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Jīva Gosvāmin 1. Treatises on theology and philosophy. The

main work in this category was the
Aleksandar Uskokov Ṣaṭ-sandarbha, “The Six Weavings,” in
Department of South Asian Languages and which he arranged verses from the Bhāgavata
Civilizations, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, Purana topically into six books, selecting
USA some as heading verses in a fashion that resem-
bles the adhikaraṇas of the Vedānta-sūtras,
adducing more verses from the Bhāgavata
Life and Works and many other sources in their support, and
commenting extensively on both. In doing so,
Jīva Gosvāmin (1517–1608) was a leading he tried to establish the Bhāgavata as the ulti-
Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava theologian, one of the “six mate authority of both Vedānta and devotion to
Gosvāmins of Vṛndāvana” or principal students Kṛṣṇa, a one-stop shop where any devotee can
of Caitanya (1486–1533) who are said to have learn all about Gauḍīya doctrine. The six books
been entrusted by Caitanya in formulating his are Tattva, Bhagavat, Paramātmā, Kṛṣṇa,
theology. He was a son of Vallabha and nephew Bhakti, and Prī ti Sandarbha. The first four
of the other two great Gauḍīya theologians, Rūpa deal with what he calls sambandha, Kṛṣṇa as
and Sanātana, whom he succeeded as the leader of the ultimate reality and his relation to the world
Caitanya’s following in Vṛndāvana, becoming and the individual selves; the fifth deals with
“the highest court of appeal in doctrinal matters abhidheya, the process of attaining one’s rela-
so long as he lived” ([5]: 150). In Vṛndāvana he tionship with Kṛṣṇa; and the fifth with
founded the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple, in whose prayojana, the goal or result that is achieved
courtyard his tomb (samādhi) is located. His when the process bears fruit. These three cor-
prominent students included Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, respond to the more common Vedāntic classi-
Narottama Dāsa, and Śyāmānanda Paṇḍita, fication of tattva, sādhana, and phala.
whom he dispatched to Bengal with his own 2. Scriptural commentaries. The principal among
books and the books of the other Gosvāmins and these are (i) Krama-sandarbha, a
who organized the Caitanya movement into a rearrangement of the Ṣaṭ-Sandarbha in
formal tradition that dominated Vaiṣṇavism in sequential order as a running commentary on
eastern India [1–5]. the Bhāgavata; (ii) Laghu-vaiṣṇava-toṣaṇī , a
Jīva Gosvāmin was highly prolific, both in commentary on the tenth book of the
volume and genre, and his works have been Bhāgavata; and (iii) commentaries on Rūpa
grouped in four categories: Gosvāmin’s Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu and
# Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018
P. Jain et al. (eds.), Hinduism and Tribal Religions, Encyclopedia of Indian Religions,
2 Jīva Gosvāmin

Ujjvala-nī lamaṇi, called Durgama- That God is pure Being, consciousness, and
saṅgamanī and Locana-rocanī , respectively. bliss does not mean that he is a mere substance
3. Works on grammar and poetics. These include without any attributes, as understood in Advaita
(i) Hari-nāmāmṛta-vyākaraṇa, a full Sanskrit Vedānta. Rather, it is a unique thing that is differ-
grammar that uses names of Kṛṣṇa as technical entially determined by manifestation of attributes
terms and (ii) Bhakti-rasāmṛta-śeṣa, a work on in accordance to the cognitive ability of the sub-
poetics suitable for Vaiṣṇavas, a refashioning ject of knowing. It is having this difference in
of Viśvanātha’s Sāhitya-darpaṇa with mind that scriptures describe non-dual reality by
Vaiṣṇava illustrations. using different terms, grouped under the three
4. Literary works. These include (i) Mādhava- headings: Brahman, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān.
mahotsava, a mahā-kāvya of 1192 verses deal- The difference among these three states of reality
ing with Kṛṣṇa consecrating Rādhā as the is less ontological and more cognitive, and they
queen of Vṛndāvana; (ii) Gopāla-virudāvali; are more like aspects than real states. Brahman is
(iii) Gopāla-campū, the largest Sanskrit work Being pure and simple, a substance conceptually
of the campū genre (a combination of prose understood in a general, featureless way. In truth,
and poetry), a retelling of the tenth book of the it is neither formless nor featureless, but it can be
Bhāgavata; and (iv) Saṅkalpa-kalpa-druma, a understood or cognized as something in which the
verse summary of the Gopāla-campū [1, 2, 6]. difference of substance and attributes does not
obtain for the knower.
When that same substance manifests to a
knower as bearing individuality and as having
attributes, it is called Bhagavān or God proper.
Bhagavān, in other words, is Brahman in which
Jīva was a proponent of the Mīmāṁsā-Vedānta
the difference between the substance and its attri-
doctrine of śāstra as a form of knowing from
butes does obtain. Jīva calls the divine attributes
linguistic utterances (śabda) that is not of the
as “energies,” śakti, and they belong to three
testimonial kind. For him, scriptures were not
broad groups: God’s internal energy, antaraṅga-
written by a human or divine agent, although
śakti, a spiritual stuff which manifests his body,
they could be manifested through such individ-
personal features, spiritual sphere, etc., and
uals. He extended the classical scope of scriptures
through which he conducts his internal affairs;
(śruti) to include the epics (Rāmāyaṇa and
his external energy, bahiraṅga-śakti, the dull mat-
Mahābhārata) and the Purāṇas and advocated
ter that is both the stuff of the phenomenal world
for the Bhāgavata as the absolute best in the
and the power of illusion that keeps the third,
total scriptural corpus [7–11].
marginal energy, taṭastha-śakti, the individual
The starting point of Jīva’s theology, presented
beings, under its clutches. These three energies
in the Ṣaṭ-sandarbha, was a verse from the
are treated in detail, but we should note here that
Bhāgavata Purāṇa (1.2.11) which runs:
they are ontologically real categories. In them-
“Knowers of reality say that reality is non-dual
selves, they are substances, but in relation to
consciousness, called Brahman, Paramātmā and
God, they are attributes because their existence
Bhagavān.” For Jīva, the verse says that ultimate
is contingent on him as their locus and because
reality, which for convenience we may call God
they manifest the features that constitute God as a
here, is a single substance – not in the sense of
qualified unit and a person. The choice to call
stuff or material but in the Aristotelian sense of
these properties “energy” suggests the idea that
that to which accidents or attributes can be
they are the means through which God operates:
predicated – which is in nature consciousness.
the term needs to convey a sense of graded per-
Jīva adds bliss as the second essential feature of
sonality, presence, and influence, from intimate to
God, and this sets the definition in the context of
public, much after the fashion of a king’s own
the Upaniṣads and Vedānta, sat-cit-ānanda.
Jīva Gosvāmin 3

person, persona, and direct and indirect exercise energy, displaying attributes for specific pastimes
of power. and relationships. Such forms are not illusory or
As śaktis, they are inherently neither the sub- adventitious but are not a different substance in an
stance nor something different from it. In episte- ontological sense either.
mological terms, they are in the domain of In a free and perhaps not too precise way, we
scriptural postulation (arthāpatti), which deals could say that Brahman is the God of the philos-
with realities that cannot be inferred because ophers, somewhat in a Spinozian sense, a sub-
there is no direct data about them but whose stance with infinite attributes, but depersonalized
existence must be accepted because without it as the ultimate basis of the world. Paramātman is
other states of affairs cannot be accounted for. the God of the theologians, the God in relation to
For these two reasons, Jīva’s doctrine is called whom it makes sense to ask questions about the
acintya-bhedābheda, inconceivable simultaneous existence of good and evil. Bhagavān is the God
identity and difference. of the faithful, a God with whom one can establish
In brief, Bhagavān is different from Brahman a loving relationship. Bhagavān includes the com-
only in the sense that the substance-attribute dif- plex of deities in the Vaiṣṇava universe but ulti-
ference does obtain for the knower. They are the mately refers to the personal divinity Kṛṣṇa [2, 6,
same substance but cognized differently. Gupta 12–15].
puts it nicely: “Brahman is Bhagavān, but with
the splendor and glory suspended” ([9]: 35). Brah-
man is but a cognitive and conceptual reduction.
The Doctrine of Bhakti
The second feature of God, Paramātman or the
Supreme Self, is also Bhagavān, with the “splen-
In terms of religious practice, Jīva was an advo-
dor and glory” not suspended but rather reduced.
cate of bhakti and likely its most thorough theo-
This reduction is not merely cognitive. Para-
logian. For him bhakti was more than just a
mātman is a separate form of Bhagavān. It is a
religious process: it was an essential feature of
form, a “descent” or avatāra of Bhagavān in rela-
Bhagavān, an aspect of his internal power
tion to the external and marginal energies. It is a
(antaraṅga-śakti) that was constituted as bliss
form of God in which he appears as the efficient
(hlādinī ). It was also a natural function of the
cause of the world and as its superintendent. Para-
living being insofar as one’s constitution was to
mātman sets the world in motion by fertilizing
be prone toward Bhagavān. However, this natural
matter, the external energy, with the seeds that
tendency could be obstructed under the influence
are the individual beings, the marginal energy.
of Bhagavān’s external power (bahiraṅga-śakti),
Then, he conducts the affairs of the world by
in which case bhakti could be applied as a process,
supervising the law of karma under which the
an adoration of Bhagavān (bhagavad-upāsanā)
world operates. He does that by impelling beings
with the purpose of turning oneself toward
toward a goal that is set by their previous action.
In this sense, he is the inner dweller or controller
As a process, bhakti is of two kinds: [7] vaidhī
of the souls and matter that the Upaniṣads talk
bhakti or scripturally regulated devotion,
about. Thus, unlike Brahman, Paramātman is not
consisting of actions such as hearing about
merely a cognitive abstraction or a state that never
Bhagavān from scripture, chanting mantras, med-
truly obtains. It is a real form of God but a form for
itation on Bhagavān, etc., and useful for the begin-
a specific purpose and manifesting Godhood par-
ners and [1] rāgānugā bhakti or devotion that
tially. Indeed, God has innumerable such forms
intentionally imitates the sentiment of some eter-
for the purpose of pastime or fun (līlā), and the
nal associate of Bhagavān, useful for those whose
creation of the world does belong to the realm of
devotion has become spontaneous but should be
“divine fun.” These forms of God are not separate
molded into a specific relationship with
gods – it is the single and unique God that takes
innumerable forms manifested by his internal
4 Jīva Gosvāmin

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