Posts Tagged ‘Krishna’

Darshan (Philosophy) XXVI

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – Parabrahm

Parabrahm, Purushottam, or Narayan: Part IV

For the human form of God, there are also two kinds of understandings prevailing: Paroksh bhāv and Pratyaksh bhāvParoksh (para + aksha) means beyond our vision or eyesight, when He does not remain in front of our eyes. Paroksh bhav means the feelings created in common people’s mind that God has left this world bared without His protective presence, when God leaves this ordinary human form and goes back to His abode. Some even have feeling that “their God” has come last and no God will come or appear now or afterwards. Pratyaksh (prati + aksha = in front of our eyes) means the feelings created in learned person’s mind that God never leaves this world unattended and He is always present in this world to guide us. Pratyaksh bhav means the feeling of God right in front of our eyes, not even a slightest distance away from our eyes. Paroksh form of God means the form, revelation, or manifestation of God that has previously happened on this earth. Pratyaksh form of God means the present form of God in our own time for our own sake of fulfillment of our wishes, bliss and happiness, and ultimately our liberation. Shri Krishna Bhagwan in Bhagvad Gita says that, “Yadā yadā hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bhārata, abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmanam shrujāmi aham ||” (Bhagvad Gita: 4.7) Meaning, “Whenever there is a decline in religious practices, O Arjun (the descendent of King Bharat), I by myself manifest in this world and outroot the evil.” God or God-realized sant is always present on this earth to reestablish and revitalize the transcendental religious practices (Sanātan or Ekāntik Dharma) and to liberate the souls (jiv) that are following the said religious practices. The feeling of God present right in front of our eyes is very important in worshiping.

The form of God is very difficult to understand, but we have to trust the words of the scriptures – the words of God Himself. We can say that, God on Earth and God in His abode are like difficult-to-understand yet unhesitatingly accepted wave-particle duality or uncertainty principle of the science. We, as an inexperienced people, have to believe it. In Hinduism, sakar and nirakar forms are described mainly for Brahm only. Whenever nirakar form is described in the scriptures it is in reference to Brahm only. In Hinduism, God is always described as sakar. He is omnipotent or all-powerful. He can take any form whatever He wants, as many as He wants, and as many times as He wants. If He says He will appear and He may not. If He says that He wouldn’t and He may appear. Obviously, we do not have any control over that and we cannot put any limitations over that too. God is independent. He can do whatever He wants. “Hari, chāhe jo kare so hoye,” meaning, whatever God does it happens. Sometimes it looks like we have the control over His form. When God takes the form or avatar, it doesn’t mean He transforms Himself to that form but He “appears” to us in that form. He never changes His original form, nor does He leave His abode. In Hinduism, sakar forms of God (avatars) are described parallel to the evolution of living beings on Earth. Initial avatars are described in animal forms, such as, Matsya (the fish), Kurma (the tortoise), and Varah (the boar). All latest forms or avatars are in human forms to show the similarity or likeness with us, such as, Vaman, Parashuram, Ram, Krishna, and Buddha. If, we had a form different than human, then God also would have taken that different form for our salvation. Thus, the human form of God is most closely related to us. Now, what does sakar mean in Hinduism? Sakar means human like but divine form with all His divinity and without any of the worldly attributes of the body, such as, aging, gender difference, changes of maturity, personality traits, psychological problems, etc. God is never described as nirakar or even as an abstract entity. God has definite but an absolute form.

Though, in spiritual language He is transcendental to us, in worldly language, He is a reality like us, so His messengers or representatives are also like us. His language is like our language. His way of communication is like our way of communication. He can listen to our prayers. He can feel our pain. He can fulfill our wishes. He can accept our services and worship. This is all because He is like human beings, but He is not human being. He is divine being. He is master and we are His servants. He is boss and we are His subordinates. He is king and we are His subjects.

Darshan (Philosophy) XXIV

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – Parabrahm

Parabrahm, Purushottam, or Narayan: Part II

How God is described in Hinduism? According to Shri Swaminarayan in his own words, “There is a mass of divine light that is like countless millions of moons, suns and flames of fire. That mass of light appears to be like an ocean. The form of Purushottam Bhagwãn resides within that luminous, brahmarup abode of God, and He Himself assumes an avatãr from that form. “What is that God like? Well, He transcends both the perishable (Kshar) and the imperishable (Akshar); He is the cause of all causes; and countless millions of aksharrup muktas worship His holy feet. Out of compassion, that very same God is manifest and present before your eyes in an incarnated form for the purpose of granting ultimate liberation to jivas…” (Vachanāmrut: Gadhadā III-31)

How a person cultivates faith in God? The faith in God has always been cultivated through His manifestation on the earth. Shri Swaminarayan says that, “Please listen, I wish to speak to all of you about God. Whenever (jyāre) a jiva attains a human body in Bharat-khand, God’s avatãrs or God’s sãdhus will certainly also be present (vicharatā) on earth at that time. If that jiva can recognize (olkhān) them, then he becomes a devotee of God.” (Vachanāmrut: Vartāl 19)

This is the universal message of Hinduism to the human being in which Shri Swaminarayan does not specify any particular God (Bhagwan), sadhu, or person. God means the Supreme Being and Godly sadhu or person means the truly qualified sant or person per scriptures in whom God would like to stay fully, personally, and forever. The word, “whenever” means, not only in his time or in the present time but he is also talking about the past and the future. The word, “Bharat-khand” literary means “Bhārat or India.” But it may also mean the better place or pious land to live and worship God, where righteousness, truth, justice, and peace are prevailing. The word “God’s avatār” means manifestation of God in human form. The words, “God’s sādhu” means truly qualified Sant or Godly person who is having God forever in his heart, mind, and soul; who is brahmanized or God-realized; who is the guard and guide of universal humanitarian religion called the “Sanātan Bhagwat Ekantik Dharma”; who do not kill demons or bad people but accept them under their refuge and take out their evil power, their vicious, poisonous, or bad nature, their evil thoughts, evil actions, evil ways, and evil manners  from their hearts and mind to make them like sant, spiritual, or godly persons like themselves. The word “vicharatā” means travelling around on this earth to guide us in our life and to share the happiness, joy, or bliss of God with us. It also means that the earth is never barren without having the presence of God. The word “olkhān” means the one who knows that God or truly qualified Godly person or Sant and associates with him for the only motive of salvation or liberation.

Shri Swaminarayan describes, “Shri Purushottam Bhagwãn, whose form is forever divine, is seated in extremely luminous Akshardhãm. That same God assumes the avatãrs of Rãm, Krishna, etc., upon this earth for the sake of granting liberation to the jivas. Then, the jiva that develops firm faith in that God by profoundly associating with the Sant progresses spiritually day by day…” (Vachanāmrut: Vartāl-12)

How to know God according to the scriptures?

When God assumes an avatar on this earth; He possesses 39 characteristics or attributes as a king (the ruler) and 30 characteristics as a sadhu. These attributes of manifest form of God are described in the 1st canto (SB: 1.16.26-28) and 11th canto (SB: 11.11.29), respectively, the Shrimad Bhagwat Puran.

Shri Swaminarayan says that, “The 39 characteristics of God’s avatar in the form of king are listed in the first canto of the Shrimad Bhagwat (Puran). The 30 characteristics of God’s avatar in the form of sadhu are listed in 11th canto.” He says that, “The one who aspires for liberation should recognize God through these characteristics and seek refuge of that (avatar or manifestation of) God. One should have complete faith in Him. One should perform His bhakti (worship) while observing or following His injunctions.” (Vachanāmrut: Vartāl 10)

Darshan (Philosophy) XIII

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – in General I

Akshar Purushottam Philosophy of Shri Swaminarayan:

Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan philosophy is a unique philosophy given by Swami Sahajanand, who is also known as Shri Swaminarayan (1781-1830). Swaminarayan philosophy is also known as “Navya Vishishtadvaita” or “Neo Qualified Non-Dualism.” It differs from the other Vedanta philosophies in that it describes five fundamental eternal realities instead of three realities. Other Vedanta philosophies define three fundamental eternal realities, namely, souls (jiv), universe (jagat), and Brahm or God (jagadishwar). Swaminarayan philosophy defines five fundamental realities based on Prasthan Trayi – the three authentic and basic scriptures of Hinduism, namely, Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita, and Brahm Sutras. (*See note below on “Prasthan Trayi”) The five eternal (meaning, forever existing without any birth and death) fundamental realities described by Swaminarayan philosophy are: jiv (souls), ishwar (universal souls, also known as Purushas), maya (cosmos), Brahm (the abode of God), and Parabrahm (the Supreme Being).

The minute imperfections remained concealed or unexplained in other philosophies are explained by Swaminarayan philosophy. As per this philosophy, there are ontological distinctions between Purush and Purushottam and between Brahm (Aksharbrahm) and Parabrahm (Purushottam). Hinduism describes about the existence of many purushas – the universal souls of brahmands. They are all categorized under ishwars. Obviously, they cannot be categorized under God or souls because of their multiplicity and limited but universal potential. Parabrahm Purushottam (God) – the Supreme Reality, who is one and only, is transcendental to all of them. There is also ontological distinction between Parabrahm (God) and Brahm (the abode of God). Both cannot be one reality because of their characteristical differences. Just like the difference King and its kingdom or householder and his house, both cannot be the same or one single ontological entity. Parabrahm and Brahm, or, God and His abode, cannot be just one entity. In Prasthan Trayi of Hinduism, both God and His abode, that is, Purushottam and Akshar, Parabrahm and Brahm, respectively, are described as quite distinct ontological entities from each other. For common people and for the general use, Ishwar and Parameshwar, Brahm and Parabrahm, Purush (Mahapurush) and Purushottam are all same or look similar, but specifically for the learned people, they are ontologically different entities. Just as for common people “bugs” (jantu) causing diseases are all same, but for the learned people they are biologically different, for example, parasites, bacteria, and viruses are all different bugs causing different diseases.


Prasthan Trayi:

Prasthan Trayi is a trio or triad of the three authentic and basic scriptures of Hinduism, namely, Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita, and Brahm Sutras.

1. Upanishads or the later parts of the Vedas are considered as the direct revelation of God to Brahmā and great rishis at the beginning of the creation. There are more than 108 Upanishads available in book forms, out of them Ishāvāsya, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Māndukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chhāndogya, and Brahadāranyaka Upanishads are considered as 10 major Upanishads.

2. Bhagwad Gita also given directly by Lord Shri Krishna is composed by Vyasa and is included in the “Bhishma Parva” of Mahabharat from 25th chapter (adhyāya) through 42nd chapter. It consists of the philosophical essence of Vedas, all the Upanishads, 18 major Purāns (Puranas or Purans), namely, Brahm Puran, Padma Puran, Vishnu Puran, Vāyu Puran, Nārad Puran, Mārkandeya Puran, Agneya Puran, Bhavishya Puran, Brahm-Vaivart Puran, Ling Puran, Varāh Puran, Skand Puran, Vāman Puran, Kurma Puran, Matsya Puran, Garud Puran, Brahmānd Puran, and Shrimad Bhāgwat Puran, and two major Itihasas, namely, Ramayan and Mahabharat.

3. Brahm Sutras given by Shri Badarayana Vyas, the son of Parashara rishi, contains the essence of Brahmvidya, that is, the knowledge of Brahm and Parabrahm given in the form of short and precise sentences, called sutras, using only a few syllables. It is known as the base of all the Vedanta philosophies. Brahm Sutra has four chapters (adhyāy), each having four sections (pāda or pad). In each section there are different sub-sections (adhikarans). Each adhikaran contains one to several short sentences (sutras). In all, there are about 555 sutras. 


Prasthan Trayi:

Prasthan Trayi is a trio or triad of the three authentic and basic scriptures of Hinduism, namely, Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita, and Brahm Sutras.

1. Upanishads or the later parts of the Vedas are considered as the direct revelation of God to Brahmā and great rishis at the beginning of the creation. There are more than 108 Upanishads available in book forms, out of them Ishāvāsya, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Māndukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chhāndogya, and Brahadāranyaka Upanishads are considered as 10 major Upanishads.

2. Bhagwad Gita also given directly by Lord Shri Krishna is composed by Vyasa and is included in the “Bhishma Parva” of Mahabharat from 25th chapter (adhyāya) through 42nd chapter. It consists of the philosophical essence of Vedas, all the Upanishads, 18 major Purāns (Puranas or Purans), namely, Brahm Puran, Padma Puran, Vishnu Puran, Vāyu Puran, Nārad Puran, Mārkandeya Puran, Agneya Puran, Bhavishya Puran, Brahm-Vaivart Puran, Ling Puran, Varāh Puran, Skand Puran, Vāman Puran, Kurma Puran, Matsya Puran, Garud Puran, Brahmānd Puran, and Shrimad Bhāgwat Puran, and two major Itihasas, namely, Ramayan and Mahabharat.

3. Brahm Sutras given by Shri Badarayana Vyas, the son of Parashara rishi, contains the essence of Brahmvidya, that is, the knowledge of Brahm and Parabrahm given in the form of short and precise sentences, called sutras, using only a few syllables. It is known as the base of all the Vedanta philosophies. Brahm Sutra has four chapters (adhyāy), each having four sections (pāda or pad). In each section there are different sub-sections (adhikarans). Each adhikaran contains one to several short sentences (sutras). In all, there are about 555 sutras.

Darshan (Philosophy) XII

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Shuddhadvaita philosophy

Shuddhadvait philosophy of Vallabhacharya:

Pure non-dualism or Suddha Advait (Shuddhadvait) philosophy is given by the 15th century scholar of Hinduism Shri Vallabhacharya (1479-1531). As one may think, the pure non-dualism may mean Advaita or Monism, but it is not. Advaita philosophy of Shankaracharya and Monism of the Western world are different than pure non-dualism. About the relationship between two realities, namely, the world and God, Vallabhacharya believes that God (Brahm) is pure and non-dualistic, but at the same time, unlike Shankaracharya, he strongly believes that the souls and Nature (universe) are not illusion but real. His philosophy is known as Shuddhadvait Brahmvād. This is opposite of Kevala Advait philosophy of Shankaracharya, in which, the world and souls are all considered as one with Brahm. The difference between Advait philosophy of Shankaracharya and the Advait philosophy of Vallabhacharya is that, in Shankaracharya’s philosophy the soul, Nature (universe) and everything else is Brahm but look different because of the illusion created by the ignorance (avidyā) and veil of maya. In Vallabhacharya’s philosophy the soul, Nature (universe) and everything else is real but appears distinct from Brahm until one is totally engrossed in the bhakti of Krishna (God), at that time everything is realized as God, just as Gopis used to see and realized everything as Krishna and nothing but Krishna. Foe example, when they were selling butter they used to see Krishna instead of butter.

Surprisingly, in the non-dualistic philosophy the general belief that God is unparalleled, the one and only is still maintained. Vallabhacharya strongly believed that Brahm means personal God – the Supreme Being and he could not accept the nirgun and nirakar nature of Brahm. He firmly believed that God is in the personal form only so as to accept his devotion and services (seva bhakti). The difference in Vallabhacharya’s tradition and other Vaishnav Acharya’s traditions is in the style of worship or devotion and in the use of specific terminologies. In Vallabhacharya’s tradition, also known as Pushti marg, the initiation to the tradition means “brahmsambandh.” The word “pushti” literary means “the grace of God” and “brahmsambandh,” literary, means the relationship (sambandh) or union of the soul with Brahm (the supreme entity or God). Brahmsambandh is needed to transform the ordinary jiv (soul) to Pushti jiv (pure or graced soul). “Pushti marg” means the path of spiritual nourishment and of the grace of God. The one who is admitted to the Pushti marg gets the kind of purity of one’s soul, which is needed to be eligible to pursue bhakti (meaning, the daily worshiping or services called sevā of the murti (as if it is living deity) which is known as Pushti Swaroop) and relationship with God (Brahm). The pure love for God (Shri Krishna in His child manifestation) is shown through seva (services to God) and smaran (remembering God). In Pushti marg the exclusive rights to grant brahmsambandh are only given to the descendants of Shri Vallabhacharya. In Pushti marg, the enjoyment of God’s bliss and God’s grace are considered as the primary goals of the devotee, seeking the liberation is secondary to it. Achieving the knowledge (gnan) – brahmgnan or atmagnan is not considered as important as the personal services (seva) to God for the liberation.

Vallabhacharya was a contemporary of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Just as Chaitanya’s tradition is known by the Kirtan Bhakti of adult Krishna, Vallabhacharya’s tradition is known by the Seva Bhakti of child Krishna (Lālji). Philosophy wise both traditions – the tradition of Vallabhacharya and the tradition of Chaitanya are almost similar except some minor differences in worshiping. Vallabhacharya’s tradition is known as the path of grace of God or “Pushti Marg.”

According to Vallabhacharya’s philosophy, as with other Vaishnav philosophy, there are also three basic realities: soul, universe, and God. Soul is characteristically not much different than God. However, God or the Supreme Being is believed to be the whole (purna), whereas, individual soul is a part (ansh) of it. Soul, itself, is Brahm with one attribute bliss or happiness (Ānand). It is considered both doer (kartr) and enjoyer (bhoktr). Maya is not regarded as unreal but as real and the power of Ishwar. Ishwar is both the creator and the creation (which includes universe and souls) itself. Brahm desired to become many so He became individual souls and the universe. It is the pure Brahm that is the effect (kārya) and cause (kāran) of this world. According to this philosophy, though the knowledge (gnan) of God is needed, it is the devotion to God or bhakti which is considered as the means of liberation. The philosophy stresses utmost love, devotion (bhakti), activities related to personified God and complete servitude to God rather than aiming the goal for the liberation called “Mukti”. Liberation automatically follows the total surrenderance and devotion. Vallabhacharya’s philosophy considers Brahm as Purushottam (God). Everything that was created from brahm that ultimately ends in the Brahm after dissolution by the time. Souls or living objects are considered as part of Brahm and non-living objects are considered as modifications of Brahm. After death and destruction or dissolution, Soul (jiv) and universe, both mixes with the Brahm. The object of worshiping in this philosophy is Krishna who is considered as Narayan or God himself (Svayam Bhagavan). Krishna is considered as the cause of all avatars including Vishnu. His “Satchitanand” (also called Sachchidananda) form is considered as the Absolute Brahm. His abode is called “Golok” (Goloka) which is consider beyond Vaikunth or Vaikuntha (the abode of Vishnu), Satyalok or Satyaloka (the abode of Brahmā the Creator), and Kailash or Kailas (the abode of Shiv). Thus, God and His abode are considered two separate things. The reason for the creation is considered, according to this philosophy, as no other than the sport (leelā) of Shri Krishna, and is unlike illusion (maya) of Vedanta. The liberation of jiv occurs by God’s grace only, as a result or reward of giving-up of oneself solely with the heart, mind, and body called “Atma-nivedana” and nine kinds of worship called “Navadhā or Nava Vidha Bhakti.”

Darshan (Philosophy) XI

Friday, June 11th, 2010

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.

Darshan (Philosophy) X

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Achintya Bhedabheda philosophy

Achintyabheda-bheda of Chaitanya:

Achintya Abheda-Bheda is translated as “inconceivable or incomprehensible oneness and difference.” The philosophy is given by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534). The subtle difference between jiv (atma) and God (Paramatma), according to this philosophy, is that quality wise jiv and God are identical but quantity wise jiv is infinitesimal whereas God is unlimited. This can only be experienced through Bhakti-yoga. In this respect, philosophically, it is almost similar to Nimbarkacharya’s Dvaitadvaita philosophy. Worshiping wise Chaitanya’s philosophy is more near to Madhavacharya’s philosophy. Thus, it can be said that, Chaitanya’s philosophy is the combination of Nimbarkacharya’s and Madhavacharya’s philosophy with the major difference in the way of worshiping. Chaitanya added Kirtan-bhakti and propounded Krishna, instead of Vishnu, as Purushottam (God) and the cause of all avatars.

Chaitanya was initiated in Madhavacharya tradition but after about 250 years he started his own tradition which is known as Gaudiya Vaishnav tradition. Gaudiya means “from the Gauda desh” – the Bang-bhumi or ancient Bengal part of India. Chaitanya accepted two important teachings of Madhavacharya: 1. complete rejection of Mayavadi (Kevala Advait) philosophy. 2. Worship and devotion to Shri Krishna, accepting Him as the personified God. According to this philosophy, God is simultaneously one with His creation and also different, rather distinct, from His creation. In Chaitanya’s philosophy Krishna is considered as the Supreme God who is also known as Ādipurush or Swayam (Svayam) Bhagwan. In Shankaracharya’s philosophy everything is considered Brahm – the whole creation is Brahm (including jivas or souls) and the Creator is Brahm. The object of worship (ishtadev) traditionally was Shiv especially for Brahmins. In Ramanujacharya’s philosophy, jiv and universe were two forms of Brahm, namely, Chit and Achit, and Ishwar (God) was separate entity from them. Meaning, Brahm and Ishwar were partly separated and partly unified. But, their separation or unification (ontological distinction) was not stressed considering it less important than bhakti or worship considering the strong hold of, then prevailing, Shankaracharya’s philosophy. People were skewed from bhakti or worshiping God towards just verbal knowledge of God. So, the devotion or bhakti was strongly proposed by Ramanujacharya. Ramanujacharya placed devotion to God at higher level than even Karma (deed) and Gnan (knowledge). He also added service to devotees. Devotees of God are equally valued. The object of worship was Vishnu as Sriman Narayan. In Nimbarkacharya’s tradition the object of worship was Vishnu as Shri Hari, Madhav, Gopal, or Krishna. He also had started worshiping Krishna with Radha. Madhavacharya also stressed devotion to God rather than any other means to please God. Madhavacharya worshiped Vishnu as Bala-Gopal-Krishna (young Krishna) – the present or the latest form. He worshiped Krishna with Arjun. In Madhavacharya’s philosophy, the object of worship was Krishna, but as an avatar or the form of Vishnu. Krishna was considered as the most recent and most powerful avatar of Bhagwan Vishnu or Vāsudev Himself. After about 250 years of Madhavacharya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu started his new tradition that had combined features of both Nimbarkacharya’s tradition and Madhavacharya’s tradition. Chaitanya worshiped Krishna with Radha, suggesting Bhagwan should be worshiped by His best devotee (bhakta) like Radha. Still up to Madhavacharya’s period God was mainly worshiped alone. Shiv, Vishnu, Pārvati (Devi), and Lakshmi were worshiped alone or unaccompanied. Madhavacharya worshiped Krishna alone or with Arjun as his bhakta. In Chaitanya tradition that still maintained the dualistic (Dvait) philosophy with little different understanding, pure devotion (bhakti) with pure love to Krishna is given more stress rather than liberation from the cycle of birth and death (Sansar chakra), because the liberation automatically follows the purest love for God.

Darshan (Philosophy) IX

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Dvaita philosophy (contd.)

Shuddha Dvait philosophy of Madhavacharya (contd.):

Madhavacharya categorizes unreleased or non-liberated souls into three more or less fixed categories (intrinsic or inherent gradation called “jiva-traividhya”) depending upon their knowledge, power, and bliss. They are: Mukti-yogya (qualified for liberation), Nitya-sansāri (not qualified for the liberation and forever remain in the cycle of rebirth), and Tamo-yogya (condemned to Hell and never get liberated). The idea was to explain plurality of souls and the co-existence of good and evil living entities in the world. Madhavacharya describes the same kinds of intrinsic differences among the liberated souls also, namely, devas (sarva-prakāsh), rishis (antah-prakāsh), and naras (bahir-prakāsh). This kind of ideology (swarup-tāratamya) was unique and not fully supported by the basic Vedic Hindu philosophy of Prasthan Trayi.

It was different than the special titles assigned to some souls by Ramanujacharya, and was not accepted by traditional Hindu philosophers. All souls deserve salvation or liberation limited to their knowledge, behavior, and efforts. Another understanding of Dvaita philosophy which did not get wide acceptance in the mainstream Hinduism was ill-defined or poorly understood “Tāratamya” or “devatā-tārātamya”, meaning, hierarchy among subordinate or minor gods (devatās). According to Madhavacharya’s philosophy, as it is in Ramanujacharya’s philosophy, Vishnu is considered as the Supreme God and Laxmi (the female deity) as His eternal consort. Vishnu is considered as the cause of all Avatars or incarnations of God. Thus, Vaishnavism is also continued in Madhavacharya’s philosophy. In Madhavacharya’s philosophy, Vishnu and Laxmi are placed at the higher level than the level of Brahmā, Shiv, and Vayu god but, with that, other demigods, such as, Surya, Chandra, Indra, Varun, etc. were also placed at different hierarchically lower levels. This was also less acceptable for the Hinduism of that period. According to Madhavacharya all souls, although ontologically identical, are different in potential. Demigods or devas are not of God category so they are of jiv category but according to devata-taratamya they are of different hierarchical levels – higher than ordinary souls of all living beings. One important concept introduced by Madhavacharya was, to maintain the supremacy of God and to maintain the hierarchy; Vishnu was paced at the highest level being completely divine having no worldly body. Vishnu as Shri Hari is considered as sarvottama (the Supreme Being). Laxmi was placed at just a little lower level categorizing her as akshar (imperishable) having indestructible (aprākrut) body as against the mundane (prākrut) bodies of other entities like Brahmā, demigods or devas, and jivas that are destructible or kshar (perishable). This was the indirect or unintentional beginning of separation of Akshar, the penultimate element from God, the ultimate element, but no one could realize it at that time.

Basically, except some minor differences, Madhavacharya accepts the basic understanding of Vaishnava philosophy of Ramanujacharya and also stresses more on Bhakti (devotion) or worshiping. The followers of Ramanujacharya worship Vishnu as Narayan, Sriman Narayan, or Shri Lakshmi-Narayan (it is a one word used for Narayan Himself only, with Lakshmi residing in His heart), whereas the followers of Madhavacharya worship Vishnu as Krishna, Bāla-Gopāla (young Krishna), Bāl-Gopāl-Krishna, Venugopala Krishna or Radha-Krishna (it is also a one word used for Krishna Himself only, with Radha residing in His heart). Until Madhavacharya’s period God was worshiped alone. Shiv, Vishnu, Pārvati (Devi), and Lakshmi were worshiped by themselves alone. Madhavacharya started worshiping Krishna alone and later on worshiping Krishna with his choicest bhakta Arjun was started. Initially, during the Madhavacharya’s period conjugal love (premlakshanā bhakti) in worshiping Krishna with Radha was not fully developed, it was added later on and by the time of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu it had reached to a higher level. Thus, Vishnu’s worship as a young innocent Krishna was turned into fully Krishna’s worship with Radha by a devotee showing an utmost love that only spouse can show towards her partner by Chaitanya’s period.

In Madhavacharya’s period Karmis (those who believe more in Karmas), Gnānis (those who just believe more in tattva-gnan or just philosophy), and Māyāvādis (those who believed in impersonal God) were all freely respected along with truly devotees who as well believe in utmost devotion (bhakti). In Hinduism, devotion (bhakti) is always placed higher than the philosophical knowledge only. Knowing philosophy only without having the devotion attached to it has no value. Also merely blind devotion without knowing whom one worships is also of no value. Hinduism believes in both, the philosophical knowledge of the Truth and the utmost devotion (bhakti) to the Supreme God. Madhavacharya’s period also marks the beginning of worshiping Krishna (the latest and greatest form or incarnation of Purushottam – God) as the principal object of worship from worshiping Vishnu (Narayan) as the principal object of worship in Ramanujacharya’s period.

Madhavacharya maintains that Brahm referred to God (Vishnu) by saying “Brahmashabdashcha vaishnaveva”, thus identifying Brahm with God. That period was unifying Brahm with God or unifying Shaivism with Vaishnavism or rather tending towards replacing Brahm with God. One can see that in the story of Lord “Ananteshwara.” Lord Vishnu, during the period of incarnation as Parashurāma, stayed and enshrined in the Shivalinga and being known as Ananteshwara. The place is known as Shivarupya or Shivalli (Udupi). Although Madhavacharya’s philosophy (Dvaita) was strongly against or exactly opposite of Shankaracharya’s philosophy (Advaita), he himself worshiped Shivalinga as Vishnu in the form of Ananteshwara. Also he respected or rather highly regarded Brāhmins irrespective of their worship to Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu. At the same time, Madhavacharya goes one step further in separating Vishnu from other deities, establishing further the monotheistic nature of Hinduism. According to him Vishnu is the Supreme God and the primary object of worship, whereas, other deities are subordinate to him. Thus, he translates Hinduism from polytheism to monotheism and adds one more distinction between deities (Devas) or so-called demigods and God proper reestablishing or revitalizing the supremacy of God. The important contribution of Dvaita philosophy of Madhavacharya to Hinduism is that Atma and Brahm (also known as Vishnu or God) are eternally and ontologically two different realities, one is subordinate to the supreme other, respectively – a big and daring separation, at that time, from the Advaita philosophy of Shankaracharya and still maintain unity between Shaivism and Vaishnavism. This is the beauty of Hinduism. Brahm and Parabrahm (God) were still considered a one and the same reality in that period. Brahm was tried to be concealed away by promoting Parabrahm (God). In essence, according to Dvaita philosophy of Madhavacharya, there exist three clear-cut fundamental eternal realities, soul, Nature (universe), and God quite distinct from each other and not the part and parcel (ansh-anshi) of each other. The distinction between God and Brahm was still left-off for the future. Both were used synonymously.

Darshan (Philosophy) VIII

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Dvaita philosophy

Shuddha Dvait philosophy of Madhavacharya:

Dvait (also known as Shuddha Dvait or Pure Dualism) philosophy was given by Madhavacharya (Madhvacharya, or Madhva) (1238-1317). Just as Advaita is different than Monism, Dvaita is different than Dualism. Dualism defines about two independent already opposite realities, such as, mind and body, good and evil, physical and spiritual, whereas Dvaita philosophy defines two, characteristically look-alike but ontologically quite distinct, eternal realities, namely, soul and God (also known as the super-soul), maintaining the Supremacy of God. The distinction between soul and God which was not proposed in Advaita and not clearly defined in Vishishtadvait philosophy was explained clearly by Madhavacharya. Madhavacharya removed the paradoxical (vishishta) part of Ramanujacharya’s philosophy of having similarity but difference between the soul and God. Madhavacharya stressed of having a strict ontological (tāttvik) distinction between God, called Vishnu (also known as Krishna or Hari), and the individual souls. Because of this, his philosophy is also known as Shuddha Dvaita Vāda (Pure Dualism). He propounded that, this duality of soul and God is maintained even after the liberation of souls which was not cleared or stressed in the Vishishtadvait philosophy of Ramanujacharya. In the book Mayavada-shata-dusani (Tattva Muktavali), it is said that, the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality, full of transcendental attributes and not the attributeless impersonal Brahm. Madhavacharya describes five major differences in realities: 1. Major ontological difference between God and jiv. 2. The ontological difference between God and maya. 3. The ontological difference between maya and jiv. 4. The difference, meaning separation or individuality, between one jiv and another jiv. 5. Individuality between different forms of maya.

According to Dvaita philosophy souls are eternal and are not created by God, yet, like maya or other fundamental realities they are not independent but are dependent on the Supreme God for their existence. Souls are many and uncountable. How come the individual souls which are mingled with Maya (māyān + veshtita = mayanveshtita, meaning, enveloped or completely covered with maya) can be of the same level of the Supreme God which is ever transcendental to maya and also to whom maya even cannot touch. Maya, though revocably but strongly, binds the souls but cannot bind God, it cannot even touch God. Moreover, by having salvation or liberation of one soul all souls do not get liberation. Madhavacharya strongly says to those who believes that they are Brahm (Aham Brahmāsmi), “Yadi nāma paro na bhaveta (bhavetsa) Harihi, kathamasya vashe jagadetadabhutaha | Yadi nāma na tasya vashe sakalam kathameva tu nityasukham na bhavetaha || 5 ||” (Ref: Shrimad Ānandatirtha (Madhavacharya) bhagavatpād āchārya virachitamDvādasha Stotra”, Stotra: 3, Shlok: 5) Meaning, “If you feel that there is no God, then how, in what way, and who controls the universe (jagat). If you feel that you are Brahm (God) – the controller of everything, then how come you do not always enjoy the eternal happiness?”

Darshan (Philosophy) VII

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Dvaitadvaita philosophy (contd.)

Dvaitadvait philosophy of Nimbarkacharya (contd.):

Nimbarkacharya’s philosophy believes in three categories of souls, namely, baddha (means, bounded by sansār or māyā), baddha mukta (means, liberated from the bondage of sansar or maya), and nitya mukta (means, forever liberated or who never came into this sansar or maya, can be called as anādi mukta). “…muktancha baddham kila baddhamuktam, prabheda bahulya mathapi boddhyam ||” (Vedant Dash-Shloki by Nimbarkacharya: Shlok: 2)

Secondly, according to Nimbarkacharya’s philosophy, everything is done or achieved by the grace of God (Ishwar Krupā).

Nimbarkacharya believes that God and Brahm are not different and maintains worshiping personified God. Like Ramanujacharya who believed in and worshiped Vishnu (Narayan) as Sriman Narayan – the spouse (pati or nāth) of Laxmi (also spelled Lakshmi), as the Godhead of the universe, Nimbarkacharya also believed in Lakshmi-Narayan and worshiped Him as Shri Hari, Gopāl, Mādhav, Krishna etc. specifically with his consort Rādhā, both surrounded by a group of Gopis as their devotees (bhakta) in the divine place called Vrindāvan dham. In Nimbarkacharya’s period Radha was not worshiped as the consort of Shri Krishna (Krishna’s principal wife was Rukmani) just as Lakshmi was the consort of Vishnu, but Radha was worshiped as Krishna’s dearest, topmost, and true devotee or bhakta. Radha is considered the latent power (Shakti) of Krishna (Shaktimān). Both cannot be separated. “Upāsaniyam nitram janayhi sadā, prahannaye agyāna tamo anuvratte | Sanandadhyir munibhisthoktam, shrināradayakhila tatva sakshine ||” (Vedant Dash-Shloki by Nimbarkacharya: Shlok: 6) Meaning, “One should constantly reside in and meditate upon this dual (yugal) form of bhakta and Bhagwan (Parabrahm) – Shri Radha-Krishna. Mere concentrating or contemplating on them removes the basic ignorance. Shri Sanakādik Rishis had bestowed this very same knowledge to Shri Nārada.” “Radhayo sahito devo madhvo vaishavottamaih, archyo bandyashcha dhyeyashcha shrinimbarkapadanugaih ||” (Shri Nimbarka-Sudha) Meaning, “For the followers of Shri Nimbarkacharya, the worshiping form is “Radha sahita Madhava” (uttam bhakta sahita Bhagwan), which should be worshiped, prayed to, and meditated upon.”

Thus, Nimbarkacharya’s philosophy suggests a major change in Hinduism in the way of worshiping God, in two ways. One, worshiping the current or present form of God (Krishna) is valued more in salvation than worshiping the past form of God (Vishnu). Secondly, worshiping God with His dearest, nearest, and truest devotee or bhakta is more important than worshiping God alone. This kind of worshiping of God with His choicest and the best devotee (bhakta) is known as “Yugal Upāsanā”.

Nimbarkacharya writes in the “Dash-Shloki” on the worship of Radha-Krishna:

Ange tu vāme Vrishabhānujām mudā, virājamānam anuroopsoubhagām | Sakhi sahastraihi pari sevitām sadā, smarema devim sakaleashta kāmadām ||”(Vedant Dash-Shloki by Nimbarkacharya: Shlok: 5) Meaning, “We remember Radha (the daughter of King Vrishabh) – the most beautiful and as glorious as Shri Krishna, who is on the left side (vame) of Him, and who is served or worshiped by thousands of sakhis (bhaktas).”

According to Nimbarkacharya, the devotion means total self-surrenderance or complete submission to God known as prapatti, also known as sharanāgati or nyasa. Prapatti should have five or six constituents or qualities (angas) fulfilled: 1. Anukulasya sankalpa – resolution of total submission to God, to do only things that pleases God, 2. Pratikulasya varjanam – avoidance of all negatives in submission, not to entertain any bad thoughts, not to do anything that displeases God, 3. Maha Vishwas (Rakshisyati iti vishwasa) – faith that only God shall provide protection and grant liberation (moksh), acceptance of only God as the savior, 4. Gopatratva varanam – praying for the protection and granting salvation (moksha), 5. Atmanikshepa – total sacrifice of one’s self to God, to leave everything up to God (ātma nivedanam, ātma samarpan, bhāra samarpan, and phala samarpan), 6. Karpanya – feeling of helplessness or incapability to perform bhakti or devotion and to get salvation by one’s own efforts only and without the grace of God.

In Nimbarkacharya’s philosophy, as a personified God, the Lord of all, the controller of all, the Highest Reality, is known as Hari, Narayan, or Krishna (God). As the sole cause of creation, maintenance, and destruction of the universe, as the basic material cause (upādāna) and the efficient cause (nimitta) it is known as Brahm.

In Nimbarkacharya’s philosophy, Brahm is believed to be the sole cause of the creation. Nimbarkacharya describes two aspects of Brahm. In one aspect Brahm is eternal, transcendental, the greatest, and the creator of all. In another aspect it is abode of all good virtues, qualities, beauty, bliss and charm. Brahm as God have four nirgun forms or “vyuh”, namely, Vāsudev, Sankarshan, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha. Vāsudev Narayan is considered as the original form. (It looks like the word “view” may have origin in the word vyuh (also spelled as vyuha.) In worshiping God, Dvaitadvait philosophy is also a bhakti marg. Later philosophies does not differ much in philosophical (tāttvik) aspect, that is, number, status, or relationships of the three realities, of Hinduism but it mainly differ in the worshiping aspect of Hinduism, that is, the form of worshiping deity (ishtadev) and the way of worshiping.