Relationship between Jiva and Isvara

Jiva and Ishvara

  There is isvara, which means the controller, and there are jivas, the living entities, which are controlled. (Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)

 The position of isvara, the Supreme Lord, is that of supreme consciousness. The jivas, or the living entities, being parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, are also conscious. . . . The Lord is ksetra-jna, conscious, as is the living being, but the living being is conscious of his particular body, whereas the Lord is conscious of all bodies. (Bhagavad-gita, Introduction)

 Mamaivamso jiva-bhutah [Bg. 15.7]. Amsa means parts and parcels. Now as a particle of gold is also particle, a drop of water of the ocean is also salty, similarly, we, the living entities, being parts and parcels of the supreme controller, isvara, Bhagavan, or Lord Sri Krsna, we have got qualitatively all the qualities of the Supreme Lord in minute. Because we are minute isvara, subordinate isvara. (ßecture on Introduction to Gitopanisad, from Srila Prabhupada’s earliest recordings)

jivera ‘svarupa’ haya krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’
krsnera ‘tatastha-sakti’ ‘bhedabheda-prakasa
suryamsa-kirana, yaiche agni-jvala-caya
svabhavika krsnera tina-prakara ‘sakti’ haya

Jiva and Ishvara

“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krsna because he is the marginal energy of Krsna and a manifestation simultaneously one and different from the Lord, like a molecular particle of sunshine or fire.” (Cc. Madhya 20.108-109)

 Visnu-tattva is the Supreme Absolute Truth, jiva-tattva is part and parcel, and sakti-tattva is the energy of God. (Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.1-4, 22 May 1969, New Vrndavana, USA.)

We are controlled by maya, but Krsna is the controller of maya. That is the difference. We are not controller; we are controlled. In the next verse, it is described, therefore, yaya sammohito jiva [Bhag. 1.7.5]. This maya is illusion, is illusion to the jiva, to the living entities, not to Krsna. (Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.2-4, 14 October 1975, Durban)

How Krsna is Isvara

Lord Krishna

 Krsna is described as isvara because He can do whatever He likes. He is the supreme controller. The supreme isvara purusottama is Lord Krsna. He exhibits His powers as isvara, or the supreme controller, when He assures His devotee in Bhagavad-gita (18.66): “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.19.3, purport)

  Krsnadasa Kaviraja has stated, ekale isvara Krsna, ara saba bhrtya: “Krsna is the only independent controller; all other living entities depend upon Him.” (Cc. Adi 5.142)

 As the root of a tree maintains the whole tree, Krsna, being the original root of all things, maintains everything in this material manifestation. This is also confirmed in the Vedic literature (Katha Upanisad 2.2.13): nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam/ eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman (Bg. 7.10, purport)

 Isvara cannot have any competitor. Asamaurdhva. Asama means there is no equal. And aurdhva means nobody is greater. Nobody is greater than Krsna, and nobody is equal to Krsna. The Mayavadi philosophy that everyone is God, everyone is Krsna, is not substantiated by the Vedic literature. Isvarah paramah Krsnah (Brahma-samhita 5.1). (Lecture on Cc. Adi 7.8, 15 March 1974, Vrndavana)

Jiva and Ishvara

Omkara is Isvara

Omkara is the origin, middle and end of everything, and any living entity who thus understands Omkara attains the perfection of spiritual identity in Omkara. Omkara, being situated in everyone’s heart, is isvara, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (18.61): isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese ‘rjuna tisthati. Omkara is as good as Visnu because Omkara is as all-pervasive as Visnu. One who knows Omkara and Lord Visnu to be identical no longer has to lament or hanker. (Cc. Adi 7.128)

Knowing Isvara

 How to know isvara-tattva? Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum eva abhigacchet [Munòaka Upanisad 1.2.12]. Then you have to approach the bona fide guru. He will let you know. Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya: “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him.” [Bg. 4.34]. No challenge. (Lecture on Cc. Adi 1.12,  Mayapur, April 5, 1975)

Jiva’s Illusion and Entanglement

Jiva and Ishvara

 Isvara, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is situated within the heart of all conditioned souls, and by His supreme will the living entity, or individual soul, gets the facility to lord it over material nature in various types of bodies, which are known as yantra, or the moving vehicle offered by the total material energy, maya. Although the individual living entity (jiva) and the Lord are both situated within the material energy, the Lord is directing the movements of the jiva soul by offering him different types of bodies through the material energy, and thus the living entity is wandering throughout the universes in various forms of body and becomes implicated in different situations, partaking of the reactions of fruitive activities. (Srimad-Bhagavatam  4.23.18, purport)

Srila Madhvacarya also says, anisa jiva-rupena: the living entity is anisa, never the controller, but is always controlled. Therefore when a living entity becomes proud of being an independent isvara, or god, that is his foolishness. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.22.11, purport)


Brahma-bhutah, identification with Brahman. That is liberation. Now we are identifying with this matter, material elements. Everyone is illusioned. “I am this body; therefore I am American.” “Therefore I am Indian.” “Therefore I am this.” “Therefore I am that.” This is called jiva-bhutah, ignorance. And as soon as one becomes brahma-bhutah, he understands. Prasannatma. “Oh, I am neither American nor this, nor that. I am eternal servant of Krsna.” That is brahma-bhutah, simply to change the consciousness. At the present moment our consciousness is material. I am identifying with matter. The same thing, consciousness, when changed, you identify with Krsna, Krsna’s interest, then you are liberated. (Lecture during Ratha-yatra, 1 July 1971, Los Angeles)

Jiva and Ishvara

In this jiva-bhuta stage, false identification stage, we are also anxious to hear something. We are reading daily in the morning newspaper, “This, this thing has happened there. Here is something available.” But as soon you become brahma-bhuta [Bg. 18.54], you lose all interest in such nonsense things. You’ll be interested to hear about Krsna, not about the newspaper. This is called liberation. No more attraction for material engagement. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh. (Lecture: Nobody Wants to Die,” 7 May 1968, Boston)

Without tapasya, or austerity, no human being can get liberation. The theory that there is no need of austerity in life, that one can go on speculating and everything will be nice, is neither recommended in the Vedic literature nor in the Bhagavad-gita. (Garden Discussion on Bhagavad-gita Chapter 16, 26 June 1976, New Vrndavana)

This liberation is possible only by hearing and chanting the divine activities of the Supreme Lord, and any occupational activity that does not help one to achieve attachment for hearing and chanting the transcendental message of Godhead is said herein to be simply a waste of time. This is because other occupational duties (whatever ism they may belong to) cannot give liberation to the soul. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.8, purport)