Śrīman Mahāprabhura Śikṣā

Chapter Nine
Jīva u Jaḍa Samasta-i Kṛṣṇa Haite yugpat bheda u abheda

(The Jīva and the Entire Material World are Simultaneously Different and Non-different from Kṛṣṇa)

Deliberating upon the Veda and Vedānta, the ācāryas have two different types of siddhānta. Śrīmat Śaṅkarācarya preached the philosophy of Kevalādvaita (non-dualism) following the siddhānta of Dattātreya, Aṣṭāvakra, Durvāsā and other ṛṣis. That is one type of siddhānta.  Vaiṣṇava ācāryas have propagated the siddhānta of pure bhakti following mahātmās such as Nārada, Prahlāda, Dhruva, Manu etc. This is the second type of siddhānta. The bhaktisiddhanta is described in four ways. Śrī Rāmānujācārya propagated bhakti in the philosophy of viśiṣṭādvaita,. Śrī Madhvācārya propagated bhakti in the philosophy of śuddhadvaita. Śrī Nimbādityācārya propagated bhakti in the philosophy of dvaitādvaita. Śrī Viṣṇu-svāmī propagated bhakti in the philosophy of śuddhaadvaita.  All four of them are preachers of pure bhakti. In Rāmānuja’s doctrine, Īśvara is the sole reality who is qualified by cit (spirit) and acit (matter). In Madhva’s philosophy, the jīva is a tattva distinct from Īśvara, yet he has inherent bhakti to the Supreme. In Nimbāditya’s theory, the jīva and Īśvara are simultaneously different and non-different. Thus, difference and eternality are accepted. In Viṣṇu-svāmī’s doctrine, although there is only one Reality, there are eternal conditions of difference between Brahman and the jīva. Although there are mutual differences, they all accept the eternal position of bhakti, the jīva’s eternal servitorship and prema as the highest attainment. Thus all their fundamental principles are Vaiṣṇava. Although their fundamental basis is Vaiṣṇava, their realisations remain slightly different from each other and are incomplete. When Śrī Caitanyadeva, the Lord Himself, descended, He removed these incompleteness realisations and taught the world the knowledge of the highest principles of pure bhakti. This knowledge will now be considered. In the Caritāmṛta, we find:

vyāsera sūtrete kahe pariṇāma-vāda
vyāsa bhranta bali’ tā’ra uthaila vivāda

pariṇāma-vāde īśvara hayena vikārī
eta kahi’ vivarta-vāda sthāpanā ye kari

vastutaḥ pariṇāma vada sei se pramāṇa
dehe ātmābuddhi haya vivartera sthāna

avicintya śakti yukta śrī bhagavān
icchāya jagad rūpe pāya pariṇāma

tathāpi acintya śaktye haya avikārī
prākṛta cintāmaṇi tāhe dṛṣṭānta dhari

nānā ratna rāśi haya cintāmaṇi haite
tathāpiha maṇi rahe svarūpe avikṛte

(“The sūtras of Vyāsa has spoken of Parināmavāda. Yet the māyāvādīs and have raises opposition stating, “He is mistaken!” They claim that Parināmavāda means that Īśvara is transformed, and by saying this they establish Vivartavāda. In reality, only Parināmavāda is provable. Considering the physical body to be the self is illusory. Śrī Bhagavān possesses acintya-śakti, through which He transforms the cosmos. However, just as with the example of a touchstone, this acintya-śakti does not change. A touchstone may produce a variety of gems, yet it retains its original form without change.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 7.121-126)

bṛhad vastu brahma kahi śrī bhagavān
ṣaḍ vidha aiśvarya pūrṇa para-tattva-dhāma

(“That great substance Brahman is called Śrī Bhagavān who is replete with six kinds of opulence and is the complete repository of supreme truth.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 7.138)

tāṅre nirviśeṣa kahi, cic-chakti nā māni
ardha svarūpa nā mānile, pūrṇatā haya hāni

(“By stating that He is without attributes, we are accepting that there is no citśakti. If one half of something is not accepted, one cannot accept the entirety.”- Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 7.140)

apādāna, kāraṇa, adhikarāṇa-kāraka tina
bhagavānera saviśeṣe ei tina cihna

(“The personal attributes of Bhagavān are categorised in three cases – ablative, instrumental and locative.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 6.144)

 ṣaḍ-aiśvarya pūrṇānanda vigraha yāṅhāra
hena bhagavāne tumi kaha nirākāra

(“Are you describing Bhagavan as formless, whose blissful and complete form possesses six opulences?” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 6.152)

The Brahmasūtras composed by Veda Vyāsa teaches Pariṇāmavāda (the theory of transformation), not Vivartavāda (the theory of illusion). However, Śrī Saṅkarācārya stated that in Pariṇāmavāda, Īśvara becomes subject to change, and therefore altered the meaning of the sūtras and established Vivartavāda. The meaning of the words pariṇāma and vivarta have been given in Vedānta-sāra, verse 59, written by Sadānanda Yogindra:

satattvato’nyathā buddhir-vikāra ityudīrataḥ
atattvato’nyathā buddhir-vivarta ityudāhṛtaḥ
(Vedānta-sāra 59)

When an object takes another form and one understands it to be something different, it is called pariṇāma. Pariṇāma is merely a transformation. Thus the example of milk turning into yoghurt. The perception of a different object when there is no different object is vivarta. Thus the example of mistaking a rope to be a snake. With this in mind, those paṇḍitas that follow Śaṅkara say that the jīva and the inanimate world can never be a transformation of the Īśvara.  If such a transformation is accepted, then one must consider Īśvara to be in a perverted state. Just as when culture is added to milk it becomes perverted, one must then say that the world is a perverted state of Īśvara. Therefore, pariṇāma is untenable. There is no snake, yet if out of ignorance one accepts a rope to be a snake and becomes fearful, then many consequences arise from that. The world is like this. There is no world, yet due to ignorance, that which is perceived to be the world is vivarta.

By accepting this, Īśvara is not subject to transformation. Thus through this conclusion, Vivartavāda is established.

Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s teaching is that there is no ground for Vivartavāda. The jīva considering the physical body to be the self is where the rope-snake example is applicable – that is vivarta. However the physical body is not false, thus to claim that Īśvara, through vivarta, becomes the physical body or the material world, or becomes a jīva, is a most deplorable conclusion. The sūtras of Vyāsa accept pariṇāma. By rejecting pariṇāma, one is saying that the omniscient Vyāsa was mistaken. In fact, just as milk transforms into yogurt, by the desire of Īśvara, His acintyaśakti transforms into the jīva and the material world. There is no transformation of Īśvara or Brahman, yet what is transformed through the potency of His variegated acintyaśakti can never transform Īśvara. Although a mundane analogy cannot fully represent that which is spiritual, it can still clarify a spiritual topic to a certain extent. It is said that mundane touchstone remains unchanged even after producing various gems. In regards to spiritual reality, one can consider the creation of Īśvara in the same way. By His will, this world is created with unlimited jīvas as well as the fourteen planetary systems in unlimited universes, through His acintyaśakti, yet the Supreme Lord remains without change. One should not consider the phrase ‘without change’ makes Him devoid of any attributes. In His natural form as Bhagavān, that infinite Reality, Brahman, possesses six opulences. By stating that He is completely devoid of qualities, then one cannot accept His citśakti. Through His acintyaśakti, He is eternally saviśeṣa (with qualities) and nirviśeṣa (without qualities). To consider Him to be completely devoid of qualities is to accept only half of His intrinsic nature, and by doing so, one negates His completeness. The three ways in which the Para-Tattva is the functional cause has been described in the śruti in three ways – apadāna (the ablative), karaṇa (instrumental) and adhikaraṇa (instrumental). Thus:

yato va imāni bhūtāni jāyante
yena jātāni jīvanti
yat prayanty abhisaṁvisanti
tad vijijñāsasva tad brahma

(“From whom all living entities are born, by whom all living entities are maintained, and into whom they all enter – He is Brahman.” – Taittirīya Upaniṣad 3.1)

“From whom all living entities are born” – from this, Īśvara is realised through His ablative function. “By whom all living entities are maintained” – from this statement, His instrumental function is observed. “Into whom they enter”–  from this statement, the locative function of Īśvara is to be considered. The Para-Tattva is qualified by these three characteristics. These are His attributes, thus Bhagavān is always saviśeṣa. In this way, Bhagavān can never be devoid of form. His eternal spiritual possessessix opulences in full and is comprised of eternity, cognisance and bliss.

In the 16th verse of his Bhagavat Sandarbha, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī has considered bhagavattattva (the principle of the Supreme  Reality) thus:

ekam eva paramaṁ tattvaṁ svābhāvikācintya-śaktyā sarvadaiva svarūpa-tad-rūpa-vaibhāva-jīva-pradhāna-rūpeṇa caturdhāvatiṣṭhate sūryantara-maṇḍala-sthita-teja iva maṇḍala-tad bahirgata-tad-raśmi-tat-praticchavi rūpeṇa

There is one Para-Tattva.  He naturally possesses inconceivable potencies. Through these potencies He exists in four states – His svarūpa (inherent nature), His vaibhava (expansions), the jīva and pradhāna (the aggregate of matter). These states may be compared to the sun-god, the sun globe, the sun’s rays and the sun’s distant reflection.  His svarūpa specifically refers to His form of eternal bliss and knowledge. His transcendental abode, names, associates and all things that assist Him are His vaibhāva. The nityamukta (eternally liberated) and nityabaddha (eternally bound) entities are the jīvas. Māyā, the sum-total of matter, and all the gross and subtle attributes of the universe are indicated by the word pradhāna. These four manifestations are one with the eternal Para-Tattva. How can eternally contradictory functions exist simultaneously within the Para-Tattva? The answer is that it is impossible for the intelligence of a jīva to comprehend, because the intelligence of jīva is limited. Yet, by the Para-Tattva’s acintyaśakti, it is not impossible.

In his book Sarva Samvādinī, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī has written that this philosophy is called Acintyabhedābheda. The Bhedābheda (difference and non-difference), or Dvaitādvaita theory of Nimbarka is not perfect. Through the teachings of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, the Vaiṣṇava world has received the perfection of this doctrine. In the philosophy of Śrī Madhva, the eternal saccidānandavigraha is accepted, which is why Śrīman Mahāprabhu accepted the Madhva sampradāya as the basis of Acintyabhedābheda. Because all the philosophical conclusions of the previous Vaiṣṇava ācāryas had some slight theoretical defects, different sampradāyas appeared due to mutually different realisations. By the potency of His own omniscience, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who is directly the Para-Tattva, completed what is lacking within all these doctrines. Śrī Madhva’s acceptance of the eternal saccidānandavigraha,  Śrī Rāmānuja’s śaktisiddhānta (conclusion on the Lord’s potencies), Śrī Viṣṇu-svāmī’s conclusion of Śuddhādvaita (pure oneness), dedicating everything to the Supreme, and Nimbarka’s conclusion of Dvaitādvaita – Mahāprabhu made them flawless and complete, and mercifully offered the world the most pure, scientific philosophy of Acintya-bhedābheda. In a short time, there will only be one sampradāya of bhaktitattva, and that will be called the Śrī Brahmā sampradāya, and all other sampradāyas will be amalgamated into this Brahmā sampradāya.

Therefore the kārikā says:

sarvatra śruti-vākyeṣu tattvam eka viniścitam
nāvidyākalpitaṁ viśvaṁ na jīva-nirmitaṁ kila
atattvato’nyathā buddhir vivarta ity udāhṛtaḥ
satattve viśva etasmin vivarto na pravartate
acintya-śakti-yuktasya pareśasyekṣanāt kila
māyā-nāmny aparā śaktiḥ sūyate sacarācaram
bhedābhedātmākaṁ viśvaṁ satyaṁ kintu vinaśvaram
na tatra jīva-jātānāṁ nitya-sambandha eva ca
na brahma-pariṇāmo vai śakteḥ pariṇatiḥ kila
sthūla-liṅgātmākaṁ viśvaṁ bhogāyatanam ātmānah

By deliberating upon all the statements of the śruti, one understands that there is one eternal tattva. This world is real and is not a false object imagined through ignorance. It has appeared through the independent will of the Supreme Lord, and was not created by the jīva. The perception of a false object upon something real is known as vivarta. Although the world is temporary, it is real. It manifests due to the glance, or desire, of Īśvara, the possessor of acintyaśakti. There is no grounds for vivarta. The Supreme Lord’s aparaśakti is called māyā, and by her will, this material world of animate and inanimate entities manifests. The entire universe is simultaneously identical with and different from the Supreme. Although the world is real, it is not the eternal reality. This is proven by the śruti (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.23 and Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.19) – nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām (‘He is the prime Eternal amongst the eternals, the Supreme Consciousness amongst those that are conscious’). The philosophies of Kevalabheda (exclusive duality), Kevalaabheda (exclusive monism), Śuddhādvaita (pure monism) or Viśiṣṭādvaita (qualified monism) all these agree with some of the statements of the śrutiśāstra, but oppose others. However, the philosophy of Acintya-bhedābheda agrees with all the statements of Vedas. It is the object of self-evident śraddhā for the jīva and is accepted by the sādhus. The jīva’s relationship with this mundane world is not eternal. The world is is a transformation of the śakti of Parabrahma, and not a transformation of Him. This world, comprised of subtle and gross matter, is only a place for the jīva’s material enjoyment.