Jiva Institute has just released a brand new edition of Tattva Sandarbha, which is the first book of Jīva Gosvāmī’s Ṣaṭ Sandarbha. The first edition, published nineteen years ago, has been out of print for some time. The new edition has been completely revised from start to finish. The entire text has been re-translated from the Sanskrit, employing vastly updated language to better represent the subtlety, depth and complexity of Jīva Gosvāmī’s thought. Special attention has been given to the topic of epistemology, which is the beginning point and foundation of Jīva’s exposition. In particular, the significance of śabda, or the Vedic sound revelation, has been brought to light, not as mere scriptural or canonical authority, but as trans-human (apauruṣeya), self-revealing sound, identical with the truth that it signifies.
Many of Satyanarayana Dasa’s original commentaries on the anucchedas of Jīva Gosvāmī have been enlarged or rewritten to accommodate the refinement in understanding. In addition, the entire book has been reorganized into topical sections in exact accordance with Jīva Gosvāmī’s overall view. This master plan can be readily accessed from the Contents, which serves as a map to help guide the reader through the book. In particular, the determination of sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana from the trans-cognitive state of awareness of Śrīla Vyāsa and Śrī Śuka, has been given the place of prominence that it deserves—an observation that went almost entirely unnoticed in the first edition. This determination is a key topic that mediates between epistemology and the elaboration of ontology proper. It informs us that the knowable (prameya), like the means of knowing itself (pramāṇa), is self-revealed and not a matter of mere metaphysical speculation or logical thought construction.
The new revised edition of Tattva Sandarbha is indispensable to grasp the methodology of Jīva Gosvāmī and the map of Reality he has provided throughout the Ṣaṭ Sandarbhas. Jīva Gosvāmī’s anthology offers the most systematic and complete synthesis of Vedānta. Consequently, the highest benefit to the reader can be had by following the order intended by him.
Of the Six Sandarbhas, Tattva Sandarbha is the smallest in size, but not in importance. As its name suggests, it discusses the Reality (tattva) that is the ultimate subject to be understood and realized. Tattva also means “essence,” and thus Tattva Sandarbha provides the essence of what is to be elaborated upon in the rest of the Sandarbhas. Thus, it serves as an introduction to them.
It may be said that Tattva Sandarbha lays the foundation for entry into the subject matter of Bhāgavata Purāṇa, a detailed analysis of which follows in the rest of the Sandarbhas. It does so particularly by providing the epistemological viewing frame through which Bhagavān is directly intuited, devotionally served, and established ultimately as the supreme object of divine love.
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Indeed for a patient it is more crucial to know what is prohibited than what is prescribed because if he eats the prohibited item that may end his life. Similarly, it is more important to know the offenses than the limbs of bhakti, because an offense can bring an end to devotional life.
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