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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Dashamula Tattva > Chapter-VII

Chapter 7

The jiva in maya


The jiva's quality of tatastha was discussed in the previous chapter.   Because of this quality, the jiva , devoid of knowledge of the Lord,  becomes  overcome by maya situated close by.


In Chaitanya Caritamrita it is written:


nityabaddha-krishna haite nitya bahirmukha

nitya samshara bhunje nakadi duhkha

sei doshe maya-pishaci danda kare ta're

adhyatmikadi tapa traya ta're jari' mare

kama krodhera dasa hana ta'ra lathi khaya

bhramite bhramite yadi sadhu-vaidya paya

ta'ra upadesha mantre pishaci palaya

krishna bhakti paya, tabe krishna nikate yaya


Apart from the ever-liberated devotees, there are the conditioned souls who always turn away from the service of the Lord.  They are perpetually conditioned in this material world and are subjected to the material tribulations brought about by different bodily forms in hellish conditions.

Due to his being opposed to Krishna consciousness, the conditioned soul is punished by the witch of the external energy, maya.  He is thus ready to suffer the threefold miseries-miseries brought about by the body and mind, the inimical behavior of other living entities and natural disturbances caused by the demigods.

In this way the conditioned soul becomes the servant of lusty desires, and when these are not fulfilled, he becomes a servant of anger and continues to be kicked by the external energy, maya.  Wandering and wandering throughout the universe, he may by chance get the association of a devotee physician, whose instructions and hymns make the witch of external energy flee.  The conditioned soul thus gets into touch with the devotional service of Lord Krishna, and in this way he can approach nearer and nearer to the Lord.

                                      C.C. Madhya 22, 12-15



The Shvetashvatara Upanishad speaks of the jiva in bondage.


balagra shata-bhagasya shatadha kalpitasya ca

bhago jivah sa vijneyah sa canantyaya kalpate


Though the jiva is situated in a material body, it is a subtle entity, non-material in nature.  Even if the tip of a hair is divided up one hundred times, and one part is divided again a hundred times, it cannot compare to the minuteness of the soul.   

                   Shvetashvatara Upanishad 5.9


Though the jiva situated in matter is weak, he is still non-material, equipped with immortal qualities.


naiva stri puman esha na caivayam napumsakah

yad yac chariram adatte tena tena sa yujyate


Only the jiva's material body is characterized as male, female or neuter.  The jiva dwells in the body obtained as a result of past actions.

                                      Shvetashvatara Upanishad 5.10



The jiva is actually a spiritual entity.  By external vision, jiva may appear as male or female but that is not the real nature of jiva.


sankalpana-sparshana-drishti-mohair grasambu-

vrishthyatma vivriddha janma karmanugany

anukramena dehi sthaneshu rupany abhisamprapadyate


The jiva takes many types of material bodies according to his actions through his desires, touch, sight, illusion, eating, water, and rain.

                             Shvetashvatara Upanishad 5.11 


sthulani sukshmani bahuni caiva rupani deho svagunair

vrinoti kriya gunair atma gunais ca tesham

samyoga-hetur aparo'pi drishtah


The jiva attains numerous forms of gross and subtle bodies through qualities he develops.   And through the quality of action and self, he becomes covered by other bodies.

                                      Shvetashvatara Upanishad, 5.22


anady anantam kalilasya  madhye

vishvasya srastaram aneka-rupam

vishvasyaikam pariveshthitaram

jnatva devam mucyate sarva-pashaih


The jiva, having fallen into the deep hole of repeated birth in the material world, develops faith by taking shelter of devotees.  When he understands paramatma as the creator of the universe, dwelling in the universe and acting as the source of unlimited avataras, he becomes free from the bondage of maya. 

                                      Shvetashvatara Upanishad, 5.13


In the Amnaya Sutras (35-38) 1  the conditioned jiva is described thus.


paresha-vaimukhyat tesham avidyabhiniveshah


vishama-kamah karma-bandhah

sthula-lingabhimana-janita-samshara kleshash ca


Being averse to the Lord, the jivas becomes absorbed in ignorance.

Because of this, they forget their true identity or form.

Having forgotten their identity, from selfish enjoyment and action, they accept terrible restriction or bondage.

Identification of self with gross and subtle material bodies is the cause of their suffering in the world.


The jiva is a spiritual, conscious, knowing entity.  The jiva appeared by the marginal energy at the dividing line between spirit and matter.   From that position, he began to gaze at the spiritual and material worlds.   Those jivas who were attracted somewhat to realization of the Supreme Person became desirous of the spiritual realm- because of  that contact of knowledge.   They then obtained strength from the hladini potency of the abundant cit shakti, which made them favorable to the Lord eternally, and they were brought into the spiritual world as associates of the Lord.  


Those who, by their own free will, became bewildered and became greedy for maya situated on the opposite side,  being  beckoned by maya, then became attracted  to the material universe, and were thrown in the universe by Karanarnavasayi Vishnu, the controller of maya.  That was but the result of their eternal aversion to the Supreme Lord.   The moment they entered the material realm, they became overcome by ignorance, the function of maya.   Overcome by ignorance, they fell into the wheel of binding karma in order to become fully absorbed in their task.


Such jivas have been compared to a bird enjoying the fruit of karma.


dva suparna sayuja sakhaya

samanam vriksham parisasvajate

tayor anyah pippalam svadvatti

anashnan anyo abhicakashiti


Kshirodashayi Vishnu and the jiva are living like friends in the tree of the temporary material world.  The jiva is eating the fruits of  the tree  according to his karma.  The other bird, paramatma, is not enjoying the  fruit but serving as witness.

Shvetashvatara Upanishad, 4.6 , Mundaka Upanishad, 3.1.1.


samane vrikshe purusho nimagno'

nishaya shocati muhyamanah


In the same tree, the jiva, bewildered by maya, has fallen into lamentation.

Shvetashvatara Upanishad, 4.7, Mundaka Upanishad, 3.1.2


It is written in the Shrimad Bhagavatam.:


bhayam dvitiyabhiniveshatah syad

ishad apetasya viparyayo'smritih


Being averse to knowledge of God, the jiva, becoming absorbed in the second principle (material ignorance), then  experienced fear of repeated birth, misidentified himself with the material body (viparyaya), and fell into forgetfulness of  his true form (asmritih). (Shrila Bhaktivinod's translation)



The first result of contact with maya (ignorance) was mistaken identity concerning the jiva's true form.  Forgetting his spiritual form, the jiva took on a material form, and through his self-identity fell into deep forgetfulness of his role as servant of the Lord.  Maya bestowed two coverings--the gross and subtle bodies- over the spiritual form.  The subtle body is composed of material ego, material memory, material intelligence and material mind.  These are the sitting places of lust, anger, greed, illusion, intoxication and envy.  These six became the cause of the jiva's elevation or degradation, depending on whether the actions are enacted according to scriptural injunction or not (punya or papa).   The pure spiritual identity of the jiva became covered by the false ego of the subtle body.  

But as the subtle body does not act or enjoy on it own, the gross body composed of skin, flesh, blood, bone, marrow, fat and semen (seven dhatus) was imposed on the jiva along with birth, maintenance, growth, reproduction, aging and death (six transformations).  Obtaining the gross body, the jiva became even more entangled in his misidentification. Then the jiva began to think of himself as a material gross body.  By mistaking his true identity, the jiva fell into the tight bondage of action impelled by desires.   The rules of varnashrama determined his permissible, unpermissible and neutral actions; daily, seasonal and individual duties; and the resultant enjoyment and suffering.  Innumerable obstacles arose as a result of the connection with the gross and subtle bodies.   


Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says:


sa va ayam atma yathakari yathacari tatha bhavati

sadhukari sadhur bhavati   papakari papo bhavati

punyah punyena karmana bhavati papah papena


The atma according to his actions attains a situation.  By good actions he becomes good, by sinful action he becomes sinful.   By punya the jiva attains happiness and by papa the jiva attains suffering.

          Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 4.4.5


The Bhagavatam says: 


sa dahyamana sarvanga esham udvahanadhina

karoty aviratam mudho duritani durashayah


In order to maintain his so-called family and society, the fool, burning with anxiety, laden with unfulfilled  hopes, performs all kinds of sinful activities.       



The meaning of these two statements is clear. The jiva, through his coverings of gross and subtle material bodies, becomes bound by samshara and experiences suffering through actions of punya and papa.


The Sarvajna Sukta quoted in Bhagavat Sandarbha says:


hladinya samvidashlishtah sac cid ananda ishvarah

svavidya samvrito jivah samklesha-nikarakarah


The Supreme Lord is full of eternity, knowledge and bliss, being embraced by his energies hladini and samvit.  The jiva experiences so many sufferings in the material world, being covered by his own ignorance.

In Paramatma Sandarbha, Jiva Gosvami says that maya has two propensities: knowledge and ignorance.  Knowledge is born of real mercy of maya.  The ignorance function is the special energy of maya to punish the jiva for his offenses.  He further says:


athavidyakhyasya dve vritti avaranatmika

vikshepatmika ca tatra purva jiva eva tishthanti

tadiyam svabhavikam jnanam avrinvana uttara

ca tam tad-anyatha-jnanena sanjayanti vartate


This ignorance has two functions-called the avarana atmika function and the viksepa atmika function.   The first function covers the jiva's knowledge of his natural relationship with the Lord. The second function gives rise to other types of knowledge, throwing the jiva into ignorance.

Paramatma Sandarbha 54


On this there is a karika:


sattvam rajas tamash ceti gunah prakriti- sambhavah

ity ady upanishad-vakyan nirguno jiva eva hi

cetanah krishna daso'ham iti jnane gate pare

prakriter guna-samyogat karma-bandho'sya sidhyati

karma-cakra-gatasyasya sukha-duhkhadikam bhavet

shad-gunabdhi-nimagnasya sthula-linga- vyavasthitih


The Vedas have said that the three qualities, goodness, passion and ignorance, are the material qualities.  The jiva is by nature without these qualities.  When the jiva, because of his smallness, opposes the Lord and becomes weak, the material qualities become strong and overcome him.  The knowledge that the jiva is spiritual and a servant of Krishna is covered, and because of the contact with material modes, the jiva falls into complete bondage of karma.  By acceptance of the gross and subtle bodies, the jiva falls into the ocean of six material qualities, and becoming overwhelmed, experiences happiness and distress in the wheel of birth and death. 

This state of the pure jiva is called an unfortunate state of the jiva, imposed by maya.  It exists due to the marginal quality inherent in the jiva.   The jiva is actually a pure entity, and ignorance, the function of maya, is but an upadhi or temporary covering.  The results of this upadhi are the three miseries-adhyatmika, adhidaivika and adhibhautika.


 1 Another work by Bhaktivinoda