Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti is not in the jīva

The inherent bhakti-vādis hold that bhakti is in the svarūpa of the jīva. Because bhakti is Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti, this forces them to take the position that Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti is inside the jīva – in other words, Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti (i.e. the śakti that constitutes His very essence) is also the jīva’s svarūpa śakti or essential nature! In other words, Bhagavān and the jīva are constituted of the same śakti.

Yet, these proponents can produce no direct statement to this effect. In contrast, there are direct statements from Śrī Jīva Goswami that Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti is not inside the jīva as we shall see below.

The statement in question comes specifically in the context of a discussion of Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti in the Bhagavat Sandarbha. I provide the Sanskrit and translation below.

tataś cātra śuddha-bhagavat-prakaraṇe svarūpa-śakti-vṛttiṣv eva gaṇanāyāṁ paryavasitāsu vivecanīyam idam | prathamaṁ tāvad ekasyaiva tattvasya saccidānandatvāc chaktir apy ekā tridhā bhidyate | tad uktaṁ viṣṇu-purāṇe śrī-dhruveṇa—

In this Sandarbha , wherein Bhagavān is described purely, the functions of His internal potency ( svarūpa-śakti ) are assessed with regard to that in which they culminate [e.g., the vidyā potency culminates in awareness of the Lord]. In this regard, the following deliberation is made: First of all, the Absolute Reality, which is one only, also has only one energy, yet it is divided into three because He is sac-cid-ānanda .

This is stated by Śrī Dhruva in Viṣṇu Purāṇa :

hlādinī sandhinī saṁvit tvayy ekā sarva-saṁsthitau |

hlāda-tāpa-karī miśrā tvayi no guṇa-varjite || [vi.pu. 1.12.68] iti |

The one energy, having the three divisions of hlādinī (bliss), sandhinī (eternal existence) and saṁvit (knowing), exists in You, the support of everything. But the energy that yields material happiness, misery and their mixture, does not abide in You, because You are free from the guṇas . ( VP 1.12.69 )

Śrī Jīva Goswami then cites Śrīdhara Svāmī’s commentary on this verse below:

vyākhyātaṁ ca svāmibhiḥ—

hlādinī āhlāda-karī, sandhinī santatā, saṁvid vidyā-śaktiḥ | ekā mukhyā avyabhicāriṇī svarūpa-bhūteti yāvat | sā sarva-saṁsthitau sarvasya samyak sthitir yasmāt tasmin sarvādhiṣṭhāna-bhūte tvayy eva na tu jīveṣu | yā guṇa-mayī trividhā samvit sā tvayi nāsti |

Śrīdhara Svāmī comments: “ Hlādinī bestows delight, sandhinī is existence, and saṁvit is the cognitive potency. Ekā (one) means predominant, undeviating and intrinsic to the Lord’s essential nature. This energy is present in You only, the support of everything ( sarva-saṁsthiti ), or in other words, the one from whom all things come into being. This potency, however, is not present in the living beings. Moreover, the samvit energy consisting of the three material guṇas is not in You.”

As seen above, this is a clear denial of the presence of Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti in the jīva. By the well-known hermeneutic principle that a direct statement overrides all other statements, it is proven that bhakti is not inherent in the jīva.

Lest someone claims that jīva here is the conditioned ātmā, and not the pure ātmā, we reply that the conditioned ātmā is still an ātmā! Bhakti is being denied both inside the ātmā and also in the mind/body that it identifies with. Actually, there is no sense to denying svarūpa śakti in an upadhi like the mind and body – it is being denied in the svarūpa of the jīva, i.e. in the pure ātmā. Another thing to consider is that Śrī Jīva Goswami does not include Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti in the jīva’s intrinsic qualities in the Paramātmā Sandarbha, where his sole purpose is to teach the jīva’s intrinsic qualities.

In case someone claims that the statement na tu jīveṣu (not present in the living beings) is interpolated, we note that this statement is present in extant versions of the Sandarbhas, is quoted by Śrī Jīva Goswami in the Radha Kṛṣṇa Arcana dīpikā, and it is present in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa commentary of Sridhar swami (see edition by Thaneschandra Upreti, Parimal Series no. 21, which is available on the web).

The notion that Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti is present in the ātmā is also illogical, because it ignores the fact that the jīva itself is but one type of śakti of Bhagavān, and is a distinct śakti from Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti. I discussed Śrī Jīva Goswami’s teaching of this principle here.


  1. A direct statement overrides everything else. This is a well-known principle that Śrī Jīva Goswami uses in the Sandarbhas to great effect.
  2. This article provides a direct statement that Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti is not in the jīva.
  3. There are no direct statements stating that Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti is in the jīva.
  4. It is proven that bhakti, being Bhagavān’s svarūpa śakti, is not in the svarūpa of the jīva.

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