What is The Eternal & Constitutional Function of The Jiva/Soul?
Extracted From Jaiva-dharma, By Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur
Chapter “Seven”
Nitya-dharma & Material Existence
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Chapters 9 – 25 are Work In Progress

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Segment 62

Question: “What are appropriate endeavors?”


Sadhu-sanga (association of devotees) and prapatti (surrender) are proper means. We find the following statement about sadhu-sanga in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.30): 

“O sinless one, we are inquiring from you about the supreme benefit.  In this material world, even half a moment’s association with a suddha-bhakta is the greatest wealth for human beings.”

If one asks how jivas who have fallen into this material existence can attain their supreme benefit, I will reply that it can be obtained by having sat-sanga, even for half a moment.

This is described in Gita (7.14) as follows:

“This divine potency of Mine, known as daivi-maya, consists of the three modes of nature – sattva, rajas and tamas. Human beings cannot cross over this maya by their own efforts, and therefore it is very difficult to overcome. Only those who surrender unto Me can cross beyond this potency of Mine.”

O great soul, I cannot understand your explanation very well. I have understood that we were pure entities, and that due to our forgetfulness of Krishna we have fallen into the hands of maya, and are bound in this world. If we obtain Krishna’s mercy, we can be delivered again; otherwise, we will remain in the same condition.

Yes, for now it is sufficient for you to believe this much. Yadava dasa Mahasaya clearly understands all these truths. Gradually you will come to understand these things from him. Sri Jagadananda, has written a beautiful description of the variegated conditions of the jivas in his book Sri Prema-vivarta (6.1-13).

 “The jiva is an infinitesimal particle of spiritual consciousness, like an atomic particle of light emanating from the sun. Sri is the complete spiritual consciousness, the transcendental sun. As long as jivas focus their attention on Krishna, they maintain reverence for Him. However, when they turn their attention away from Krishna, they desire material enjoyment. Krishna’s deluding potency, maya, who is standing near them, then binds them in her embrace. The dharma of the jiva who has turned away from Krishna becomes covered, just as a person’s intelligence becomes covered when he is haunted by a witch.”.



There are two types of entities: “animate, and inanimate”.

Animate entities are those that have desire and the power to experience, and inanimate entities are those that do not.

There are also two types of animate entities: “those who possess full consciousness” and those who possess minute consciousness. 

Bhagavan possesses full consciousness, and in His original feature, He is Krishna. 

This is declared in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.28) by the statement, Krishnas tu bhagavan svayam: “Krishna is the original Bhagavan.” 

The jives possess minute consciousness.  They are His separated parts, and they are innumerable.  The sastras have compared the mutual relationship between Sri Krishna and the jivas to the relationship that exists between the sun and the infinitesimal glittering particles of light present in the sun’s rays.  Bhagavan Sri Krishna is the spiritual sun and the jivas are infinitesimal particles of spirit. The dharma or sva-bhava of the infinitesimal jivas is to serve Krishna.  When the jivas are formed, their dharma is born simultaneously, just as in fire the power to burn is always present. As the existence of fire cannot be accepted without burning power, the essence of the individual soul’s identity as a jiva is not established without service to Krishna. 

A substance cannot exist independently of its characteristic function, and neither can a function exist independently of its substance.  Nonetheless, a substance and its function can become perverted. 

The inherent function of the jiva is certainly to serve Krishna, but when the jiva is indifferent to Krishna, and covets different types of sensual enjoyment, Bhagavan’s external potency  maya, which is situated nearby, seizes him and binds him in her web.

He forgets Bhagavan’s identity, and his own identity as a servant of Krishna.  Becoming a slave of maya, he wanders here and there for a long time in this bewildering material existence.

Sometimes he is a king and sometimes a subject, sometimes a brahmana and sometimes a sudra. Sometimes he is happy and sometimes distressed, and sometimes he is a tiny insect.

Sometimes he is in heaven, sometimes on earth, and sometimes in hell.  Sometimes he is a deva and sometimes a demon. Sometimes he is a servant and sometimes a master.

As he is wandering like this throughout material existence, if by some great fortune he happens to obtain the association of pure bhaktas, he comes to know of his own identity, and his life thus becomes meaningful.

By his association with those bhaktas, he understands his true identity and becomes indifferent to material enjoyment. Grieving bitterly for his predicament, he laments, “Alas! Alas! Why did I serve maya for so long?””

He cries profusely, and prays at the lotus feet of Krishna:,

 “O Krishna! I am Your eternal servant, but I have been ruined because I disregarded the service of Your feet. Who knows how long I have been wandering aimlessly as the slave of maya?”

 “Please protect this destitute soul. Deliver me from Your maya and engage me in Your service.”

Sri Krishna is an ocean of mercy, and when He hears the jiva cry out in such desperation even once, He quickly transports him across this insurmountable material energy.

Krishna empowers the jiva with His cit-sakti, so that maya’s power to attract the soul gradually wanes. The jiva then turns his back on maya and desires to attain Krishna. He worships Krishna again and again, and finally becomes competent to attain His lotus feet.

Therefore, the only infallible method to cross this insurmountable material existence is to chant Krishna-nama in the association of bhaktas.


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Chapters 9 – 25 are Work In Progress

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