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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Dashamula Tattva > Chapter-IX

Chapter 9

The material world and the jiva are simultaneously different and non-different from the Lord



On studying the Vedas and Vedanta, the acaryas have come to two different conclusions.   On the basis of the conclusions of Dattatreya, Ashtavakra, Durvasa and other risis, Shankaracarya preached the philosophy of absolute monism.   That is one type of conclusion.  On the other hand, following in the footsteps of Narada, Prahlada, Dhruva, Manu and others, the Vaishnavas have preached the philosophy of pure bhakti.  That is the second type of conclusion reached from studying the scriptures. 


There are four types of bhakti philosophy.  Ramanujacarya preached vishishtadvaita; Madhvacarya preached shuddha dvaita;  Nimbarkacarya preached dvaitadvaita; and Vishnu Svami preached shuddha advaita.  They are all preachers of pure bhakti. 


According to Ramanujacarya, there is only one reality, the Lord (advaita), who is qualified (vishishta) by cit and acit.  According to Madhvacarya, the jiva  is a reality or entity distinct from the Lord (dvaita) , but has a nature of devotion to the Lord.  According to Nimbarka, the jiva  is simultaneously different and non-different from the Lord (dvaita advaita), but he accepts the concept of eternal difference of jiva  and the Lord.  According to Vishnu Svamii, though there is only one substance (advaita), there are still eternal states of difference in the form of  brahman and jiva .    Though there are differences amongst the philosophies, all the vaishnava acaryas have accepted the eternal nature of bhakti, bhagavan, the jiva 's eternal servitorship and the goal of prema.   They are true Vaishnavas.   But though they are all Vaishnavas, their realizations, being slightly different for each other, were partial or imperfect.   When Mahaprabhu appeared, he removed incompleteness from those realizations and taugt the world the pure science, the highest truth of pure bhakti.    


vyasera sutrete kahe parinama vada

vyasa bhranta bali' ta'ra uthaila vivada

parinama vade ishvara hayena vikari

eta kahi'vivarta vada sthapana ye kari

vastutah parinama vada sei se pramana

dehe atmabuddhi haya vivartera sthana

avicintya shakti yukta shri bhagavan

icchaya jagad rupe paya parinama

tathapi acintya shaktye haya adhikari

prakrita cintamani tahe drishtanta dhari

nana ratna rashi haya cintamani haite

tathapiha mani rahe svarupe avikrite

brihad vastu brahma kahi shri bhagavan

shad vidha aishvarya purna para tattva dhama

tanre nirvishesha kahi, cic chakti na mani

ardha svarupa na manile, purnata haya hani

apadana, karana, adhikarana -karaka tina

bhagavanera savisheshe ei tina cihna

shad aishvarya purnananda vigraha yanhara

hena bhagavane tumi kaha nirakara


In his Vedanta sutra, Shrila Vyasadeva has described that everything is but a transformation of the energy of the Lord.  Sankaracarya, however, has misled the world by commenting that Vyasadeva was mistaken..  Thus he has raised great opposition to theism throughout the entire world.  According to Sankaracarya, by accepting the theory of the transformation of the energy of the Lord, one creates an illusion by indirectly accepting that the Absolute Truth is transformed. 


Transformation of energy is a proven fact.  It is the false bodily conception of the self that is an illusion. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is opulent in all respects.  Therefore by His inconceivable energies He has transformed the material cosmic manifestation.


Using the example of a touchstone, which by its energy turns iron to gold and yet remains the same, we can understand that although the Supreme Personality of Godhead transforms His innumerable energies, He remains unchanged.

Although touchstone produces many varieties of valuable jewels, it nevertheless remains the same.  It does not change its original form.


Brahman, who is greater than the greatest, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  He is full of six opulences, and therefore He is the reservoir of ultimate truth and absolute knowledge. When we speak of the Supreme as impersonal, we deny His spiritual potencies.  Logically,  if you accept half of the truth , you cannot understand the whole.

C.C. Madhya 7.121-126, 138, 140


The personal features of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are categorized in three cases-namely, ablative, instrumental and locative.

C.C. Madhya 6.144


Are you describing as formless that Supreme Personality of Godhead whose transcendental form is complete with six transcendental opulences?

C.C.Madhya 6 152


Veda Vyasa in the Vedanta Sutras has taught parinama vad (transformation), not vivarta vada (illusion).  But Sankaracarya, claiming that in parinama vada the Lord becomes subject to change, changed the meaning of the sutras and established vivartavada.   The meaning of the words 'parinama' and 'vivarta' are given in the Vedantasara written by Sadananda Yogindra, 59 verse:


satattvato'nyatha buddhir vikara ity udiratah

atattvato'nyatha buddhir vivarta ity udahritah


The perception of a different object when a real object takes another form is called parinama. Perception of a different object when there is actually no different object is called vivarta.


Parinama is transformation of an object.  The example is the formation of yogurt from milk.  An example of vivarta is mistaking a rope for a snake.  


Taking these definitions, the followers of Sankaracarya say that the jiva  and the material world can never be a transformation of the Lord.   If one accepts such a transformation of the Lord, it must be considered a perverted state of the Lord.  As yogurt is a perverted state of milk, one must say that the world is a perverted state of the Lord.  Therefore, they say, parinama is not acceptable.   If out of ignorance a person accepts a rope as a snake, from that mistake many difficulties arise.  They claim the perception of the material world is similar to this.  The world does not exist. Out of ignorance that which is perceived as world is actually an illusion, vivarta.   By accepting this proposition, the Lord is not subject to change or transformation.   By such reasoning, the theory of vivarta is established.  


Mahaprabhu's teaching is as follows.  There is no substance to the theory of vivarta vada.   Thinking the material body to be the self is comparable to the mistaking a rope for a snake.  That is vivarta. However the material body is not false.   And to claim that the Lord, through illusion or vivarta, becomes the material body and the material world, that the Lord falls under the illusion of thinking he is a jiva , is a detestable belief. 


Parinama is accepted in the Vedanta Sutras of Vyasa.   By rejecting parinama, one admits that all-knowledgeable Vyasa is mistaken. Just as milk transforms into yogurt, the Lord's inconceivable energy, by his wish, is transformed into the jiva  and the material world.   There is no transformation of the Lord or Brahman.  What is transformed through the influence of the Lord's variegated, inconceivable energies can never make the Lord the object of transformation.   


Though a material example cannot fully represent spiritual matters, by accepting an example one can clarify a spiritual topic.   Thus it is stated that touchstone, though producing piles of jewels, remains unchanged.  On the spiritual level, one can think of the Lord's creations in the same way. Though creating unlimited jivas and unlimited universes by his inconceivable energy just by his will, the Supreme Lord remains without change.  


One should not think the words "without change" make the Lord impersonal, absolutely without quality.  The absolute truth is endowed with the six opulences in full as Bhagavan.  By claiming the Lord is absolutely without qualities, one is claiming he is without spiritual energies.   However, by his inconceivable energies, the Lord is eternally endowed with qualities as well as being devoid of qualities.   To claim absolute absence of qualities is acceptance of only half of the Lord's form.  By this, one is destroying his completeness. 


The three ways in which the Lord is the cause (ablative, instrumental, locative- from whom, by whom and in whom everything exists) is explained in the shruti:


yato va imani bhutani jayante  yena jatani jiva nti yat

prayanty abhisamvisanti tad vijijnasasva tad brahma


Inquire about the brahman from who everything is born, by whom everything is sustained, and into whom everything enters.

                                      Taittiriya Upanishad 3.1


"From whom all beings are born" describes the Lord in the ablative function.   "By whom all beings continue to live" describes the Lord in his instrumental function.    "Into whom they enter" describes his locative function.   The supreme being is qualified by these characteristics; these are his qualities.   Thus the Lord is always endowed with qualities, and can never be without form or qualities.    The form of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, full of the six opulences, is the Lord's eternal spiritual form. 


Shri Jiva  Gosvami in his Bhagavat Sandarbha has explained the Supreme Personality of Godhead as follows:


ekam eva paramam tattvam svabhavikacintya shaktya sarvadaiva svarupa-tad-rupa-vaibhava-jiva-pradhana-rupena caturdhavatishthate   suryantara-mandala-sthita-teja iva mandala-tad bahirgata-tad-rashmi-tat-praticchavi rupena


There is one Supreme Being.  He is naturally endowed with inconceivable energies.   Through these energies he exists eternally in four states: His own form, His spiritual expansions, the jiva  and pradhana (matter).   These four states may be compared to the sun's power, the sun globe, the sun's rays and the sun's effulgence. 

                                      Bhagavat Sandarbha 16


In the above quoatation, His own form (svarupa) means the form of eternal bliss and knowledge.  His spiritual abode, names, associates and all objects assisting in pastimes are the expansions (vaibhava).  The eternally liberated and eternally conditioned souls are the jivas. Maya and all the gross and subtle elements of the universe are indicated by the word "pradhana".   These four manifestations are manifested from the eternal supreme being.  


How can eternally contradictory objects exist within the Supreme Being?   For the intelligence of the jiva , this is impossible, because the intelligence of jiva  is limited.    However, by the inconceivable energy of the Lord, it is not impossible. Shri Jiva  Gosvami has called this conception acintya bhedabheda in his work Sarva Samvadini.   The philosophy of difference and non-difference called dvaitadvaita of Nimbarkacarya is not perfect (not explaining the contradiction).   The Vaishnava world has received the perfection of this philosophy through the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.   Since the root of acintya bhedabheda lies in Madhvacarya's acceptance of the eternal form of the Lord, full of eternal bliss and knowledge, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the Madhva  sampradaya.  Because the previous Vaishnava acaryas' philosophies all had a slight philosophical deficiency, they appeared as different sampradayas with mutually differing philosophies.  By the power of his own omniscience, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu hascompleted what is lacking in all these philosophies.  


Taking Madhva's acceptance of the eternal form of the Lord;  Ramanuja's conception of the energies (qualities) of the Lord; Vishnu Svami's concept of the Lord' oneness by complete dedication to Him; and Nimbarka's conception of the Lord's simultaneous difference and non-difference, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu made them perfect, mercifully offering to the world the pure scientific philosophy of acintya bhedabheda.  Very soon there will be only one sampradaya of bhakti philosophy, called Shri Brahma sampradaya.  All other sampradayas will reach their perfection in this brahma sampradaya. 


There is the following karika to summarize this:


sarvatra shruti-vakyeshu tattvam eka vinishcitam

navidyakalpitam vishvam na jiva-nirmitam kila

atattvato' nyatha buddhir vivarta ity udahritah

satattve vishva etasmin vivarto na pravartate

acintya-shakti-yuktasya pareshasyekshanat kila

maya-namny apara shaktih suyate sacaracaram

bhedabhedatmakam vishvam satyam kintu vinashvaram

na tatra  jiva-jatanam nitya-sambandha eva ca

na brahma-parinamo vai shakteh parinatih kila

sthula-lingatmakam vishvam bhogayatanam atmanah


If one examines all the statements of all the scriptures, one can understand that there is one eternal truth.  The world is true, not a false object imagined through ignorance.   It has arisen through the free will of the Supreme Lord, not through the jiva .   Perception of a false object is called vivarta.   Though the world is temporary, it is real, having arisen through the glance or will of the Lord endowed with inconceivable energies.    There is no factor of illusion or vivarta here.   The Supreme Lord's inferior energy is maya.  By her will, this material world of moving and non-moving entities appears.  The whole universe is at once identical with and different from the Lord by his inconceivable energy.   Though the world is real, it is not the ultimate real.  The Kathopanishad  and Shvetashvatara Upanishad prove this: nityo nityanam cetanash cetananam  (I am the chief eternal and the chief of all conscious entities.)   


Exclusive duality, exclusive monism, pure monism or qualified monism-these philosophies all agree with some of the statements of the scriptures, but contradict other scriptural statements.   But the philosophy of acintya bhedabheda is a philosophy which agrees with all the statements of scripture.  It is the natural object of the faith of the jiva  and approved by all the devotees. 


The jiva  does not have an eternal relation with this material world, which is a transformation of the Supreme Brahman's energy, not a trans