We have already said that in the Vedic Aryan śāstra, these four books—the Upaniṣads, the Vedanta–sūtra, the Bhagavad–gītā and the Sahasra–nāma, are most excellent and especially adored. From time to time, all great personalities who appeared in Bhārata-varṣa established sampradāyas for preaching dharma, and prepared commentaries on these four books, propagating their own philosophies. This system can be seen with Śrīmad Śaṅkarācārya. Śaṅkara Svāmī is an advaitavādī. His commentaries are non-Vaiṣṇava interpretations. Out of their supreme mercy, the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas prepared four types of commentaries and established the bhakti–mārga (path of devotion). Although the philosophies in these four types of commentaries are a little different, all of them are bhaktivādīs (followers of the philosophy of devotion). Rāmānuja’s philosophy is said to be viśiṣṭādvaita (qualified monism). Madhvācārya’s philosophy can be called śuddha-dvaita (pure dualism). Viṣṇu’s Svāmī’s opinion is śuddhādvaita (purified monism). I call Nimbāditya’s philosophy as dvaitādvaita (Dualism and non-dualism). We will gradually explain and deliberate upon these four different Vaiṣṇava philosophies.
During a visit to Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma last year, we received the Daśa-ślokī Bhāṣya written by Śrī Nimbāditya from a Vaiṣṇava paṇḍita. The philosophy of Śrī Nimbāditya has been compiled in these ten ślokas. We are publishing those ślokas below with a brief meaning. In many places the text may not be correct. I am publishing as much as I can. Whoever has the correct text can send it to us.
While staying in Śrī Vṛndāvana, I met Śrī Gopīlāla Gosvāmī. I heard from him that he has two books of the Nimbāditya sampradāya. The Vedanta-sūtra commentary by Keśava Kaśmīra was one and the Daśa-śloki Bhāṣya by Nimbāditya was the other one. Nimbāditya is an old ācārya. Keśava Kaśmīra was a digvijayī–paṇḍita in his sampradāya. When Śrī Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was teaching Vaiṣṇava dharma and Sanskrit grammar to the students of Śri Navadvīpa, during that time, the digvijayī–paṇḍita Keśava Kaśmīra came to Navadvīpa and discussed śāstra with Mahāprabhu and was defeated by Him. This is described in the text of Śri Caitanya-caritāmṛta.
As Keśava Kaśmīra is a contemporary of Mahāprabhu, it must be admitted that he was a man of four hundred years ago. Nimbāditya must have appeared long before him. Nābhajī did not mention the period of Nimbāditya in the text of his Bhakta-māla. Nimbāditya took his birth not far from Govardhana Hill—thus we know him to be a vraja-vāsī. There can be no doubt that Nimbāditya was the recipient of Bhagavān’s grace and a prominent scholar. But it is deduced that he propagated dharma much later than the other three Vaiṣṇava ācāryas. As much as we can collect about his life, we will publish later.
jñāna-svarūpaṁ ca harer adhīnaṁ
aṇuṁ hi jīvaṁ pratideha-bhinnaṁ
jñātṛtravantaṁ yad anantam āhuḥ
The jīvas, matter, īśvara and their interrelationships—this is the subject of tattva-jñāna (knowledge of reality). Firstly, let us consider the jīva. The conscious jīva itself is always subservient to Bhagavān. Even though the spiritual form (cinmaya–śarīra) is the most prominent, it can be connected to the material body and also subtracted from it. The jīva is atomic (aṇu), which means that he is incapable of expanding materially. The advaitavādīs claim that one jīva resides in all bodies, but it is not so. There are different jīvas in each body. Just as when the sun appears it reveals everything, so also the jīva and his intrinsic knowledge can know all. There are many, many different jīvas, and it is seen in the śāstra that they are referred to as unlimited (ananta).
tvenaṁ vidur vai bhagavat-prasādāt
muktaṁ ca baddhaṁ kila baddha-muktaṁ
prabheda-bāhulyam athāpi bodhyam
The form of the jīva is not seen by the external senses nor by the mental faculties, but when self-realisation arises by the mercy of Bhagavān, one can see the jīva’s true form. That form has been embraced by beginningless māyā. Both cit and acit-śakti are words describing māyā. The jīva’s eternal and liberated form manifests when he is embraced by the cit-śakti. The jīva’s bound condition manifests when he is embraced by the acit-śakti. The jīvas are threefold—baddha (bound), mukta (liberated) and baddha-mukta (both bound and liberated). The baddha-mukta-jīvas were all previously bound, but have been and will be liberated by the grace of Bhagavān. All the baddha–jīvas are in the world of matter, enjoying their actions. There are many variations between them. There are different jīvas—different types of mukta-jīvas and different types of baddha–jīvas. All these different kinds have not been written about here.
aprākṛtaṁ prākṛta-rūpakaṁ ca
kāla-svarūpaṁ tad acetanaṁ matam
śuklādi bhedāś ca same’pi tatra
This śloka describes jaḍa–tattva (the principle of matter). Māyā-tattva is the foundation of jaḍa–tattva. It is unconscious. It is a form of kāla (time). There are two kinds of kāla—aprākṛta (transcendental) and prākṛta (mundane). That kāla which has taken shelter of nitya-tattva jīvas (those who are eternally liberated), īśvara and Vaikuṇṭha is aprākṛta, which means that it is beyond the material state of prākṛta-kāla. That kāla pertains to life in the material world which is prākṛta or mundane. That māyā who is known by various names such as prakṛti, pradhāna and avidyā, manifests as a white, red or black colour. In the state where the guṇas are in equilibrium, māyā is aprākṛta, this is because at that time, the three guṇas of prakṛti—sattva, raja and tama are not yet manifest. I call this aprākṛta-māya as cinmaya (spiritual).
svabhāvato’pāsta samasta doṣam
vyuhāṅginaṁ brahma paraṁ vareṇyaṁ
dhyāyema kṛṣṇaṁ kamalekṣaṇaṁ hariṁ
Now we shall describe the form of Parameśvara. We worship the lotus-eyed Kṛṣṇa-candra, whose form steals the minds of all. He is described in the gāyatrī as vareṇya (worshipable)—the Supreme Person, the Parabrahma. That is to say, His manifestation is beyond the indistinct Brahman and Paramātmā. His intrinsic nature is that He is without any fault. He is the only sole source of infinite auspicious attributes. He is vyuhaṅgī, meaning that He is the divine source of many different forms of Bhagavān. Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are the fourfold forms of Bhagavān. Brahman, Paramātmā and īśvara are worshiped on the path of jñāna by Brahmā and those who are in the mood of aiśvarya (reverence). Kṛṣna-tattva, who is able to astonish everyone, is the source of those manifestations such as Nārāyaṇa etc. who are full of opulence and of a supreme nature. The word ‘dhyāyema’ does not mean meditation stemming from the mind, but should be understood as that love that is supported by and stemming from the ātmā.
aṅge tu vāme vṛṣabhānujāṁ mudā
virājamānām anurūpa saubhagām
sakhī-sahasraiḥ parisevitāṁ sadā
smarema devīṁ sakaleṣṭa-kāma-dāṁ
Bhagavān Kṛṣna-candra is not worshipped through the practice of jñāna, but He is constantly served through the practice of prema. Bhagavān Kṛṣna-candra’s cit–svarūpa (form of spiritual consciousness), appears in the form of a nāyaka (hero), but the ānanda-svarupa (form of spiritual bliss) appears in the form of Śrīmatī Rādhikā as the nāyikā (heroine). One should remember this form of the Divine Couple who are the fountain of prema acting in the supreme drama. Those who serve Bhagavān with pure madhura–prema, will find relish vraja-rasa and themselves welcomed into the midst of the thousands of sakhīs of Śrīmatī who fulfill all Her desires. Therefore, I remember with supreme bliss, that beautiful Daughter of Vṛṣabhānu who exists on the left side of Śrī Kṛṣṇa-candra, along the sakhīs that serve Her, who are the abodes of all good fortune and who fulfill all Her desires.
upāsanīyaṁ nitarāṁ janaīḥ sadā
sanandanādhyair munibhis tathoktaṁ
Now we will speak about prayojana–tattva. In all circumstances, all jīvas should worship Him at all times. In this way, the darkness of ignorance will be destroyed. Śrī Nārada, the witness of all things that exist, received these teachings from Sananda and the other munīs. According to the philosophy of Śrī Nimbāditya, mokṣa is the result of worship. Liberation is attained in the form of eternal service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
sarvaṁ hi vijñānam ato yathārthakaṁ
śruti-smṛtibhyo nikhilasya vastunaḥ
brahmātmakatvād iti vedavin mataṁ
The knowledge of all things is explained in śruti, in other words, the Veda smṛti. The veda-śāstra justifies this as its conclusion because everything is brahmātmaka (connected to the Supreme). Brahman is real, therefore everything connected to Him is real. According to the philosophy of advaitavāda, everything is false except Brahman. This is just a debate over certain statements. Everything is connected to Brahman so therefore it is not false. Not everything connected to Brahman is the same. Brahman, the jīvas and matter are all one in the spiritual sense, but there is also eternal difference between the jīva, matter and Brahman due to the influence of the acintya–śakti. Differences and similarities are simultaneously real and natural. In this regards, Śrīman Nimbāditya’s philosophy may be called dvaitādvaita (one and different). According to his philosophy, Brahman, the jīva and matter are one, and at the same time, different due to the acintya-śakti.
Of all the types of sentiments concerning the para–tattva such as Brahman, Paramātmā etc. that have arisen in the jīva’s heart, that are praised in several places in the śāstra ,and adored by each sampradāya as being the highest sentiment, one must take shelter of bhagavata–bhāva (sentiments towards Bhagavān). Of the twofold bhagavata-bhāva, in comparison to the nārāyaṇa-bhāva of reverence, the supreme shelter of parama-mādhurya rasa (the supreme mellows of sweetness) is worshiped by Brahmā, Śiva and others. By the desire of the devotee, the independent Śrī Kṛṣṇa-candra, the possessor of the acintya-śakti, assumes a conceivable form which is replete with various divine pastimes. There appears to be no other destination for the jīva apart from His lotus feet.
kṛpāsya dainyādi yuji prajāyate
yayā bhavet prema-viśeṣa-lakṣaṇā
bhaktir-hy ananyādhipater mahātmanaḥ
sā cottamā sādhana-rūpikāparā
When the jīva gradually cultivates humility etc. Kṛṣṇa shows mercy upon him. Through that mercy, bhakti arises in the sādhaka in the form of prema towards Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of all things and the Supreme Ātmā. Thus, bhakti is twofold, meaning sādhana–rūpikā (devotion generated through continuous sādhana) and prema–rūpikā (devotion generated through spontaneous prema).
upāsya rūpaṁ tadupāsakasya ca
kṛpā-phalaṁ bhakti-rasas tataḥ param
virodhino rūpam athaitad apter
jñeyā ime’rthā api pañca sādhubhiḥ
In this tenth śloka, Nimbāditya Svāmī states that the Vaiṣṇavas are aware of five things. Firstly, one must be aware of upāsya–tattva (the reality of He who is worshiped). Secondly, one must know the intrinsic nature of the upāsaka (worshiper). Thirdly, it is required to understand the mercy of Kṛṣna. The fourth thing to consider is bhakti–tattva in regards to upāsana (worship), and at this point one should especially understand sādhana–bhakti and from that, the highest form of bhakti which is prema–bhakti. The firth meaning is to deliberate upon how the jīva can attain Bhagavān and His nature—this should be discussed properly. This is the fifth meaning.
For the time being, I have published these ten verses of Nimbāditya Svāmī with their brief meanings. In due course, I will give a short commentary to the tattvas discussed here. I realise that the respected readers will find many sections difficult to understand, but in a few places the entire explanation of everything has not been published. If anyone has a question, I will take care to give a complete answer to that.