Posts Tagged ‘realities’

Darshan (Philosophy) XXXII

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Shad Darshan – Concluding comments:

Conclusion II

In conclusion, all of the above philosophies of Hinduism describe about the fundamental realities, from one, two, three, or five, and their relationships with each other. We can reduce all the realities, before the creation, to just one reality – God. But then we cannot explain all the realities that are in existence after the very first creation. The creation itself is a reality. We have to explain everything based on the minimum possible number of fundamental realities considering all the past, present, and future scenarios of existence. Even scientists have difficulty in reducing everything to just one particle and one force.

All philosophies agree that the Supreme Being is one, unique, incomparable, and unparalleled, who is conceived or understood as the perfect, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, creator, source, and controller of the universe, the cosmos, and everything. He is eternal, without beginning and end, forever stable, and unchanging. He is beyond time, space, deeds, and material world of maya. He is Soul of the souls and God of the gods. In Hinduism, He is known as Paramatma, Parabrahm, Purushottam, or Narayan. “Parabrahm” is so named because it is beyond or transcendental to Brahm (Param Brahm).

Brahm or the Abode of Parabrahm (God) is another reality which is penultimate to Parabrahm. Initially Brahm and Parabrahm were inferred as one reality, but later on it was clearly understood that Parabrahm and Brahm, God and His abode, cannot be just one reality. They are two different realities. Scriptures have described some of the characteristics exclusively for Parabrahm that cannot be applies to Brahm or any other realities. Parabrahm is the Supreme Being – the topmost creator, controller, and the essence of all. Parabrahm is described as the soul (shariri) of Brahm (sharir). Brahm is described as the body (sharir) of Parabrahm. Just as body (sharir) and soul (shariri) seems to be one, Brahm and Parabrahm were also understood to be one reality. But, they are not one and the same entity. Parabrahm can sustain without Brahm, but Brahm cannot sustain without Parabrahm.

In Hinduism, there is description of a super-soul or universal soul called Purush or Ishwar. In Hinduism, there is a crucial distinction between Purush and Purushottam (God). Ishwar or Purush is the super-soul of brahmand (whole universe). Hinduism describes about many brahmands. It is obvious that if there are many brahmands and each brahmand is governed by its own super-soul, then there are possibilities of existence of many super-souls. Existence of many Purushas is described in Sankhya scriptures and other scriptures like Mahabharat and Purans.

In Hinduism, individual soul is understood as ontologically distinct reality from God, Nature (Prakruti), and other realities. There are many individual souls or inner-self called atma or jiv limited to each mundane physical body. Each soul is separate, distinct, and different than its body. Therefore, bodily relations are simply bodily relations and are limited to the current birth only. The past, present, and future bodily relations have nothing to do with the souls. Once the soul is free from its three kinds of body it gets liberation or salvation. Soul has to be brahmanized (brahmrup) to get ultimate salvation called Atyantik Moksh. For that the living being has to take the shelter of God and completely and unconditionally surrender to Him, who resides forever in His abode and also, as His presence on this earth, in Satpurush (God-realized person or sant), in Satshāstra (Holy Scriptures), and in Satkriyā (pious and virtuous actions). No one has seen God as scientists see or observe tiniest particles or farthest galaxies and quasars. Everything what we know about God is from the holy scriptures. Scriptures have described every tiniest detail and the characteristics of God and His true and the choicest devotee or follower. Hinduism believes in worshiping the present form of God on the earth and that also in the form like us with which we can find some resemblance or similarity, develop intimacy, do some communication, and enjoy the same bliss on this earth and in this very life as we would enjoy in His abode. This also makes sure that what we are getting here, we will be getting there in His abode. Anyway, salvation ultimately is in His presence, in His service, and in His close association whether here or in His abode.

Darshan (Philosophy) XXXI

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Concluding comments:

Conclusion I

All of the above philosophies of Hinduism have one thing in common. They are all derived from and consistent with the triad of authentic Hindu scriptures known as Prasthan Trayi, namely, Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita, and Brahm Sutra. They include the essence of all the ancient Hindu scriptures, namely, Vedas, Upanishads, various sutras, various smrutis, all the Purans, Mahabharat, and Ramayan. Number wise Hindu scriptures are not just a few texts but they are hundreds in numbers, consisting of hundreds of thousands of verses (shloks) and short sentences (sutras), and all of them are in Sanskrit or other vernacular languages derived from Sanskrit. It is difficult to study single-handedly and understand them all individually. This explains why there are many interpretations, explanations, and commentaries just about one single Truth and the five fundamental eternal realities in Hinduism.

The beauty of Hinduism is that it allows complete religious freedom at the same time teaches to develop the utmost tolerance for others’ belief. This is exactly opposite of bullying. Smruti shastras allow devotees to worship their own deity as God or demigod (devata) and to follow their own choice of scriptures according to their own level of understanding and intelligence irrespective of the Ultimate Truth. Yet, at the same time it also teaches to keep in mind that one is allowed to compare anything or anybody with God but one can never compare God with anything else that is lower than the level of God in His whole creation, not even with the transcendental and penultimate reality Brahm – the abode of God. This was the understanding of Madhavacharya when he placed Lakshmi at the little subordinate or subservient level to that of Narayan (God). Hinduism tells the truth to the followers of any deity or any God other than the Supreme Being, Parabrahm Purushottam Narayan, cautioning them, that whosoever follows other than Purushottam Narayan will be led to that particular person’s or deity’s own destination depending on that person’s or deity’s own power and capability but not the final resting place or the ultimate destination of the most powerful Supreme Being. The ultimate destination or the final redemption can only be reached by following the Truth, the true Supreme Being, or by achieving the truly ultimate knowledge. Hinduism tells never to follow blindfolded. It says to use one’s own intelligence and judgment objectively and see the behavior, level, and achievement of the Guru (guidance counselor), his Guru or master, and his students or followers. It also advises to disregard the social or worldly etiquettes, manner, or any other external variables of the true Guru in learning the brahm-gnan. Hinduism helps also by providing all the necessary guidance and guidelines to understand, know, and follow the Truth and at the end leaves the responsibility of taking final decision on the individual. Hinduism never forces anybody in following the religion, it just tells about the Truth. Shad Darshan shows the science of how to know the Truth. No matter whom one follows, no matter which path one follows, and no matter which decision one takes, it always advises never to lose one’s spiritual joy – the bliss of brahmanized state (brahmpanu) or the eternal happiness one gets by having union or close association with Brahm or Brahmanized sant or satpurush.

The Satyam (the truth), Shivam (the greatness), and Sundaram (the beauty) of Hinduism is that leaving aside its religious and philosophical aspects, and keeping one’s own faith or belief in one’s own religion, religious practices, religious philosophy, and the choicest deity of worshiping, one can still study, understand, and practice the universal, natural, and humanitarian aspect of it to bring the mental peace, world peace, and the heaven, paradise, or swarg on the earth.

Darshan (Philosophy) XX

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – Brahm

Brahm, Akshar, or Aksharbrahm: Part II

As we have seen previously, in the scriptures, Brahm is described as the overall cause of countless brahmands or multiverse. Purushottam Vāsudev Narayan (God), who in the form of Brahm, is the Final or Ultimate cause of the creation, sustenance, and dissolution of countless brahmands. In this manner, Hinduism is crystal clear about the creation and the cause and the source of the creation. In Hinduism, Brahm and Parabrahm are two separate entities, as mentioned in the following verse of Bhagwad Gita. “Sarva yonishu, Kaunteya, murtayaha sambhavanti yāha | Tāsām Brahm mahad yonir, aham bij-pradaha pitā ||” (Bhagwad Gita: 14.4) Meaning, “Of all the pathways or sources of creation or origin, in which all forms of bodies appear, O, son of Kunti, the major source of creation or origin (mahad yonir) is Brahm in which I am (aham – means Parabrahm Purushottam) the seed-provider father – pitā. (The word “bij-pradaha,” means, by providing akshar-muktas (liberated souls) in the form of Purush or Mahapurush as the seed.)” This also suggests that, just as Brahm is different than Parabrahm Purushottam. Purushottam (God or Bhagwan) is different than Purush or Mahapurush.

The characteristics or qualities of Brahm described in the scriptures are almost similar to the qualities described for Parabrahm confusing the scholars. But if one tries to see minutely there is a big difference between Brahm – the penultimate element and Parabrahm – the ultimate Supreme element. First and foremost, Brahm is mentioned, in the scriptures, as the sharir or body of Parabrahm – the shariri or the essence. Without the essence body cannot function. Thus Parabrahm is the life and soul of Brahm. Brahm is subordinate and dependent to Parabrahm for all his activities. Brahm is mentioned as the overall support and overall cause of the whole creation. In the scriptures Brahm is never mentioned as the support, source, or cause of Parabrahm. Brahm works or functions according to the will of Parabrahm. Parabrahm is independent and supreme in all manners. Parabrahm, if He wishes, can stand and sustain on His own supporting the whole creation and countless muktas (liberated souls) without taking the support of Brahm. Brahm is transcendental to everything else but not to Parabrahm. Parabrahm is the Supreme Being. Parabrahm Purushottam is the master of all – Brahm, ishwar, jiv, maya, and everything that is evolved from maya. One can and should make a union with Brahm to attain Parabrahm but no one can be reached to the level of Parabrahm – physically, spiritually, or potentially. Parabrahm is immune to any comparison, impervious to any realities and unparalleled to any being.

Two qualities of Aksharbrahm

In the scriptures two specific qualities of Aksharbrahm are discussed. They are: Anvay quality and Vyatirek quality. Certain characteristics of Brahm can be explained only by these two qualities. The anvay and vyatirek qualities of Aksharbrahm can be explained by taking the example of Akash (space). Just as an ordinary space is penetrating everything, it is also separate from everything. Space is everywhere, it is as vast as the universe at the same time it is as subtle as to penetrate even an atom. Brahm is subtler than even the ordinary space.

Anvay means close association or relation. This quality is because of the subtleness and all-pervasive (vyāpak) or penetrating power of Aksharbrahm. According to his anvay quality, Brahm seems to be closely associated or mixed with maya and the effects (kārya) of maya, such as, infinite numbers of brahmands.  Brahm is the inspirer (prerak) of Prakruti-Purush and all devatas like Surya, Chandra, etc. for all of their activities and functions including creation, sustenance, and destruction. This can be explained on the base of the anvay quality of Brahm. To be effective or inspirer, two entities have to be related. If both entities are not related to each other, they cannot be effective on each other.

Vyatirek means separate, distinct, or different. Even though Brahm is all-pervasive because of his subtleness and penetrating power, he is separate and distinct from everything else. This vyatirek form Brahm is known as his divine Sachchidanand form. In this divine Sachchidanand form, he is present personally in the service of God as the humble servant. As the abode of God he is holding and supporting the whole multiverse of infinite numbers of brahmands. In his vyatirek form, Brahm is transcendental to everything else, including Maya and Prakruti-Purush and the whole creation evolved from them, except Purushottam Narayan (God).

Darshan (Philosophy) XV

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – in General III

From the beginning of the Shad Darshan until the advent of Swaminarayan philosophy only three fundamental realities, namely, soul, nature or universe, and Ishwar (God), were mainly defined and discussed from the Prasthan Trayi and other Hindu scriptures. As our understanding of the Prasthantrayi was broadened two new categories were emerged that did go beyond the above three categories of Shad Darshan and Vedanta. The addition of two new categories covers the whole multiverse – the groups and strata of brahmands and their super-souls (ishwars or purushas). New categories were needed to clearly define and include Ishwar, Purush, Brahm, and Parabrahm, in our complete understanding of all the realities. Maya or Prakruti as matter or material of the universe and soul as the essence of the life are clearly described, defined, and understood from the scriptures.

Ishwar, Brahm, and Parabrahm are described and discussed, in the scriptures, as the realities but were not categorized separately. Sometimes they were described synonymously, but, at other times they were described distinctly. So the scholars defined them according to their preferences. We can see from the other Vedanta philosophies that the confusion was still prevailing among the scholars. Shri Swaminarayan characterized them into three distinct ontological categories to clear the confusion. He clarified that Ishwar, Brahm, and Parabrahm are three totally different ontological elements or Tattvas and not just one reality or element with three names. Some of the characteristics unique only to Parabrahm (God) cannot be attributed or applied to Brahm and the characteristics of Brahm or Parabrahm cannot be applied to Ishwar. He placed Purushas into the Ishwar category.

In the scriptures, brahmands are described in multiplicities. So, their essences or super-souls, called Ishwars or Purushas, are also described in multiplicity, but Purushottam (the Supreme Being) is described as the topmost – one and only entity. Purushas or Ishwars cannot be fitted into the category of Purushottam or Parameshwar, nor can they be fitted into the category of souls because of their universal potential. Brahm (also known as Akshar or Aksharbrahm) is the abode of Parabrahm. It is described different than Parabrahm. Within this abode, Aksharbrahm, countless brahmands float like mere atoms. Parabrahm cannot be fitted into the category of Brahm. Parabrahm is the controller and the topmost cosmic authority and cannot be the permanent resting place to harbor millions and millions of brahmands and the non-liberated and liberated souls inside it. Parabrahm is the essence or soul of Brahm. In the scriptures Brahm is described as the body of Parabrahm in which He resides forever. The scriptures have described body and soul (sharir-shariri or kshetra-kshetragna) relationship with Brahm and Parabrahm, respectively. Parameshwar, Parabrahm, Purushottam, Narayan are different names of the single, most transcendental entity (tattva), known as the Supreme Being. Thus, we have to have minimum five eternal (shaswat) fundamental realities to explain everything that is discussed in the scriptures and also exists in this phenomenal creation of God.

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) 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.