What is The Eternal & Constitutional Function of The Jiva/Soul?
Extracted From Jaiva-dharma, By Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur
Chapter “Three”
The Circumstantial Function, Duty, Religion of a Conscious Being is to be Relinquished
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Chapters 9 – 25 are Work In Progress

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Segment 20

Now, how will they attain good fortune?  By what means can remembrance of Krishna be aroused in the hearts of the Jivas who are enthralled by Maya? 

By the association of sadhus, (saintly devotees), the jivas will be able to understand that they are servants of Krishna.  Yet, because there is no prescribed injunction, that one must associate with saintly devotees, sadhus, where is there even a hope that sadhu-sanga[1], the association of saintly devotees, may be possible or easily attainable for all. 

Consequently, there can be no auspiciousness for people in general, without the path of rules and regulations.

The scriptures were manifested from this merciful consideration of Sri Bhagavan.  Issuing forth by His mercy, the sun of the scripture arose in the sky of the hearts of the ancient Aryan rsis,(great sages learned in the Vedas), and illuminated all the injunctions and rules to be followed by the populace.

In the Beginning was the Veda-scripture.   

  • One part of the Veda scripture teaches pious activities directed toward the attainment of material fruits, (karma).
  • One part teaches knowledge directed toward liberation, (jnana).

Moreover, another part teaches devotion with love and affection for Bhagavan, (bhakti). 

The jivas who are infatuated with maya, are found in many different conditions.  Some are completely stupefied, some have a little knowledge, and some are knowledgeable in many subjects.  The scriptures provide different types of instructions that are consistent with the different mentalities of the jivasThis differentiation is known as eligibility.

There are countless individual jivas, and they have innumerable varieties of eligibility, which have been divided into three broad categories, according to their primary characteristics;

  1. Karma-adhikara, eligibility for pious action leading to material gain.
  2. Jnana-adhikara, eligibility for knowledge leading to liberation.
  3. Prema-adhikara, eligibility for unalloyed loving service to Bhagavan.

The Veda-scripture specifies these three types of eligibility, and establishes proper codes of behavior for those in each of the three groups.  The dharma that the Vedas have thus prescribed is known as vaidha-dharma[2].

The tendency by which a person is compelled to adopt this vaidha-dharma, is known as the proclivity to follow the religious codes of scripture.  Those who are altogether lacking in the tendency to follow the rules of scripture, are thoroughly opposed to the orders of scripture.  They are engaged in sinful activities, and their lives are given over to actions, that defy the regulations of scriptureSuch people are excluded from the jurisdiction of the Vedas, and are known as mlecchas, people belonging to an uncivilized, non-Aryan race.

The duties of those in the three eligibility groups outlined in the Vedas, have been described still more elaborately, in the samhita scriptures[3] of the rsis, who composed numerous scriptures that follow the tenets of the Vedas

The duties of those eligible for karma, are described in twenty dharma -scriptures compiled by Manu and other pandita,s (scholar or learned man) .

Scriptures dealing with logic and philosophy, written by those conversant with the different philosophical systems, which describe the function of those eligible for transcendental knowledge.

Finally, those who are learned in the Puranas, (the eighteen historical supplements to the Vedas), and pure tantras[4] have determined the instructions and activities for people eligible for bhakti.  

Modern-day pseudo-philosophers of these scriptures, without a view to the underlying purport of all the scriptures, have tried to establish the superiority of only one of its limbs.  This has cast innumerable people into a pit of argument and doubt.  Bhagavad-gita, which is the matchless deliberation on all these scriptures, clearly establishes that karma, not aiming at jnana, is atheistic, and should be rejected.  Karma-yoga and jnana-yoga, that are not directed towards bhakti[5], are also cheating processes; in reality, karma-yoga[6], jnana-yoga[7], and bhakti-yoga form a single yoga system.  This is the Vedic Vaisnava conclusion.

The jiva who is bewildered by maya, is first compelled to adopt the path of karma; then the jiva must adopt karma-yoga, followed by jnana-yoga, and finally bhakti-yoga.  However, if the jiva is not shown that all these are but different steps on the one staircase, the conditioned jiva cannot ascend to the holy place of bhakti.

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Chapters 9 – 25 are Work In Progress


[1] Sadhu-sanga – the association of highly advanced bhaktas who possess the qualities described above. The word sadhu-sanga does not mean merely to be in the proximity of advanced bhaktas; it means to seek them out, to remain with them, to offer them obeisances, to serve them as far as possible, to hear spiritual instructions from them, to perform spiritual practices under their direction, to follow in their footsteps, and to conduct one’s life according to their instructions.

     In Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.91) Srila Rupa Gosvami specifically defines what type of sadhu-sanga we should seek out – sajatiyasaye snigdhe sadhau sangah svato vare. He says that we should associate with bhaktas who are significantly more advanced than ourselves, who are soft hearted, and who are established in the mood of service to Krsna for which we individually aspire. This is the first development of the creeper of bhakti after its inception in the form of sraddha

[2] Vaidha-dharma – duties which have been prescribed by the Vedas or their corollary sastras.

[3] Samhita-sastras – religious sastras which delineate the laws for human beings.

[4] Tantras – the verbal root tan means “to expand”, so tantra is that which expands the meaning of the Vedas.  A class of Vedic literature dealing with a variety of spiritual topics and divided into three branches; the Agamas, Yamala, and principal Tantras; a class of works teaching magical and mystical formularies, mostly in the form of dialogues between Siva and Durga.  These are said to expound upon five subjects: The creation; The destruction of the world; The worship of the demigods; The attainment of all objects, especially of six superhuman faculties or mystic powers; The four methods of union with the supreme spirit by meditation ‘ All these literatures are known as Vedic because they are in keeping with the Veda.

[5] Bhakti – the word bhakti comes from the root bhaj, which means to serve (see bhajana). Therefore the primary meaning of the word bhakti is to render service. Sri Rupa Gosvami has described the intrinsic characteristics of bhakti in Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.1.11) as follows: – “Uttama-bhakti, pure devotional service, is the cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the benefit of Sri Krsna, in other words, the uninterrupted flow of service to Sri Krsna, performed through all endeavors of body, mind, and speech, and through expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhavas). It is not covered by jnana (knowledge of nirvisesa-brahma, aimed at impersonal liberation) and karma (reward-seeking activity), yoga or austerities; and it is completely free from all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Sri Krsna.”

[6] Karma-yoga – the path to God realization through dedication of the fruits of one’s work to God.

[7] Jnana-yoga – the path of spiritual realization through a philosophical search for truth.

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