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The Sruti on the Subject of Acintya-bhedabheda-tattva
eko vasi sarvabhutamtaratma
ekam rupam bahudha yah karoti
tam atmastham ye' nupasyanti dhiras-
tesam sukham sasvatam netaresam
Although His form is one, the Supersoul, who is the indwelling witness and controller of all living beings, is manifest in innumerable ways. The wise who can see that Supreme Soul within his heart becomes peaceful and enjoys transcendental bliss. (Katha Upanisad 2.2.12)
Shrimad Bhagavatam on Acintya-bhedabheda-tattva
rte 'rtham yat pratiyeta na pratiyeta catmani
tad vidyad atmano mayam yathabhaso yatha tamah
O Brahma, whatever appears to be of any value, if it has no relation to Me, has no reality. It is My illusory energy that reflection which appears to be in darkness. (Bhag. 2.9.34)
yatha mahanti bhutani bhutesuccavacesv anu
pravistany apravistani tatha tesu na tesv aham
O Brahma, please know that the universal elements enter into the cosmos and at the same time do not enter into the comos; similarly, I Myself also exist within everything created, and at the same time I am outside of everything. (Bhag. 2.9.35)
yatra yena yato yasya yasmai yad yad yatha yada
syad idam bhagavan saksat pradhana-purusesvarah
You are the substratum, the agent, and the instrument of the universe. You are its source and its object or purpose. Whenever or whatever form it assumes is You. As the universe evolves, all the causes thereof, including time and manner, are You, the Almighty Lord, the controller of both prakrti (the enjoyed) and purusa (the enjoyer) and who transcends them both. (Bhag. 10.85.4)
Smrti on Acintya-bhedabheda-tattva
maya tatam idam sarvam jagad avyakta-murtina
mat-sthani sarva-bhutani na caham tesv avasthitah
In My unmanifest form I pervade this entire universe. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them. (Bhagavad-gita 9.4)
na ca mat-sthani bhutani pasya me yogam aisvaram
bhuta-bhrn na ca bhuta-stho mamatma bhuta-bhavanah
And yet everything that is created does not rest in Me. Behold My mystic opulence! Although I am the maintainer of all living entities and although I am everywhere, I am not a part of this cosmic manifestation; for I am the very source of creation. (Bhagavad-gita 9.5)
Shrila Jiva Gosvami on Acintya-bhedabheda-tattva
ekam eva tat parama-tattvam svabhavikacintya-saktya sarvadaiva svarupa-tad-rupa-vaibhava-jiva-pradhana-rupena caturdhavatisthate suryantarmandalastha-teja iva mandala
The Absolute Truth is one. His natural characteristic is that He has inconceivable potency. His inconceivable potencies are reposed in four different stages: His personal form (svarupa), the expansions of His divine form (tad-rupa-vaibhava), the jivas, and the material ingredients (pradhana). With regard to the sun, there is the sungod, the internal power of the sun, and that power when it is expanded as the external rays of the sun. Then there is the shadow of the sun, that is to say, the sun's reflection which is in darkness, far from the sun's influence. This illustration is used as an example. The point of the example is that in the same way as the sun appears in this fourfold manifestation (the sungod, its internal power, its external rays, and its shadow), there is one eternal Supreme Truth (the Lord) whose form is eternal, but who is possessed of different potencies: svarupa-sakti, jiva-sakti, and maya-sakti.
There seems to be a contradiction in this matter between the Lord being one eternal Absolute Truth and His simultaneously possessing inconceivable potency. How is it possible to understand such a contradiction? To that it is said acintya means beyond the jiva's capacity to understand. An event which is extremely rare or unlikely, even physically impossible, is inconceivable. For the Supreme Lord, however, nothing is impossible for He has inconceivable power. [Therefore the Lord's oneness with (and distinction from) His energy is said to be inconceivable acintya-bhedabheda-vada.] (Bhagavata-sandarbha 16)
Note: Shrila Prabhupada paraphrased this section of Jiva Gosvami's Bhagavata-sandarbha as follows:
Shrila Jiva Gosvami states in Bhagavata-Sandarbha (16) That by His potencies, which act in natural sequences beyond the scope of the speculative human mind, the Supreme Transcendence, the summum bonum, eternally and simultaneously exists in four transcendental features: His personality, His impersonal effulgence, His potential parts and parcels (the living beings), and the principal cause of all causes. The Supreme Whole is compared to the sun, which also exists in four features, namely the personality of the sun-god, the glare of his glowing sphere, the sun-rays inside the sun planet, and the sun's reflections in many other objects. The ambition to corroborate the existence of the transcendental Absolute Truth by limited conjectural endeavors cannot be fulfilled, because He is beyond the scope of our limited speculative minds. In an honest search for truth we must admit that His powers are inconceivable to our tiny brains. The exploration of space has demanded the work of the greatest scientists of the world, yet there are countless problems regarding even fundamental knowledge of the material creation that bewilder such scientists. Such material knowledge is far removed from the spiritual nature, and therefore the acts and arrangements of the Absolute Truth, are, beyond all doubts, inconceivable.
apare tu "tarko-pratisthanat" bhede' pya-bhede' pi
nirmaryada-dosa-santati-darsanena bhinnataya cintaryitumasakayatvadabhedah sadhyantah
tad-vad-abhinnatayapi cintayiuamasakyatvadbhedamapi sadhayanto' cintyabhedabhedavada svikurvanti.
tatra badara-pauranika-saivanam mate bhedabhedau bhaskaramate ca.
mayavadinam tatra bhedamso vyavaharika eva pratitiko va.
gautama-kanada-jaimini-kapila-patanjalimate tu bheda eva.
shri ramanuja-madhvacaryamate cetyapi sarvatriki prasiddhih.
svamate tvacintyabhedabhedaveva acintyasaktimayatvaditi
Other sampradayas of Vedantists admit that boundless essays, dissertations, and theses can never be established as truth through any amount of argument. Still, they think that the principle of oneness and difference existing together in the same place transgresses the boundaries of reality. They take it that this is a symptom of the fault of neglecting the nature of universality that is, that if difference is true, then it must be true universally, and if oneness is true then it must be true universally. Following this faulty logic they therefore think that these two difference and nondifference cannot independently coexist. There cannot be both duality and oneness, they reason; one of these doctrines must have supremacy over the other. Those who think it is one, find that their attempts to practice the doctrine of oneness are impossible. In the same way, those who attempt to practice a doctrine of absolute difference will find their position untenable. In this way, both the practitioners of absolute oneness and the practitioners of absolute duality will be unable to realize their philosophy. Therefore, in light of the difficulties of trying to realize oneness without distinction or distinction without oneness, the principle of acintya-bhedabheda-vada, or inconceivable, simultaneous oneness and distinction, has been accepted as the highest harmonizing principle.
The true opinion of the sage Badasa and the Puranas is bhedabheda-vada, oneness and difference. Even the followers of Siva sometimes accept this. For example, the commentator Bhaskara accepts bhedabheda-vada in the idea that there is a difference between the articles offered to the Deity and the Deity Himself. In the opinion of the mayavadis, the branches of difference are merely vyavaharika, mundane or apparent. Gautama, Kanada, Jaimini, Kapila, and Patanjali admit the existence of distinction. In the opinions of Ramanuja and Madhva's this principle reaches a higher level of perfection. Ramanuja's visistadvaita philosophy supports difference and nondifference, and Madhva's suddhadvaita philosophy supports the principle of difference. The Supreme Lord has inconceivable potency; and He supports the conclusion of acintya-bhedabheda-vada. This is our conclusion. (Paramatma-Sandarbha, Sarva-samvadini-tika, Jiva Gosvami)
The Brahma-sutras Support the View of Sakti-parinamavada
vyasera sutrete kahe 'parinama'-vada
'vyasa bhranta' bali' tara uthaila vivada
parinama-vade isvara hayena vikari
eta kahi' 'vivarta'-vada sthapana ye kari
vastutah parinama-vada sei se pramana
dehe atma-buddhi ei vivartera sthana
icchaya jagad-rupe paya parinama
tathapi acintya-saktye haya avikari
prakrta cintamani tahe drstanta ye dhari
nana ratna-rasi haya cintamani haite
tathapiha mani rahe svarupe avikrte
prakrta-vastute yadi acintya-sakti haya
isvarera acintya-sakti, ithe ki vismaya
In Vedanta-Sutra, Shrila Vyasadeva has described that everything is but a transformation of the energy of the Lord. Sankaracarya has misled the world, however, by claiming that Vyasadeva was mistaken. Thus he has raised great opposition to theism throughout the 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. By His inconceivable energies, therefore, 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 a touchstone produces many varieties of valuable jewels, it nevertheless remains the same. It does not change its original form. If there is such inconceivable potency in material objects, why should we not believe in the inconceivable potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead? (Cc. Adi 7.121-127)
The Meaning of Parinama-vada and Vivarta-vada
satattvato' nyatha pratha vikara ityudiritah
atattvato' nyatha pratha vikarta ityudahrtah
When a real substance takes another form it is called vikara, or transformation. An example of this is the transformation of milk into yogurt. When something is mistaken for something else it is called vivarta, or illusion, like when a rope is taken as a snake. (Sadananda Yogindra, Vedanta-sara 59)
Thus ends the Eleventh Jewel of Gaudiya Kanthahara, entitled Acintya-bhedabheda-tattva