This quiz is designed to motivate you to study the Gaudiya Vaishnava scriptures in specific, and the Sad Darshanas in general, which are necessary to understand Gaudiya philosophy properly.
Jnana or knowledge related to bhakti is also part of bhakti. In fact, hearing, which includes studying shastra, is the first limb of bhakti. Learning, followed by consolidating and then testing our knowledge in the form of a quiz is a fun and effective way to help us retain information.
This quiz is in multiple-choice questions format. (MCQs). If you see the response that you anticipated simply click on it. The quiz will immediately show which answers are correct or incorrect so we can learn as we go.
1 / 10
In Śrīmad Bhāgavata (3.26.3), Lord Kapila describes the nature of the ātmā as svayaṁ-jyoti (self-luminous). What does this mean?
Svayaṁ-jyoti means self-luminous. In other words, it describes something that illuminates itself and other things, just like a lamp illuminates itself and the objects around it.
Objects which produce no illumination (like a table, for example) require a light to shine on them before they can be perceived. But we do not need another lamp to see a lamp, it illuminates itself. It is “svayaṁ-jyoti.”
The term svayaṁ-jyoti specifies that sentience (jñāna – “knowledge, awareness”) is an attribute of ātmā. This is why ātmā can also be described as jñāna guṇaka (“an entity who possesses awareness”).
Learn more: The Ontology of the Jīva.
The term svayaṁ-jyoti specifies that sentience (jñāna – “knowledge, awareness”) is an attribute of ātmā . This is why ātmā can also be described as jñāna guṇaka (“an entity who possesses awareness”).
2 / 10
In Śrīmad Bhāgavata (3.26.3), the nature of the ātmā is described as pratyag-dhāmā (intrinsically full of luminosity). What does this signify?
The term pratyag-dhāmā establishes that consciousness is the intrinsic nature of ātmā. Ātmā is not insentient, it is conscious by nature.
That which reveals to itself it is called pratyak (conscious). Inert things are not revealed to themselves, they are revealed to others – thus earning the title parāk (inert, insentient).
The word pratyag-dhāmā describes the ātmā as an entity inherently and naturally aware of himself. The categorical difference between ātmā and other luminous things like lamps, is that ātmā is a sentient illumination.
To make this point, ātma is often described as jñāna svarūpa (“an entity who is constitutionally full of awareness”). Here, the word jñāna is not used in the general sense, but to signify that it is conscious and not inert, and is the substratum of knowledge.
3 / 10
An insentient luminous object and the ātmā, both possess luminosity (svayaṁ-jyoti), then how are they different?
Ātmā is distinct from insentient luminous objects because it is sentient (jñāna svarūpa / pratyag-dhāmā) and utilizes its consciousness to comprehend itself and the objects around it (jñāna guṇa / svayaṁ-jyoti ).
This is similar to a candle situated in one place with a flame two inches high. The flame is pratyag-dhāma (intrinsically full of luminosity) and the effulgence is svayaṁ-jyoti (the illumination it possesses). The effulgence of the candle illuminates the objects around it, and the flame illuminates itself. Consciousness as the attribute of ātmā illuminates objects around it by its own effulgence, svayaṁ-jyoti. Consciousness as the intrinsic nature of ātmā reveals itself to itself, pratyag-dhāma. Ātmā is both pratyag-dhāma and svayaṁ-jyoti – the illuminator of itself and the illuminator of other things.
To summarize, the difference between the light of ātmā and the light of a candle is that the light of a candle can only reveal objects to a third-party observer, not to itself (it is “parāg-dhāmā”) but ātma is the observer of the objects it reveals, which includes the ātmā itself. Both the candle and the ātmā possess luminosity (svayaṁ-jyoti), but only ātmā is a conscious observer, aware of itself (pratyag-dhāmā).
4 / 10
Ātmā is said to be conscious by nature and self-luminous (jñāna svarūpa and svayam prakāśa). But when it identifies with a particular body, it is darkened by ignorance. What happens to its quality of self-luminosity?
Consciousness (jñāna) as an attribute of ātmā is intrinsic and therefore eternal, but it can expand or contract in a real sense. The sentient knowledge of the self is not “destroyed,” it merely undergoes change in the form of expansion and contraction, by the influence of karma. The illusion of identifying oneself with a body needs a conscious base. Therefore, we see that self-illumination still exists in the ignorant ātmā – but to a contracted extent – as the basis for the experience of illusion.
Ātmā has two types of jñāna, namely svarūpa-bhūta and dharma-bhūta. The first is the intrinsic nature, i.e. the nature of being consciousness, the second is the quality of possessing awareness and knowledge.
The first one has no content in it except the sense of “I”. It is subjective consciousness. The second one is related to objects outside the self. It is objective awareness.
The conscious, self-illuminating nature of the ātmā (jñāna-svarūpa) is not lost. The nature of the ātmā is eternally to be full of brilliant consciousness. But the attribute of being able to use that luminous consciousness to illuminate objects (dharma-bhūta-jñāna) is covered. The attribute is covered and contracted, not the intrinsic nature which sprouts the attribute.
In summary, the ātmā inherently and eternally possesses the attribute of sentience, jñāna, and eternally possesses the constitution of consciousness. But the ability for these to shine can be expanded or contracted by the function of dharma-bhūta-jñāna.
5 / 10
The word jñāna is used both for ātmā, and for knowledge acquired as a vṛtti (specific impression or modification of the mind). What is the distinction between the two?
In Sanskrit, the word "jñānam" is derived from the root √ jña avabodhane (to know) and has three etymological meanings:
The second meaning is the most general meaning of the word jñāna. The function of knowledge, taken in this sense, is to reveal an object. It reveals an object to a conscious self, an ātmā, the bearer of knowledge signified by the third sense of “jñāna” discussed above.
Jñāna in the second sense of content-filled knowledge reveals itself as well as the object to a conscious self. It is thus described as svayaṁ-prakāśa, self-luminous. The self knows what is revealed to it by this knowledge. This knowledge, however, cannot know the object it reveals. That which knows but does not reveal the objects outside it except to itself is called pratyak or svasmai svayaṁ-prakāśa, self-luminous and self-conscious. This is the characteristic feature of the ātmā.
Learn more: What Is Jnana.
6 / 10
If knowledge is mano-vṛtti, or a modification of the mind, and remains external to the ātmā, then how are bhajana memories transferred to the spiritual world with the ātmā, as the citta is also material?
Learn more: Interactions between the Ātmā and the Mind.
7 / 10
In Śrīmad Bhāgavata (3.26.4), Śrī Kapila describes the ātmā as vibhu ("all-pervading"). What does this mean?
sa eṣa prakṛtiṁ sūkṣmāṁdaivīṁ guṇamayīṁ vibhuyadṛcchayaivopagatāmabhyapadyata līlayā
“Although he is very powerful, that ātma became attracted to the divine qualities of subtle prakṛti, and moved towards her. Prakṛti reciprocated by approaching the ātma, as was the will of the Lord.”
Vibhu (lit., all-pervading) is an adjective describing ātmā as an entity capable to pervade all types of bodies, as a result of being very subtle. Since the ātmā is especially “subtle”, he must be distinct from the body and mind. He is not born when the body he adopts is born, nor does he die when that body dies. Only the body takes birth and dies, not the ātmā .
8 / 10
In Śrīmad Bhāgavata (3.26.3), why does Śrī Kapila describe the ātmā as nirguṇa ("devoid of the guṇas of prakṛti," i.e., sattva, rajas and tamas) and prakṛteḥ paraḥ ("beyond prakṛti")?
9 / 10
If buddhi, the decision making faculty, is material and different from the ātmā, why is the ātmā responsible for controlling the mind, choosing the right desire of the mind and acting accordingly?
10 / 10
If the ātmā does not have inherent knowledge of Bhagavān, then how does it receive this knowledge?
Learn more: Are the Vedas Inherent in the Heart?.
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