Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Seventeen
Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Nineteen

Nitya-dharma: Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana
Part Six: An Analysis of Simultaneous Oneness and Difference

by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Śrī Sarvabhāvana Prabhu)

Vānimādhava was a vicious and harmful person. Wanting to retaliate against Vrajanātha for castigating him, he had decided to spite Vrajanātha and all the bābājīs. He recruited other criminal men of his own ilk and planned to beat Vrajanātha severely when he would approach the lonely little hillock of Lakṣmaṇa-ṭilā whilst returning from Śrīvāsāṅgana at night. Somehow this secret plan leaked out, sketchy news of it reaching the ears of Vrajanātha. He spoke to Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī and together they concluded that Vrajanātha should reduce the frequent visits, limiting them to urgent, daytime calls with a strong escort.

Vrajanātha was a landlord and had several tenants on his property—among them was one Harīśa Dome, a very expert stick-fighter. Calling him, Vrajanātha said, “I anticipate some danger to myself. If you could assist me in this matter, I would feel more secure.”

Harīśa replied deferentially, “Why, sir, I am ready to lay down my life for you. Just point out your enemy and I will finish him off.”

Vrajanātha, “Vānimādhava wants to harm me. I have good reason to believe that he is planning to ambush me when I return from Śrīvāsāṅgana, where I go to associate with the Vaiṣṇavas. Therefore, I am now afraid of going there.”

Disturbed to hear this, Harīśa declared, “Master, care not as long as you have Harīśa beside you. I think that my thick bamboo rod will come to good use upon the skull of Vānimādhava. In any case, whenever you want to go to Śrīvāsāṅgana take me along also, so I can see whosoever wants to harm you—I can take on a hundred of them, alone!”

Vrajanātha resumed his visits to Śrīvāsāṅgana every alternate day or so, with Harīśa escorting him. However, his visits had to be short and so some of the deep philosophical truths could not be discussed in real detail, which naturally left him feeling somewhat dissatisfied. This continued for a few weeks until unexpectedly the news came that the vicious Vānimādhava had died of snakebite.

Vrajanātha wondered, “Is the premature and painful death of Vānimādhava as a result of his offences against the Vaiṣṇavas? Or was the cause something plainer, for instance, that his time upon earth was exhausted and therefore he had to leave, as stated in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, 10.1.38:

adya vābda-śatānte vā mṛtyur vai prāṇināṁ dhruvaḥ

“‘Whether occurring at this moment, or a hundred years later, death is inevitable for the living entities.’

“Now that all obstacles are removed, I can go to Śrīvāsāṅgana every evening just as before,” thought Vrajanātha. And that same evening he went to see Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, paid his prostrate obeisances, and said, “I will again start coming regularly to offer my respects to your hallowed feet. The hindrance Vānimādhava has left this world forever.”

At first, the compassionate Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī was saddened when he heard that a human being whose consciousness was slumbering in ignorance had died before awakening to self-realization. He kept silent for a while and then said, quoting the Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 2.163:

sva-karma-phala-bhuk pumān

“‘A person is sure to achieve the results of his fruitive activities.’

“Certainly the jīva is the property of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and must go wherever he is sent. My boy, are there any other problems nettling you?”

Vrajanātha, “My only worry has been that for the past several days I was deprived of relishing your nectarean instruction. This made me very anxious and so now I am eagerly waiting to hear the rest of the Daśa-mūla-śikṣā.”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “I am always ready to help you. You can, of course, also ask questions about the topics we have already covered.”

Vrajanātha, “Under what name are Śrī Caitanya’s teachings known? There are already famous teachings, for example: advaita, monism; dvaita, dualism; śuddhādvaita, purified monism; viśiṣṭādvaita, specific monism; and dvaitādvaita, monism and dualism combined, which are philosophies propagated by the previous ācāryas. Did Śrī Gaurāṅga endorse any of these philosophies, or did He teach something entirely new? You have mentioned earlier that Śrī Caitanya is in the Brahmasampradāya, the disciplic line of Lord Brahmā. Does this mean that Śrī Caitanya is an ācārya in the line of Śrī Madhvācārya’s dvaita philosophy, or are His teachings of a different line?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Listen to the eighth verse of the Daśa-mūla-śikṣā:

hareḥ śakteḥ sarvaṁ cid-acid-akhilaṁ syāt pariṇatir
vivartaṁ no satyaṁ śruti-mata-viruddhaṁ kali-malam
harer bhedābhedau śruti-vihita-tattvaṁ suvimalaṁ
tataḥ premṇaḥ siddhir bhavati nitya-viṣaye

“‘In their entirety, the material and spiritual worlds are the transformations of the energies of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Vivartavāda, the impersonal theory of illusory transformation of Brahman, is false. It is a noxious pollution of Kali-yuga and contradictory to the conclusions of the Vedas. The philosophy of acintyabhedābheda tattva, inconceivable, simultaneous oneness and difference, is the true pure essence of the Vedic Truth. The practice of this philosophy elevates a person to the perfection of developing divine transcendental love for the Eternal Absolute Truth, Śrī Kṛṣṇa.’

“The teachings of the Upaniṣads are known as Vedānta. Śrīla Vedavyāsa, desiring to properly articulate these meanings of the Upaniṣads, summarised them systematically according to topics, resulting in a treatise with four chapters called the Brahmasūtra, also famous as the Vedāntasūtra. This compendium of the crystallized teachings of the Vedas has always evoked spontaneous appreciation in the scholarly circles. All the ācāryas from the different philosophical schools have borrowed ideas from the Vedāntasūtra to authenticate their individual views.

“Śrī Śaṅkarācārya has attempted to establish vivarta-vāda, the Theory of Illusory Transformation of Brahman, from these sūtras. He taught that if parināma-vāda, the Transformation of Brahman, were applied to Brahman, as an explanation for the creation, then Brahman would lose its own supreme unchangeable identity. Śrī Śaṅkarācārya, therefore, proposed that vivartavāda, the Theory of Illusory Transformation of Brahman, was the superior philosophical conclusion. This theory of vivartavāda is also known as māyāvāda, the Theory of the Illusory Nature of Creation. Attempting to establish his philosophical proposal, Śrī Śaṅkarācārya took verses from the Vedas out of context and at his convenience to support his views. Through his doctrine, Śrī Śaṅkarācārya attempted to defeat the theory of parināma-vāda, the Transformation of Brahman, which evidently existed prior to his appearance.

Vivartavāda is only one of many theories proposing to define reality and dissatisfied with this new ideology of māyāvāda, Śrī Madhvācārya formulated dvaitavāda, the philosophy of duality. He also scrutinized the Vedas, collecting verses in support of dvaita-vāda. After him came Śrī Rāmānujācārya, who also by using the Vedas and Vedānta-sūtra, presented the philosophy of viśiṣṭādvaitavāda, qualified non-dualism. Next in line was Śrī Nimbārkācārya, who dived deeply into the same scriptures to crystallize the philosophy of dvaitādvaita-vāda, simultaneous duality and non-duality. Finally, Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī based his philosophy of śuddhādvaita-vāda, pure dualism, also on the tenets of the Vedānta-sūtra.

“The māyāvāda doctrine preached by Śrī Śaṅkarācārya is contrary to the basic tenets of bhakti. In contrast, the four Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, stalwarts in their particular disciplic successions, presented all their various philosophies anchored in the truth of devotional surrender to Bhagavān. Later, Śrī Caitanya, holding the complete teachings of the Vedas in the highest esteem, synthesized the essence of the entire Vedas in His instructions. The philosophy of Śrī Caitanya is renowned as acintya-bhedābheda-tattva, inconceivable, simultaneous oneness and difference. Śrī Caitanya is in the disciplic line of Śrī Madhvācārya, but only the condensed essence of the views of Śrī Madhvācārya has been collected by Śrī Caitanya.”

Vrajanātha, “What is the meaning of parināmavāda?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Parināmavāda may be divided into two concepts: brahma-parināma-vāda, the transformation of Brahman; and tat-śakti-parināma-vāda, the transformation of the energies of Brahman.

“According to the adherents of brahma-pariṇāma-vāda, the inconceivable, impersonal Brahman transforms itself, on the one hand, into the living entities and, on the other, into the material universe. They site the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 6.2.1, which declares:

ekam evādvitīyam

“‘That, Brahman, is one and unsurpassable.’

“From this Vedic statement, they conclude that Brahman is the only known entity. Hence, this theory may be called advaitavāda, monistic impersonalism. In this context, vivarta and parināma are synonyms indicating illusory—or otherwise—transformation of the impersonal Brahman.

“The second group, tat-śakti-parināma-vāda, states that tat, Brahman, does not accept transformation, but that the acintyaśakti of Brahman is transformed partly into the jīva-śakti, which manifests the jīvas, and partly into the māyā-śakti, which manifests the material universe. If this view is acknowledged, then Brahman Himself does not become transformed. Thus, Sadānanda writes in his commentary, Vedānta-sāra, 59:

…satattvato’nyathā buddhir vikāra ity udīrataḥ…

“‘If the source is the Absolute, then anything generated out of the Absolute is also an entity partaking of the absolute nature; but the intelligence identifies the generated entity as distinct from its origin. This is known as vikāra, transformation.’

“What is vikāra? It is a separate, distinct identity manifesting from the Absolute, the Source. Yoghurt, produced from milk, retains some similarity with milk. However, the intelligence designates yoghurt with a separate identity from milk—this is vikāra. Therefore, the view of brahma-parināma-vāda that this material universe and the jīvas are transformations of Brahman and yet still non-different from Brahman—without separate identities from Brahman—is very distorted and lacking in intelligence. Furthermore, if according to the adherents to this school of thought, the impersonal Brahman is the One Singular Entity without qualities and distinction, whereby is the possibility of transformation of such a quality-less entity—illusory or otherwise? Further, if it is accepted that such a quality-less Brahman is transformable, then Brahman is robbed of the absolute and detached status. Hence, the theory of brahma-parināma-vāda is very inaccurate.

“However, the śakti-parināma-vāda theory does not suffer from these logical deficiencies. Here, Brahman is certainly detached, independent and immutable. However, in this understanding, the unlimitedly powerful acintya-śakti of Brahman—capable of making the impossible possible—transforms partly into the jīva-śakti and partly into the illusory māyā-śakti. When Brahman desired the jīvas to be manifest, immediately His transcendental jīva-śakti went into action and produced the innumerable jīvas. When Brahman wanted the material world to come into existence, immediately His māyā-śakti, the shadow form of His para-śakti, went into action constructing the material cosmos. However, in all these activities, Brahman in Himself eternally remains unaffected and without transformation.

“For the sake of argument one may say that for Brahman to desire is in itself a transformation of Brahman, therefore how may such a transformation exist in an immutable Brahman? This mistaken argument is based upon the observation of the action of desire within the jīva, which should not be applied to Brahman. The desire of the jīva brings the jīva into contact with a further energy of Brahman, which in turn then affects the infinitesimal jīva and thus his desire. Hence, the desire of the jīva is vikāra, mutable, by the effect of contact with the powerful energies of Brahman. This is not the case with Brahman, whose incorruptible and supremely independent desire springs unrestrainedly from His intrinsic nature. Although His desire is non-different from His śakti, it is simultaneously also distinct from His śakti. Therefore, in conclusion, the absolutely independent desire and will of Brahman is His inherent, inseparable nature, and externally imposed mutability and transformation are alien to His constitution.

“The conclusion is that the acintya-śakti of Brahman in obedience to His orders becomes active and is transformed. The limited intelligence of the jīva cannot discover unaided this subtle and esoteric truth, which can be realized only through hearing the testimony of the Vedas.

“The nature of the transformation of Brahman’s śakti should now be considered. The example of milk turning into yoghurt is not the only example of the capability of śakti to transform. In addition, mundane analogies are inadequate to properly and accurately describe transcendental theories, though specific aspects of mundane examples are useful in revealing the transcendental truth.

“The Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Ādi 7.123-127, describes that a touchstone gem, known as the cintāmaṇi, transforms metals and stones into gold and gems respectively, without itself being transformed in any way. This example can be applied to the Supreme Lord and the process of creation of the material universe. The Supreme Lord creates the unlimited material cosmos, complete with the fourteen planetary systems and the innumerable jīvas within, simply by His desire, which activates His acintyaśakti. Yet, He Himself remains vikāraśūnya, unaffected, untransformed and complete regardless of all these activities. Therefore, the term vikāra-śūnya need not be limited only to a postulated impersonal Brahman. Rather, the term may be correctly applied the Unlimited Absolute Person, Brahman, who has supreme lordship and a purely spiritual form eternally and unlimitedly imbued with the six transcendental opulences. The word ‘Brahman’ means bṛhat, the greatest. Therefore, the word ‘Brahman’ directly refers to the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Bhagavān. To define the Supreme Brahman as only impersonal and thus deprive Him of His acintyaśakti is clearly contradictory.

“Actually, on account of His acintyaśakti, the Supreme Lord is simultaneously and eternally both personal and impersonal. If only His impersonal aspect is acknowledged, His supreme status and absolute completeness is diminished. The Vedas have described the Supreme Absolute Truth as the prime doer, His actions having three aspects: apadāna, the source and supplier, that is the ablative case—from whom; kāraṇa, the cause and instrument, that is the instrumental case—by whom; and adhikaraṇa, the mainstay and support, that is the locative case—in whom.

“In the Taittirīya Upaniṣad, 3.1.1, Ṛṣi Bhṛgu says in the first chapter:

yato vā imāni bhūtāni jāyante;
yena jātāni jīvanti;
yat prayanty abhisaṁviśanti;
tad vijijñāsasva; tad brahmeti

“‘Bhṛgu, the son of Varuṇa, approached his father and said, “Lord, kindly instruct me in Brahman.” Varuṇa replied, “The one who is the source of all the jīvas, the one who maintains them, and the one into whom all the jīvas enter at the time of total annihilation, is the subject of your question. He is Brahman.’

“The purport of this verse is that the words ‘the source of all living entities’ describe the Lord as apadāna. As ‘the maintainer and sustainer’ He is kāraṇa, and as ‘the One into whom all jīvas enter’ He is adhikaraṇa. The Supreme Absolute Truth has been specified by these three symptoms of personality, hence He is always Śrī Bhagavān. While analysing the characteristic traits of the Supreme Being, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī writes in his treatise the Bhāgavata Sandarbha:

ekam eva tat parama-tattvaṁ svābhāvikācintya-śaktyā
sarvadaiva svarūpa-tad-rūpa-vaibhava-jīva-pradhāna-rūpeṇa
caturdhāvatiṣṭhate sūryāntarmaṇḍalastha-teja iva
maṇḍala tad-bahir-gataraśmi-tat-prattichavi-rūpeṇa.
durghaṭa-ghaṭa-katvaṁ hyacintyatvam

“‘The paramatattva, the Supreme Absolute Truth, is one. He controls inconceivable potencies intrinsic to His nature. These potencies manifest His svarūpa, personal form; His tadrūpa vaibhāva, immediate opulent expansions; the jīvas, the living entities; and the pradhāna, the sum total of material ingredients. An appropriate parallel to explain these four aspects of the Absolute Truth is their correspondence with following four: the inner core of the sun planet, the surface of the sun planet itself, the rays emanating from the sun planet, and the light of the sun planet reflected from another surface far away.’

“His svarūpa is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. His transcendental name, abode, associates and paraphernalia are tadrūpavaibhāva. The jīvas, both the unlimited conditioned souls and the eternally liberated souls, are His infinitesimal spiritual sparks. His illusory energy, māyā, and the gross and subtle material elements created by māyā are known as the pradhāna. These four manifestations are eternal and so is the oneness of the Supreme Absolute Truth. A pertinent question at this juncture would be, ‘How can the two apparently conflicting eternal paradigms of personality and impersonality simultaneously coexist?’ The reply, ‘It is impossible for the human intellect to accept this proposition, because the intellect is limited, but within the paradigm of the acintya-śakti of the Supreme Lord such apparent contradictions are easily harmonised.’”

Vrajanātha, “Kindly define vivartavāda.”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “In the Vedas, there is a description of vivarta, bewilderment, however that description is not at all similar to that proposition of the monistic impersonalists, which has become known as vivartavāda. Śrī Śaṅkarācārya’s distorted interpretation of the word vivarta unceremoniously herds the reader into the māyāvāda enclosure, where vivartavāda and māyāvāda become synonymous. The actual scientific and etymological explanation of the word vivarta is found in the commentary of the sage Sadānanda, known as the Vedānta-sāra, wherein verse 49 we find:

atattvato ’nyathā-buddhir vivarta ity udāhṛtaḥ

“‘To mistakenly perceive any object—which is contrary to and different from the actual real object—to be the real object, is called vivarta.’

“The jīva, a minute spiritual particle of the Supreme Absolute Being, is imprisoned in the tabernacle of his physical body and because of ignorance about his real identity falsely identifies himself with his gross and subtle bodies. He considers them his real self. This misunderstanding and false conclusion is called vivarta. This explanation is in line with the Vedic understanding.

“For example, a person may think, ‘I am Raghunātha Bhaṭṭācārya, the son of Sanātana Bhaṭṭācārya, who has many titles and possessions.’ Another may think, ‘I am Sādhu Caṇḍāla, the son of Vijaya Caṇḍāla.’ However, both are seriously mistaken. They are actually individual jīvas, tiny particles of spirit, but because they identify with their temporary material bodies, they are deluded and deceived. Similarly, a rope may be mistaken for a snake and a glistening oyster-shell may be mistaken for silver. However, both vivartas are caused by optical illusions. Therefore, the Vedas, by referring to many mundane analogies such as the above, abound with instructions to expel the illusion of the soul’s false material identity, which is vivarta, a false perception, mistaking one thing for another.

“However, the māyāvādī philosophers have ignored the Vedic definition of vivarta and have misconstrued the actual Vedic meaning to their own peculiar notion. They say the truth is, ‘I am Brahman,’ and its perverted perception is, ‘I am the jīva.’ This bewildered misidentification, they postulate, is called vivarta. This false definition of the actual Vedic understanding creates a smoke screen around the Truth. The correct understanding of vivartavāda corresponds with the śaktipariṇāmavāda, the transformation of energy concept, whereas the māyāvādī presentation of vivartavāda is ludicrous and dispersed into many versions, three of which are prominent: (1) in a deluded state Brahman thinks He is jīva, and thus the jīvas are created; (2) the jīvas are the bewildered reflections of Brahman; (3) Brahman is only dreaming that He has created the jīvas and this inferior material universe. All such misinterpretations are distortions of the Vedic version.”

Vrajanātha, “Master, I am unable to fully grasp this philosophy of māyāvāda?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Calmly consider what I say, the māyā-śakti is merely the shadow representation of the absolute cit-śakti of the Lord, and so the spiritual abodes, where Her entry is not allowed, are outside Her jurisdiction. The control of Māyā Devī extends only to the extremities of this material universe. The jīva has entered this prison-like material world under nescience and delusion. The supreme transcendental entity, Śrī Bhagavān, enjoys absolute freedom and is in full independent command of His multifarious śaktis. These truths are not completely accepted by the māyāvādī philosophers.

“The māyāvādīs claim that the jīva is actually Brahman, but because of the bewildering influence of māyā they have separate identities. And as long as the jīva keeps contact with māyā, he remains a jīva, but when he dissociates from māyā, he immediately regains his Brahman status and identity. Unfortunately, the jīva does not exist without māyā, being the creation of māyā’s effect upon Brahman; therefore, the jīva’s only conceivable liberation is to merge into the existence of Brahman, thus losing his illusory identity. In this way, the māyāvādīs withhold the original, eternal, spiritual and individual identity from the jīva, putting him into a pigeonhole of illusion with a fictitious role.

“Another concocted claim of the māyāvādīs concerns the Supreme Lord. As He is transcendental to material nature, He must allow Himself to come under the influence of the māyā-śakti and accept an illusory material form upon descending to the material world as an incarnation, otherwise He cannot enter the phenomenal world. While present upon this earth, the incarnations perform superhuman tasks and when it is time for them to return to the spiritual platform they give up their material forms, thus leaving this world. Brahman is formless, but to become an incarnation Brahman must enter a material form composed of māyā.

“However, in spite of these speculations by the māyāvādīs, in one aspect they have at least condescended and magnanimously allowed the Supreme Lord a position superior to the jīva. The jīva is forced to accept a material body as a result of karmic reactions even against his will, and as a result of the unfolding karmic reactions he must accept old age, death and birth. The Supreme Lord, they say, is not in such a compromised position; voluntarily He accepts an illusory form, restrictions, a name and qualities, etc. If He wishes to discard all these material things, at will He instantly regains the platform of pure goodness and is transformed into the embodiment of unadulterated spiritual consciousness. He performs activities, but never comes under the constraints of karmic reactions. These are some of the philosophical aberrations propagated by the various māyāvādī schools.”

Vrajanātha, “Are any of these māyāvādī teachings found in the Vedas?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The answer is emphatically negative. Nowhere do the Vedas uphold the māyāvādī precepts. In a sense, māyāvāda philosophy is the same as Buddhism. The Padma Purāṇa, Uttara-khaṇḍa, 43.6, states

māyāvādam asac chāstraṁ pracchannaṁ bauddham ucyate
mayaiva kalpitaṁ devi kalau brāhmaṇa-rūpiṇā

“‘Replying to the question of Umā Devī, Lord Śiva said, “O Devī, māyāvādī philosophy is extremely materialistic and warped. The nihilistic views of Buddhism have surreptitiously been disguised in the Vedic jargon and have entered the arena of civilized Aryan dharma. This is the māyāvādī philosophy, which I must propagate in Kali-yuga, having taken birth in a brāhmaṇa family.’”

Vrajanātha, “Master! Lord Śiva, the chief of the Devas, is a stalwart Vaiṣṇava devotee, why did he undertake such a terrible mission?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Lord Śiva is the guṇaavatāra, qualitative incarnation, of Śrī Bhagavān. In order to fulfil their sinister motives, the asuras, demoniac forces, had decided to take up the path of bhakti and self-interestedly worship the Supreme Lord to gain great fruitive results and conquer over the devoted Devatas. The compassionate Lord, who always protects His surrendered devotees, became concerned with this new trend in the asuras and set about to defend the purity of the institution of bhakti. He called for Lord Śiva and said, ‘Dear Śambhu, it will not be beneficial if the precepts of śuddhabhakti are preached to the envious rascal asuras, who are steeped determinably in tamasic nescience. In order to delude these Asuras, you must create a distorted commentary on the Vedas and present impersonalist māyāvādī teachings. In this way, I will be concealed from the asuras, who will be inveigled away from the path of bhakti and made to follow impersonalism, thus leaving My favoured devotees undisturbed in their relishment of śuddhabhakti.’

“Lord Śiva, a very dedicated Vaiṣṇava devotee, at first expressed his sadness about being burdened with such an onerous responsibility, but, surrendered servant as he is, he unquestioningly took up the mission and executed the orders of His Lord. How could Lord Śiva be blamed for this? He did not commit any mistake by following the instructions of His Supreme Lord, for the entire creation is subject to the management of Śrī Bhagavān. The Lord wields His Sudarśana-cakra for the protection of all His created jīvas. He alone knows the ultimate benefit for the jīvas hidden within His instructions. The only duty of His surrendered devotees is to simply carry out His orders. For this reason, the pure Vaiṣṇava saints never condemn Śrī Śaṅkarācārya, the incarnation of Lord Śiva who preached the māyāvāda philosophy.

“Take note of the following evidences from the scriptures, Padma Purāṇa, Uttara-khaṇḍa, 42. 109-110:

‘tvam ārādhya yathā śambho gṛahiṣyāmi varaṁ sadā
dvāparādau yuge bhūtvā kalayā mānuṣādiṣu
svāgamaiḥ kalpitais tvaṁ tu janān madvimukhān kuru
maṁ ca gopaya yena syāt sṛṣṭir eṣottarottarā

“‘Śrī Viṣṇu said, “O Śambhu, although I am the Supreme Lord, I have worshiped the different Devas and Devīs simply to mislead the Asuras. In the same manner, I shall worship you to obtain boons from you. You should descend to earth in your partial expansion and take birth as a human being in Kali-yuga. Concoct a school of thought by misconstruing the Vedas and divert the mind of the people away from Me. Make sure that these fictitious literatures veil My true spiritual and supreme identity, and—enticing the atheistic gross materialists—rapidly spread atheism amongst them.’

“Further, in the Varāha Purāṇa:

eṣa mohaṁ sṛjāmyāsu yo janān mohayiṣyati
tvāṁ ca rudra mahābāho moha śāṣtrānī kāraya
atatkyāni vitakhyāni darśayasva mahābhuja
prakāśaṁ kuru cātmanam aprakāśaṁ ca mām kuru

“‘O Śiva! I am about to create such an illusion that the entire humanity will become confounded. Prepare the fabrication of fictitious literature that will present the truth as unreal and the unreal as truth. Manifest your terrible image of the Destroyer and conceal My eternal transcendental form from the vision of the people.’”

Vrajanātha, “Are there scriptural evidences repudiating the māyāvāda school of thought?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The entire Vedic scriptures present strong proofs denouncing māyāvāda philosophy. After scouring the Vedas, the torchbearers of the māyāvāda school have come up with just four seemingly substantive statements, which they have inventively labelled as mahāvākya, great dictums:

“Firstly, in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 3.14.1:

sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma

“‘The phenomenal world is an external manifestation of Brahman and is non-different from Him.’

“And also in the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad, 4.4.19, and the Kaṭha Upaniṣad, 2.1.11:

neha nānāsti kiñcana

“‘Brahman is free from any material distinctions.’

“Secondly, in the Aitareya Upaniṣad, 1.5.3:

prajñānaṁ brahmā

“‘Prajñā, pure knowledge, is transcendental and is of the same spiritual substance as Brahman.’

“Thirdly, in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 6.8.7:

tat tvam asi śvetaketo

“‘O Śvetaketo, you are that, Brahman.’

“Fourthly, in the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad, 1.4.10:

ahaṁ brahmāsmi

“‘I, the jīva soul, am of the same nature as Brahman.’

“According to the first mahāvākya, this material world and the jīvas are all Brahman—nothing exists outside Brahman. The nature of Brahman has been described in the Svetāśvatara Upaniṣad, 6.8, as follows:

na tasya kāryaṁ karaṇaṁ ca vidyate
na tat-samaś cābhyadhikaś ca dṛśyate
parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate
svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca

“‘The Supreme Lord never requires the assistance of material senses to accomplish His works because He neither possesses a material body, nor material senses. His body is completely spiritual. Therefore, His physical presence is not limited like a material body—He is simultaneously present everywhere with His beautiful spiritual form. He is in Vṛndāvana, His beauty blossoming in fresh youthfulness, dallying in eternal pastimes, and, at the same moment, He is fully present throughout His creation. Nothing or no one is equal to or greater than He is, because He is full of acintyaśakti. His potency is defined as acintya because the human intellect is unable to fathom Her position. Parāśakti, His supreme absolute potency, is another designation for His acintya-śakti. Although this acintya-śakti is one, She is nevertheless manifest in manifold magnificence, known as jñāna, cognition; bala, power; and kriyā, activity.’

“Brahman and His energies are one, as substantiated in this verse. Here śakti is described as svābhāvikī, an effortless and inherent part of the Supreme Lord, though it is also vividha, variegated. Since, śaktimān, the possessor of potency, i.e. Brahman, and śakti, the potency of Brahman, are defined as non-different, this certainly implies that everything is one with Brahman. However, when we exclusively examine the material world, Brahman and His śakti apparently have two separate identities, and thus variety becomes prominent. Therefore, the Kaṭhopaniṣad, 2.13, and Svetāśvatara Upaniṣad, 6.10, comment:

nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām
eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān

“‘The Supreme Lord is eternal and the other living beings are eternal. The Supreme Lord is cognizant and the other living beings are cognizant. The difference is that the Supreme Lord is supplying all the necessities of life for the many other living entities.’

“This verse of the śruti, the Vedas, confirms the eternal diversity of Brahman and His numerous eternal expansions.

“Now let us examine the second so-called mahā-vākya statement of the śruti, Aitareya Upaniṣad, 1.5.3:

prajñānaṁ brahman…

“‘Prajñā, pure knowledge, is transcendental and is of the same spiritual substance as Brahman.’

“This verse equates the prajñānaṁ with Brahman, however the śruti, Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad, 4.4.21, clarifies by defining prajñānaṁ as prema-bhakti, as noted in this verse:

tam eva dhīro vijñāya prajñāṁ kurvīta brāhmaṇaḥ

“‘An intelligent equipoised person who has realized Brahman must endeavour to know the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, and surrender unto Him with loving devotion.’

“Now the third mahā-vākya of the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 6.8.7:

…tat tvam asi śvetaketo…

“‘O Śvetaketo, you are that.’

“This statement teaches that Brahman is equal with śakti. The Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad, 3.8.10, elaborates upon this subject:

yo vā etad akṣaraṁ gārgy aviditvāsmāl lokāt praiti sa kṛpaṇaḥ
ya etad akṣaraṁ gārgi viditvāsmāl lokāt praiti sa brāhmaṇaḥ

“‘The twice-born brāhmaṇa who after receiving the sacred thread does not immerse himself into the study of the Vedas, but busies himself with less important texts and subject matters, will very soon in this life-time along with his family acquire the lowly qualities of a śūdra.’

“A person who realizes the actual truth of tat tvam asi ultimately attains devotional service to the Supreme Lord and becomes a true practising brāhmaṇa.

“Now the fourth mahā-vākya of the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad, 1.4.10:

…aham brahmāsmi…

“‘I, the jīva soul, am of the same nature as Brahman.’

“The knowledge displayed in this text if misused and not dovetailed to seek out the Supreme Lord and surrender unto Him is severely castigated in the Īśopaniṣad, verse 12:

andhaṁ tamaḥ praviśanti
ye ’sambhūtim upāsate tato bhūya iva te tamo
ya u sambhūtyāṁ ratāḥ

“‘Those who are engaged in the culture of nescient activities shall enter into the darkest region of ignorance. Worst still are those, who are engaged in the so-called culture of knowledge, māyāvāda.’

“The purport is that a person who is ignorant of his spiritual identity as a result of engrossment in nescient material activities and sensual pursuits is cast into the darkness of ignorance. However, others, even after having dissipated such nescience, who do not realize that the soul is the servitor part and parcel of the Supreme Transcendence and thus foolishly consider themselves as Brahman, the Supreme, are hurled down to an even worse and darker hell.

“The Vedas are immensely voluminous. Their exact essence can only be extracted by scrutinizing every single śloka from each of the Upaniṣads, Purāṇas, and so on. Isolated and out-of-context statements cannot present a clear picture, but rather distort the real meaning. Ultimately, therefore, Śrī Caitanya tooth-combed the entire Vedic literature and formulated His most sublime transcendental teachings, presenting the most elevated philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda, that the jīva and matter are simultaneously one with and distinct from the Supreme Lord, Śrī Hari.”

Vrajanātha, “Master, kindly substantiate how this philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda is properly rooted in the Vedas.”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “First of all, here is a collection of ślokas from the Vedas describing the abheda, inherent similarity, between the Supreme Lord and His śakti, in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 3.14.1:

sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma

“‘Everything, both matter and spirit, is non-different from the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is the Supreme Brahman.’

“Further, the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 7.25.2:

ātmaivedaṁ sarvam iti

“‘This entire cosmic phenomenon is ātmā, the Supreme Soul.’

“Further, the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 6.2.1:

sad eva saumyedam agra āsīd ekam evādvitīyam

“‘Uddalaka said to his son Śvetaketu, “Before this phenomenal universe came into existence, only the one non-dual Eternal Being was present.’

“Further, the Svetāśvatara Upaniṣad, 5.4:

evaṁ sa devo bhagavān vareṇyo yoni-svabhāvān adhitiṣṭhaty ekaḥ

“‘The sun dispels darkness and lightens up all the far directions whilst situated in one place. Similarly, the Supreme Lord, although He is the cause of all causes, remains unaffected and untransformed, therefore He is the object of all worship and devotion.’

“Next is a compilation of ślokas from the scriptures delineating the characteristic distinction between Īśvara and His śakti:

“In the Taittirīya Upaniṣad, 2.1:

auṁ brahma-vid āpnoti param

“‘He who is learned in the knowledge of Brahman attains the Supreme Brahman, the Personality of Godhead.’

“In the Kathā Upaniṣad, 1.222:

mahāntaṁ vibhum ātmānaṁ matvā dhīro na śocati

“‘The learned paṇḍitas—knowing that the ātmā resides in different living entities and is not limited by time and space, but is great and all-pervasive—are not overcome by lamentation.’

“In the Taittirīya Upaniṣad, 2.1.2:

satyaṁ jñānam anantaṁ brahma
yo veda nihitaṁ guhāyāṁ parame vyoman
so ’śnute sarvān kāmān saha brahmaṇā vipaściteti

“‘The Supreme Absolute Brahman is the embodiment of eternity and spirituality and He is transcendental to the purview of material time, place and senses. One, who has realized the truth that the Supreme Brahman is simultaneously situated in the spiritual sky and in the heart of the jīva, is sublimely connected with the Supersoul in a loving relationship, which fulfils all the spiritual desires of the jīva.’

“In the Svetāśvatara Upaniṣad, 3.9:

yasmāt paraṁ nāparam asti kiñcid
yasmān nānīyo na jyāyo sti kiñcit
vṛkṣa iva stabdho divi tiṣṭhaty ekas
tenedaṁ pūrṇaṁ puruṣeṇa sarvam

“‘There is nothing or no one superior to Him. He is smaller than the smallest and greater than the greatest. He always remains fixed in His status like a towering tree. He is present in the resplendent abode of transcendence, and simultaneously He resides in the inner sanctorum of this universe, as the Paramātmā, by His inconceivable potency.’

“In the Svetāśvatara Upaniṣad, 6.16:

pradhāna-kṣetrajña-patir guṇeśaḥ

“‘He is the controller of māyā, the regent of the universe, the Lord of the material modes, and is beyond their influence…’

“In the Kathā Upaniṣad, 2.23:

tasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇute tanuṁ svām

“‘The Supreme Lord is attained only by one whom He Himself chooses. To such a person He manifests His own form.’

“In the Svetāśvatara Upaniṣad, 3.19:

tam āhur āgryaṁ puruṣaṁ mahantam

“‘Learned transcendentalists explain that the Supreme Lord is the greatest, the Original Person.’

“In the Īśopaniṣad, verse 8:

yāthātathyato ’rthān vyadadhāc chāśvatībhyaḥ samābhyaḥ

“‘He (who) has fulfilled the desires of everybody since time immemorial by dint of His acintyaśakti.’

“In the Kena Upaniṣad, 3.6:

naitad aśakaṁ vijñātuṁ yad etad yakṣam iti

“‘Agni Deva said, “I could not realize just who this great personality is.’

“In the Taittirīya Upaniṣad, 2.7:

asad vā idam agra’ asset
 tato vai sadā ‘jāyata
 tad ātmānaṁ svayam ‘akuruta
tasmāt tat sukṛtam ucya’ta iti

“‘Before this universe came into existence, only Brahman was present in His unmanifest form. The universe was created and became manifest from the unmanifest Brahman—by transformation of the external energy of Brahman. This Supreme Brahman exhibits Himself as the Supreme Person and His personal form is known as sukṛti.’

“In the Kathā Upaniṣad, 2.13, and Svetāśvatara Upaniṣad, 6.13:

…nityo nityānām…

“‘He, the Supreme Brahman, is the fundamental eternal being amongst all eternal beings.’

“In the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad, mantra 2:

sarvaṁ hy etad brahmāyam ātmā brahma so’ yam ātmā catuṣpāt

“‘All this is inferior Brahman substance, emanating from the energy of Brahman. The Supreme Brahman is none other than Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead and the Universal Soul. And although He is one, He expands Himself by His inconceivable energy as four Personalities, all embodying rasa, divine spiritual mellow.’

“In the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad, 2.5.14:

ayam ātmā sarveṣāṁ bhūtānām madhu

“‘The Supersoul is indeed the perennial source of the sublime nectar of immortality.’

“In this way, the rich, fathomless mine of Vedic literature contains innumerable quotations supporting the bheda principle, the principle of eternal difference. Every part of the Vedas is totally perfect—no single portion can be discarded as non-essential. The eternal ‘oneness’ is as much a timeless and eternal principle as the inherent ‘duality’. These two eternal principles coexist simultaneously and are unequivocally upheld in the scriptures—even though this principle of simultaneous oneness and difference is materially inconceivable and therefore outside the range of the human mental faculty. Any extended debate about this subject would certainly fall into a bottomless pit, leading to confusion and uncertainty. Whatever is stated in the Vedas is the Absolute Truth. As human intelligence is limited, we should not whimsically reject the conclusions of the Vedas. Hence, the Vedic scriptures warn us in the Kathā Upaniṣad, 1.2.9:

naiṣa tarkeṇa matir apaneyā

“‘O Naciketa! Now that you have attained the transcendental consciousness of Self-knowledge do not squander it through dry empirical debates.’

“In the Kena Upaniṣad, 2.2:

nāhaṁ manye suvedeti no na vedeti veda ca

“‘I do not claim to know Brahman fully, nor is it true that I do not know Him at all. Those of us, who have realized Brahman, know Him in truth.’

“These verses clearly indicate that the energies of the Supreme Lord are inconceivable and cannot be approached through logic and speculative theorization. The Mahābhārata instructs:

purāṇaṁ manavo dharmaḥ saṅgo vedaś cikitsitam
ajña-siddhāni catvāri na hantavyāni hetubhiḥ

“‘The sattvika-vaiṣṇava-purāṇas, the religious laws of Manu, the six schools of Vedic philosophy, and the entire literature and medical science of the Vedas are the four perfected subjects directly spoken by the Supreme Lord. In an attempt to distort their clear and primary purport no one must challenge or debate upon these topics.’

“Therefore the acintya-bhedābheda principle is perfect and flawless and unconditionally supported in the Vedas. As the jīva searches for the prayojana, the ultimate perfection and prime necessity of human existence, the acintya-bhedābheda principle stands firm as the only actual philosophy of the Absolute Truth in the highest realms of human aspiration.

“When the jīva has acknowledged and understood this paramount principle he will doubtlessly realize that dualism presents an eternal aspect in the relationship between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His śaktis. Without this realization, the jīva cannot attain the prayojana of human existence, which is kṛṣṇaprema.”

Vrajanātha, “What is the concrete proof that prema is the prime human necessity?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The Vedas declare in the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad, 3.1.4:

prāṇo hy eṣa sarva-bhūtair vibhāti
vijānan vidvān bhavate nāti-vādī
ātma-krīḍa ātma-ratiḥ kriyāvān
eṣa brahma-vidāṁ variṣṭhaḥ

“‘He who is the Supreme amongst all living entities and is present in every being is realized as the Supreme Personality of Godhead by the learned sages through the science of loving devotional service. Such sages become liberated in this life and are fully engaged in glorifying the wonderful qualities of the Supreme Lord, knowing all other topics to be inferior. These sages pass their time engrossed in loving devotional exchanges with the Lord and are constantly relishing the amorous pastimes of the Lord. Such sages are the most exalted amongst all Brahman-realized souls.’

“In the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad, 2.4.5, the sage Yājñavalkya instructs his wife, Maitreyi:

na vā are sarvasya kāmāya sarvaṁ priyaṁ bhavaty
ātmanas tu kāmāya sarvaṁ priyaṁ bhavati

“‘Yājñavalkya said, “Maitreyi, no one endeavours to love or be loved for the sake of another’s happiness, but one tries to love and be loved for fulfilling one’s own wish for happiness.’

“This verse of the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad explains that to love and be loved is the prime need and goal of the individual soul.

“Love for the Supreme Lord is described in many passages of the Vedas and the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The Taittirīya Upaniṣad, 2.7, plainly states that prema is the prime human necessity, above all other contingencies:

raso vai saḥ
ko hy evānyāt kaḥ prāṇyāt
yad eṣa ākāśa ānando na syāt
eṣa hy evānandayāti

“‘Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the embodiment of all-ecstatic bliss and the reservoir of all pleasure. Having derived ecstasy from Him, the individual souls become blissful. For, who indeed could breathe, who indeed could be alive, if this blissful Lord were not present within the heart of all souls. It is He alone who bestows ecstasy.’

Ānanda, divine bliss, is synonymous with prema. Every living entity aspires after ānanda. The mumukṣu, seekers after salvation, consider mukti as the highest ānanda and madly pursue such. The bubhukṣu, sense-enjoyers, find ānanda in carnal pleasures and single-mindedly perform those bodily activities that appear to promise this concept of ānanda. The devotees cultivate devotional service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, finding in Him their prime source of ānanda. Thus, every individual searches for ānanda even to the extent that he is ready to sacrifice his own body and life for the same. This search for ānanda applies to all persons whether they be atheists, theistic believers, jñānīs, karmis, or even renunciates. However, there is no guarantee that such a search will lead to success. The karma-vādīs, practitioners of fruitive action, are convinced that heavenly ānanda is the ultimate, until they discover otherwise. After their sojourn in the material heavenly planets, lasting for as long as the results of their pious deeds allow, they fall from that paradise, as is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā, 9.21:

te taṁ bhuktvā svarga-lokaṁ viśālaṁ
kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti

“‘When they have thus enjoyed vast heavenly sense pleasure and the results of their pious activities are exhausted, they return to this mortal planet again.’

“This verse explains that such fruitive workers must eventually fall down even from Svargaloka, the material paradise. In this way, their plan to enjoy unrestrictedly becomes thwarted. A person seeks the heavenly material paradise when his pursuits, acquisition of wealth, healthy children, fame and power upon this earthly plane fail to fully provide him with happiness. Thus motivated, he may achieve such paradise, but at the time of his inevitable demotion, he realizes that the enjoyments he has experienced in the higher material planetary systems are transitory and thus have no real value. Gradually, therefore, he comes to realize that life and happiness are flickering and transitory throughout the entire material world—whether the place be earth, heaven, or even Brahmaloka, the highest material planetary system. Next, like a drowning man, he desperately reaches out for a straw in the form of nirvāṇa, the impersonal worship of Brahman, and becomes apathetic towards the world. Then upon attaining Brahman realization he is again disillusioned, for the happiness he seeks remains elusive. Realising that it is not available in nirvāṇa either, he returns to his marginal state and searches hopefully for an alternative path. How can the jīva expect prema and ānanda in a relationship with the non-dual impersonal Brahman? Who can experience ānanda where individual identity is absent? In a situation where everything becomes an amorphous oneness, how is ānanda to be found and relished? If the self, the jīva, merges into Brahman, who remains to feel ānanda? With the self totally effaced, who will perceive and interact with Brahman? Brahman is ānanda, but with no one to enjoy brahmanānanda what proof is there whether ānanda exists at all in Brahman? Thus, having consigned his individual personality to oblivion, a jīva is left with nothing. Who is there anymore to be concerned with attaining the prime necessity of life? If the ‘I’ ceases to exist, then everything else pertaining to ‘I’ also ceases to exist.

“Someone may argue that the ‘I’ shall remain since ‘I’ am brahmarūpa, the form of Brahman. Such logic is not balanced, for if one actually were the Absolute Brahman one would be so eternally—what then would be the sādhya for one to attain? What is the necessity of sādhana, if one is already eternally Brahman? What is the perfection to be attained beginning from a state of perfection? Where is the sense in such an endeavour?

“Striving for brahmanirvāṇa is not the same as attaining prema—it is merely an illusory goal. Actually, impersonal liberation ultimately does not exist, it is present like a flower in the sky—a non-entity—and is a hoax upon the living entity. The only way that the prayojana can be accomplished is through bhakti. The pinnacle of bhakti is prema, which is eternal. The jīva is eternal, Kṛṣṇa is eternal, and the distinction between the jīva and Kṛṣṇa is also eternal. Therefore, to acknowledge the principle of acintya-bhedābheda is to accept that prema is eternal. Otherwise, the prayojana of the jīva will be tainted with impermanence, thus destroying its very basis. Therefore, the scriptures firmly support the principle of acintya-bhedābheda. All other philosophies are either derivatives of or deviants from this truth.”

That night, as he walked back home, Vrajanātha was completely engrossed in Bābājī’s delineation of prema and felt an ineffable exhilaration flooding his heart.

Thus ends the eighteenth chapter of Jaiva-dharma, entitled:
Nitya-dharma: Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana, Part Six: An Analysis of Simultaneous Oneness and Difference

Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Seventeen
Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Nineteen

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