View Full Version : Srimad Bhagvatam and on Tattvas

02 May 2015, 06:03 AM

I am not much fond of Puranas but Srimad Bhagvatam has fascinated me with the gems of knowledge it contains. There are endless debates on validity of paths among the zealous followers of different paths. Bhagvad Gita talks of different paths and there are other scriptures also talking on the various different paths of Hindu Dharma. However, the clarity of Srimad Bhagvatam on this issue is exceptional.

On this forum itself, we have seen people fighting tooth and nail to prove how their path is better than all others. A common scene has been attack on Advaita by the Vaishnavas (mostly from ISKCON or subscribing to the views of ISKCON). These people have no qualms in calling the Advaitins not only MAyAvaadi in a derogatory fashion but also sometimes as demons / rascals etc. They try to show that Adi Shankara was actually born to confuse people and divert them from the path of Dharma.

As we are Advaitins so it is but natural that we defend our path. But what do Vaishnava Scriptures say on this issue ? Let us take some excerpts from Srimad Bhagavatam :

Uddhava asks Lord Krishna in Canto 11, chapter 22, verse 1-3 :

"How many are the Tattvas enumerated by the sages, O' Lord of the Universe ? O Lord, regarding this I hear that thou speakest of twenty eight, divided into nine, eleven, five and three. Some speak of twenty six and others twenty five, some speak of seven, some nine or six or four and other eleven. Some speak of seventeen and some again thirteen. Thou shouldst tell me O' Immortal One the purpose which the sages have in view in this differently enumerating them."

===> In the above verses, the question is for finding out who is saying the truth. What is Lord Krishna's opinion on this issue ?

Lord Krishna says in Verse 4:

"Howsoever the sages may speak, it is quite in order, for all the tattvas are included in every enumeration."

By saying this, Lord Krishna validates all such versions. He further says :

"It is not as you put it but it is as I put it" - this sort of fighting over the issue is due to My powers Sattva, Rajasa and Tamasa which are difficult to get rid of"

"O' best of men, it is owing to their mutual interpretation that the Tattvas are enumerated in a relation of cause and effect, according to the view of that particular exponent."

What do God says for the Dualists and for the Non-dualists ?

First He talks about the Dualists.

He says :

Verse 10 :" Some hold the view that since a man is under the grip of beginningless nescience, cannot realise his Self unaided, the Omniscient Giver of knowledge must be a different being from him"

Then He talks about the Non-dualists :

He says :

Verse 11 : "On this point others say that there is not the least difference between the soul (of Jeeva) and God. Therefore it is futile to make a distinction between them and knowledge is but an attribute of Prakriti".

Then He keeps talking on various different views on tattvas in this chapter. And His final say on all such views :

Verse 34 : "Thus the sages have made various enumerations of Tattvas. All of these, being reasonable, are apposite"

So, in God's view, all these views are correct. The difference is due to various ways of describing the same thing.


02 May 2015, 06:26 AM
Namaste Devotee,

Thank you for putting this on the forum, with reference to this I would like to add that a true devotee of God will not be interested in arguing with others and proving their points. But these people decide to go ahead any way and simply introduce their beliefs. They have forgotten that for God to be truly please you must be child like and not childish.

The path of Bhakti is not a path of philosophising but simply path of love towards Ishwara. Even Madhva interprets "Aham Brahmasmi" as jiva being a part of Ishwara. So do these self proclaimed Bhaktas not realise that whether a person is a Mayavadi or non Mayavadi they are a part of Ishwara and hence spewing poison towards them is equivalent to spewing poison on Ishwara itself.

Although I don't agree with the Dvaita , Vishishtadvaita or Achintya Bhedabheda views I do not go into their forums and attack their Siddhanta. Do not know why these people lack in this basic decency.

Genuine questioning about a philosophy is fine, but deliberate attacks are not welcome. If one is a Bhakta it is better the Bhakta sticks to Bhakti and does not go into logic, debates and philosophy.

Infact Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a great logician in Nava Dvipa, but gave up logic for Krishna Bhakti, similarly I request Bhaktas to give up their own methods of argumentation against another philosophy and obsession with logic.

02 May 2015, 07:44 AM
Dear Friend.,

Everyone entitled to have their own opinions, faiths and interpretation and when such opinions and faith are very strong to individuals it is natural that they do not see the other side. As much as you feel worried or feel its derogatory to have names for philosophical tenets, remember what you give them back is the same kind of mud you are allergic to. Anyways, i don't want to jump and add one more straw here in this line.

But, your statement of Shri Madhva interpreted "Aham Brahmasmi" as jiva being part of Ishwara - is very misleading. Shri Madhva is very clear and the concept of svaTantra and paraTantra should not be assumed or interpreted to suite any sort of "Advaitic" leanings. For Shri Madhva, there are three principles that are eternally TRUE - this position is not compromisable and the love, affection and association towards Ishwara is due to the eternal dependency and thus a very "nature" of Jiva. As an Antrayamin, He is always with in and fulfill the desire of the Jiva like a mother and everything that a Jiva does is enabled, activated ,approved/diapproved and executed by the grace of Lord ( remember it is not action of Lord itself - the crux that differentiate the TattavaVada from Advaita where the Jiva is accepted as an eternal real with the svaRupa - unlike Mind being the Mithya Jiva/Atma). Such is the Brahman with in, in the TatvaVada school and not that Brahman is what Jiva is literally and forever including the states of Mukthi.

Arguments without positive spirit never helps anyone! Do not assume the Bhakthi people do not require philosophy but Bhatkhi people should not live with just philosophy and having blind faith is not approved or accepted as Bhakthi in first place. Its a wrong notion that, you can LOVE someone or some object without having knowledge about that someone or object ( Ponder over it if you can - Love is based on realization and then the attraction towards the greatness of the loved - greatness can be as simple as someone looking good to your perception or a Gold being worthy and lustrous or someone who is God who creates, maintains and enables to live your entire life with possible higher rewards). Why would anyone fall in love with no knowledge or perception of what is NOT YET KNOWN or NOT YET SEEN? Blind man can also fall in love with what he hears like falling in love with a beautiful woman he has not seen but at least someone described that 'girl' as beautiful - that knowledge is the source and beginning point! So, here philosophy that is honest, perfect and inline with the Vedas and Puranas are required as best guides for the sadaka to make progress and also know that, our vedas and puranas can be interpreted in three modes of satva, rajasa and tamasmika and you will realize this being natural to every languages as well. ( Whatever anyone say, you can interpret that content with "intent" and "context" along with your knowledge and experience in at least three ways )

What you have to accept and not misunderstand is, no one is going to change your faith or acceptance of certain philosophy but a discussion either helps you to ask more from another perspective and that is. Rather than being "Defensive" and not allowing the "question" itself in first place will never help and we should not enjoy just showing off our knowledge believing that such should never be questioned.

The school of Advaita is not a monologue and it got improved, added tons of subject materials, answers with so much of compassion over the ages because of such open mind. Hating a person is bad and worst any vedantin can do or anyone with interest in learning vedanta and as an individual, everyone is adorable, loveable and even amidst the difference of opinions and level of knowledge someone posses.

Lets agree to disagree, and its all part of our SanatanaDharma.

Hare Krshna

03 May 2015, 02:30 AM
Namaste Grames,

Did I quote Madhava anywhere ? Did I give my understanding of the scripture ? I have quoted the scripture as it is without any manipulation. If you doubt what has been offered that would only mean that what is written in Bhagwatam is not acceptable to you or Madhava ! Can you give translation done by Madhava for these verses I have quoted ?


04 May 2015, 07:39 AM

Here's the Vedabase Translation of those verses:

SB 11.22.1-3 (http://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/11/22/1-3) — Uddhava inquired: My dear Lord, O master of the universe, how many different elements of creation have been enumerated by the great sages? I have heard You personally describe a total of twenty-eight — God, the jīva soul, the mahat-tattva, false ego, the five gross elements, the ten senses, the mind, the five subtle objects of perception and the three modes of nature. But some authorities say that there are twenty-six elements, while others cite twenty-five or else seven, nine, six, four or eleven, and even others say that there are seventeen, sixteen or thirteen. What did each of these sages have in mind when he calculated the creative elements in such different ways? O supreme eternal, kindly explain this to me.

SB 11.22.4 (http://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/11/22/4) — Lord Kṛṣṇa replied: Because all material elements are present everywhere, it is reasonable that different learned brāhmaṇas have analyzed them in different ways. All such philosophers spoke under the shelter of My mystic potency, and thus they could say anything without contradicting the truth.
SB 11.22.10 (http://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/11/22/10) — Because a person who has been covered by ignorance since time immemorial is not capable of effecting his own self-realization, there must be some other personality who is in factual knowledge of the Absolute Truth and can impart this knowledge to him.
SB 11.22.11 (http://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/11/22/11) — According to knowledge in the material mode of goodness, there is no qualitative difference between the living entity and the supreme controller. The imagination of qualitative difference between them is useless speculation.

SB 11.22.34 (http://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/11/22/34) — The speculative argument of philosophers — “This world is real,” “No, it is not real” — is based upon incomplete knowledge of the Supreme Soul and is simply aimed at understanding material dualities. Although such argument is useless, persons who have turned their attention away from Me, their own true Self, are unable to give it up.

Hare Krishna!

06 May 2015, 12:44 PM
Namaste Grames,

Thank you for explaining "Aham Brahmasmi" from the Dvaita point of view with the Antaryami concept and so on.

I was not interested in answering the questions as they would become too theoretical for example there are schools of thought in Advaita like "Vivarana" and "Bhamati", they will have their own explanation. Then you had asked for categorisation of Ajnana and so on, which would again be quite theoretical. Hence I am least interested in going to the theoretical aspects of the Advaita Philosophy as there are many such aspects.

Since you say that you have read Advaita Siddhi, it means you must have understood it, I must say I appreciate you for reading this text as I understand the objection to Mithya pretty well but I do not understand Madhusudhana's answer very well.

The disagreement between the schools Dvaita philosophy and Advaita Philosophy as I understand can be in analysis. Every school of thought takes it's own words and based on these technical words there are concepts through which there is analysis.

06 May 2015, 11:18 PM
Namaste Ash,

Thank you for posting the translation but I see the translations of Iskcon to be biased and hence not reliable, in the last verse "AtmaaParijnana" is translated as incomplete knowledge of the Supreme Soul.

Which according to Iskcon is the actual translation but it is not something that is acceptable to all, hence if such an interpretation satisfies Iskcon I am happy with it.

Namaste Devotee,

The Biggest question all Dvaitins, Visishtadvaitins and Bhedabhedavadins have is how can Advaita declare this whole world to be apparent, hence they firmly affirm the existence of Jiva, world and Ishwara.

For an Advaitin Jiva, world and Ishwara are apparent as they are an appearance of Brahman. For other schools the Jiva samooha, World and Ishwara are true.

However just as the problems in these are visible to us and the presentations of the Bhakti schools are already creating objections within your mind and my mind, similarly when a follower of the Bhakti school reads that the world is apparent he immediately creates his objections within his mind. This is the crux of the whole disagreement.

I would like to add that all these objections which are raised by other Bhakti schools have been already raised within the Shankara Bhashya itself, also many objections are such that I have already raised them for myself and gone beyond these objections and raised a fresh set of objections which many Advaitins were unable to answer.

Therefore I conclude that I don't require any person of the Bhakti school to raise objections as Advaitins are always in a habit of raising the objections themselves.

09 May 2015, 10:38 AM
Hello all,
The subject is numbers of tattwa according to Krishna. I'd like to mention it in later post.

I think Krishna taught that all paths are illusions because they're thought by mind. He said only विज्ञान is the truth ie there's nothing other than Brahman in all 28 Tattw-s.

Thinking all tattwa-s as separate is Illusion.
Thinking one Brahman illuminating all Tattwa-s is ज्ञान
Thinking there's nothing other than Brahman, such different Tattwa-s don't exist at all is विज्ञान

09 May 2015, 09:29 PM
Namaste Sriram

Hari Om

I agree with your below thoughts.

Namaste Devotee,
I would like to add that a true devotee of God will not be interested in arguing with others and proving their points. If one is a Bhakta it is better the Bhakta sticks to Bhakti and does not go into logic, debates and philosophy.

Infact, IMHO a devotee with a family to support can be best described by BG:9.27 verse:

yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi
yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam

Remembering HIM always & forever, IMHO is a definite sign of bhakti.

Om Namah Shivay

10 May 2015, 12:07 AM
Then He talks about the Non-dualists :

Verse 11 : "On this point others say that there is not the least difference between the soul (of Jeeva) and God. Therefore it is futile to make a distinction between them and knowledge is but an attribute of Prakriti".

Then He keeps talking on various different views on tattvas in this chapter. And His final say on all such views :

Verse 34 : "Thus the sages have made various enumerations of Tattvas. All of these, being reasonable, are apposite"

Namaste devotee, I think you've misunderstood the context. The above verses (10-11) you mentioned is the view of Bhagavan Krishna. The verses onwards 19th verse are different opinions of various sages.

First Shri Krishna somewhat hesitated talking on Tattwa-s but so as to speak he mentioned 28 Tatwa-s that can be mainly classified in two Groups- 1] Purusha 2]Prakruti. In Purusha category, it is generally seen that Jiva and Ishwara are different but as the consciousness of both are one and also knowledge is the part of Prakruti, it is absolutely wrong to consider Jiva and Ishwara as separate.

Now let's analyze the view of Bhagavan Krishna.

अनादि अविद्यायुक्तस्य पुरुषस्यात्मवेदनम् ।
स्वतो न सम्भवादन्यः तत्त्वज्ञो ज्ञानदो भवेत् ॥ १० ॥

Prakruti, (2) Purusha, (3) Mahat, (4) Aham plus five great elements. These are nine. Eleven
organs and five objects. These make 16. Thus 9+16 = 25, If we add Jeeva as separate principle than the Purusha or Ishwara, then the number becomes 26.

The Jeeva runs after object so much that it forgets its own Reality. It cannot break the chain of karma, because there is a sense of bondage. Thus God, who knows everything, is necessary for his upliftment.

Jeeva is subject to control and God is the controller. Jeeva is ignorant and the God is the giver of knowledge. Jeeva is limited and within a particular space, and God is always and all-pervading. Jeeva is poor, weak and ignorant. God is all powerful and knowing everything. The Jeeva has the bondage of karma, while God is beyond karma. Such differentiation is based on the self-realization ie knowledge.

Now, see what lord confirms,

पुरुषेश्वरयोरत्र न वैलक्षण्यं अण्वपि ।
तदन्यकल्पनापार्था ज्ञानं च प्रकृतेर्गुणः ॥ ११ ॥

" There is not the least difference between Jiva and Ishwara. It is meaningless to say that they are separate from one another as knowledge is a function of Prakruti."

Knowledge ie self-realization only is responsible for the distinction between them. But as knowledge is a part of Maya-Prakruti, it is futile to view Jiva and Ishwara as separate. Because Knowledge and Bondage are brought out by Maya and not really existing.

If one looks into the mirror, naturally on-looker and his image both are seen; but the onlooker is not divided into two. We should know that Jeeva and Ishwara are like this, one unit.

Purusha mixed with Prakruti is said to be jiva. In later verse, Krishna said that the three Gunas are adjuncts of Prakruti, not of Purusha that is aloof from Prakruti. So it is right to consider Jiva and Ishwara as one element.

प्रकृतिर्गुणसाम्यं वै प्रकृतेर्नात्मनो गुणाः ।
सत्त्वं रजस्तम इति स्थित्युत्पत्त्यन्त हेतवः ॥ १२ ॥

"Prakruti is only another name for the state of equilibrium of the three Gunas. Therefore, the three Gunas which are responsible for the continuance, appearance and disappearance of the Universe, are the adjuncts of Prakruti and not of the Purusha, who is a non-doer and cannot be the ground of the three Gunas."

सत्त्वं ज्ञानं रजः कर्म तमोऽज्ञानण् इहोच्यते ।
गुणव्यतिकरः कालः स्वभावः सूत्रमेव च ॥ १३ ॥

"Knowledge is a modification of Sattwa; Action modification of Rajas, and ignorance the
modification of Tamas. As these belong to Prakruti, action and ignorance too are included in
Prakruti. Time is God, who is responsible for disturbance in the Gunas and Swabhava
(Nature, the existence in its primary state) is the Mahat-Tatwa, which is all-powerful."

As action and ignorance of jiva is classified in Prakruti, it's absurd to say Jiva's self and Ishwara's self are different.

Now Krishna states all 28 elements ===

पुरुषः प्रकृतिर्व्यक्तं अहङ्कारो नभोऽनिलः ।
ज्योतिरापः क्षितिरिति तत्त्वानि उक्तानि मे नव ॥ १४ ॥
श्रोत्रं त्वग्दर्शनं घ्राणो जिह्वेति ज्ञानशक्तयः ।
वाक्पाण्युपस्थपाय्वङ्*घ्रि कर्माण्यङ्गोभयं मनः ॥ १५ ॥
शब्दः स्पर्शो रसो गन्धो रूपं चेत्यर्थजातयः ।
गत्युक्त्युत्सर्गशिल्पानि कर्मायतनसिद्धयः ॥ १६ ॥

"The Lord said, “I have told you nine principles namely, Purusha, Prakruti (male, female), Avyakta
(Unmanifest), Ahankar (the sense of I), the Sky, the wind, the light, the water, and the earth”.

"The five faculties of cognition viz. hearing, touch, sight, smell, and taste; thefive organs of action
viz. speech, hands, sex, anus, feet; and the mind which is the controller of both organs."

"Thefive varieties of sense-objects, viz. sound, touch, taste, smell, and colour. These are the other
five categories mentioned about. Locomotion and speech, urination and defecation, and
handicraft are the five functions of the organs of action."

The Lord has counted 28 elements by taking into account these three Gunas. This is the opinion of the Lord.

Purusha element is considered for both Jiva and Ishwara. Jiva and Ishwara are not mentioned different by Lord Krishna.

10 May 2015, 07:04 AM
Namaste HLK,

I think you are right because Lord Krishna has emphasized upon Advaita nature of the Reality at many places in Srimad Bhagwatam. I also have tried to bring this fact in my post (no. 67) here http://hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?12251-Advaita-Vedanta-scientific-and-rational/page7

In Chapter 28 verses 4 onwards He says :

In duality, which is unreal, what is good or what is bad, and to what extent ? Whatever is uttered by tongue and conceived by mind is unreal.

A reflection, an echo and an illusive appearance, even though unreal, produce same effect. So, do the things like the body etc. cause alarm till death.

Therefore, nothing is proved other than the Self which is distinct (from the universe). The threefold appearance in the Self is proved to be without foundation. Know the threefold division consisting of Gunas to be but the effect of MAyA.

Verse 36 :

The delusion of the mind consists in this that it imagines duality in the Absolute Self, for except one's own Self, the duaity has no foundation.

Verse 37

It is the only people wise in their own conceit who consider this duality, consisting of the five elements and perceived through name and form, as irrefragable, and quite gratuitously assume the VedAntic view to be a piece of glorification.

Chapter 29, verses 12-14.

With a pure mind one should observe in all beings as well as in oneself only Me, the Self, who am both inside and out and unobstructed like the sky.

O great soul, he who, taking his stand on pure knowledge, thus regards and honours all beings as Myself, who has the same attitude towards a Chandala, as well as a BrAhmana, a thief as well as a patron of the BrAhmanas, a spark of fire as well as the Sun and a ruffian as well as a kind man ... is considered a sage.

Verse 17-19

One should worship thus in thought, word and deed till one comes to look upon all beings as Myself. To such a man everything is Brahman, owing to the knowledge that comes of seeing the Self in all. Seeing Brahman all around, he is free from doubts and gives up all work. This looking upon all beings as Myself in thought, work and deed is, to My mind, the best of all methods of worship.


in Garuda Puran, chapter 14, Lord Sri Hari tells Lord Shiva :

I, now, tell you the Yoga which fulfills all desires and grants Moksha ....

The Yogi should meditate upon Self in his heart and reflect this :

"I alone am Vishnu. I am the Lord of all beings. I am the Infinite and I alone am free from the six urmis (i.e. sorrow, delusion, old age, death, hunger and thirst). I alone am the VAsudeva, JagannAtha and the Brahman. I alone am the Self living in the bodies of all beings and free from all bodies, the supreme God. ... etc. etc."

It is a long narration and is fully Advaitic. Lord finally says, "By meditating thus one attains one-ness (SArupya) with God and there is no doubt in it".

In chapter 236 of Garuda Puran, God says :

Parabrahman is non-dual and therefore there is no other thing apart from Brahman. Waking, Dreaming and Deep sleep states are all created by MAyA and are therefore Mithya. Brahman alone is the essence of all things. The Self is Brahman. In reality, every Jeeva is Satya, Jnana (Knowledge), Ananda (blissful) and Ananta (Infinite) Brahman alone. Realising oneself as Brahman alone, Jeeva attains its real nature of omniscience.

The way the cycle of world is beginningless, so is its root the MAyA of Lord. This MAyA is both Sat and also Asat. In VyAvharika it is sat and ParmAthika it is asat. Under the influence of MAyA, the birthless Bahman appears as this universe. .... In fact, name, form and actions etc. are only in-between and not in the beginning and at the end. therefore, though in VyAvhArika it appears as real, it is actually unreal in ParmArthika.


11 May 2015, 11:17 PM
Hello devotee,

Thanks for sharing these verses. I think Garuda Purana is Sattvika Vaishnawa Purana and interestingly it doesn't match with Vaishnawa Philosophy.