Claim [from the inherent bhakti-vādis]- Although the literal translation of eka-rūpa is “one form,” some devotees opine that eka-rūpa [in the term “eka-rūpa-svarūpa-bhāktvam”, which is an inherent quality of the ātmā] refers to “uniform,” which they then take to mean that there isn’t any difference among jīvas, because the jīva is merely an undifferentiated unit of consciousness. However, the problem with their definition of eka-rūpa is this: if you compare the definition of “uniform” with Śrī Jīva’s description of eka-rūpa, you will see that they do not correlate. A lamp functioning as one unit shows that it has one form, not that it is uniform. The qualities emanate from the form, not from uniformity. As we saw in the last quotation, the soul’s “qualities emanate from its own form only.” Furthermore, “form” is a noun, and “uniform” is an adjective. You can see in Śrī Jīva’s explanation that he is using eka-rūpa as a noun. Thus, their translation of eka-rūpa as “uniform” seems improbable.
Reply. The inherent bhakti-vādis wish to interpret the term ‘eka-rūpa’ as the inherent form of the jīva, i.e. a ‘siddha-deha’ or ‘body containing eyes and hands and nose’ is inherent in the jīva. They seem to be unaware that Śrī Jīva explains the term eka-rūpa-svarūpa-bhāk in his Sarva-samvādinī commentary. Their above criticism of the translation of eka-rūpa as ‘uniform’, and the associated grammatical argument, is directly a criticism of Śrī Jīva himself. I will reproduce his writing below.
eka-rūpaḥ svarūpa-bhāk ity atra śrutiś ca—sa yathā saindhava-ghano’nantaro’bāhyaḥ kṛtsno rasa-ghana eva | evaṁ vā are’yam ātmānantaro’bāhyaḥ kṛtsnaḥ prajñāna-ghana eva” vijñāna-ghanaḥ [bṛ.ā.u. 4.5.13] iti |
And about the term eka-rūpaḥ svarūpa-bhāk, the śruti states –
“Just as concentrated salt (saindhava-ghano) is only (eva) pure taste (rasa-ghana), devoid of an inside or outside, in the same way, this jīva is only pure consciousness, devoid of an inside or outside.” That is, [the term eka-rūpaḥ svarūpa-bhāk conveys that] the jīva is pure consciousness.
That the jīva is pure consciousness alone, and nothing else, is being explained here. There is no mention of a ‘siddha deha’ anywhere. Important to note here is that the jīva also possesses consciousness, and this is amazing (see this article on Gītā 2.29, and others like it, for more on this).
This verse is also cited by Śrī Baladeva in the Govinda-bhāṣya 4.4.6, where he cites it to support Śrī Auḍulomi’s view that the jīva is pure consciousness (caitanya-mātratvena-avadhāraṇāt) and nothing else (having no other qualities; see Ve.sū 4.4.6 to understand the context). The verse explicitly denies anything other than pure consciousness in the jīva – i.e. it conveys uniformity or homogeneity of consciousness alone.
A form implies an inside and an outside. Our bodily structure delimits us, or separates us, from everything around us. The verse states that the jīva has no inside nor outside, so it has no form. Now, Bhagavān also has no inside and outside because He is all-pervading. The jīva is not all pervading like Bhagavān, so its not having an inside or outside conveys that it has no form. Bhagavān has a medium sized form, and that is inconceivable or acintya, because He has acintya-śakti. He is simultaneously all pervading and limited. This is discussed in the Bhagavat Sandarbha. That discussion, obviously, does not apply to the jīva because it is not all pervading.
For completeness, I reproduce the Annucheda 28 in Paramātmā Sandarbha where this quality is discussed with the translation.
yasmāt svarūpa-bhūtayaiva śaktyā tathā prakāśate, tasmād eka-rūpa-svarūpa-bhāktvam api dīpavad eva | nātmā jajāna [bhā.pu. 11.3.37] ity ādāv upalabdhi-mātram ity anenaivoktaṁ mātra-padaṁ tad-dharmāṇām api svarūpānatiriktatvaṁ dhvanayati |
Because the jīva illumines precisely in this manner, by the potency arising from its own essential nature [ svasmai svayam-prakāśaḥ ], its attributes of being uniform [ eka-rūpa , quality no. 8], and of being situated in its own essential nature [ svarūpa-bhāk , quality no. 9], are consequently also exactly like a lamp. The word mātra (exclusively) in upalabdhi-mātram [the self is exclusively of the nature of consciousness] in SB 11.3.38 [cited in Anuccheda 22] implies that these inherent qualities are also not separate from the jīva’s own essential identity ( svarūpa ).
The inherent bhakti-vadis then misinterpret writings of Śrī Sanātana to mean that after liberation into Brahman, one can still ‘awaken’ one’s siddha-deha by some mercy of Bhagavān. In reality, he teaches that jīvan-muktas, or beings who are liberated while still in the body, like the Kumāras, may give up their absorption in Brahman and take to bhakti, and thereafter attain a deha after death like any other bhakta. The idea that one can, after death and liberation into Brahman, ‘change’ to bhakti by manifesting their inherent siddha-deha, is totally false (and ridiculous because it goes against the very definition of Brahma-sāyujya-mukti). The notion that the siddha-deha is inside the jīva, creates the need for many more such creative, imaginary concepts, all totally foreign to Indian theology and philosophy.
Śrī Jīva cites a verse to show that eka-rūpa-svarūpa-bhāk means pure consciousness alone and nothing else.
The verse he cites denies a form in the jīva.
The translation of eka-rūpa as ‘uniform’ fits perfectly the meaning Śrī Jīva provides to the term.
Śrī Jīva does not support the translation of eka-rūpa as ‘siddha-deha’.