Bhagavān

acintya bheda-abheda is different from viśiṣṭa-advaita

We have examined previously that Bhagavān is the viśiṣṭa tattva. We also saw that Brahman is Bhagavān without attributes, or the viśeṣya tattva. Here we examine what viśiṣṭa tattva means in Śrī Jīva’s theology.

Śrī Jīva discusses absolute reality or tattva with an analysis of the famous verse from the Śrīmad Bhagavatām below (Tattva Sandarbha Anuccheda 51 and 52 and Bhagavat Sandarbha Anuccheda 1):

vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate: All those who have realized Absolute reality refer to that Reality as non dual consciousness. This reality is named as Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān.

This verse indicates that absolute reality is advaya- which means “one without a second”. If the worshipper has a non-personal concept of that reality, it manifests to that person as Brahman. If the worshipper has a personal concept, that same absolute reality manifests as Paramātmā or Bhagavān. Of course, all this requires the use of a legitimate process to realize either of them, that is, a method explained in the śāstras.

The difference between Bhagavān and Brahman is that of perception. Bhagavān is the viśiṣṭa or qualified reality, while Brahman is the unqualified reality, but reality is only one. This theology, then, appears similar to the viśiṣṭa advaita tattva of Śrī Rāmānujachārya (advaita means non-dual). However, Śrī Jīva has proposed that Absolute Reality is acintya bheda-abheda tattva. What’s the difference between these two theologies?

As we discussed in a previous article, an example of a viśeṣaṇa is the redness of a red rose. The redness inheres in the rose, and cannot be separated from it. This type of relation is called saṁvāya saṁbandha in nyāya. The brilliance of Śrī Jīva was in recognizing a potential problem with considering everything in existence as a viśeṣaṇa of Bhagavān. For example, Śrī Rāmānujachārya considers the material world as a viśeṣaṇa of Bhagavān. If the world is related to Bhagavān in a similar way as the redness of the rose, then the negative, inferior qualities of the material world become an inherent quality of Bhagavān. This, however, is not correct. Furthermore, the material world continually transforms, which would then mean that Bhagavān will transform but that is not the case. Bhagavān remains as He is, while His śakti, this world, can transform.

This is one purpose for why Śrī Jīva proposed acintya bheda-abheda tattva. The material world does not inhere in Him unlike redness which inheres in the rose. The material world is not a viśeṣaṇa of Bhagavān, because it does not inhere in Bhagavān; it is different from His svarūpa. This is bheda.

However, the material world is also a type of śakti of Bhagavān, and is dependent on Him for its existence. Therefore, it is a type of viśeṣaṇa of Bhagavān; here the word viśeṣaṇa carries the meaning of śakti. In this sense, there is abheda.

This type of simultaneous bheda and abheda is acintya or inconceivable, and only understood through śāstra (śāstra eka gamyam).

To summarize, acintya bheda-abheda differs from viśiṣṭa-advaita in the interpretation of the word viśeṣaṇa. The word viśeṣaṇa generally means qualifier of an object. In Śrī Jīva’s theology, it means śākti. The śaktis are inseparable from Absolute Reality but also different from Absolute Reality. This is acintya or inconceivable.

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18 replies »

  1. “..an example of a viśeṣaṇa is the redness of a red rose. The redness inheres in the rose, and cannot be separated from it. This type of relation is called saṁvāya saṁbandha in nyāya.The brilliance of Śrī Jīva was in recognizing a potential problem with considering everything in existence as a viśeṣaṇa of Bhagavān. For example, Śrī Rāmānujachārya considers the material world as a viśeṣaṇa of Bhagavān. If the world is related to Bhagavān in a similar way as the redness of the rose, then the negative, inferior qualities of the material world become an inherent quality of Bhagavān. ”

    Sarira -sariri sambandha is not a word coined by Bhagavad Ramanuja but part of upanishads which has used this concept many times to explain relationship between jiva and brahman. So is amsa-asmi. Please refer VS 2.3.45 and 46 – there is no possibility of fault of jiva touching the brahman It needs proper understanding of what is sarIra and not literally take it.
    The relation between red and rose is samavAya in His school but aprtak siddha. Infact VS 2.2.12 rejects this for the very reason you stated.
    I appreciate your learning spirit and interest in comparison and have no ill feelings in you expressing what you feel. A pramana based discussion is enriching. What I like is you present Gaudiya school as it is or as you have learnt.

    “The material world is not a viśeṣaṇa of Bhagavān, because it does not inhere in Bhagavān; it is different from His svarūpa. This is bheda.However, the material world is also a type of śakti of Bhagavān, and is dependent on Him for its existence. Therefore, it is a type of viśeṣaṇa of Bhagavān; here the word viśeṣaṇa carries the meaning of śakti. In this sense, there is abheda. ”
    Is world and jiva same in svarUpa of bhagavan , by acintya shakti? Or it appears like same and it is dependent on bhagavan. What is dependent cannot be same in svarUpa.

    Does achintya shakti make bhagavan and jiva one and different by svarUpa?What is the relation between acintya shakti and bhagavan?

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    • Whether you have ill feelings or not is irrelevant to me. Just stick to asking short and clear questions that I can answer. Don’t publish long tomes- see the rules for commenting on this blog.

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    • Is world and jiva same in svarUpa of bhagavan , by acintya shakti? Or it appears like same and it is dependent on bhagavan. What is dependent cannot be same in svarUpa.

      I have no idea what you are asking.

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    • Does achintya shakti make bhagavan and jiva one and different by svarUpa?What is the relation between acintya shakti and bhagavan

      Again- I have no idea what you are talking about

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      • The commentator wants to know if Jiva and Maya are related to Bhagavan by acintya Shakti and if they are, what is the relation between acintya Shakti and Bhagavan. One relation needing another relation will lead to infinite regress(anāvasthā) is what is being tried to prove.

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  2. However ‘acintya’ itself means not feasible by the mind, so I am not sure how the relations can be explained except accept whatever is described in shāstras.
    Paramātmasandarbha Anucchedas 64, 65, 66 in particular should be read to understand the abheda of Jiva and Jada with Paramātmā

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  3. /Is world and jiva same in svarUpa of bhagavan , by acintya shakti?/

    He means if Maya and jivas are part of Bhagavan’s svarupa and thus identical to him due to acintya shakti

    /Or it appears like same and it is dependent on bhagavan. What is dependent cannot be same in svarUpa./

    Not sure what ‘appears like same’ means. If it is dependent on Bhagavan then it cannot be identical

    /Does achintya shakti make bhagavan and jiva one and different by svarUpa?/

    He means if Jiva is both identical and different from Bhagavan’s svarupa due to acintya shakti

    /What is the relation between acintya shakti and bhagavan?/

    He takes ‘acintya shakti’ as a separate substance and asks how it is related to Bhagavan

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    • maya and jiva are simultaneously identical and not identical to him. This is acintya.

      I don’t understand what he means – “due to acintya sakti”. maya and jiva are themselves saktis.

      There is acintya bheda abheda between Bhagavan and His saktis. I don’t know what he means by ‘acintya sakti’

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      • He thought that in Gaudiya view, Jiva and mAyA are identical and different to Brahman due to the latter possessing a separate acintya shakti. It could be due to using expressions like ‘Bhagavan has acintya shakti’. But actually all shaktis are acintya(shaktayaH sarvabhAvAnAm acintya jñāna gocarAH). The meanings of the term “acintya jñāna gocarAH” is explained in 3 different manners by Sridhara swami and quoted by Sri Jiva

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  4. Or as Sridhara swami glosses ‘acintya’ in his Vishnupurana tika:
    acintya bhinnAbhinnAdi vikapaishcintayitumashakyAH kevala arthApattij~NAna gocarAH santi |

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