Follow by Email

Friday, July 13, 2012

Brahman merely the mode of goodness? Fall-vada in Paramatma Sandarbha?


Recently I wrote the following mail to Dr. Satya Nārāyan Dās about a problem I had with an 11th Canto-verse:

Dear Panditji, Rādhe Rādhe
I am studying now Śrīmad Bhāgavat 11.25.27, some problem is there. It says faith in spiritual things like adhyātma is in sattva guna, but what about Śrīmad Bhāgavat 1.2.11? This says that the Absolute Truth is Brahman, Paramātma and Bhagavān, and thus all three features of the Absolute are transcendental, not in the modes of nature. It contradicts. Kānupriya Goswāmi says bhakti is nirguna and the addition of bhakti to sattvik jñāna makes it nirguna but i find that hard to swallow, for jñāna, leading to Brahman, is nirguna too, not sāttvik. No ṭīkā gives a clue. Same for Śrīmad Bhāgavat 1.2.24, sattvam yad brahma darśanam. Śrīdhar Swāmi, Jīva Goswāmi and Viśvanāth don't mention the point in their ṭīkās. Is Śrīmad Bhāgavat 11.25.27 (or even all of ch.25 of the 11th canto) just a glorification of Kṛṣṇa?

Dr. Satya Nārāyan Das replied :
"I think the mistake here is to translate adhyātma as "spiritual things". Then the last part of the verse becomes redundant because of the words mat-sevāyām - "In My service' i.e. bhakti is also a spiritual thing and thus already included in adhyātma. The meaning of adhyātmā is knowing the self as different from the body, (It is actually adhyātma-śāstra which teaches this). In Śrīmad Bhāgavat 1.2.24 sattvam yad brahma-darśanam does not mean that sattva gives brahma-darśana by itself. Brahma-darśan is not possible without bhakti. So all it means is that sattva is a doorway to brahma-darśana. Through sattva one can get an idea of its existence but not the realization. Compare it with Bhagavad-Gītā 18.20.
Jai Rādhe


Hṛdayānanda Swāmi's translation of Śrīmad Bhāgavat 11.25.27:
"Faith directed toward spiritual life is in the mode of goodness, faith rooted in fruitive work is in the mode of passion, faith residing in irreligious activities is in the mode of ignorance, but faith in My devotional service is purely transcendental."

Bhānu Swāmi's translation of the same verse -
"Faith in ātmā is in sattva, faith in prescribed karma is in rajas, faith in irreligious activities is in tamas, but faith in my devotional service is beyond the guṇas."

Gita Press translation -
"Faith in things spiritual is sattvic"
None of the major ācāryas - Śrīdhar Swāmī, Jīva Goswāmī, Viśvanātha Cakravartī - explain the word adhyātmik in their commentaries.

Bhagavad Gītā 18.20
BBT translation -
"That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all living entities, though they are divided into innumerable forms, you should understand to be in the mode of goodness."

Bhānu Swāmī's translation -
"Know that the process of knowledge is sattvic in nature when the individual indestructible soul with individual form is seen to exist successively in different bodies."

Viśvanāth Cakravartī's commentary on Bhagavad Gītā 18.20, translated by Bhānu Swāmi -
This verse speaks of sāttvic process of knowing. Seeing one soul (ekaṁ bhāvam), with one form (avibhaktam) which is indestructible (avyayam) residing successively in different forms (vibhakteṣu) such as human, devatā, or animal for the purpose of enjoying various fruits, which are temporary, through knowledge related to action  (verse 18), is known as sāttvic knowledge.


I then wrote another mail to Dr. Satya Nārāyan Dās:

Panditji Rādhe Rādhe
Kuśakrath Dās has made the following fall-vādī translation of Paramātma Sandarbha, complete with word-for-word and perverted-reflection-vāda as well. Could you give the correct translation please? The text is here below -

Anuccheda 29 [at beginning]:
tasmiṁś cānandātmake jñāne pratibimbaṁ yusmad- arthatvam na bhavati. kintv ātmatvād asmad-arthatvam eva. tac cāsmad-arthatvam aham-bhāva eva. tato 'ham ity etac chabdābhidheyakāram eva jñānaṁ śuddha ātma prakṛtyāveśo 'nyathā nopapadyate. yata evāveśāt tadīya-sanghata evāham ity aham-bhāvāntaram prāpnoti. tad etad abhipretya tasyāham-arthatvam āha

tasmin - in this; ca - and; ānandātmake - blissful self; jñāne - knowledge; pratibimbam - reflection; yusmat - of you; arthatvam - the purpose; na - not; bhavati - is; kintv - however; ātmatvāt - because of the self; asmad-arthatvam - for our sake; eva - indeed; tac - that; ca - and; asmad-arthatvam - for our sake; aham- bhāva - ego; eva - indeed; tataḥ - therefore; aham - I; iti - thus; etac - this; śabda - word; abhidheyakāram - to be said; eva - indeed; jñānam - knowledge; śuddha - pure; ātma - soul; prakṛti - matter; āveśaḥ - entrance; anyathā - otherwise; na - not; upapadyate - is attained; yata - from which; eva - indeed; āveśāt - from entrance; tadīya - like that; sanghata - combination; eva - indeed; aham - I; iti - thus; aham-bhāva - false ego; antaram - after; prāpnoti - attains; tat - this; etat - that; abhipretya - knowing; tasya - of him; aham- arthatvam - false ego; āha - says.

"When that blissful spiritual consciousness is pervertedly reflected in material consciousness, the individual soul thinks, I will not act for your benefit. I will only act for my benefit". In this way the individual soul comes under the grip of materialistic false-ego. Thus influenced by false-ego, the pure soul enters the material world. Without this false-ego it would not be possible for the soul to enter the material world. In this way the individual soul comes under the grip of false-ego. This is described in the following words of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.26.6):

evaṁ parābhidhyānena     kartṛtvaṁ prakṛteḥ pumān
karmasu kriyamāneṣu     guṇair ātmani manyate

evam - in this way; para - other; abhidhyānena - by identification; kartṛtvam - the performance of activities; prakṛteḥ - of the material nature; pumān - the living entity; karmasu kriyamāneṣu - while the activities are being performed; guṇaiḥ - by the three modes; ātmani - to himself; manyate - he considers.

Because of his forgetfulness, the transcendental living entity accepts the influence of material energy as his field of activities, and thus actuated, he wrongly applies the activities to himself."

(Note by the blogger:) Here in the word-for-word the word āveśa has been translated twice as 'entrance' while it means 'absorption'. It is the word praveśa instead which means entrance, but this is āveśa and not praveśa. āveśa can mean entrance too, but that is not the intention of Jīva Goswāmī here.

parābhidhyānena prakṛtyāveśena prakṛtir evāham iti mananena prakṛter guṇaiḥ kriyamāneṣu karmasu kartṛtvam ātmani manyate. atra nirahambhāvasya parābhidhyānāsambhavāt parāveśa-jātāhaṅkārasya cāvarakatvād asty eva tasminn anyo'haṁ-bhāva-viśeṣaḥ. sa ca śuddha-rūpa-mātra-niṣṭhatvān na saṁsāra-hetur iti spaṣṭam.

parābhidhyānena - arabhidhyānena;prakṛty-aveśena - by entering the material world; prakṛtiḥ - matter; eva - indeed; aham - I; iti - thus; mananena - thinking; prakṛteḥ - of matter; guṇaiḥ - by the modes; kriyamāneṣu - being done; karmasu - ac tions; kartṛtvam - the doer; ātmani - in the self; manyate - is thought; atra - here; niraham- bhāvasya - freedom from false ego; parābhidhyāna - by the false identification; asambhavāt - because of being impossible; parāveśa - entrance; jāta - born; ahaṅkārasya - of false ego; ca - also; āvarakatvāt - because of covering; asti - is; eva - indeed; tasminn - in that; anyaḥ - another; aham-bhāva-viśeṣaḥ - false ego; sa - that; ca - also; śuddha-rūpa-mātra-niṣṭhatvān - because of confidence in the spiritual form; na - not; saṁsāra - of the material world; hetuḥ - the cause; iti - thus; spaṣṭam - clear.

Here the word parābhidhyānena" means  by entering the material world and thinking `I am made of matter'." In this way the transcendental living entity accepts the influence of material energy as his field of activities, and thus actuated, he wrongly applies the activities to himself (prakṛter guṇair kriyamāneṣu karmasu kartṛtvam ātmani manyate). A person who is free of false-ego does not think in this way. Only when a person is covered by materialistic false-ego does he think in this way. A soul who is convinced of his spiritual identity has no reason to enter the material world. That is clear.

(Note by the blogger:) Note here that the word 'āveśena' which means 'by this absorption', has again been mistranslated as 'entering', which is praveśena, a similar word which is not in the text however. Later the words para-āveśa are translated again as entrance, while it means absorbed (āveśa) in something else (para)
Dr. Satya Nārāyan Dās then sent his own translation of Section 29 -

The jīva is the direct meaning of “I” (This title is given by me). The jīva is not the intended meaning of the word “You” [in the statement “You are That”] signifying an individual reflected in the consciousness that is bliss by nature, but has the meaning of “I,” since it has the characteristic of being the self. The meaning [of the word] “I” is only found in the sense of being “I.” Thus consciousness, which is the primary meaning of the word “I,” is the pure atma; otherwise absorption in matter is not possible. Because of this absorption, the jiva acquires an alternative feeling of “I” identified with the aggregate of the elements [i.e., the body]. It is with this intention that Śrī Kapiladeva speaks about the soul’s being the meaning of “I”:

evaṁ parābhidhyānena     kartṛtvaṁ prakṛteḥ pumān
karmasu kriyamāneṣu     guṇair ātmani manyate

By identifying with something that is different [the mind-body complex] from himself  (parābhidhyānena), the soul attributes to himself the doership of actions that are being performed by the guṇas of nature. (3.26.6)
Parābhidhyānena means “by identifying with the material nature (prakṛti),” i.e., thinking “I am nothing other than prakṛti,” one considers himself to be the agent of works performed by the guṇas of prakṛti. Because one who does not have a sense of “I” cannot identify with something different from himself, and because the ahaṅkāra or ego born of identifying with the other [prakṛti] is a covering [over that original sense of self], there is certainly another distinct sense of self in the soul. And because that sense of self is grounded exclusively in its pure identity, it is clearly not the cause of its material bondage. These very two kinds of ahankāra are shown in the following verse [from the Eleventh Canto]: "The Atma remains unaffected in the state of deep sleep when the senses are contracted and the ego has become dormant. Its continuity [through the stages of sleep] is proven by the fact that [on awakening] we remember [the enjoyment of a sound sleep]. (11.3.39) Because the ahaṅkāra related to the body is inactive in deep sleep, later on one deliberates only on the basis of the ahaṅkāra of the self in statements such as “we remember” and “I slept happily.” Therefore in the notion [conveyed by the statement] “I did not know myself” there is a lack of knowledge of the ahaṅkāra related to the body. But the other ahaṅkāra [in relation to ātma] is understood to be the witness of the ignorance [of the material ahaṅkāra].

In this section Śrī Jīva establishes that pure soul has “I” consciousness as its very nature. There is “I” consciousness in relation to the physical body because of which we make statements such as “I am weak,” “I am slim,” or “I am tall.” In these sentences “I” refers to the physical body. We also make statements such as “I am happy,” “I am angry,” etc. “I” in these sentences refers to the mind. Beyond this material “I” there is a real “I” within the soul. The Advaita-vādis do not accept “I” consciousness in the soul. According to them the “I” is manifest only when Brahman is limited by ajñāna and is called jīva. When ajñāna is removed by the practice of jñāna then the jīva is Brahman, which has no “I” consciousness. They propose that Brahman is pure, uniform consciousness and bliss and when it reflects in ajñāna it is called jīva; this jīva is the meaning of the word “You” in the famous statement, “You are That” (tat tvam asi). In this statement “That” (tat) refers to Brahman and “You” (tvam) to the jīva. By this they try to deny the meaning “I” to the pure jīva because, according to them, the pure jīva is the same as Brahman, which is devoid of I-consciousness. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī refutes this by saying that the jīva has a real ‘I’ and is not same as Brahman being conditioned by ajñāna. Thus it cannot be the object of “You” referring to each individual jiva in the famous tat tvam asi mahā-vākya. He refers to the verse of Bhāgavata Purāṇa (11.3.39) which says that during deep sleep one is not aware of either the subtle or gross bodies. That means that the material “I” is dysfunctional, dissolved. Deep sleep is not possible without getting disconnected from the material “I.” In the wakeful state, one is aware of gross body, senses and the internal senses, which include the material “I.” In the dream state, one is not aware of the gross body and senses, but only of the internal senses. In deep sleep one is not aware of anything. Nevertheless, on awaking a person remembers the happy experience of sleep. This happy experience of sleep in which one was not aware of anything would not be possible if there were no “I” in that state. There can be no experience without a sense of ‘I’, the experiencer. Only a person who experiences can have a recollection of the experience. Since one remembers, then it logically follows that there must be an experiencer. Therefore, there must be a real “I” besides the material “I.” On awakening, the material “I” is superimposed onto the real one. In the statement, “I slept well and did not know anything,” there are two parts. One is the knowledge of sleeping well and the other is ignorance of everything else.
This is part of the commentary.

There is no talk of falling from Vaikuṇṭha. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī is discussing the characteristics of ātma on the basis of description given in Padma Purāṇa and Jamar Muni which he quotes earlier. He is refuting the concept of Advaita-vāda."


  1. So, how will you translate 11.25.27? "Faith directed toward knowing the self as different from the body is in the mode of goodness"? This does seem to make it more clear, that faith directed in these different ways are in the three modes. Faith in bhakti is transcendental. Nice.

  2. Satya mata, I think that translation would be fine.

  3. Prabhuji pranam, prabhuji what I could understand is, sattva means suddha sattva, without any material touch. As it is not possible we term it as nirguna, but the actual word is sataguna, not nirguna.
    Prabhuji I wish to ask one question. What is the meaning of the word bahu syam (I want to become many) said by Bhagavan. Brahma also instructs his sons to create which is again the instruction of God. So doesn’t a karma afterall remains for the jivas to further procreate. I heard that creation is the natural instinct of a jiva which it has derived from God. Jay Radhe

  4. Partha, no, the word sattva in this verse cannot refer to suddha sattva because the transcendental plane has been explained later in the verse. That is why Panditji made the point that the transcendence of Krishna-knowledge would be redundant.

    eko'ham bahu syam does not mean that God was once alone and then He expanded Himself into the jeevas. Bhagavad Geeta clearly says that the jeevas, as well as God, are beginningless - na tv evAham jAtu nAsam na tvam neme narAdhipa (2.12). Eko ham bahu syam means God creates the jeevas by releasing them out of the body of Maha Vishnu at the time of srishti, material creation, only.

  5. Eko ham bahu syam means God creates the jeevas by releasing them out of the body of Maha Vishnu at the time of srishti, material creation, only.

    Prabhuji then where were the jivas before creation. Other than material creation is there any spiritual creation also.

  6. Partha, the jeevas are never created, but are in an endless cycle of manifestation and un-manifestation. Creation takes place again and again and each time the jeevas are manifest then. If they are not manifest they are stored within the giant body of Lord Maha Vishnu. Beyond that is the spiritual sky or paradise - paras tasmat tu bhavo'nyo.