dvaitAdvaita of nimbarkAcArya
Subject: dvaitAdvaita of nimbarkAcArya
From: email@example.com (Nathan Parker)
Date: 27 Mar 1995 08:27:17 -0800
From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Mar 27 11: 17:41 1995
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Dvaitadvaita of Nimbarka
Nimbarkas philosophical position is known as Dvaita-advaita or
Bhedabheda. The categories of existence, according to him, are three,
i.e., cit, acit, and Isvara. Cit and acit are different from Isvara,
in the sense that they have attributes an d capacities, which are
different from those of Isvara. Isvara is independent and exists by
Himself, while cit and acit have existence dependent upon Him. At the same
time cit and acit are not different from Isvara, because they cannot exist
independently of Him. Difference means a kind of existence which is
separate but dependent, (para-tantra-satta-bhava) while non-difference
means impossibility of independent existence (svatantra-satta-bhava).
Thus Nimbarka equally emphasises both difference and no n-difference, as
against Ramanuja, who makes difference subordinate to non-difference, in
as much as, for him cit and acit do not exist separately from Brahman, but
its body or attributes. Thus, according to Nimbarka, the relation between
Brahman, on the one hand, and the souls (cit) and universe (acit) on
the other, is a relation of natural difference-non-difference
(svabhavika-bhedabheda), just like between snake and coil, or between
sun and its rays. Just as the coil is nothing nut the snake, yet different
from it, just as the different kinds of stones, though nothing but earth,
are yet different from it, so the souls and the universe, though nothing
but Brahman (brahmatmaka), are different from Him because of their own
peculiar natures and att ributes.
Thus, according to Nimbarka, there are three equally real and
co-eternal realities, viz. Brahman, the cit and the acit. Brahman is the
Controller (niyantr), the cit the enjoyer (bhoktr) and the acit
the object enjoyed (bhogya).
Nimbarka accepts parainamavada to explain the cause of animate
and inanimate world, which he says exist in a subtle form in the various
capacities (saktis) which belong to Brahman in its natural conditon.
Brahman is the material cause of the universe in the sense that Brahman
brings the subtle rudiments into the gross form by manifesting these
For Nimbarka the highest object of worship is Krsna and his
consort Radha, attended by thousands of gopis, or cowherdesses, of the
celestial Vrndavana. Devotion according to Nimbarka, consists in
prapatti, or self-surrender.
The Highest Reality, according to Nimbarka, is Brahman, Krsna or
Hari, a personal God. There is nothing that is equal to Him, nothing that
is superior. He is the Lord of all, and Controller of all. He is called
Brahman because of the unsurpassed greatn ess of His nature and
qualities, because He is beyond any limit of any kind of space, time or
Brahman is the sole cause of creation, maintenance and destruction
of the Universe. All beings arise from Him, nothing that is superior to
Him. The Lord alone is the first cause, the manifestor of all names and
forms, and none else.
This Brahman is both the upadana (material cause) and the
Nimitta (efficient cause). It is the material cause in the sense that it
enables its natural saktis, viz. the cit and the acit in their subtle
forms, to be manifested in gross forms; and it is the efficient cause in
the sense that it unites the individual souls with their respective fruits
of actions and means of enjoyments.
Nimbarka discusses two aspects of Brahman. On one hand, Brahman is
eternal and great, the greatest of the great, the highest of the high, the
creator, etc. of the Universe, high above the individual soul, of which He
is the Lord and the ruler. But, on th e other aspect He is the abode of
infinite beauty, bliss and tenderness, and in intimate connection with the
soul. He is the abode of supreme peace, supreme grace, and the ocean of
all sweetness and charms.
Thus, Brahman possessed of attributes and adorable by all, has
four forms or vyuhas (ie., Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, and
Aniruddha) and appears under various incarnation as Matsya, Kurma etc.
2. Jiva (cit):
The cit or individual soul is of the nature of knowledge
(jnana-svarupa); it is able to know without the help of the sense-organs
and it is in this sense that words like prajnana-ghanah svayamjyotih
jnanamayah etc. as applied to jiva are to be und erstood. The jiva is
the knower also; and he can be both knowledge and the possessor of
knowledge at the same time, just as the sun is both light and the source
of light. Thus the soul, who is knowledge, and his attribute, knowledge,
though they are both identical as knowledge, can be at the same time
different and related as the qualified (dharmin) and the quality
(dharma), just as the sun and his light, though identical as light
(taijasa), are still different from each other. Ths there is both a d
ifference and a non-differnce between the dharmin and dharma; and the
extreme similarity between them implies, not necessarily their absolute
identity, but only a non-perception of their difference.
The jiva is also ego (ahamarthah). This ego continues to persist
not only in the state of deep sleep, (because our consciousness
immediately after getting up from sleep has the form I slept happily or
I knew nothing) but also in the state of libera tion. It even belongs to
the Parabrahman. Hence it is that Krsna refers to Himself so frequently in
the first person in the Gita, of which the chief object is thus
Purusottama, who is omniscient and at the same time non-different from the
ego or asmadar tha.
The jiva also essentially active (kartr). This quality belongs
to it in all its conditions, even after release. But the kartrtva is not
independent. The jiva is also enjoyer (bhoktr) essentially in all its
For his knowledge and activity, however, the jiva depends on Hari;
thus, though resembling Him in being intelligent and knower, he is at the
same time distinguished from him by his dependence. This quality of
dependence or of being controlled (niyamyatva) is the very nature of
jiva even in the state of release, just as niyamyatva or the quality of
being the controller, forms the eternal nature of Isvara.
The jiva is atomic in size; at the same time his attribute,
knowledge, is omni-present, which makes it possible that he can experience
pleasure and pain in any part of the body, just as, for instance, the
light of a lamp can spread far and wide and illum ine objects away from
the lamp. The Jivas are different and in different bodies, and so are
infinite in number.
3. Acit (the jagat):
The acit is of three different kinds: viz. prakrta,
aprakrta, and kala. Prakrta, or what is derived from Prakrti, the
primal matter, aprakrta is defined negatively as that which is not the
product of prakrti, but its real nature is not clearly br ought out. These
three categories in their subtle forms are as eternal as the cit or the
[Nimbarka does not explain what exactly the aprakrta is, nor does
he define kala more precisely, beyond noticing, as pointed out above,
that the aprakrta and the kala are species of the acit. But,
Purusottamacarya of the Nimbarka school has, in his
Vedantaratna-manjusa, described acit aprakrta as the material cause of
the dhama (celestial abode) of Brahman and the bodies and ornaments etc.
of Brahman and his associates.]
Prakrti, or the primal matter-the stuff of the entire universe is
real and eternal like the individual souls, and like tem, though eternal
and unborn, has yet Brahman for its cause. It consists of the three
qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas, such as p rakrit, mahat, ahankara
etc. (just similar to 24 principles of the Sankhyas).
The jiva has his true form distorted and obscured owing to his
contact with karma resulting from ignorance, which is beginningless, but
which can come to an end, by the grace of God, when its true nature is
To attain deleverance, the jiva has to commence with a complete
submission to the Paramatman, or prapatti, whose six constituents are:-
a) a resolution to yield (anukulasya samkalpah)
b) the avoidance of opposition (pratikulasya varjanam)
c) faith that God will protect (raksisyati ity visvasah)
d) acceptance of him as saviour (goptrtva-varanam)
e) throwing ones whole soul upon him (atmaniksepah), and
f) a sense of helplessness (karpanya).
Gods grace extends itself to those who are possessed of these 6
constituents of prapatti, i.e., who are prapanna; and by that grace is
generated bhakti consisting of special live for him, which ultimately
ends in the realisation (saksatkara) of the Paramatman. For a devotee
knowledge of the following 5 things is quite necessary:
a) the nature of the supreme soul,
b) the nature of the individual soul,
c) the fruit of Gods grace or moksa, (which is an uninterrupted
realisation of the nature and attributes of Brahman, following from the
absolute destruction of all action and the conscquent extinction of all
d) the feeling of enjoyment consequent on bhakti, and
e) the nature of the obstacles in the way of the attainment of
God, such as regarding the body and the mind as the soul, depending on
someone who is neither God nor the preceptor, neglecting their commands,
and considering God as nothing more than an ordinary being.
Sri Nimbarka also refers to 4 other methods of sadhanas: viz.
(i) karma (performed conscientiously in a proper spirit, with
ones varna and asrama thereby giving rise to knowledge which is a means
(ii) vidya or knowledge (not as a subordinate factor of karma but
as n independent means),
(iii) upasana or dhyana (3 kinds),
(a) meditation on the Lord as ones self, i.e. meditation on
the Lord as the Inner Controller of the sentient,
(b) meditation on the Lord as the Inner Controller of the
(c) meditation on Lord Himself, as different from the sentient
(iv) gurupasatti (devotion and self surrender to guru).
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