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Are the Vedas Inherent in the Heart? (3)
Gaudiya Philosophy Questions & Answers

Are the Vedas Inherent in the Heart? (3)

When I was requested to comment on the discussion, I wrote as follows:

“Jīva Gosvāmī has refuted sphota-vāda in Sarva-samvādini. It is not a question of citing some verses to prove a point but to understand the complete system. Does acintya-bhedabheda-vāda of Jīva Gosvāmī entertain the idea of sphota-vāda or the Veda or love being inherent in the ātmā?  This is to be investigated. From my own study of the Sandarbhas and Sarva-samvādini, he does not support these ideas.

In SB 12.6. 40-41 there is no mention in this verse that Om manifests from ātmā, as is seen in the above translation. You can check the Sanskrit yourself. “

Anonymous wrote:

The Sanskrit says “atmanah”, which can be pancami or sasthi vibhakti, indicating either “from the atma” or “of the atma.” Whichever you choose, the implication is the same. Of course AUM does not literally manifest from the atma. AUM is the unlimited supreme absolute truth in sabda form. Therefore, AUM is svatah-siddha, self-manifest only from Himself. The point is that since nada has been established in the heart of all beings, it is from the heart of the jivatma that nada self-manifests. The manifestation of the Vedic knowledge from nada is called “sphota”. 12.6.37 says this takes place – hṛdy ākāśād – from the sky of the heart. Again 12.6.40 repeats vyaktir akasa atmanah – Srila Sridhara Svami and Srila Visvanath Cakravarti both gloss “akasa atmanah” as “hrdayakase ātmanah” – in the heart-sky of the soul. Both commentators agree that vyaktih means abhivyaktih, the appearance of something that was already there in a subtle form.

 So the conclusion is that the Vedas are already present in the heart of every jiva in the subtle form of nada. By the mercy of Sri Guru and Sri Krsna, that knowledge is amplified from its subtle unmanifest form to its directly perceived form. Thus the siddhanta established by Srimad Bhagavatam is sphota-vada.”

My reply: In verse 12.6.40, the word ātmanaḥ refers to Paramātma and not the individual living being.

śṛṇoti ya imaṁ sphoṭaṁ
supta-śrotre ca śūnya-dṛk
yena vāg vyajyate yasya
vyaktir ākāśa ātmanaḥ

“When the power of hearing is dissolved (supta-śrotre), the one who  hears this sound (imam sphoṭam) [i.e., Om], even at that time is the one who can perceive things beyond sense perception (śūnya-dṛk) [i.e. Paramātmā]. It is from Him that the speech [in the form of the Veda] is manifested. The [Vedic speech] becomes manifest in the sky [of heart] from Paramātma (ātmanaḥ).”

The relative pronoun yaḥ in this verse refers to Paramātma and not to an individual living being. This is made clear from the commentary of Jīva Gosvāmī, Śrīdhara Svami, as well as Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākura. All the other commentators also agree with them. Although these three commentators have not glossed the word ātmanah as Paramātma, it is clear that the term cannot mean the living being here, because it is Paramātma who hears this sound, and not ātmā, the individual living being. The context here is the manifestation of the Veda to Brahmā from Paramātma and not the living being. The topic is not related with an individual living being. The meaning is also given according to the context. The word ātmā can mean the Supreme Being (Paramātma), an individual living being, mind, intellect, body or object of love. Examples of the word ātmā being used for Paramātma are:

sarvam hi etad brahma ayam ātmā brahma‘so ayam ātmā catuṣpat
(Maṇḍuka Upaniṣad 2)

nāyam ātmā pravacana labhyo na medhayā na bahunā śrutena
Yam evaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhyas tasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇute tanuṁ svam
(Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 3.2.4)

ātmā vā are draṣṭavyaḥ śrotavyo nididhyāsitavyo maitreyī ātmani khalu are dṛṣṭe śrute mathe vijñate idam sarvaṁ viditam
(Bṛhad-āranyaka Upaniṣad 4.4.6)

Further, Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākura writes that it is from Paramātma that the jīva gets the knowledge of Om, jīvasya yā upalabdhiḥ sā paramātma dvārikaiva iti jñeyam. If the nāda, Om, or the Vedas were inherent in a jīva, then this comment of Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākura would make no sense. At least three commentators, i.e., Śrī Sudarśana Suri, Śrī Vijayadhvaja Tīrtha and Śukadeva have clearly glossed atmanah as Paramātma. Thus, the manifestation of the Veda in the heart is from Paramātma, not from ātmā. Moreover, according to Śrīmad Bhāgavatam verse 12.6.37, the nāda which is mentioned here refers to the heart of Brahmā, brahmaṇaḥ parameṣṭhinaḥ, and not any living entity. This certainly matches with the statement of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.1.1. that Vedic knowledge was revealed by Bhagavān to Brahmā through the heart. Verses 12.6.37 and 12.6.40 do not say that the Vedas are established in the ātmā. These verses give a description of the Vedas appearing in the heart of Brahmā and not the living entities. This is also understood from the questions of Śaunaka to Śukadeva Gosvāmī in whose response the above verses have been spoken (SB 12.6.36).

A) Anonymous writes above:

“Srila Sridhara Svami and Srila Visvanath Cakravarti both gloss ‘akasa atmanah’ as ‘hrdayakase ätmanah’ – in the heart-sky of the soul.”

About this part of the comment I would like to say that the word atmanaḥ can be in the fifth or the sixth case. If it is taken in fifth case, it means the Vedas manifests from Paramātma into the heart of Brahmā, because the description is about the manifestation of the Veda in the heart of Brahmā. The context is not of the living entity. It would be weird to say that the Veda manifests from the living entity into the heart of Brahma. If it is taken as the sixth case, then it would still mean into the sky of the heart of Brahmā and not the living entity.

B) Anonymous further says:

Śrī Satya Narayana das Babaji’s comment that Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has refuted sphotavada in Sarva Samvadini is irrelevant for two reasons:

1) Śrīmad Bhagavatam 12.6.40 says – śṛṇoti ya imam sphotam supta-srotre – “He hears this sphoṭa when the senses do not function”.

This verse describes the manifestation of the syllable AUM from nāda as the “sphoṭa”. Thus, the theory of sphoṭa is supported by Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the very text Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī is defending in Sarva Samvādini.

2) The sphoṭa theory refuted by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī in Sarva Samvādini has nothing to do with the sphota theory discussed in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.6.40. Rather, in Sarva Samvādini (11) Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has refuted the sphota theory of the grammarian Pāṇinī, which distinguishes between śabda as syllables and śabda as sphota. No such differentiation exists in the description of sphota in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.”

My reply:

These two points are irrelevant. When I say, Jīva Gosvāmī refuted sphota-vāda, I obviously mean the sphota-vāda of the grammarians. That is the only accepted meaning of sphota-vāda in scholarly circles. Just because SB 12.6.37 uses the term sphota, it does not mean it is sphota-vāda. Words have popular meanings and secondary meanings. The term sphota-vāda is used only to mean the theory of the grammarians. I never heard or read of anyone referring to sphota-vāda of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, including Jīva Gosvāmī. Therefore, my comment is not irrelevant because I am referring to the popular sphota-vāda. There is no such thing as “sphota theory” of the Bhāgavatam.

C) Anonymous comments above:

“Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Thākura comments on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11. 21.37:

bhūteṣu sarva-prāniṣu ghoṣa-rūpena ghoṣo nādaḥ tad-rūpena lakṣyate manīṣibhiḥ

“The Veda is seen as nāda by the wise in all beings.”

If you have no problem with this statement of Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Thākura, then you have to ask yourself why do you have a problem with Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Thākura saying exactly the same thing?”

My reply:  You have to first decide whether the Vedas exist in the ātmā or in the heart. Both are not the same. The heart is part of the subtle body, which is made of matter. It has nothing in common with the qualities of ātmā. 

In this verse, it is stated that Kṛṣṇa has established the nāda in the jīva. From the commentaries of Jīva Gosvāmī and Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākura it is apparent that this nāda is established in the Mūlādhāra Cakra and from there it moves up. There is no mention that the nāda is established in the ātmā. Moreover, if the Vedas were already inherent in the ātmā, then there would be no need to establish them. But Kṛṣṇa says that he established them, māyā upabṛṁhitam (SB 11.21.37). This supports my explanation of the word ātmanaḥ in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.6.40, where I said that ātmā here means Paramātma, and therefore the Vedas manifest from Paramātma and not from the individual beings. But if you interpret the word ātmā in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.6.40 as individual soul, it would contradict Kṛṣṇa’s statement in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.21.37 that it is He who established the nāda in the Mūlādhāra Cakra of the jīva. This nāda is not the Veda as it is known to us. It is an unproduced and inarticulate sound, anāhata nāda. The very fact that Kṛṣṇa establishes it there means that it is not there all the time. The Mūlādhāra Cakra is not eternal, therefore it is not possible that nāda is there eternally.

D) Anonymous comments:

“Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Thākura comments on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.6.39 –

svarāt sāksāt parameśvara eva – From nāda manifests AUM, which is directly the Supreme Lord.

Since the Supreme Lord is vibhu (vyāpaka), all-pervading, in all his forms, including AUM, the seed of the Vedas, what benefit is there from claiming that the Lord pervades everything except for the jīva?”

My reply:

This comment does not serve the purpose of proving that the Vedas are in the ātmā. Applying your logic, then the jīva would not be conditioned at all because of God being present in him. Wherever there is God, there is no māyā.  The Śrutis say, sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma (CHU 3.14.1), neham nānā asti kincana, (Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.4.19) There is only Brahman that exists and nothing else. Thus we are all Brahman, as is verily proclaimed by Advaitavādis. And Kṛṣṇa says, vāsudeva sarvam iti, everything is Vāsudeva. Then we are all Kṛṣṇa. In fact, it is only He who exists and  nothing else. This type of logic will demolish your own principle of the path of bhakti. You will end up in Māyāvāda.

Thus it is not a question of citing a particular statement to prove your point. You need to reconcile everything.

E) Anonymous comments:

“Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Thākura comments on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.21.38:

ananta-pāram prākṛtāprākṛta-prāṇamayasya kālato deśataś cāparicchedāt
‘The Veda, composed of prākrta and āprākrta-prāṇa is infinite due to its being undivided by space or time.’

There are two types of hṛd-ākāśa. One is prākṛta, namely, the anāhata-cakra, where the Veda, in the form of paśyanti, becomes manifest as madhyama. This takes place in the subtle body. The other hṛd-ākāśa is aprākṛta and pervades the jīvātmā. That is described in Chandogya Upanisad 8.3. When the Vedic sound manifests in the aprākṛta-ākāśa, the absolute meaning is understood in relation to bhakti. When the Vedic sound manifests in the prākṛta-ākāśa, the relative meanings related to karma and jñāna are understood due to the vitiation of māyā.

The śabda-brahma is not limited by time or space, therefore it is pointless to argue that it exists in one place but not in another. These are all mundane propositions arising from conditioned binary thinking. All that is needed is a sympathetic disposition towards Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Thākura and you will appreciate the perfection of his presentation. Otherwise, vivādātmaka-buddhi will simply create contradiction where no contradiction exists.”

My Reply:

The commentary of Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākura on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.21.36 according to my book (11.21.38 according to your reference) makes no mention that the aprākṛta prāṇa belongs to the jīvātma. If you read the commentary of Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākura on 11.21.38 (the verse beginning with yatho’rṇanābhi), he clearly mentions that this manifestation of the Veda is from Paramātma or Kṛṣṇa into the Mūlādhāra Cakra of Hiraṇyagarbha, or Brahmā (svasmād udbhava prakāram āha yathorṇeti tribhiḥ….. prabhur īśvaro mad aṁśo hiraṇya-garbhāntaryāmī ….hiraṇyagarbhasyādhāra-cakre āvirbhūya). The commentary says, svasmād udbhava prakāram āha, which means, “The manifestation of the Veda from Kṛṣṇa is being described.” It is very clear from the commentary that this manifestation is from the antaryāmi of Paramātma who is part of Kṛṣṇa, mad aṁśo hiranyagarbha antaryāmi. This manifestation is from the unmanifest (aprakaṭa) ākāśa [in which Paramātma exists] into the manifest (prakaṭa) ākāśa in the heart of Brahmā (ākāśād ākāśam avalambya…) into the Mūlādhāra cakra of Hiraṇyagarbha (hiranyagarbhasya ādhāra cakre āvirbhūya). Therefore, there is no mention here in the commentary that the Veda is coming from the aprakat ākāśa of the jīva.

This is also confirmed in the commentary of Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākura on the Bhāgavatam verses 11.12.17 and 11.12.19. He comments that the word jīva in 11.12.17 means Paramātma, who is Kṛṣṇa Himself, jīvayati iti jīvaḥ parameśvaraḥ śāstra prasiddhaḥ eṣa mallakṣaṇaḥ puruṣa eveti sva-tarjanyā sva-vakṣaḥ spṛśati. Then in the commentary it is explained how the nāda manifests in the body of Brahmā, vivareṣy caturmukha-śarīrastha-ādhārādi-cakreṣu… There is no mention that nāda is in the ātmā of Brahmā and from there it comes into his Mūlādhāra Cakra. Even Paramātma manifests the Veda in the body of Brahmā and not into his ātmā. This is made further clear in the commentary on 11.12.19 – veda-lakṣaṇayā vāṇī yathā brahma-śarīrād-udbhutā, “just as the speech in the form of Veda manifests from the body of Brahmā …

F) Anonymous comments:

“When the Vedic sound manifests in the aprakṛta-ākāśa, the absolute meaning is understood in relation to bhakti.”

 My reply:

I don’t understand what you mean by your statement above. Where is this aprākṛta ākāśa? Is it in ātmā or Paramātma or is it the other way round and who understands it, ātmā or Paramātma? If ātmā understands it, then why does not everyone know the Vedas? If Paramātma understands it, then the statement is redundant.

G) Anonymous further writes:

“When the Vedic sound manifests in the prākṛta-ākāśa, the relative meanings related to karma and jnana are understood due to the vitiation of māyā.”

My reply:

This does not make sense to me because the whole description in verses 12.6.37–44 is about the manifestation of the Veda into the heart of Brahmā and that definitely is a manifestation in the prākṛta ākāśa. So by your statement it appears that Brahmā does not understand that the Vedas speak about bhakti because he only got the Vedas in prākṛta-ākāśa. This however goes against the statement of Śukadeva (bhagavān brahmaŚrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.2.34) which says that Brahmā studied the complete Vedas three times and understood that their essence is bhakti. This goes against Śrīmad Bhāgavatam verses 2.7.51-52, in which Brahmā orders Nārada to expand the Bhāgavatam, which he received from Bhagavān Himself, to expand the Bhāgavatam so that people will attain bhakti to Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa. If he did not understand that the essential meaning of the Bhāgavatam is bhakti, how could he teach it to Nārada? Our whole paramparā is coming from Brahmā, so the above comment of Anonymous is actually an attack on the whole Gauḍīya sampradāya.

I find no support for your above comment (F and G) anywhere in the works of the Gosvāmīs, Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākura or Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa. I do not know what is the basis for this. Kindly give reference.

As far as your reference to Chandogya Upanisad 8.3, I don’t find any reference to prākṛta and aprākṛta-ākāśa in it. Please supply the exact Sanskrit.

So with all this, at least in the Bhāgavatam-verses that you have referred to, I do not see any description of the Veda being within ātmā.

(to be continued)