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Sunday, November 01, 2015

Scriptural knowledge dormant in the heart?

Bhaktivinode writes in chapter 3 of his Vaisnava-siddhanta-mala):

Q. How can one know the truth about the Lord (bhagavat-tattva)?

A. He can be known by the soul’s own self-manifest innate knowledge (svataḥ-siddha-jñāna).

Q. What is self-manifest knowledge (svataḥ-siddha-jñāna)?

A. There are two types of knowledge: (1) self-manifest, or svataḥ-siddha-jñāna and (2) that which depends on the senses, or indriya-paratantra-jñāna. Self-manifest knowledge is that which is inherently a feature of the pure soul’s original spiritual form, or svarūpa. It is eternal, just like all spiritual reality. This inherent self-manifest knowledge is called Veda or āmnāya. This pure knowledge, or svataḥ-siddha-jñāna, has appeared along with the conditioned soul in the material world in the form of the Vedas, namely the Ṛg-veda, Yajur-veda, Sāma-veda, and Atharva-veda. Ordinary people collect knowledge of various objects by the help of their material senses. This is called indriya-paratantra-jñāna.

Q. If Bhagavān is attained through the soul’s own self-manifested knowledge (svataḥ-siddha-jñāna), then what is the necessity of studying the Vedic scriptures?

A. It is true that the Veda is present in every pure spirit soul in the form of svataḥ-siddha-jñāna. However, that self-manifest Vedic knowledge awakens in the heart in proportion to the soul’s freedom from bondage. It is manifest completely in some, and present in a covered form within others. In order to make that svataḥ-siddha-jñāna available to everyone, the Vedas have appeared in this world."

If he means to say with this that śāstrik knowledge is dormant in the heart of the conditioned soul then I'm afraid that is not correct.

Śrīmad Bhāgavata [11.22.10] says -

puruṣasyātma-vedanam |
svato na sambhavād anyas
tattvajño jñānado bhavet

"Because a person whether covered or not covered by beginningless ignorance cannot realize ātmā on his own, there must a separate Supreme Lord who knows and gives knowledge."

Śrīla Śrīdhara Swāmi comments on this verse -

svato na sambhavati, anyatas tu sambhavāt. svataḥ sarvajñaḥ parameśvaro’nyo bhaved 

“It is not possible [to have or attain knowledge] on one's own - it is only possible from others and that ' other' is the Supreme Lord.”

[Quoted by Śrīla Jīva Goswāmi in Paramātma Sandarbha 44]


  1. Vishnuduta1926's comment is blocked. Please note the boardrules on the home-page - no personal attacks. As for the quote of Caitanya Caritamrita Adi 14,88 - this swatah siddha jnana is ascribed to a deva-srestha, which the brahmin suggests Mahaprabhu is. It does not mean that the knowledge of ALL jivas is swatah siddha. Otherwise Caitanya Caritamrita would contradict the Bhagavata and Sridhara Swami, whom I quoted.

  2. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that vedic knowledge is inherent in the jiva. You object by citing evidence to show that the jiva cannot awaken transcendental knowledge by himself. Aren't these two distinct unrelated subjects? Fire is present in wood, but wood cannot ignite itself. The inability to wood to set itself on fire does not prove that fire is not inherent within the wood. Similarly, the inability of the jiva to awaken his inherent knowledge by himself does not in any way prove the absence of that knowledge. Your article just presents a non sequitur. There is a book called Srimad Bhagavatam which clearly teaches that the vedic knowledge is inherent in every jiva. Have you read it?

  3. I have read Srimad Bhagavat and the Sandarbhas as well, you may find a quote from the Bhagavat in this very blog indeed. As for fire being present in wood, this is first of all a material example and secondly fire is POTENTIALLY present in wood just as knowledge is potentially in the jiva. Please quote from the Bhagavat where the Vedas are dormant in the jiva.

  4. Wood requires fire from the outside to combust. Similarly the jiva needs to receive knowledge from outside, from sadhu and sastra, to become knowledgable.

  5. 1) It is pointless to mention that the example of wood and fire is material, because the example was not given to prove anything about the nature of the jiva and his relation to Vedic knowledge. It was given to expose the basis of your article – a non sequitur – that dependence on an outside source must necessarily preclude inherent pre-existence.
    2) The process of creation has been described several times in the second canto, third canto and eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. The element of fire is not POTENTIALLY present in wood as you claim.
    Srimad Bhagavatam presents the philosophy of satkaryavad, which dictates that fire is present in all elements as either unmanifest effect or subtle cause. Here is one of numerous pramanas on this very point:
    SB 11.22.8
    ekasminn api dṛśyante
     praviṣṭānītarāṇi ca
    pūrvasmin vā parasmin vā
     tattve tattvāni sarvaśaḥ
    “All subtle material elements are actually present within their gross effects; similarly, all gross elements are present within their subtle causes, since material creation takes place by the progressive manifestation of elements from subtle to gross. Thus we can find all material elements within any single element.”

  6. Now we will demonstrate that:
    a) Sri Krsna has established the syllable AUM in the heart of every jiva,
    and that
    b) AUM is the seed from which all the Vedas have manifest:
    mayopabṛṁhitaṁ bhūmnā
    bhūteṣu ghoṣa-rūpeṇa
     viseṣūrṇeva lakṣyate

    “As the unlimited, unchanging and omnipotent Personality of Godhead dwelling within all living beings, I personally establish the Vedic sound vibration in the form of oṁkāra within all living entities. It is thus perceived subtly, just like a single strand of fiber on a lotus stalk.”

    Thus it must be accepted that the syllable AUM is present within every jiva. That syllable manifests all the details of Vedic knowledge, as described here.

    SB 12.6.40-41

    yena vag vyajyate yasya
    vyaktir akasa atmanah
    sva-dhamno brahmanah saksad
    vacakah paramatmanah
    sa sarva-mantropanisad
    veda-bijam sanatanam

    “The entire expanse of Vedic sound is elaborated from omkara, which
    appears from the soul, within the sky of the heart. It is the direct
    designation of the self-originating Absolute Truth, the Supersoul, and is
    the secret essence and eternal seed of all Vedic hymns.”

    As you can see, it is indeed the conclusion of Srimad Bhagavatam that the Vedas are self-manifest and eternally present within the heart of every jiva. Although the conditioned souls always need Sri Krsna’s grace in the form of sadhu-sanga to avail themselves of the Vedic revelation, dependence on outside assistance does not in any way diminish the pre-existence and inherent nature of the Vedas.

    As always, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is perfectly correct.

  7. 11.21.37 - They only perceive the nada, an inarticulate sound, Moreover this nada is not in the soul or individual atma.
    12.6.40-41 - There is no mention in this verse that Om manifests from atma, as is seen in the above translation. You can check the sanskrit yourself.

  8. You wrote:

    “11.21.37 - They only perceive the nada, an inarticulate sound, Moreover this nada is not in the soul or individual atma.”

    Both of your assertions are patently incorrect. Are you really trying to say that nāda is different from AUM, the seed of the Vedas?

    Bhag.12.6.39 clearly states that once nāda is perceived, by worshiping that nada, the three syllables that combine to make AUM are directly manifest from nada itself : tato ’bhūt tri-vṛd oṁkāro yo ’vyakta-prabhavaḥ sva-rāṭ

    Now where does this nāda come from? You say that nāda is not in the individual atma. However, Bhag.12.6.37 states:
    hṛdy ākāśād abhūn nādo
     vṛtti-rodhād vibhāvyate

    “Nāda manifested from the hrdi-akasa, the sky of the heart. Nāda manifests automatically when the functions of the external sensed are suspended” You should refer to the commentary of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura for further confirmation.

    To recap, nāda is the subtle form of AUM, which itself is the subtle form of the Vedas. Why is nāda present in hrdi-akasa, the sky of the heart of every living being? Sri Krsna says mayopabṛṁhitaṁ (Bhag:11.21.37) It is established (upabṛṁhitaṁ) “by Me” (maya) in all living beings (bhūteṣu). Note the locative case of bhūteṣu tells you exactly where the nada is located – “in the living beings”.

  9. You wrote:
    12.6.40-41 – “There is no mention in this verse that Om manifests from atma, as is seen in the above translation. You can check the sanskrit yourself.”

    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 ätmanah” – 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.

    1. I forwarded this debate to Pt. Satyanarayan Das Babaji, who replied in 2 mails -

      mail 1 - I will reply to it when i get time. Problem is lack of time for such debates. I have my own responsibilities, classes, writing etc to take care.
      Jiva Gosvami has refuted sphotavada in Sarva-samvadini.
      It is not a question of citing some verses to prove a point but to understand the complete
      system. Does Acintya-bheda-abheda-vada of Jiva Gosvami entertain the idea of sphotavad or veda or love being inherent in the atma? That is to be investigated.
      From my own study of sandarbhas, sarva-samvadini, he does not support these ideas.
      If BVT supports it , and "anonymous" can find arguments in BVT's favor that is fine. I have no problem with that but then BVT is not in line with Jva Gosvami.

      2nd mail -
      Advaitavadis also use bhagavatam, Gita and other scriptures to establish their philosophy very cogently. If you read the explanation of Vedantia like Karapatri, Akhandananda on SB, even their talks on Gopi Gita you will be amazed how they explain everything according to Advaitavada.
      Shall we accept that?

  10. Sri Satya Narayana das Babaji’s comment that Srila Jiva Gosvami has refuted sphotavada in Sarva Samvadini is irrelevant for two reasons:

    1) Srimad Bhagavatam 12.6.40 says - srnoti ya imam sphotam supta-srotre – “He hears this sphota when the senses do not function”. This verse describes the manifestation of the syllable AUM from nada as the “sphota”. Thus, the theory of sphota is supported by Srimad Bhagavatam, the very text Srila Jiva Gosvami is defending in Sarva Samvadini.

    2) The sphota theory refuted by Srila Jiva Gosvami in Sarva Samvadini is has nothing to do with the sphota theory discussed in Srimad Bhagavatam 12.6.40. Rather, in Sarva Samvadini (11) Srila Jiva Gosvami has refuted the sphota theory of the grammarian Panini, which distinguishes between sabda as syllables and sabda as sphota. No such differentiation exists in the description of sphota in Srimad Bhagavatam.

    So the conclusion stands. Nada is in every jiva. Nada is the subtle form of AUM. The syllable AUM is the subtle form of the Vedas. Therefore, the Vedas are present in every jivatma. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is correct.

    If either of you actually have an argument against this siddhanta then kindly share it with us, instead of being evasive. At least the mayavadis have cogent arguments. It seems that you do not.

  11. Satyanarayan das ji says he is too busy right now to reply and says everyone is free to believe what they like. He feels obliged to respond though, so let's keep fingers crossed for that. I myself have not read Sarva Samvadini so I am unable to take over the debate.

  12. Satyanarayan dasji just added -

    ' in the meantime i want to know whether the debater accepts the vedas inside atma or the heart. Or does he consider heart as same as atma. If that is clear then i will give my reply."

  13. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments on 11.21.37:

    bhütesu sarva-pränisu ghosa-rüpena ghoso nädah, tad-rüpena laksyate manisibhih
    “The Veda is seen as näda by the wise in all beings.“

    If you have no problem with this statement of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, then you have to ask yourself why do you have a problem with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura saying exactly the same thing?

    Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments on 12.6.39

    svarät säksät paramesvara eva
    From nada manifests AUM, which is directly the Supreme Lord.

    Since the Supreme Lord is vibhu (vyapaka), 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 jiva?

    Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments on 11.21.38:

    ananta-päram präkrtäpräkrta-präna-mayasya kälato deçataç cäparicchedät
    “The Veda, composed of präkrta and äpräkrta-präna is infinite due to its being undivided by space or time.“

    There are two types of hrd-akasa. One is prakrta, namely, the anahata-cakra, where the Veda, in the form of pasyanti, becomes manifest as madhyama. This takes place in the subtle body. The other hrd-akasa is aprakrta and pervades the jivatma. That is described in Chandogya Upanisad 8.3. When the vedic sound manifests in the aprakrta-akasa, the absolute meaning is understood in relation to bhakti. When the vedic sound manifests in the prakrta-akasa, the relative meanings related to karma and jnana are understood due to the vitiation of maya.

    The sabda-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 Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and you will appreciate the perfection of his presentation. Otherwise, vivadatmaka-buddhi will simply create contradiction where no contradiction exists.