The Simultaneous Inherency and Bestowal of Bhakti—Part 18: Concluding Words

By Vrindaranya dasi

Additional articles in this series

Over the last seventeen articles, I have shown how Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī establishes both the inherency and bestowal of bhakti. This teaching is in line with all the major schools of Vaiṣṇava Vedānta. Each school of Vedānta has to reconcile the apparent difference between the world—with all its variety—and the Vedāntic understanding of advaya-jñāna-tattva (one nondual Absolute Truth). The way that Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism explains this apparent contradiction is through śakti—the Lord is one and different with his śaktis:

advaya-jñāna-tattva kṛṣṇa — svayaṁ bhagavān
‘svarūpa-śakti’ rūpe tāṅra haya avasthāna

Kṛṣṇa is the nondual Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although He is one, He maintains different personal expansions and energies for His pastimes.1

No other school of Vedānta puts as much emphasis on śakti as Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. It is not surprising, then, that śakti is the key to understanding how bhakti is both inherent and bestowed. The soul is endowed with twenty-one intrinsic attributes, and many of these attributes cannot manifest without śakti. In fact, the covering of the soul by māyā is only possible because the śakti of the soul is not manifest. Because the soul is covered by māyā, the soul requires mercy to realize his true nature—to manifest his inherent śakti

Based on his extensive study of the Sandarbhas and other core Gauḍīya literature, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura established both inherency and bestowal throughout his books. As I wrote in my opening article, Sundara Gopāla provided extensive evidence to establish that Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s statement that bhakti is the dharma of the soul (jaiva-dharma) was not a provisional concept but rather a foundational aspect of his teachings. He also gave historical evidence that Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura had studied Jīva Gosvāmī’s Sandarbhas extensively, as well as the writings of Śrī Jāmātṛ Muni, whose verses form the basis of Jīva Gosvāmī’s explanation of the characteristics of the jīva.

Although other parivāras may have other valid interpretations, those of us in the Bhaktivinoda parivāra have good reason to put our faith in Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s understanding of Gauḍīya siddhānta. He edited and published over one hundred books—creating a resurgence of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism—and was appropriately hailed the seventh Gosvāmī. Furthermore, we should not be bewildered by the fact that other parivāras may have different understandings. After all, look how many different interpretations there are of the Vedānta-sūtras

Moreover, it is not only those in the Bhaktivinoda parivāra who accept the inherence and bestowal of bhakti. As we saw in the last chapter, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa came to the same conclusion. In a similar vein, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kaviraja Gosvāmī writes:

jīvera svabhāva—kṛṣṇa-‘dāsa’-abhimāna
dehe ātma-jñāne ācchādita sei ‘jñāna’

The jīva’s intrinsic nature is to have the conception of being a servant of Kṛṣṇa. That knowledge is covered by the misconception of the body being the self.2

jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’

It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa.”3

I’m sure that some devotees will insist that only their interpretation of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī is correct, quite likely on the basis of my not being a Sanskritist. Moreover, I have no doubt that my arguments can be improved. I see my articles as a first attempt, and I look forward to further discussion and refinement. However, for those of us in the Bhaktivinoda parivāra, I believe that the jury is no longer out on why Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura stressed both inherency and bestowal. As such, any refinements to our understanding should be in keeping with his vision. A prolonged debate with those in other parivāras is unlikely to be particularly fruitful. My own inspiration in writing these articles was not to convince those in other parivāras, but rather to defend the validity of my own parivāra against specific arguments that had not been made in the time of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, or Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda and had therefore not been previously addressed. 

I would like to draw to a close by saying that if we were merely units of being with only a potential through an outside influence to know and love, we would have no real inherent reason or necessity to be at all. Unless we have an inherent necessity to love, there is no meaning to our existence, and we are purposeless. Sādhu-saṅga does not give us a purpose that we did not already have. It sheds light on our inherent purpose. This is what Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda referred to when coining the phrase jaiva-dharma. May his parivāra continue to bless the world with its insight

That said, interpretations of core Gauḍīya texts that reach a different conclusion, insisting that bhakti is in no way inherent in the jīvātmā, will no doubt continue to resonate with some practitioners, and we do for that matter find spiritually advanced devotees on either side of the debate. Thus, no one has a monopoly on the siddhānta concerning this topic and hopefully all parties are well served by robust sādhu-saṅga and as such will meet one another on the other side.

Let me conclude with some quotations about the inherency and bestowal of bhakti from our ācāryas in the Bhaktivinoda parivāra.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura:

Prema is the jīva’s eternal dharma. The jīva is not dull matter. It is an object beyond matter. Consciousness is its constitution. Prema is its dharma. Being the servant of Kṛṣṇa is pure prema. Thus prema, in the form of being Kṛṣṇa’s servant, is the jīva’s innate dharma.” (Jaiva Dharma, ch. 2)4

Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura:

“Bhakti is the natural impulse of the soul.” (The Harmonist, Vol. 28)

“Śrīmad Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has written all the books following the scriptural conclusions of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī. All his books are supplements to Śrīla Jīva and Śrī Baladeva’s books. Our current endeavor is also to follow Śrīla Jīva.” (Prabhupader Samlap)

Śrīla B. R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja:

Sannyasi: How is it that one develops his innate nature? Is it developed?

Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja: It is not developed but discovered. What is already there is only to be discovered, to remove the covering. Sādhana means that. It is there. It is there in a very germinal form. Inactive, covered. Inactive. So, remove the cover, and then it will assert itself.

Svarūpa-śakti is within. Only that should be discovered. That is within, the inner wealth, and only the outer cover has checked the activities of svarūpa-śakti—that of distributing this divine message to one and all.” (Encounters with Divinity)

“When analyzed, then, it is found that our svarūpa is more suitable for such and such service—in Vaikuṇṭha or Goloka. So, we have our fixed svarūpa, some in Vaikuṇṭha, some in Goloka. In Goloka also, there are different rasas, so it is within.”

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda:

“Krishna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind; this consciousness is the original energy of the living entity. When we hear the transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived.” [The Science of Self-Realization, Chapter 5]5

“Love of God is dormant in everyone, and if one is given a chance to hear about the Lord, certainly that love develops. Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement acts on this principle.”  [Cc. 1.7.141, Purport]6

Śrīla Prabhupada, emphasizing bestowed and inherence within the same passage, shows clearly that he intends both together:

“The fact is that devotional service is bestowed by the blessings of a pure devotee (sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ). A pure devotee is the supreme transcendentalist, and one has to receive his mercy for one’s dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness to be awakened. One has to associate with pure devotees. If one has firm faith in the words of a great soul, pure devotional service will awaken.” (Cc. 2.22, Introduction)7

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.

  1. Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 22.7 []
  2. Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 24.201 []
  3. Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 20.108 []
  4. Swami, HH Bhanu; Ṭhākura, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda. Jaiva Dharma: Two Tales of Spiritual Seekers (p. 19). Tattva Cintāmaṇi Publishing. Kindle Edition. []
  5. []
  6. []
  7. []

About the Author

43 Responses to The Simultaneous Inherency and Bestowal of Bhakti—Part 18: Concluding Words

  1. Madhav Singh Sodhi

    Hare Krishna mataji 🙏
    One question

    “Unless we have an inherent necessity to love, there is no meaning to our existence, and we are purposeless.”

    Isn’t Being “Eternally Unaware” of ones Purpose as good as being Purposeless? The purpose would still be in mere potential waiting for a Sadhu kripa so that one can actually know one has a purpose and fulfil it, so how does it differ much from non Inherence Perspective in this particular context?

    • Dear Madhav,

      Hare Krishna 🙏
      If you have a purpose, then you can’t help but pursue it. Unfortunately, we pursue our purpose in a perverted way and therefore don’t find fulfillment. Part 3: The Swan discusses this concept. Feeling unfulfilled and the drive to find fulfillment shows that we have a purpose. If we had no purpose, we would not look for one. Thus, there is quite a difference between having a purpose and not having one.
      In service,

  2. According to your conclusions in this series, how do you then harmonize the following statements from Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, explained in the following article?:

    • Dear James,

      Thanks so much for your question. I have limited time to answer questions due to other seva obligations. As such, it is too time consuming for me to answer questions that refer me to other articles and ask how I would refute them. If you have a question about a specific point or if there is a particular quotation from Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura that seems to contradict something that I have said, I would be happy to answer. If you could give the quotation from VCT and a quotation of something that I said, that would be ideal.

      In service,

      • This comes from Visvanatha Cakravarti´s commentary to SB 6.15.56-57. There he says:

        [First, Śrī Viśvanātha raises the question of how, someone who is in deep sleep, can remember experiencing it in the morning.]

        “Objection: how does the witness of deep sleep, recall the experience upon waking, that “I slept happily”? It is not that one person can recall something experienced by another.

        (reply:) The person, who experiences deep sleep and wakefulness, is distinct from what he experiences in either of these states, because he is unchanging even as the states change from one to another. The word jñānaṁ refers to the jīva. Therefore, just as one remembers what one has seen in childhood in youth, recall of the happiness of deep sleep is possible even when the state changes (to wakefulness).

        Brahman is different from the jīva, and not that the jīva itself is Brahman. This is because although the jīva is the same as Brahman (tad-rūpatve’pi) owing to being its taṭasthā śakti [i.e. there is abheda between them], it is not Brahman because it is not its svarūpa śakti. Therefore, the meaning is that Brahman is definitely different from the jīva [i.e. there is bheda between them].

        Therefore, considering that the svarūpa of Brahman (Bhagavān) and the jīva to be the same (svarūpaikya-bhāvanam) is in itself a cause of offense. This is expressed in this verse.

        My (Bhagavān’s) svarūpa [mad-bhāva in the verse] is indeed different from the jīva [there is bheda between the two]. If this principle is forgotten, that is, only abheda or non-difference is considered to exist between the jīva and Bhagavān, such a person who has only such a concept of ‘abheda’ remains in saṁsāra. This is expressed in the verse with the word ‘dehāt’.

        Therefore, the jīva’s being the same as Bhagavān (aikyam) [i.e. abheda], as expressed in tat tvam asi, is only to be conceived as the jīva’s being the same as Him (tād-rūpya) due to being His taṭasthā śakti, just as the ray of the sun is considered the same as the sun.

        Likewise, the insubstantial material world is the same as Bhagavān (tādrūpya) due to being an effect of His śakti. tādrūpya here implies that because the world does not have the same svarūpa as Bhagavān, it is indeed different(tadrupya=tātsvarūpya-abhavat bhinnam), and a cause of temporality.

        However, although the pure jīva is imperishable and therefore included within the real substantive, it only possesses identity with Bhagavān (tādrūpya) due to being His taṭasthā śakti, and does not have the same svarūpa as Him (tātsvarūpya).

        In contrast, Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān are real substantives, and are one entity (aikyam), in that they have the same svarūpa.

        Nitya preyasīs, pārṣadas and abodes of Bhagavān have the same svarūpa as Him (tāt-svarūpya) due to being a manifestation of His cit-śakti.

        Some others, despite being nitya-siddha [jīvas] (nitya-siddhatvād api) possess the quality of being real substantives and having the same svarūpa as Bhagavān.

        Some [jīvas] have the same svarūpa as Him (tāt-svarūpya) only (eva) due to being imbued with His svarūpa śakti (svarūpa-śaktyāviṣṭatvād) either because of 1) being siddhas due to being eternally liberated devotees, 2) being siddhas due to having attained pure bhakti, or 3) or because of their being included in the group of the eternal servants of Bhagavān due to their desire for servitorship.

        Because some jīvas, who became siddhas due to having attained mixed bhakti, are śānta bhaktas, they are not included in the group of eternal servants. As such, they are not endowed with Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti, and therefore they are the same as Bhagavān (tādrūpya), and are real substantives (but do not have the same svarūpa as Him i.e. not tāt-svarūpya). In this way, it is concluded that Bhagavān, being characterized by many śaktis, is non-dual reality and Vaiṣṇava siddhānta has been demonstrated incidentally.”

        That´s basically it. In summary, the points made above indicate the following:

        The pure jīva is the same as Bhagavān (abheda) because it is Bhagavān’s taṭasthā śakti. It has tādrūpya with Him.

        The pure jīva is different from Bhagavān (bheda) because it is not Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti. It does not have tāt-svarūpya with Him.

        Nitya preyasīs, pārṣadas and abodes of Bhagavān have svarūpa śakti as their very essence; i.e. they are Bhagavān Himself. Needless to say, they have tāt-svarūpya with Him.

        Some jīvas in Vaikuṇṭha exist as the ātmā (taṭasthā śakti) imbued with Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti. It is only for this reason that they are said to have the sameness of svarūpa (tāt-svarūpya) with Bhagavān.

        There are jīvas in Vaikuṇṭha who are not imbued with the svarūpa śakti. They continue to only have tādrūpya with Bhagavān.

        Thinking that the jīva’s svarūpa and Bhagavān’s svarūpa are the same is an offense to Bhagavān.

        • Dear James,

          The point that Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura is making is that those who think that the jīva is Brahman are wrong and offensive. The oneness of the jīva and Brahman is the oneness of the sun and its rays, but VCT is emphasizing that the difference should not be forgotten. He says the difference is that the jīva is only one with the Lord in terms of tād-rūpya and not tāt-svarūpya (since the svarūpa-śakti is not manifest in the jīva).

          However, we should be very clear that the twenty-one characteristics of the jīva are only fully manifest when the pure jīva is tāt-svarūpya. In other words, being tāt-svarūpya is the soul’s intrinsic state. The jīva is only tād-rūpya because the svarūpa-śakti is unmanifest.

          Thus, the idea that the pure jīva is necessarily tād-rūpya is a misunderstanding of VCT’s commentary. This point is clear if you look at how Jīva Gosvāmī uses the term “pure jīva” in the Sandarbhas. The main way that Jīva Gosvāmī uses pure jīva is in the sense of tāt-svarūpya:

          “Antaraṅga-śakti (internal śakti) is also called the cit-śakti and is used in relation to the pure jīva and the Lord’s knowledge and power.” [Paramātmā Sandarbha 56. Swami, HH Bhanu; Gosvāmī, Jīva. Paramātmā Sandarbha: With commentary of Jīva Gosvāmī (Ṣaṭ-sandarbha Book 3). Tattva Cintāmaṇi Publishing. Kindle Edition.]

          “Being a doer does not in itself mean suffering. Action related to prakṛti brings suffering. Thus instigation to act from the pure Lord and being a doer related to the pure Lord does not contaminate the pure jīva, since that action is predominated by the cit-śakti.” [Swami, HH Bhanu; Gosvāmī, Jīva. Paramātmā Sandarbha.]

          In other words, the jīva is only tād-rūpya because of being covered by māyā, and the pure jīva is only tād-rūpya if he is identified with Brahman:

          “When the pure jīva merges into Brahman, the jīva, though capable of acting, is covered by the bliss of Brahman and is no longer connected with action.” [Paramātmā Sandarbha 36. Swami, HH Bhanu; Gosvāmī, Jīva. Paramātmā Sandarbha: With commentary of Jīva Gosvāmī (Ṣaṭ-sandarbha Book 3). Tattva Cintāmaṇi Publishing. Kindle Edition.]

          Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura makes it very clear that three kinds of jīvas can be tāt-svarūpya, those who: 1) are siddhas due to being eternally liberated devotees, 2) are siddhas due to having attained pure bhakti, or 3) or are included in the group of the eternal servants of Bhagavān due to their desire for servitorship.

          Thus, the only jīvas who are not tāt-svarūpya are those who are misidentified with the material world or those who are identified with Brahman.

          Jīva Gosvāmī writes that it is only when the jīva does spiritual action—action that is predominated by cit-śakti (another name for svarūpa-śakti)—that the jīva is directly the doer. The significance of this point is that the jīva only experiences this intrinsic characteristic of his nature when he is tāt-svarūpya:

          “The jīva who is absorbed in the material body is a doer through the body’s senses. The pure jīva is inspired to act by Paramātmā. However, when prakṛti predominates, matter or upādhis are said to be the doer. But since it was already explained that the jīva outside the body is without [material] senses, ultimately it is the jīva himself who is the doer… the śruti describes that in the liberated state the jīva is a doer, playing in the spiritual world… In the spiritual world the jīva moves, laughs, plays, and enjoys (Chāndogya Upaniṣad 8.12.3). Being a doer does not in itself mean suffering. Action related to prakṛti brings suffering. Agency in relation to that which is pure does not contaminate the pure self due to the supremacy of cit-śakti. [ Paramātmā Sandarbha 34, commentary of Jīva Gosvāmī. Swami, HH Bhanu]

          Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura says that śānta-bhaktas are not endowed with Bhagavān’s svarūpa-śakti, and therefore they are tād-rūpya rather than tāt-svarūpya. In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 3.1.5, in the section about śanta-rasa, Rūpa Gosvāmī says:

          “Generally, these practitioners possess the happiness of impersonal Brahman, realizing it as the cause of everything. However, such impersonal happiness is dilute, whereas the happiness related to the Lord with form and qualities is intense.” [Gosvāmī, Śrīla Rūpa. Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu: Volume Two. Kindle Edition.]

          It would make sense that such śānta-bhaktas would be tād-rūpya rather than tāt-svarūpya since śakti is not manifest in Brahman. VCT does say the following in his commentary on Śrī Rūpa’s verse:

          “Those who are śānta-bhaktas (yoginām) previously experienced the bliss of brahman in samādhi as jñānīs, which has the nature of bliss for the self. Now, at the time of experiencing rati, they will have intense happiness through the appearance of the Lord’s form as sac-cid-ānanda (īśa-mayam). They will not attain the type of unlimited happiness of the devotees with dāsya and other rasas. However, their bliss is greater than that of the impersonalists, since the bliss of realizing the Lord with qualities is more concentrated than the bliss from realizing the ātmā.” [Gosvāmī, Śrīla Rūpa. Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu: Volume Two. Kindle Edition.]

          It would seem that VCT’s comment about śānta-bhaktas not being endowed with Bhagavān’s svarūpa-śakti is referring to the first type of śānta-bhaktas (those who realized impersonal Brahman) because his comment in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu makes it clear that the śānta-bhaktas experiencing śānta-bhakti-rasa are endowed with svarūpa-śakti:

          “If śānta-rati sthāyibhāva mixes with the elements of vibhāva, anubhāva, sāttvika-bhāva and vyabhicāri-bhāva that are appropriate for śānta-rasa and becomes very tasteful in the hearts of devotees who are predominated by śama or equanimity, it is called śānta-bhakti-rasa by the learned.” [Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja; Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-bindu: A Drop of the Nectarean Ocean of Devotional Mellows. Gaudiya Vedanta Publications. Kindle Edition.]

          Another possibility is that since śanta-rati doesn’t heighten/condense into prema, Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura doesn’t consider such bhaktas to be tāt-svarūpya.

          Thus, in conclusion, although Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura uses different terms, he is essentially saying the same thing as Jīva Gosvāmī and there is not any contradiction with what I have written in my articles.

          In service,

        • There are two types of vibhinamsa jivas that are manifest from the tatastha sakti. One type is eternally liberated and the other is conditioned by the influence of material nature. The difference between the two is not a difference in their internal make up or constitution. The difference is one of turning toward or away from Bhagavan. The eternally liberated tatastha jiva does not require bhakti to be bestowed. Its svarupa sakti is eternally manifest and as such is part of its constitution. Whereas the materially covered tatastha jiva does require bhakti to be bestowed in order for its unmanifest svarupa sakti to become manifest. If svarupa sakti is part of the constitution of the eternally liberated tatastha jiva, as it must be, then it must also be part of the constitution of the materially conditioned tatastha jiva that is covered by the influence of material nature due to the fact that its svarupa sakti is unmanifest.

          How can this covering take place? Srimad Bhagavatam 3.7.9-10 replies that the maya sakti of Bhagavan does not conform to logic. She has magical powers. Otherwise it would not be possible for her to cover or bewilder that which is inherently superior to her. Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains,

          “Although the jīva has the capacity (īṣvarasya) for realizing his form of knowledge and bliss, and thus can be called free of contamination (vimuktasya), he is in a condition of deprivation (kārpaṇyam) or durbhagatvam. Thus the jīva is in a state of bondage. This is because of māyā, which here means avidyā or ignorance, a function of māyā. These two, ignorance and bondage are mentioned as the cause.

          “The meaning is this. You have asked how the jīva loses knowledge because of māyā . . . One may forget that one has a jewel locket hanging over one’s chest, and lament that one has lost the jewel. . . . Because of jīva’s association with beginningless ignorance, the jīva forgets his knowledge and bliss, identifies with the body and the body’s qualities, and thus becomes durbhagatvam.”

          Clouds arise by the power of the sun and in doing so may cover its rays but not itself. Bhagavan is behind everything and has acintya sakti.

  3. It has come to our attention that a devotee we are familar with, who is currently staying in North Carolina, is trolling the Harmonist site under various false names, such as James B, JIVA, Madan Mohan prabhu, and others. As such, we have stopped approving his comments. Several of them refer to the site “James B” mentions in this post.

    I am aware of all of the articles that James B refers to. In an often supercilious tone, the author of the articles repeatedly misrepresents my position. I am not impressed with his arguments, and I will answer them in my upcoming book.

    I would encourage the devotee who is trolling the Harmonist to give up his deceptive tactics.

  4. I agree that Bhakti is both inherent and bestowed. Not that I have any position to weigh in other than that Krishna, God, bestows. It’s inherent because, as you say, it’s the constitutional position of the soul, according to Gaudiya Vaishnavism, and that’s apparent to me as a casual reader of Bhaktivinode and Srila Prabhupada. However, it’s potency is so great that, how could we realize it without the mercy of a Vaishnava of real standing such as your Guru Maharaja! The Swarup Shakti is so pure that without the connection to Bhakti through parimpara, maybe we’d never even remember it…. The love of self realization is altogether another divine shakti, albeit more naturalistic or material consciousness. Without a connection to Sri Chaitanya’s lineage there is no smaranam unless you are truly lucky. Then you seek the connection anyway because Bhakti breeds desire for Bhakti. Christianity is similar, and though it does not require a guru it does require a connection to Apostolic succession and continuity of theological training. God is One, and reconnecting to one’s supreme destiny, which is outside of time, seems to be the way in which God showers love and true catharsis/forgiveness on His worshipper.

  5. Damodar vilas das

    Thank you very much for your articles. While in ISKCON, I could not find answers to questions about jiva tattva. Having turned to the works of Satyanarayana, I was disappointed in Bhaktivinoda-parivara, but now, having read your works, I am very happy. I will continue to follow you articls, thank you very much, I am sure that Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Prabhupada have blessed you. I have a few questions:

    1) If bhakti is inherent, then the main race with Krishna that jiva can achieve is predetermined, as I understand it? If so, why do Visvanatha Cakravarti and Jiva Goswami write that rasa with Krishna can be reduced due to offensive :

    SB 3.16.13 Viswanath

    If the kumaras had not offended the devotees, then by the grace of the devotees and the Lord, they would have developed pure dasya-prema. But because of the lingering resentment, they only developed to the stage of shanta-bhakti. Said

    And in the comments to BRS 1.3.54 the same idea is repeated by VHT and Jiva Goswami:

    Viswanatha’s Commentary:

    Through the middle aparadha, bhava becomes bhavabhasa. If the aparadha is insignificant, bhava changes the type. Madhura-rati becomes dasya-rati. Dasya-rati becomes shanta-rati.

    2) Please explain how you understand these verses from BRS? It seems that the Achariyas here are saying that bhava is not predetermined and how the crystal penetrates the form with which it is associated

    yada yada bhakti syad asti tada tada |
    rupam sfatikavad dhatte swachchasau tena kirtita 13
    When a devotee’s rati, like a pure crystal, becomes similar in form to the rati of the devotee to whom he is attached, this is called svaccha-rati.

    commentary by Jiva Goswami:

    “This verse shows how association with devotees acts as the seed of rati. By associating with different types of devotees, different kinds of sadhana will be performed, which are like watering seeds. This will cause various bhavas in the practicing devotee. The type of suddha-rati mentioned earlier, which produces such variety in a devotee, is called svaccha. The reason for the diversity is explained in verse 13. The devotee’s rati, like a crystal, takes a form similar to that of another devotee to whom he is attached.”

    || 3.9.11 ||
    tvam bhakti-yoga-Paribhavita-hrt-Saroja
    asse srutekshita-patho nanu natha puasam
    yad-yad-dhiya ta urugaya vibhavayanti
    tat-tad-vapuu pranayase sad-anugrahaya

    Oh, my God! You who are addressed, when you are heard, seen and served directly, enter and remain in the lotus of the hearts of your devotees filled with Bhakti yoga. Praise the Lord! By your grace, you grant them spiritual bodies corresponding to the mood they develop during sadhana.

  6. Vrindaranya dasi

    Dear Damodar vilas das,

    Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Jayatah! Thank you for your kind words. I’m so pleased to hear that you found my articles helpful. 😀

    In 2.5.7, Srila Rupa Gosvami says that rati is like the sun. The sun is one and has all colors within it, but different crystals (the individual nature of each devotee) refracts the sun and causes one of those colors to be reflected. So he isn’t saying that a red object gets reflected in a crystal and the crystal therefore appears red. Rather, he is saying that a particular crystal (the individual nature of the devotee) refracts the sun, which contains all colors, and thus a particular color (rati) is reflected. In other words, it is not something outside the devotee that is causing one of the five colors but rather the individual nature of the devotee.

    As for the comments in regard to svaccha-rati, keep in mind that svaccha-rati is one of three types of suddha-rati, which develop into santa-rasa. Svaccha-rati is transparent. The higher ratis are like crystals with different colors. In 2.5.13–14, Srila Rupa Gosvami gives an example in which a brahmana associates with higher devotees situated various bhavas and due to that association becomes imbued with various inclinations of mind (dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhurya). However, such a devotee’s rati does not develop into one of the higher sthayi-bhavas, but rather santa-rasa.

    As such, these verses point to the fact that association is the means for rati to manifest; however, this rati cannot develop into a particular sthayi-bhava if that sthayi-bhava is not the eternal nature of the devotee. As we see in the case of Sanatana Gosvami’s Gopa Kumara, one can hypothetically even attain different positions in the spiritual world and keep progressing until one’s thirst is at last quenched (according to one’s eternal sthayi-bhava).

    Otherwise, why would the devotee mentioned in Brs. 2.5.13–14—who has associated with a devotee situated in madhurya-rasa and who has even tasted the inclination of madhurya—develop into the sthayi-bhava of merely santa-rasa? Think about it. Accordingly, these verses are a strong indication that one’s sthayi-bhava is simultanously inherent and bestowed.

    I’ll write more to address your other questions soon.

    In service,

  7. In regard to SB 3.16.13 and Brs 1.3.54, these are sections that are often misunderstood and thus require close reading. First of all, we must note that Brs. 1.3.54 is in the section discussing bhava-bhakti, not prema-bhakti. So it is discussing the stage before one has attained one’s sthayi-bhava.

    Brs 1.3.54 says, “By an offense against the dearest devotee of the Lord, even real bhāva will be destroyed, if the offense is grave. If the offense is medium, the bhāva will turn to bhāvābhāsa. If the offense is slight, the bhāva will become an inferior type.” [Gosvāmī, Śrīla Rūpa. Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu: Volume One (Bhakti Shastri Package Book 3) (p. 378). Kindle Edition.]

    Obviously, these are discussing temporary effects before one is fixed in one’s sthayi-bhava. Otherwise, this verse would support the idea that you can fall from the spiritual world. Examples of the effects of aparadha, such as in the case of Jaya and Vijaya, should be understood as special arrangements for the sake of the Lord’s pastimes. We know this because once a devotee has attained prema, there is total eradication of any anarthas from aparadha. Being pure, such a devotee cannot make any real offense.

    In the verse, the result of the most serious offense is that bhava will be destroyed. Does this mean a permanent destruction of bhava—that the person will remain forever in the material world? No, of course not. So why would the slightest offense cause a permanent downgrade in the spiritual world? Such an understanding makes no sense. The correct understanding is that the results of the aparadhas are temporary. According to Madhurya Kadambini, the result of aparadha will linger until prema, at which point the eradication of anarthas due to aparadha is complete.

    In Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s commentary, he mentions, “Bhāva will be destroyed by aparādha to the dearest devotees of Kṛṣṇa. An example is Dvivida the monkey, a follower of Rāma. By aparādha to Lakṣmaṇa, his bhāva disappeared.” [p. 378]. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura gives more detail in his commentary to SB 10.67.2:

    “The Mainda and Dvivida mentioned here are actually the eternally liberated devotees addressed as attendant deities during the worship of Lord Rāmacandra. The Lord arranged their degradation to show the evil of the bad association that results from offending great personalities. Thus the falldown of Dvivida and Mainda can be compared to that of Jaya and Vijaya.” [Swami, HH Bhanu; Ṭhākura, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Tenth Canto: with Sārārtha-darśinī commentary. Tattva Cintāmaṇi Publishing. Kindle Edition.]

    As we see, sometimes the Lord makes a special arrangement where his devotee apparently falls down for the sake of underscoring an important point. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s statement about the Kumaras’ sthayi-bhava should be taken in a similar light: he is emphasizing the importance of not offending a devotee. We can’t contradict so many other statements of the acaryas due to a comment that uses hyperbole to underscore the point that we shouldn’t offend a devotee.

  8. Damodar Vilas das

    Dear Vrindaranya Mataji, Thank you for your detailed and in-depth response. By striving for the truth, at the same time you have proved the greatness of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, I am very grateful to you.

    I have a few more questions, I understood that bhakti is inherent in the jiva, but my question is, does this mean that the siddha-svarupa of the jiva is predetermined, or is there some kind of freedom? Is it possible to say that bhakti is like clay, but whether a vase or a plate will be made depends on the cook – the guru? Does such a middle position, between the non-inherence of bhakti and predestination, have the right to exist, or not? As far as I understand, we do not have direct statements by Bhaktivinoda Thakur about the predestination of siddha-deha?

    My second question is regarding the area of tatastha described by Bhaktivinoda Thakur. It is obvious that all jivas in the material world have beginningless ignorance, which has no beginning even beyond material time. But I have heard that according to Madhava Acarya, in the abdomen of Vishnu there are innumerable sleeping anadi-badha jivas who have never awakened. Do you have any references or quotes from Madhavacharya on this subject?

    • It is explicit in the Madhva and Vallabha sampradayas that the svarupa of the jiva is predestined. God accepts seva from jivas as he so pleases. And while it is not as explicit in the Gaudiya and other Vaisnava sampradayas,such predestination is hard to get around. And there is Gaudiya scriptural support for this perspective, especially in the writing of Baladeva Vidyabhusana and Thakura BHaktivinoda.

      All jivas are similar in that they are made up of the same basic ingredients, but they are not all exactly the same. Each has will but each has its own will. Thus here predestination does not do away with the will of the jiva, who in sadhana is on a journey of self discovery, in which the sadhaka’s will/effort is a significant factor. We are finding out who we are as a servant of God and choosing that which resonates with our individuality as it is uncovered. Were this not the case, our svarupa we would be but an assigned identity that was different from ourselves, who would otherwise be identity-less.

    • Visnu Dharmottara 1.81.11-14 is cited in Priti-sandarbha 16. Therein it is stated that when a jiva is liberated, God generates another one to replace him. This implies that not all jivas are manifest at the same time. Thus some remain in the abdomen of God for an indefinite period, even as others are manifested in a particular cycle.Srila

      Sanatana Gosvami comments (somewhere) that there are unlimited dormant living beings, which God activates as he desires.

  9. Damodar Vilas das

    You have listed only Madhava Sampradaya and Vallabh, but as far as I understood in Ramanuji Sampradaya, svarupa is also completely predetermined. Or maybe this is not the correct translation from Sanskrit, please clarify?

    Vedanta Sara, Ramanujacharya’s commentary on the Vedanta Sutra 4.4.1:

    In the very same way this jeeva rises from this body, reaches that highest
    Light, and appears in his own form (chiindog., VIII~l2-2).

    . In the view that one’s natural form is attained, the vedic text would become meaningless; for it has ever been with the freed jeeva. Hence, he is united to a new body made for him. Then the term abhinishpadyate in the original will have its primary meaning; as also the term svena (his .own); for the jeeva will attain a body which will be his own.

    On reaching (the highest Light) ·own form appears, because the lerm svena is used.
    The state, to which one comes on reaching the highest Light, is own form, that then appears. No new form comes into existence. This is indicated by the words ‘In his own form’ in the vedic text. If the freed jeeva were to take on a form, that did not exist before, and that is newly made, the expression ‘In his own form’ would become meaningless. For even without this expression the freed jeeva would according to the first view get a body, which would be his own; for he would not be given a body that belonged to another.

    By the expression ‘Appears in his own form’ reference is made to one whose connection with karma has ceased, who is released from bodies brought about by it, and who appears in his natural form. Hence, though this natural form has been ever present, it was prevented from appearing by avidyii in the form of karma; and this obstruction is now removed. This is what is meant by the appearance of the natural form. How is this known. In section 7, chapter VIII of the chiindogya the teacher proposed to give instruction as to the nature of the java, released .from the waking, dreaming and deep sleep conditions, and released also from bodies made by karma and leading to pleasure and pain. Again and again he offered to explain this and concluded with the text under consideration. The word nishpadyate is also used in the sense of appearing after some obstruction or difficulty is removed.
    This is stated by bhagavan Saunaka:
    As by washing a precious stone from dirt, its lustre is not made, so the jnana of the atma is not made by the abandonment ·of karma. By digging a pond, water is not made; only what existed before is made to appear; how can a thing appear, that does not exist? similarly, by the destruction of undesirable elements, juiina and other qualities appear, but are not made; for they are permanent qualities of the atmii.
    Hence jnana, bliss and qualities, that had contracted owing to the influence of karma, .fully expand on reaching the highest Light, and on the consequent appearance of the natural form; and it is not inappropriate. Hence the statement made in the sutra is sound.
    Owing to the destruction of avidya, the freed Jeeva sees his natural form, in which the lrighest Atma is Iris inner ruler, and he himself is His body and an inseparable attribute . Thls was explained in sutra 1-4-22. The freed jeeva enjoys Hirn without separating hlrnself thus – I am Brahma.

    From the above quotes, it turns out that Ramanuja Acharya also says that the spiritual body is already there and is just manifesting? Or is he just talking about the qualities of the soul?

    • I wrote that in the Madhva and Vallabha sampradaya the teaching in this regard is explicit. You can’t possibly miss it. Whereas is other Vaisnava sampradayas it is implied. You have selected a section from Ramanuja’s tika wherein the teaching is more explicit on this issue than you can find anywhere else in his teaching. And all the Vaisnava sampradaya tikas on Vs 4.4.1 are similarly explicit on this topic. But overall Madhva and Vallabha are much more explicit than the other sampradayas. It kind of goes without saying for the most part elsewhere. And it is perhaps more explicit in Madhva and Vallabha because they clearly posit different types of jivas–tamasic, rajasic, sattvik, pusti, marayada, samsarin jivas, etc.

  10. Damodar Vilas das

    Dear Tripurari Swami and Mataji Vrindaranya, please explain this comment, which says that only nitya-siddhi can have Prema. VishvanathCT 10.9.21
    Moreover, in Sri Bhagavatam, only prema for the Lord is proclaimed as the crest jewel of all goals of human life. Of all the devotees, who are the asraya (subject), the root of it, prema can be eternal only in the nitya-siddhas. And out of these, those who abide in Gokula, His mother and others, are the best. In this verse he says: Krsna, who has become the visaya (object) of their mindset, such as vatsalya-bhava, is easily attained only by those who have a bhakti that follows theirs, not by others.
    kiṁ ca, śrī-bhāgavate’smin bhagavat-premaiva sarva-puruṣārtha-śiromaṇitvenodghuṣyate | tasya mūla-bhūtāśrayāṇāṁ bhaktānāṁ madhye nitya-siddhatva eva tasya nitya-sthitiḥ sambhavet | teṣv api madhye gokula-vartinas tan-mātr-ādaya eva śreṣṭhāḥ, yeṣāṁ vātsalyādi-bhāva-viṣayī-bhūtaḥ kṛṣṇas tad-anugamana-bhaktimadbhir eva sulabho nānyair ity āha—nāyam iti

    • I think it is safe to say that you do not have prema, in that you have not attained it yet. But if you already have it, how can it be attained? You have already understood that from the commentary of Ramanuja you cited. It is unmanifest, and in that sense you do not have it. Whereas is is eternally manifest in the nitya siddhas.Teleological inherence.

  11. damodar vilas das

    Dear Tripurari Swami and Mataji Vrindaranya

    Please explain such a moment:

    In article 15, you gave an example of how Dhruva Maharaj’s material body became spiritual” (4.12.29).

    If there is already a sidha-deha, then how could the material body coincide with the spiritual one? Does this mean that Dhruva was already a nitya-siddha and just played the role of a conditioned child, like Jai and Vijay? are there any hints of this in the sastras?

    • In Gaudiya Vaisnavism, the sadhaka deha is spiritualized. And as this takes place, an internal meditative siddha deha arises

    • In this example of Dhruva Maharaja, which is similar to the case of Gopa Kumar, the siddha-deha is unmanifest but their final material bodies are essentially material replicas of their siddha-dehas. So both Dhruva Maharaja and Gopa Kumar are sadhana-siddhas, and when they become perfect their material bodies transform into their siddha-dehas (in other words, their siddha dehas become manifest).

      As an interesting side note, sometimes the scriptures describe a material body manifesting from a nitya-siddha’s siddha-deha, as in the case of Srimati Sitadevi when she was kidnapped by Ravana.

  12. Damoda Vilas das

    and Please explain such a moment:

    Ujjwala Nilamani 3.13 VChTh
    “It should be understood that the bhava of modern sadhaks will bring results according to taste and sampradaya.”

  13. Damodar vilas das

    Where can I get acquainted with the works of Sundar Gopal prabhu that you mention?

    “Sundara Gopala has provided extensive evidence that Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s statement that bhakti is the dharma of the soul (jiva-dharma)”

  14. Damodar Vilas das

    It seems to me that the most difficult point for harmonization is verse BRS 2.5.38, please clarify. There in the commentary Visvanatha Chakravarti say that:

    “Because of impressions from past life of a particular rasa such as dāsya, in this life also, the person has that taste alone and not others, by the mercy of a great devotee with a similar taste.”

    and Jiva Gosvami repeat:

    But what determines who takes up which type of rati? answer: impressions of only one type carried from previous lives produce the specific taste.


    • Rupa Gosvami says that a devotee may find a particular devotional flavor to be more delectable, according to his own individual proclivities (Brs 2.5.38). Srila Jiva Goswamipada says, “It is only the one immersed in a single rasa who can discern the merits and limitations of the different moods of love. Though he does not have direct experience of the other ratis, he can recognize their similarities and see how they do or do not nourish the various ingredients that lead to the experience of rasa.” Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur says, “Among the various tastes such as sweet, sour and bitter, a particular person has a particular liking because of previous impressions. Because of impressions from past life of a particular rasa such as dasya, in this life also, the person has that taste alone and not others, by the mercy of a great devotee with a similar taste.”

      You might prefer a mango more than any other fruit, but unless you have the opportunity to taste a mango, how will you know if you like it? You haven’t developed a taste (the taste is unmanifest), without opportunity. By the mercy of a devotee who embodies a particular devotional flavor, you have the opportunity to taste that flavor. This is what Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur is saying.

      Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur takes the causal trail one step closer to the ultimate cause by saying that you are attracted to a particular sadhu because of inherent taste. However, why do we have an inherent taste? Ultimately, everything comes back to Sri Krishna—sarva karana karanam (Krishna is the cause of all causes).

  15. Damodar vilas das

    I want to translate your articles into Russian with a link to your website, I think this is the most important topic especially for the followers of Srila Prabhupada, and this brings all Saraswats closer together

    Please help to understand with the last point. In verse ujjwala nilamani 14.32, as far as I understand, it is said that jiva has innate eternal vasanas that play a decisive role in the manifestation of her mood in the spiritual world. And as far as I understand, the verse BRS 2.5.38 says the same thing about the vasanas… But for some reason it says that they were formed in a previous life. As Bhanu Swami translates. Is this a wrong translation, or did I misunderstand Ujjwala nilamani 14.32 and it only talks about those who are already eternal companions? Below I will give both verses and comments:

    • Vrindaranya dasi

      Thanks so much. I’ve been especially busy putting in our summer garden, but I’ll have time to reply soon. 🪷

  16. Damodar Vilas das

    Ujvala Nilamani14.32
    atra nisargaḥ—
    nisargaḥ sudṛḍhābhyāsa-janyaḥ saṁskara ucyate |
    tad-udbhodhasya hetuḥ syād guṇa-rūpa-śrutir manāk |||

    An impression created by firm practice is called nisarga. Hearing about the qualities and form of the Lord are a slight cause for its appearance.

    Комментарий. Автор Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura:
    “External causes of rati are qualities (sambandha), similar items (upamā) or dear objects of the Lord (tadīya). Internal causes are hearing about the Lord and other processes. Though rati is said to be without cause and not dependent, it depends on these internal causes.” That is true. In the portion called nisarga there is some dependence on a semblance of internal cause. Thus the verse says “the cause of its arousal, the cause of nisarga, is hearing about the Lord.”

    The impression is created by firm practice, but it is actually nitya-siddha. The impressions created by this practice are actually a continuous stream (not created). The impressions bring about hearing of Kṛṣṇa’s form and qualities by means of the līlā-śakti. Thus it is caused in name only. Therefore the word manag (slight) is added.

    nanu bahir-hetavaḥ para-sambandhagā upamā tadīya-janādayaḥ | antar-hetavaś cānuṣaṅgika-tac-chravaṇādayaḥ | sa eva bahir-hetv-anapekṣīty ukte antar-hetum apekṣata iti labhyate | satyam asya nisarga-rūpe’ntar-hetv-ābhāsasyāpekṣā kvacit syād eva ity ata āha—tad udbodhasyeti | tadīyodbodhasya hetur api tasyāpi hetur ity arthaḥ |

    sudṛḍhābhyāsa-janya iti | sudṛḍhābhyāso’pi nitya-siddha eva jñeyaḥ | taj-janya-saṁskāro’pi pravāha-paramparayaiva | tathā sa ca līlā-śakti-dvāraiva śrī-kṛṣṇa-rūpa-guṇa-śravaṇam upasthāpayatīti | nāma-mātreṇaiva hetor hetutety arthaḥ | ata eva manāg iti pada-prayogaḥ

  17. Damodar Vilas das

    yathottaram asau svāda-viśeṣollāsamayy api |
    ratir vāsanayā svādvī bhāsate kāpi kasyacit ||38||
    These five types of rati progressively (from śuddha to priyatā-rati) become more blissful by increasing tastes. The particular taste arises in a devotee according to his previous experiences.
    Комментарий. Автор Jīva Gosvāmī:
    After the five types of rati have been described, a doubt arises. Should all these types be considered equal or successively superior? If they are equal, then all the ratis should have the same inclinations. If they are successively superior, what is the cause for differing inclinations in people for different ratis? This verse answers. Increasing from first to last (yathottaram), from śuddha-rati to priyatā-rati, they become progressively filled with taste or delight.

    But what determines who takes up which type of rati? Is it decided by having no impressions of a particular rati from previous lives, by having an impression of one type of rati from previous lives, or by having impressions of many types of rati? In the first option–absence of impressions–rati cannot occur at all, because no taste could arise. In the case of persons having impressions of many types of rati, a particular rati could not manifest prominently because conflicting tastes would result in improper manifestation of rasa (rasābhāsa). Therefore impressions of only one type carried from previous lives produce the specific taste. Though not being in a position to perceive the depth of that rasa, one can confirm its identity by comparing scriptural descriptions of rasas with ones own inclinations, and by inference through seeing how rasas, different from one’s own rasa, either nourish or fail to nourish the total ingredients.

  18. Damodar vilas das

    Did I understand correctly that jiva is part of a part of the energy of Mahavishnu (Paramatma)? Or does the word Paramatma shastra mean ParamAtma (Bhagavan)? If the jiva is eternally bound by bhakti or its inherent dharma to Krishna, why is it part of Mahavishnu? This sounds illogical, please clarify it

  19. Vrindaranya dasi

    Dear Damodar vilas,

    Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi 14.32 begins with atra nisargaḥ, meaning “now [we’ll speak about] nisarga.” The dictionary definition of nisarga refers to the “natural state or condition or form or character, nature.” It is relevant that in the previous verse, Rūpa Gosvāmī mentioned nisarga as one of the two types of svabhāva (innate or inherent disposition), which do not rely on external causes. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī comments that svabhāva is not dependent on external causes and gradually manifests by itself.

    Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura adds that svabhāva is a cause of rati but calling it a cause is like comparing an object to itself. In other words, the cause of rati is causelessness—the use of the word svabhāva indicates that rati in this case has no cause. However, since it is said that there is no natural rati [rati has “causes” such as abhiyoga, visāya, sambandha, etc.], a cause is sought. However, later it will be explained that causes like abhiyoga are not really causes. He says that the correct conclusion is that all types of rati have no cause, and causes have been mentioned only for the sake of convention. [Summary based on the translation of HH Bhanu Swami.]

    It may seem contradictory when the next verse says that nisarga (innate nature), which is born from firm practice, is called an impression (saṁskara). Does nisarga (innate nature) have a cause or not? Is it an innate nature (in the sense of being eternal) or is it an impression that occurred at a particular point in time (due to meeting a sadhu)? Since nisarga (natural state) is a type of svabhāva (inherent disposition), it is incorrect to think that nisarga didn’t exist and then manifested from nothing when someone took up firm practice. The proper understanding is that one’s natural state is unmanifest due to being covered by illusion; however, it manifests due to firm practice. In other words, it exists eternally—either in an unmanifest state or manifest state. The firm practice causes the nisarga to manifest.

    Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi discusses mādhurya-rati. In his commentary on 14.32, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī states that although one’s connection with mādhurya-rati may apparently disappear for many lifetimes, the impressions remain dormant like good and bad karmas, which remain dormant during deep sleep. Thus, although hearing about the qualities and form of Kṛṣṇa are apparently the “cause” of the awakening of madhurya-rati, such a cause is only incidental (manāg) and not necessarily required. As such, svabhāva’s characteristic of not being dependent on external causes is not contradicted.

    Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura makes the conclusion crystal clear by clarifying that although nisarga (innate nature) is born from firm practice, this firm practice should also be understood as eternal and established (nitya-siddha). He says, “The impressions created by this practice are actually a continuous stream (not created). The impressions bring about hearing of Kṛṣṇa’s form and qualities by means of the līlā-śakti. Thus it is caused in name only. Therefore, the word manāg (slight) is added.” [Translation by HH Bhanu Swami.]

    Some devotees assert that this section of Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi is not speaking about sādhana-siddhas, and as such, these comments about the nitya-siddha nature of nisarga do not apply to sadhana-siddhas. However, in his comments to Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi 14.35, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura asks whether nisarga applies to the sādhana-siddhas and svarūpa to the nitya-siddhas. He replies that this is not the case because not all those with nisarga are sādhana-siddhas. Since Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravarti states that not all of them are sādhana-siddhas, it obviously follows that some of them are sādhana-siddhas. Accordingly, the argument that nisarga cannot be used for sadhana-siddhas is without merit.

    It is also without merit to claim that the nitya-siddha nature of nisarga mentioned by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura only applies to the nitya-līlā. In Jīva Gosvāmī’s commentary to 14.32, he says, “That very firm practice of madhura-rati which appears repeatedly with increased strength, and which, though disappearing for many lifetimes, remains as a subtle impression to produce rati later on, is called nisarga. This is similar to the good and bad karmas which remain dormant during deep sleep.” [Translation by HH Bhanu Swami.] How could this description—in which rati disappears for many lifetimes—apply to someone in the nitya-līlā? It obviously does not.

    In conclusion, svabhāva is eternal, but in the case of those in the material world, the svabhāva is covered due to the influence of māyā. To return to my previous analogy of a mango, you may not be aware that you like mangos until someone presents a mango to you. Materially speaking, you would like or dislike a mango due to previous saṁskāras. In the case of nisarga, a particular sentiment would be attractive due to saṁskāras as well; however, as Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura established, the firm practice from which the saṁskāras arise is eternal (although it can be apparently absent for lifetimes). As the saṁskāras come from the firm practice, and the firm practice is eternal, the saṁskāras are also eternal.

    From the above explanation, you can probably glean the proper understanding of Brs 2.5.38; however, I will write something about it soon.

    In service,

  20. Vrindaranya dasi

    In Brs. 2.5.38 Rūpa Gosvāmī says, “These five types of rati progressively (from śuddha to priyatā-rati) become more blissful by increasing tastes. The particular taste arises in a devotee according to his previous experiences.” [Translation HH Bhanu Swami]. “Previous experiences” is the translation of vāsanas.

    You said that Rūpa Gosvāmī said that the vāsanas were formed in a previous life. This is not correct. He does not say that vāsanas were formed at a particular point in time. A careful reading reveals that the taste arises due to previous vāsanas; however, there wasn’t a time when you had no vāsanas. Thus, they weren’t formed at some point in time.

    This point is clarified by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī. In his commentary, he clearly says that if you had no vāsanas, then rati cannot occur because no taste could arise. As such, there is no time in which you do not have vāsanas. He confirms that vāsanas of only one type are carried from a previous life.

    Thus Brs. 2.5.38 and Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura comments to Ujjvala Nilāmaṇi 14.32 concur. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura says that although nisarga (innate nature) is born from firm practice, this firm practice should also be understood as eternal and established (nitya-siddha). He stresses that the impressions created by this practice are actually a continuous stream (not created).

    Thus, in conclusion, saying that one’s nature is based on vāsanas/saṁskaras is a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” situation. Neither the nature nor the vāsana came first because they are both eternal.

  21. Damodar Vilas das

    Dear Mataji Vrindaranya thank you, your contribution is invaluable, I will not tire of repeating it. Help clear up the contradictions in a few more questions. And I will also offer my solutions.

    1) Jiva Goswami says that the source of jiva is paramatma. At the same time you have proved that the dharma of the jiva is to serve Krishna, not somehow indirectly, Paramatma. Does that mean that when the shastras say that jiva is the source of Paramatma, we can understand by the word Paramatma Krishna? Or does it just mean that jiva starts his life in the world of Paramatma, but he has to reach Krishna?

    2) Please explain this Bhaktivinod quote, Jaiva Dharma 14 chapter:

    Jéva-çakti is the atomic potency of svarüpa-çakti, and all three aspects of svarüpa-çakti are present in it to a minute degree. Thus, the hlädiné-våtti is always present in the jéva in the form of brahmänanda (spiritual bliss); saàvit-våtti is present in the form of brahma-jïäna (transcendental knowledge); and sandhiné-våtti is present in the jéva’s minute form.

    Can it be said that from some angle the jiva shakti is not only not manifested, but is in a compressed state. Just as prema, it is simply vasanas, so also ananda and gyana of jivas are simply Brahmananda and bhahma-gyana?

  22. Vrindaranya dasi

    Thanks so much! Sorry for the delay in replying. I’ve been really busy, but I’ll write something soon. 😀

  23. Vrindaranya dasi

    Jīva Gosvāmī specifically says: parmahā-saṅkarṣaṇa — saba jīvera āśraya: Mahā-saṅkarṣaṇa is the shelter (āśraya) of all jīvas. [Paramātma-sandarbha 1]. As the jīvas are in the material world, they emanate from Mahā Viṣṇu at the beginning of each kalpa, but, of course, the jīvas are without origin [as Jīva Gosvāmī confirms by quoting Bg. 13.20]. As such, we should avoid imposing the following linear, faulty logic: our origin is the Paramātma; therefore, we can’t have inherent but unmanifest love for Vraja Kṛṣṇa.

    There are numerous flaws in this logic. To begin with, the life of Brahmā, the very head of our sampradāya, contradicts this understanding. The story of Brahma’s life informs us that although the baddha-jīvas are sheltered in and issue forth from the tatastha-śakti of the Paramātma, this does not preclude their having an eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa. Although Brahmā was literally born from the navel of the Paramātma at the beginning of creation, he searched out his source, and that source was Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Furthermore, in Bg. 7.21, Kṛṣṇa affirms that he is the Paramātma.

    As my Gurudeva, Śrīla B. V. Tripurari Mahārāja, has written, Brahmā was born from the lotus flower that sprouted from the navel of the Paramātma (Garbhodakṣāyī). When he searched out his origin and purpose in meditation, Kṛṣṇa appeared before him in the dress of a gopa and instructed him in the sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojana of rāga-bhakti (rahasya)—the essence of the Bhāgavatam. At that time, the Bhāgavatam states that Kṛṣṇa blessed him to pursue sākhya rasa (SB 2.9.30—yāvat sakhā sakhyuḥ). The Gopāla-tāpani Upaniṣad says that at this time Kṛṣṇa initiated him by imparting the eighteen-syllable Gopāla mantra.

    Some devotees put forth the logic that whereas Kṛṣṇa is partial to his devotees, the Paramātma is impartial. From this misunderstanding, they conclude that because the jīva’s shelter is the Paramātma, they too must have no inherent partiality toward any form of God who is ontologically higher than the Paramātma. Such devotees quote Bhagavad-gītā 9.29 to try to support their understanding. Kṛṣṇa says, “I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.”

    The proper understanding of this verse, however, is that for those who are under the control of karma, God is impartial—such nondevotees receive the results of their past deeds. However, for one who has turned to God—a devotee—the situation is different. God is not impartial to his devotees. Quite the opposite, he is controlled by them. As Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa puts it in his commentary to Bg. 9.29, “My quality of being controlled by pure bhakti is My very nature and cannot be given up.” [translation HH Bhanu Swami] Although this truth is especially prominent in the case of Kṛṣṇa, it should be noted that it applies to any form of God.

    This topic is also discussed in the Vedānta-sūtra. After establishing in sūtra 2.1.34 that the Lord is neither prejudiced nor cruel because bodies are created according to karma, the doubt is brought out as to whether the Lord shows unequal treatment by protecting the devotee and destroying his material desires. Sūtra 2.1.36 establishes that it is suitable that the Lord favors his devotees.

    Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa comments: “This is seen in scripture. Favoritism of the Lord, who is affectionate to his devotees, is suitable (upapadyate) since his protecting the devotee depends on the devotee’s bhakti, which arises from the function of the svarūpa-śakti. This does not conflict with the Lord being without fault, since such partiality of the Lord in relation to his devotee is praised as a good quality. Śruti says that these qualities are his decoration. Without this quality all the other Lord’s qualities would not be attractive to the people. This is found in the śruti also.” [translation HH Bhanu Swami]

    Another misconception that some devotees put forth is that the jīva’s sac-cid-ānanda is a portion of the Paramātma, and that this bliss is inferior to that of the svarūpa-śakti, which explains why the jīva can be covered by māyā. This is a mash-up of different ideas leading to an incorrect conclusion. Both the Paramātma and Kṛṣṇa are animated by the same svarūpa-śakti.

    In regard to the jīva’s relationship with Paramātma/Kṛṣṇa, we first of all need to understand that the Paramātma is the representation of the Godhead in the material world. As I discussed, the Paramātma impartially distributes the fruits of one’s karma. When someone in the material world turns to God, such a person will generally worship not Paramātma but a form of the Godhead in the spiritual world—such as Nārāyaṇa, Rāma, or Kṛṣṇa—with the understanding that the Paramātma is nondifferent. For example, in Bg. 7.21, Kṛṣṇa affirms that he is the Paramātma. Consequently, it is incorrect to think that the fact that we are under the control of the Paramātma means that we are eternal servants of only Paramātma and that this relationship has to be upgraded in order for us to have a relationship with one of the Godhead’s manifestations in the spiritual world. The correct understanding is that our relationship with God is eternal—we remain servants even when we forget God. Because our inherent nature is covered, we suffer due to a false nature.

    To dive deeper into this subject, let us examine the final quality of the jīva, mentioned in Paramātma-sandarbha 19: paramātmaika-śeṣatva-svabhāvaḥ sarvadā svataḥ.
    Śeṣatva has the root words śeṣa and tva. Śeṣa typically means remainder, residue, or that which remains. However, in the context of Indian spiritual and philosophical discourse, śeṣa often takes on the meaning of servitude. This is particularly seen in the philosophical system of Viśiṣṭādvaita propounded by Rāmānuja, where the individual soul (jīvātman) is seen as being eternally subservient to the Supreme Soul (Paramātma). This relationship between is often described using the term Śeṣa-Śeṣi-bhāva, which means that the individual souls (and the universe) are Śeṣa (that which serves) and Brahman is Śeṣi (that which is served). This relationship of the soul being eternally in service of God is an expression of the soul’s inherent nature and is seen as the natural state of existence.

    The last part of the sentence is svabhāvaḥ sarvadā svataḥ. Svabhāvaḥ is derived from two roots: sva meaning own or self, and bhāva meaning nature or state. So, svabhāvaḥ means “own nature” or “inherent nature.” One’s own nature or inherent nature does not change. We are always subservient to God, even when we are covered by maya and forget God. Sarvadā means always or at all times. Svataḥ is another indeclinable word (an avyaya) derived from sva meaning self. Svataḥ can mean “by oneself,” “of one’s own accord,” “naturally” or “inherently.”

    Accordingly, our inherent nature of being subservient to God doesn’t change—whether we are in illusion or established in our eternal position as a servant of a particular form of God in the spiritual world.

  24. Damodar Vilas das

    Dear Mataji Vrindaranya, please answer one more question. In Priti Sandarbha 10, it seems to say that when a jiva achieves liberation it merges with the spiritual body of the Lord. Proponents of the idea that bhakti is not intrinsic say that in the spiritual world God has innumerable bodies that include liberated souls.

    Priti Sandarbha ,Anuccheda 10:

    “There are unlimited [eternal transcendental (nitya-aprākṛta)] forms (mūrtis) existing there [in Vaikuṇṭha], each of which is an integrated portion of Bhagavān Vaikuṇṭha’s effulgence (jyotir-aṁśa-bhūtā) and which thus constitute the divine splendor (śobhā-rūpā) of His abode. [On the attainment of utkrānta-mukti,] the liberated individual’s essential constitution (mūrti [i.e., svarūpa]) is made to unite with one of these forms by Bhagavān. For this reason, Śrīdhara Svāmī comments as follows on the compound vaikuṇṭha-mūrtayaḥ [from sb 3.15.14]: “The people residing there are endowed with forms like that of Bhagavān Vaikuṇṭha, Śrī Hari” (vaikuṇṭhasya harer iva mūrtir yeṣāṁ te).”

    Please explain how this statement of Jiva Goswami can be understood correctly?

    • Vrindaranya dasi

      Dear Damodar Vilas,

      The topic of inherency and bestowal is like that of whether we are one with God or different from him: you can find a lot of statements to support either position. As I mentioned in my articles, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī and the Bhaktivinoda parivāra advocates simultaneous inherency and bestowal, which is beautifully explained by Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s parable of the astrologer and the poor man who had an inheritance. It seems likely that such an understanding is the traditional position on the matter for reasons which I will discuss next.

      Perhaps the most significant problem with the bestowal-only position is that such an understanding is at odds with all the other major schools of Vaiṣṇava Vedānta. If Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī had intended such a major break, it would have been a huge point of debate over the centuries. The fact that there is no indication of such a debate occurring until relatively recently strongly suggests that such an interpretation was not intended by the founding ācāryas of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism.

      The six Gosvāmīs considered the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam to be the natural commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra, and as such they did not write a separate commentary, as is traditional in establishing a new lineage. However, when the legitimacy of the Gauḍīya sampradāya came into question and the Gauḍīyas had to produce a separate commentary or risk having the lineage go into oblivion, Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa wrote Govinda-bhāṣya. Although Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa was a student of Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura—who makes some statements that seem to support the bestowal-only position— Śrīla Baladeva came out clearly in line with the other major schools of Vaiṣṇava Vedānta, as I showed in part four of my articles. As such, he didn’t understand Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s statements in the way that those who advocate bestowal-only.

      Furthermore, when Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura wrote directly about simultaneous inherency and bestowal, there is no history of any debate, which strongly suggests that his understanding was not considered new, different, or controversial. And in the Bhaktivinoda parivāra, all the ācāryas are unanimous in regard to simultaneous inherency and bestowal.

      Thus, although certain statements seem to support bestowal-only, we need to have a comprehensive understanding of the issue and thereby understand the issue as the prominent ācāryas in our sampradāya did.

      In service,

  25. Damodarvilas das

    Dear Mataji Vrindaranya, In Article 11 you quote Paramatma Sandarbha 35, “Thus instigation to act from the pure Lord and being a doer related to the pure Lord does not contaminate the pure jīva, since that action is predominated by the cit-śakti.”

    But I didn’t find anything like that in Bhanu Swami’s translation, can you give me the Sanskrit or maybe it’s a mistake?

  26. damodarvilas das

    Sorry for the stupid previous question. I get it, you were quoting from Sarva Samvadini and I was looking in the anuchkheda itself….

    Can you please tell me in article 5 you quote Bhagavat Sandarbha
    “Jñāna which destroys upādhis and is none other than Brahman, if devoid of bhakti (bhāva) to Acyuta, is not glorious (śobhate) at all (alam). It is not suitable as a complete realization. Swami, HH Bhanu; Gosvāmī, Jīva. : With commentary of Jīva Gosvāmī.

    To which anuchkheda is this commentary referred?

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