17 – Drg Drsya Viveka (32-37): 3 Types of Jivas – How to Reduce Subjectivity – Beginningless Universe


Lecture 17 expands on the 3 types of jivas. Order of path towards liberation. How to reduce subjectivity (reframe, accept 4 possibilities in any outcome).

Source: Drg Drsya Viveka

Verse 32-46: Three Types of Jivas

VERSE 32: Three Jivas Within one Individual: Pāramārthika-jīva (Awareness), Vyāvahārika-jīva (Waker-I), Prātibhāsika-jīva (Dreamer-I)

अवच्छिन्नः चिदाभासः तृतीयः स्वप्न-कल्पितः | विज्ञेयः त्रिविधः जीवः तत्र आद्यः पारमार्थिकः ||
avacchinnaḥ cidābhāsaḥ tṛtīyaḥ svapna-kalpitaḥ । vijñeyaḥ trividhaḥ jīvaḥ tatra ādyaḥ pāramārthikaḥ ||
Three Jivas are (1) avacchinnaḥ cid-ābhāsaḥ:  Reflection of consciousness obtaining in the vyavahārika waker-jiva, (2) svapna-kalpitaḥ: Jiva imagined in dream, prātibhāsika-jīva, and (3) pāramārthikaḥ-jīva: Awareness which obtains in both the waking-jiva and dream-jiva.

[COMMENARY: There are three types of jiva or individual consciousness in every person: [1] Paramarthika jiva – my true nature, [2] Vyavaharika jiva – the waker I, [3] Pratibhasika jiva – the dreamer I.  When ‘I' is used, it refers to one of these 3 jivas based on the context. Ignorance is identifying with Vyavaharika-jiva or  Pratibhasika-jiva. The jnani experiences the waking and dream roles without bondage, ever established in one's true nature. Understanding the 3 jivas clears confusion regarding the nature of jiva.]

VERSE 33: Consciousness appears confined due to Upādhi-Body-Mind

अवच्छेदः कल्पितः स्यात् अवच्छेद्यम् तु वास्तवम् | तस्मिन् जीवत्वम् आरोपात् ब्रह्मत्वम् तु स्वभावतः ||
avacchedaḥ kalpitaḥ syāt avacchedyam tu vāstavam । tasmin jīvatvam āropāt brahmatvam tu svabhāvataḥ ||
Limitation is illusory but that which appears to be limited is real. The Jivahood (of the Self) is due to the superimposition of upādhi attributes. But really it has the nature of Brahman.

[COMMENTARY: Just as space inside a pot is not actually limited by the pot, consciousness is not truly limited by the body that seems to enclose it. A woman wearing anklets, through illusion, considers her feet to be entwined by a snake. With the removal of the illusion, the snake idea vanishes and her feet remain as they are. Similarly, the limitation of jiva is illusory, not real. Ātman is ever complete, without parts, all-pervading.  Jivahood arises due to false association with upādhis like ego, prāṇa etc. If jivahood is unreal, does it make Sākṣin also unreal? No, because Sākṣin is Brahman, the absolute reality. Like the illusory snake disappears but the real rope remains, the unreal jivahood goes by knowledge but the real Sākṣin ever exists.]

VERSE 34: Tat Tvam Asi

अवच्छिन्नस्य जीवस्य पूर्णेन ब्रह्मणा एकताम् | तत् त्वम् असि आदि वाक्यानि जगुः न इतर जीवयोः
avacchinnasya jīvasya pūrṇena brahmaṇā ekatām | tat tvam asi ādi vākyāni jaguḥ na itara jīvayoḥ ||
Such Vedic statements as “You are that” etc. declare the identity of partless Brahman with the Jiva who appears as such, from the standpoint of the Theory of limitation. But it does not agree with the other two views (of Jiva).

[COMMENTARY: Theory of limitation refers to theory that gives absolute reality to vyāvahārika-jīva and prātibhāsika-jīva. Mahavakyas like ‘Tat Tvam Asi' reveal the identity of the Paramarthika jiva with Brahman. While other two have a dependent reality.]

VERSE 35: How the vyavaharika-jiva and pratibhasika-jiva arise from Brahman (paramarthika-jiva)

ब्रह्मणि अवस्थिता माया विक्षेप आवृति रूपिणी | आवृत्य अखण्डतां तस्मिन् जग-जीवौ प्रकल्पयेत् ||
brahmaṇi avasthitā māyā vikṣepa āvṛti rūpiṇī | āvṛtya akhaṇḍatāṃ tasmin jaga-jīvau prakalpayet ||
Māyā, which has the double aspect of projection and concealment, is in Brahman. It limits the indivisible nature of Brahman and makes It (Brahman) appear as the world and the embodied being.

[COMMENTARY: Brahman has maya-shakti, the power of projection and concealment. Using this, Brahman projects the physical universe. To experience the projection, Brahman identifies with the vyavaharika body and jiva to become the vyavaharika-jiva. Once immersed, the vyavaharika-jiva forgets it is a projection and takes it to be real. Due to the concealing power, the paramarthika-jiva forgets its true nature and the world gains reality.]

VERSE 36: The confused vyāvahārika-jīva is consciousness obtaining in the mind

जीवः धीः अस्ति चिदाभासः भवेत् भोक्ता हि कर्मकृत् | भोग्य रूपम् इदं सर्वम् जगत् स्यात् भूत भौतिकम् ||
jīvaḥ dhīḥ asti cidābhāsaḥ bhavet bhoktā hi karmakṛt | bhogya rūpam idaṃ sarvam jagat syāt bhūta bhautikam ||
Jīva is consciousness identified with the buddhi, who then performs various actions and enjoys their results. And all this, consisting of the 5 elements and their products (animate and inanimate objects) which become objects of enjoyment for the jīva, is called jagat (universe).

[COMMENTARY: The vyavaharika jiva is consciousness located in the intellect (buddhi).  It performs various actions and enjoys their results. The cause-effect cycle binds the jiva in the jagat (made of 5 elements). The jagat is the field of experience for the jiva to reap fruits of action. Both jiva and jagat are projections of the Paramarthika-jiva. Consequently, the Paramarthika-jiva has forgotten itself and identified with the vyavaharika-jiva due to maya. The vyavaharika-jiva continues transacting until the ignorance is removed.]

  • Below notes cover Verse 32-36…
  • What is jiva?
    • Maya-shakti gives rise to a sentient form. Sentient form is born with ignorance of reality including it’s own make-up, thus assumes, “I am this much who needs to do to survive and be happy”.
    • Verse calls this sentient form, jiva or “cidabhasa”, meaning Consciousness confined to one given intellect (dhī). In this intellect, there is no distinction between I-sense and “I”; both seem like one.
    • Each jiva is different because it has accrued different karma-phala from before.
  • There are 3 kinds of jivas:
    • Believe “I am body & mind”.
    • Those who believe “I am jiva that experiences different body/minds”. These are vaidikas (first portion of Veda). They also agree “Physical/Subtle” is not I, but the entity that keeps on taking different forms is “I”. When come to Vedanta, you question this entity, and realize jiva is born of ignorance.
    • Those who know “I am Brahman”, and my jivatvam is mithya.
  • The first 2 types of jivas always get a form. And in that form is dhī (intellect) with an I-sense. That I-sense bhavet bhoktā hi karmakṛt, become an enjoyer/sufferer, since it does so many things to free from sense of limitation.
    • Thus one becomes, bhogya rūpam imdam sarvam jagat, meaning: anything other then me, is to be engaged with and enjoyed. Then entire jagat becomes bhogya (place for participating for fulfillment), because I’m a jiva who is small.
    • And what is this entire jagat (in which jiva participates)? Bhūta bhautikam; includes 5 elements and elementals. Long as ignorance is true, “I” and the “world” remain true.
    • To cope with the world, orientation of jiva is: Manipulate the world (Ishvara-srsti) for my fulfillment. Then there are yogis who are manipulating the mind in order to feel fulfilled. Both are depending on drsya (seen). One is by external means, other is by internal means. Both manipulating the world.
      • That’s why acknowledging isvara-srsthi is important. Jiva has some choice to navigate intelligently, keeping in mind laws of dharma, cause-effect. Even if don’t get what you want, you don’t lose trust in fairness of world. Because anytime 4 possibilities are available: get what wanted, opposite, less, more.
      • So one needs to let go of diminishing narratives, like “things need to happen my way, I need to have this, I’m not getting this”. Truth is, you don’t have it anyway. Need to control is effect of ignorance, which gives illusion of total control.
    • So what’s needed for moksha is jiva knows jivatvam as mithya. Then certain relaxation comes; an ease about life and death.
    • Relaxing in the lap of Ishvara (presence that’s all pervading, making my form what it is, every other form what it is, and connecting us through series of laws).
    • So more and more Ishvara-srsti, less and less jiva-srsti – then this teaching which comes from Ishvara, can pierce your buddhi.

VERSE 37: Jīva and Jagat Remain Until Liberation

अनादि कालम् आरभ्य मोक्षात् पूर्वम् इदं द्वयम् | व्यवहारे स्थितम् तस्मात् उभयम् व्यावहारिकम् ||
anādi kālam ārabhya mokṣāt pūrvam idaṃ dvayam | vyavahāre sthitam tasmāt ubhayam vyāvahārikam ||
These two (jīva & jagat), dating from time without beginning, have (only) empirical existence and exist till one attains liberation. Therefore both are called empirical (neither sat or asat/tuccham, but mithyā). 

[COMMENTARY: Jiva (individual self) and jagat (world) are products of maya and exist only in the state of ignorance. Their origin cannot be determined, as maya itself is beginningless. In the state of ignorance, the concepts of knower (I-sense), known objects, and process of knowing (mind that makes sense of reality) seem to apply, enabling the perception of world. When one attains liberation, the status of jiva and world changes to mithya (both enjoys a dependent reality).]

  • Jiva and Cosmos are anadi kāla:
    • What came first, the form or karma? In order to gain karma, you need a body (form). But for body to be, you need karma. The whole question comes from perception of world having linear beginning.  In anything, can’t find the beginning. Nature of manifestation is cyclical.
    • From one, comes many. Because of avarana-shakti, no jiva knows “All that is here is one”. Thus every jiva has been ignorant since beginningless time.
  • Dvayam: I, the jiva, has to interact with jagat, to get fulfillment. This orientation is since anadi. Until moksa.
  • Vyavahāre sthitam tasmāt ubhayam vyāvahārikam: Both jiva and jagat are vyavaharika. They are not imagination. They are isvara-srsti. It’s is Ishvara’s Jiva comes into being (with ignorance), and assumes I need to engage with world to be happy.  This is all part of design.  So jagat has to be a platform capable of satisfying everyone’s fancies and imaginations.
  • NEXT VERSE: Because we don’t understand the two vyavaharika realities (jiva and jagat), we add our own subjectivity (pratibhasika) on top of something that’s empirically true.


Course was based on [1] Drig Drishya Viveka book by Swami Tejomayananda [2] Book by Swami Nikhilananda [3] Neema Majmudar.

Recorded 20 Jan, 2024

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