In mukti, the qualities of the ātmā become manifest, i.e. become observable, to itself

I continue examining the arguments of the inherent bhakti-vādis, who claim that “bhakti is inherent in the ātmā”. While this theory was invented some time in the last two centuries, it has now taken the form that “bhakti is both bestowed on the ātmā and already inherent in the ātmā”. Furthermore, the word “dormant” in “dormant bhakti” has been extended to apply to all qualities of the ātmā (the ātmā’s own śaktis like knowership, doership, affectivity, etc. are all dormant in the conditioned state). Who knows what this theory will mutate to in the future?

Claim: [The jīva’s inherent qualities like knowership, doership, or affectivity, are proposed by the inherent bhakti-vādis to be ‘hidden’ or ‘dormant’ or ‘not functional’.]

“Jīva Goswami’s commentary on Paramātma Sandarbha 33 clarifies what is meant by the qualities being “hidden”: “These qualities manifest in the jīva in liberation, just as qualities of males and females manifest in a person as they mature.”

When Jīva Goswami says that the qualities manifest in liberation, he means that spiritual śaktis manifest. This point is clear from the comment that follows: “The jīva’s qualities which are similar to the Lord’s are hidden. From meditation on the Supreme Lord, a śakti which defies darkness appears by the mercy of the Lord, like the power of a medicine.”

This comment very clearly shows simultaneous inherence and bestowal because it says that the jīva’s hidden qualities (śakti) manifest by the mercy of the Lord. “


I will examine the Sarva-samvādinī commentary cited here, and show that Śrī Jīva Goswami does not support the notion of simultaneous inherence and bestowal. We start at the point below (my translation):

kiṁ ca, teṣāṁ jīva-guṇānāṁ vahner auṣṇyādivad anādy-ananta-kālāvasthopyātma-samāna-kālam eva vyāpya bhavana-śīlatvān na kadācid vyabhicārāśaṅkā | tathā ca darśayati śrutiḥ—na hi vijñātur vijñāter viparilopo vidyate [bṛ.ā.u. 4.3.30] ity ādyā | mokṣe tu teṣām abhivyaktir jāyate, yauvane puṁ-strī-bhāva-viśeṣavat |

Furthermore, although the jīva abides in time that has no beginning and end, its qualities exist pervading the same time in which the jīva exists, and thus there is no possibility of deviation, like the heat of fire [heat is always present when the fire is present]. The śruti discloses this in statements such as, “the knowership of the knower cannot be lost” [bṛ.ā.u. 4.3.30]. These qualities become manifest in mukti or liberation, just as masculinity or femininity are manifest in youth.

The ‘abhivyakti’ or ‘manifestation’ of qualities means that the qualities becomes observable

The opponent (‘inherent-and-bestowed-bhakti’-vādi) claims that the word ‘abhivyakti’ or ‘manifest’ means that the qualities like knowership, which were non-functional or dormant before mukti, become active and functional upon mukti. As we will see, the actual meaning of this word, taken in the context in which it appears, is completely different.

Śrī Jīva Goswami next cites the following Vedānta-sūtra:

tad uktaṁ puṁstvādivat tv asya sato’bhivyakti-yogāt [ve.sū. 2.3.31] ity

As is stated in the Vedānta-sūtra 2.3.31, “because this, which already exists, manifests, like masculinity”.

This sūtra is connected to the ones that precede it. The idea in the preceding Vedānta-sūtra 2.3.30 can be understood as follows: sunlight is a quality of the sun, and their co-existence is always observed. That is, whenever the sun is present, sunlight is present. In the night, the sun is not present, and we observe that there is no sunlight. Likewise, one can observe that jñāna-śakti is always present whenever the jīva is present. Any human being who is alive is observed to have the capacity to perceive. Because the jīva’s jñāna-śakti is observed whenever the jīva is observed, the jīva’s jñāna-śakti is inferred to be its inherent quality or its svarūpa-śakti. This is the sense of Śrī Jīva’s statement above – “its qualities exist pervading the same time in which the jīva exists”.

Because the above argument in V.S. 2.3.30 is predicated on observation, an objection is raised. In deep sleep, one observes a person to be sleeping, but that person perceives nothing, because the person wakes up and says, “I knew nothing”. This disproves that the jīva’s jñāna-śakti is its svarūpa-śakti, as the jñāna-śakti is not observed to be present at all times when the jīva is observed. In fact, it is observed that perception, as expressed by statements like, “I know this”, are only made in wakefulness, when the mind is active. From this, it can be inferred that jñāna-śakti actually belongs to the mind, and not the jīva. In deep sleep, because the mind is disconnected from the jīva, there is no perception. This is a pretty good objection actually, and a challenge to Śrī Jīva’s statement above – “its qualities exist pervading the same time in which the jīva exists”. This is why he quotes the bṛ.ā.u. 4.3.30 to counter it, and then cites sūtra 2.3.31.

Sūtra 2.3.31 counters that the lack of perception that a person in deep sleep reports upon waking up is not because of an absence of jñāna-śakti in deep sleep. It is because there is nothing to perceive in deep sleep. Jñāna-śakti is present, and is very much functional, but it lacks a viṣaya or object of perception, being disconnected from the mind which is the supplier of objects of perception. How can you perceive something when there is nothing to perceive?

Sūtra 2.3.31 solidifies the response further, by stating that the observation of perception in wakefulness is actually an observation of the same jñāna-śakti which was present but not observable in deep sleep. This is what ‘abhivyakti’ or ‘manifestation’ means. When we say that something manifests, we mean that the thing becomes observable. When something is not observable, it is incorrect to assume that it did not exist, or that it did not function. It is just that we are not aware of its existence or its functioning. Anything in the svarūpa of an object, cannot become dormant, i.e. stop functioning. The word ‘abhivyakti’ or ‘manifestation’ conveys that in the wakeful state, the inherent capacity to perceive becomes observable. The observer could be the jīva itself, or others.

The whole crux of the argument above is that the jīva’s jñāna-śakti is functional in wakefulness; we know this because its function is observable. If we do not accept this, the whole discussion in these Vedānta-sūtras becomes meaningless and incoherent. As such, the notion that the jīva’s jñāna-śakti is dormant in the conditioned state (wakefulness is one type of conditioned state) is refuted.

In mukti, the qualities of the ātmā become observable, or ‘manifest’ to itself

I now return to the statement above, which we can now properly interpret given the context of the Vedānta-sūtras in which they were cited:

mokṣe tu teṣām abhivyaktir jāyate|

These qualities become manifest in mukti or liberation,


These qualities become observable in mukti or liberation to the jīva

Śrī Jīva Goswami has taught in the Sandarbhas, which I have covered in several articles now, that the the jīva is unaware of its own self, i.e. it is unaware of its qualities in the conditioned state. He teaches that mukti means becoming aware of the existence of one’s own source, which is Paramātmā, and one’s own self, which includes one’s own qualities.

To the conditioned jīva, qualities of knowership, doership, affectivity and so on, appear to belong to the mind-body, and not the ātmā, because of misidentification. Every neuroscience textbook today teaches that knowing is a quality of the brain. The śrutis work hard to dispel the notion that these qualities belong to the mind-body. But even after hearing this knowledge, we do not have direct experience of ourselves. This awareness is brought about only in mukti. We manifest to ourselves. This is the meaning of the word ‘manifest’ here.

He offers the same example to understand this which is offered in VS 2.3.31:

yauvane puṁ-strī-bhāva-viśeṣavat |

just as masculinity or femininity are manifest in youth.

The example is straightforward: a female baby is unaware of its femininity, that is, her capacity to bear progeny. In youth, she becomes aware of this fact. The example should not be misinterpreted to convey that the baby could not have a child, and so her motherhood was dormant, and it became active in youth. While this meaning is certainly possible (examples can be misinterpreted to mean something else entirely; this is called ‘chhala’ or deception in nyāya), the meaning has to be given in consonance with VS 2.3.30 and 2.3.31. The ‘sādharmya’ between the example and what is to be proven is one of abhivyakti or becoming manifest to one’s awareness, and not of dormancy.

The analogy between mukti and deep sleep-wakefulness

I now summarize the foregoing discussion.

Just as in deep sleep, one does not perceive objects even though one has a functioning consciousness, because there are no objects to perceive, in the conditioned state, one does not perceive oneself as part of Paramātmā because one is not capable of making Paramātmā as an object of perception despite Paramātmā being the ātmā’s own svarūpa. But in mukti or the liberated state, that one is a śakti of Paramātmā, entirely dependent on Him, with various inherent qualities, becomes perceptible. Why? Because Paramātmā is svayam prakāṣa, and reveals Himself to the liberated being. This is called His ‘mercy’- this is the actual attainment. Thus, the capacity of awareness is always in the conditioned jīva, but the Paramātmā is not the object of its awareness. In liberation, the Paramātmā becomes the object of awareness, and concomitantly, one’s own essential nature which includes one’s own qualities, become an object of one’s perception. In this way, the analogy with the deep sleep-wakeful state discussed in the Vedānta-sūtras is complete.

Śrī Śankara’s commentary reinforces the above conclusion

Śrī Jīva Goswami continues:

atra śaṅkara-śārīrake’pi—tat punar īśvara-samāna-dharmatvaṁ tirohitaṁ sat parameśvaram abhidhyāyatas timira-tiraskṛteva dṛk-śaktiḥ auṣadha-vīryād īśvara-prasādāt āvirbhavati | 

[In this context], Śrī Śankara’s commentary states, “while that nature, which is similar to Parameśvara, is unmanifest [to the jiva’s awareness]., the power to perceive which removes the darkness [of unawareness of Him] becomes manifest by the powerful medicine of Parameśvara’s mercy to one who mediates on Parameśvara.”

This is a restatement of what I have already presented above. For the information of the reader, I have included the entire section from Śrī Śankara’s commentary below. I do not have a transliteration handy, sorry! And I ran out of steam so did not translate it.

पराभिध्यानात्तु तिरोहितं ततो ह्यस्य बन्धविपर्ययौ।।3.2.5।।

अथापि स्यात् परस्यैव तावदात्मनोंऽशः जीवः अग्नेरिव विस्फुलिङ्गः तत्रैवं सति यथा अग्निविस्फुलिङ्गयोः समाने दहनप्रकाशनशक्ती भवतः एवं जीवेश्वरयोरपि ज्ञानैश्वर्यशक्ती ततश्च जीवस्य ज्ञानैश्वर्यवशात् सांकल्पिकी स्वप्ने रथादिसृष्टिर्भविष्यतीति। अत्रोच्यते सत्यपि जीवेश्वरयोरंशांशिभावे प्रत्यक्षमेव जीवस्येश्वरविपरीतधर्मत्वम्। किं पुनर्जीवस्य ईश्वरसमानधर्मत्वं नास्त्येव न नास्त्येव विद्यमानमपि तत् तिरोहितम् अविद्यादिव्यवधानात्। तत्पुनस्तिरोहितं सत् परमेश्वरमभिध्यायतो यतमानस्य जन्तोर्विधूतध्वान्तस्य तिमिरतिरस्कृतेव दृक्शक्तिः औषधवीर्यात् ईश्वरप्रसादात् संसिद्धस्य कस्यचिदेवाविर्भवति न स्वभावत एव सर्वेषां जन्तूनाम् कुतः ततो हि ईश्वराद्धेतोः अस्य जीवस्य बन्धमोक्षौ भवतः ईश्वरस्वरूपापरिज्ञानात् बन्धः तत्स्वरूपपरिज्ञानात्तु मोक्षः। तथा च श्रुतिः ज्ञात्वा देवं सर्वपाशापहानिः क्षीणैः क्लेशैर्जन्ममृत्युप्रहाणिः। तस्याभिध्यानात्तृतीयं देहभेदे विश्वैश्वर्यं केवल आप्तकामः इत्येवमाद्या।।

The commentary reproduces many of the important concepts above (and with far more brevity!). An additional feature is that it states that the jīva shares only some qualities of Parameśvara. This is of course again consistent with Śrī Jīva Goswami’s exposition in the Paramātmā Sandarbha. It does not share Parameśvara’s svarūpa-śakti.


Far from supporting ‘inherence and bestowal of bhakti’, the commentary discussed above serves to restate Śrī Jīva Goswami’s central teaching about the jīva – that it lacks awareness of itself, and that this awareness comes about in mukti. Notable in this entire discussion is the absence of any discussion of ‘dormant bhakti’ whatsoever. The entire discussion is about consciousness.

Categories: concepts, jīva-tattva

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3 replies »

  1. Namaste T. Krishna Dasa ji.
    I don’t know if this question is exactly relevant to this article. But is it the case that when we do not perceive any vrittis in mind, the mind does not exist? In other words is the mind existence solely due to its movement or vrittis?

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