Śrī Jīva Goswami teaches that the pure jīva, i.e. ātmā, is taṭasthā śakti

In the Bhagavat Sandarbha Anuccheda 16.4, Śrī Jīva Goswami discusses how Bhagavān has three distinct śaktis. He writes:

śaktiś ca tridhā—antaraṅgā, taṭasthā, bahiraṅgā ca |

Parabrahman’s śakti is of three types — antaraṅgā, taṭasthā, and bahiraṅgā.

Over and over, we see that Śrī Jīva Goswami states that there are three types of śaktis. Yet, some claim that there are factually only two śaktis, antaraṅgā and bahiraṅgā. In their view, the taṭasthā śakti is a sort of appellation necessary to distinguish the conditioned jīvas in the material world. They hold that the jīvas are actually antaraṅgā śakti only. In the material world, their true nature of being antaraṅgā śakti is hidden.

tatrāntaraṅgayā svarūpa-śakty-ākhyayā sūrya-tan-maṇḍala-sthānīya-pūrṇenaiva svarūpeṇa vaikuṇṭhādi-svarūpa-vaibhava-rūpeṇa ca tad avatiṣṭhate |

By His internal energy, called svarūpa-śakti , He exists in His complete form, as well as in the form of His inherent magnificence ( svarūpa-vaibhava ), such as the Vaikuṇṭha planet; these can be likened to the sun and its orb.

The example of the sun and its rays is often misinterpreted to mean that the jīvas have the same svarūpa as Bhagavān. But we will see in this article that the contrary is true.

taṭasthayā raśmi-sthānīya-cid-ekātma-śuddha-jīva-rūpeṇa,

By His taṭasthā śakti, He exists as the pure jīvas, which are conscious by nature and are like the sun’s rays.

Note the precise words used here:


Some claim that Śrī Jīva Goswami uses the word ‘śuddha-jīva’ or ‘pure jīva’ primarily to mean Brahman-identified jīva. This is obviously wrong, because all the jīvas are being included in taṭasthā śakti, not only (the very few) Brahman-identified jīvas. The word ‘śuddha-jīva’ simply means the pure jīva or ātmā, separated from the other two śaktis.

So, what is meant here is,

taṭasthā śakti = pure jīva or ātmā

This refutes the idea that the term taṭasthā śakti applies only to the conditioned jīvas. It also refutes the idea that the jīvas are antaraṅgā śakti or cit śakti of Bhagavān. Because Śrī Jīva Goswami is explaining that they are taṭasthā śakti in their pure state, distinct from the antaraṅgā śakti.

How to understand the word ‘cit’ when applied to the śuddha-jīva

The word ‘cit’ is used as a qualifer in the term cid-ekātma-śuddha-jīva. Does this mean that the śuddha-jīvas are Bhagavān’s cit-śakti? No, because this has already been refuted above and because Śrī Jīva Goswami notes that the taṭasthā śakti has been stated to be a distinct śakti from the other two śaktis (tisṝṇām eva pṛthak śaktitva-nirdeśāt, Anuchheda 37, Paramātmā Sandarbha).

Yet, some argue that the word ‘cit’ when applied to the jīva should be interpreted to mean Bhagavān’s svarūpa-śakti. This, despite the fact that Śrī Jīva Goswami himself in Anuchheda 56 of the Paramātmā Sandarbha warns us not to be confused by the fact that the same word can be used for multiple śaktis. For example, the words prakṛti and cit-śakti are both used for the jīvas. Just because prakṛti is used to refer to jīva, this does not mean, now, that the jīva is Bhagavān’s bahiraṅgā śakti! But let us continue. He writes:

bahiraṅgayā māyākhyayā praticchavi-gata-varṇa-śāvalya-sthānīya-tadīya-bahiraṅga-vaibhava-jaḍātma-pradhāna-rūpeṇa ceti caturdhātvam |

By His external energy, called māyā , which is compared to the variety of colors in the reflection of the sun’s rays, He exists as the external magnificence ( bahiraṅga-vaibhava ) in the form of inert pradhāna . These constitute the fourfold manifestation of Brahman.

What he writes next is significant:

ata eva tad-ātmakatvena jīvasyaiva taṭastha-śaktitvam

Because the jīva is one with the nature of Brahman, it is called the taṭasthā śakti

Obviously, ‘one with the nature of Brahman (Brahman here is Bhagavān, because that’s how the section has started- discussing Brahman’s śaktis)’ does not mean here that the jīva is Brahman’s svarūpa-śakti! If this was the case, it would not be put in a third category at all. So we arrive at a resolution. The word cit simply means ‘conscious’ here. And because it shares consciousness with Brahman, it is called taṭasthā śakti.

The correct understanding of the sun and sun-ray analogy

Returning to the sun and sun-ray analogy, the sun is not the net sum of its sun-rays. Nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium occurs in the sun. There are no atoms in light. Sun rays are but one type of energy of the sun. There is heat energy and chemical energy in the sun, which are distinct types of energy from light. Thus, the sun-rays share only one quality with the sun – that of light. They are but one type of energy of the sun.

Likewise, the pure jīvas are but one type of energy of Bhagavān, the other types being antaraṅgā and bahiraṅgā. The pure jīvas share the quality of consciousness with Bhagavān, that is, they possess jñāna-śakti, just like Him. This jñāna-śakti is not present in bahiraṅgā śakti. It is for this reason, that the statements like tat tvam asi are made, reminding the jīvas that they are distinct from māyā because they are conscious, and māyā is not.


The pure jīva or ātmā is Bhagavān’s taṭasthā śakti

It is called Bhagavān’s taṭasthā śakti because it shares the quality of consciousness with Bhagavān.

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