The other option for the conditioned soul in his search for sensual happiness is to take up the path of impious sinful ways, having gone astray from the path of dharma. With these two kinds of activities—pious and impious—the jīva decides upon his next life. In the former, the jīva takes birth as a human being after his sojourn in the celestial planets, and in the latter, after a sacrilegious sinful life, he enters different hellish planets wherein he has to endure terrible tortures, after which he finally attains another mortal body, but not necessarily as a human being. On either path, he is at all times a conditioned jīva held as the captive of the māyāśakti. Thus, beginning at a time one cannot trace, the jīva is tied to the giant wheel of karma making him perpetually traverse this material nature while he incessantly pursues the material goals of sense gratification. He goes back and forth from materially auspicious conditions through his pious deeds to temporary torment through his misdeeds.”

Vrajanātha, “Please speak in detail about the second type of material activity—the attempt to alleviate material distress.”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The spirit soul, presently residing in his material tabernacle, undertakes various activities to remove his privations and overcome his distresses. He builds houses for his shelter, comfort and protection. He has to make proper arrangements to appease his hunger and to quench his thirst. To ensure this supply, he has to work tirelessly and accumulate wealth for heating and clothing to avert the bitter winters. He has to marry to satiate his lust. He continues to work hard in order to make sure that his children and relatives are abundantly provided for and so that no deficiency arises. When his body is attacked by disease, he does everything to get healthy again. He fights for protecting his assets and interests in court. He comes fully under the sway of the six foes—kāma, lust; krodha, anger; lobha, greed; mada, intoxication; moha, illusion; mātsarya, hate and envy—which goad him into fights, violence, hatred, harassing others, stealing, cruelty, and other such evil deeds, all in an attempt to avoid adversity. Thus, the fallen jīva wastes his days and nights only in gratifying his senses and attempting to prevent privations.”

Vrajanātha, “If Māyā Devī had covered the jīva with just the subtle body, would this not have served her purpose?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “No, work cannot be performed with the subtle body alone; hence, the gross body is a necessity. Actions performed by the gross body arouse various desires in the subtle body, and to fulfil these desires a suitable gross body is bestowed in the next life.”

Vrajanātha, “How are the actions and their results interlinked? The mimāṁsā philosophers postulate that Īśvara, the Supreme Controller, who supposedly personally supervises the results of all karma, is a fictitious being. According to them, karma gives birth to a mechanistic principle called apūrva, the exceptional, and it is this principle that calculates and then gives out the result of karma. Is this concept a fact?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The mimāṁsā philosophers, overly concerned with the principle of karma, are not conversant with the philosophical conclusions of the Vedas. Passing vague judgments by observing the mood in which certain ritualistic performances are recommended in the scriptures, they espouse a feeble philosophy. Truly, the Vedas disagree with their views. For example, in the Vedas, Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad, 4.6, and Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad, 3.1.1, we find:

dvā suparṇā sayujā sakhāyā samānaṁ vṛkṣaṁ pariṣasvajāte
tayor anyaḥ pippalaṁ svādv atty anaśnann anyo ‘bhicākaśīti

“‘Two birds, Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu (Paramātmā) and the individual jīva, are perched like friends on the same branch of a peepul tree, which represents the material body. One of them, the jīva, is eating the fruit of the tree according to his karma, while the other, the Paramātmā, is a silent non-participating witness.’

“The purport of this verse is that the jīva, enthralled by māyā, performs karma and tastes the fruits of his actions. The Supreme Lord, controller of māyā, administers the results according to the actions of the jīva. As long as jīva is unable to attain a direct audience with the Lord, the Lord continues to perform pastimes with jīva appropriate to his situation. Where is the mechanistic apūrva principle of the mimāṁsā philosophers in this context? Atheistic views are never conclusive and perfect.”

Vrajanātha, “Why did you refer to the karma of the jīva as being anādi, beginningless?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The prime cause for all karma is the desire to execute such karma. Avidyā, ignorance, is the root of this material desire and is defined as forgetfulness of the truth: ‘I am the eternal servitor of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.’ This avidyā did not suddenly sprout out within the time-span of the material universal creation—the seed of this root of karma originates in the matrix of the taṭasthā position of the jīva at the juncture the material and spiritual creations. Since the source of karma is thus untraceable within the mundane time of material world, karma is said to be anādi.”

Vrajanātha, “What is the distinction between māyā and avidyā?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Māyā is a śakti of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; through her Kṛṣṇa has created the material cosmos. With the intention of redeeming the rebellious wayward jīvas, the Lord has instigated the māyāśakti and made her dynamic. Thus, māyā has two aspects: avidyā, ignorance, and pradhāna, primal matter.

Avidyā is related to the jīva, whereas the pradhāna is related to the external material world. The inert matter of the material universe is produced out of the pradhāna, and avidyā binds the jīva to the fruitive desires of material life. Māyā has another two features: vidyā, and avidyā, both of which are concerned with jīva. Avidyā puts the jīva into his conditioned state of captivity, and vidyā liberates him. When the imprisoned jīva strives after reunion with Kṛṣṇa, the vidyā principle is activated, bestowing spiritual realization. However, as long as the jīva forgets Kṛṣṇa, he is under the spell of avidyā. Brahmajñāna, cognizance of the Supreme, is a specific branch of the vidyā principle. Manifesting within the spiritually awakening consciousness of the jīva, vidyā has two phases. In her first phase, vidyā prompts pious deeds and a positive spiritual endeavour, and in her second mature phase bestows realization of the Supreme Truth. Avidyā clouds the consciousness of the jīva, and vidyā dissipates the clouds.”

Vrajanātha, “How does the pradhāna function?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “When the pradhāna of the māyāśakti is agitated by the potency of Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the form of kāla, eternal time, the mahātattva, the total material substance, is produced. Thus, when the pradhāna, an aspect of māyā, is stirred into motion by kāla, matter comes into existence. Ahaṅkāra is then manifested from a transformation of the mahātattva, and when ahaṅkāra is transformed by tama-guṇa, ākāśa, ether, is produced. Ākāśa is then transformed into air, then air into fire, then fire into water, and then water into earth—in this way the pañcamahābhūta, the five gross elements of matter, come into existence. Now listen carefully to how the pañcatanmātra, five sense objects, respectively related to the pañcamahābhūta, the five gross elements of matter, are created.

Kāla agitates the avidyā aspect of prakṛti, material nature, to manifest the humours of jñāna and karma within the mahātattva. Within the mahātattva, when this element of karma is transformed by sattvaguṇa, jñāna, cognizance, is produced, and when rājaguṇa acts upon karma, then kriyā, action, is produced.

“As we have said before, the mahātattva is transformed to produce ahaṅkāra. Ahaṅkāra, now vitiated by rājaguṇa, transforms into buddhi. When buddhi is then transformed, it produces the quality of śabda, sound, in the element ākāśa. The quality of śabda is then transformed into sparśa, touch, the particular quality of air. Thus, sparśa is imbued with the particular qualities of both ether and air, namely śabda and sparśa respectively. Śabda and sparśa are the matrices for life, which are prāṇa, force, ojaḥ, vitality, and bala, strength. Next, sparśa is transformed into rūpa, form, which is the quality of the element tejāḥ, fire. Thus, śabda and sparśa are also present in rūpa, which is the particular quality of tejāḥ. Next, rūpa is transformed into rasa, taste, the particular quality of water. Thus, rasa also contains śabda, sparśa, and rūpa. By further transformation, gandha, smell, is produced as the particular quality of the element earth, which thus also manifests the qualities of śabda, sparśa, rūpa, and rasa. The Supreme Puruṣa by his caitanya, consciousness, lends His requisite support to this entire process of material transformations.

Ahaṅkāra is of three kinds: vaikārikā, in goodness; taijasa, in passion; and tāmasa, in ignorance. Vaikārikā ahaṅkāra through its product mana, the mind, manifests the material objects before the consciousness of jīva. Taijasa ahaṅkāra produces the two types of senses, which are the pañcajñānendriya, the five knowledge gathering sensual organs, and the pañcakarmendriya, five working sense organs. The pañcajñānendriya are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin (the sense of touch). The pañcakarmendriya are the mouth, hands, legs, anus, and reproductive organ.

“In this manner all the material paraphernalia, both gross and subtle, are manufactured, but until and unless they come into contact with the jīva, they cannot be activated. When the jīva is placed by the glance of the Supreme Lord into the material body of gross and subtle matter, then everything starts working by the jīva’s presence and the supervision of the Lord. In this way, the senses manifested by the modes of sattva and rāja encounter the sense-objects that the pradhāna has manifested through the mode of tama. All these elements amalgamate and interact to form a suitable field for the material action of the jīva. Avidyā and pradhāna work in this way.

“The material nature thus consists of twenty-four elements: the pañcamahābhūta, the five gross elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether; and their pañcatanmātra, five concomitant sense objects: smell, taste, form, touch, and sound; plus, the just mentioned ten sense organs, which are the pañcajñānendriya, the five knowledge gathering senses, and the pañcakarmendriya, five working senses; to these twenty are added: mana, the mind; citta, heart (contaminated consciousness); buddhi, intelligence; and ahaṅkāra, false ego—thus totalling twenty-four in all. The jīva is the twenty-fifth principle and Paramātmā the twenty-sixth.”

Vrajanātha, “In what layout are subtle and gross matter present in this human body, which measures three and a half cubits? Furthermore, where does the jīva reside within the body?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The five gross elements, the five sense-objects, and the ten sense organs comprise the gross body. Mind, contaminated consciousness, intelligence, and false ego form the subtle body. The one who falsely identifies with the body and stakes claims in relationship to the body, thus living under false concepts of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ is the jīva, who is thus deprived of his true svarūpa. The jīva, though infinitesimal, is transcendental to material time, place, and the three modes; however, in spite of his minute stature, his consciousness pervades the entire body. A touch of sandalwood paste applied to any part of the body soothes the entire body, similarly, the tiny soul, the jīva, is the kṣetrajña, knower of his entire body, which is called the kṣetra, the field. Through this kṣetra the jīva experiences the worldly joys and sorrows.”

Vrajanātha, “If the jīva is the central figure performing karma and thus experiencing the fruits of elation and distress, then to what extent does Īśvara exercise control?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The jīva is the initiator of his karma, whereas Īśvara bestows the fruits appropriate for that karma upon the jīva. Also Īśvara arranges the resultant future karma of the jīva. Put simply, Īśvara is the disburser of the fruits of karma and the jīva is the enjoyer of those fruits.”

Vrajanātha, “What are the different types of conditions experienced by the deluded souls?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The spirit soul deluded by māyā passes through five distinct conditions: ācchāditacetanā, covered consciousness; saṅkucitacetanā, contracted consciousness; mukulitacetanā, budding consciousness; vikasitacetanā, unfolded consciousness; and pūrṇavikasitacetanā, full-blown consciousness.”

Vrajanātha, “Which of the jīvas belong to the category of ācchādita cetanā?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The jīvas with the inert forms of trees, plants, or rocks belong to this category. Consciousness is practically non-existent in them. Having forgotten their eternal relationship as servants of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, they have become so completely engrossed in matter that they are now unable to perceive their spiritual self. These jīvas are forced to accept and only know the six transformations of birth, growth, maintenance, production of by-products, dwindling, and death. They are practically inert and have not the faintest recollection of their original self.

“This condition reflects the most degraded state of consciousness of the jīva. In the Purāṇas the examples of Ahalyā, the Yamalārjuna trees, and the saptatālavṛkṣa, the seven tāla trees, shed more light on this topic. The jīvas are put into such a distressful condition as a result of abominable offences, and only the mercy of Śrī Kṛṣṇa can release them from this state.”

Vrajanātha, “Who are in saṅkucitacetanā?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Birds, beasts, reptiles, aquatics and insects belong to this category. Unlike the ācchāditacetanā, whose perception of their own consciousness is almost nil, these jīvas are slightly aware of their consciousness. They carry out activities like eating, sleeping, mating, defending, moving according to their will, fighting with others when life or ownership are jeopardized, and expressing anger upon seeing injustice done to themselves. However, they do not have any knowledge of life after death or of transcendence.

“For example, in the mind of a monkey we see traces of primitive scientific responses. They are slightly able to analyze consequences and possess a sense of gratitude to a minute degree. These jīvas to some extent may perceive the differing properties of various material objects, but because they cannot penetrate into the subject of Bhagavān, their consciousness is contracted. In the scriptures there are descriptions of King Bhārata born as a deer, but still remembering kṛṣṇanāma. This, of course, is a very special case, quite out of the ordinary. King Bhārata and even King Nṛga received animal forms as a result of serious offences, which were forgiven later by the mercy and blessings of the Supreme Lord.”

Vrajanātha, “Who are the mukulitacetanā?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The conditioned jīvas in human forms go through the higher three phases of being; namely, mukulitacetanā, budding consciousness; vikasitacetanā, unfolded blossoming consciousness; and pūrṇavikasitacetanā, fully blossomed consciousness.

“Human beings may be divided into five categories: nītiśūnya, lawless, immoral; nirīśvaranaitika, atheistic, but law-abiding and moralistic; seśvarānaitika, theistic and moralistic, sādhanabhakta, devotee of Bhagavān, whose devotion is tempered by rules and regulations; and bhāvabhakta, a pure devotee whose love and devotion to the Lord is spontaneous.

“Those human beings who—on account of a lack of knowledge, or perverted knowledge—become atheists come under the category of nītiśūnya or nirīśvaranaitika. Morality mixed with restricted faith in Bhagavān is the hallmark of a seśvarānaitika jīva. Those who strictly follow the rules of the scriptures and are attracted to the devotional service of the Supreme Lord with deepening faith are sādhanabhaktas. Unlimited and spontaneous attraction and attachment to the service of the Supreme Lord are the symptoms of a bhāvabhakta.

Nītiśūnya and nirīśvaranaitika human beings have mukulitacetanā. Seśvarānaitika and sādhanabhakta human beings possess vikasitacetanā. Only the bhāvabhaktas are on the stage of pūrṇavikasitacetanā.”

Vrajanātha, “How long has the bhāvabhakta to remain bound by the māyāśakti?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “This question will be dealt within our further discussion of the seventh śloka of the daśamūla. It is now late, so let us stop for now.”

Fully absorbed, Vrajanātha recapitulated to himself all the points he had just heard on his way back home.

Thus ends the sixteenth chapter of Jaiva-dharma, entitled:
Nitya-dharma: Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana, Part Four: The Jīva Swallowed by Māyā, the Illusory Energy

Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Fifteen
Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Seventeen

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