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Schools Of Vedanta
Bhedabheda Philosophy of Sri Chaitanya
Schools of Vedanta
According to Sadananda (author of Vedantasara), Vedanta includes the Upanishads, the
Brahma-Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita and the commentaries elucidating these texts.
The Theists accept a Personal God as Ultimate Reality. He is related to the universe and embodied souls in varying degrees. According to Ramanuja, the upholder of Visistadvaita, or Qualified Non-dualism, the Reality is Brahman; but the individual souls and the universe are also real, being parts of Brahman or modes of His manifestation. Brahman, with the universe and the individual souls, constitutes the whole of Reality. This is illustrated by the philosophers of this school with the metaphor of the pomegranate fruit. The seeds are the living souls and the rind is the universe. One cannot think of the fruit without the seeds and the rind.
According the Madhavacharya, the Dualist, the Universe and the living souls are
separate from God. While the universe is a material entity, the souls are spiritual in
nature. The souls, though separate from God, cannot exist without Him. Their existence is
entirely dependent upon God. Madhavacharya speaks of living beings as the servants of God.
Schools of Vedanta
Each system of philosophy treats of three main problems, viz., God, world and soul. The several schools of philosophy are only different attempts at discovering the Truth.
The different Acharyas, belonging to distinctly different branches, became founders of
sects and great system-builders. The followers of these schools sought to prove their
orthodoxy by interpreting the Vedanta Sutras in accordance with their own tenets, showing
their claims to be based on, and regularly evolved from, ancient tradition.
The Vedanta schools base their doctrines on the Upanishads. The Upanishads, the Vedanta Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita are regarded as the authoritative scriptures. They are called Prasthana-Traya Granthas. Different commentators of the Vedanta Sutras have formed different views on the true nature of Brahman (the Supreme Reality), but they all base their theories on the supreme authority of the Sruti (Vedas Upanishads). To reject any one of these views is to reject the Sruti itself.
The Three Main Schools Of Metaphysical Thought
Sri Sankara, Sri Ramanuja and Sri Madhava are the most illustrious commentators on the Vedanta Sutras (Brahma-Sutras). These commentators have tried to establish theories of their own, such as Advaita-Vada (unqualified non-dualism or uncompromising or rigorous monism), Visishtadvaita-Vada (differentiated or qualified monism) and Dvaita-Vada (strict or rigorous dualism). Sankaracharya had in view, while preparing his commentary, chiefly the purpose of combating the baneful effects which blind ritualism had brought to bear upon Hinduism.
Dualism (Dvaita), Qualified Monism (Visishtadvaita) and Monism (Advaita) are the three main schools of metaphysical thought. They are all stages on the way to the Ultimate Truth, viz., Para-Brahman (the Supreme Reality). They are rungs on the ladder of Yoga. They are not at all contradictory. On the contrary, they are complimentary to one another. These stages are harmoniously arranged in a graded series of spiritual experiences. Dualism, Qualified Monism, Pure Monism all these culminate eventually in the Advaita Vedantic realisation of the Absolute or the Transcendental Trigunatita Ananta Brahman.
Madhava said: "Man is the servant of God", and established his Dvaita philosophy.
Ramanuja said: "Man is a ray or spark of God", and established his Visishtadvaita philosophy.
Sankara said: "Man is identical with Brahman or the Eternal Soul: and established his Kevala Advaita philosophy.
The Dvaitin wants to serve the Lord as a servant. He wishes to play with the Lord. He wishes to taste the sugar-candy.
A Visishtadvaitin wants to become like Lord Narayana and enjoy the divine. He does not wish to merge himself or become identical with the Lord. He wishes to remain as a spark. A Jnani (jnana = knowledge) merges himself in Brahman. He wishes to become identical with Brahman. He wants to become the sugar-candy itself.
People have different temperaments and different capacities. So, different schools of philosophy are also necessary. The highest rung is Advaita philosophy. A Dualist or Qualified Monist eventually becomes a Kevala Advaitin.
Different Conceptions of Brahman only different approaches to the Reality
Nimbarkacharya reconciles all the different views regarding the Lord taken up by Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhava and others, and proves that their views are all true with reference to the particular aspect of Brahman dealt with by them, each in his own way. Sankara has taken Reality in Its transcendental aspect, while Ramanuja has taken It in Its immanent aspect, principally; but Nimbarka has adjusted the different views taken by the different commentators.
Sri Sankaracharya, Sri Ramanujacharya, Sri Madhavacharya, Sri Vallabhacharya and Sri Nimbarkacharya all were great souls. We cannot say that Sri Sankara was greater than Sri Ramanuja, or Sri Vallabha was greater than Nimbarka, etc. All were Avatara Purushas. Each one incarnated himself on this earth to complete a definite mission, to preach and propagate certain doctrines which were necessary to help the growth of certain type of people, who flourished at a certain period, who were in a certain stage of evolution.
All schools of philosophy are necessary. Each philosophy is best suited to a certain type of people. The different conceptions of Brahman are but different approaches to the reality. It is extremely difficult, rather impossible, for the finite soul to get all at once a clear conception of the Illimitable or Infinite Soul, and more so, to express it in adequate terms. All cannot grasp the highest Kevala Advaita philosophy of Sri Sankara all at once. The mind has to be disciplined properly before it is rendered as a fit instrument to grasp the tenets of Sri Sankaras Advaita Vedanta.
The Advaita Philosophy of
The teachings of Sankara can be summed up in half a verse: "Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya Jivo Brahmaiva Na Aparah" (Brahman the Absolute alone is real; this world is unreal; and the Jiva or the individual soul is non-different from Brahman). This is the quintessence of his philosophy.
The Advaita taught by Sri Sankara is a rigorous, absolute one. According to Sri
Sankara, whatever is, is Brahman. Brahman Itself is absolutely homogeneous. All difference
and plurality are illusory.
The Atman (Soul) is self-evident.(Svatah-siddha). It is not established by extraneous proofs. It is not possible to deny the Atman, because It is the very essence of the one who denies It. The Atman is the basis of all kinds of knowledge, presuppositions and proofs. Self is within. Self is without; Self is before, Self is behind; Self is on the right; Self is on the left; Self is above and Self is below.
Brahman is not an object, as It is Adrishya (beyond the reach of the eyes). Hence the Upanishads declare: "Neti, Neti" not this, not this, not that. This does not mean that Brahman is a negative concept or a metaphysical abstraction or a non-entity, or a void. It is not another. It is all-full, infinite, changeless, self-existent, self-delight, self-knowledge and self-bliss. It is Svarupa (essence). It is the essence of the knower. It is the Seer (Drashta), Transcendent (Turiya) and Silent Witness (Sakshi).
Sankaras Supreme Brahman is impersonal, Nirguna (without Gunas or attributes), Nirakara (formless), Nirvisesha (without special characteristics), immutable, eternal and Akarta (non-agent). It is above all needs and desires. It is always the Witnessing Subject. It can never become an object as It is beyond the reach of the senses. Brahman is non-dual, one without a second. It has no other beside It. It is destitute of difference, either external or internal. Brahman cannot be described because description implies distinction. Brahman cannot be distinguished from any other than It. In Brahman, there is not the distinction of substance and attribute. Sat-Chit-Ananda (absolute Existence, absolute Consciousness, absolute Bliss) constitute the very essence or Svarupa of Brahman, and not just Its attributes.
The Nirguna Brahman of Sankara is impersonal. It becomes a personal God or Saguna Brahman only through Its association with Maya.
Saguna (with form or attributes) Brahman and Nirguna (without form) Brahman are not two
Brahmans. Nirguna Brahman is not the contrast, antithesis or opposite of Saguna Brahman.
The same Nirguna Brahman appears as Saguna Brahman for the pious worship of devotees. It
is the same Truth from two different points of view. Nirguna Brahman is the higher
Brahman, the Brahman from the transcendental viewpoint (Paramarthika); Saguna (with
attributes) Brahman is the lower Brahman, the Brahman from the relative viewpoint
The world is not an illusion, according to Sankara. The world is relatively real
(Vyavaharika Satta), while Brahman is absolutely real (Paramarthika Satta). The world is
the product of Maya or Avidya (ignorance). The unchanging Brahman appears as the changing
world through Maya. Maya is a mysterious indescribable power of the Lord which hides the
real and manifests itself as the unreal. Maya is not real, because it vanishes when you
attain knowledge of the Eternal. It is not unreal also, because it exists till knowledge
dawns in you. The super-imposition of the world on Brahman is due to Avidya or ignorance.
(Nature of the individual soul and the means to final liberation)
To Sankara, the Jiva or the individual soul is only relatively real. Its individuality lasts only so long as it is subject to unreal Upadhis or limiting conditions due to Avidya (ignorance). The Jiva identifies itself with the body, mind and the senses, when it is deluded by Avidya or ignorance. It thinks, it acts and enjoys, on account of Avidya. In reality, it is not different from Brahman or the Absolute. The Upanishads declare emphatically: "Tat Tvam Asi" (That Thou Art). Just as the bubble (foam) becomes one with the ocean when it bursts, just as the space within a pot becomes one with the universal space when the pot is broken, so also the Jiva or the empirical self becomes one with Brahman when it gets knowledge of Brahman. When knowledge dawns in it through annihilation of Avidya, it is freed from its individuality and finitude and realises its essential Satchidananda (Existence, Consciousness, Bliss) nature. It merges itself in the ocean of bliss. The river of life joins the ocean of existence. This is the Truth.
The release from samsara means, according to Sankara, the absolute merging of the
individual soul in Brahman due to dismissal of the erroneous notion that the soul is
distinct from Brahman. According to Sankara, Karma and Bhakti (devotion) are means to
Jnana (knowledge) which is Moksha (liberation).
To Sankara, this world is only relatively real (Vyavaharika Satta). He advocated Vivarta-Vada or theory of appearance or superimposition (Adhyasa). Just as snake is superimposed on the rope in twilight, this world and body are superimposed on Brahman or the Supreme Self. If you get knowledge of the rope, the illusion of snake in the rope will vanish. Even so, if you get knowledge of Brahman or the Imperishable, the illusion of body and world will disappear. In Vivarta-Vada, the cause produces the effect without undergoing any change in itself. Snake is only an appearance on the rope. The rope has not transformed itself into a snake, like milk into curd. Brahman is immutable and eternal. Therefore, It cannot change Itself into the world. Brahman becomes the cause of the world through Maya, which is Its inscrutable mysterious power or Sakti.
When you come to know that it is only a rope, your fear disappears. You do not run away
from it. Even so, when you realise the eternal immutable Brahman, you are not affected by
the phenomena or the names and forms of this world. When Avidya or the veil of ignorance
is destroyed through knowledge of the Eternal, when Mithya Jnana or false knowledge is
removed by real knowledge of the Imperishable or the living Reality, you shine in your
true, pristine, divine splendour and glory.
The Advaita philosophy of Sri Sankaracharya is lofty, sublime and unique. It is a system of bold philosophy and logical subtlety. It is highly interesting, inspiring and elevating. No other philosophy can stand before it in boldness, depth and subtle thinking. Sankaras philosophy is complete and perfect.
Sri Sankara was mighty, marvellous genius. He was a master of logic. He was a profound
thinker of the first rank. He was a sage of the highest realisation. He was an Avatara of
Lord Siva. His philosophy has brought solace, peace and illumination to countless persons
in the East and the West. The Western thinkers bow their heads at the lotus-feet of Sri
Sankara. His philosophy has soothed the sorrows and afflictions of the most forlorn
persons, and brought hope, joy, wisdom, perfection, freedom and calmness to many. His
system of philosophy commands the admiration of the whole world.
Visishtadvaita Philosophy Of Sri Ramanuja
According to Sri Sankara, all qualities or manifestations are unreal or temporary. They are a result of Avidya or ignorance. According to Sri Ramanuja, the attributes are real and permanent. But they are subject to the control of the one Brahman (the Supreme Reality). God can be one despite the existence of attributes, because they cannot exist alone: they are not independent entities. They are Prakaras or the modes, Sesha or accessories, and Niyamas or controlled aspects, of the one Brahman.
Ramanujas celebrated system of philosophy known as Visishtadvaita or qualified monism is Advaita or non-dualism with a qualification or Visesha. It admits plurality. Sri Ramanujas Brahman or Lord Narayana subsists in a plurality of forms as souls (Chit) and matter (Achit). Hence it is called Visishtadvaita or qualified non-dualism. Visishtadvaita philosophy is Vaishnavism. The Sampradaya (sect) of Ramanujas creed is known as Sri Sampradaya. His followers are Vaishnavas. Ramanuja systemized the philosophy of Vaishnavism, because Sri or the Goddess Lakshmi is made to have an important function to perform in the salvation of the soul.
Sri Sankaras philosophy is too high, subtle and abstract for the vast majority of
persons. But Sri Ramanujas philosophy is suitable for those in whom the devotional
(Bhakti) element preponderates. In Sri Ramanujas system of philosophy, the Lord
(Narayana) has two inseparable Prakaras or modes, viz., the world and the souls. These are
related to Him as the body is related to the soul. They have no existence apart from Him.
They inhere in Him as attributes in a substance. Matter and souls constitute the body of
the Lord. The Lord is their indweller. He is the controlling Reality. Matter and souls are
the subordinate elements. They are termed Viseshanas, attributes. God is the Viseshya or
that which is qualified.
The Visishtadvaita system is an ancient one. It was originally expounded by Bodhayana in his Vritti, written about 400 B.C. It is the same as that expounded by Ramanuja. Ramanuja followed Bodhayana in his interpretation of the Brahma-Sutras.
The Bhakti (devotion) school worships a Personal God. The devotees develop devotion to Narayana or Vasudeva. Those who worship the Personal God are called Bhagavatas. They have their own scriptures called the Pancharatra Agamas which are regarded by them as equal to the Upanishads. The Bhakti movement was further strengthened in South India by the work of the twelve Alvar saints. The hymns composed by the Alvar saints were collectively called by the name Nalayira-Prabandham, a series of four thousand poems.
Afterwards came the Vaishnava Acharyas Natha Muni, Yamunacharya and Ramanujacharya. They were great scholars. They gave a philosophical basis and colouring to their beliefs and practices. The Alvars solely relied on Bhakti, but these Acharyas combined Jnana (knowledge) and Karma (action) with it for the realisation of God. They regarded Jnana and Karma as means for realising God. Their object was to reconcile the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita, with the Tamil Prabandha. They interpreted the Tamil Prabandha in terms of the Upanishads and the Gita. Therefore, they were called by the name Ubhaya-Vedantins (ubhaya = both). Ramanuja accepts the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Tamil works of the Alvars for his philosophy. Therefore, his system is known as Ubhaya-Vedanta.
Natha Muni raised the Prabandha to the level of the Vedas. Yamunacharya laid the foundations on which Ramanuja, his successor, built his philosophy. Ramanuja wrote the commentaries on the Brahma Sutras known as the Sri Bhashya. He wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita also. He wrote also three other books Vedanta Sara,Vedartha Sangraha and Vedanta Dipa. These are the chief texts of the Visishtadvaita system of philosophy.
Ramanuja accepts perception, inference and scriptures as valid sources of knowledge.
The Vedas and the Smritis are the sole and independent authority for the knowledge of
Brahman. He adopts the theories of Satkarya-Vada (satkaryavada = the doctrine which holds
that the effect is inherent in the cause and that the effect is only a change of the
cause) and Parinama-Vada, i.e., the doctrine of the real effect proceeding from a cause.
According to Ramanuja, whatever is, is Brahman; but Brahman is not of a homogeneous nature. It contains within Itself elements of plurality on account of which It truly manifests Itself in a diversified world. Ramanujas Brahman is essentially a Personal God, the all-powerful Ruler of a real world, permeated and animated by His spirit . There is thus no room for the distinction between Param Nirguna (formless, without attributes) and an Aparam Saguna (with attributes) Brahman, between Brahman and Isvara. [for explanations of the terms Brahman and Isvara, see Page Nature of Reality]. Ramanujas Brahman is Savisesha Brahman, i.e., Brahman with attributes.
Ramanujas Brahman is not the Impersonal Absolute, but He is a Personal God with the qualities of omnipotence, omniscience and infinite love. God is Saguna (with attributes). When the Vedic texts declare that He is Nirguna, it means that there are no base or lower qualities such as sorrow, pain, mortality, change and old age in Him.
The Lord is interpenetrating everything. He is the essence of the soul. He is the Antaryamin or the Innner Ruler. He is one with the soul. He is all-pervading (Vibhu). He is the Supreme Being. He is full of auspicious attributes. He is of the nature of Satya (Truth), Jnana (Knowledge, intelligence), and Ananda (Bliss). Matter and soul depend on Him. He is the Adhar or support for this world and all souls. God is the governor or Controller (Niyanta or Seshin) of the world. Jiva or soul is Niyama or Sesha (one who is being controlled).
The Lord is immanent. He is also transcendent. He is unchanging. The entire universe is latent in Him during Pralaya (dissolution). The world is projected during creation, but this does not touch His essence. Ramanujas Brahman has internal difference (Svagata Bheda). It is a synthetic whole, with souls and matter as Its modes (Chit-Achit-Visishta). Para, Vyuha, Vibhava, Archa and Antaryamin, i.e., the transcendent, the group, the incarnation, the image and the immanent are the five forms of the Lord.
Ramanuja identifies God with Narayana who dwells in Vaikuntha with His Sakti or
consort, Lakshmi. Lakshmi is the Goddess of prosperity. She is the Divine Mother. She
pleads with Her Husband (Lord narayana) on behalf of man. She introduces the devotee to
Her Lord and obtains for him salvation. Lakshmi occupies a pre-eminent place in
The world, with its variety of material forms of existence and individual souls, is not an unreal Maya, but a real part of Brahmans nature. It is the body of the Lord. Matter is real. It is Achit or non-conscious substance. It undergoes a real Parinama or evolution. Matter exists in a subtle state as the Prakara of God during Pralaya (dissolution). Hence it is eternal, but ever dependent. It is controlled by the will of God. It is neither good nor bad. It becomes a source of pleasure or of pain according to the nature of the Karma of souls. It forms the object of experience for the souls.
Prakriti has three Gunas: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas [for explanations see Page
Sattva, Rajas, Tamas]; but, Suddha Tattva has only Sattva. It is pure matter.
Suddha Tattva is the substance which constitutes the body of God and is called His
Nitya-Vibhuti. The manifested world is His Lila-Vibhuti.
The soul is a higher Prakara of God than matter, because it is a conscious entity. It
is of the essence of God. According to Ramanuja, God, soul and Nature are three eternal
entities. The soul is self-conscious, unchanging, partless and atomic (Anu). The souls are
infinite in number. The individual soul of Ramanuja is really individual. It is absolutely
real and eternally distinct from God. It has, indeed, sprung from Brahman, and is never
outside Brahman; nevertheless, it enjoys a separate personal existence and will remain a
According to Ramanuja, there are three classes of souls, viz., Nitya (eternal), Mukta (free) and Baddha (Bound). The eternal souls have never been in bondage. They are eternally free. They live with God in Vaikuntha. The freed souls were once subject to Samsara (samsara = life through repeated births and deaths; the process of worldly life), but have attained salvation now and live with God. The bound souls are caught up in the meshes of Samsara and are striving to be released. They wander from life to life till they are redeemed.
Man or the individual soul is a particle of which God is the whole. The individual soul
is like a spark of that mass of fire. The whole pomegranate fruit represents the Brahman
of Ramanuja, each seed corresponding to the individual soul.
When the individual soul is immersed in worldliness or Samsara, its knowledge is
contracted. It gets its body according to its past Karma (actions), and goes from birth to
death and from death to birth, till it attains Moksha or the final emancipation. When it
attains Moksha, its knowledge expands. It knows everything. "Every action that
contracts the heart of the soul is bad, and every action that expands the heart of the
soul is good" this is the statement of Ramanuja. The soul is marching on in
this Samsara, expanding or contracting through its good and evil actions, till it attains
the final emancipation through the grace of Lord Narayana. The grace descends on those
souls who are pure and struggling for the divine grace.
According to Ramanuja, Moksha means the souls passing from the troubles of
mundane life into a kind of heaven or paradise (Vaikuntha) where it will remain forever in
undisturbed personal bliss in the presence of God. The liberated soul attains to the
nature of God. It never becomes identical with Him. It lives in fellowship with the Lord,
either serving Him or meditating on Him. It never loses its individuality. There is no
such thing as Jivan-mukti (liberated in this life, while yet living), according to
Ramanuja. Salvation comes when the soul leaves the body.
The final emancipation can be obtained only through Bhakti and the grace of the Lord.
The grace of the Lord comes through devotion and Prapatti or absolute self-surrender.
Karma and Jnana are only the means to Bhakti (devotion, love of God).
Madhava makes an absolute distinction between God, and animate and inanimate objects. God is the only independent Reality. The animate and inanimate objects are dependent realities. Madhavas Vedanta is the doctrine of absolute differences. It is an Atyanta-Bheda-Darsana. He insists on five great distinctions (Pancha-Bheda), viz.,
Madhavas philosophy is a philosophy of distinction. Every follower of the Madhava school should have a firm belief in this fivefold distinction, known as the Panch-Bheda.
You can clearly grasp Sri Madhavacharyas philosophy if you study his commentary on the Brahma Sutras and Anu-Vyakhyana, his commentaries on the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, and his glosses on the Mahabharata (Bharata-tatparya-nirnaya) and on the Bhagavata Purana.
Madhavas philosophy has many points in common with those of Ramanuja. In
Madhavas system of philosophy, Hari or Vishnu is the Supreme Being. The world is
real. Difference is true. All the Jivas (individual souls) are dependent on Hari, the
Lord. There are grades of superiority and inferiority among the individual souls.
Liberation is the individual souls enjoyment of its innate bliss. This is Moksha or
the final emancipation. Bhakti or devotion, without faults, is the means of attaining
Moksha. Perception, inference and the scriptures are the three Pramanas, or ways of
knowledge. Hari is knowable only through the Vedas. Worship of Lord Krishna as taught in
the Bhagavat Purana is the centre of his religion. This is the quintessence of
The Supreme Being is Vishnu or Narayana. He is the personal first cause. He is the Intelligent Governor of the world. He lives in Vaikuntha along with Lakshmi, His consort. He and His consort Lakshmi are real. Brahma and Vayu are two of His sons. One can know His nature through the study of the Vedas. He manifests Himself through various Vyuhas or group-forms, and through Avataras (divine incarnations). He is present in the sacred images. He is also the Antaryamin or the Inner Controller of all souls. He creates, maintains and destroys the world.
God is free from Doshas or faults. He is endowed with all auspicious qualities. He is
omnipresent or all-pervading and independent. He is beyond time and space. He is greater
than Lakshmi. There is no other who is greater than Lakshmi. She is the foremost of the
dependents. Lakshmi is the Lords Sakti or energy. She is the personification of His
power or creative energy. Lakshmi can put on various forms without a material body. She is
co-eternal with Vishnu and all-pervading. She beholds the glory of Her Lord through
eternity. She is Nitya-Mukta, i.e., eternally free from Samsara. She is not affected by
sorrow and pain. She is intelligent.
God is the efficient but not the material cause of the world, because Prakriti, which is the world-stuff, is different from Him. Prakriti is the material cause of the world. It evolves into the visible world. All the objects, bodies and organs of the souls are made out of Prakriti. God energises Prakriti through Lakshmi. Then there is creation.
The three aspects of Prakriti are presided over by the three Powers Lakshmi, Bhu and Durga. Avidya (ignorance) is a form of Prakriti. It obscures the spiritual powers of the individual soul. It forms a veil which hides the Supreme from the vision of the individual soul.
Mahat, Ahankara (egoism), Buddhi, Mind, the ten senses, the five sense-objects and the
five great elements are the modifications of Prakriti. These exist in the primordial
Prakriti in subtle forms before their evolution.
The Jivas are different from God, and from matter. Madhava regards the distinction between Brahman and Jiva as real.
Though the Jiva is limited in size, it pervades the body owing to its quality of
intelligence. The Jivas are active agents, but they depend on the guidance of the Lord.
The Lord impels the Jivas to action in accordance with their previous conduct. They are
eternal, and by nature, blissful. But, the connection with material bodies due to their
past Karma makes them suffer pain and undergo transmigration. So long as they are not
freed from their impurities, they wander about in the Samsara. They pass from birth to
death, and from death to birth. When their impurities are removed, they attain salvation.
The natural bliss of the soul becomes manifest at the time of Moksha or salvation.
Even in heaven, there are essential differences among the Jivas. The classes of souls
in the realm of bliss are various. There are different grades also. The liberated souls
are not all equal; but there is no discord among them, because they all know Brahman and
have no faults.
The third group consists of two classes:
B. Those who are not so eligible.
Of those who are not eligible for salvation, there are two classes again:
Some are pre-ordained for the final emancipation by their inherent aptitude. Some
others are eternally destined either to wander in Samsara without end, or to go to the
world of darkness. The Sattvika souls go to heaven, the Rajasa souls revolve in Samsara
and the Tamasa souls fall into hell.
Bhakti is the means to salvation. Souls attain salvation through the grace of God. That grace comes on the devotee only through the mediator Vayu, the son of Vishnu. God cannot be approached directly. Vayu is the mediator. The grace of the Lord is in proportion to the intensity of devotion.
Worship of God is the indispensable preliminary condition for obtaining the grace of
God. The soul is saved by the knowledge that it is dependent on God and is under His
control. Correct knowledge results in the love of God. Bhakti is the result of knowledge
of the greatness of God.
The worship of Vishnu consists in
Madhava says: "Form a strong habit of remembering God. Then only it will be easy for you to remember Him at the moment of death."
He pointed out that when the Lord incarnated, no Prakrita Deha or material body was put
on by Him. Madhava has prescribed a rigorous kind of fasting to his followers.
Good moral life is a preliminary for Moksha. The aspirant should equip himself with the study of Vedas, control of the senses, dispassion and perfect self-surrender, if he wants to have vision of the Lord. Renunciation, devotion and direct cognition of the Lord through meditation, lead to the attainment of salvation. The devotee attains direct intuitive realisation of God through meditation and divine grace. Then he is freed from the round of births and deaths.
These are some of the important teachings of Sri Madhavacharya, the renowned exponent
of the dualistic school of philosophy.
This is also known by the name Bhedabheda School of Philosophy or dualistic monism.
This system was evolved by Sri Nimbarkacharya. Nimbarka was a Telugu Brahmin of the
Vaishnava faith. He lived some time after Ramanuja and prior to Madhav, about the eleventh
century AD. He is regarded as the incarnation of the Sun.
Nimbarkas view was largely influenced by the teachings of Bhaskara who flourished
in the first half of the ninth century and who interpreted the Vedanta system from the
viewpoint of Dvaitadvaita or dualistic non-dualism. This doctrine was not a new discovery
of Bhaskara. It was upheld by the ancient teacher Audulomi to which Sri Vyasa himself
refers in his Vedanta Sutras.
Nimbaraka holds that the relation of God to the soul and the world is one of identity in difference. The soul and the world are different from God, because they are endowed with qualities different from those of God. At the same time, they are not different from God, because God is omnipresent and they depend entirely on Him.
Nimbarkas philosophy admits Brahman as the Supreme Reality without a second. The world and the Jivas (individual souls) are only partial manifestations of His Power (Sakti).
Jiva and Brahman are self-conscious. Jiva is limited. Brahman is infinite. Brahman is independent Reality. Jiva and Prakriti are dependent realities. Jiva is the enjoyer (bhokta). The world is the enjoyed (bhogya). Brahman is the Supreme Controller (Niyanta).
God, Jiva and the world are not absolutely distinct. If the Supreme Being is absolutely
distinct from the individual soul and the world, it cannot be omnipresent. It will be as
limited as the individual soul or the world. It cannot, then, be regarded as their
Governor. Nimbaraka says that both difference and non-difference are real. The soul and
the world are different from Brahman, as they are endowed with natures and qualities
different from those of Brahman. They are not different, as they cannot exist by
themselves and as they depend absolutely on Brahman. Such a relation exists between the
sun and its rays, the fire and its sparks. The souls and matter are distinct from God, but
they are closely connected with Him as waves with water, or coils of a rope with
the rope itself. They are both distinct and non-distinct from Brahman.
In this school, Brahman (Supreme Reality) is regarded as both the efficient and the
material cause of the world. Brahman is both Nirguna and Saguna, as It is not exhausted in
the creation but also transcends it.
The Ultimate Reality exists in four forms. In Its primary form, It is the
unconditioned, immutable, Supreme Brahman. In Its second form, It is Isvara, the Lord of
the Universe. In the third form, It is called Jiva or the individual soul. In Its fourth
form, It is manifested as the universe of names and forms. The phenomenal universe is a
part of Brahman. It has no existence separate from, and independent of Brahman. The
relation between the world and Brahman is also one of Bhedabheda. The universe is not
different from Brahman.
The Supreme Being is absolutely free form all defects. He is full of all auspicious qualities. He has a divine body. He is full of beauty, love, sweetness and charm.
Nimbarka identifies the Supreme Brahman with Krishna. He is endowed with all auspicious qualities. He is free from egoism, ignorance, passion and attachment. He has the four forms (Vyuhas), viz., Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. He also manifests Himself as the Avataras (incarnations).
In Nimbarka, Krishna and Radha (Kirshnas consort) take the places of Narayana and
Lakshmi. Radha is not simply the chief of the Gopis, but is the eternal Consort of Lord
Brahman is the material and the efficient cause of the universe. His powers of Chit and Achit in their subtle forms manifest themselves as the universe. Hence He is the material cause. He causes the union of the individual souls with their respective Karmas and their fruits. He provides them the proper instruments for their experience. Hence He is the efficient cause.
Brahman does not want raw materials in order to create the universe. Also, He does not
need hands or any other instruments. He is omnipotent. He simply wills and the whole world
comes into being. His Satsankalpa objectifies or materializes as this universe. Just as a
spider spins a cobweb out of itself, so also Brahman has evolved the universe out of
Himself. This is the declaration of the Upanishads. In thus evolving the universe, Brahman
is both its material and the efficient cause. As Brahman is all-powerful, it is perfectly
within His power to be evolved, and at the same time, to remain beyond such evolution.
This is supported by the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras. Brahman has transformed Himself
into this world, without His noumenal aspect being affected. This is due to the
inscrutable creative power inherent in the nature of Brahman.
The individual soul is a part of the Supreme Soul. It is also identical with or the same as, the Supreme Soul. Just as a wave is both different from the ocean (being only a part of the ocean), and identical with it (both being water), so also is the individual soul both different from (being a part of the Supreme Soul), and identical with (both being of the nature of Chaitanya or Consciousness), the Supreme Soul. The relation between the individual soul or Jiva and the Supreme Soul or Brahman is one of formal difference and essential identity. There is no difference between Jiva and Brahman in kind. The difference is only in degree.
The Jiva is different from Brahman with reference to the phenomenal aspect or the body-idea. It is identical with, or same as, Brahman with reference to the noumenal aspect as the invisible whole. This is what is called Bhedabheda.
A strong wind perturbs the sea and a wave is formed. The wave is different from the
ocean, though it is a part of it. The wind passes away and the wave subsides. Now it
cannot be distinguished from the sea. Even so, the mind is agitated by desires and
cravings. It runs towards the objects along with the senses and becomes conscious of a
distinctive individuality. The ego or the finite self beholds the relative world with its
phenomena, and gets experiences. When the mind becomes calm and serene by eradication of
desires, it ceases to function and all the Vrittis or waves subside. The phenomenal world
vanishes and the finite self realises the Infinite Self or Brahman.
Souls are infinite in number and are atomic in size. The Jiva is minute (Anu). It is of the form of knowledge (Jnanasvarupa), though not in the sense of Sankara. The Jiva is knowledge and it is the possessor of knowledge also, just as the sun is light and the source of light also. The relation of the soul to its attribute is like that of the Dharmin (the qualified) to the Dharma (the attribute). It is one of difference and non-difference (Bheda-abheda).
Though the Jiva is atomic in size, it experiences the pleasures and pains throughout the body owing to its omnipresent quality of knowledge. It is everlasting. It continues to exist in deep sleep and the final state of emancipation. In Pralaya or dissolution, the individual souls and the world merge in the Lord in subtle form. Births and deaths concern the body, but not the Self.
The individual soul is the agent of activity (Karta). It has no independent knowledge
or activity. The individual souls and the world are not self-sufficient. They are guided
by the Lord. They are all sustained and governed by God. Each soul is a ray of Brahman
individualised. Ananda or bliss belongs to the individual soul in all its states.
Jivas are of two classes:
The World - A True Manifestation of Brahman
The world is not an illusion for Nimbarka, as it is a manifestation (Parinama) of what is contained subtly in God.
The world is not unreal or illusory, but is a true manifestation or Parinama of Brahman. It may, however, be said to be unreal only in the sense that the present state of its existence is not self-sufficient and it has no separate existence from Brahman. The world is identical with, as well as, different from Brahman, just as a wave or a bubble is the same as, and at the same time different from water.
There are three principal Tattvas or principles:
These three Tattvas or principles are also eternal like the individual souls.
According to Nimbarka, the Sakti of Brahman is the material cause of the world. The changes of Sakti do not affect the integrity of Brahman. The Body of Brahman of Ramanuja is the Sakti of Nimbarka.
Avidya is beginningless. The purity of the individual soul is obscured by its Karma which is the result of Avidya. This Avidya can be put an end by the grace of the Lord.
True Devotion and Real Knowledge Lead to Release
Prapatti or complete surrender to God is the way to release. God showers His grace on His devotees who make complete self-surrender. The grace of God lifts up the devotees to have Brahma-Sakshatkara. The Lord generates devotion in them which results in God-realisation.
Bhakti involves a knowledge of Brahman, of the nature of the Jiva, of the fruit of the Lords grace or Mukti, and of the nature of the impediments to God-realisation such as the wrong identification of the soul with the body, the senses and the mind.
Salvation is attained by real knowledge (Jnana) and true devotion (Bhakti). Real knowledge reveals the true nature of the all-pervading Brahman. True devotion leads to total self-surrender to the Lord. The individual soul retains its individuality with reference to divine enjoyment (Bhoga-samyatvam), but its will is subservient to that of Brahman. The individuality of the soul is not dissolved even in the state of release, the individual soul is different from, as well as identical with, Brahman. This is identity with difference, Bheda-abheda.
Salvation a State of Full Awareness
Brahman is revealed to the liberated soul in its pristine glory, but not in the form of a deity. The soul realises itself now as an inseparable part of Brahman. It no longer feels that it is a separate or distinct individual, as it felt in bondage. It is released from its previous state of bondage. It abides now in the glory of its own true Self which is Brahman Itself. It is in full awareness or consciousness of being one with the Lord. It will not return to the world. It is freed from the round of births and deaths. As it is in union with Brahman, it attains the same status as that of Brahman, but it has no power over creation, preservation and dissolution of the world.
The philosophy of Sri Vallbhacharya is Suddha Advaita or pure monism, because he does
not admit Maya like Sankara, and believes that the whole world of matter and souls is real
and is only a subtle form of God. Those who bring Maya for the explanation of the world
are not pure Advaitins, because they admit a second to Brahman (Supreme Reality). Vallabha
holds that Brahman can create the world without any connection with such a principle as
Maya, but Sankara traces the universe to Brahman through the power of Maya. Hence the
philosophy of Vallabha is called pure monism or Suddhadvaita.
Vallabha says that the entire universe is real and is subtly Brahman. The individual souls and the world are, in essence, one with Brahman. Jiva (individual soul), Kala (time) and Prakriti or Maya are eternal existences, but they have no separate existence apart from Brahman.
Vallabha was a great Sanskrit scholar. He settled down first at Mathura and then at Varanasi. He preached with great zeal the Vaishnava creed and philosophy. He was the founder of the great Vaishnava Mutts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. His followers are found in great numbers in Nathdwara.
Important Works of Vallabha
Vallabha accepts the authority not only of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras, but also of the Bhagavata Purana. The important works of Vallabha are Vyasa-Sutra Bhashya (Anu-Bhashya), Jaimini-Sutra Bhashya, Bhagavata-Tika, Subodhini, Pushti-Pravaha-Maryada and Siddhanta-Rahasya. All these books are in Sanskrit. He has written many books in Braj Bhasha (Braj language) also. The scriptures are the final authority for Vallabha.
Stress on Worship and Grace
Vallabhas religion is a religion addressed to the worship of Vishnu in the form of Krishna. It was derived chiefly, like the system of Chaitanya, from the Vaishnava philosophy propounded by Ramanuja. It is centred round the conception of a personal and beneficent God who is Sat-Chit-Ananda. Lord Krishna is the highest Brahman (Supreme Reality. His body consists of Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss). He is called Purushottama.
Vallabhas followers worship Bala-Krishna (Krishna as a child or boy). They have Vatsalya-Bhava (the attitude of parent and child). Vallabha lays great stress on Pushti (grace) and Bhakti (devotion). Maha-Pushti is the highest grace or Anugraha which helps the aspirants to attain God-realisation.
God The Only Being
According to Vallabha, God is the Absolute or the Purushottama. He is perfect. He is Sat-Chit-Ananda. He is infinite, eternal, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. He has all the auspicious qualities also. The Sruti texts which say that He has no attributes, mean that He has not the ordinary qualities.
God is real. There is no other reality besides Him. He is the only Being. He is the source for this universe and all souls. He is the first cause and the only cause. God is the material as well as the efficient cause of the universe. He creates the world by the mere force of His Will. Brahman manifests Himself, of His own Will, as the universe and the individual souls, but He does not undergo any change in His essential nature. Things come out of the Akshara (Sat-Chit-Ananda), like sparks from fire. Brahman (Supreme Reality) is the Creator of the world. He is also the world itself.
God is personified as Krishna, when He possesses the qualities of wisdom and action. He appears in various forms to please His devotees.
The World of Nature and the World of False Relations
Creation is manifestation of Brahman. The universe is the effect of Brahman. The universe is as eternal and real as Brahman Himself. The inanimate universe is filled with Brahman. The world is not an illusory appearance. It is not different from Brahman in essence.
Jagat is the world of Nature. It is not illusory. It is real. It is God Himself in one
form. But, the Samsara or temporal involvement is illusory. This is created by the soul
around its I-ness and mine-ness. The separation from God on
account of egoism makes the soul forget its original true, divine nature. Samsara is a
product of the souls imagination and action which play around its "I-ness
and mine-ness. On account of its selfishness, it puts itself in wrong
relations with other souls and with the objective universe. It creates a web of its own
and gets itself entangled in it.
Jiva and Brahman
The Jivas are not effects. They are Amsas or parts of God. They issue from Him spontaneously as sparks from fire. Brahman is the whole. The Jiva or the individual soul is part; but, there is no real difference between Brahman and the individual soul, because the individual soul is of identical essence with Brahman. (According to Ramana, the parts are really different from the whole). The soul is one with Brahman. It is as real and eternal as Brahman.
The individual soul is not Brahman screened by the veil of Avidya. It is itself Brahman, with the attribute bliss being obscured or suppressed. Ananda or bliss is suppressed or obscured in the individual soul. Ananda and consciousness are suppressed or obscured in matter or the inanimate world. When the soul attains bliss, and the inanimate world attains both consciousness and bliss, the difference between Brahman and these vanishes.
The soul is both a doer and an enjoyer. It is atomic in size, but it pervades the whole
body by its quality of intelligence, just as sandalwood pervades even the places where it
does not exist by its sweet fragrance and just as a lamp, though confined only to a part
of a room, illuminates the whole room.
There are three kinds of souls:
When the soul attains the final emancipation, it recovers its suppressed qualities and becomes one with God or Brahman. The world appears as Brahman to one who has realised the Truth or Brahman.
There is another classification of souls, viz., Pushti souls, Maryada souls and Pravahika souls. All these are different from one another in their origin, nature and final end. They all issue from God with their differences.
The Pushti souls are the highest, as they issue from the Anada-Kaya or the bliss-body of God. These souls are the Amsa (parts) of His body. God is the Amsi (the whole). These are the souls of grace. They have the divine seed in them which bears fruit in the end. They ultimately reach the goal through the grace of the Lord. They have communion and fellowship with Lord Krishna. They develop Bhakti (devotion)through the grace of the Lord. Bhakti is the means and the end in itself.
The Maryada souls are generated from the Vak or the Word of God. They are governed by law, not by grace. They perform their ritualistic duties, at first with selfish interests. Later on, they develop Nishkarma-Bhava (unselfish attitude) and do their ritualistic routine without any self-interest. This purifies their mind. They reach the Akshara, which is a kind of vestibule to the abode of God. Afterwards they attain the supreme abode of God.
The Pravahika souls issue from the mind of God. They are the Samsaric Jivas. They are souls neither of grace nor of law. They are in continuous motion (Pravaha).
These three kinds of souls have further sub-division and cross-divisions into Pushti-Pushti, Pushti-Maryada, Pushti-Pravahika, Maryada-Maryada, Maryada-Pushti, Maryada-Pravahika, Pravahika-Pravahika, Pravahika-Pushti and Pravahika-Maryada.
Pushti Marga or the Way of Grace
The way of life and salvation preached by Vallabha is called Pushti Marga. The soul of man has become weak and lean on account of sin. It is, therefore, in dire need of the grace of God for its uplift and emancipation. Gods grace gives Pushti (nourishment) and Poshana (strength); and hence the name Pushti Marga or the Way of Grace.
The individual soul can attain the final emancipation only through the grace of God. Bhakti is the chief means of salvation. Jnana is useful. Maha Pushti or the highest grace removes great obstacles and helps in the attainment of God. The Bhakti (devotion) generated by special grace is known as Pushti Bhakti.
The Four Kinds of Bhakti (devotion)
This Pushti-Bhakti is of four kinds:
Prava Bhakti is the path of those who while leading the worldly life, perform works which will lead to the attainment of God-realisation. Worldly life is compared to the flow of a river (Pravaha).
Maryada Bhakti is the path of those who are rendered fit to attain knowledge which is useful for worship, through the grace of the Lord. They know all about the ways of God. They depend upon their own efforts to obtain knowledge.
In Pushti-Bhakti, the devotees lead a life of self-restraint. They hear discourses about the Lord. They do Kirtana and sing His name. The do Japa (repeated recitation) of Mantra.
Suddha Pushti-Bhakti or the Purest Type of Devotion
In Suddha Pushti-Bhakti, the devotees do Kirtana and sing the Lords name. They praise God. They develop a strong passion for doing these. This kind of devotion is generated by the Lord Himself. The Lords grace descends on the devortees. Then they develop a liking for God. This liking grows into Prema Bhakti (love for God). The devotees acquire knowledge about God. Then they get attachment to God (Asakti). Then they develop a strong passion for attaining God. This is the ripe condition of love and Asakti. It is called Vyasana. This strong passion, or Vyasana, leads to the attainment of the highest bliss, the Summum bonum or the end.
When love for Sri Krishna becomes intense, the devotee sees Lord Krishna everywhere. Hence everything becomes an object of love for him. He identifies himself with everything. The Gopis had this experience. They saw Krishna everywhere. They saw themselves also as Krishna. This is a Para Bhakti or supreme devotion which becomes akin to the knowledge or Brahma-Jnana of the Vedantins or Jnanis. The inner and outer world is full of Krishna or Purushottama for such devotees. The fruit of this devotion is admission to the eternal sports or Lilas of Sri Krishna.
The Supreme goal is not Mukti or emancipation. The highest goal is eternal service of Lord Krishna and participation in His sports in the celestial Brindavana. Those who have developed Vyasana, or strong passion for God, reject with scorn the four kinds of Mukti. The Maryada-Bhaktas attain Sayujya Mukti, i.e., they become one with Sri Krishna. The Pushti-Bhaktas reject Mukti and take part in the sports or Lilas of Sri Krishna. They choose with intense delight the eternal service of Sri Krishna. The Bhaktas assume the forms of cows, birds, trees and rivers and enjoy the company of Sri Krishna, which bestows infinite joy. These sports are similar to those which Sri Krishna did in Vraja and Vrindavana. Some of the devotees become Gopas and Gopis and join the sports in the celestial Vrindavana.
Different Kinds of Liberated Souls
The liberated souls are of different kinds. Some have freed themselves like (Sage) Sanaka. Some dwell in the city of God and attain salvation through the grace of the Lord. Some others develop perfect love and become the associates of God.
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Chaitanya had a very large heart. He accepted converts from Islam freely. His disciple Haridas was a Moslem fakir. Nityananda spread far and wide the Chaitanya movement. Rupa and Sanatana who descended from a prince of Karnataka and settled in Bengal, and their nephew Jiva Goswami, were great Sanskrit scholars and were really the fathers of the Chaitanya movement (Todays Hare-Krishna movement).
Jiva Goswami and Baladeva furnished the philosophical basis for the school. The philosophical classics of the school are Jivas Sat-sandarbha, and his own commentary on it. Sarva Samvadini, and Baladevas Govindabhashya on the Brahma Sutras. Baladevas Prameyaratnavali is also another popular book. Jiva and Baladeva were greatly influenced by the views of Ramanuja and Madhava. They admit God, souls, Maya or Prakriti, Suddha Sattva and Kala or time.
The world and souls depend on God, though they are separate and distinct from Him. They are neither one with God nor different from Him. There is an incomprehensible difference- non-difference (Achintya Bhedabheda).
Chaitanya insisted on the unity of the Godhead which underlies the multitude of idols of popular worship.
The Ultimate Reality
The Ultimate Reality is Vishnu. He is the God of love and grace. He is one without a second. He is Sat-Chit-Ananda. He is Nirguna in the sense that He is free from the qualities of Maya. He is Saguna (with attributes) as He is endowed with the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience. He is the material and the efficient cause of the world. He is the source, support and end of this universe. He is the efficient cause through His higher energy (Para-Sakti). He is the material cause through His other energies (Apara-Sakti and Adya-Sakti).
Mysterious and Incomprehensible Sakti of the Lord/p>
Just as the sun has its light and the fire its heat, so the Supreme God, Krishna, has naturally His energies or Saktis which are mysterious and incomprehensible. These Saktis have no independent existence. They depend upon God. God and His powers are either identical or different.
These energies are of three kinds, viz., Chit-Sakti, Jiva-Sakti and Maya-Sakti. They are also called Antaranga, Tatastha and Bahiranga respectively. Jiva-Sakti is called Tatastha because it occupies an intermediate place between Chit-Sakti and Maya-Sakti.
The Process of Creation
Chit-Sakti created Vaikuntha. There is only pure Sattva in Vaikuntha. Maya has no access here. Kala (time) cannot execute its destructive power.
The souls are created by the Tatastha Sakti or Jiva-Sakti of the Lord. The Lords Svarupa-Sakti supports His Jiva-Sakti.
The Lord creates the universe from the great principle of Mahat. He manifests the Vedas and communicates them to Brahma. The work of creating other stages of creation is given to Brahma. The souls and matter are the manifestations of Gods energy according to Jiva Goswami and Baladeva. Maya is set in vibration by the mere gazing of the Lord.
The Lord Who Appears in Different Forms
The Supreme Lord Krishna manifests Himself as Brahman to Jnanins; as Paramatman to Yogins; and as Bhagavan full of all glories, all beauties, all sweetness and all attributes, to Bhaktas. Lord Krishna is the soul of all souls and the Lord of all that is. A Bhakta (devotee) only has full knowledge of the Supreme Personal God with all His divine attributes. Krishns form is unique. He assumes endless forms.
Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Rama, Krishna, etc., are Lila-Avataras (incarnations). There are Gunavataras and Manavantaravataras. The four Sanakas, Narada, Prithu, Parasurama, Brahma, Sesha in Vaikuntha and Ananta who supports the earth, are the chief Avestavataras of the major type who have direct power from God. In Sanaka, Jnana-Sakti; in Narada, Bhakti-Sakti; in Brahma, creative Sakti; in Ananta, the earth supporting Sakti; in Sesha, God-serving Sakti; in Prithu, the power of preserving people; and in Parsurama the power of destroying the wicked prevailed.Radha-Krishna
The Avataras (incarnations) are one with the Supreme. They are not parts like the individual souls. God assumes infinite forms of which the chief is that of Krishna. Radha is the essence of the delight giving power of Lord Krishna (Hladini). The Lord is the ruler of all souls. He is omnipresent or all-pervading.
The Jiva is of atomic size. He is the eternal servant of God. He bears the same relation to God as the suns rays bear to the sun and as a spark bears to the mass of fire from which it flits out. The ray, although it radiates from the sun and is part and parcel of the sun, is not the sun. So also, the Jiva, who is partly similar to God in respect of his spirituality or Chaitanya and partly dissimilar on account of his animal nature and susceptibility to the influence of Maya, is not God Himself.
The soul is bound by the power of Maya. Maya makes him forget his real, essential, divine nature. The Jiva, illumined and infatuated by Maya, can naturally have no knowledge of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna has, therefore, out of His infinite mercy, created the Vedas; and reveals Himself to the Jiva through the media of scriptures, Guru and intuition. Then the Jiva is convinced that Lord Krishna is his Lord and saviour.
The Jiva can have God-realisation through spiritual love or Prema to Lord Krishna. Bhakti overcomes the force of Karma. Bhakti (devotion) is the way to the final emancipation. Through Bhakti the soul attains to a status of equality with God, but he is never absorbed in Him. He is freed from the round of births and deaths.
The Culture of Bhakti (Devotion)
Chiatanya taught that God could be realised only by means of ardent and all-absorbing love. He wrote to a royal minister who had asked if there was any path of salvation for a man leading an active life: "As an immoral woman constantly thinks of her illicit lover while living in the midst of her family, so do thou silently and ceaselessly meditate on Hari while doing your worldly activities".
According to Chaitanya, ardour is born from the culture of Bhakti and when ardour deepens, it is called love (Prema).
From taste (Ruchi) comes strong inclination (Asakti) which generates the sprout of passion (Rati) for Krishna. When this emotion deepens, it becomes Prema. This is the permanent form of Bhakti in Krishna.
When love grows, it is successively called Sneha, Pranaya, Anuraga, Bhava and Mahabhava, just as we have successively cane-seed, sugar-cane juice, molasses, sugar and fine sugar-candy.
When the permanent emotion (Bhava) is mingled with Rasa, it is changed into Vibhava, Anubhava, Sattvika and Vyabhichari; just as curd, when being mixed with black sugar, black pepper and camphor, becomes a thing of extreme deliciousness named Rasala. Vibhava is of two kinds:
Anubhava is stimulated by smile, dance and song. Stupor and other sensations are included in Sattvika Anubhava. Vyabhichari is of thirty-three kinds, such as delight, rapture etc.
Rasa is of five kinds- Santa, Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Madhurya. In the Santa Rasa, Rati advances to the stage of Prema and in the Dasya to Raga. Sakhya and Vatsalya attain to the limit of Anuraga.
Krishna-Prema The Supreme Attainment
That devotee who has developed Prema always communes with Lord Krishna. No mundane sorrow or affliction can perturb his mind. He has no attraction for earthly objects. He has no fear. He never cares for material success. He intensely longs for union with Lord Krishna.
Love of Krishna is the highest thing worth attaining. Bhakti is the means of attainment. Krishna-prema is, indeed, the highest achievement of life. This Prema makes the devotees serve Krishna in a selfless spirit and enjoy the Rasa or sweetness of the Lord. Bhakti is the only means of attaining Krishna and is, therefore, spoken of as Avidhaya or means. Just as wealth gives comforts, and with the enjoyment of comforts all worldly miseries disappear of their own accord, so also, Bhakti generates Krishna-prema, and with the enjoyment of Prema, the cycle of births and deaths comes to an end. Escape from the effects of privations and the stoppage of rebirths are not, however, the fruits of prema. Beatitude or Moksha is Premas handmaid. Therefore this Krishna-prema is regarded as the supreme attainment .
Other Teachings of Sri Chaitanya
Veneration for the preceptor is a fundamental feature of Sri Chaitanyas teachings. Study of the Vedas, the Bhagavata Purana, etc., is inculcated. Practice of ethics and development of ethical virtues such as mercy towards all creatures, humility, purity of heart, freedom from mundane desires, serenity and truthfulness are essential. The distinctions of caste have to be ignored. Anyone can obtain the grace of the Lord.
The following qualities make a Vaishnava. He is compassionate, truthful, saintly, innocent, charitable, gentle, pure, spiteless, humble, serene, tender, friendly and silent. He is a universal benefactor. He solely depends upon Lord Krishna. He is desireless. He is abstemious in diet and self-controlled. He has mastery over the six enemies. He honours others and does not care for honour from others.
Sankirtana The Supreme Healer
The supreme healer in this iron age is Sankirtana of the Name. It is equivalent to the Vedic sacrifice. The true sacrificer is rewarded with Krishnas feet. Sankirtana enables you to conquer sin and the world. It creates purity of soul and all kinds of Bhakti. It is not restricted to a particular place or time. It works everywhere. It bears the name of Sarva-Sakti (omnipotence).
Haris name should always be chanted by him who must be humbler than a blade of
grass (which is trodden upon); who is more patient, forbearing and charitable than a tree
(which does not cry out even when it is cut down and which does not beg for water even
when scorched to death, but on the contrary, offers its treasure to whoever seeks it,
bears the sun and rain itself, but protects those who take shelter under it from rain and
sunshine); who, however worthy of esteem should instead of claiming respect for himself,
give respect to all (from a sense of Gods immanence in all beings). He who thus
takes Krishnas Name gets Krishnas Divine Love (Prema).