Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):
Achintya Bhedabheda philosophy (contd.)
Achintyabheda-bheda of Chaitanya (contd.):
Chaitanya tradition believes in Krishna as the source of all the incarnations of God. Krishna is worshiped as the Supreme Absolute Truth. The object of worship was still Krishna but as God Himself (Svayam Bhagwan) and not as one of the avatars. Krishna is also seen even as the source of Vishnu and not as his avatar – a different or newer than traditional type of understanding of that time. Similarly, Radha is viewed as the source of all other Shaktis, including Lakshmi and Sita. In other words, Lakshmi and Sita are viewed as avatars of Radha. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself was later on viewed as an avatar of Krishna and is worshiped as such.
Krishna is worshiped as Svayam Bhagwan as per Shrimad Bhagwat Puran and Shri Bhagwad Gita. Ramanujacharya’s and Madhavacharya’s tradition view Krishna as an avatar of Vishnu. Radha and Sita are viewed as avatar of Lakshmi.
“Ete cha amsha-kalāh pumshah Krishnas tu Bhagwan svayam indrāri-vyākulam lokam mridayanti yuge yuge ||” (Shrimad Bhagwat Puran: 1.3.28) Meaning, “Although all of the previously mentioned (in shlok 26, 27) innumerable incarnations and descendants (rishis, manus, demigods, descendants of manus, prajapatis, etc.) of Hari are either portions or sub-portions (amsha-kalāh) of Purush (Krishna), but, He Himself (Svayam Bhagwan), appears from time to time or periodically (yuge yuge) to destroy (mridayanti) the enemies of devas or good people (indrari – meaning, bad people or enemies of devas like Indra, also known as Asurs) causing trouble or agitation on this earth or mrityulok (lokam).”
“Arjun uvācha, Param Brahm param dhām pavitram paramam bhavan purusham sāsvatam divyam ādi-devam ajam vibhum ahus tvam rishayah sarve devarshir nāradas tathā āsito devalo vyasah svayam chaiva bravishi me ||” (Bhagwad Gita: 10. 12,13) Meaning, “Arjun said, You are param brahm – the ultimate abode (dhām), the purest (pavitram), transcendental (paramam) divine resting place or lok (bhavan); eternal (sāsvatam) divine (divyam) purush; the original God (ādi-devam), the unborn (ajam) Lord or manifestation (vibhum); that is what all the rishis and the demigod of all rishis (devarshi) Narada, Asit, Deval, Vyas personally say about You. And now You are confirming me the same as it is.”
Chaitanya strongly believed in chanting or singing (kirtan) the holy name of God – Shri Krishna. He believed that the holy name of God is also an incarnation of God, but in sound form. He believed that since God is the absolute whole, there is no difference between His holy name and His transcendental form. By kirtan bhakti, chanting the holy name of God, one can directly associate with God through sound vibrations. He describes three stages of development: 1. Offensive stage, in which one may desire all kinds of material happiness. 2. Clearing stage, in which, one becomes clear of any material contaminations. 3. Transcendental stage, in which, one attains the most desired position of loving God, the highest position of perfection of human beings.
In Chaitanya’s Bheda-Abheda philosophy, God and His creation or cosmic manifestation (also known as maya, power, or “Shakti”) though look different, are one, meaning they have “Sun and Sunshine” relationship. The difference among God and His creation is that though both being the same God has the supreme control over His creation. Just as Sunshine cannot exist without the Sun, the creation cannot exist without God. In the similar way, according to this philosophy, jivas (living beings), as being considered as a part of the creation, are similar but different from the God in the extent, power, and potential. Though, different avatars are not considered different than God.
After Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the tattva-vada (philosophical aspect of Hinduism) was declined to the bhakti-vada (devotional aspect of Hinduism). Devotion to God was more stressed than going into the ontological detail of the philosophy, since, no scholars thought of possibilities of more ontological elements or realities. They also stopped at three ontological elements or realities (tattvas), namely, God, creation, and souls.