What is the “superior nature” inherent in the jīva?
Pure sentience. This nature is described as “superior” because sentience is superior to the insentient objects of external reality.
Why would a jīva forfeit her superior nature?
She is mesmerized.
She is mesmerized by the desire to enjoy the fascinating qualities of the inferior, external world.
Why would the jīva be attracted to an inferior world?
She has not made herself aware that there is anything better. She has beginningless ignorance of the beauty of the Supreme Person.
What is the result? Why is it described as a “forfeit”?
The result is that the jīva, “falsely identifies herself as a part of the insentient external world.” Charmed by the fascinating qualities of māyā, she imagines the inferior to be superior, and the unnecessary to be necessary. Thus she becomes bound and contained within insentient external objects and takes superfluous material incarnations confined to temporary cycles of existence.
Śrī Jīva writes the above in Śrī Tattva-Sandarbha, while explaining one of the Bhāgavatam’s verses describing Vyāsa’s realization (1.7.5):
“He also saw jīvas [living entities] forfeiting their superior nature to falsely identify themselves as a part of the inferior external reality, due to their desire to enjoy her three mesmerizing qualities.”
— Excerpt from
This is Gauḍīya Philosophy:
Tattva Sandarbha of Śrī Jīva Goswāmī
Rendered in English
by Vraja Kishor dās