The essence of the Bhāgavata according to Śrī Jīva Goswami

In a previous post, we saw how the Bhāgavata is an independent pramāṇa meaning that it does not depend on the Vedas even for its authority. Here, we examine the essence of the Bhāgavata derived by Śrī Jīva Goswami in the following statement in the Tattva Sandarbha Anuccheda 8:

yasya brahmeti saṁjñāṁ kvacid api nigame yāti cin-mātra-sattāpy

aṁśo yasyāṁśakaiḥ svair vibhavati vaśayann eva māyāṁ pumāṁś ca |

ekaṁ yasyaiva rūpaṁ vilasati parama-vyomni nārāyaṇākhyaṁ

sa śrī-kṛṣṇo vidhattāṁ svayam iha bhagavān prema tat-pāda-bhājām

I will present his Sarva-saṁvādinī commentary on his own writings, which presents the meanings of the words first, along with my notes in brackets, and then present the translation.

sarva-saṁvādinī :

sarva-granthārthaṁ saṅkṣepeṇa darśayann api maṅgalācarati

– The author [Śrī Jīva Goswami refers to himself], states the maṅgalācaraṇa (auspicious invocation) by stating the essence of all scriptures.

According to Śrī Jīva Goswami, these four lines are the essence of all the scriptures. How wonderfully compact and beneficial for the sādhaka!

kvacid api satyaṁ jñānam anantaṁ brahma [tai.u. 2.1.2] ity ādāv api-śabdena tatraiva brahmatvaṁ mukhyam ity ānītam |

The words ‘kvacid api’ – in some portions of the Vedas [nigame] – refer to statements like satyam, jñānam, anantaṁ brahma from the Taittiriya Upanisad (2.1.2) – “Brahman is the real existent, consciousness and unlimited”.

[A Caitanya Vaiṣṇava recently argued with me on this site that there is no such thing as ‘contentless knowledge’, and that such a claim amounts to impersonalism. There is no end to self-styled pundits in the Caitanya tradition! Unfortunately for this proposition, Śrī Jīva Goswami accepts nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa or contentless perception as a valid type of pratyakṣa in his Sarva-saṁvādinī commentary in the next Anuccheda, and here he accepts the existence of pure consciousness [the word ‘pure’ indicates no content to this consciousness or object of knowledge] by using the words ‘cin-mātra-sattāpi’. This means that Sri Krsna exists as ‘pure consciousness alone’ in his feature as the afore-mentioned ‘Brahman’. ‘Pure consciousness alone’ also means that there is no possessor of that consciousness, i.e. no separate knower who knows. So there is no knower, no knowledge, and no possessor of that knowledge. Brahman is simply consciousness. If you ask what consciousness is here, it is a denial of non-consciousness. Nothing positive can be said about it. All this shows that Śrī Jīva Goswami clearly accepts the existence of Brahman, because it is described very clearly in the Upaniṣads which he cites here.]

aṁśakaiḥ līlāvatāra-rūpair guṇāvatāra-rūpaiś ca | pumān puruṣaḥ sarvāntaryāmī paramātmākhyaḥ |

The word aṁśakaiḥ means ‘by the līlāvatāras and the guṇāvatāras’. The word pumān means puruṣa, who is the antaryāmī of all, and is called Paramātmā.

[the second line describes Paramātmā].

ekaṁ śrī-kṛṣṇākhyād anyat | yasyaiva iti tasya bhagavattva-sāmye’pi śrī-kṛṣṇasyaiva svayaṁ-bhagavattvaṁ darśitam | nārāyaṇākhyaṁ rūpaṁ pādottara-khaṇḍādi-pratipādyaḥ parama-vyomākhya-mahā-vaikuṇṭhādhipaḥ śrīpatiḥ |

The word ‘ekam’ or ‘one’ implies He who is different from the one named Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The words yasya eva (whose) mean the following – Even though He [eka] is the same as Śrī Kṛṣṇa in that He is also Bhagavān, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is Svayam Bhagavān [i.s. Nārāyaṇa is His form]. The form called Nārāyaṇa is established in the Uttara khaṇḍa of the Padma Purāṇa and elsewhere. Parama-vyoma refers to a Mahā-vaikuṇṭha of that name. He is the Lord of that Mahā Vaikuṇṭha and the husband of Lakṣmi.

“svayaṁ bhagavān” iti, kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayaṁ [bhā.pu. 1.3.28] iti śrī-bhāgavata-prāmāṇyam iheti sūcitam | śrīr iti tad-avyabhicāriṇī svarūpa-śaktir api darśitā | iha jagati |

The words ‘Svayaṁ Bhagavān’ indicate the sole authority of Śrī Bhāgavata in these Sandarbhas because it contains the statement kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayaṁ (1.3.28). The word śrī in śrī-kṛṣṇo also indicates His undeviating svarūpa-śakti [Śrī Rādhā]. The word ‘iha’ means ‘in this world’.

[Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Rādhā, and that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is Svayam Bhagavān, has been established in the fourth line].

tat-pāda-bhājāṁ tac-caraṇāravindaṁ bhajatām | prema prīty-atiśayam | vidhattāṁ kurutāṁ prādurbhāvayatv ity arthaḥ

tat-pāda-bhājāṁ means those who worship His Lotus feet. Prema means unsurpassed love. vidhattāṁ means ‘may he do so’, that is, ‘may he manifest’.

[this line disproves the existence of dormant prema. The word vidhattāṁ means that Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself has to manifest the prema, not that it is already present in the jīva]

So the translation is (Śrī Babaji’s translation, but I modified it somewhat to include elements of the above)

In one feature, Śrī Kṛṣṇa exists as pure consciousness, without any manifest characteristics, and is referred to as Brahman in some portions of the Vedas. In another feature, He expands as the Puruṣa, who regulates māyā by His līlāvatāras and guṇāvatāras. In yet another of His principal forms, He is Nārāyaṇa, resplendent in the spiritual sky, Mahā-Vaikuṇṭha. May that Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the original complete Bhagavān (Svayaṁ Bhagavān), bestow unsurpassed love for Himself on those who worship His lotus feet in this world.


Line 1 establishes Brahman,

Line 2 establishes Paramātmā, His various avatāras, and māyā

Line 3 establishes Nārāyaṇa, the husband of Lakṣmi, as one form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa,

line 4 establishes Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa,

Line 4 establishes sādhana (worship of His lotus feet),

Line 4 establishes prema, the goal,

Line 4 establishes Śrī Kṛṣṇa as the giver of that prema.

The rest of the Sandarbhas are expansions of these four lines. Śrī Jīva Goswami Prabhupāda ki jaya! Svayaṁ Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa ki jaya!

Categories: Epistemology

Tagged as:

15 replies »

  1. This is interesting. Thank you for explaining the right understanding of goswamis text in definition of brahman aspect. Your statement “So there is no knower, no knowledge, and no possessor of that knowledge. Brahman is simply consciousness. If you ask what consciousness is here, it is a denial of non-consciousness. Nothing positive can be said about it.” seems to exactly represent advaita positon of janpti or CinmAtra brahman.

    Could you please point to me the text where goswamis accept the concept of advaitis’s definition of nirvikalpa pratykasha – knowledge or peception without any vishaya.
    I can see one @ Sarva samvadhini for 22nd anuccheda on paramatma sandarbha , where it appears there is a refutation of knowledge devoid of vishaya based on sri bhasya reference. Text starts with “tad evaà sati vayaà brümaù—nirvikalpa-pratyaye ”



  2. Sri Radhe TK Das ji
    This cin-mātra sattā is the svarupa of Bhagavan described in Vishnu Purana(6.7.53):
    pratyastamita-bhedam yat tat sattā mātram, agocaram vacasām, ātma samvedyam, tad jñānam brahma

    The Purana even calls this sattā-mātra “aspect” as Brahman. Wonderfully links it to the way the word is interpreted by Sri Jiva in the Bhagavatam


  3. T K Das ji,
    Does Nirvikalpa pratyaksha necessarily have to be contentless absolutely?

    Brahman does have the svarupa lakShanas of sattA, ChaitanyatA etc. I think Sri Jiva in Sarvasamvadini says that Satya, jnana, Ananda(in the sruti: Satyam jñānam anantam brahma) as attributes of Brahman cannot be identical to in all respects to Brahman not are identical to one another, since there would not have been the necessity to list them separately as in “satyam jñānam anantam brahma” etc.

    Even Sri Jiva Goswami describes the shuddha Jiva(who experiences Brahman by ananyabodha) as a being which possesses consciousness and not just “consciousness alone” like Advaitins say. Even VCT quotes the play “Shishupala vadha(1.3)” to show nirvikalpa and Savikalpa pratyaksha where the nirvikalpa pratyaksha can be described as something:
    cayas tvisam ity avadharitam pura tatah saririti vibhasitakrtim vibhur vibhaktavayavam puman iti kramad amum narada ity avabodhi sah

    Babaji in his commentary to Bhagavat sandarbha, Anu. 7 translates it as:

    Sri Krsna first saw him as a bright mass of effulgence. When he came closer, He could understand that it was some being having a body. When he came still closer, He saw a human form. When he landed in front of them, He finally recognized him as Sri Narada.

    Please share your opinion.


    • Brahman by definition has no attributes. The words satya jnana ananta are not attributes but synonyms of Brahman. Nirvikalpa Pratyaksha is something that naiyayikas explain in detail. Look it up. I discussed it in an early series of articles on this site on Brahman. Every object is first perceived as nirvikalpaka- devoid of sambandha between objects and qualities . So one cannot describe anything about it. Later it becomes savikalpaka. Check articles on this site.

      Content less means without any information in it. In deep sleep, we are not aware of anything- so we can’t describe anything when we wake up.
      The atma is not pure consciousness. The atma possesses it. But Brahman is not the atma. Do not confuse the two .


      • Thank you . Could you please explain this related passage in Sarvasamvadini to Bhagavat sandarbha:

        tasmād evam evātra vaktavyam | bhinnatvenopalabhyamānābhyām api vijñānānanda-śabdābhyāṁ na tasya dvy-ātmakatā, kintv ekam eva vastu svarūpa-prakāśa-vaiśiṣṭyena bhinnatayā nirūpyate | kenāpi jñānam iti kenāpi tv ānandam iti, yathā candra-candrikā-sandoha-śuklo’yam iti jyotir idam iti ca |

        na ca satyatvānandatvābhyāṁ tad-bhedaṁ bhajate tayos tad-dharma-rūpatvāt, yathā pracuro’yaṁ prakāśaś candra ity atra pracuratvena candramā iti | tathā sa-viśeṣa-brahma-jñānam avidyā-nivṛttaye upadiśyate | yathā—

        vedāham etaṁ puruṣaṁ mahāntam
        āditya-varṇaṁ tamasaḥ parastāt |
        tam eva viditvātimṛtyum eti
        nānyaḥ panthā vidyate’yanāya || [śve.u. 3.8]

        sarve nimeṣā jajñire vidyutaḥ puruṣādadhi |
        na tasyaiśe kaścana yasya nāma mahad yaśaḥ |
        ya enaṁ vidur amṛtās te bhavanti || [ma.nā.u. 1.8]

        Sri Jiva here seems to say that satyatva and ānandatva are not different from him being his dharmas.


      • Here you go-

        “Therefore, only this ought to be said here. Even though the words vijnana and ananda in the scriptures are seen to indicate distinctiveness in Him, it does not follow that there is duality in Him. Instead, only one object is described distinctively depending on what aspect of the svarūpa is manifest. He is called consciousness by some sastra, and bliss by another. This is similar to how the collective moon light is described by some as ‘it is white’, and by others as ‘it is light’.

        Nor do the words satya and ananda imply duality in Him, because both these are His dharmas. As in the statement, “the moon is this profuse light”, what is meant is that the moon is present in its profuseness. Such knowledge of qualified Brahman is instructed for the cessation of avidya. As seen in the following verses:

        I know this great Purusa, who is beyond tamas, who is brilliant like the sun. Knowing Him alone does he cross over death. There is no other way to cross over. [śve.u. 3.8]

        All moments of time were born from the brilliant purusa. There is no Lord of Him, whose fame is unsurpassed. Those who know Him become immortal. [ma.nā.u. 1.8]


  4. KRSNA DASJI! Is 12th; 13th & 14th CHAPTERS of 10th CANTO of Srimad Bhagavatam considered as INTERPOLATION by our PREVIOUS GAUDIYA ACHARYAS?


      • Radhe Radhe
        TK Das ji if you get time could you please translate the passage from Sarvasamvadini ?
        Hope I am not bothering you. It’s for my personal notes as there is not many learned people to confirm these.



      • Yes dear Sridharji but I am very busy now. In a few days- remind me if I don’t respond.
        Some passages I can translate on the fly. But others, I have to take some time. Your recent one will take some time and study


      • Radhe Radhe TK Dasji
        Since you asked me to remind me in a few days , I am making this comment.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s