jīva-tattva

The jīva’s doership is real and not illusory – Part II

We continue our discussion of Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s commentary on the Brahma sutras. As mentioned in a previous article, this commentary has been (mis)interpreted to support the jīva’s beginningless choice to enter the material world. I present the translation below along with notes.

|| 2.3.35 ||

atha prakṛti-kartṛtvāde doṣān darśayati—

Now the defects in ascribing doership to prakrti will be demonstrated.

upalabdhivad aniyamaḥ ||

Negation of the rule, similar to [negation of the rule of] upalabdhi.

ātmano vibhutvād upalabdher aniyamo darśitaḥ prāk | tathā prakṛter api vibhutvena sarva-puruṣa-sādhāraṇyāt karmaṇo’py aniyamaḥ syāt sarvaṁ karma sarvasya bhogāya, yathā syāt naiva vā syāt | na cāsannidhikṛtā vyavasthā, vibhūnām ātmanāṁ sarvatra sānnidhyāt ||35||

Translation: It was previously shown that if the ātmā is vibhu (all-pervading), there will a negation of the rule of upalabdhi (here uplabdhi means perception). In the same way, the rules of karma will be negated [if prakṛti is considered the doer] because prakṛti is vibhu, all-pervading, and therefore present in all puruṣas. All fruits of karma will be experienced by everyone, and similarly by no one. Also, such an arrangement [which gives the fruit of karma] performed far away is unnecessary given that all ātmās, being vibhu, can be in close proximity to all places.

Notes: This and the next few sutras deny doership in the prakṛti and establish it in the jīva. But, as we will see in the last two sutras, the jiva does not have independent doership either; his doership also derives from Paramātmā. In this sutra, the logic is that were doership to be applied to prakṛti, then because it is present everywhere, results of any action done in one place would accrue everywhere. This obviously is not observed and goes against the law of karma. The doer is local in space, and not all pervading.

|| 2.3.36 ||

śakti-viparyayāt ||

Because śakti becomes attributed to another [to prakṛti].

prakṛteḥ kartṛtve puruṣa-niṣṭhāyā bhoktṛtva-śakter viparyayāt prakṛti-gāmitāpatteḥ puruṣo’sti bhoktṛ-bhāvāt [sāṅkhya-kārikā, 27] ity abhimata-hānir iti śeṣaḥ | kartur anyasya bhoktṛtvāsambhavāt tac chaktir api prakṛti-gatā mantavyā ||36||

Translation: If doership is ascribed to prakṛti , then the śakti of experiencer-ship, which is rooted in the puruṣa, will [also have to] be ascribed to prakṛti, which will contradict the opinion [of the sāṅkhyaites even] that because the experiencer exists, there must be a puruṣa. Experiencer-ship in someone other than the doer is not possible, therefore that śakti will also need to be assumed in prakṛti.

Notes: The main concept here is that doership and experiencership go together. They cannot be in separate entities.

|| 2.3.37 ||

samādhy-abhāvāc ca ||

And because samādhi would be impossible.

mokṣa-sādhanasya samādher apy abhāvāc ca duṣṭaḥ prakṛti-kartṛtva-vādaḥ | prakṛter anyo’ham asmīty evaṁ-vidhaḥ khalu samādhiḥ | sa ca na sambhavati svasya svānyatvābhāvāt jāḍyāc ca | tasmāj jīva eva kartā siddhaḥ ||37||

Translation: And doership in prakṛti is also unacceptable because then samādhi, which is the means to get liberation, will also not be possible. Samādhi is in fact the following type of thought, “I am different from prakṛti”. This thought is not possible in prakṛti because it cannot think itself to be different from itself and because it is inert. Therefore it is proven that the jīva alone is the doer.

Notes: The thought “I am different from prakṛti”, is also a thought in the mind! The pure jiva cannot think. It needs a mind to do that.

|| 2.3.38 ||

yathā ca takṣobhayathā |

Just as the carpenter is both.

atha tasya kartṛtvaṁ karaṇa-yogena sva-śaktyā cāstīti dṛṣṭāntena bodhayati—

Translation: That the jīva’s doership is due to the conjunction with instruments of action and by his own śakti is now demonstrated with an example.

takṣā yathā takṣaṇe vāsyādinā kartā vāsyādi-dhāraṇe tu sva-śaktyaivety ubhayathāpi kartā bhaved evaṁ jīvo’py anya-grahaṇādau prāṇādinā kartā | prāṇādi-grahaṇe tu sva-śaktyaivety arthaḥ | itthaṁ prākṛta-dehādinā yat kartṛtvaṁ tat kila śuddhād eva puruṣāt pravṛttam aip guṇa-vṛtti-prācuryāt tad-dhetukam ity upacaryate | kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo’sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu iti tatraivokteḥ | etena guṇa-kartṛtva-vacāṁsi vyākhyātāni |mauḍhyādy-uktis tu pañcāpekṣe’pi svaikāpekṣa-mananāt | na caiṣām apāta-vibhāto’rthaḥ śakyo netuṁ tatratya-mokṣa-sādhanokti-virodhāt | nāyaṁ hanti na hanyate ity ādi vākyaṁ tu hanti phalam eva cchedaṁ pratiṣedheti nityasyātmanas tad-ayogāt |na tu kartṛtvam api, tasya pūrvaṁ siddheḥ |

Translation: In the cutting of wood, the carpenter is a doer due to his use of an axe [the instrument], and in the use of the axe, he is a doer due to his own śakti — that is, he is a doer in both ways. In the same way, in the taking of other things, the jīva is a doer due to his use of prāṇa [the instrument], and in the accepting of prāṇa, he is a doer owing to his own śakti. Even though the doership due to the material body is indeed made possible due to the pure puruṣa alone, because of the preponderance of the modifications of the guṇas [in the body], it is conventionally ascribed to the body. This is confirmed in the statement, ” the cause of birth in high and low species is attachment to the guṇas”. In this way, statements where doership is ascribed to the guṇas have been explained. Statements in which the jīva is called a fool etc. apply when he thinks himself to be the only doer although there are actually five doers. Therefore, the apparent superficial meaning of these verses is unacceptable because it is opposed to verses that state the means of liberation [there would be no need for instructions then]. In the statement “he does not kill nor is killed”, the fruit of killing, cutting [of the atma into pieces], is denied because the eternal atma cannot be cut, and not its doership, because doership was accepted in statements which preceded this one.

evaṁ ca bhāgavatānāṁ yad ihāmutra ca tad-arcanādi-kartṛtvaṁ tan nirguṇam eva pūrvatra guṇān vimardya cic-chakti-vṛtter bhakteḥ prādhānyāt paratra kaivalyāt | etad abhipretyoktaṁ śrī-bhagavatā—

sāttvikaḥ kārako’saṅgī rāgāndho rājasaḥ smṛtaḥ | tāmasaḥ smṛti-vibhraṣṭo nirguṇo mad-apāśrayaḥ || [bhā.pu. 11.25.26]

Translation: And the doership in the acts of worship etc. performed by the devotees, both here in this world and the next (Vaikuṇṭha) is in fact nirguṇa (beyond the guṇas), because it first subdues the guṇas in this world due to the primacy of bhakti, a type of cit-sakti, and because [doership characterized by such nirguṇa acts] alone is present later [in Vaikuṇṭha]. With this in mind, Śrī Bhagavān says,

“The sāttvik doer is detached, the doer who is blinded by attachment is rājasic, and the doer whose memory is lost is tāmasic. He who takes my shelter is nirguṇa.”

Notes: Bhakti is beyond the gunas. It follows that doership cannot be in the gunas, because who is the doer of the nirguna acts of bhakti then? Furthermore, after attaining Vaikuntha, the jiva continues to do bhakti but there is no prakrti in Vaikuntha. Thus, doership is not in prakrti but in the jiva.

bhoktṛtvaṁ tu śuddhasya puṁsaḥ | puruṣaḥ sukha-duḥkhānāṁ bhoktṛtve hetur ucyate [gītā 13.20] ity ādi smṛteḥ | guṇa-saṅgenāpi bhavatas tasya saṁvedana-rūpatvāt cid-rūpa-puṁ-prādhānyaṁ na tu guṇa-prādhānyaṁ tattvena tad-virodhitvāt | svarūpa-saṁvedana-sukhādau tu susiddhaṁ tat | svasmai svayaṁ prakāśatvād iti | tasmāt tad ubhayaṁ jīvasyaiva mantavyam | eṣa hi draṣṭā spraṣṭā śrotā ity ādi śruteś ca | takṣa-dṛṣṭāntena kartṛtvaṁ sātatyaṁ ca nirastam ||38||

Translation: Experiencer-ship is in the pure jīva. This is accepted in the Gita statement: the jīva is the cause of experiencing happiness and distress. Even though being in contact with the guṇas, because the jīva is the perceiver, primacy is of the conscious jīva and not the guṇas. This is because the jīva is fundamentally opposite in nature to the guṇas (owing to its being conscious). This experiencership is easily proved in the experiencing of the happiness of one’s own self, because the self reveals the self to itself. Therefore, both experiencership and doership is to be attributed to the jīva. This is also supported by śruti statements like “He alone can see, touch, hear etc. the seer, toucher, hearer, etc.”. The example of the carpenter rejects the idea of doership in prakṛti.

|| 2.3.39 ||

atha tatraiva vimarśāntaram | idaṁ jīvasya kartṛtvaṁ svāyattaṁ parāyattaṁ veti saṁśaye, svarga-kāmo yajeta, tasmād brāhmaṇaḥ surāṁ na pibet pāpam notsaṁsṛja ity ādi vidhi-niṣedha-śāstārthavattvāt svāyattaṁ tat | sva-buddhyā pravartituṁ nivartituṁ ca śakto hi niyojyo dṛśyate | tatrāha—

Translation: In this matter, we consider another line of thought. If one raises the question, “Is the doership of the jīva independent or dependent”, the reply could be that it’s doership is independent because [only then] the do’s and don’ts of sastra are meaningful, such as “One who desires heaven should peform yajna”, “Therefore the Brahmin should not drink sura, and not perform sin”. This is because instructions to engage in karma are seen to be given only to one who is capable of acting or refraining from actions by discriminating with the intelligence. To this, the reply is:

parāt tu tac-chruteḥ |

[The jiva’s doership is] in fact [enabled] due to Isvara, because the sruti asserts it to be so.

tu-śabdaḥ śaṅkāc chedārthaḥ | tat-kartṛtvaṁ jīvasya parāt pareśād api hetoḥ pravartate | kutaḥ ? tac-chruteḥ | antaḥ-praviṣṭaḥ śāstā janānāṁ [tai.ā. 3.1.10], ya ātmani tiṣṭhan ātmānam antaro yamayati [bṛ.ā.u. 3.7.22], eṣa eva sādhu karma kārayati [kau.u. 3.9] ity ādau tathā śravaṇāt ||39||

Translation: The word ‘tu’ [in fact] is to resolve the doubt raised above. The doership of the jīva is actualized only due to īśvara. How? Because the śruti asserts it to be so, as in statements like: “He, who has entered into the heart, is the regulator of everyone”[tai.ā. 3.1.10], “Being situated in the self, He controls the self from inside”[bṛ.ā.u. 3.7.22], “He alone causes good deeds to occur[kau.u. 3.9]”.

Notes: The jiva’s doership is not independent. His doership is actualized by Paramatma alone. Thus the jiva cannot ‘choose’ independently of Paramatma. Choice is a type of thought, which requires the mind; and the mind is Paramatma’s sakti.

|| 2.3.40 ||

syād etat | pareśāyatte kartṛtve vidhi-niṣedha-śāstra-vaiyarthyaṁ syāt | sva-dhiyā pravṛtti-nivṛtti-śaktasya śāstraviniyojyatvād iti cet tatrāha—

Translation: Let us concede that this is true. But then wouldn’t the do’s and don’ts of śāstra be meaningless given that doership is dependent on īśvara? The śāstra is meant to engage only that person who, based on his own discrimination, is capable of engaging in action and inaction. To this, the reply is:

kṛta-prayatnāpekṣas tu vihita-pratiṣiddhāvaiyarthyādibhyaḥ ||

But (īśvara’s actualization of the jīva’s doership) depends on [his] past actions, because do’s and dont’s are not irrelevant etc..

tu-śabdāc chaṅkā nirasyate | jīvena kṛtaṁ dharmādharma-lakṣaṇaṁ prayatnam apekṣya pareśas taṁ kārayaty ato nokta-doṣāvatāraḥ | niyojana karta dharmādharma-vaiṣamyād eva viṣamāṇi phalāni parjanyavan nimitta-mātraḥ sann arpayati |yathā asādhāraṇa-sva-bījotpannasya taru-latādeḥ parjyanyaḥ sādhāraṇo hetuḥ | na hy asati vāride tasya rasa-puṣpādi-vaiṣamyaṁ sambhavet | nāpy asati bīje | tad evaṁ tat-karmāpekṣaḥ śubhāśubhāny arpayatīti śliṣṭam | tathā ca, kartāpi para-preritaḥ karotīti kartṛtvaṁ jīvasya na nivāryate | evaṁ kutas tatrāha vihiteti | ādinā nigrahānugraha-vaiṣamyādi-parihāropapatti-grahaḥ | evaṁ hi vidhy-ādi-śāstrasya vaiyarthyaṁ na syāt | yadi vidhau niṣedhe ca pareśa eva kāṣṭha-loṣṭra-tulyaṁ jīvaṁ niyuñjyāt tarhi tasya vākyasya prāmāṇyaṁ hīyeta kṛtimato niyojyatvāt | unninīṣayā sādhu-karmaṇi pravartanam anugrahaḥ |adho ninīṣayā asādhu-karmaṇi pravartanaṁ tu nigrahaḥ | tau caitau jīvasya tathātve nopapadyete, vaiṣamyādi-doṣa-parihāraś ca na syāt | tasmāj jīvaḥ prayojya-kartā pareśas tu hetu-kartā tad-anumatim antarāsau kartuṁ na śaknotīti sarvam avadātam ||40||

Translation: The word tu removes doubt. īśvara engages the jīva in actions in accordance with whether his past efforts were dhārmic or adhārmic. Therefore the above fault is not present here. īśvara is the niyojana kartā, that is, the doer who engages the jīva in actions. Like the raincloud, He is only the nimitta or instrumental cause. He gives different results of actions according to the differences of dharma or adharma that characterize the actions. The raincloud is the common cause of the sprouting of the specific seed of a tree or creeper. In the absence of the raincloud, the differences in flowers or taste of the fruit resulting from a seed cannot manifest. Nor is this possible in the absence of the seed. In the same way, it is implied that īśvara assigns different positive and negative results according to the different karmas. And the fact that the doer acts because he is engaged in action by īśvara, does not reject the doer’s doership. How so? Because the do’s and don’ts of śāstra are not irrelevant. By the word ādi, the logical conclusion is accepted that there is no partiality in punishment and compassion of īśvara [because the punishment and compassion is according to dharma or adharma of the jīva]. It follows that scriptural injunctions are not irrelevant. If īśvara alone engages the jīva in injunctions and prohibitions like [a doll made of] wood or earth, then the trustworthiness of His words will be diminished, because only that which has the capacity to act can be engaged in action. Compassion means to engage another in good action with a desire to uplift him. Punishment means to engage another in evil action with a desire to push him down. If these two do not accrue to the jiva in this manner, then the fault of partiality in īśvara cannot be refuted. Therefore jiva is proyjya kartā, and īśvara is hetu kartā. Without His permission, the jīva cannot do anything. Thus, the entire explanation is blameless.

Notes: Here, Shri Baladeva makes the point that the instructions of scripture would be useless if Paramatma controls the jiva like a puppeteer controls a puppet. Paramatma’s control lies in His awarding of the results of action to the jiva. The jiva’s doership becomes actualized by its identification with the mind and senses, which anchors it to a body. Without the jiva, the identification is not possible, and without identification, the mind and senses cannot function. Scriptural injunctions regulate the jiva’s actions through the concepts that are seeded into the mind. Without Isvara, the results of the jiva’s actions cannot accrue. None of these concepts support the pure jiva’s capacity to make an independent choice. The pure jiva simply cannot make a choice without identification with a mind. There is no ‘free will’.

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