Jaiva-Dharma -- The Essential Nature of the Soul

by Puru Das Adhikari

jaivadharma.jpg - 17712 Bytes

His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura
The Essential Nature
Of the Soul
Vol. One (of three)

Translation inspired by the teachings, guidance and preceptor example of Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja

Part One

A most unique and eloquent spiritual novel penned by the author, himself one of the most prolific & popular writers of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya in the late 1890ís

Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura is an intimate eternal associate of the saviour of the masses in the age of Kali, Sacinandan Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. After the associates of Sri Gaurahari, such as the Six Gosvamis, Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja, Sri Narottama Thakura and Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, left his world and entered into their unmanifest pastimes, the one-hundred years that followed are considered a dark period for the Gaudiya Vaisnava line. During this period, no powerful acarya appeared in the Gaudiya line who could carry forward the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu in their pure form as was done in previous times.

At this crucial moment, in the year 1838, Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinode Thakura auspiciously appeared in a well-educated and cultural family in the village of Viranagara which is near Sri Navadvipa-dhama in West Bengal. He ushered in a new era in the Gaudiya Vaisnava line by compiling approximately one-hundred authoritative and comprehensive books on the science of bhakti in Sanskrit, Bengali, Hindi, English and various other languages. Thereby, he re-established the integrity of our Gaudiya line forthwith. For this astounding effort, the Gaudiya Vaisnavas will remain eternally indebted to him. In the modern era, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura set in motion once again the bhakti-bhagirathi, or the flow of the river of pure devotion (suddha-bhakti). For this, he is affectionately remembered as the Seventh Gosvami.

Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja

Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the English version of Srila Narayana Maharajaís Hindi translation of Jaiva-dharma can contact me (East Coast) at PuruDas@compuserve.com for order information

or (West Coast) Nanda Gopal Prabhu at 104307.770@compuserve.com

Jaive-dharma /dayve-dharme/ refers to the characteristic nature or function for which the soul exists. The living being is eternally a spiritual entity, and an eternal part-and-parcel of the Supreme. As the part is meant to serve the whole, the individual soul is meant to be established in an eternal relationship of love with the Supreme Soul. That divine love is the dharma of the jiva (soul). When the soul embraces this dharma while in the practicing stage, it is known as sadhana-dharma or sadhana-bhakti, devotion as the instrument of perfection. By this dharma the living being becomes established in his or her eternal identity in relationship with the Lord. When situated thus, the activities the soul performs are a natural expression of the soulís true identity, and thus they are known as sadhya-dharma, the function of ultimate perfection. This refers to prema-bhakti, devotion in divine love, because it is only in the exchange of love with the soul'í very object that the jiva can find complete fulfillment. Consequently, bhakti, both in the practicing and perfectional stages, is the nitya-dharma of the jiva.


Written for the third Hindi edition
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja

I am delighted that the Gaudiya Vedanta Samitiís third Hindi edition of Jaiva-dharma is now being submitted before the public. Having been deeply concerned about the non-availability of this book in Hindi, Indiaís national language, this publishing has fulfilled my long-standing desire.

The original Jaiva-dharma, written in Bengali, is a priceless ornament for all Bengali-speaking Vaisnavas. The author, a confidential associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who is famous as the seventh Gosvami. In the modern Vaisnava community, he reinitiated a powerful flow of the sacred Ganges of unalloyed bhakti which had been revealed by Svayam Bhagavan, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Thakura Bhaktivinoda wrote over a hundred books about bhakti in several languages. This book, Jaiva-dharma ,has ushered in a new era in the world of philosophy and religion.

This Hindi edition was produced under the direction of my most highly revered holy master, Sri Gurupada-padma Om Visnupada 108 Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. He is a guardian of the Sri Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya and has fulfilled the inner heartís desire of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Guara-kisore dasa Babaji Maharaj and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. He is an acarya in the line of disciplic succession coming from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and is the Founder-Acarya of the Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti and its branches which are spread throughout India. By his causeless, unlimited mercy, inspiration and direct order, although I am unfit and incompetent in all respects, I was able to translate this book which is filled with exacting philosophy and profound and confidential truths regarding the worship of the Lord.

In this translation I have tried as far as possible to preserve the lofty philosophy and highly intricate and subtle moods concerning the analysis of rasa. I endeavored to the best of my ability to express these things in clear and easily understandable language. How successful I have been in this attempt is left to the discretion of the readers. Whatever value there is in this effort is exclusively to the credit of the lotus feet of Sri Guru.

The Hindi translation of Jaiva-dharma was first published in the monthly magazine, Sri Bhagavat-patrika, in a series of articles spanning six years. The faithful readers greatly appreciated this and repeatedly implored me to publish it as a separate book. For the benefit of the faithful Hindi-speaking public and for the delight of the pure devotees, our second edition of Jaiva-dharma came out in book form. This edition was very quickly exhausted and so a third edition was presented to fulfill the deep interest and demand of the readers.

Although my most revered holy master, Sri Acaryadeva, has given an elaborate introduction in his editorial preface detailing the unique characteristics of the book, its author and other important topics, I cannot restrain my own enthusiasm to add a few words on this subject. I entreat the readers to study the introduction with serious attention before reading this book. I have firm faith that by doing so, they will obtain clear guidance as to how to enter into the truth concerning the supreme reality.

The word jaiva-dharma refers to the dharma of the jiva, or the constitutional function of the living being. From external appearances, human beings seem to have different religions according to classifications of country, caste, race and so on. The constitutional natures of human beings, animals, birds, worms, insects, and other living beings throughout the universe have only one eternal, immutable dharma. In Jaiva-dharma, a compelling and thorough description is given of this dharma, which is eternal and which applies everywhere, at all times, and to all living beings. In a highly concise form, this book is filled with the essence of the exceedingly deep and confidential topics of the Vedas,Vedanta, Upanisads, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Puranas, Brahma-sutra, Mahabharata, Itihasas, Pancaratra, Sat-sandarbhas, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nilamani, and other ideal sastras. Furthermore, it is written in the form of a tasteful, entertaining, and easily comprehensible novel.

In Jaiva-dharma there is an unprecedented and poignant analysis of many vital topics, such as bhagavata-tattva, the truth regarding the living entities; sakti-tattva, the truth regarding the Lordís potencies; the conditioned and liberated states of the jivas; a comparative study of the nature of karma, jnana and bhakti; a conclusive and meaningful discussion of the distinguishing characteristics of vaidhi and raganuga-bhakti; and the supreme excellence of sri nama-bhajana. All these topics are discussed in terms of sambandha, abhideya and prayojana.

Prior to the Bengali edition of Jaiva-dharma published by the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, all editions of Jaiva-dharma published by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada and the subsequent Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas in their line have included the section on rasa-vicara. However, our most revered holy master, Srila Gurupada-padma, for specific reasons, published an edition containing only the first two divisions of the book, which deal respectively with nitya-naimittika-dharma and sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana. He did not publish the third division of the book, which deals with rasa-vicara.

Later, however, when the Sri Kesava Gaudiya Matha was in the process of publishing its Hindi edition from Mathura, Srila Gurupada-padma personally reviewed its Hindi edition from Mathura. Srila Gurupada-padma personally reviewed the entire book. In his introduction to this edition he very clearly instructed the readers to first examine their eligibility or lack thereof, and then proceed with caution in studying the third division of the book dealing with rasa-vicara. Therefore, when all three parts of the book were published together in the second edition, I didn't feel it was necessary to give any further clarification.

At the time of writing Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, a doubt arose in the heart of Sri Krsna das Kaviraja Gosvami regarding whether he should present the discussion on rasa-vicara. He questioned whether or not to include this topic in the book, lest ineligible people may read it to their detriment. He finally resolved to include rasa-vicara in the book, expressing this in his own words in Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 4.231-237):

e saba siddhanta gudha, kahite na yuyaya
na kahile, keha ihara anta nahi
ataeva kahi kichu karina nigudha
bujhibe rasika bhakta, na bujhibe mudha
hrdaye dharaye ye caitanya-nityananda
e-saba siddhante sei paibe ananda
e saba siddhanta haya amrera pallava
bhakta-gana-kokilera sarvada vallabha
abhakta-ustrera ithe na haya pravesa
tabe citte haya mora ananda-visesa
ye lagi kahite bhaya, se yadi na jane
iha va-i kiba sukha ache tribh
ataeva bhakta-gane kari namaskara
nihsanke kahiye, tara hauk camatkara
The esoteric and confidential conclusions regarding the amorous pastimes of Rasaraja Sri Krsna together with the gopis, who are the embodiments of mahabhava, are not fit to be disclosed to the common ordinary man. But without revealing them, no one can enter into this topic. I shall therefore describe these topics in a concealed manner so that only rasika-bhaktas will be able to understand them, whereas the ineligible fools will not.

Anyone who has established Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Nityananda Prabhu in their hearts will attain transcendental bliss by hearing these conclusions. This entire doctrine is a sweet as newly grown mango sprouts which can be relished only by the devotees who are likened to cuckoo birds. For the camel-like nondevotees, there is no possibility of admittance into these topics. Therefore, there is special jubilation in my heart.

If those whom I fear are themselves unable to comprehend these topics, then what would be a greater source of happiness in all the three worlds? Therefore, after offering obeisances to the devotees, I am revealing this subject without hesitation.

It is always inappropriate to reveal the confidential vraja-rasa before the common masses. However, if it is not thoroughly explained, there is every possibility that this sacred mystery will disappear. Although neem and mango trees may be present together in the same garden, a crow will sit on a neem tree and taste its bitter fruits, whereas the cuckcoo, who has discriminating taste, will son on the mango tree and savor its sweet mango sprouts and blossoms. Consequently, it is proper to present rasa-vicara.

Up until now in the world of Hindi literature, there has been an absence of such an exceptionally fine and comprehensive book which acquaints one through comparative analysis with the highest philosophical conclusions and superexcellent methods of worship that are present in Vaisnava dharma. Jaiva-dharma has fulfilled this want. It will usher in a new era in the philosophical and religious worlds, and particularly in the world of Vaisnavism.

Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha
Mathura, U.P., l989
An aspirant for a particle of mercy of
Sri-Sri Guru and Vaisnavas
Tridandi Bhiksu
Sri Bhaktivedanta Narayana
[Originally published 08/22/00 on VNN]

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