Published on September 12th, 2022 | by Harmonist staff18
The Simultaneous Inherency and Bestowal of Bhakti—Part 3: The Swan
By Vrindaranya dasi
Additional articles in this series
Before I establish simultaneous inherency and bestowal based on the Sandarbhas and other foundational Gauḍīya literature, which will quickly become philosophically terse, I want to do a couple of things that will be useful in understanding the articles that follow: (1) Illustrate simultaneous inherency and bestowal in an accessible way by providing an analogy. Although this analogy won’t satisfy those who want all points to be established with scriptural references, it gives a framework that will hopefully make the later arguments somewhat easier to follow. (2) Explain some topics related to simultaneous inherency and bestowal. (3) Explain the difference between the ātmā and the jīva.
Simultaneous Inherency and Bestowal
To illustrate simultaneous inherency and bestowal, I would like to relate an analogy that Sundara Gopāla gave in his presentation mentioned in my first article. This analogy makes clear what might otherwise seem like an opaque concept.
A swan in its natural state swims happily in a lake. Its nature (dharma) of being a swimmer is inherent. However, when a swan is kept in a cage and not allowed to fulfill its nature, it becomes unhappy and exhibits the perverted nature of plucking its own feathers. Despite experiencing such suffering, a swan that has been held captive for a long time will not walk out of a cage even if you open it. Being conditioned by its long imprisonment, the swan needs help to get out (bestowal of mercy). When the swan is lifted out and put on a lake, only then will it exhibit its true nature and thereby experience happiness. So a swan—even if it never has been in the water because of being caged—is meant to swim. One could say that God created the swan with swimming in mind. Nonetheless, because it is caged, its nature does not manifest. So we can ask, “Is it the swan’s nature to swim, even though it is caged, plucking its own feathers, and not touching water?” Yes, that is so even though the swan won’t swim unless someone lifts it out of the cage and places it in the water.
This analogy shows both inherent nature (swimming) and bestowal of mercy (lifting the swan onto a lake). Both are necessary for the caged swan. But we may ask further, “Which is more real—the inherent nature or the bestowal of grace?” They are both real. Can we say that the swan is a swimmer if it doesn’t exhibit that nature without grace? Of course, we can.
For a characteristic to be inherent, it must be an intrinsic part of something’s very nature. The thing or person is incomplete and fails to manifest its nature if the characteristic doesn’t manifest. For example, a person has the potential to be a millionaire; however, being a millionaire is not an intrinsic part of being a person. Since being a millionaire is not an intrinsic aspect of what it means to be a person, a person does not fulfill its nature by being a millionaire, and a poor person can be fulfilled. A person who is poor is no less a person than someone who is rich. In the case of a mango tree, can we say that its nature of producing mangos is solely due to the person who watered it? Or are the mangoes due to something inherent in the seed? Or are both things necessary? Both are necessary, thus showing simultaneous inherency and bestowal.
A soul with any of the five relationships with God is manifesting its nature. For example, one who is in vātsalya-bhāva feels completely fulfilled in the relationship; he or she does not feel less fulfilled than someone in mādhurya-bhāva. In contrast, the jīva takes on a false nature when covered by māyā, and thereby fails to manifest its true nature. An individual soul only displays all aspects of his true nature when he is established as a servant of God.1 Herein we see one shortcoming of saying that bhakti is not inherent but is merely a potential. While being a millionaire is not an intrinsic part of being a person, being a servant of God is an intrinsic part of being an ātmā. Thus, to say that being a servant is merely a potential of the ātmā is to ignore the fact that without being a servant of God, the ātmā displays a false nature. Therefore, we need to acknowledge both inherency and bestowal to capture the true nature of the soul’s relationship with bhakti. The inherency part of the equation underscores the fact that the purpose of our existence is to serve God. Without this, we are incomplete and unfulfilled.
Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī recounts an excellent parable that Caitanya Mahāprabhu told Sanātana Gosvāmī that explains simultaneous inherency and bestowal. Before telling the parable, Mahāprabhu speaks several verses, including this one:
kṛṣṇa bhuli’ sei jīva anādi-bahirmukha
ataeva māyā tāre deya saṁsāra-duḥkha
Having forgotten Kṛṣṇa, the living entity has been attracted by the external feature from time immemorial. Therefore, the illusory energy [māyā] gives him all kinds of misery in his material existence.2
Although the verse says that the jīva has been attracted to the external energy from time without beginning (anādi), it is significant that Mahāprabhu uses the word bhuli’ (having forgotten), which effectively conveys the idea that the relationship already exists. The parable goes as follows: a learned astrologer goes to the house of a poor and distressed man and tells him that the man’s father, who was very wealthy, died elsewhere and was not able to reveal that he had left a great treasure as an inheritance. Similarly, the Vedic literature tells us that we have a great treasure in the form of a relationship with Kṛṣṇa, which is our inheritance. The astrologer advised the man exactly how to remove the dirt to reveal the inheritance. There is likewise a proper way to excavate our treasure: we should give up karma, jñāna, and yoga, and instead take to bhakti, by which Kṛṣṇa can be fully satisfied.3
As the similarity of terms suggests, inherited implies a dimension of inherence. If I am searching for my inheritance, it is because I own it inherently (by virtue of my relational identity as an inheritor). By the grace of a sadhu (or the astrologer in the parable), I can locate that inheritance and manifest my inherent identity as an inheritor. Thus, the story clearly shows both bestowal (since the man would not have known about the inheritance without the mercy of the astrologer) and inherency (since the man already possessed a treasure that he didn’t know about). After the parable, Mahāprabhu says, “In all revealed scriptures, beginning with the Vedas, the central point of attraction is Kṛṣṇa. When complete knowledge of him is realized, the bondage of māyā, the illusory energy, is automatically broken.”4 By knowing Kṛṣṇa, one knows oneself.
The fact that bhakti is bestowed is clearly established throughout the Sandarbhas. In the coming articles, I will thus not endeavor to establish this self-evident point. However, one must not think that because I am establishing inherency, I am negating bestowal. But how can this be? Why would bhakti need to be bestowed if it is inherent? Although I will answer this scripturally later, let me begin by answering in more simple terms. Those who say bhakti is inherent would say that our inherent nature is lost to us (think of the swan trapped in a cage) and we are consequently suffering and cannot get out of our predicament without help. As Paramātma Sandarbha, quoting Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.22.10) says, “Self-realization for the jīva, who is saddled with beginningless ignorance, is not possible by his own efforts. It is possible only if knowledge is imparted to him by another who knows the reality.”5
Therefore, although it is our nature to be a servant of God, this nature is unmanifest in our present condition. Because of the extent of our material conditioning, there is no practical difference in terms of sādhana between those who accept inherency and those who do not. Therefore, all the verses that establish the need for accepting a guru, bhakti as abhidheya, and so forth are accepted by both sides of the issue.
The Difference between the Jīva and the Ātmā
An important point to keep in mind when sorting out this controversy is the difference between the ātmā and the jīva.6 In a general sense, the liberated soul is referred to as ātmā, and the bound soul as jīva. Therefore, when you hear a statement about the jīva, such as “the jīva has no bliss,” you have to remember that this statement is not discussing an eternal characteristic of the ātmā. Although the ātmā is inherently blissful, when he is covered, he doesn’t realize his true nature.
For example, in the previous analogy, the man who didn’t realize that he had an inheritance thought that he was poor, although he was actually rich. Similarly, although one of the svarūpa-lakṣaṇa (intrinsic characteristics) of the jīva is that he is cid-ānandātmakaḥ (intrinsically of the nature of knowledge and bliss), one of his taṭastha-lakṣaṇa (extrinsic or accidental attributes) is that he is identified with the material world and is thus ignorant and suffering. Because the soul has both intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics, it would be a mistake to think that every statement about the jīva is describing an intrinsic characteristic. That said, there is a lot of overlapping of the terms. For example, the soul’s twenty-one characteristics, being eternal, can be said to be the characteristics of both the jīva or the ātmā. Furthermore, as we will see in part 11, Jīva Gosvāmī sometimes even refers to eternally liberated devotees as taṭastha-jīvas.
The Paramātma Sandarbha describes both the intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics of the soul. The extrinsic characteristics are not part of the soul’s eternal characteristics; they are temporary and related to the fact that the soul is in bondage. The intrinsic characteristics are eternal—they stay with the soul whether it is in bondage or liberated. However, whether the characteristics are fully manifest or not depends on whether the soul is bound or liberated. For example, the soul’s characteristic of cid-ānandātmakaḥ (intrinsically of the nature of knowledge and bliss) is not manifest when the soul is covered by māyā. This characteristic is only fully manifest when the soul is liberated from material nature, and one cannot be liberated without bhakti. Thus, as you can see, it can be somewhat difficult to properly understand the characteristics of the soul. It is very common in this controversy for someone to quote a statement that is describing a taṭastha-lakṣaṇa of the soul as if it were a svarūpa-lakṣaṇa. As such, careful discernment is in order.
In this article, we have touched on the paradox of simultaneous inherence and bestowal. In doing so, we have seen that whether a characteristic is intrinsic or extrinsic, fully manifest or covered, is something that must be considered. As such, having a solid understanding of the foundational principles covered in this article is immensely helpful. In the next article, we will look at what previous Vaiṣṇava ācāryas have said in regard to bhakti being simultaneously inherent and bestowed.
Additional articles in this series: Part 1: The History of a Debate, Part 2: A Road Map, Part 3: The Swan, Part 4: Vaiṣṇava Vedānta, Part 5: The Twenty-One Intrinsic Characteristics of the Jīva, Part 6: The Search for Bliss, Part 7: The Soul is a Servant of Bhagavān Hari, Part 8: A Servant of God (Śeṣatva), Part 9: Unmanifest Qualities of the Soul, Part 10: Intrinsically of the Nature of Knowledge and Bliss, Part 11: Jīva Gosvāmī on Taṭasthā-Śakti, Part 12: Understanding Śakti, Part 13: The Bliss of the Jīva, Part 14: The Soul Is Not Subject to Transformation, Part 15: Identity/Oneness (Tādātmya), Part 16: The Manifestation of Śakti, Part 17: Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa’s Govinda-Bhāṣya, Part 18: Concluding Words.
- This point will be established based on the Sandarbhas in part 9 of this series. [↩]
- Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.20.117 [↩]
- Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.20.127–136 [↩]
- Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.20.144 [↩]
- Dasa, Satyanarayana. Śrī Paramātma Sandarbha: The Living Being, Its Bondage, and the Immanent Absolute (p. 354). Jiva Institute of Vaishnava Studies. Kindle Edition. [↩]
- “The pure, unbound, unconditioned being is called the ātmā, whereas the conditioned being is called the jīva.” Dasa, Satyanarayana. Śrī Paramātma Sandarbha: The Living Being, Its Bondage, and the Immanent Absolute (pp. 204–205). Jiva Institute of Vaishnava Studies. Kindle Edition. [↩]
Excellent! Bravo! 👏
Thank you so much for writing these articles!
As stated in the article, analogies are often imperfect but they can still convey the essential knowledge intended. In this case, it’s not that the analogy is imperfect, rather it is the assumption underlying the analogy. Let me explain.
The assumption was made that being an eternal servant of Krsna is tantamount to, or synonymous with having a rasa-based relationship with Krsna in Vraja lila (or any lila), and that is clearly not supported by any acaryas or sastra.
The tatastha-sakti jivas are eternal servants of Krsna and that is their constitutional connection with Krsna on a fundamental level, but without any specificity regarding said eternal service. It is simply a foundational tattva.
Here is a verse from Brahma-saṁhitā which explains another aspect of our eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa in terms of our common spiritual nature, ie: oneness or non-difference – abheda, versus a personal relationship – rasa. I’ve included the commentaries of Jīva Gosvāmī and Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura.
Take note of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s statement in the second paragraph where he makes a clear distinction between the jīva’s ‘eternal connection’ with Kṛṣṇa, as stated by Lord Brahma, and the jīva’s ‘eligibility’ to have a personal rasa, or relationship, with Krsna. Eligibility directly implies potential, not predetermination.
And also take note that when describing the jīva’s eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa, neither Jīva Gosvāmī nor Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura discuss anything specifically related to Kṛṣṇa’s līlās, as one might have anticipated. If either of them were going to clarify that being an eternal servant of Krsna equates to a lila-based relationship, this would have been the place to do so. Here is the verse and commentaries:
The living entities are eternal, and they have an eternal relationship with Bhagavān that extends throughout time, with neither beginning nor end. By constitution they are intrinsically His superior potency. BrS, 5.21
Jīva Gosvāmī’s Commentary:
The constitutional position of the living entities is being described in this half śloka beginning with the words sa nityaḥ. The word nitya (eternal) indicates that the living entity exists throughout beginningless and endless time. The living entity has an intimate and inseparable eternal relationship with Bhagavān, called samavāya-sambandha. The living entities have an eternal relationship with Bhagavān, just as the rays of the sun are always related to the sun. This has been explained in the Nārada-pañcarātra:
The entity who is constituted of the marginal potency, who has been manifested from the knowledge aspect of transcendence, but who is colored by the influence of māyā’s qualities of goodness, passion and ignorance, is called the living entity (jīva).
It has also been stated in Bhagavad-gītā (15.7): “mamaivāmśo jīva-loke, jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ – the living entity is My part and parcel. He exists eternally as an individual living entity, and is therefore eternal by nature.” Thus the living entity is called superior energy. Prakṛti means that the living entity is a reflection of the image of Bhagavān, who is manifest as the indwelling witness, the Supersoul. In the form of the knower of the body, the living entity has attained a state like one of the Lord’s predominated potencies. Therefore it is also stated in Bhagavad-gītā, 7.5: “prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām, jīva-bhūtām – the living entity is My superior potency.”
The eternal intrinsic nature of the living entity is also established by the Śvetāsvatara Upaniṣad (4.6): dvā suparṇa-sayujā sakhāyā; there, the individual jīvātmā and Paramātmā have been compared to two birds sitting on a branch of the same pīpala tree.
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Commentary:
Just as the relationship between the sun and its rays is eternal, similarly the living entities have an eternal relationship with Bhagavān, the transcendental sun. Since the living entities are particles of the rays of Bhagavān, they are not temporary like material substances, and His spiritual qualities are also partially present in them. Therefore, by his intrinsic nature, the living entity is knowledge, the knower, the possessor of ego, the enjoyer, the thinker and the doer. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is unlimited, omniscient and omnipotent.
The living entity is Bhagavān’s eternal servant, and Bhagavān is the jīva’s eternal master. The living entities are also eligible for exchanging transcendental loving rasas with Bhagavān. From the Bhagavad-gītā statement, apareyam itas tv anyām prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām, it is understood that the living entity is Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s superior potency.
All the qualities of the pure jīvātmā are beyond the eight components of the inferior energy, beginning with false ego. Thus, although the potency that comprises the living entities is insignificant, being composed of tiny spiritual particles, it is still superior to māyā. This potency is also known as the marginal potency.
The word “marginal” (taṭasthā) indicates that it is situated on the marginal line between the material energy and the eternal reality of spiritual existence. The living entity is liable to come under the control of māyā because of his infinitesimal nature. The living entities who have been conditioned from time immemorial suffer the distress of material existence, and repeatedly rotate in the cycle of birth and death. However, when the living entity submits and remains under the control of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the master of māyā, he can never fall under the control of māyā.
I think that you have to look at Bhaktivinoda’s comment in the tika you cited in light of the fact that he is explicit in his writings overall in stating that the jiva has an eternal inherent rasa. Otherwise Jiva’s commentary you quoted does not address whether or not the eternal relationship the jiva has with God that he speaks about extends to include what Bhaktivinoda maintains, but on its face there is no reason to assume that it doesn’t. After all, in what sense does the jiva have an eternal serving relationship with God that “makes him eligible for rasa.” Eligibility for rasa is bhakti. But what you are talking about is the nature of the sesatva or dasatva of the jiva and positing that its sesatva does not include bhakti. This point is addressed in subsequent chapters. So please be patient. The analogy (one of them) simply says that the jiva has an inheritance and that this inheritance is bhakti. Mahaprabhu said it. So far the articles are very broad in nature and not getting into the details you are concerned with.
From the article
Jiva Gosvami comments on the bliss of the jiva in Priti-sandarbha and he doesn’t say the jiva has no bliss – he just says it’s meager and not intense enough to attract Krsna, so Krsna infuses His devotees with His hladini-sakti and that is called, priti – prema. Jiva Gosvami also doesn’t make a distinction between atma and jiva, as it doesn’t seem to be a relevant distinction to him in this context. His commentary makes that clear.
From Jiva Gosvami’s Priti-sandarbha Anuccheda 63:
As well sruti says: Bhakti brings the Lord and enables one to see him. The Lord is controlled by bhakti. Bhakti is the greatest. (Mathara-sruti)
The following should be considered. What is the occasion which makes the Lord become mad with his bliss? It is not like the illusory bliss of material sattva of the Sankhya philosophy, since scriptures say that the Lord is never overpowered by maya and he is satisfied in himself. It is not bliss of Brahman’s svarupa propounded by the impersonalists since that does not produce such an extreme condition. It is not the bliss of the jiva, since that is very meager.
Hladini, sandhini and samvit saktis reside in you, the shelter of everything. The mixture of material bliss and suffering is not in you, who are devoid of material gunas. (Visnu Purana 1.12.69)
Thus, what remains as a cause is the Lord’s hladini-sakti, the bliss of his svarupa-sakti. By that the Lord experiences bliss of his svarupa and by that bliss he becomes a blissful person. By that sakti he makes others experience that bliss. One may argue that because this sakti is always with the Lord, it will not produce extreme bliss. One should however consider the following.
The functioning of all types of intense bliss belonging to the hladini-sakti is placed in the devotees and is called priti for the Lord. This must be inferred when all alternatives mentioned above have been exhausted. Because of this, the Lord partakes of the intense priti which is in the devotees. The Lord and the devotee become mutually absorbed in that happiness.
This part was removed above because I mistakenly enclosed it in brackets.
From the article: An important point to keep in mind when sorting out this controversy is the difference between the ātmā and the jīva.6 In a general sense, the liberated soul is referred to as ātmā, and the bound soul as jīva. Therefore, when you hear a statement about the jīva, such as “the jīva has no bliss,” you have to remember that this statement is not discussing an eternal characteristic of the ātmā. Although the ātmā is inherently blissful, when he is covered, he doesn’t realize his true nature.
Dear Uttamasloka Prabhu,
I should note that although I got into this debate through Padmanabha Swami’s articles on the Harmonist, I mainly based my understanding of the bestowal-only position on Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji’s edition of the Sandarbhas, which I believe everyone agrees is the origin of the core arguments of the bestowal-only position. It is his understanding that was the original challenge to the Bhaktivinoda parivara.
I believe that it is generally accepted that those who hold this view should defer to his position, but I think that there are some differences within those who hold the bestowal-only position. Perhaps that will come out in the comments to my articles. If enough information about the differences comes out, then I can write a new article with the findings. So, when I articulate the bestowal-only position, I am doing so according to my understanding of what he said because that is what I have studied. Therefore, feel free to disagree with his position. I’ll present my understanding of his argument, and if you disagree with that understanding, I can try to explain the logic of why he takes that position, and if appropriate, I can also show how the simultaneous bestowal and inherence position differs.
Although Jiva Gosvami says that the bliss of the jiva is meager in Priti Sandarbha, in Paramatma Sandarbha when Jiva Gosvami says that the soul is cid-anandatmika, Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji argues that Jiva Gosvami means that the soul is conscious and free of material suffering, not that the soul is knowledge and bliss. What Jiva Gosvami actually says is that the soul is the opposite of suffering: pratiyogitva (opposite/counterpart). I address this topic in part 10. In Part 13: The Bliss of the Jīva, I discuss a related issue: Sanatana Gosvami’s discussion of bliss in Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta.
The larger issue is that according to the bestowal-only position, the soul cannot have bliss as a part of his inherent nature because bliss implies bhakti. You cannot experience bliss without sakti, and to experience spiritual bliss, you need svarupa-sakti. In Brhad Bhagavatamrta, Sanatana Gosvami shows how there is no experience of bliss in impersonal liberation. Furthermore, all Vaisnava acaryas argue that there is no liberation without bhakti.
Because I need to present material to devotees who are new to the topic, there is going to be many articles that lay the foundation for the arguments that are more relevant for devotees such as yourself. Please bear with me.
Thanks for the clarification.
I don’t agree with Satyanarayana’s bestowal position, or the other points you said he asserts, and I made that clear in my first post on the first article, where I also clarified my position regarding bestowal.
If you are trying to bridge the differences between inherency and bestowal, your best attempt was to say that regardless of any differences, the sadhana is the same. I really appreciate that sentiment and agree wholeheartedly.
I do not agree, however, with the conclusion of your paragraph starting with ” In the Paramatma Sandarbha” in which you try to establish that the intrinsic qualities of the soul are eternal and can only be manifest through bhakti. Liberation or mukti is attainable without bhakti. The intrinsic qualities of the soul ,as you mention, are knowledge and bliss. Those qualities, however, are not the qualities of pure devotees in Goloka. They are only related to the tatastha nature of the jiva, which is devoid of bhakti.
The use of analogies to prove inherency ought to be off limits for these discussions. They are hackneyed and over simplistic.
If our siddha rupa is pre-determined, it is not the central theme or even a slight secondary theme of what Rupa Goswami writes in NOD. in fact, it is never mentioned at all. He does, however, clearly spell out the steps one must follow to attain similar sentiments as other associates of the Lord who have spontaneous love. Why is it that Rupa Goswami makes no mention of inherency? Jiva Goswami, who was a contemporary of Rupa Goswami, does tell us that our bhakti is a result of sadhu sanga and not inherency. Do you think Rupa Goswami was aware of Jiva Goswami’s position?
Dear Mahashakti Prabhu,
You assert, “Liberation or mukti is attainable without bhakti.” I’m not sure how you came to this conclusion. Sankaracarya uses the term jivan-mukta, but all the Vaisnava acaryas refute his understanding of the term and assert that one cannot be liberated without bhakti. Gaudiya Vaisnavas use the term jivan-mukta, but they have their own understanding of it: For Gaudiya Vaisnavas, the only way to be liberated while still apparently in a material body is to be a devotee with a perfected sādhaka-deha. See SB. 10.2.32.
You say that analogies to prove inherency ought to be off limits because they are too simplistic. I would reply that the analogy was to prove inherency and bestowal, and since the one about the astrologer was given by Mahaprabhu himself, I don’t see how we can object to using it. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the purpose of this article is to give those who are not very familiar with these concepts a foundation for the articles that follow.
I think it is premature to discuss the siddha-deha at this point. What Mahaprabhu is showing in the analogy is that bhakti is simultaneously inherent and bestowed. We can debate the full implications of this later. In regard to Jiva Gosvami saying that bhakti is a result of sadhu-sanga, this proves that bhakti is bestowed but it doesn’t prove that bhakti isn’t inherent. We see this paradox even in material things: a mango tree is inherent in a mango seed, but it won’t grow without water and light. Simultaneous inherency and bestowal is paradoxical like acintya-bhedabheda-tattva.
For the sake of answering your doubt as to how liberation can be attained without bhakti mentioned by Mahashakti, the existence of mukta jivas who are not bhaktas is stated in the Brahma Sutras. Read the Brahma-sutras (Vedanta-sutras) starting from the Fourth Section, chapter 4. It discusses liberation in detail and there are a number of places where the distinction is made between liberated devotees and others. Here’s one example:
Because of his nature as satya-sankalpa, the jiva can have or not have a body just as the twelve-day sacrifice can have one sponsor or many.
From the commentary by Baladeva Vidyabhusana:
Because of having the nature of satya-sankalp the liberated jiva can either have a body or not have a body. This is Badarayana’s (Vyasadeva) view because both statements are made in the sruti. He accepts that the jiva in his liberated state can exist with a body or without a body.
…Similarly, the liberated jiva can, by his will, have a body or not have a body.
…For those who desire to serve the Lord eternally with a spiritual body, that body, made of the cit-cakti manifests. Eternally possessing that body, they serve the Lord.
Then we have the commentary of Madhva from the Brihad-aranyaka Upanisad, where he talks about mukta-jivas entering Maha Visnu after the final pralaya. Why didn’t they attain the spiritual world? Because they didn’t have bhakti. But they remain fully conscious and liberated until the next creation when they manifest again in a body.
Unfortunately I cannot post this commentary here because it is in the form of an image file.
The 4 Kumaras and Sukadeva are examples of such muktas, although later they became bhaktas.
Jnanis can only attain mukti with the help of bhakti. This a central point of Gaudiya siddhanta. Please read the commmentaries on the SB verse referenced (10.2.32). From the tika of VCT:
“Though they have purified their hearts (jnanis), having controlled lust and other material urges, they are not really pure (visuddha). However, by cultivation of knowledge generated from painful practices such as austerity and sense control (krcchrena), they attain liberation (param padam). It should be understood however, that even they must have some mixed bhakti, for without that, they cannot attain even liberation in this life.
“Sreyah srtim bhaktim udasya te vibho klishyanti… Without bhakti the goals of jnana become like mirages.”
There are many such statements both in verse and in the Gaudiya commentaries. What you have cited merely explains the fact that some seek what Gaudiyas refer to as sayujya mukti, but without mixed bhakti it cannot be attained. As for the Kumaras and Sukadeva, here mukti refers to videha mukti. They had not attained that. They had passports but not visas. One cannot enter the kingdom of God, not even its effulgence, without his blessing.
Hare Krishna All,
I agree with the idea that bhakti is inherent in the jiva and through bestowal (mercy) it can be attained or awakened. But only in a general or fundamental sense, not in terms of the details of one’s specific relationship with the Lord. That enters into the realm of association and desire, and there is great evidence to support this. Thus, the real discussion should be about simultaneous inherency, desire and bestowal.
I also agree with Maha Sakti’s assertion that the analogy is oversimplistic. Of course, it is yet early in the discussion, but here are a few faults with the analogy based on my previous statement:
1. While the swan’s inherent nature is to be in the water, and being formerly in a cage picking its feathers it was eventually bestowed freedom, this doesn’t establish details such as what pond it lives in, what country the pond is located in, what friends it has, etc.
2. Additionally, whether it is male or female, black or white, big or small, has red or blue eyes, etc. is not part of the bestowal we are talking about because the jiva attains a completely new identity as opposed to the swan simply returning to the water. These qualities of the sadhana siddha are not discovered or revealed, but attained by another process, raganuga, as far as the spiritual aspect of the analogy goes, and one who is familiar with the detailed process of raganuga, ekadasa bhavas, etc. knows this. Thus, the analogy lacks spiritual dimension to the argument and is imperfect.
To simplify, the jiva does not become the same personality it was in bondage when liberated, just in a new location, as the swan leaves the cage for the water. If this was the case, why does the jiva in bondage have to ‘practice’ bhakti to attain bestowal? If our inherent rasa is already existing, what is the meaning or need for the practice, cultivation and the stages of bhakti such as following the sentiment of a Vraja vasi based on our desire and attraction? Did the swan have to learn to swim after leaving the cage? Again, the analogy is imperfect and oversimplistic, and thus also misleading, as far as this deeper discussion goes.
Bhakti is inherent in terms of potential for a relationship based on sadhu sanga and the resultant desire that accrues, over the course of many lifetimes. This is confirmed by guru, sadhu and shastra.
Overall, inherency and bestowal are both true in a simplistic sense, but the true relationship of the heart with Lord in a specific relationship is based on desire.
Your conclusion is different from that of Bhaktivinoda. Personally I am tired of arguing that he meant something else, and I know all the arguments.
When Bhaktivinoda says repeatedly that the jiva has an inherent rasa, or Prabhupada says that prema is inherent in the svarupa of the jiva, they are not saying that the material personhood of the conditioned jiva is in any way eternal. If bhakti comes to the jiva in a particular bhava through sadhu sanga, is that Bhaktidevi not doing the bidding of Krsna? Is the guru not representing Krsna and how Krsna desires to accept seva from that jiva? Hence teleological inherence of a particular eternal destination is difficult to get around.
And if as you say “the true relationship of the heart with Lord in a specific relationship is based on desire,” does that desire originate outside of the jiva? And of it does, maybe it originates in Krsna. But these topics will be discussed in depth ahead and with unique arguments that many have not yet considered, if at all.
Dear Sunanda Prabhu,
I discuss the siddha-deha in part 17, after a lot of foundational concepts are covered. I understand the eagerness to jump to the discussion of the siddha-deha, but in this article the topic is more general: the simultaneous inherence and bestowal of bhakti. When we get to part 17, I think it will be obvious why it was better to wait until later to take up the discussion.
Thanks so much.
Yes, I understand your gradual process within this context and will wait a bit before commenting further on these specifics. Thank you.
Thank you Maharaja, I’ll wait to see how the ideas develop and the arguments unfold.
But my main point is that the Swan analogy is insufficient. It gets the simple idea across that just as the swan was in an unnatural condition and was freed by the bestowal of mercy into its natural condition in the water, so the jiva is liberated from illusion and bondage by the mercy of a devotee and Krishna to its original status as the servant of Krishna. In that sense the analogy is applicable. And if that’s as far as its meant to go, that’s fine.
Though being in water is the natural condition of the swan, its size, color, personality, location, etc. are not necessarily ‘natural’ and are all choices to be made consciously, not by some predetermined design (the teleological argument). As you know, in raganuga sadhana these are contemplations of the sadhaka as per his/her conscious desire to follow a specific Vraja vasi. There is lobha to serve in a particular way. I suppose whether that specific attraction is inherent or not is the subject under discussion, but from my understanding of the gradual process of raganuga, it doesn’t sound like it is.
My perspective on this has changed and I must say that Sundara Gopala’s contribution had much to do with that. I did not find his first podcast on the subject compelling because some of the positions he took he did not have the time to further support. And to be frank, I was also invested in a non inherent perspective. When asked to briefly comment on his position on the pod cast that I was invited to, I briefly dismissed his perspective. However, after that he gave a much more comprehensive presentation. I did not see it but I was told about it and ended up discussing his points at length with Vrindaranya and her insights as to the significance of his perspective was compelling and I blessed her to pursue her own thoughts on the topic, which she did. In turn Sundara Gopala was very impressed with what she came up with.