I am now getting to the end of my refutations of inherent bhakti-vāda. I have probably written around 30 articles on the topic so far. My understanding of the position of the inherent bhakti-vādis has evolved with each new article. Initially, I thought that I was only refuting inherent bhakti-vāda. Eventually, I realized that I was refuting an entire theory of which inherent bhakti-vāda was but one part. While there are still a couple of articles to go, I decided to summarize what I have understood of the theory in this article here. I deliberately left out any mention of bhakti here, to highlight the underlying theory.
The theory underlying inherent bhakti-vāda
- There are three śaktis: taṭasthā-śakti, svarūpa-śakti, and māyā.
- Kṛṣṇa is a śaktimān, i.e. a possessor of these śaktis. Māyā is not part of His svarūpa. It is always external to it.
- These śaktis are available not only to Kṛṣṇa but for everyone to use, be they Kṛṣṇa’s expansions (svāṁśas) or vibhinnāṁśas.
- The ātmā, a vibhinnāṁśa of Kṛṣṇa, is śaktimān. It can theoretically use all three saktis: taṭasthā-śakti, svarūpa-śakti, and māyā. But the ātmā does not use taṭasthā-śakti. A discussion is provided in the theory to justify why the ātmā does not use taṭasthā-śakti.
- In contrast to Kṛṣṇa, who is all-pervading and complete, the ātmā is atomic and not complete. Other than this difference, the two are identical. That is, the ātmā possesses svarūpa-śakti and māyā is not part of the ātmā’s svarūpa.
- The ātmā, being atomic, can be overpowered by māyā. When overpowered by māyā, the svarūpa-śakti is dormant in the ātmā, and the ātmā uses māyā śakti to know, act and experience.
- Upon liberation, the ātmā starts using its now activated svarūpa-śakti to know, act and experience.
Refutation of the theory
The refutation of the theory provided on this site has the following features:
- Kṛṣṇa is the sole śaktimān, i.e. sole possessor of the three śaktis: taṭasthā-śakti, svarūpa-śakti, and māyā.
- The ātmā is taṭasthā-śakti. It cannot ‘use’ itself. It is one type of Kṛṣṇa’s śaktis.
- The ātmā does not possess Kṛṣṇa’s svarūpa-śakti.
- The ātmā has śaktis to know, act and experience inherent to it. These śaktis are part of its svarūpa-śakti, and not Kṛṣṇa’s svarūpa-śakti.
- When overpowered by māyā, the ātmā’s svarūpa-śakti does not become dormant.
- In liberation, the ātmā becomes aware of its svarūpa.