Śrī Viśvanātha explains taṭasthā-śakti

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.

iti caturvidhāḥ

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:

  1. baddha-jīvas,
  2. mukta-jīvas,
  3. siddha-bhaktas,
  4. nitya-pārṣadas.

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:

  1. baddha-jīvas,
  2. mukta-jīvas,
  3. siddha-bhaktas,
  4. nitya-pārṣadas

The taṭasthā-śakti is neither Bhagavān’s māyā-śakti nor His cit-śakti

Categories: jīva-tattva

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18 replies »

  1. Are nitya-pārṣadas here nitya-mukta-jīvas instead of the ones who belong to the svarūpa of Bhagavān, who had been specifically called nitya-pārṣadas in an earlier blog?


      • Is seems to me that although sometimes Garuda and Vishvaksena are called nityamukta jivas at times, they are actually really antaranga shakti bhuta, and those who are Jivas are either those who have attained sArupya with them or sAyujya with them from beginningless time or sometimes some Jivas are bestowed their forms and shaktis and serve Bhagavan in his avatara in this world just like Mainda and Dvivida as with Sri Rama and they would attain mukti and attain the same forms in the future. Their examples are only given to give examples of Jivas that are notyamukta.

        Bhagavan says that the gods invoked in his avarana Puja are his own amsha-svarupa as in the quote from Trailokya-sammohana-tantra in Bhakti sandarbha(Vol. 2 page-448) , Anuccheda 285:
        सर्वत्र देवदेवोऽसौ गोपवेशधरो हरिः ।
        केवलं रूपभेदेन नामभेदः प्रकीर्तितः ॥


    • Ae Question “Bhakti is Inherent or Inherited” par nahin poocha tha! I was confused in what sense Maya is Non-Different from Krsna. Since Svarupa Sakti is Conscious and constitutes the essential nature of Bhagavan its Non-Difference is understood on the basis of similar characteristics. But Maya kis Type see Non-Different hai?? Is it because Maya does not Exist Independently from Krsna as a Reflection of the Sun is not independent of the Sun? Ae pooch raha oon.


      • Maine prashna galat samjha. Sorry!

        Svarupa sakti is different and non different from Bhagavan- both. Sakti is same as saktiman- this is abheda. Saktiman is not the same as sakti – this is bheda. Both have to be kept in mind.

        This applies to both maya and svarupa sakti. Except that maya is bahiranga and the other is antaranga.


  2. I didn’t get the explanation of svasaṁvedyād-vinirgatam (whose self-awareness has been lost) in relation to Nitya Mukta. Only the second part of guna ranjitam was explained in relation to nitya mukta such as kalyana guna. Could you please tell me how the first part of vinirgatam applies in relation to nitya mukta?

    And secondly, how do you differentiate between certain Nitya parshads, preyasis which have svarupa shakti in essence (as you mentioned in one of your previous articles) from the nitya parshadas mentioned in this article who are tatastha (only tad rupya and tad-svarupya but not in essence). Going by this understanding, I see that there are two categories of Nitya parshadas? Please correct me If I am wrong.


    • Where do you see the second part of guna ranjitam explained in relation to nitya mukta? It was explained for the Bhakti siddha.
      Yes you could think of it as two categories of nitya parsadas. Words can be used in different ways. Sometimes this word is used to differentiate between Bhagavan’s associates and the jivas in Vaikuntha. Here it is used to differentiate between Bhakti siddha jivas and nitya siddha jivas.


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