Śrī Sanātana Goswami explains that the happiness in the pure ātmā is an absence of misery

I continue my refutation of the concept that bhakti is inherent and also bestowed on the ātmā. One of the qualities of the ātmā mentioned in the Paramātmā Sandarbha is ānanda which Śrī Jīva Goswami has glossed as duḥkha-pratiyogi. The inherent bhakti-vādis, being apparently unaware of the technical meaning of the term ‘pratiyogi’ which comes from nyāya, misinterpret this term. Instead of understanding it as duḥkha-abhāva, or absence of misery, they misunderstand it as the ānanda of bhakti. They then criticize the opponents of inherent bhakti-vāda, which is us, for misinterpreting it.

The inherent bhakti-vādis then cite Śrī Sanātana Goswami to prove that he also has been misunderstood by the opponents of inherent bhakti-vāda. In their argument, they selectively cite certain lines from his commentary on verse 2.2.175 onward from the Brhad Bhāgavatāmrta, while not mentioning other lines from the same commentary where he explicitly states ānanda of the ātmā to be duḥkha-abhāva or absence of misery.

I will present the section with my translation of the Sanskrit commentary line by line, and show how Śrī Sanātana Goswami explicitly states that the happiness in the pure ātmā is an absence of misery. I pick up the thread much before 2.2.175, at 2.2.169. I do this becasue the inherent bhakti-vādis argue that his commentary is only applicable to mukti or liberation into Brahman, where the inherent qualities of the ātmā like knowership and doership remain dormant i.e. inactive. Not only is this concocted idea not found anywhere in Śrī Sanātana’s commentary, but he actually teaches the same concept later on in the section (to be covered in another article) that I have examined before in the pages of the jīva is unaware of its self. Self-realization, or experience of one’s own self, involves an experience of an absence of misery, because that is the inherent nature of the self. What he writes is exactly what I have written about so far based on the Sandarbhas. Only if one inserts words in his mouth like ‘dormant prema’ or ‘twenty one qualities of the ātmā are not manifest in mukti’ can one derive these false ideas from his writings.

He writes:

śrī-bhakti-śāstrāṇy ūcuḥ—

The bhakti-śāstras spoke:

labdha-brahmādhikāredaṁ mahā-gopyaṁ nidher api |

bhavat-sad-guṇa-sandohair ākhyāmo mukharī-kṛtāḥ ||169||

O you who have attained the adhikāra of Brahmā! The abundance of your excellent qualities, like your nature of performing bhajana to Bhagavān, causes us to speak this, which is a greater secret than a treasure even.

[my notes: the bhakti-śāstras are the speakers of these verses. Śrī Sanātana comments on each of these verses, which I present after each verse.]

dig-darṣanī : kim ūcuḥ ? tad āha—labdha- ity-ādinā, nijāṁ vraja [2.2.230] ity-antena | labdho brahmaṇo’dhikāro yena, tasya sambodhanam | anena etac-chravaṇe tavādhikāro’stīti dhvanitam | idaṁ vakṣyamāṇaṁ nidheḥ sakāśān mahā-gopyam api ākhyāmaḥ kathayāmaḥ | “vidher” iti pāṭhe brahmaṇaḥ sakāśād api parama-gopyaṁ, tasmai api na prakāśyata ity arthaḥ | atas tad-adhikāra-mātra-prāptyā tvayi katham idaṁ prakāśayituṁ yujyeta ? tathāpi bhagavad-guṇa-sandohair mukharīkṛtāḥ kathayāma iti | tatra hetuḥ—bhavato ye santa uttamā guṇā bhagavad-bhajana-śīlatādyāḥ, teṣāṁ sandohair mukharīkṛtāḥ ||169||

What did they say? They spoke from this verse till 2.2.230 (61 verses). labdho brahmādhikāra means O you who have attained the adhikāra of Brahmā! This address implies that you (the hearer) have the adhikāra to hear this topic. We are speaking (ākhyāmaḥ) that which is about to be described (idam), even though it is a greater secret (mahā-gopyam api) than a treasure (nidhi). If the word ‘nidhi’ is alternatively read as ‘vidhi’, the meaning is: this is a greater secret than (those known) even to Brahmā. That is, this secret is not revealed even to him. So how would this be appropriate to reveal to you just on the basis of your attaining the adhikāra of Brahmā? Even so, we speak. The reason for this is that the profusion of your excellent qualities, like your nature of performing bhajana to Bhagavān, causes us to speak.

kvacit prastūyate’smābhir bhagavad-bhakti-tat-paraiḥ |

mokṣas tyājayituṁ samyāg vinindya sa-paricchadāḥ ||170||

We, who are fixed in bhakti to Bhagavān, have occasionally described mokṣa, criticizing it specifically, so that its acceptability can be definitively rejected, along with the means to attain it like jñāna.

dig-darṣanī : yadyapi mokṣasya nirūpaṇam asmākam ayogyaṁ, tathāpi kenacid dhetunā kartavyam ity āśayenāhuḥ—kvacid iti dvābhyām | bhagavato bhaktau tatparaiḥ prāpta-niṣṭhair apy asmābhiḥ kvacit kadācit kasmiṁścit sthāne vā mokṣaḥ prastūyate nirūpyate | kim-artham ? vinindya viśeṣeṇa ninditvā samyak nitarāṁ tyājayitum upādeyatvaṁ nirākartum eva | heyasyāpi vastunas tattvājñānena tyāgāsambhavāt | paricchadāḥ jñānādi-sādhanāni, taiḥ sahitaḥ ||170||

Although a description of mokṣa is beneath us, still we will speak about it because we have a certain purpose. This is expressed in two verses starting with kvacit. Although we are resolutely fixed in bhakti to Bhagavān (bhagavad-bhakti-tat-paraiḥ), we have (asmābhiḥ) described (prastūyate) mokṣa sometimes (kvacit) or in some places (kvacit). For what purpose? Criticizing mokṣa specifically (vinindya), so that its acceptability can be definitively (samyak) rejected (tyājayitum). If one is ignorant of the reality of an object, it is impossible to give it up even though it is worthy of being given up. [mokṣa is to be given up] along with the means to attain it like jñāna ( sa-paricchadāḥ).

[my notes: a good thing that came out of all this is that I got the opportunity to translate Śrī Sanātana Goswami’s writings. While translating and reading the section, I came to re-appreciate the fact that Śrī Sanātana has a formidable intellect and he is a master logician. I recognized several concepts in his writings almost immediately because they are presented in detail in the Sandarbhas. This is how the paraṁparā is supposed to work, after all (!).

Śrī Sanātana introduces the thread that runs through this entire section. Bhakti is the essence of the bhakti-śāstras. Why then do the bhakti-śāstras describe mokṣa? The reply is that they have a specific purpose to achieve – to teach what mokṣa is, so that the hearer can then reject it from a place of authentic understanding.

But there is an objection. Mokṣa is not only mentioned in the bhakti-śāstras but also praised in them. If the intent is to criticize it, why praise it? He replies:]

nirvaktuṁ bhakti-māhātmyaṁ kathyate’syāpi tat kvacit |

na tu sādhya-phalatvena sukha-gandho’pi nāsti yat ||171||

In order to describe the glory of bhakti, the glory of mokṣa is also mentioned sometimes. But this is not done by reference to the goal that is to be attained, because there is not even the slightest relation with happiness in mokṣa.

dig-darṣanī : kathaṁ tarhi kutracit praśaṁsāpi kriyate ? tatrāhuḥ—nirvaktum iti | bhakter māhātmyaṁ nirvaktuṁ nirūpayitum eva asya mokṣasya api tan māhātmyaṁ kvacit kathyate | īdṛśa-paramotkṛṣṭa-mokṣa-sukhāt koṭi-koṭi-guṇādhika-sukha-mayī bhagavad-bhaktir ity etan nirūpaṇasya tad-itara-nidarśanābhāvāt | etac ca mumukṣu-matānusāreṇaiveti jñeyam | tattva-vicāreṇa sukha-sparśābhāvāt tad evāhuḥ—na tv iti | sādhyaṁ yat phalaṁ tad-rūpeṇa tu na kathyate yad yataḥ sukhasya gandhaḥ svalpa-sambandho’pi mokṣe nāsti ||171||

Why then do you praise mokṣa in some places? For describing (nirvaktuṁ) the glory of bhakti alone, we also mention the glory (tat) of mokṣa (asya) sometimes (kvacit). The description that bhakti to Bhagavān is crores upon crores of times more blissful than even this type of supreme happiness of mokṣa, cannot be exemplified without mentioning it [the bliss of mokṣa]. And that [there is bliss in mokṣa] is only the opinion of those aspiring for mokṣa, because a consideration of tattva shows that there is no contact with happiness in mokṣa. They state this in the second line: [the glory of mokṣa is not stated] based on the goal that is to be attained (sādhya-phalatvena) because there is not even the slightest relation with happiness in mokṣa (sukha-gandho’pi nāsti).

[Śrī Sanātana’s response to the objection raised above is as follows. Bhakti is glorious compared to mokṣa. If mokṣa were to be only criticized and never praised, then bhakti’s glory cannot be compared to mokṣa. If we compare the beauty of one object to another, then both objects must be beautiful. To allow such a comparison (as is present in the verse), mokṣa is also praised as glorious in some places in the bhakti-śāstras . But even that praise is not offered for the sake of the happiness that is achievable in mokṣa, because there is no happiness in the specific type of mokṣa in which one experiences one’s own self. As he will explain later, what is present in mokṣa in which one experiences one’s own self, is actually an absence of misery. Why is it called happiness then? He will reply to this question later.

According to Śrī Sanātana, the mumukṣus or desirers of moksa alone think there is supreme happiness in liberation (īdṛśa-paramotkṛṣṭa-mokṣa-sukhāt ….etac ca mumukṣu-matānusāreṇaiveti jñeyam). But in his view, they are mistaken because a careful consideration of tattva shows that there is no happiness in it. He will prove later that even the Advaita-Vedāntins must ultimately admit to this.

But let us continue on.]

yathārogye suṣuptau ca sukhaṁ mokṣe’pi kalpyate |

paraṁ tv ajñāna-saṁjño’yam anabhijña-prarocakaḥ ||172||

The happiness that is conceived in mokṣa is similar to the happiness experienced in health or in deep sleep. But [‘mokṣa’ ] is so-named out of ignorance, an enchanter of the ignorant.

dig-darṣanī : tad eva sa-dṛṣṭāntam upapādayanti—yatheti | ārogye rogitvābhāve kiṁ sukham arogiteti roga-duḥkhābhāva eva yathā sukham iti kalpyate | yathā ca suṣuptau tamo-mayyāṁ suṣupti-daśāyāṁ sukhānubhavābhāve’pi “sukham aham asvāpsam, na kiñcid avediṣam” ity evaṁ nānā-manoratha-svapnādi-mano-vaikalya-duḥkhābhāva eva sukham iti kalpyate | tathā mokṣe’pi sarva-śūnyatā-rūpe janma-maraṇādi-saṁsāra-duḥkhābhāva eva sukhatayā kalpyata ity arthaḥ, vastutaḥ sukhatvābhāvāt |

They support this (that there is no happiness in mokṣa) with an example in this verse. Is happiness (experienced) as healthiness in the absence of sickness (ārogye)? [No, the happiness is] the absence of the misery (duḥkhābhāva) of sickness (roga) alone (eva). Just as (yathā) an absence of misery of sickness is conceived as happiness in health, and just as in deep sleep (suṣuptau), which is composed of tamas, even though there is absence of an experience of happiness, happiness is conceived [to be experienced in it] based on statements like, “I slept happily, I did not know anything”, but is actually the absence of misery (duḥkhābhāva) of the mental disturbances of the various desires in dreams and so on, similarly, in mokṣa (mokṣe) which is of the form of being devoid of anything whatsoever, happiness is conceived to be the absence of the misery of saṁsāra which includes birth, death etc. This is because in actuality, there is no happiness in mokṣa.

[Here he gives two beautiful examples to illustrate the concept of duḥkhābhāva or absence of misery. In health, is there positive happiness, which we could call ‘arogitā’ or ‘healthiness’? No, there is no positive happiness, but only an absence of misery. Likewise in deep sleep, there is only an absence of misery and not positive happiness. It is well known that one is situated in one’s own self in deep sleep (there is a whole discussion on this point in the Vedanta-sutras), one can already deduce that the happiness of the self is absence of misery alone. Note that he answers the question- why would absence of misery be called happiness? The reason is that we wake up and state, “I slept happily”. We express it that way, but in reality we only experience the absence of the misery in the form of mental disturbances.

Note that he writes:

In mokṣa, happiness is conceived to be duḥkhābhāva or absence of misery .. because in reality there is no happiness in mokṣa (mokṣe’pi.. duḥkhābhāva eva sukhatayā kalpyata ity arthaḥ, vastutaḥ sukhatvābhāvāt)

The inherent bhakti-vādis allege that the only reason the concept of duḥkhābhāva or absence of misery has gained any traction is because the happiness of the atma is shown to be small when compared with the ānanda of bhakti. Wrong. One could say instead that the idea has ‘gained traction’ because ācāryas like Śrī Sanātana explicitly use this term. In fact, this idea of duḥkhābhāva permeates the various schools of Indian thought, and this is obviously not because of comparisons with bhakti. Such pronouncements only demonstrate ignorance of Indian traditions.

Why would the inherent bhakti-vādis, who entirely dismiss the idea of duḥkhābhāva, not cite Śrī Sanātana’s explicit use of this term in the very section they claim has been misinterpreted by their opponents? Śrī Sanātana will repeat this idea again later on as we shall see. But let us continue on.]

tarhi katham atratyaiḥ sa ślāghitaḥ ? tatrāhuḥ—param iti | kevalam anabhijñebhyaḥ mokṣa-tattvāvidbhyaḥ prarocaka iti anabhijñān prarocayatīti tathā saḥ | yataḥ ajñānena saṁjñā yasya saḥ, na tu tasya vastutaḥ satyatāpy astīti bhāvaḥ | yad uktaṁ brahmaṇaiva daśama-skandhe—

ajñāna-saṁjñau bhava-bandha-mokṣau

dvau nāma nānyau sta ṛtajña-bhāvāt [bhā.pu. 10.14.26] iti ||172||

Then why is mokṣa praised by those situated in it? They respond with the second line. [Mokṣa is] causes only those who are ignorant of the reality of mokṣa to become enchanted. This is because [mokṣa is] so-named out of ignorance. The sense is that it has no factual existence. This is stated by Brahmā himself in the tenth canto:

“The two names – ‘bondage of saṁsāra’ and ‘liberation’ – are given out of ignorance. These two do not exist different from truth and knowledge. “

[here he is explaining what he means by the second line of the verse. Next he will state that mokṣa is automatically attained by bhaktas. This is a problem for the concept of inherent bhakti, because according to them, mokṣa or mukti here implies that the inherent qualities of the ātmā are dormant. But the qualities of bhaktas are not dormant. How can qualities be dormant and not dormant?

Of course, the obvious answer to my challenge is that mukti here is not defined as dormancy of inherent qualities at all. Instead, he defines it as sarva-śūnyatā-rūpa – there is nothing present other than the ātmā in mukti, which is why there is no experience of misery of the world as it is not present (mokṣe’pi sarva-śūnyatā-rūpe janma-maraṇādi-saṁsāra-duḥkhābhāva ). Because there is an absence of misery of the world in mukti, bhaktas can also be said to get mokṣa.]

kathañcid bhagavan-nāmābhāsasyāpi sa sidhyati |

sakṛd-uccāra-mātreṇa kiṁ vā karṇa-praveśataḥ ||173||

Mokṣa can be achieved even by just a single utterance of a word that imitates the name of Bhagavān like a reflection, or by its entry somehow into the ears.

dig-darṣanī : tathāpi kiṁ tat sādhanam ? ity apekṣāyāṁ bhakti-māhātmya-nirvacanāyaiva bhagavad-bhaktānām anāyāsenaiva mokṣaḥ sidhyatīty āhuḥ—kathañcid iti | astu tāvat bhagavan-nāmnāṁ sevayā bhagavan-nāmno ya ābhāsaḥ pratibimbavad anukāraka-śabdas tasyāpi kathañcit kenāpi parihāsāvahelanādi-prakāreṇāpi sakṛt vāram ekam api uccāraṇa-mātreṇa jihvāgre karaṇena | kiṁ veti pakṣāntare | tasyaiva kathañcit karṇayoḥ praveśāt sa mokṣaḥ sidhyati | tad uktaṁ ṣaṣṭha-skandhe—vikṛśya putram aghavān yad ajāmilo’pi nārāyaṇeti mriyamāṇa iyāya muktim [bhā.pu. 6.3.24] iti |

tathā śrī-varāha-purāṇe satyatapa-upākhyānārambhe—kañcij jale magnaṁ japa-paraṁ brāhmaṇaṁ bhakṣayitum āgatasya vyāghrasya tenaiva vyādhena hatasyākasmād udgata-bhagavan-nāma-śravaṇenaiva muktir jātā | iti dik ||173||

Even so [i.e. even if it has no factual existence], what is the means to attain mokṣa? To show the glory of bhakti, they state that mokṣa is attained on its own by the devotees of Bhagavān with this verse. Even a single utterance (sakṛd-uccāra-mātreṇa) of a word that imitates like a reflection (ābhāsa) the name of Bhagavān (bhagavan-nāma), by the instrument of the tip of the tongue, somehow, by someone, even while joking or disrespectfully [awards mokṣa]. What then can be said about the utterance of His name in service? kiṁ vā indicates an alternative view. [Or] mokṣa results when only His name some how enters the ears. This is stated in the sixth canto: Even the sinful Ajāmila attained mukti when he cried out “Nārāyaṇa” to his son.

And as stated in the Varāha-purāṇa, at the beginning of the section on Satyatapa:

A tiger had come to eat a brāhmaṇa who was doing japa while immersed in water. The tiger was killed by a hunter. While dying, he heard the name of Bhagavān which was uttered by the brāhmaṇa, and attained mukti by that alone.

[It is obvious that when the ‘sinful Ajāmila attained mukti’, his qualities did not remain ‘dormant’. Ascribing such a meaning of ‘dormant prema’ or ‘dormant deha’ or ‘dormant knowership’ or ‘dormant agency’ or ‘dormant twenty one qualities of the ātmā’ in mukti disrupts Śrī Sanātana Goswami’s flow of logic in this section and makes it incoherent.]

vicārācāturī-ramyo mokṣo’yam avadharyatām |

teṣāṁ veda-purāṇādi- śāstrāṇāṁ hi yathā-matam ||174||

This mokṣa must be ascertained as desirable only due to a lack of thinking skills. [This fact is ascertained ] only by not opposing the conclusion of the Vedas, Purāṇas and other śāstras.

dig-darṣanī : kathaṁ tarhi tad-arthaṁ yogibhiḥ prayāsaḥ kriyate ? tatrāhuḥ—vicāreti | ayaṁ mumukṣubhiḥ parama-puruṣārthatayā pratipādyamāno mokṣaḥ | vicāreṣu yā’cāturī cāturyābhāvaḥ, tayaiva ramyo manohara ity avadhāryatāṁ niścīyatām | atra ca tan-māhātmya-vādinām eva siddhāntaḥ pramāṇam ity āhuḥ—teṣām iti | yathā yādṛṅ mataṁ tathaiva | yad vā, teṣāṁ matam anatikramyaiva teṣāṁ siddhāntāvirodhenaiva mokṣasya vicārācāturī-ramyatā sidhyatīty arthaḥ ||174||

Why then do some yogis perservere for mokṣa? The reply is in the first line: This mokṣa, which is established to be a puruṣārtha by those desirous of liberation only, must be ascertained as desirable (ramya) only because of a lack of thinking skills (vicārācāturī). And the pramāṇa for it being a puruṣārtha is only the conclusion of those who speak its glories. They speak this in the second line: yathā matam means this is exactly the opinion (of the śāstras). Alternatively, only by not transgressing the opinion of the śāstras, that is, only by not opposing their conclusion, the fact that mokṣa is desirable only due to a lack of thinking skills, becomes established.

[The main point here is that the Vedas, Purāṇas and other śāstras do not support the idea of mokṣa as a puruṣārtha. Now he will mention those works that focus on mokṣa as a puruṣārtha. Note here that the cessation of suffering is a foundational concept in nyāya. The sāṅkhya-kārikā begins with duḥkha traya abhighātāt jijñāsa – because of the problem of the three fold misery, there is the desire for inquiry (into the means of alleviating misery). So much for pronouncements of the inherent bhakti-vādis on why the idea has ‘gained traction’. ]

so’śeṣa-duḥkha-dhvaṁso vāvidyā-karma-kṣayo’thavā |

māyā-kṛtānyathā-rūpa-tyāgāt svānubhavo’pi vā ||175||

The naiyāyikas state that mokṣa is the destruction of misery of twenty-one types. Some Vedāntins who accept one portion of the Vedas state that mokṣa is the destruction of actions performed out of ignorance. The experience of one’s ātmā as Brahman, achieved by giving up of the acquired form generated by māyā, or by giving up the notion of bheda of saṁsāra, is the primary opinion of the vivarta-vādi-vedāntins.

dig-darṣanī : teṣāṁ matam eva vikalpenopanyasyati—sa iti | mokṣaḥ aśeṣasya ekaviṁśati-prakārasya duḥkhasya dhvaṁso lopaḥ, tad-rūpa eva vā | etan naiyāyikānāṁ matam | tad uktaṁ naiyāyikaiḥ—ātyantikī duḥkha-nivṛttir muktiḥ ity-ādi | athavā, avidyāyāḥ karmaṇāṁ ca kṣaya-rūpaḥ | etac ca vaidāntikaikadeśīyānāṁ keṣāñcin matam, tad uktam | tair eva vaiśeṣika-mīmāṁsā-sāṅkhyādi-śāstrāṇāṁ ca mataṁ notthāpitam | taiḥ kṛtena mokṣasya svarūpa-nirūpaṇena svata evātitucchatā-siddheḥ | veti pakṣāntare | māyā-kṛtasyānyathā-rūpasya saṁsāritvasya bhedasya vā tyāgāt svasya ātma-rūpasya brahmaṇo’nubhava-rūpa eva | etac ca vivarta-vādināṁ vedāntināṁ mukhyaṁ matam | yathoktaṁ dvitīya-skandhe—muktir hitvā’nyathārūpaṁ svarūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ [bhā.pu. 2.10.6] iti ||175||

He explains their opinion by examining alternative views in this verse. Mokṣa is characterized by destruction (lopa) of misery (duḥkha) which is of twenty-one types (aśeṣasya). This is the opinion of the naiyāyikas, as stated by them: “mukti is the complete cessation of suffering”. Alternatively, mokṣa is the destruction of actions performed out of ignorance (avidyā-karma-kṣaya). This is the opinion of some Vedāntins who accept one portion of the Vedas. The bhakti śāstras do not raise the viewpoints of the vaiśeṣika-mīmāṁsā, sāṅkhya and other śāstras, because their explanation of the essence of mokṣa itself demonstrates the extreme insignificance of mokṣa. The word vā indicates alternative views. The experience of one’s ātmā as Brahman, achieved by giving up of the acquired form generated by māyā, or by giving up the notion of bheda of saṁsāra, is the primary opinion of the vivarta-vādi-vedāntins. This is stated in the second canto:

Mukti (liberation) is the establishment of the living being in its true essential nature (svarūpa), after abandoning identification with all that it is not. ( SB 2.10.6 )

[Note the brilliance of Śrī Sanātana. He has provided three definitions of mokṣa of three different schools in one verse. He will now explicitly state that the happiness in the svarūpa of the jīva is absence of misery. The inherent bhakti-vadis cite part of this commentary by noting that the happiness of the svarūpa of the jīva is stated to be ‘meager’, but shockingly, omit any mention of his equating this ‘meager’ happiness with duḥkhābhāva: absence of misery. ]

jīva-svarūpa-bhūtasya sac-cid-ānanda-vastunaḥ |

sākṣād-anubhavenāpi syāt tādṛk sukham alpakam ||176||

Even by direct experience of the svarūpa of the jīva which is conscious, blissful and existing, the happiness experienced is small, being but an absence of misery.

dig-darṣanī : tatra prathama-pakṣa-dvaye teṣāṁ matenaiva mokṣe duḥkhābhāva-tat-kāraṇābhāva-mātrataiveti sukhaṁ nāstīti siddham eva | vivarta-vādināṁ mate’pi ātma-svarūpānubhavena sukhaṁ tuccham eva syād iti sādhayati—jīvety ekaviṁśatyā |

In the first two views [in the first line of verse 175], their opinion itself establishes that in mokṣa, there is no happiness, because there is only an absence of misery and its cause. Even the happiness which is brought by experience of the svarūpa of the ātmā (which) according to the vivarta-vādis (is all that occurs in mokṣa), is insignificant indeed. This is established in twenty one verses beginning with this one.

[He first notes that happiness is only absence of misery in mokṣa in the first two views, and not some ‘positive’ happiness. As a reminder, these are the views of the naiyāyikas and of some Vedantins. This supports his opening statement at the beginning of this section, where he asserted that the happiness in mokṣa is simply an absence of misery. See verse 2.2.172 above. Now he turns to the opinion of the vivarta-vādis. He has already stated in the preceding verse that according to them, mukti is experience of one’s own ātmā. Now he wishes to prove that the happiness that is conferred by experience of the svarūpa of the ātmā is insignificant, by which he means it is an ‘absence of misery’. I will go through the remaining commentary line by line]

tādṛg jīva-svarūpānubhava-rūpam eva, ata eva alpakaṁ sac-cid-ānanda-ghana-śrī-bhagavac-caraṇāravindānubhava-rūpa-bhakti-sukhāpekṣayātyalpakam |

That type of happiness (tādṛg), involves only the experience of the jīva’s svarūpa, and is therefore small (alpaka). It is extremely small (ati-alpaka) in comparison with the happiness of bhakti, which involves the experience of the lotus feet of Bhagavān, who is purely sac-cid-ānanda.

[Note here that this is not the opinion of the Advaitins. This is Śrī Sanātana’s opinion. The inherent bhakti-vādis accept this point, and justify the traction that the idea of duḥkhābhāva or absence of misery has ‘gained’ based on such statements. Unfortunately for them, he now explains exactly why the happiness of the ātmā is alpaka or small:]

yadyapi sukhaṁ nāma tatra tattvato nāsty eva, kevalaṁ duḥkhābhāva eveti niścayaḥ, tathāpi tuṣyatu durjanaḥ iti nyāyena abhyupagamya sukhaṁ mokṣe kiñcid atrocyamānam asti | tac ca bhagavad-bhakti-sukha-māhātmya-bodhanāyaiveti pūrvoktānusāreṇa boddhavyam iti dik ||176||

Although there is no happiness in reality [in the experience of the jīva’s svarūpa], but only an absence of misery (duḥkhābhāva) is concluded to be in it, still, with the goal of satisfying the durjanas, accepting happiness [in the experience of the jīva’s svarūpa], it is being stated here to be small in mokṣa. And that [that it is stated to be ‘small happiness’] is only for understanding the glory of the happiness of the bhakti of Bhagavān. This has to be understood similarly as before – this is the general direction (to be followed).

[ He started out this whole section by stating that an ‘absence of misery’ is called ‘happiness’ because this enables comparisons with actual happiness (see 2.2.172). He is referring to 2.2.171 and 2.2.172 explicitly in the last line:

pūrvoktānusāreṇa boddhavyam iti dik: This has to be understood similarly as before – this is the general direction (to be followed).

[What is the happiness of the jīva’s svarūpa? There is no ‘happiness’ per se, there is only an absence of misery. Then why did he use the word happiness (sukham) for it in verse 2.2.176 above? He justifies it – only so he can compare it with the happiness of bhakti of Bhagavān. In actuality, there is no happiness there. Just as there is no ‘happiness’ in deep sleep, there is no ‘happiness’ in experience of the jīva-svarūpa. I emphasize the use of the following words: ]

ātma-svarūpānubhavena sukhaṁ tuccham

jīva-svarūpānubhava-rūpam eva, ata eva alpakaṁ

[These words explicitly refer to the experience of the ātmā’s svarūpa. And the following words: ]

yadyapi sukhaṁ nāma tatra tattvato nāsty eva, kevalaṁ duḥkhābhāva eveti niścayaḥ


tac ca bhagavad-bhakti-sukha-māhātmya-bodhanāyaiveti

[This is all crystal clear. There is no way to wish it away by arguing that this ‘only applies to moksa’ where qualities are dormant. Nope. He is talking about the experience of the ātma-svarūpa, and how there is no happiness there. This experience is all that occurs in the so-called moksa which fascinates the Advaitins.

All this establishes yet again that there is no bhakti in the ātma-svarūpa, because if it were in the ātma-svarūpa, it would be impossible to compare the happiness of the ātma-svarūpa to the happiness of bhagavad-bhakti, which is precisely what is done above. Note that terms like ‘dormant prema’, ‘dormant qualities’, etc. are all conspicuous by their absence in this entire section.


An (honest) appraisal of Śrī Sanātana Goswami’s writings reveals the following features:

  1. The term happiness experienced in deep sleep refers to an absence of misery. The word ‘happiness’ is used by a person who wakes up to describe this experience, but in reality, there is no happiness there.
  2. The term happiness used for the experience of the ātmā’s svarūpa refers to an absence of misery.
  3. The happiness due to experience of the ātmā’s svarūpa, is called happiness, only to allow comparison with the happiness of bhakti. Otherwise there is no happiness there.
  4. The comparison in point 3 would not be possible if there was bhakti in the ātmā’s svarūpa.

Categories: bhāva, concepts, jīva-tattva

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24 replies »

  1. When someone is liberated, the Supreme Lord, who possesses
    unlimited potency, brings forth (sargena) another jiva and thus
    always keeps the world full. (Visnu-dharmottara
    Purana 1.81.13)

    Srila Sanatana Gosvami answers that there are unlimited dormant living beings, which the Lord activates as He desires.

    Who are these “dormat jivas” ? This Jiva isn’t created but still how was it dormat !


    • Can you provide the Sanskrit?

      At the time of pralaya, jivas enter into Maha-visnu. At that time, they are not united with a mind and body, but they are also not liberated as their prior karmas have not ended. There are infinite such jivas. It is not necessary that during creation, all jivas are forced into the material world.


  2. Namaste T.Krishna Das ji.
    Do the Advaita vadis also view that Sukha of atma/Brahman realization is absence of misery or dukha pratiyogi?


  3. I know this question is out of context but still can you please tell “If Brahmaji can’t be bewildered by māyā (as per Bhagavan) how he became afraid of Asura in Brihad bhagavatamrita and left his position” !


  4. Hoping that the following question is not completely off topic, here it goes: Is it possible to be accepted in the Spiritual World after being a sadhaka just for one lifetime? Please?? Humbly, Vijaya Krsna Dasa


  5. Thank you! More: If one has to die, to be admitted in the Spiritual World, how do you explain the transcendental experiences had by saints like Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami, while they were still inhabiting their material bodies, while in the Material World? Please??


  6. I will directly perceive Krsna at that time? How so? I will see Him in front of me? What is
    Bhagavan’s svarupa sakti? Please??


    • You should read some articles on this site to understand Bhagavan’s svarupa sakti. It will take too long to explain all this.
      You will see Him in your heart, but you may also see Him in front of you- depends on His will.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I will read some articles on this site to understand Bhagavan’s svarupa sakti (actually, I do know, already, something about this topic)! Thank you very, very much, for your very helpful answers and for being so kind!. More questions on the way, if I may! With utmost respect and admiration, Vijaya Krsna Dasa


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