Tag Archives: atman

Jiva Gosvami’s Sandarbhas

Sri Jiva Gosvami
Sri Jiva Gosvami

Question  1):  I am highly appreciating the depth of your work on the Sandarbhas and very much honoring Sri Jiva for his organization of the Bhagavat Siddhanta.  Thank you so much for this offering.  A few quick questions:

You speak of merging the buddhi into the ksetrajna, ‘the witness,’ and then merging the ksetrajna into the self, or atman (and then this self into the Supreme Self).  I thought the ksetrajna WAS the atman, as in the Gita, Mahabharata and other Samkhya texts. If it is not, then what other intermediate self is there between the buddhi and the atman, and why is this not mentioned in this way elsewhere?

Answer:  Ksetrjna is the conditioned soul with upadhi. Atman is the pure soul, free of upadhi. Ksetrajna is the witness. All knowledge or experience happens in the vrittis. So witnessing is a vritti. It seems strange that this distinction between ksetrajna and atman is made, but this is done to make the point very clear. The soul per se does nothing but gives consciousness to the body.

Question 2) Also, how does the prakritic buddhi ‘merge’ into the ksetrajna/atman? How can prakriti merge into Brahman?  Both are eternal and never come into being or cease to be.  Besides, they are differents sorts of stuff.

Answer: Merging does not mean getting lost or changing its svarupa. It means becoming ineffective or unmanifest. Just remember satkaryavada. No question of anything coming to an end. All it means that buddhi does not influence anymore.

Question 3)  Following on the last point,  is our siddhanta actually that prakriti can be transformed into Brahman?  Is that what happens in mantra?  Does Isvara enter into mantra, or does he transform the prakrit syllables of the vacaka into himself?  Put differently, does entity A enter into entity B, or is B transformed into A?  Or were B and A always the same, in which case how to understand the prakritic dimension of mantra audible to the akasha in the physical ear? After all, the gross senses cannot perceive Brahman, otherwise our eyes could see the atman in the first place.  And if B is transformed into A, then does that not violate the jnanaposition that Brahman is neither created, nor does it cease to be, and likewise, the Samkhya position with regards to prakriti’s eternality too? Is this question relegated to acintya-ness which abandons claims to have a philosophical position on this particular question?

Answer: No, prakriti is not transformed into Brahman. In case of mantra, the syllables are pronounced with the tongue or thought of in the mind, but according to the purity of the chanter and the grace of the Lord, the spiritual potency becomes manifest in it. Atah sri-krsna-nAmAdi na bhaved grAhyam indriyaih/ sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayameava sphurati adah [The transcendental nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of Sri Krsna cannot be understood through the materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord, are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed] So, although it appears to be generated by the tongue,  it is self-manifest. It is akin to the Purva-mimasa theory which considers words to be eternal.

It is a mixture of two types of energies. In the beginning stage, we do not feel the spiritual energy, but only our effort in chanting. But really speaking, two energies are fudged or one is superimposed onto the other. As one advances, one will feel the spiritual side more and more. At a pure level, one will feel the complete spirtual potency working, even though he will use his tongue to chant. This is the mystical part in the mantra. Yes, it is acintya, but has an explanation.

It is like Krsna taking birth. He appears to take birth like an ordinary baby, but it is a totally different phenomenon. When Lord Krsna comes on earth, He is dealing only with His internal potency, but He appears to be like other human beings. The material energy follows His spiritual energy. The two seem to be fudged together. That is why He says, avajAnanti mAm mudhA manusim tanum Asritam [Not knowing My supreme existence, fools deride Me, Who have appeared in the human form, and Who is the great Lord of all beings]. But when He performs acts like lifting Govardhan or bewliderin Brahma, the material energy is unable to follow the spiritual energy.  So then is bhagavattA becomes apparent. It is not hidden anymore. Something similar happens in case of mantra chanting.

Question 4)  In our sampradaya, we find statements  about atman having iccha [desiring] shakti , kartritva [acting] shakti and bhoktra [enjoying] shakti.  From where are these categories coming?  Wouldn’t this imply that iccha is also in the atman (Gita says katrtva and bhoktritva are?)  Then how does this fit with desire being in the mind, senses and buddhi of Gita chapter III?

Answer:  What is the meaning to kartrtva and bhoktrtva without iccha shakti? Can you even imagine it?  It only means the potential, the actual iccha manifests only in the upadhi. The soul in the conditioned state only has the potential which becomes manifest in the upadhi. Therefore you will find both types of statements, i.e. that these three or mainly two are in the soul, as well as that they are in the upadhi.