What is The Eternal & Constitutional Function of The Jiva/Soul?
Extracted From Jaiva-dharma, By Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur
Introduction Part 4
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Blind Faith Pretending to be Rational Faith — Or Dry-logic Pretending to be Logic that is Based on The Principle of “Guru Sastra, and Sadhu.

Rather than a verdict or conclusion that is reached by mature deliberation of the sastric injunctions; some humans prefer dogmatism.

Dogmatism means,

“The tendency to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true, without consideration of evidence or the opinions of others”.

This kind of dogma indicates the person has made an emotional investment up front, and then tries to employ, logic and philosophy, in the service of their foregone conclusion. 

They “cherry-pick[1] ”  sastras, in order to find support for their predetermined conclusion.  In Gaudiya-Vaisnavism[2], this approach is always a mistake. 

On the other hand, the Vaisnava way, so to speak, in regards to a particular subject matter, issue, disagreement, or controversy; you must First do these 3 essential tasks,

  1. Research the written or spoken words of one’s own Guru, for references in regards to the subject matter.
  2. Research the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sastra for all references regarding the subject matter.
  3. Research the written or spoken words of the past-acharyas, Sadhus, for references in regards to the subject matter.

The second step, is to study and scrutinize these references.

The third step, is that after careful study and scrutinizing these references, a conclusion, that is based on these references can be made.

And “astonishingly”, you have a conclusion that is supported by “GSS”.

Our principle is evam parampara raptam, (Bhagavad-gita[3].  As It Is 4.1),

“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession.  ….”

Please note that Krishna said, “This supreme science”.  It is suggested that you read the essay by the title “Is Bhakti a Science”, which you will find on this website.

, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur wrote in his Jaiva-dharma Chapter 13, Entitled: Pramana[4], (proof, evidence, or authority) & the Commencement of Prameya, (fundamental truths):

“We receive all the Vedic literatures from the acharyas, in the Sat-sampradayas[i], so we can accept them as evidence from a bona fide source.

Is there any evidence in the Veda[ii] to show that logic cannot enter into transcendental subject matter? 

There are many famous statements in the Vedas[iii], such as statements from Vedanta-sutra[iv], like this one.  Brahma-sutra 2.1.11,

 ‘Arguments based on logic have no foundation and cannot be used to establish any conclusions about the conscious reality, because a fact that someone establishes by logic and argument today, can be refuted tomorrow by someone who is more intelligent and qualified.  Therefore, the process of argumentation is said to be unfounded and baseless.

Furthermore, it is stated in Mahabharata[5], Bhisma-parva (5.22),

‘All transcendental tattvas[6] are beyond material nature, and are therefore inconceivable.  Dry arguments are within the jurisdiction of material nature, so they can only be applied in mundane subject matters. 

They cannot even come close to transcendental tattvas, (truths), what to speak of grasping them.  As far as inconceivable conceptions are concerned, the application of dry arguments is undesirable and useless.”

This verse of the Mahabharata establishes the limits of logic, and Srila Rupa Gosvami[7], the acharya of bhakti-marga[8], has therefore written in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu[9], (Eastern Division 1.1.32),

One can comprehend bhakti-tattva[10], when one has gained even a little taste for scriptures that establish bhakti-tattva, such as Srimad-bhagavatam.  However, one cannot understand this bhakti-tattva by dry logic alone, because logic has no basis, and there is no end to arguments.

Nothing genuine can be ascertained by logic and argument, as this ancient statement proves:

‘Any logician can clearly establish any subject matter using arguments, but someone who is more expert in argument can easily refute him.  You use logic to establish one siddhanta[11] today, but a more intelligent and qualified logician will be able to refute it tomorrow, so why should you rely on logic?’

Well-versed readers of the Puranas[v], have accepted eight types of Pramana:

  1. pratyaksa, (direct perception).
  2. anumana, (inference[12] based on generalized experience).
  3. upamana, (analogy).
  4. sabda, (revealed knowledge).
  5. aitihya, (traditional instruction).
  6. arthapatti, (inference from circumstances).
  7. sambhava (speculation).
  8. anupalabdhi, (understanding something by its non-perception).

Pratyaksa and other types of evidence depend on the senses, but since the senses of the conditioned jiva, (soul), are always subject to,

  • Bbhrama, (illusion).
  • Pramada, (error).
  • Vipralipsa, (cheating).
  • Karanapatava, (imperfection of the senses).

So, how can the knowledge acquired through the senses be factual and faultless? 

The fully independent possessor of all potencies, Sri Bhagavan[13] Himself, personally manifested as perfect Vedic knowledge, within the pure hearts of great maharsis[14] and saintly acharyas, who were situated in full Samadhi[15].  Therefore, the Vedas, which are the embodiment of self-manifest, pure knowledge, are always faultless and fully dependable as evidence.  …

Bhrama, (illusion), is the baddha-jiva’s[16], conditioned soul’s, false impression of reality resulting from familiar knowledge gathered through imperfect senses.  For example, in the desert, the rays of the sun sometimes produce a mirage, which creates the impression of water. 

Premada is the fault of making errors.  Since the material intelligence of the baddha-jiva, (conditioned-soul), is by nature limited, mistakes are inevitably present in whatever siddhanta his limited intelligence discerns in relation to the unlimited para-tattva, (Supreme Truth). 

Vipralipsa, is the cheating propensity.  This is manifest, when one, whose intelligence is limited by time and space, is suspicious, and reluctant to believe in the activities and authority of Krishna, who is far beyond time and space.

Karanapatava, means that our senses are imperfect and ineffectiveBecause of this, we cannot avoid making mistakes in everyday circumstances.  For example, when we see an object suddenly, we may mistake it for something else and draw faulty conclusions.  …

The evidence gained from pratyaksa and other Pramanas is only worth considering when it follows the guidelines of the self-evident Vedic knowledge; otherwise, its evidence can be discarded.  That is why the self-evident Vedas are the only evidence. 

Pratyaksa, and other pramanas can also be accepted as evidence, but only if they are in pursuance of the Vedas.  …

The Bhagavad-gita is called an Upanisad[vi], (Gita Upanisad), because it is the Vani (instructions) of Bhagavan; hence, the Gita is Veda.  Similarly, Dasa-mula-tattva[17], is also bhagavat-vani(instruction), because it is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s[18]  instructions, so it is also Veda.  Srimad-bhagavatam is the crest-jewel of all the Pramanas, because it is the compilation, of the essence of the meaning of the Vedas.  The instructions of different scriptures are authoritative evidence, only as long as they follow the Vedic knowledge.  There are three types of tantra-scriptures,

  • Sattvika, (goodness).
  • Rajasika, (passion).
  • Tamasika, (ignorance).

Of these, the Pancharatra[19] and so on are in the sattvika group, and they are accepted as evidence because they expand the confidential meaning of the Veda.

There are many books in the Vedic line.  Which of these may be accepted as evidence and which may not? 

In the course of time, unscrupulous and untruthful personalities have interpolated many chapters, mandalas, (sections and divisions), and mantras into the Vedas, in order to fulfill various self-interests.  Those parts that were added at a later time are called praksipta, (interpolated), parts.  It is not that we should accept any and every Vedic text as reliable evidence.  Those Vedic granthas, (sacred books), that the acharyas in the satSampradayas have accepted as evidence are definitely Veda and are authoritative evidence, but we should reject literature or parts of literature that they have not recognized”.

Therefore, references from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, his writings are to be understood as Sabda-pramana, i.e., the evidence of transcendental sound, especially of the Vedas, proof from revealed scripture or from the words of a genuine sadhu.   Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is certainly, surely, positively, definitely, undoubtedly, and unquestionably, a genuine sadhu.

This is the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya protocol[20] on establishing siddhanta, or “an essential conclusion”.

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[1] Cherry-Pick:  choose and take only (the most beneficial or profitable items, opportunities, etc.) from what is available.
[2] Vaisnavism—the science of bhakti-yoga, devotional service to Visnu, or Krishna.
[3] Bhagavad-gita—a seven-hundred verse record of a conversation between Lord Krsna and His disciple, Arjuna, from the Bhisma Parva of the Mahabharata of Vedavyasa.  The conversation took place between two armies, minutes before the start of an immense fratricidal battle.  Krsna teaches the science of the Absolute Truth and the importance of devotional service to the despondent Arjuna, and it contains the essence of all Vedic wisdom.  Srila Prabhupada’s annotated English translation is called Bhagavad-gita As It Is; This most essential text of spiritual knowledge, The Song of the Lord, contains Krsna’s instructions to Arjuna at Kuruksetra.  It is found in the Mahabharata.  The Mahabharata is classified as smrti-sastra, a supplement of the sruti-sastra.  Sruti, the core Vedic literature, includes the four Vedas (Åg, Sama, Yajur and Atharva) and the Upanisads.  Sruti advances the understanding of the absolute.  Bhagavad-gita is also known as Gitopanisad, or a sruti text spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself.  Therefore, Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter, the Gita should be taken as sruti.  But they take it as smrti because it is part of the smrti (Mahabharata).  In one sense it is both sruti and smrti.  In only 700 verses, the Bhagavad-gita summarizes all Vedic knowledge about the soul, God, sanatana-dharma, sacrifice, yoga, karma, reincarnation, the modes of material nature, Vedanta and pure devotion.
[4] Pramana—Evidence, proof. The term refers to sources of knowledge that are held to be valid. In the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya, the school of Vedic knowledge that ISKCON is supposed to represent, there are three pramanas. They are pratyaksa (direct sense perception), anumana (reason), and sabda (authoritative testimony). Of these three pramanas, sabda is imperative, while pratyaksa and anumana are supportive.
[5] Mahabharata—An important and famous itihasa (historical) scripture belonging to the smrti section of the Vedic scriptures. The Mahabharata narrates the history of the great Kuru dynasty of ksatriyas (warriors) that was annihilated by the Kuruksetra war. Contained within the Maha-bharata is the Bhagavad-gita.
[6] Tattvas—the Absolute Truth’s multifarious categories. Truth, reality. According to Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Vedic knowledge categorizes reality into five tattvas, or ontological truths: isvara (the Supreme Lord), jiva (the living entity), prakrti (nature), kala (eternal time) and karma (activity).
[7] Rupa Gosvami—chief of the six great spiritual master Gosvamis of Vrndavana who were authorized by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to establish and distribute the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. He extensively researched the scriptures and established the philosophy taught by Lord Caitanya on an unshakable foundation. Thus Gaudiya Vaisnavas are known as Rupanugas, followers of Rupa Gosvami. He is also known as the rasacarya, or the teacher of devotional mellows, as exemplified by his book, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. It is the duty and the aspiration of every Gaudiyaa Vaisnava to become his servant and follow his path.
[8] Bhakti-marga—the path of developing devotion to Krishna.
[9] Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu—one of the principal works on the science of bhakti-yoga, written by Srila Rupa Gosvami in the sixteenth century, a confidential associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. All of its conclusions are elaborately supported by reference to the Vedic literatures.
[10] Bhakti-tattva—the truth of devotional service to Krishna.
[11] Siddhanta—Essential conclusion
[12]  Inference: a conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning
[13] Bhagavan the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who possesses in full the opulences of wealth, beauty, strength, knowledge, fame, and renunciation; an epithet of the Supreme Person; The Personality of Godhead, the possessor (van) of six opulences (bhaga) in unlimited fullness: wealth (aisvarya), strength (virya), fame (yasaj), beauty (sriyaù), knowledge (jnana), and renunciation (vairagya).   
[14] Maharishi, or maharsi, is a Sanskrit word typically used as an honorary title which is added onto the name of an enlightened spiritual teacher.
[15] Samadhi —total absorption and trance of the mind and senses in consciousness of the Supreme Godhead and service to Him.  The word samadhi also refers to the tomb where a great soul’s body is laid after his departure from this world.
[16] Baddha-jiva—a conditioned sou.
[17] Dasa Mula Tattva: Is a philosophical treatise written by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.  Dasa Mula Tattva is a must-have book for any serious student of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. The importance of this book cannot be overstated, for herein, all the essential teachings of the Vedas are concisely expounded.
[18]  Caitanya Mahaprabhu, (1486-1534)—Lord Krishna in the aspect of His own devotee. He appeared in Navadvipa, West Bengal, and inaugurated the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord to teach pure love of God by means of sankirtana. Lord Caitanya is understood by Gaudiya Vaisnavas to be Lord Krishna Himself; The Golden Avatara of the Supreme Personality of Godhead who descended into the material world 500 years ago at Sridhama Mayapur. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu inaugurated the yuga-dharma of sankirtana.
[19] Pancaratra—Vedic literatures describing the process of Deity worship.
[20] Protocol—The accepted or established code of procedure or behavior in any group, organization, or situation.




[i] Four Vaisnava Sampradayas and Siddhantas; There are four Vaisnava schools (sampradayas) of Vedanta. These are 1) the Sri Sampradaya, whose acarya is Ramanuja; 2) the Brahma Sampradaya, whose acarya is Madhva; 3) the Rudra Sampradaya, whose acarya is Visnusvami, and 4) the Kumara Sampradaya, whose acarya is Nimbarka. Opposed to these is the non-Vaisnava Vedantist school of Sankaracarya. Every Vedantist school is known for its siddhanta or essential conclusion about the relationships between God and the soul, the soul and matter, matter and matter, matter and God, and the soul and souls. Sankaracarya’s siddhanta is Advaita, nondifference (i.e. everything is one, therefore these five relationships are unreal). All the other siddhantas support the reality of these relationships from various points of view. Ramanuja’s siddhanta is Visisöadvaita, qualified nondifference. Ma-dhva’s siddhanta is Dvaita, difference. Vaisnavas siddhanta is Suddhadvaita, purified nondifference. And Nimbarka’s siddhanta is Dvaita-advaita, difference-and-identity. The Bengali branch of Madhva’s sampradaya is known as the Brahma-Madhva-Gauòiya Sampradaya, or the Caitanya Sampradaya. In the 1700’s this school presented Indian philosophers with a commentary on Vedanta-sutra written by Baladeva Vidyabhusana that argued yet another siddhanta. It is called acintya-bhedabheda-tattva, which means simultaneous inconceivable oneness and difference. In recent years this siddhanta has become known to people from all over the world due to the popularity of the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Acintya-bhedabheda philosophy maintains the same standpoint of difference as Madhva’s siddhanta on the five-fold relationship of God to soul, soul to matter, matter to matter, matter to God and soul to soul. But acintya-bhedabheda-tattva further teaches the doctrine of sakti-parinama-vada (the transformation of the Lord’s sakti), in which the origin of this five-fold differentiation is traced to the Lord’s play with His sakti or energy. Because the souls and matter emanate from the Lord, they are one in Him as His energy yet simultaneously distinct from Him and one another. The oneness and difference of this five-fold relationship is termed acintya or inconceivable because, as Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to Bhagavad-gita18.78, Nothing is different from the Supreme, but the Supreme is always different from everything. As the transcendental origin and coordinator of His energies, God is ever the inconceivable factor.
[iii] Vedas—the original Veda was divided into four by Çréla Vyäsadeva. The four original Vedic scriptures, Saàhitäs (Åg, Säma, Atharva and Yajur) and the 108 Upaniñads, Mahäbhärata, Vedänta-sütra, etc. The system of eternal wisdom compiled by Çréla Vyäsadeva, the literary incarnation of the Supreme Lord, for the gradual upliftment of all mankind from the state of bondage to the state of liberation. The word veda literally means “knowledge”, and thus in a wider sense it refers to the whole body of Indian Sanskrit religious literature that is in harmony with the philosophical conclusions found in the original four Vedic Saàhitäs and Upaniñads. The message of the transcendental realm that has come down to this phenomenal world through the medium of sound is known as the Veda. Being the very words of Godhead Himself, the Vedas have existed from eternity. Lord Kåñëa originally revealed the Vedas to Brahmä, the first soul to appear in the realm of physical nature, and by him they were subsequently made available to other souls through the channel of spiritual disciplic succession; Veda, Vedas, Vedic knowledge. The Sanskrit root of the word Veda is vid, knowledge. This root is widespread even in modern Western language: e.g. video (from the Latin word to see) and idea (Gr. ida). The term Vedic refers to the teachings of the Vedic literatures. From these literatures we learn that this universe, along with countless others, was produced from the breath of Mahä-Viñëu some 155,250,000,000,000 years ago. The Lord’s divine breath simultaneously transmitted all the knowledge mankind requires to meet his material needs and revive his dormant God consciousness. This knowledge is called Veda. Caturmukha (four-faced) Brahmä, the first created being within this universe, received Veda from Viñëu. Brahmä, acting as an obedient servant of the Supreme Lord, populated the planetary systems with all species of life. He spoke four Vedas, one from each of his mouths, to guide human beings in their spiritual and material progress. The Vedas are thus traced to the very beginning of the cosmos. Some of the most basic Vedic teachings are: 1) every living creature is an eternal soul covered by a material body; 2) as long as the souls are bewildered by mäyä (the illusion of identifying the self with the body) they must reincarnate from body to body, life after life; 3) to accept a material body means to suffer the four-fold pangs of birth, old age, disease and death; 4) depending upon the quality of work (karma) in the human form, a soul may take its next birth in a subhuman species, or the human species, or a superhuman species, or it may be freed from birth and death altogether; 5) karma dedicated in sacrifice to Viñëu as directed by Vedic injunctions elevates and liberates the soul.
[iv]  Vedanta-sutra (Brahma-sutra: Srila Vyasadeva’s conclusive summary of Vedic philosophical knowledge, written in brief codes. The philosophy of the Absolute Truth, which finds implicit expression in the Vedas and the Upanisads, was put into a systematic and more explicit form in the Vedanta-sutra. All apparent contradictory statements of the vast literature of the Vedas are resolved by the great Vyasa in this work. In this work there are four divisions 1) reconciliation of all scriptures; 2) the consistent reconciliation of apparently conflicting hymns; 3) the means or process of attaining the goal (spiritual realization); and 4) the object (or desired fruit) achieved by the spiritual process. The Vedanta-sutra establishes that Godhead exists, that devotion is the means of realizing transcendental love for Godhead, and that this love is the final object of man’s endeavors. This book is the textbook of all theistic philosophy, and, as such, many commentators have elaborated on the significance of its conclusions; This most important work of nyaya-prasthana (Vedic logic), which is also known as Brahma-sutra, Sariraka, Vyasa-sutra, Badarayana-sutra, Uttara-mimamsa and Vedanta-darsana, was composed by the great sage Vyasa 5000 years ago. Sutra means code. The Vedanta-sutra is a book of codes that present, in concise form, brahma-jïana, i.e., conclusive Vedic knowledge. These codes are very terse, and without a fuller explanation, their meaning is difficult to grasp. In India there are five main schools of Vedanta, each established by an acarya (founder) who explained the sutras in a bhasya (commentary). The natural commentary on the Vedanta-sutra is the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
[v]  Purana—Literally, very old. Within the smrti section of the Vedic scriptures, there are eighteen Maha-puranas (great books of ancient wisdom). Of these, the greatest is the Bhagavata Purana, also called Srimad-Bhagavatam.  Puranas—the eighteen major and eighteen minor ancient Vedic literatures compiled about five thousand years ago in India by Srila Vyasadeva that are histories of this and other planets; literatures supplementary to the Vedas, discussing such topics as the creation of the universe, incarnations of the Supreme Lord and demigods, and the history of dynasties of saintly kings. The eighteen principal Puranas discuss ten primary subject matters: 1) the primary creation, 2) the secondary creation, 3) the planetary systems, 4) protection and maintenance by the avataras, 5) the Manus. 6) Dynasties of great kings, 7) noble character and activities of great kings, 8) dissolution of the universe and liberation of the living entity, 9) the Jiva   (the spirit soul), 10) the Supreme Lord.
[vi]  Upanisads: One-hundred and eight Sanskrit treatises that embody the philosophy of the Vedas. Considered the most significant philosophical sections and crest jewels of the Vedas, the Upanisads are found in the Aranyaka and Brahmana portions of the Vedas. They are theistic and contain the realizations and teachings of great sages of antiquity; The term Upanisad literally means that which is learned by sitting close to the teacher. The texts of the Upanisads teach the philosophy of the Absolute Truth (Brahman) to those seeking liberation from birth and death, and the study of the Upanisads is known as Vedanta, the conclusion of the Veda. The contents of the Upanisads are extremely difficult to fathom; they are to be understood only under the close guidance of a spiritual master (guru). Because the Upanisads contain many apparently contradictory statements, the great sage Vyasa systematized the Upanisadic teachings in the Vedanta-sutra. His natural commentary on the Vedanta-sutra is the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

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