(translated by Śrī Sarvabhāvana Prabhu)
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura wrote Jaiva Dharma (‘The Inherent Characteristics of the Jīva’) in 1893 and many consider this work to be his magnum-opus. Although Jaiva Dharma seems to be a fictitious novel, learned Vaiṣṇava ācāryas such as Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja regard all the contents, events and characters to be real and consider it to be kalpa-bheda (pastimes that occurred in another kalpa).
Jaiva Dharma consists of many questions and answers in relation to Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava siddhānta, especially in regards to the daśa-mūla-tattva (ten foundational principles of Gauḍīya philosophy). The text is comprised of 40 chapters, dealing with the fundamentals of sādhana-bhakti, other religions and philosophies prevalent in India, and the last section specifically analyses the higher aspects of rasa-tattva.
Note From the Bhaktivinoda Institute
In his introduction to Jaiva-Dharma written on 29th January 1953, Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī wrote the following:
“According to the line of thought stemming from Śrīla Prabhupāda (Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura), even if one engages in bhajana but is not highly qualified, it is improper to enter into discussions on rasa. Śrīla Prabhupāda has expressed this very clearly in such works as Bhāi Sahajiyā, Prākṛta-rasa Śata-duṣaṇī and many other essays. Nevertheless, even today there are many unqualified persons who are given to studying the portions of Jaiva-Dharma containing the analysis of rasa. According to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s understanding, this is detrimental. Being the worthy recipient of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s merciful glance, and being destined with an increasingly intense desire to fulfill his innermost wishes, he has divided the book into three sections for his followers. According to his desire we will not be selling the third volume, viz. Rasa-vicāra, to the unqualified public. The first two volumes will be available for a symbolic price.”
Since the purpose of the Bhaktivinoda Institute is to preserve and propagate the teachings of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura for future generations, we have included the third part of Jaiva-Dharma in its entirety including chapters 26-40 detailing rasa-vicāra. Nonetheless, everyone should pay heed to the above words of Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja in relation to delving into subject matters above their adhikāra (spiritual qualification). Simply wandering the internet and reading anything and everything is unadvisable. Literature that goes into great detail in regards to rasa-tattva should only be learned from a qualified guru.