I have the privilege to introduce a research monograph on the life and works of Jiva Goswami, published by the Asiatic Society. The work was originally published in the JAS. Vol. XXXVI, No. 1 and the Publication Committee decided to bring out an edited monograph keeping in view the distinction of the article.
Jiva Goswami, an illustrious figure belonging to the Bengal School of Vaisnavism, was a man of immense learning; but we have little information about his life. Jiva's works or compendia do not adequately reflect the range of his actual scholarship, and in this monograph Professor Asoke Chatterjee has tried to fill in those gaps, with care.
Professor Chatterjee has divided the monograph in sixteen textual chapters, and while he takes up the discussion about Jiva's life in chapters 2-4, he concentrates on Jiva's works in the next twelve chapters. We find an excellent introduction and conclusion supplemented by a bibliography and an index.
I have reasons to believe that this monograph may serve scholars and researchers to a great extent. Unfortunately Professor Chatterjee died before the monograph could be released.
Introduction If one imagines a picture of an inspired Vaisnava saint. in a congregation of Vaisnavas. holding discourse with his bunch pigtail. its hairs being at their ends. and a pouch containing rosary held in one of his hands, with the overt purpose of propagating his view. one gets squarely a picture, or rather a portrait of .Jiva Gosvamin a Vaisnava Pandit of circa sixteenth century A.D. Jiva's skilful assimilation of the views of different Vaisnava schools deserves honourable mention. No full life- sketch can be drawn of .Jiva since he led a life of renunciation in a retreat in Vrndavana. After the death of his uncle .Jiva devoted himself to the missionary work, the propagation of his Vaisnava faith. In course of time he became a referee to different Vaisnavas of various subsects. His works envisage a variety of branches of Vaisnava Sanskrit literature: Philosophy, logical treatises. poems. annotations and grammar. Chief among his writings are his six compendia. in a single volume, wherein he propagates his view of relativity - an incomprehensible difference between monism and dualism. precisely. between subjectivism and objectivism. Jiva's works betray his learning in various branches of literature. philosophy and grammar. and they assimilate the tenets of the four principal Vaisnava schools. His Bhagavatasamdarbha. which includes six compendia quite methodically explains the principle on which the Bengal school of Vaisnava philosophy rests. Jiva holds that the Vedas and the Vedic literature are a record of the immediate spiritual experience (vision) of the sages and in spite of their mystical character. according to jiva. they are the authority in the matter of religious dispute and in the matter of theological conclusions, and that the Puranas are almost the appendage to the Vedas. For the easy accessibility of the Puranas to the average readers, he lays special stress on them. particularly on the Sattvika group of Puranas. The Advaitavedantins hold God as absolute. inert Being. who mayor may not exist. He has no function - He wills only and His will is the Creative Principle (prakrti). He is the cause alone against this, Jiva’s view is that God is to be taken in His functional aspect alone when He is fully manifested and not remaining as potential. whilst He is absolute immune to all Mayasakti (gross elemental power). Jiva differentiates elemental energies from divine potential as Sun is different from the Sun's ray. This is the abstract of his theory of relativity which is in itself perhaps a contradiction - God's power. capable of bringing about miracle. is beyond human conception, yet a relationship is drawn between one possessing the power and the power itself. God. in His functional aspect. among His associates. is in His manifested potency but singly He is identical with the potency. power or force itself. This subtle difference between force or power of God in His functional aspects (manifested) and the power or potency which is inseparable from God or the power or potency identical or at one with God is the philosophy of jiva. Jiva holds that embodied God and nondiscrete - impersonal cosmic are one and the same and the difference is paradoxical, it is due to perception - as perceived by an individual devotee according to his capacity relative to his spirit of acceptance. Jiva Gosvamin qualifies the Vedantic view of identity or sameness of the created beings with the Creator by saying that Jiva, i.e ., individual has a different sphere. He possesses an I which is engrossed in elemental mantle iprapancika maya). He holds Bhagavata in high esteem, even he places Bhagavata above the Vedas. Yet there is a shade of difference in his view. He perhaps differs from Bhagavata. Bhagavata holds that Lord Krsna is the only deity to be worshipped who is indivisible and inseparable. But Jiva discovers three dimensions of Brahman, viz. Brahman. Paramatman and Bhagavata, This is perhaps according to his new interpretation of certain verses in Visnupurana and Bhagavata, His perspective is different from that of his predecessors as well as from the contemporary Vaisnava schools of thought. Jiva 's view is somewhat queer and twisted. He contradicts Samkara's view by denying Jagat (the world) as unreal. Instead. he says. unlike other theistic Vaisnava schools. that Jagat (the world) represents transformation. or in other words a product of evolution. Rationally approached, this view has no basis unless the reality of the world as such is not accepted because something positive. existent, in a particular state only is transformed and as such there is no fundamental difference, on this count. of his view from the other Vaisnavas (of theistic school) view. Besides. he is not strictly faithful to the Bhagavata doctrine, nor he follows the ideal of Sricaitanya, because the latter. as a fractioner. was a Vedantist: conspicuous from his discussion with the brother-in-law of Prataparudra, the king of Orissa. with regard to the way of approach to attain Godhood: as a professor the latter had been a Vaisnava strictly adhering to the tenet of Bhagavata. Jiva Gosvamin holds Lord Krsna as the perfect and the consummate manifestation of Brahman in tune with Bhagavata and prefers Him most as an ideal deity of worship for the latter's anthropomorphic forms and he asserts the infinitude of Lord Krsna assigning individuality to Brahman (as Krsna) and referring to the prophetic vision of the sages as evidence on this seore. The energy Of petency of bliss (hladini). the potency of intellect (samvit) and the potency of harmony or union (Sandhini), which Lord Krsna alone incarnates, are said to be equipotential in Bhagavata, in Radha, the beloved consort of Krsna. so much so that the Lord is not complete without Radha. Jiva Gosvarnin echoes the view and goes on to say that milk-maidens (gopis) of Vrndavana too share the energy in certain proportion, he eulogizes their distilled emotion of love. obviously free from carnal desire, evinced in their sport with the Lord in Vrndavana. Jiva Gosvamin says that the path of Bhakti (devotional approach) eclipses that of Jnana (the path of knowledge) in attaining Godhood. In his metrical work, he is practically dallying in devotional-love-ecstasy. Through his intense devotional-love- casement he finds his beloved Lord Krsna in sport simultaneously in the cosmic and the terrestrial sphere. In a parable Samkalpakaipadruma. which lacks rhythmic coherence, he fancies his Lord to be a tree, capable of conferring anything one desires, with its roots and branches to be His birth and infancy, adolescence and the like and its fruits to be His heavenly juvenile love. In another poem Madhavamahotsava. Jiva paints with the bristle of his superb romantic brush a picture of enamoured Lord Krsna performing Himself the coronation ceremony of his beloved consort Radha as the queen of Vrndavana. Here the love- exchange is direct (svakiya) and not transferred (parakiya). Equal is the case with Gopis at Vrndavana. His pseudo-epic Gopalacampu.an irregular. massive presentation of verse combined with prose, offers entire life of Lord Krsna with a special appendage of Lord Krsna's reunion at Vrndavana with people there. This episode is characteristically a Bengali conception, not found elsewhere in Vaisnava scriptures incorporating the life of Lord Krsna. Jiva's presentation of his grammar Harinamamrta Vyakarana has a characteristic feature. In treatment of gender in grammar he assigns the pronoun in masculine gender 'he' to Lord Krsna and likewise 'she' to Radha and other parts of speech to His associates. Gopas (milkmen) and Gopis (milkmaidens). Jiva and other Gosvamins of Vrndavana are considered to be the pathfinders to the succeeding generations of Vaisnavas in Bengal and elsewhere. And therefore a discussion on Jiva Gosvamin, the tour de force. erudition incarnate. and sagacious philosopher-poet is a desideratum. I shall be failing in my duties if I do not express my deep sense of gratitude to the authorities of the Asiatic Society. Calcutta. to Dr. Chandan Roychaudhuri, the 'blithe. buxom and debonair' General Secretary in particular who have been kind enough to include this monograph in their Publication series. Sri Nirbed Ray and Sri Sukhendu Bikash Pal of the Publication Department. of the Society deserve congratulations. I am also grateful to my friend Professor Sitanath Goswami of Jadavpur University for hIS various valuable suggestions. My research scholar Dr. Prakashchandra Chakravarti from Dhaka. Bangladesh has assist.ed me in various capacities. Let him have his dessert. I am thankful to my wife Sm. Jharna Chatterjee who was ever alert to get this work published. But for her patience. nobilit.y and encouragement. the work would not have been successfully completed. Sm. Toya Chatterjee (nee Babusaheb and Gopal) and Sri Rahul Mukherjee (nee Sahebjan and Nilbhai) my two grandchildren are my perennial source of divine joy and conspicuous eclat. May God bless t.hem ! Sri Bibhash Dutta of the Arunima Printing Works is t.o be congrat.ulat.ed for his unhesit.ating cooperation. As I was busy with my extension lectures abroad a few errors or misprints could not have been avoided in spite of my best efforts. I crave the, indulgence of the readers for this. At the end let me take the help of the widely-known Sanskrit couplet: "guna-dosau budhau grhnann indu-ksedav ivesvarah/ sirasa slaghate purvam param kanthe niyacchati" / /
Brahma Sutras (79)
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