Amsha and Amshi

Forums Nature of Soul and God Amsha and Amshi

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    Hare Krishna prabhuji

    Understanding that the Jivas and the Svamshas exist eternally, so in what sense are they ‘expansions’?


    You can think of this in terms of a verse and its purport. The purport is within the verse so it is an aṃśa of the verse. But when the verse is explained by the purport, then it is an expansion.

    There is considerable philosophy behind this. The basic principle is called Satkāryavāda, which means that the effect is eternally within the cause. The purport is eternally in the verse, and it is manifest out of the verse. When the purport is manifest, it becomes an effect of the verse, and the verse becomes its cause. Similarly, there is a principle called Arthavāda due to which after the purport is manifest from the verse, the verse is hidden in the purport as the reference of the purport. This means that one purport is referentially tied to a verse and it is not the purport of every possible verse.

    To understand these two principles, we have to delve a little bit into the problem of causality in which there are two principles called necessity and sufficiency. Suppose A and B are causes, and X and Y are effects. If both A and B can cause both X and Y, then we will say that A and B are sufficient to cause X and Y. But it is not necessary that the effect is caused by one particular cause. For that, we need necessity. Sufficiency is established by Satkāryavāda, which means that the effect is eternally in some cause, so the cause can produce the effect. But necessity is established by Arthavāda, which means that when an effect is produced, the cause is latent in it, so by that latency of the cause in the effect, we know that it was produced by one of the many sufficient causes capable of producing it.

    We can also describe this as the relation between an author and a book. An author must be sufficiently educated, capable, or qualified to produce a book. But another author may also be sufficiently capable of producing the same book. How do we know which author produced a book? The answer is that there is an immanent personality of the author in the book. So, the book was previously within the author, and after producing it, the author’s personality is in the book. In this way, we get a bidirectional connect between the book and the author: the book is in the author and the author is in the book. By the former, we get sufficiency and by the latter we get necessity.

    Now coming to the jīva question, Kṛṣṇa is like the author, and the jīva is like the book. Therefore, jīva is within Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa is within the jīva. Since Kṛṣṇa is immanent in the jīva, therefore, the jīva can know that nobody else is my cause. Rather, Kṛṣṇa is necessarily my cause. Similarly, because jīva is within Kṛṣṇa, therefore, Kṛṣṇa knows that He is the sufficient cause of the jīva. In this way, there is a bidirectional causal connection between the cause and effect that makes causality a certainty.

    Hence, Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-Gita 15.7: mamaivānśho jīva-loke jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ, or that “All the jīva-entities in the jīva-planets are my eternal parts”. There is a lot to unpack here, so we will not do it right now. But the basic point is that the jīva is an eternal part of Kṛṣṇa just like the book is a part of the author. The author does not become ignorant after writing a book. That knowledge continues to live in the author. Hence, when the jīva expands from Kṛṣṇa, he doesn’t cease to be part of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, the jīva is eternally part of Kṛṣṇa and yet he is expanded from Kṛṣṇa.

    To understand all these concepts, we have to think of reality in terms of mind and thought, rather than objects. If we produce one object from another object, then the producing object is reduced. But that doesn’t happen if a thought is produced from a mind. Even to understand Satkāryavāda and Arthavāda, we have to use mind and thought, which means that the thought was hidden in the mind, and then it was produced by the mind. After it was produced, the producer of the thought is latent in the thought. So, we cannot say that this thought came out of an unknown mind. The mind that produced the thought is referenced within the thought to know which mind caused it. There is hence a difference between me thinking the thoughts I have produced vs. thinking thoughts produced by someone else. Both thoughts may be in my mind, but they have different personalities in them.

    We can also extend this to mind and body. The body was previously hidden in the mind, and the body is produced from the mind. There is a tight connect between the mind and the body because there is a latent impression of the mind in the body. We cannot say that this body belongs to some other mind, due to this latent impression. This is why when we talk about species, we talk about the mind as the primary reality and the body as the secondary reality, and how the mind produces the body. The body is just like thought. It is not an object. When the jīva goes to the spiritual world, a spiritual body springs out of the soul. That body exists in a hidden form in the soul even now. Hence, we always say that the soul has forgotten its identity. This is due to Satkāryavāda. The body is not given by anyone. It is already there, but it is hidden. It has to be manifest by remembrance. So, the material body springs out of the material mind and the spiritual body springs out of the jīva. In this way, we have to get rid of object thinking to understand both the material and spiritual worlds.

    The problem of aṃśa and expansion arises in object thinking because if one object is removed from another, then the cause-object is reduced and the effect-object is created. The effect-object cannot continue to be a part of the cause-object after it has been produced. Hence, object thinking is the cause of many problems in science and philosophy. This is why I talk about “semantic thinking” in which we conceptualize reality as mind and thought rather than as objects. If we think in this way, then all problems are solved and what was earlier inconceivable becomes conceivable now.


    Thank you for the explanation prabhuji,

    The semantic view does help resolve it, but then in what sense are such statements mentioned about the soul like, it is 1/10000th of the tip of the hair?


    And what is the tip of the hair? Is it not some knowledge?

    The “size” of the soul is how much it knows. There is a great soul called mahatma who knows Krishna. There is a little soul called a virus which can only know a fractional part of the tip of the hair.

    The meaning of “size” is how much the consciousness has spread to expand its knowledge, or how much it is confined to restrict its knowledge. You are trying to define size as length. But try to define size as the extent of knowledge one has. Then the difference between a “great person” and a “little person” will be clear. Krishna is the greatest not by length, but by the extent of knowledge.

    When the soul is said to be 1/10000th of the tip of the hair it means that there is the lowest limit on knowledge. The same soul can expand. Consciousness can spread infinitely, so there is no upper limit. Yasmin vijnate sarvam evam vijnatam bhavanti. Krishna is the full truth, and we can know Krishna, so that means our consciousness can expand from knowing the tip of the hair, to this human body, to the entire universe, to the entire material creation, and so on, until we understand Krishna. This is the expansion of knowledge and the expansion of consciousness. Knowledge is not measured by a meter. But it is measured. So, that alternative mechanism of measurement must be used always.

    In Vedic cosmology, distance is measured by yojana. It is a semantic distance in which going on some path means becoming that thing. For example, if there are two trees, one apple, and one mango, then the semantic distance between the two trees is how much effort is required to convert the apple fruit into a mango fruit. The apple tree may seem very close to the mango tree, but that distance is an illusion. You can sit on the mango tree and look at the apple tree with a magnifying glass, and the distance to the apple tree will reduce. This means that what we see with our eyes is an illusion. Just put on a different glass and the distance will change. The problem is that science is measuring that distance with a meter and the meter also expands or contracts, so you can never know the real distance. The reality is that you cannot convert an apple into a mango by using a magnifying glass. This is the real distance, not the distance that can be reduced and increased by using glasses.

    In the same way, there is the distance between the earth and the moon, which means: What does it take to convert the earthly body into a lunar body? That is real distance. It is just like apple to mango conversion. The distance seen by looking into a telescope is an illusion. Similarly, what does it take to convert a material body into a spiritual body? That is the real distance between matter and spirit. That distance is described in terms of a path that connects one quality atom to another such that you become one after another atom along that path. If consciousness “walks” on this path, it gets a different kind of body. This is the meaning of semantic distance. It is the distance between different kinds of quality experiences.

    If you are chanting properly, then consciousness is moving upward from a lower-quality atom to a higher-quality atom. Each step in this quality atom change can be experienced. This is mentioned by Sri Chaitanya: ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaḿ prati-padaṁ pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ. Consciousness is walking in a quality space, one step at a time. At every step, happiness increases because of the quality change. This prati-padam pertains to the walking of consciousness, not to the body. Body walking is an illusion. The body is not moving. Rather the soul is moving from body to body.

    So, when we measure distance, we always talk about how much the soul has moved. The body may jog for 5 miles each day, but that is not soul movement. It is just an illusion. When the soul moves upward by even one atom in quality space, it can be perceived by the soul. That movement can happen while the body is sitting in one place, the eyes are closed, the legs are crossed into a posture, and the hands are still. Even then, the soul can move. So, try to understand soul movement and everything will be clear. Distance means how many atomic steps the soul has moved, not the steps of body movement. Then interplanetary distance means how much the soul must change in quality to go to another planet. Then distance to Krishna is how much we have to change in quality to become like Him. As we rise in this path, knowledge grows continuously. That is becoming mahatma or great soul. We don’t use the word “big soul” and “small soul” but “great soul” and “little soul”.


    Ok, that clarifies it all with perfect sense.
    Thank you prabhuji


    I was just curious to know also about the expansion of ‘Bhagavad-Gita 15.7: mamaivānśho jīva-loke jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ‘ you talked about in your reply earlier, so it would be kind of you if you could elaborate it here or in some other blog. Also since this gives another dimension in thinking about qualities, is there any standard unit of distance in terms of quality distance, what is the standard ‘one atom’ distance so that we can estimate accordingly, if anything of that sort is given.


    The term jīva-loke means “in the jīva planet”. These planets are the mothers of the jīva, while Kṛṣṇa is the original father. We are living in the earth planet, and earth is the mother, but Kṛṣṇa is the original father. There are many mothers born of one mother. For instance, Durga is the mother of many cosmic eggs, in which Garbhodakaśāyi enters as a child. Garbhodakaśāyi then becomes a father and produces many children, some of which are mothers and some are fathers. The earth planet is one such mother, who then produces an individual body like our body, or that of animals and plants.

    We have discussed earlier how many species are born from a Prajāpati and his wife. The jīva-loke are similarly the mothers. I explained earlier how a “planet” is three things: an owner, a house, and their children. That owner is a father and a mother, and they are produced from the house, which is another mother, and they produce their children who then occupy the house along with their parents. Then there is an effect of each house on other houses. So, sometimes we divide this into three parts: (a) the house, (b) the father, mother, child, and (c) their effects, and call them ādiatmika, ādidaivika, and ādibhautika. Then sometimes, we just look within the planet and divide it into father, mother, and children. And sometimes we say that even the house is a feminine body that has produced the father, mother, and children within that house due to another father.

    Therefore, in mamaivānśho jīva-loke jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ the jīva-bhūtaḥ is the child, jīva-loke is the mother, and mamaivānśho is the father giving parts of Himself to produce a child in the mother.

    I say these things because there is a tendency to impersonalize everything: Matter is impersonal, the house is impersonal, and the residents in the house are personal. In the modern materialistic ideas advanced by some religions, the earth is man’s dominion, when she is actually the mother. In the Vedic tradition, the earth is personified as a cow, and the inhabitants of the earth are like her children. The cow happily feeds her calf. There was a tradition even in pagan religions to worship the earth as a mother, which is why the term “mother earth” survives. But religions that destroyed the pagan traditions also killed the personification of the world as a mother. Afterward, the mother became private property, to be exploited and abused by the “owners” of this property. As the mother is depersonalized, progressively the father is rejected, and eventually, the spiritual soul is rejected.

    If we have to invert that process, then we have to reinstate the mother, then reinstate the father, and then subordinate the child to the mother and father. This means that nature is a feminine person, God is a masculine person, and the soul is a subordinate masculine or feminine person, the child of its parents. This is not just an argument between science and religion. It is also an argument with religions that depersonalize nature. Most people have misunderstood the problem as restricted to that between science and religion when science actually came out of a religion that depersonalized the mother, and as the mother was depersonalized, then the father was rejected, and the child was depersonalized. The criticism of modern science and other religions is due to the same issue if we understand the historical origins of modern science in religions that depersonalized nature.

    Even in Krishna Consciousness, we emphasize the mother over the father. This is because the love of the mother is more overt and the love of the father is more covert. If we don’t love the mother before the father, then we cannot understand covert love. Those who depersonalize the mother, will always depersonalize the father. Hence, in the Indian tradition, the mother was providing overt love and the father was providing covert love. This means that the mother will hug the child, give him food, put the child to sleep, and care for it when he is sick. But the father will teach the child how to develop willpower, give him knowledge, explain to him the nature of duty. Mother’s love pertains to the body, while father’s love pertains to the mind.

    Modern science is studying the body as an object. An object has no mother and it cannot be loved.  Even an animal’s mother loves her children. But when modern science treats the body as an object, it is not even treated as an animal. This is why people cut animals, do animal testing, and eat them. Once the mother is removed, then all relationships become impersonal forces. Then there is no question of loving the father. Now, every child is an orphan: Lonely, isolated, fighting against the world, always living in fear, and struggling to survive. As this orphan loses the will to fight, he becomes an object. He becomes a cog in the machine, working according to laws given by someone else. This conversion of an orphan to an object is the process of industrializing the body. A person now becomes a “resource” like a machine and managing this person is called “human resources”.

    If we want to reverse this process, then begin with the mother, then go to the father. Then you will not be an orphan. Then you will calm down, feel protected, and you can start living as a person because you are not a “human resource” to be managed like a machine according to laws. This is not just the process of religion, but it is also the process for science. That means personalize nature. She is the mother, and there is a father, and then I’m a protected child, and then I can love the father and mother because I’m not in danger. Otherwise, I’m always struggling for survival, living in fear of death, always threatened by someone, and obediently following laws out of fear of punishment.

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