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Refutation of Eka jIva vAda

Refutation of Advaita's eka jIva vAda

Eka jIva vAda (lit. "a theory of one jIva") is a prominent Advaita concept. It was propounded by Adi Zankara and developed by philosopher VimuktAtman in his ISTasiddhi. He says there:

brahmaiva avidyayA ekam ced
badhyate mucyate dhiyA
eka muktau jagan mukteH
na mukta anya vyavasthitiH

"Brahman alone gets entangled in one avidyA and is liberated through knowledge. When a single person gets liberated, the world itself is liberated. There is no other explanation of mukti and baddha."

Madhva's refutation of eka jIva vAda in his ViSNu tattva vinirNaya:

"According to him this entire universe is a figment imagined by one embodied soul. This is unreasonable.
For the enlightenment of that one embodied soul, it should be decided whether he is a preceptor or a pupil and then establish the required pupil-preceptor relation. If X is that soul who is conscious of the fact that everything is his imaginary creation, then he, as a preceptor, will not engage himself in giving instructions to others treating them as his pupils. Because all others except himself are understood as unreal and no purpose will be served by giving them any instructions. Obviously, nobody worries about his duties towards persons seen in a dream, e.g. if one obtains a son in one’s dream one never tries for his upbringing and education.
Moreover, suppose somehow that one soul is discovered. While he cannot function as a preceptor to establish the required pupil-preceptor relation, he also cannot function as a pupil, because that would make him receive instruction from a preceptor who is none but the product of his own imagination and thus unfit to serve any useful purpose like imparting true knowledge.
What is the purpose of learning? It should elevate the pupil on the path of liberation. When we consider the pupil to be that one soul, what does happen when he gets learning? He becomes a preceptor. Is it an elevation or a fall? As it is believed that the preceptor is the illusory product imagined by the pupil, learned pupil when occupies the position of the preceptor will himself become reduced from reality to unreality. Thus the learning, instead of elevating him, will degrade him. None will dare to undertake such a downgrading learning!"

Eka jIva vAda is also zruti-smRti-virodha (against zruti and smRti):

The idea of the Lord being influenced by mAyA is demoniac (SB 7.2.7: tasya tyakta-svabhAvasya ghRNer mAyA-vanaukasaH).
MAyA belongs to the Lord (SB 4.11.26 sva-zaktyA mAyayA, 6.4.48 mayi ananta-guNe, 6.9.25 ya eka Izo nija-mAyayA, 7.8.40 anantAya duranta-zaktaye, 7.15.39 deva-mAyA-vimUDhAn, 8.1.13, 11.9.28 ajayA Atma-zaktyA, 8.12.43 ajasya mAyAM, 9.9.47 Iza-mAyA, 9.19.27 mAyA-viracitaM prabhoH, 10.1.25 viSNor mAyA bhagavatI, 11.3.16 mAyA bhagavataH, 11.11.1 etc.).
Maya can't even stand in front of the Lord, what to speak of entangling Him: SB 1.7.4 apazyat puruSaM pUrNaM mAyAM ca tad-apAzrayam, 2.5.13 vilajjamAnayA yasya sthAtum IkSA-pathe 'muyA, 2.8.10 muktvA Atma-mAyAM mAyezaH, 8.5.30, etc.

The plurality of Brahman and jIva is established beyond doubt. Examples are numerous: two bird analogy in Rgveda saMhitA 1.164.20-22, MuNDaka UpaniSad 2.1.1 (sahasrazaH), 2.1.4 (Atma brahma tal lakSyam), 3.1.1-2 (two birds), ZvetAzvatara UpaniSad 4.6-7 (two birds), 6.12 (niSkriyAnAm bahUnnAm), BRhad AraNyaka UpaniSad 2.1.20 (AtmAnaH sarvAni bhUtAni vyuccaranti), Katha Upanisad 2.2.13 (nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam), MahAnArAyaNa UpaniSad 1.18, 1.70, 13.1.3, 79.17, NirAlamba UpaniSad 1 (jantUnAm), 5 (bahu jIvaH), SItA UpaniSad 7 (sarva dehinAm), BG 4.5 (bahUni me vyatItAni janmAni tava cArjuna tAny aham veda sarvANi na tvaM vettha parantapa), 4.6 (bhUtAnAm Izvara), 7.10 (bIjaM mAM sarva-bhUtAnAM), 15.7 (jIva-bhUtaH sanAtanaH), VedAnta-sUtra 1.1.14-2.1.29, BhAgavata PurANa 2.6.67 (catur vidhA bhUta-nikAyanaM), 2.10.16 (sarva jantuSu), 3.5.6 (bahudhA), 3.5.49 (lokAH), 3.6.11 (nirabhidyanta), 3.11.28, 3.28.41 (jIva-samjJitAt Atma tathA pRthag draSTA), 3.29.23 (bhUteSu), 3.29.43 (sva satAm), 4.7.43, 4.12.36 (jantuSu), 37 (sarva bhUta), 4.20.30 (bhUtebhyaH), 4.29.1b (jIveSu), 5.7.14 (caSTe haMsaM gRdhrANaM nRSad-riGgirAm), 6.14.3 (jantavaH), 7.6.2 (sarva bhUtAnam priyaH Atma IzvaraH), 7.14.37 (jIvena; ParamAtmA present with jIvas in all bodies), 7.15.27 (puruSa IzvaraH - Lord of living beings), 9.4.66, 10.2.39 (tvayy abhayAzrayAtmani), 10.87.30 (aparimitaH dhruvaH tanu-bhRtaH), 11.11.5-6 (two birds), 11.12.3-6 (bahavaH), 11.31.13 (azeSa) etc.

GauDIya AcArya ZrIla BhaktisiddhAnta SarasvatI ThAkura in his GauDIya bhASya commentary on Caitanya BhAgavata 1.16.11 gave 88 sastric (mainly from UpaniSads and Brahma sUtra) quotes (as counted by H.H. Bhakti VikAza SvAmI in his book ZrI BhaktisiddhAnta Vaibhava) in support of dAsa-prabhu-bheda, the difference between servant and master, and toward its end stated "There are innumerable such Vedic statements and sUtras that describe the relationship between dAsa and prabhu, or between the living entities and ViSNu".

Thus having manifest Himself within the body of a being, the Lord then made the jiva soul active and naturally the body and senses became conscious of their respective objects. The tiny jiva soul (individual soul) in bondage being puffed up by false ego acted himself as the Lord of the body, the Lord in the form of ParamAtmA (Supersoul, or witness) who is actually Lord of the body, saw the tiny soul bewildered thinking himself as being independent from the Lord. There are however some aware souls who on realization of the Supersoul exclaim that there is another who is superior, all-pervading, Brahman. I see him now. (Aitareya Upanisad 1.3.13)

One is omniscient, the other ignorant. One is the controller, the other is controlled. Both are without birth. The unborn prakrti is associated with the jiva for his enjoyment. (Svetasvatara Upanisad 1.9)

eko viSNur mahad bhUtaM
pRthag bhUtAny anekazaH
trIl lokAn vyApya bhUtAtmA
bhuGkte vizva-bhug avyayaH

Lord ViSNu is the original cause of all causes, and he is the chief living entity, eternally different from the many (anekazaH literally means "not one", thus directly refuting the ekajIvavAda) other living entities. Lord ViSNu is present everywhere in all the three planetary systems, and He is beginningless and perfect. He accepts what is offered (with love and devotion), and He is the protector of the universe. He is unchanging and eternally the same. (ViSNu sahasra nAma stotra from MahAbhArata 140)

One of the advaitists supporting this theory was MadhusUdana SarasvatI (16th century). In his AdvaitasiddhisArasaMgraha 2.34 ('jIvANutva khaNdanam') he tries to refute jIva's anutva (atomic size) by claiming that atomic-like jIva couldn't feel pleasure of the whole body (izvaravat ityAdi anumanaizca jIva ananutva siddhe: vipakSe ca dehavyApi sukhajNAnAdi anupalambhApattiH bAdhikA).

This is however against zAstra:

avinAzi tu tad viddhi
yena sarvam idaM tatam
vinAzam avyayasyAsya
na kazcit kartum arhati

avinAzi—imperishable; tu—but; tat—that; viddhi—know it; yena—by whom; sarvam—all of the body; idam—this; tatam—pervaded; vinAzam—destruction; avyayasya—of the imperishable; asya—of it; na kazcit—no one; kartum—to do; arhati—is able.

That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul. (BGAII 2.17)

zrotraM cakSuH sparzanaM ca
rasanaM ghrANam eva ca
adhiSThAya manaz cAyaM
viSayAn upasevate

zrotram—ears; cakSuH—eyes; sparzanam—touch; ca—also; rasanam—tongue; ghrANam—smelling power; eva—also; ca—and; adhiSThAya—being situated in; manaH—mind; ca—also; ayam—he; viSayAn—sense objects; upasevate—enjoys.

"The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a certain type of ear, eye, tongue, nose and sense of touch, which are grouped about the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects." (BGAII 15.9)

eSo 'Nur AtmA cetasA veditavyo
yasmin prANaH paNcadhA saMviveza
prANaiz cittaM sarvam otaM prajAnAM
yasmin vizuddhe vibhavaty eSa AtmA

eSaH-he; aNuH-infinitesimal; AtmA-soul; cetasA-by the mind; veditavyaH-to be known; yasmin-in which; prANaH-breath; paNcadhA-in five ways; samviveza-entered; prANaiz-by breaths; cittam-the heart; sarvam-all; otam-the warp and woof; prajAnAm-of living entities; yasmin-in which; vizuddhe-pure; vibhavaty-is manifest; eSa-this; AtmA-soul.

"The soul is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. This atomic soul is floating in the five kinds of air (prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana), is situated within the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entities. When the soul is purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material air, its spiritual influence is exhibited." (MuNDaka UpaniSad 3.1.9)

By the logic of sampling one grain of rice to see if the whole pot is boiled MadhusUdana's commentary fails.

GauDIya AcAryas VizvanAtha CakravartI and Baladeva VidyAbhUSaNa consulted his works when writing theirs. One of MadhusUdana's analogies (a bird trying to dry up the ocean and getting help from GaruDa) thus found its way into Baladeva's GItAbhUSana Tika to BG 6.24 quoted in BGAII.

Gerald Surya, Book Reviews: A Critique of A.C. Bhaktivedanta, ISKCON Communications Journal 7.2, 1999.
Questions about attitude toward impersonalism
dvaita vs. advaita (a long debate with notes)


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