The Jīva’s Beginningless Nature and Bondage

The following is an excerpt from the commentary on Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī’s Tattva Sandarbha, Anuccheda 32, by Satyanarayana Dasa. The subject is the individual self (the jīva), which is distinct, conscious and subject to ignorance, and its involvement with Bhagavān’s deluding potency, māyā.

Beginningless Bondage

According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, māyā’s conditioning of the jīva has no beginning; it is anādi. Although statements such as, “she covers the real nature of the jīva” seemingly imply a beginning, in fact there is no beginning to the jīva’s bondage. Śrī Kṛṣṇa confirms this:

prakṛtiṁ puruṣaṁ caiva viddhy anādi ubhav api
vikaramś ca guṇāṁś caiva viddhi prakṛti-sambhavān

Primordial nature and the living beings should both be understood to be beginningless. Their transformations and the guṇas of nature are phenomenal arisings out of primordial nature. (Gītā 13.20)

Commenting on this verse, both Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura and Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa confirm that the conditioning of the jīva is beginningless. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura states:

māya-jīvayor api mac-chaktitvena anāditvāt tayoḥ saṁśleṣo’py anādir iti bhāvaḥ

“[Śrī Bhagavān says,] ‘Because both māyā and the jīva are My potencies, they both are beginningless. Thus their conjunction is also without beginning.’ This is the sense of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s words.”

Here Viśvanātha is employing the nyāya principle that the qualities or potencies of anādi substances are also anādi. Naturally, a beginningless substance or entity cannot have a prior state of existence, for it could not be said to be beginningless. In this case the subjects—primordial nature and the jīvas—are understood as anādi, and thus their shared quality of apparent separation from Kṛṣṇa, is also anādi.

In fact, in the beginning of his comment on the Gītā verse, Visvanātha says, “In this verse, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is answering two questions—why or how did the conjunction of the jīva and māyā occur? And when did it occur?” He says that both of these are answered by the word anādi. In regard to the first question, anādi implies, na vidyate ādi kāraṇam yayoḥ, “the conjunction of māyā and the jīva is without prior cause” [and hence there is in fact no “why” as to how it occurred]. The answer to the second question – when? – is also anādi: it has no beginning and hence it did not occur at any moment in time.

Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, commenting on this same verse writes, evaṁ mitho vivikta-svabhāvayor anādyoḥ prakṛti-jīvayoḥ saṁsargasyānādi-kālikatvam: “In this way, the conjunction between primordial nature and the living being, who have distinct natures and are both beginningless, relates to a period of time that is without beginning.” He uses the adjectival compound anādikālikatvam, “a period of time without beginning”, to qualify the phrase prakṛti-jīvayoḥ saṁsargas, the conjunction of the jīva with prakṛti.

From this we understand that the jīvas and primordial nature are both eternal, although sometimes manifest and sometimes wound up within Mahāviṣṇu. Being eternal they are beginningless, and the nature of their conjunction is also beginningless. Just as there was no prior state of existence for material nature, there was also no prior condition of existence for the bound jīvas. The common example given is that of a spider, which expands its energy in the form of its web and sometimes withdraws the web back into its body. Similarly, primordial nature and the bound jīvas are manifested and unmanifested in a cycle that is anādi, beginningless. Beginningless karmic imprinting and patterning is the nature of the bondage of the beginningless jīva.

Surpassing the Bounds of Logic

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī will explain all this in greater detail in the Paramātma Sandarbha (Anuccheda 47). He will show that, according to the precise criteria pertaining to definitions in the nyāya system of logic, the word anādi is to be taken literally. We should note, however, that the subject at hand transcends conventional logical faculties. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (3.7.9) confirms:

seyaṁ bhagavato māyā yan nayena virudhyate
īśvarasya vimuktasya kārpaṇyam uta bandhanam

The living entity, who is transcendental and liberated, is yet subject to misery and bondage. Such indeed is Bhagavān’s extrinsic potency (māyā), which defies logic.

We are advised not to employ empirical logic to comprehend the beginningless bondage of the jīva. Rather, through open receptivity to the verdict of śāstra, accompanied by profound contemplation on the truth therein disclosed, there arises immediate intuitive insight of this enigma. This is the way of the self-disclosure of śāstric truth, and it is, therefore, the means to resolve this riddle of beginningless bondage. To not avail of this trans-empirical mode of knowing is to risk failure in completing life’s essential purpose. Gītā (16.23) confirms:

na sa siddhim avāpnoti na sukhaṁ na parāṁ gatim

One who rejects śāstra attains neither completion, nor contentment, nor the supreme destination.

Inherent Potential for Enlightenment

Although the jīva is beginninglessly deluded, it eternally retains the inherent capacity to know Bhagavān. This capacity is an unactualized potential, comparable to the illuminating power of an unused light bulb. Even when unused, a light bulb retains the capacity to illuminate, but cannot do so until connected to a power source. Similarly, the conditioned jīva’s capacity to know Bhagavān is unactualized, but is ever present as an inherent potential of consciousness itself. When consciousness is attuned to its Source, the inherent capacity to know Bhagavān is made possible, like the illumination that is enabled when a light bulb is connected to a power source.

This is why the jīva is described as an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa, “nitya kṛṣṇa-dāsa.” When conditioned, the jīva’s constitutional eternal servitorship (dāsatva) remains in a potential state. This potential is actualized when Kṛṣṇa’s intrinsic potency descends to the jīva, dissolving the empirical conditioning through unconditional devotion.

In the conditioned state, however, the jīva misdirects root attention into phenomenal identity and appearance. Thus, the self’s instruments of knowing — the mind and senses — are misapplied in service of a separative ego point of reference. In this condition, the self’s inherent potential of consciousness to be devotionally whole-bodily attuned to its Source remains undiscovered, causing the jīva to suffer. Awareness is not simply a mental act. There is physical awareness, vital awareness, emotional awareness, mental awareness and intellectual awareness, all rooted in the self’s inherent capacity of consciousness itself. So to be “devotionally whole-bodily attuned to the Source” implies a devotional turning of consciousness that is inclusive of all these modes of awareness. It is a complete turning toward Bhagavān with the body, the vital force, the mind, feeling, and intellect, all grounded in the self’s own root submission.

So, when the jīva redirects the mind and senses to repose in their conscious Source, effected through the trans-mutational power of sādhana-bhakti, then through the descent or pervasion of divine power, the self’s true potential becomes actualized. If one perseveres on the path of bhakti, he becomes aware of his original identity and is established in the unending bliss of prema-bhakti.

In Paramātma Sandarbha (Anucchedas 19-47), Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī discusses this and other aspects of the jīva’s nature in greater detail.

Comments ( 2 )
  1. nanda nandana

    i offer my deepest respect, and i would like to ask a question about this aspect of the “eternal conditioning”. namely, eternity is crucial element of the spiritual life, and material conditioning is base of the material life, which is opposite to the spiritual life. so i don”t understand how is possible that conditioning is eternal. or any element of the material condition, how can be eternal. is that mean that exist a “spiritual conditioning”. i am very beginner in studying of beautiful Veda and i hope that You can forgiven this level of ignorance
    offering my sincere and deepest obeisance… nanda nandana

  2. nanda nandana

    ooops…. later is became visible the second part of the commentary…. everything is clear, sorry

  • Subscribe

  • Videos with Babaji

  • Payment

  • Article Archive

  • Chronological Archive

  • Translate this Website

    Homepage Übersetzung

© 2017 JIVA.ORG. All rights reserved.