Achintya Bheda Abheda

Last updated

Achintya-Bheda-Abheda (अचिन्त्यभेदाभेद, acintyabhedābheda in IAST) is a school of Vedanta representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference. [1] In Sanskrit achintya means 'inconceivable', [1] bheda translates as 'difference', and abheda translates as 'non-difference'. The Gaudiya Vaishnava religious tradition employs the term in relation to the relationship of creation and creator (Krishna, Svayam Bhagavan), [2] [3] between God and his energies. [4] It is believed that this philosophy was taught by the movement's theological founder Chaitanya Mahaprabhu [5] (1486 - 1534) and differentiates the Gaudiya tradition from the other Vaishnava Sampradayas. It can be understood as an integration of the strict dualist ( dvaita ) theology of Madhvacharya and the qualified monism ( vishishtadvaita ) of Ramanuja. [6]

Vedanta or Uttara Mīmāṃsā is one of the six (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy. Vedanta literally means "end of the Vedas", reflecting ideas that emerged from the speculations and philosophies contained in the Upanishads. It does not stand for one comprehensive or unifying doctrine. Rather it is an umbrella term for many sub-traditions, ranging from dualism to non-dualism, all of which developed on the basis of a common textual connection called the Prasthanatrayi. The Prasthanatrayi is a collective term for the Principal Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.

Sanskrit language of ancient India

Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a 3,500-year history. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and the predominant language of most works of Hindu philosophy as well as some of the principal texts of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit, in its variants and numerous dialects, was the lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. In the early 1st millennium CE, along with Buddhism and Hinduism, Sanskrit migrated to Southeast Asia, parts of East Asia and Central Asia, emerging as a language of high culture and of local ruling elites in these regions.

Gaudiya Vaishnavism

Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava religious movement inspired by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534) in India. "Gauḍīya" refers to the Gauḍa region with Vaishnavism meaning "the worship of Vishnu or Krishna". Its theological basis is primarily that of the Bhagavad Gītā and Bhāgavata Purāṇa as interpreted by early disciples of Chaitanya such as Sanātana Gosvāmin, Rūpa Gosvāmin, Jīva Gosvāmin, Gopala Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmin, and others.

Contents

Historical perspective

Historically within Hinduism there are two conflicting philosophies regarding the relationship between living beings (Jiva or Atma) and God (Ishvara, Brahman or Bhagavan). Advaita schools assert the monistic view that the individual soul and God are one and the same, [7] whereas Dvaita schools give the dualistic argument that the individual soul and God are eternally separate. [8] The philosophy of Achintya-bheda-abheda includes elements of both viewpoints. The living soul is intrinsically linked with the Supreme Lord, and yet at the same time is not the same as God - the exact nature of this relationship being inconceivable to the human mind. The spirit Soul is considered to be part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. Same in quality but not in quantity. The Supreme Lord Sri Hari having all opulence in fullness, the spirit soul however having only a partial expression of His divine opulence. The Lord in this context is compared to a fire and the spirit souls as sparks coming off of the flame.

Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life, widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder. This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period, and flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India.

Ishvara is a concept in Hinduism, with a wide range of meanings that depend on the era and the school of Hinduism. In ancient texts of Indian philosophy, depending on the context, Ishvara can mean supreme soul, ruler, lord, king, queen or husband. In medieval era Hindu texts, depending on the school of Hinduism, Ishvara means God, Supreme Being, personal god, or special Self.

Brahman metaphysical concept, unchanging Ultimate Reality in Hinduism

In Hinduism, Brahman connotes the highest Universal Principle, the Ultimate Reality in the universe. In major schools of Hindu philosophy, it is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists. It is the pervasive, genderless, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes. Brahman as a metaphysical concept is the single binding unity behind diversity in all that exists in the universe.

Philosophy

The theological tenet of achintya-bheda-abheda tattva reconciles the mystery that God is simultaneously "one with and different from His creation". In this sense Vaishnava theology is panentheistic as in no way does it deny the separate existence of God (Vishnu) in His own personal form. However, at the same time, creation (or what is termed in Vaishnava theology as the 'cosmic manifestation') is never separated from God. He always exercises supreme control over his creation. Sometimes directly, but most of the time indirectly through his different potencies or energies (Prakrti). Examples are given of a spider and its web; earth and plants that come forth and hair on the body of human being. [9]

Vaishnavism Hindu tradition inspired by the god Vishnu

Vaishnavism is one of the major Hindu denominations along with Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. It is also called Vishnuism, its followers are called Vaishnavas or Vaishnavites, and it considers Vishnu as the Supreme Lord.

Theology Study of the nature of deities and religious belief

Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but also especially with epistemology, and asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but also willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship.

Vishnu Hindu god, basis of Vaishnavism

Vishnu is one of the principal deities of Hinduism, and the Supreme Being or absolute truth in its Vaishnavism tradition. Vishnu is the "preserver" in the Hindu triad (Trimurti) that includes Brahma and Shiva.

"One who knows God knows that the impersonal conception and personal conception are simultaneously present in everything and that there is no contradiction. Therefore Lord Caitanya established His sublime doctrine: acintya bheda-and-abheda-tattva -- simultaneous oneness and difference." (A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada) [4] The analogy often used as an explanation in this context in the relationship between the Sun and the Sunshine. [10] For example, both the sun and sunshine are part of the same reality, but there is a great difference between having a beam of sunshine in your room, and being in close proximity to the sun itself. Qualitatively the Sun and the Sunshine are not different, but as quantities they are very different. This analogy is applied to the living beings and God - the Jiva being of a similar quality to the Supreme being, but not sharing the qualities to an infinite extent, as would the Personality of Godhead himself. [11] Thus there is a difference between the souls and the Supreme Lord.

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Indian guru

Abhaya Caranāravinda Bhaktivedānta Svāmi was an Indian spiritual teacher and the founder-preceptor of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as the "Hare Krishna Movement". Members of the ISKCON movement view Bhaktivedānta Swāmi as a representative and messenger of Krsna Caitanya.

Sun Star at the centre of the Solar System

The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma, with internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field via a dynamo process. It is by far the most important source of energy for life on Earth. Its diameter is about 1.39 million kilometers, or 109 times that of Earth, and its mass is about 330,000 times that of Earth. It accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Roughly three quarters of the Sun's mass consists of hydrogen (~73%); the rest is mostly helium (~25%), with much smaller quantities of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron.

In monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, and principal object of faith. God is usually conceived as being omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-present) and as having an eternal and necessary existence. These attributes are used either in way of analogy or are taken literally. God is most often held to be incorporeal (immaterial). Incorporeality and corporeality of God are related to conceptions of transcendence and immanence of God, with positions of synthesis such as the "immanent transcendence".

Difference in concept to Advaita Vedanta

It is clearly distinguished from the concept of anirvacaniya (inexpressible) of Advaita Vedanta. There is a clear difference between the two concepts as the two ideas arise for different reasons. Advaita concept is related to the ontological status of the world, whereas both Svayam bhagavan and his shaktis (in Lord himself and his powers) are empirically real, and they are different from each other, but at the same time they are the same. But that does not negate the reality of both. [1] [12]

Advaita Vedanta School of Hindu philosophy, a classic path to spiritual realization

Advaita Vedanta, originally known as Puruṣavādha, is a school of Hindu philosophy, and believed to be one of the classic paths to spiritual realization in Hindu tradition. The term Advaita refers to its idea that the true self, Atman, is the same as the highest metaphysical Reality (Brahman). The followers of this school are known as Advaita Vedantins, or just Advaitins or Mayavaadis, and they seek spiritual liberation through acquiring vidyā, meaning knowledge, of one's true identity as Atman, and the identity of Atman and Brahman.

Shakti personification of energy and power in Hinduism

Shakti is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism, and especially the major tradition of Hinduism, Shaktism.

Exceptions

While it applied to relations between Purusha (the Lord) and Prakriti (be it material, marginal, or spiritual powers), in the theology of the concept there are areas of exceptions. Jiva Goswami also accepts that any object and its energy are non-different, such as fire and power of burning. While some maintain that its only a secondary extension of the principle that it is primarily applied to Svayam bhagavan and His energies. It does not, however, apply to differences between Avatars of Svayam bhagavan and Lord Himself, so the difference between Vishnu and His origin, is not covered by the concept of acintya bhedabheda, i.e. it cannot be applied in cases where different levels of Purusha are compared. [1]

Purusha is a complex concept whose meaning evolved in Vedic and Upanishadic times. Depending on source and historical timeline, it means the cosmic man or Self, Consciousness, and Universal principle.

Jiva Goswami Indian philosopher

Jiva Goswami was a Indian philosopher and saint from the Gaudiya Vaishnava school of Vedanta tradition, producing a great number of philosophical works on the theology and practice of Bhakti yoga, Vaishnava Vedanta and associated disciplines. He was a member of Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, being the nephew of the two leading figures, Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami.

Avatar incarnation of anything, particularly of a deity in Hinduism

An avatar, a concept in Hinduism that means "descent", is the material appearance or incarnation of a deity on earth. The relative verb to "alight, to make one's appearance" is sometimes used to refer to any guru or revered human being.

Miscellaneous

The phrase is used as the chorus line in Kula Shaker's 1996 hit song Tattva. "Achintya-bheda-abheda-tattva".

See also

Related Research Articles

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Bengali Hindu saint

Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahaprabhu, honorific: "Mahāprabhu", , was a Bengali Hindu mystic, saint, and the chief proponent of the Achintya Bheda Abheda and Gaudiya Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism. He also expounded the Vaishnava school of Bhakti yoga, based on Bhagavata Purana and Bhagavad Gita. Of various forms and direct or indirect expansions of Krishna such as Lord Narasimha, Maha-Vishnu and Garbhodakshaya Vishnu respectively, he is Krishna in the mood of a devotee. He popularised the chanting of the 'Hare Krishna (mantra)' and composed the Siksastakam in Sanskrit. His followers, Gaudiya Vaishnavas, revere him as a Krishna with the mood and complexion of his source of inspiration Radha. His birthday is celebrated as Gaura-purnima.

Gauranga

Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the 16th Century Appearance of Srimati Radharani and Sri Krishna. Gauranga Mahaprabhu has the Golden complexion of Srimati Radharani while simultaneously being Sri Krishna Himself. Gouranga Caitanya Mahaprabhu started the Hare Krishna movement in India about 520 years ago and Krishna Consciousness was brought to the western world from India by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder and Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in the 1960 and 1970s. The bija (root) syllables of Gauranga can be broken down into their Sanskrit bija syllables gaurāṅga "having a golden or yellowish complexion", a bahuvrihi compound from Gaura "soft, yellowish, golden" and aṅga "limb or part of Krishna".

Tat Tvam Asi

Tat Tvam Asi, a Sanskrit phrase, translated variously as "Thou art that," is one of the Mahāvākyas in Vedantic Sanatana Dharma. It originally occurs in the Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7, in the dialogue between Uddalaka and his son Śvetaketu; it appears at the end of a section, and is repeated at the end of the subsequent sections as a refrain. The meaning of this saying is that the Self - in its original, pure, primordial state - is wholly or partially identifiable or identical with the Ultimate Reality that is the ground and origin of all phenomena.

The Chaitanya Charitamrita is one of the primary biographies detailing the life and teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534), a Vaisnava saint and founder of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya. It was written by Krishna Das Kaviraja, primarily in the Bengali language, but also including a great number of Sanskrit verses within its devotional, poetic construction, including Siksastakam. Intertwined with the stories of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's life are philosophical conversations detailing the process of Bhakti yoga, with special attention given to congregational chanting of Krishna's names and the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.

Hinduism is a religion which incorporates diverse views on the concept of God. Different traditions of Hinduism have different theistic views, and these views have been described by scholars as polytheism, monotheism, henotheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, agnostic, humanism, atheism or Nontheism.

Pancha Tattva (Vaishnavism) five aspects of divinity within Gaudiya Vaishnavism

Pancha Tattva in the Gaudiya Vaishnava or Krishnaist tradition refers specifically to the Five aspects of God or Absolute Truth.

The concept of God in Hinduism varies in its diverse traditions. Hinduism spans a wide range of beliefs such as henotheism, monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, pandeism, monism, atheism and nontheism.

Radha Krishna Divine couple in Hinduism

Radha-Krishna are collectively known within Hinduism as the combined forms of feminine as well as the masculine realities of God. Radha and Krishna are the primeval forms of God and His pleasure potency respectively in the Gaudiya Vaishnava school of thought. In some schools of Vaishnavism, Krishna is referred to as Svayam Bhagavan, and Radha is illustrated as the primeval potency of the three main potencies of God, Hladini, Sandhini (eternality) and Samvit of which Radha is an embodiment of the feeling of love towards the almighty Lord, Krishna (Hladini). With Krishna, Radha is acknowledged as the Supreme Goddess, for it is said that Krishna or God is only satiated by devotional service in loving servitude and Radha is the personification of devotional service to the supreme. She is also considered in Vaishnavism as the total feminine energy and also as the Supreme Lakshmi (Adi-Lakshmi). Various devotees worship her with the understanding of her merciful nature as the only way to attain Krishna. Radha is also depicted to be Krishna himself, split into two, for the purpose of His enjoyment.

Bhedābheda Vedānta is a subschool of Vedānta, which teaches that the individual self (jīvātman) is both different and not different from the ultimate reality known as Brahman.

Brahma Samhita

The Brahma Saṁhitā is a Sanskrit Pañcarātra text, composed of verses of prayer spoken by Brahma glorifying the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa or Govinda at the beginning of creation. It is revered within Gauḍiya Vaiṣṇavism, whose 16th-century founder, Caitanya Mahāprabhu (1486–1534), rediscovered a part of the work, the 62 verses of Chapter 5, which had previously been lost for a few centuries, at the Adikeshav Temple in Thiruvattar, Tamil Nadu, South India. Mitsunori Matsubara, in his Pañcarātra Saṁhitās and Early Vaisṇava Theology dates the text at ca 1300 CE. The text contains a highly esoteric description, with the Kāma-Gāyatṛi, of Kṛṣṇa in His abode Goloka.

Cataphatic theology or kataphatic theology is theology that uses "positive" terminology to describe or refer to the divine – specifically, God – i.e. terminology that describes or refers to what the divine is believed to be, in contrast to the "negative" terminology used in apophatic theology to indicate what it is believed the divine is not.

Nimbarka Sampradaya

The Nimbarka Sampradaya, also known as the Hamsa Sampradāya, Kumāra Sampradāya, Catuḥ Sana Sampradāya and Sanakādi Sampradāya, is one of the four Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas. It was founded by Nimbarka, and teaches the Vaishnava theology of Dvaitadvaita (dvaita-advaita) or "dualistic non-dualism." Dvaitadvaita states that humans are both different and non-different from Isvara, God or Supreme Being, and is also known as Bhedābheda (bheda-abheda) philosophy.

Tattva (song) 1996 single by Kula Shaker

"Tattva" is a song by the British psychedelic rock band Kula Shaker, released as the band's debut single. It was first released in the United Kingdom on 1 January 1996 as "Tattva ", then reissued on 24 June as a re-recording from their debut album K with a different sleeve and track listing. The re-recording reached number four on the UK Singles Chart, number 11 on the Canadian RPM Alternative 30 chart and number 10 on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The guitar riffs are similar to the four-note riff from Pink Floyd's "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond".

Svayam Bhagavān is a Sanskrit theological term for the concept of absolute representation of God as Bhagavan - The Supreme Personality who possesses all riches, all strength, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation.

Para Brahman (Sanskrit:परब्रह्मन्) is the "Highest Brahman" that which is beyond all descriptions and conceptualisations. It is described in Hindu texts as the formless spirit (soul) that eternally pervades everything, everywhere in the universe and whatever is beyond.

Tripurari American Hare Krishna

Tripurari Swami, also known as Swami BV Tripurari, is an American author, poet, and guru, described as "a prominent master in the Gaudiya Vaishnava lineage", and "one of the leading practitioners of Bhakti-yoga in the West."

Jivatva means – the state of life or the state of the individual soul. Jivatva is the state of life of the Jiva, the living entity, which is a particular manifestation of Atman, the embodied being limited to psycho-physical states, and the source of avidya that suffers (repeated) transmigration as result of its actions. Until ignorance ceases the Jiva remains caught in experience of the results of actions bringing merit and demerit, and in the state of individuality (jivatva), and so long as the connection with the intellect as conditioning adjunct lasts, so long the individuality and transmigration of soul lasts.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Gupta, Ravi M. (2007). Caitanya Vaisnava Vedanta of Jiva Gosvami's Catursutri tika. Routledge. ISBN   0-415-40548-3.pp. 47-52
  2. Kaviraja, K.G. Sri Caitanya-caritamrita. Bengali text, translation, and commentary by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Madhya 20.108-109 Archived 11 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine "It is the living entity's constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krishna because he is the marginal energy of Krishna and a manifestation simultaneously one with and different from the Lord, like a molecular particle of sunshine or fire."
  3. Kṛṣṇa Upaniṣad 1.25: ...na bhinnam. nā bhinnamābhirbhinno na vai vibhuḥ
  4. 1 2 Prabhupada, A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami (1972). Bhagavad-gita as it is. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust Los Angeles, Calif. 7.8 Archived 19 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Additional information". Krishna.com. Archived from the original on 7 June 2002. Retrieved 16 April 2008. "Lord Chaitanya taught that as spirit souls we are part of God and thus we are not different with Him in quality, and yet at the same time we are also different from Him in quantity. This is called acintya-bheda-abheda-tattva, inconceivable, simultaneous oneness and difference."
  6. Satsvarupa, dasa Goswami (1976). "Readings in Vedit Literature: The Tradition Speaks for Itself": 240 pages. ISBN   0-912776-88-9.
  7. "Additional information". Tatfoundation. Archived from the original on 12 May 2008. Retrieved 16 April 2008. "This interpretation of the Upanishads, that the individual soul and God are absolutely non-different, is what distinguishes advaita from other forms of Vedanta."
  8. "Additional information". dvaita.org. Archived from the original on 12 April 2008. Retrieved 16 April 2008. "Dvaita,... asserts that the difference between the individual soul or Jiva, and the Creator, or Ishvara, is eternal and real"
  9. yathorṇa-nābhiḥ sṛjate gṛhṇate ca yathā pṛthivyām oṣadhayaḥ sambhavanti yathā sataḥ puruṣāt keśa-lomāni tathākṣarāt sambhavatīha viśvam - Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.1.7
  10. Prabhupada, A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami (1988). Srimad Bhagavatam. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Bhag. 4.31.16 Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine "One may be in the sunshine, but he is not on the sun itself."
  11. Kaviraja, K.G. Sri Caitanya-caritamrita. Bengali text, translation, and commentary by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Madhya 6.163 "Qualitatively the living entity and the Supreme Lord are one, but in quantity they are different"
  12. S. Devadas Pillai, ed. (1997). Indian Sociology Through Ghurye: A Dictionary. Columbia, Mo: South Asia Books. p. 403. ISBN   81-7154-807-5.