[Advaita-l] Who is IShvara? Who is jIva?

Anand Hudli ahudli at gmail.com
Wed Jan 5 04:38:13 CST 2011

 There seem to be misconceptions about Ishvara and jIva among list members.
In order to understand the position of classical advaita authors on this
topic, it becomes necessary to examine the original texts themselves.
Fortunately for us, the work of collecting views from original advaita works
has already been done by none other than shrI appayya dIkshita.

Appayya Dikshita in his work, the siddhAnta-lesha-saMgraha presents the
views held by advaitins about Ishvara and jIva.

अथ क ईश्वरः को वा जीवः ? अत्रोक्तं प्रकटार्थविवरणे - अनादिरनिर्वाच्या
भूतप्रकृतिश्चिन्मात्रसम्बन्धिनी माया । तस्यां चित्प्रतिबिम्ब ईश्वरः, तस्या
एव परिच्छिन्नानन्तप्रदेशेष्वारणविक्षेपशक्तिमत्सु अविद्याभिधानेषु
चित्प्रतिबिम्बो जीव इति ।

Who is Ishvara (God)? Who is jIva (individual soul)? Here the PrakaTArtha
vivaraNa (of Anubhutisvarupacharya) says:

The beginningless and indescribable (anirvachanIyA, neither real nor false)
mAyA which is the origin of the world is related (as it were) to pure Cit
(Consciousness). The reflection of pure consciousness in that mAyA is
Ishvara. That mAyA is divided into many, many avidyAs that have
concealing and projective powers (AvaraNa and VikShepa shaktis). Pure
Consciousness reflected in avidyA is the jIva.

In this work, pure Cit (consciousness, nirguNa Brahman) is reflected in
undivided or samaShTi mAyA. This reflection is Ishvara or God. The same mAyA
is divided into myriad avidyAs which have two powers - AvaraNa shakti that
conceals Reality and vikShepa shakti that projects the unreal as the
Reality. The same Cit (nirguNa Brahman) reflected in an avidyA thus defined
is called a jIva or the individual soul. This individual avidyA is also
called vyaShTi mAyA.

तत्त्वविवेके तु - त्रिगुणात्मिकाया मूलप्रकृतेः "जीवेशावभासेन करोति माया
चाविद्या च स्वयमेव भवति" इति श्रुतिसिद्धौ द्वौ रूपभेदौ ।
रजस्तमोऽनभिभूतशुद्धसत्त्वप्रधाना माया, तदभिभूतमलिनसत्त्वा अविद्येति
मायाऽविद्याभेदं परिकल्प्य, मायाप्रतिबिम्ब ईश्वरः, अविद्याप्रतिबिम्बो जीव

The tattvaviveka (PanchadashI 1-16) says:

The mUlaprakRti consisting of the three guNas (sattva, rajas, and tamas) has
two forms in accordance with the shruti statement, "(The mUlaprakRti)
creates the appearance of jIva and Ishvara, and itself becomes mAyA and
avidyA." mAyA is that where pure sattva guNa is dominant and is not overcome
by rajas and tamas, (while) avidyA is that where sattva is impure, overcome
by rajas and tamas. Differentiating the two thus, it is said that the
reflection in mAyA is Ishvara and the reflection in avidyA is jIva.

Here is another definition, based on the three guNas. The mUlaprakR^iti is
itself mAyA and avidyA. Ishvara is the reflection of Cit in mAyA where the
sattva guNa dominates, but jIva is the reflection in avidya where the sattva
guNa is dominated by rajas and tamas.

(To be continued)


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