Claim: The quality of the jīva of svayam-prakāśatva, discussed in the Paramātmā Sandarbha, means ‘self-manifestation’. This refers to the phenomenon, in which the jīva, upon liberation, ‘self-manifests’ its intrinsic qualities of jñāna-śakti or knowership, its agency or doership, and other qualities, on its own. Further, these śaktis are Bhagavān’s svarūpa-śakti.
Response: This claim is false. As we will see below, it is not at all consistent with Śrī Jīva Goswami’s extensive explanation in the Paramātmā Sandarbha. I pick up the thread with Anuccheda 22 of the Paramātmā Sandarbha:
jñāna-mātrātmako na ca iti kiṁ tarhi ? jñāna-mātratve’pi jñāna-śaktitvaṁ prakāśasya prakāśana-śaktitvavat, tādṛśatvam api
It was said earlier by Jāmātṛ Muni, “The ātmā is not mere consciousness” [ jñāna-mātrātmako na ca , quality no. 5]. What exactly does this mean? It means that even while being purely of the nature of consciousness, the jīva has the capacity to know ( jñāna-śaktitva ), just as light, which is itself luminous, also has the power to illuminate [other objects].
[my notes: nope, no mention at all of ‘self-manifestation’ of any kind. Instead, the meaning here is squarely about the jñāna-śakti of the ātmā. The Advaitins deny any such jñāna-śakti in the pure ātmā. For them, the ātmā is jñāna, i.e. consciousness, but not the possessor of consciousness. That would admit duality which is not allowed. Śrī Jīva Goswami is simply stating that it is both – it is jñāna – i.e. it is pure consciousness without any inertness in it, but it also possesses jñāna-śakti – the ability or power to know. ]
[Now, some claim as follows: Śrī Jīva Goswami states that the jīva’s knowership, doership, and enjoyership in relation to this world are his extrinsic or accidental attributes (taṭastha-lakṣaṇa), and not his intrinsic attributes (svarūpa-lakṣaṇa) arising from his svarūpa. This proves that the jīva’s intrinsic knowership, which is part of the cit sakti of Bhagavān, is not active in the material body.
I have already refuted this before on this site. Now we will see that Śrī Jīva Goswami totally disagrees with this type of claim in multiple ways below.]
nātmā jajāna na mariṣyati naidhate’sau
na kṣīyate savana-vid vyabhicāriṇāṁ hi |
sarvatra śaśvad anapāyy upalabdhi-mātraṁ
prāṇo yathendriya-balena vikalpitaṁ sat || [bhā.pu. 11.3.38]
ity anena tattva-sandarbha eva darśitam|
This was demonstrated by the following verse, quoted in the Tattva Sandarbha ( Anuccheda 53):
[my notes: ‘This’ here refers to the fact that the ātmā possesses jñāna-śakti. It is important to keep in mind that this is the svarūpa-lakṣaṇa of the ātmā, as Śrī Jīva Goswami explicitly states at the start of the section on the ātmā’s intrinsic qualities, of which this Anuccheda is but one part. So what is the verse that demonstrates this? It is below]
Because it is the witness of the variable states [childhood, youth, and so on] of the transient material body, this ātmā is without birth, growth, decay, or death. Although the ātmā is exclusively of the nature of consciousness, present everywhere, eternal, and invariable, it appears to assume various forms under the influence of sense perception and cognition, just as the vital force ( prāṇa ) within the body, although one, appears as if many in contact with the various senses. ( SB 11.3.38 )
[The fact that the ātmā possesses jñāna-śakti is proven by the verse on the basis of its being the witness of the material body. And yet, there are those who make the claim that the ātmā’s inherent jñāna-śakti is not functional in the conditioned state, and that it uses “material jñāna-śakti” to know. Read on:]
atra upalabdhi-mātratve’pi savanavittvenokteḥ spaṣṭam eva tādṛśa-jñāna-śaktitvam | ata eva śuddho vicaṣṭe hy aviśuddha-kartuḥ [bhā.pu. 5.11.12] ity uktam |
It is perfectly clear from the above that the self has such power of knowing, because the verse says that although the ātmā is exclusively of the nature of consciousness ( upalabdhi-mātra ), it is a knower, or witness, of the variable states of the transient material body ( savana-vit ). Therefore, it was said, “[The knower of the presentational field], being pure, merely perceives [these beginningless modifications] of the impure actor” ( SB 5.11.12 ).
[Again- that the “ātmā possesses jñāna-śakti” is proven by its being the knower of the material body. He cites the śuddho vicaṣṭe verse, which was also cited in Paramātmā Sandarbha Anuccheda 1, specifically in the context of the ātmā’s being a conditioned knower. The ātmā’s knowership mentioned in Anuchheda 1 is claimed by some to be “an extrinsic or accidental attribute (taṭastha-lakṣaṇa)”. On the contrary, as seen here, it is the ātmā intrinsic jñāna-śakti alone that functions in the conditioned state, so much so, that Śrī Jīva Goswami infers the existence of the ātmā’s intrinsic jñāna-śakti based on that conditioned knowing. This jñāna-śakti is the svarūpa-śakti of the ātmā as we will see below.]
prakārāntareṇāpi tad āha—
guṇair vicitrāḥ sṛjatīṁ sarūpāḥ prakṛtiṁ prajāḥ |
vilokya mumuhe sadyaḥ sa iha jñāna-gūhayā || [bhā.pu. 3.26.5]
Śrī Kapiladeva expresses this in a different way:
[my notes: The word ‘this’ in the above sentence still refers to the jñāna-śakti of the ātmā.]
Upon seeing prakṛti create, through her guṇas , varieties of progeny with forms corresponding to those guṇas , he [the self], existing in this world, became immediately bewildered by prakṛti’s power to conceal consciousness. ( SB 3.26.5 )
[My notes: the second line of this verse is translated by some as follows, “the intrinsic śakti of the jīva will give him knowledge of his real self (pratyak-jñāna) whereas [..] the jīva in ignorance obtains material knowledge”. This is incorrect, because here is how Śrī Jīva Goswami explains it:]
atra vilokya ity anena, mumuhe ity anena, jñāna-gūhayā ity anena ca parāg-bhūtāyāḥ prakṛtes tat-kṛtād ajñānāc ca pratyag-bhūtaṁ yaj jñānaṁ tat tasya svarūpa-śaktir eva syād iti gamyate | śrī-gītopaniṣadaś ca tathā—ajñānenāvṛtaṁ jñānaṁ tena muhyanti jantavaḥ [gītā 5.15] iti ||
In this verse, by the words “upon seeing,” “bewildered,” and “by the power to conceal consciousness,” the self’s knowing capacity ( jñāna ) is understood as interior to its being ( pratyag-bhūta ) and hence distinct from prakṛti and her self-generated ignorance, which [by contrast] is external to the self ( parāg-bhūtāyāḥ ). It can thus be deduced that the self’s knowing capacity must be a function of its own innate power ( svarūpa-śakti ) alone. In the Gītā also, it is said, “Living beings are bewildered because their consciousness is covered by ignorance” ( Gītā 5.15)
[My notes: The topic is again, as it has been throughout this Anuchheda, that the ātmā has jñāna-śakti, and that it is the svarūpa-śakti of the ātmā. Note again that there is no mention of this consciousness being inactive or dormant or lost in any way. This consciousness functions, but it is covered, which simply conveys the fact the conditioned jīva is aware of the world but not aware of Paramātmā, who is the ātmā’s very svarūpa (this svarūpatva is mentioned by Śrī Jīva below). The ātmā has prag-abhāva or the beginningless absence of this awareness. Note also that there is no mention of Bhagavān’s svarūpa-śakti anywhere here. The ātmā’s svarūpa-śakti is not the same as Bhagavān’s svarūpa-śakti! Every object has svarūpa-śakti in it, like fire has the power to burn. The term svarūpa-śakti is not some proper noun that can only refer to Bhagavān’s svarūpa-śakti.]
I now turn to Paramātmā Sandarbha Anuchheda 27, where svayam-prakāśatva is discussed. This is misinterpreted to mean ‘self-manifestation’ of the ‘intrinsic qualities of the ātmā upon liberation’, when it simply refers to the ātmā’s inherent jñāna-śakti.
pūrvoktam evārthaṁ vyañjayituṁ svasmai svayaṁ-prakāśaḥ ity uktam | tathā-bhūtatvaṁ ca vilakṣaṇaḥ [bhā.pu. 11.10.8] ity-ādy-ukta-padya eva sva-dṛg ity anena vyaktam asti |
To clarify the above meaning [i.e., that the ātmā is not mere consciousness but also intrinsically endowed with cognitive awareness] Jāmātṛ Muni [ Anuccheda 19] said, “It is conscious of itself and self-luminous” [ svasmai svayam-prakāśaḥ syāt , qualities no. 6 and 7]. The self’s characteristic of self-luminosity was expressed [also in Anuccheda 19] by the word sva-dṛk (“self-aware”) in Bhāgavatam (11.10.8) [the principal verse of that section].
[My notes: What is the ‘above meaning’ that he is going to clarify? Simply that there is jñāna-śakti in the pure ātmā. How does he clarify it? By stating that svayaṁ-prakāśa is an intrinsic quality of the ātmā, which is simply another way of stating the capacity of awareness, whether of itself or of objects outside, is the ātmā’s intrinsic power. Being its intrinsic power, it always functions. It can be misdirected, sure, but it functions.]
tatra prakāśas tāvad guṇa-dravya-bhedena dvividhaḥ | prathamo nijāśrayasya sphūrti-rūpaḥ | dvitīyaḥ sva-para-sphūrti-nidānaṁ vastu-viśeṣaḥ | tatrātmano dravyatvād ayam eva gṛhyate—yathā dīpaś cakṣuḥ prakāśayan sva-para-sphūrtiṁ svayam eva karoti, na tu ghaṭādi-prakāśavat tad-ādi-sāpekṣaḥ, tasmād ayaṁ svayaṁ-prakāśaḥ | tathāpi svaṁ prati na prakāśate, yata eva jaḍa ity ucyate |
Luminosity ( prakāśa ) is of two kinds, based on the distinction made between luminosity as a quality ( guṇa ) and a luminous substance ( dravya ). The first kind of luminosity is that which makes visible the source of its own luminosity; the second kind is the specific [luminous] entity ( vastu ) itself that is instrumental in making itself and other objects visible.
In this particular instance, since the ātmā is accepted as a substance ( dravya ), only the latter type of luminosity is applicable. For example, a lamp, in illuminating the eye, makes both itself and other objects visible of its own accord, without dependence on another light to reveal it, as would be the case for a clay pot. Therefore, the lamp is [called] self-luminous ( svayam-prakāśa ). It is not, however, self-revealing in regard to itself, and thus it is said to be inert or unconscious ( jaḍa ).
[No meaning of ‘self-manifestation of dormant powers’ can be supported here. This section is squarely about perception or knowing. When we see ourselves in the mirror, nothing else is needed for our perception other than the mirror and light in the room. No other intermediary step is involved. We perceive ourselves on our own – we have that capacity inside of us. We know we exist- we do not need a certificate from anyone for that. In the same way, the ātmā can perceive itself with a mind stilled by practice, as I have discussed elsewhere on this site. It needs nothing else to know itself (other than the mind). Likewise, it can know objects like computers and books with its own power to know and the instruments of the mind and senses; it needs nothing else. He states this explicitly. Also note that some misinterpret the word ‘cit’ when applied to the ātmā to mean Bhagavān’s cit or svarūpa-śakti. Śrī Jīva Goswami explains what it actually means when applied to the ātmā below. I have bolded it. For those who dont know Sanskrit, the ‘t’ in ‘cit’ becomes ‘d’ by sandhi rules of Sanskrit grammar]
ātmā tu svaṁ paraṁ ca prakāśayan svātmānaṁ prati prakāśamānatvāt svasmai svayaṁ-prakāśaḥ, yata eva cid-rūpa ucyate |
The ātmā , on the other hand, illuminates both itself and others, but since it is also self-revealing in regard to its own self [i.e., because it is self-aware], it was said that it is “self-illuminating of its own self” ( svasmai svayam-prakāśaḥ ) — or in other words, self-aware and self-luminous. For this reason, it is said to be inherently of the nature of consciousness ( cid-rūpa ).
[The ātmā is called ‘cit’ simply because it hs jñāna-śakti, or the power to know both itself and other objects. This is its very essence. And yet, some deny that this essential quality of the ātmā functions at all when in the material body! ]
tad uktam anyair api | svayaṁ-prakāśatvaṁ sva-vyavahāre parānapekṣatvam, avedyatve saty aparokṣa-vyavahāra-yogyatvaṁ veti |
Others [e.g., Citsukhācārya in his Tattva-pradīpikā ] have also defined self-luminosity ( svayam-prakāśatva ) as being ( 1 ) that which, in its own operative function [i.e., of illuminating], is not dependent on any external source, or ( 2 ) that which, although imperceptible ( avedya ), is capable of being immediately, or directly, realized ( aparokṣa-vyavahāra-yogyatva ).
[Why is Śrī Jīva Goswami using this type of terminology? Because his writings have a context to them. The term svayam-prakāśa did not drop out of the sky, so that people are free to interpret it as they like. Indian thinkers like Citsukhācārya have debated the meaning of this term. He now explains why he uses two words, svasmai and svayaṁ-prakāśa].
tatra pūrvatra parānapekṣyatva-svarūpa-lakṣaṇe dīpa-sādharmya-jaḍatva-vāraṇāya svasmaipadam apekṣyam, uttaratra tu spaṣṭatārtham | ataḥ sva-dṛk svasmai svayaṁ-prakāśa ity arthaḥ |
In regard to the first definition, which specifies the intrinsic characteristic of self-luminosity as being “independent of any external source,” the word svasmai (“in regard to its own self”) is needed to avoid its being identified as inert, like a lamp [which is also luminous]. In regard to the second definition, it is evident that a lamp and other similar luminous objects are perceptible ( vedya ), which violates the definition. Hence, the word svasmai is needed to clarify the meaning of the word that succeeds it ( svayam-prakāśa ). Therefore, the word sva-dṛk (self-aware) means svasmai svayam-prakāśaḥ (self-revealing in regard to its own self).
[Now he hastens to add an important point:]
na cāsau paramātma-prakāśyatve ghaṭavat para-prakāśyaḥ, paramātmanas tat-parama-svarūpatvena para-prakāśyatvābhāvāt |
Just because the self is illuminated by Paramātmā, it should not be considered as para-prakāśya , or in other words, as something requiring illumination from an external source, in the manner of [an inert object] like a clay pot. This is because Paramātmā is the supreme intrinsic essence ( parama-svarūpa ) of the individual self, and so in the case of the self’s illumination by Paramātmā, there is a complete absence of dependence on any external source for its illumination.
[The Paramātmā is the āśraya of the ātmā’s śaktis. He is the very svarūpa of the ātmā. As such, by abheda between the ātmā and Paramātmā, i.e. seeing them as one entity, the flaw of the ātmā being illuminated by someone other than itself, is avoided.]
The ātmā is both consciousness and a possessor of consciousness or jñāna-śakti.
The term cit-śakti, when applied to the ātmā, is simply its jñāna-śakti.
This jñāna-śakti is the svarūpa-śakti of the ātmā, not of Bhagavān.
The ātmā’s jñāna-śakti is inferred based upon the jiva’s knowing of the material body. The ātmā’s jñāna-śakti is very much functional in the body, and not at all dormant.
Svayam-prakāśatva refers to the intrinsic jñāna-śakti of the ātmā, which allows it to know itself and other objects as long as the right conditions are present.