The antaraṅgā-śakti is the basis of all action and cognition even in the material world

In Anuchheda 19 and 20 of the Bhagavat Sandarbha, Śrī Jīva establishes the important concept that Bhagavān’s antaraṅgā-śakti is the basis of all action and all cognition, even in the material world.

This might seem to contradict what Śrī Jīva established in an earlier Anuchheda- that the workings of the material world are under the control of jīva-māyā, or Durgā. A common thread in Śrī Jīva’s analysis in the Sandarbhas is that there is only one advaya or non-dual reality, Bhagavān. Non-duality here means that nobody exists or functions independently of Him; this includes Durgā and the jīvas. And because Bhagavān functions through His svarūpa śakti, it follows that both māyā and the jīvas are controlled through the antaraṅgā-śakti. If the possibility of the jīva or māyā as independent of Bhagavān were to be admitted, then reality would not be non-dual.

The logic of anyathā anupapatti

In Anuchheda 19, Śrī Jīva uses the logic of anyathā anupapatti or absence of any other possibility, to prove that the svarūpa or antaraṅgā śakti is the basis or source of all action. All agency, even in our body, is all by the power of antaraṅgā śakti. He quotes a verse from the Bhāgavatam 6.16.23-24 spoken by Nārada to Citraketu:

yan na spṛśanti na vidur mano-buddhīndriyāsavaḥ antar bahiś ca vitataṁ vyomavat tan nato ’smy aham dehendriya-prāṇa-mano-dhiyo ’mī yad-aṁśa-viddhāḥ pracaranti karmasu naivānyadā lauham ivāprataptaṁ sthāneṣu tad draṣṭrapadeśam eti

I bow down to Him who cannot be contacted or known by the mind, by intellect, by the sense faculties or by the life-force, though He pervades within and without like the sky. The body, senses, life-force, mind and intellect, although matter, can engage in action only when infused with a particle of the Supreme Brahman, and not otherwise, any more than iron can burn without having been heated by fire. Where [this infusion of the body-mind occurs, the jīva] acquires the name of “seer”.

An iron rod cannot burn anything because it is generally at room temperature, and burning something in contact with it is not its intrinsic characteristic. When it is put in fire, then it can burn, but its heat is imposed from outside it. In the same way, action is not inherent in the body. If agency is inherent, it cannot be taken away, but agency is lost when the body dies. Thus the body does not have inherent consciousness. The agency comes from the jīva inside. The inert śakti requires the living beings for its function, because it is not conscious. It is seen that the senses do not function in unconsciousness or deep sleep. Our senses only function in the wakeful state or the dream state. If the senses had power to function independent of the jīva, they should function in deep sleep also. But they don’t, because the consciousness of the jiva contracts from the senses.

Just as the iron rod burns when it is in the fire, but still it cannot burn the fire itself, the senses derive their consciousness from the jīva and therefore they can know other things, but they cannot reveal the jīva to itself, because the senses lack the śakti to do so.

Now agency is not intrinsic to the jīva either. The jīva cannot function independently. Only Bhagavān is independent, and agency is inherent in Him alone, and the jīva gets it by His power. This is why the jīva is called a ‘particle of the Supreme Brahman’ in the verse. The analogy of the iron rod in the fire applies here also, with the fire compared to Bhagavān, and the iron rod compared to the jīva. The jīvas are conscious only because they are eternally linked with Bhagavān, whether in the material world or in the spiritual world.

That the jīva is a dependent entity is obvious from the fact that the jīva cannot know Bhagavān without Bhagavān’s help. This is similar to how the senses cannot know the jīva by themselves. Thus, there is a hierarchy of dependency- the senses need the jīva to function, and the jīva needs Bhagavān to function.

The anyathā anupapatti here is that the jīva is required for the body to function, but because there is only one non-dual reality, the jīva also cannot be taken as independent.

That the jīva is dependent on Bhagavān is evident from the last few words of the verse: sthāneṣu tad draṣṭrapadeśam eti: Where [this infusion of the body-mind occurs, the jīva] acquires the name of “seer”. Because the jīva cannot ‘see’ in deep sleep, seership is not intrinsic to it. If it were, it should be able to know or see in deep sleep also. Bhagavān is a seer always and actually is the only seer. Bhagavān’s seership is established in different places in the scriptures. For example,

तमेव भांतमनुभाति सर्वम् (कठ २/२/१५): All this shines after His brilliance, Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.15

को ह्यन्यात् कः प्राण्याद् यदेव अाकाश अानन्दो न स्यात् (तै २/७/१): If Brahman, the personification of bliss, were not in the sky or in the heart, who else would infuse action and maintain the vital-force? (Taittirya Upaniṣad 2.7.1)

चक्षुषश्चक्षुरुत श्रोत्रस्य श्रोत्रम् (बृ ४/४/१८): He is the seeing power of the eye and the hearing capacity of the ear. (Bṛhad āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.4.18)

A contradiction?

If the svarūpa śakti is the basis of all action, then all actions should be acts of bhakti because that is the svarūpa śakti’s function. After all, the svarūpa śakti acts only for the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa. Yet, it is seen that bhakti is very rare in this world.

The reason for this is that the jīvas in the world consider themselves to be independent, and as a result, their actions do not appear to be bhakti. In reality, the jīvas are not independent of Kṛṣṇa and His energies, but fall into duality. They act for their own pleasure under the spell of their ego, and therefore are under the sway of the law of karma. The acts of those who are devotees are acts of bhakti because they understand that all actions occur by the potency of Bhagavān, and that they are not independent in acquiring knowledge. Therefore, it is the consciousness of the person that makes the difference.


The ultimate cause of every action and cognition is Bhagavān, and one can not know anything or do anything independently. There is only one independent reality, Bhagavān, and no one else is independent, including the jivas and māyā. This is how all reality is advaya or non-dual.

Categories: Bhagavān

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