One of the joys of studying the writings of Śrī Viśvanātha is the clarity with which he presents any topic. Here, we examine his beautiful exposition of the taṭasthā-śakti, in SB 10.87.32. We pick up the thread somewhere in the middle of his commentary:
teṣāṁ bahutvaṁ nityatvaṁ ca—
The jīvās are many and eternal.
nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām
eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān | [go.tā.u.1.20]
iti śrutyā pratipāditam |
The śruti says: He is the eternal among the eternals, and the conscious among the conscious. He is the one who provides for many.
He next writes:
samuditānāṁ teṣāṁ bhagavatas taṭasthā-śaktitvenaikatvaṁ ca jñeyam |
These collective jīvas should be known as one unit owing to their being taṭasthā-śakti of Bhagavān.
Now, he divides these collective jīvas, the taṭasthā-śakti of Bhagavān, into four parts:
te ca meghopamayāvidyayāvṛtā baddha-jīvā eke,
Some of them are baddha-jīvas because of being covered by avidyā, which acts like a raincloud (that covers the sun of the pure jīvas),
anye bhaktimaj jñānena tad āvaraṇonmuktā mukta-jīvāḥ,
Some others are mukta-jīvas, who have become free from the covering of avidyā by the practice of jñāna mixed with bhakti,
anye kevalayā pradhānībhūtayā vā bhaktyā tad āvaraṇonmocita-prāpita-cidānanda-maya-bhajanopayogi-śarīrāḥ siddha-bhaktāḥ,
Still others, are siddha-bhaktas, having obtained conscious and blissful bodies for bhajana, through the practice of pure bhakti or predominant bhakti, that released them from the covering of avidyā,
anye’vidyā-yoga-rahitā eva nitya-pārṣadā iti caturvidhāḥ |
and still others are devoid of any contact with avidyā (from beginningless time) whatsoever, are nitya-pārṣadas.
In this way, there are four types of jīvas (who are to be considered as one unit as taṭasthā-śakti)
So the four sub-categories of the one taṭasthā-śakti are as follows:
As seen here, Śrī Viśvanātha completely rejects the claim of some, that the siddhas are not factually taṭasthā-śakti. These proponents claim that all jīvas are intrinsically Bhagavān’s svarūpa-śakti. When conditioned, their svarūpa is obscured or covered by avidyā. When the conditioned jīvas become siddhas by bhakti, their intrinsic nature of being svarūpa-śakti becomes manifest. At that point, they are not taṭasthā-śakti anymore, and the name taṭasthā-śakti should be applied in a secondary sense.
Not only does Śrī Viśvanātha disagree with such claims, but he demonstrates precisely how even the siddhas fit the definition of taṭasthā-śakti. He quotes the famous definition from Nārada-pañcarātra:
tal-lakṣaṇaṁ ca nārada-pañcarātre—
yat-taṭasthaṁ tu vijñeyaṁ svasaṁvedyād-vinirgatam |
rañjitaṁ guṇa-rāgeṇa sa jīva iti kathyate ||
— 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.
How does this definition applies to the siddha-bhaktas? He will now explain in some detail. First, he explains the meaning of the words “yat-taṭasthaṁ”:
asyārthaḥ—yat-taṭasthaṁ viśeṣato jñeyaṁ cidvastu sa jīvaḥ yathāgneḥ kṣudrā visphuliṅgā vyuccaranti [bṛ.ā.u. 2.1.20] iti śruteḥ |
The meaning is as follows. That entity, which is taṭastha, which is to be known specifically as a conscious substance, is the jīva. The śruti says, “[the jīvas are like] small sparks of fire that come out in various directions from the fire.
Next, he explains svasaṁvedyād-vinirgatam rañjitaṁ guṇa-rāgeṇa in the context of the conditioned jīvas:
sva-saṁvedyāc-citpuñjād-bhagavataḥ sakāśād-vinirgataṁ cet-tadā guṇa-rāgeṇa rañjitaṁ bahiraṅgayā māyā-śaktyā svīyānāṁ guṇānāṁ rāgeṇa rañjitaṁ māyikākāraṁ syād ity arthaḥ |
When the jīva is lost from Bhagavān, who is the purely conscious entity, then he is colored by attachment to the material guṇas, that is, he takes on a māyika form (rañjitaṁ), by attachment to māyā’s own guṇas due to the bahiraṅgā māyā-śakti.
Next, he explains how rañjitaṁ guṇa-rāgeṇa is applied to the bhakti-siddha jīvas.
yadā tu kevalayā pradhānī-bhūtayā vā bhaktyā māyottīrṇaṁ syāt-tadāntaraṅgayā cic-chaktyā svīya-kalyāṇa-guṇena rañjitaṁ bhagavaty anuraktī-kṛtaṁ cinmayākāra-yuktaṁ syād ity arthaḥ |
But when, by pure bhakti or by predominant bhakti, he has crossed over beyond māyā, then by the antaraṅgā cit-śakti, he becomes colored by the cit-śakti’s auspicious guṇas, that is, he develops attachment to Bhagavān. The meaning is that he becomes equipped with a body made of Bhagavān’s cit-śakti.
Now he says something very important, which sets to rest any confusion about taṭasthā-śakti:
evaṁ ca, māyā-cic-chaktyos taṭastha-vartitvāt-taṭastham iti tan nāma kṛtam |
In this way, the name ‘taṭastha’ is given to the jīvas, owing to their being on the ‘shore’ in between Bhagavān’s māyā-śakti and His cit-śakti.
So again we see the same concept as we saw in past articles: taṭasthā-śakti is neither Bhagavān’s māyā-śakti nor His cit-śakti.
The taṭasthā-śakti is of four types:
The taṭasthā-śakti is neither Bhagavān’s māyā-śakti nor His cit-śakti