Śrīman Mahāprabhura ŚikṣāŚrīman Mahāprabhura Śikṣā Chapter 5
Śrīman Mahāprabhura ŚikṣāŚrīman Mahāprabhura Śikṣā Chapter 7

Jīva Sakala Harira Vibhinnāṁśa-tattva
(The Jīvas are Separated Expansions of Hari)

With the Rasika-Rañjana Commentary by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura

There is much debate in the world concerning jīva-tattva. Human beings have their own opinions regarding the jīva according to their nature. Persons of a tāmasika nature conclude that the jīva is comprised of gross matter. Their opinion is that the jīva appears along with the body made of five gross elements. Those persons whose nature is a combination of rājas and tāmas believe that only humans are jīvas and nothing else. Animals are almost jīvas – they are to be enjoyed by jīvas. Their belief is that the pārṣadas of Bhagavān are a slightly higher tattva of jīvas. They do not accept that humans have previous births and future births. They cannot say why one person from the beginning attains an auspicious situation and another person attains an inauspicious situation. Those persons influenced by rājas say that all humans, animals and birds are jīvas, and they believe in past and future births, however, they have no faith in a pure transcendental destination beyond this world of jīvas. Those persons who are mixed with rajasa and sattva believe in a higher destination, but have no belief in a pure transcendental world. Sāttvika persons believe that impersonal Brahman is the destination of the jīva. Those that are bewildered by the qualities of māyā consider the jīva in this manner. Penetrating the three guṇas of māyā with nirguṇa (transcendental knowledge), those that are able to deliberate on this can respectfully accept the following words from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta:

‘māyādhīśa’ ‘māyā-vaśa’ īśvare-jīve bheda
hena-jīve īśvara-saha kaha ta’ abheda

gītā-śāstre jīva-rūpa ‘śakti’ kari’ māne
hena jīve ‘bheda’ kara īśvarera sane

(“The difference between Īśvara and the jīva is that He is the Lord of Māyā and the jīva is controlled by Māyā. Yet you say that there is no difference between Īśvara and the jīva. In the Bhagavad-gītā, the jīva is accepted as a śakti, yet you claim that the jīva and Īśvara are different from each other.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 6.162-3)

kṛṣṇa bhuli’ sei jīva anādi-bahirmukha
ataeva māyā tāre deya saṁsāra-duḥkha

(“Forgetting Kṛṣṇa, the jīva has been averse to Him since time immemorial. Therefore māyā gives him suffering in his material world.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.117)

māyā-saṅga-vikārī rudra bhinnābhinna rūpa
jīva-tattva nahe, nahe kṛṣṇera ‘svarūpa’
dugdha yena amla-yoge dadhi-rūpa dhare
dugdhāntara vastu nahe, dugdha haite nāre

(“Rudra has various forms which are transformations in connection with māyā. Although he is not jīva-tattva, he is also not a direct form of Kṛṣṇa. Just as milk in connection with a sour substance becomes yoghurt – yoghurt is nothing but milk, yet it cannot become milk again.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 308-309)

svāṅga-viśeṣābhāsa-rūpe prakṛti-sparśana
jīva-rūpa ‘bīja’ tāte kailā samarpaṇa

(“When the Supreme touches prakṛti through a specific semblance of His form, He imparts the jīvas in seed form into material nature.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.273)

svāṁśa-vistāra catur-vyūha, avatāra-gaṇa
vibhinnāṁśa jīva tāṅra śaktite gaṇana

sei vibhinnāṁśa jīva dui ta’ prakāra
eka ‘nitya-mukta’, eka ‘nitya-saṁsāra’

(“The expansions from His form, such as the Catur-vyūha, are His avatāras. The jīvas are His separated expansions and are counted amongst His potencies. These separated expansions are of two types – one is nitya-mukta and one is nitya-saṁsāra.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.9.10)

Those persons with sāttvika knowledge, after comparing it with material knowledge, conclude that constitutionally there is no difference between the jīva and Brahman. Whatever differences are perceived are apparent only, and not actually spiritual. Amongst them, there are three schools – the belief of one school is that the concept of any difference is false and is simply the effect of māyā. Due to the imposition of avidyā (ignorance), the jīva perceives the illusion of difference, just as from the great sky a portion of the sky may be contained in a pot. When ignorance vanishes, that illusion of difference ceases, and only the great sky remains. Then the ahaṅkāra (false ego) that produces the jīva disappears. This philosophy is called pariccheda-paricchinnavāda (‘the removal of all separation doctrine’). The theory of the second school is that Brahman is the bimba (original substance) and the jīva is it’s pratibimba (reflection) due to ignorance. In reality there is no jīva. Avidyā is the specific function of the māyā-śakti. When the bewilderment of avidyā is removed, there is no existence of the jīva. The third school states that in reality, nothing exists. There is a disturbance by māyā from which springs a perception of duality everywhere. When they are inspected, it can be clearly understood that all these theories are simply verbosity, stemming from rhetoric, and they can be quickly defeated by other logical arguments. All these theories have arisen by taking support from one part of the Vedas, but these are not the siddhānta of the Vedas. The siddhānta of the Vedas is that Īśvara is naturally the Master of māyā, and the jīva is naturally controlled by māyā. The Vedas state:

chandāṁsi yajñāḥ kratavo vratāni bhūtaṁ bhavyaṁ yac ca vedā vadanti
yasmān māyī sṛjate viśvam etat tasmiṁś cānyo māyayā sanniruddhaḥ
māyām tu prakṛtim vidyān māyinam tu maheśvaram
(Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 4. 9-10)

Īśvara, the Master of māyā, creates this material world through māyā. In the material world, that singular tattva, the jīva, is different from Īśvara and is bound by māyā. Māyā is the Supreme Lord’s śakti and the Supreme Person is the Master of māyā. Therefore, under no condition is the jīva identical with Īśvara. In the Gītā, the jīva is referred to as a śakti; if so, he cannot said to be the same.

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

 apareyam itas tv anyāṁ prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat
(Bhagavad-gītā 7.4-5)

“Earth, water, fire, air, ether – these are the five gross material elements, and mind, intelligence and false ego are the three subtle material elements – these eight comprise My separated māyā-prākṛti. Apart from that, I have a superior potency which is the jīva, that permeate the world.”

The jīva’s inherent position is kṛṣṇa-dāsa; he is the marginal śakti of Kṛṣṇa, and simultaneously different and non-different from the Him. That śakti is connected to both cit (matter) and acit (spirit), and is therefore called taṭastha (marginal). He is referred to as bhedābheda-prakāśa, in other words, simultaneously different and non-different from Kṛṣṇa. He is not only different, nor is he completely non-different. Thus we find in the Bṛhad-Āraṇyaka (

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

“As the puruṣa (enjoyer), the jīva has two locations, namely the material world and the spiritual world; The jīva is situated at a third location on the border between these two places. Positioned in this marginal area, he can see both the material world and spiritual world.”

Furthermore (in the Bṛhad-Āraṇyaka

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

“The nature of the taṭastha is like this – just as a large fish staying in a river can swim from one bank to the other, similarly the jīva is able to move in the causal waters between the material world and spiritual world  – the svapnānta (the area of dream-like subtle consciousness) and buddhānta (the area of awareness).”

Although all the jīvas evolve from the Supreme through the taṭastha-śakti, they maintain a separate existence from Him. For example, they are like the rays of the sun, or sparks from fire. Thus, we find in the Bṛhad-Āraṇyaka 2.1.20):

yathāgne kṣudrā visphuliṅgā vyuccaranti evam
evāsmād ātmānaḥ sarvāni bhūtāni vyuccaranti

Just as small sparks arise from a fire, so do all jīvas arise from the omnipotent Kṛṣṇa. In this way it is determined that the finite separated conscious jīvas may come in contact with either māyā or divinity due to their marginal nature, yet their original nature is to specifically exist as servants of Kṛṣṇa. When they look at both banks and a desire to enjoy arises in them, then they become averse to Kṛṣṇa who is like a transcendental sun, and are beckoned by Māyā, who is nearby, to accept a place for enjoyment. Being unable to remember Kṛṣṇa, they are averse to Kṛṣṇa from time immemorial. Their condition is due to the offence of misusing their independence. This miserable condition cannot be attributed to discrimination or callousness by Krsna; this is because Kṛṣṇa takes no responsibility for the various activities in the misuse of one’s spiritual nature of independence.

When this misuse happens, through His specific functional manifestation, He contacts matter, and the seed-like jīvas are consigned to the material world. Kṛṣṇa does not touch material nature – His form of Mahā-Viṣṇu glances upon material nature and the offensive jīvas are given over to her. Due to this offence, the material nature of māyā punishes the jīvas by conferring upon them the miseries of the material world. Bhagavān has two kinds of expansions, namely svāṁśa and vibhinnāṁśa. The Catur-vyuha avatāras are all svāṁśa, and the jīvas are vibhinnāṁśa. The difference between svāṁśa and vibhinnāṁśa is that the svāṁśa are kṛṣṇa-tattva, they consider themselves identical with Him, they are endowed with all potencies, and whatever is Kṛṣṇa’s desire is also Their desire; they have no independence. The vibhinnāṁśa eternally consider themselves as separate from Kṛṣṇa. Due to their finite nature, they have finite potency, and their desires and Kṛṣṇa’s desires are separate. In this way, infinite jīvas emanate from Kṛṣṇa, yet Kṛṣṇa’s completeness never decreases. The offence of their adversity to Kṛṣṇa occurs before all the jīvas enter into māyā. The offence is referred to as anādi-bahir-mukhatā (aversion from time immemorial) because the root of this offence occurs before material time. Due to his transformation through contact with māyā, Rudra Devatā, who is simultaneously one and different from Kṛṣṇa, is not of the same nature as Kṛṣṇa. Milk becomes yogurt through contact with something sour, still, such a substance as yoghurt is not milk, despite its origin from milk. In his Paramātmā Sandarbha, Śrī Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī has quoted Śrī Jāmātṛ Muni, from the Padma Purāṇa, Uttara-khaṇḍa:

jñānāśrayo jñāna-guṇaś cetanaḥ prakṛteḥ paraḥ
na jāto nirvikāraś ca eka-rūpa-svarūpa-bhāk
aṇur nityo vyāpti-śīlaś cid ānandātmākas tathā
aham-artho’vyayaḥ kṣetri bhinna-rūpaḥ sanātanaḥ
adāhyo’yam acchedyo’ kledyo’ sosyākṣara eva ca
evam adi guṇair yuktaḥ śeṣa-bhūtaḥ parasya vai

The jīva is the refuge of knowledge, has the quality of knowledge, is conscious, transcendental, without birth, immutable, possesses one natural form, is atomic, eternal, pervasive, replete with divine knowledge and bliss, conscious of the self, never decays, is a knower of the body, has a distinct identity, immortal, cannot be burned, cut, or dried and is imperishable. Along with all these qualities, He is inherently the servant of Bhagavān.

Jñānāśraya (the refuge of knowledge) means one who knows; jñāna-guṇa means that knowledge is his quality; aprākṛta beyond matter, and he has no birth and he is changeless, aṇu means that he is more subtle than material atoms; vyaptiśīla means that he pervades the entire material body; ahamartha means the meaning of the word ‘I’; kṣetrī means that he is the master of the material body (kṣetrī); vibhinna-rūpa means that his form is different to Bhagavān’s, and akṣara that he is devoid of the nature of decay.

The Nārada Pañcarātra says this about the taṭastha-śakti jīva:

yat taṭasthaṁ tu cid-rūpam svakaṁ vedyād vinirgataṁ

 (“The finite particle of consciousness emanating from the cit-śakti is known as taṭastha.”)

Śrī Jīva has explained the taṭastha-śakti:

taṭasthatvaṁ ca māyā-śakty atītatvāt asyāvidyā-parā-bhavādi-rūpeṇa doṣeṇa paramātmāno lepābhāvāc ca ubhaya koṭav apraviṣṭes tasya tac caktitve saty api paramātmānas tal lepābhāvas ca yathā kvacid eka-deśa-sthe raśmau chāyayā tiraskṛte’pi sūryasyātiraskāras tadvat

The meaning is – the jīva-śakti is different from māyā-śakti, thus it is not counted as a category of māyā. Yet due to the fault of being overwhelmed by ignorance, the jīva cannot be counted in the same category as the Paramātmā, who is naturally untainted by ignorance. The jīva is the śakti of Paramātmā, but  Paramātmā is never touched by that ignorance. Just as the sun may be covered by a shadow on one side, andnot covered on the other.

These jīvas are of two kinds – nitya-baddha (eternally bound) and nitya-mukta (eternally liberated). Śrī Jīva says:

tad evam anantā eva jīvakhyās taṭasthāḥ śaktayaḥ. tatra tājivassāṁ varga-dvayam. eko vargo’ nādita eva bhagavad-unmukhaḥ anyas tv anādita eva bhagavat-parāṅmukhaḥ svabhāvatas tadīya-jñāna-bhāvāt tadīya-jñānābhāvāt ca. tatra prathamo’ ntaraṅgā-śakti-vilāsānugṛhīto nitya-bhagavat-parikara-rūpo garuḍādikaḥ. asya ca taṭasthatvaṁ jīvatva-prasiddher īśvaratva-kotāv apraveśāt. aparaṣ tu tat parāṅmukhatva-doṣeṇa labdha-chidrayā māyayā paribhūtaḥ saṁsārī.

The meaning is – the jīvas are unlimited. They are divided into two categories. One category are those that have been favourable to Bhagavān since time immemorial. The other category are those who are averse to Bhagavān since time immemorial. Some are favourable to Bhagavān due to their bhagavat-sambandha-jñāna (knowledge of their relationship with Bhagavān), and some are averse to Bhagavān because they lack bhagavat-sambandha-jñāna. All those jīvas that are favourable towards Bhagavān are favoured by the grace of the antaraṅga-śakti and are eternal associates of Bhagavān, such as Garuḍa. They do not enter into the same category as the Lord, as explained by the śāstra, thus they are taṭastha. The second category that are averse to Bhagavān are devoid of any help from the antaraṅga-śakti, therefore, finding their weakness, māyā subdues them and they remain in the material world.

There is a kārikā that concludes this topic:

cit sūryaḥ paramātmā vai jīvas cit paramaṇavaḥ
tat kiraṇa-kaṇāḥ śuddhāś cinmad arthāḥ svarūpataḥ
acintya-śakti-sambhūta-taṭastha-dharmataḥ kila
cit svarūpasya jīvasya māyā-vaśyaṁ ca sidhyati
apareyam-itas tv-anyaṁ prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parāṁ
jīva-bhūtaṁ mahā-bāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat
iti yad bhagavad-vākyaṁ gītopaniṣadi śrutaṁ
jīvasya tena śaktitve siddhe bhedo na sidhyati
jīvo māyā-vaśaḥ kintu māyādhiśaḥ pareśvaraḥ
etad āmnāya vākyāt tu bhedo jīvasya sarvadā
bhedābheda prakāśo’yaṁ yugapaj jīva eva hi
kevalābheda-vādasyāvaidikatvaṁ nirūpitam
māyā-vaśatva-dharmeṇa māyāvādo na sambhavet
yato māyā’parā śaktih parayā jīva nirmitaḥ
māyā-vṛttir ahaṅkaro jīvas tad atiricyate
māyā-saṅga vihīno’pi jīvo na hi vinaśyati
māyāvāda-bhramārtānāṁ sarvaṁ hāsyās-padaṁ mataṁ
advaitasya niṣkalasya nirliptasya ca brahmaṇaḥ
pratibimba-paricchedau kathaṁ syātāṁ ca kutracit
advaita siddha labhe’pi kathaṁ nirbhayatā bhavet
advaita-hānir evāsyād yathodāhṛteṣu vai
brahma-līnā yadā māyā tadā tasyāḥ kriyā katham
kasya vā spṛhayā tasyāḥ pravṛttir upajāyate
brahmecchā yadi tad dhetuḥ kutas tan nirvikāratā
māyecchā yadi va hetur durbhāgyam brahmaṇo’hi tat
māyāvādam asac chāstram sarvaṁ veda-viruddhakam
prakṛtaṁ yuktim āśtritya prakṛtārtha-viḍambanam
acintya-śakti-viśvāsāt jñānaṁ sunirmalaṁ bhavet
brahmaṇi nirvikāre syād icchā-śakt-viśeṣataḥ
tad icchā sambhavā sṛstis tridhā tad īkṣaṇa-śruteḥ
māyikā jaivikī śuddhā kathaṁ yuktiḥ pravartate
nāhaṁ manye suvedeti no na vedeti veda ca
śruti-vākyam idam labdhvā’ cintya-śaktim vicāraya
bheda-vākyāni lakṣyāni dvā suparṇādi sūktiṣu
tattvam asyādi vākyeṣu cābhedatvaṁ pradarśitam
sarvajïa-veda-vakyānām virodho nāsti kutracit
bhedābhedātmākaṁ tattvaṁ saytaṁ nityaṁ ca sārthakam
eka-deśātham āśritya cānya-deśārtha-kalpanam
matavāda-prakāśārthaṁ śruti-śāstra-kadarthanam
karma-mīmāṁsakānāṁ yad vijñānaṁ śruti-nindanam
murkhatvam eva teṣaṁ tat na grāhyam tattvavij janaiḥ
vibhinnāṁso hi jīvo’yaṁ taṭastha-śakti-kāryataḥ
sva-svarūpa-bhramād asya māyā-kārāgṛha-sthitiḥ

Paramātmā is the transcendental sun. All the jīvas are His atomic rays. The jīva’s intrinsic nature is purely spiritual. The jīva is naturally aware of his individuality. Due to the nature of that taṭastha-śakti that emanates from the Paramātmā’s acintya-śakti, the finite jīva is subjugated by māyā. In the ‘aprameyamśloka from Bhagavad-gītā, Śrī Kṛṣṇa delivers the teaching that the jīva is a superior śakti to māyā, and therefore the jīva is neither different nor the same as the Paramātmā. The jīva is subjugated by māyā and the Lord is the Master of māyā – from this statement of the Vedas it is known that the jīva is an eternally different and non-different tattva from Īśvara. The concept of kevalābheda (complete non-difference) is opposed to the Vedas. To state that that the jīva is under the sway of māyā is not māyāvāda In the māyāvāda philosophy, the jīva is limited by māyā, and is a temporary concept, like a reflection. When we say that the jīva is subjugated by māyā, it means that spiritual ray-like jīva is different from that which is known by the word ‘māyā’  and is capable of being overcome by māyā due to his finite nature. Māyā is apara-śakti (inferior potency) and the jīva is comprised of parā-śakti (superior potency). Māyā’s function is jaḍa-ahaṅkāra (identification due to mundane false ego). The jīva is a different tattva to this, in other words, he is spiritual. Although the jīva is subject to māyā, his intrinsic nature as a jīva is never extinguished. Māyāvāda is completely fallacious. The theories of those contaminated by this fallacy are laughable. According to their belief, Brahman is advaita (one), niṣkala (indivisible) and nirlepa (pure). Then how is it possible that He becomes a reflection or is divided? Moreover, how is there any tranquility for the jīva when he achieves oneness? The examples of the rope and the snake, the sky in a pot, and silver within a shell are all inappropriate. because far from showing the success of advaita, they actually destroy it. If one considers that māyā merges into Brahman, then there can be no concept of kevala-advaita. However, even if we accept this, why is she active? Whose will impels māyā to act? If it is the will of Brahman that causes it, then how can Brahman be unchanging? If one maintains that Brahman is changeless, and it is the will of māyā, then a second tattva arises opposing Brahman, the non-doer, who covers, divides, and creates reflections of the desireless Brahman. It must be said that this is very unfortunate for Brahman. If such an imaginary idea is entertained that Brahman becomes Īśvara in order to create, then devoid of His independent will, Brahman unfortunately becomes subject to his śakti. Therefore, māyāvāda is an asat-śāstra (an unauthorised text) which is opposed to all the Vedas. Using mundane rhetoric, it has been observed they have mocked all the transcendental meanings of the Vedas. By having faith in the acintya-śakti, one’s knowledge becomes purified. One may accept that the nature of Brahman is advaita, indivisible and changeless, and one can also accept His acintya-śakti, and in this way both His nirvikāratā (state of changelessness) and icchāmayatā (state of free will) can both simultaneously coexist and act without any contradiction. The Vedas state, sa aikṣata (He glanced.’) which shows that simply by the His desire, the acintya-śakti creates māyā, the jīvas and pure spiritual objects, and if one believes in this, all doubts will be dispelled. In the words of the śruti, naham manye, the acintya-śakti is accepted.  In the statement dvā suparṇa etc., explains eternal difference, and the statement, tat tvam asi teaches eternal non-difference. There is no contradiction in the omniscient statements of the Vedas. Therefore, the Vedic concept is that the intrinsic principle of acintya-bhedābheda (inconceivable oneness and difference) is reality, eternity and fulfilment. Taking statements from one section of the Veda, and in an attempt to give one’s own interpretation to them, interpolating the meanings from another section to express one’s doctrine is a distortion of the śruti śāstra. The karma-mīmāṁsaka’s disrespect for the realisations of the śruti reveals their stupidity. Actual paṇḍitas do not accept them. Thus the conclusion of the Vedas is that Īśvara is separate from those entities that are vibhinnāṁśa-tattva. The jīvas are Kṛṣna’s taṭastha-śakti. The jīva is a pure spiritual element, and is intrinsically subservient to Kṛṣṇa. Being bewildered about his inherent nature, the jīva becomes incarcerated by māyā.

Śrīman Mahāprabhura ŚikṣāŚrīman Mahāprabhura Śikṣā Chapter 5
Śrīman Mahāprabhura ŚikṣāŚrīman Mahāprabhura Śikṣā Chapter 7

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