The Paramātmā Sandarbha goes into great depth into the properties of the jīva. This knowledge forms part of sambandha jñāna that Śrī Jīva Goswami proffers to us for understanding the nature of our own being. His treatment is comprehensive and far more sophisticated than similar treatments in other schools of thought, such as Sāṅkhya or Nyāya. Śrī Babaji has listed twenty one properties of the ātmā in the commentary to Anuccheda 19 of the Paramatma Sandarbha (see here).
In Anuccheda 37, Śrī Jīva Goswami examines property number twenty one: that the jīva is an integrated part of Paramātmā (परमात्मैकशेषत्वस्वभाव). In doing so, he quotes a definition of the jīva from the Nārada Pañcarātra:
यत् तटस्थं तु चिद्रूपं स्वसंवेद्याद् विनिर्गतम् रञ्जितं गुणरागेण स जीव इति कथ्यते — That entity which is intermediately situated, conscious by nature, whose self-awareness has been lost, and who is tainted by attachment to the material gunas, is called the jīva.
This definition uses the word ‘taṭastha’ as one of the distinguishing characteristics of the jīva. Śrī Jīva Goswami explains the meaning of the word taṭastha:
तटस्थत्वं च मायाशक्त्यतीतत्वात्। अस्याविद्यापराभवादिरूपेण दोषेण परमात्मनो लेपाभावाच् चोभयकोटावप्रवेशात्। The jīva is called taṭastha because it cannot be subsumed under either of the two categories (māyā and Paramātmā). The reason for this is that it is superior to māyā. [But at the same time], it is subject to the defect of being overpowered by ignorance, which does not influence Paramātmā.
The definition above explains these features clearly. The jīva is cidrūpa, or conscious, which means it is superior to māyā. And yet, it is ‘sva-samvedyād vinirgatam’ – its self-awareness is lost. As a result, it is attached to the guṇas (rañjitam guṇarāgeṇa). In contrast, none of these apply to the Paramātmā nor to Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti. Being neither part of the svarūpa śakti nor of the māyā śakti, the jīva is part of taṭastha śakti.
This definition of taṭastha further implies the following:
- There is no dormant love in the jīva, because prema is Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti, which is different from his taṭastha śakti.
- Even after liberation or attaining Vaikuntha, the ātmā continues to be part of taṭastha śakti. Śaktis are not interconvertible- they are distinct and remain eternally distinct.
- All ātmās, even those who have never been in the material world, are part of the taṭastha śakti.