Bhagavān

Śrī Jīva Goswami coins the term “acintya bheda-abheda”

Reader Sridhar asked the following questions to which my responses are provided. The response to question 2 lists the passage where Śrī Jīva Goswami coins the term “acintya bheda-abheda”.

Question 1. Could you make a post on how the acharyas see the exact relationship between shaktis and shaktimān? Is it samavāya or samyoga of naiyayikas, or as the Vishishtadvaitins perceive it as apRthak-siddhi? Is there any passage in the Sandarbhas or Sarvasamvadini where it is discussed?

Answer: The relationship between śākti and śaktimāna is not samavāya, because then we are forced to accept only bheda. Both samavāya and saṁyoga relate two different items – such as quality and object or a book and a table. The color of a rose is present in the rose by samavāya-saṁbandha or inherence- but the bheda remains between them. One could say there is abheda in the sense that they always are together- but that is not really abheda. Saṁyoga is strictly bheda as contact between two objects does not make them non-different. Contact can always be broken- like that of a book and a table. Śrī Jīva Goswami does discuss the different types of bheda and abheda in Sarva-saṁvādini which I have attempted to translate below.

2. Also could you please explain the passages in Sarvasamvadini where acintya-bhedābheda is arrived to and proposed by Sri Jiva Goswamipāda?

Answer: The relevant passages of Sarva-saṁvādini are the commentaries on Anuccheda 77 and 78 of the Paramātmā Sandarbha. My translation of those passages is presented below. I also provide notes in brackets.

ataḥ kecid vadanti—ata ekasyaiva vastuno’vasthā-bhedena kāraṇatvaṁ kāryatvaṁ cety avasthābhyāṁ bhedād vastunā tv abhedāt tayor bhedābhedau | evaṁ sarveṣām eva vastūnāṁ bhedābhedāv eva | sarvatra hi kāraṇātmanā jāty-ātmanā cābhedaḥ | kāryātmanā vyakty-ātmanā ca bhedaḥ pratīyate, yathā “mṛd ayaṁ ghaṭaḥ”, “ṣaṇḍo gauḥ” iti | atra yukti-viśeṣāś ca bhāskara-matādau draṣṭavyāḥ |

So some say: One object has bheda due to difference in states, and abheda due to being the same object. The differences in states are of the same object being a cause or an effect. In this way, all objects have bheda and abheda. There is abheda between objects due to their belonging to the same class and due to their being a cause. The bheda is apparent because of their being effects and individuals of a class. For example, “this clay is a pot”, “the bull is a cow”. This type of logic is seen in the opinion of Bhāskara and others.

[My notes- The pot is an effect while the clay is not an effect, it is a cause. Therefore, the clay (cause) is different from the pot (effect). However, ultimately the pot and clay are one substance only – so there is abheda between them.]

anye vadanti—na tāvat kārya-kāraṇayor bhedābhedau, yata ākāra-viśeṣa-rūpāyā evāvasthāyāḥ kāryatvaṁ, na mṛdaḥ, tasyā pūrva-siddhatvāt | ata eva nākāra-viśeṣa-viśiṣṭāyā api tasyā kāryatvam | ghaṭatvaṁ tu tad-viśiṣṭāyā eva | tat-kārya-kāraṇatva-tat-pratīti-tac-chabda-prayogāṇāṁ tasyām eva darśanāt | ato ghaṭasya kāryatvaṁ kāryasya ghaṭatvaṁ prācūryād iva vyapadiśyate | tad evaṁ tad-avasthāyā eva kāryatve siddhe kāraṇatvam api parasyās tad-avasthāyā eva bhaviṣyati | tataś ca kārya-kāraṇayos tad-rūpāvasthā-dvayāśrayasya vastunaś ca bhinnatvam eva |

Others speak as follows – There is not bheda and abheda both of cause and effect. The effect is the state of have a specific form. Clay is not an effect, because it exists before (the form comes into being, and not after). Therefore, clay is not an effect even when it is qualified by a specific form, while the pot is the qualified state. The appearance of being the cause of the effect, and the words that are used to express that, are seen to be applied only to clay (and never to the pot). This is why the pot alone is said to be the effect, and the effect is said to be the pot everywhere (and never the clay). In this way, when the state of clay ( potness) alone is proven as the effect, the cause will refer only to a different state of that (clay). From this, the object which is present in two different forms of cause and effect has bheda (alone, not abheda).

[My notes – This view teaches that there is only bheda, not abheda between the clay and the pot. Before the pot, the clay alone exists. The word ’cause’ is used for the clay alone and never for the pot. Likewise the word ‘effect’ is only used for the pot. Thus, there is only bheda and no abheda]

tayor ananyatvaṁ tu ghaṭādi-lakṣaṇa-viśiṣṭa-vastv-apekṣayaiva, na tu pratyeka-vastv-apekṣayā | tathā parasparaṁ kāryāṇām api na bhinnābhinnatvaṁ pratīyate, pratyekaṁ vailakṣaṇyāt | tathā vyakti-gata-bhedo jāti-gataś cābheda iti naikasya dvy-ātmakatā | tad-ākāra-dvayāśrayaṁ vastv-antaram astīti tritayābhyupagame’pi sa eva doṣaḥ | anavasthāpātaś ca, tasmād bheda eva | tat tvam asy ādāv abheda-nirdeśas tu vyākhyāta eva |

The abheda (of cause and effect) is only when referring to the object which is qualified with characteristics of pot etc., not in the context of every object. And, bheda and abheda is not apparent even in corresponding effects, because each of them is distinct. Also, the bheda between individuals of a class, and abheda due to being members of the same class does not imply the two-foldness of one object. If we accept a third object as the shelter of the two forms, the same fault applies. Also infinite regress results. Therefore, there is only bheda (not abheda). The reference to abheda in tat-tvam asi has been already explained.  

atra bheda-siddhānte yukti-bāhulyaṁ ca sa-nyāya-nyāyāmṛta-darśanādau draṣṭavyam | ato bhedābheda-vādo viśiṣṭa-vastv-apekṣayaiva pravartanāt | abheda-vādaś ca viśeṣānusandhāna-rāhityenaiveti |

Here, the different logical arguments for establishing bheda can be seen in the darśanas of nyāya and nyāya-amṛta. The philosophy about bheda and abheda is seen in the context of qualified objects only. The abheda-vāda is only when qualifiers are disregarded.

[The point is that it is only possible to talk about abheda when discussing the object without qualifiers. That is, abheda only applies in the context of Brahman, as captured in the statement tat tvam asi]

apare tu, tarkāpratiṣṭhānāt [ve.sū. 2.1.11] iti nyāyena bhede’py abhede’pi nirmaryāda-doṣa-santati-darśanena bhinnatayā cintayitum aśakyatvād abhedaṁ sādhayantas tadvad abhinnatayāpi cintayitum aśakyatvād bhedam api sādhayanto’cintya-bhedābheda-vādaṁ svīkurvanti |

Others accept acintya bhedābheda on the basis of tarkāpratiṣṭhānāt. They recognize that accepting bheda or abheda gives rise to a sequence of endless faults. That is, those who seek abheda because of the impossibility of bheda, realize that it is impossible to establish abheda alone, and then seek bheda again (and so it continues).

[Above, Śrī Jīva Goswami coins the term “acintya bheda-abheda”]

tatra bādara-paurāṇika-śaivānāṁ mate bhedābhedau, bhāskara-mate ca | māyāvādināṁ tatra bhedāṁśo vyāvahārika eva prātītiko vā | gautama-kaṇāda-jaimini-kapila-patañjali-mate tu bheda eva | śrī-rāmānuja-madhvācārya-mate cety api sārvatrikī prasiddhiḥ | sva-mate tv acintya-bhedābhedāv evācintya-śaktimayatvād iti |

In the opinion of Bādara-paurāṇika-śaivaites, bheda and abheda is valid, and this is also the opinion of Bhāskara. The Māyāvādis say that bheda is vyāvahārika or merely an appearance. It is well known tht Gautama, Kaṇāda, Jaimini, Kapila and Patañjali, as well as śrī-rāmānuja and śrī-madhvācārya’s accept bheda alone. To us, acintya-bheda-abheda alone is acceptable, because the substantive is endowed with acintya śaktis.

[Here he mentions the views of other schools. Acintya is defined by him as śāstra-eka-gamyam – only understood from śāstra. This is another reason why the relation between śākti and śaktimāna cannot be samavāya- one does not need śāstra to infer such a relation. One can easily posit such a relation between qualities and the qualified.]

[Note- I edited the article to delete a passage that discussed the different types of bhedas. It was pointed out to me that the passage was from Śrī Ramanujācārya’s Śrī Bhāṣya. I examined those passages, and realized that they were a) peripheral to what is discussed above, and b) specifically written to show that vādas like bheda-abheda or kevala bheda are not able to explain scriptural statements teaching brahma-ātma-bhāva — Brahman is the ātmā of everything in existence (i.e. Brahman is the soul, and the rest of existence is its body). This is a good example of the dangers of translating when one does not know the context well! Lesson learned! ]

Categories: Bhagavān

Tagged as:

37 replies »

  1. Very nice and refreshing article. These valuable philosophical understadings gets lost to us in the midst of refuting silly concepts of neos claiming to represent the Chaitanya sampradaya. Please continue with such profound darshanika discussions.

    There is one question though.. what is exactly meant by brahmātma-bhāva? What is this state? Could you point to the description of such a state in the Shruti? From what I have understood till now, Brahmasāyujya/kaivalya is the state at which the jīva realises Brahman without qualifiers(i.e. shaktis and gunas remain unmanifest to the kaivalyArthi jīva). So it cannot distinguish the AtmA from Brahman.

    Like

    • I think brahmatma bhava is a technical term. You could literally translate it as ‘the state in which the self is Brahman’. That would mean Brahma sayujya mukti. I would have to read more about this to be sure but I think this is probably correct. Your understanding of Brahma sayujya is correct except that Brahman is realized through aikya with it. So no question of distinguishing between atma and Brahman.

      Like

  2. In the book ,”A History of Indian Philosophy” Part IV(Link to the specific topic: https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/a-history-of-indian-philosophy-volume-4/d/doc210048.html)
    The author says regarding the relationship between parts and whole as per the opinion of the author of ShaTsandarbha this:

    “On the subject of the relation between the parts and the whole the author of the Ṣaṭ-sandarbha says that the whole is not a conglomeration of the parts, neither is the whole the transformation of the parts or a change induced in the parts. Nor can the whole be regarded as different from the parts or one with it, or as associated with it. If the whole were entirely different from the parts, the parts would have nothing to do with the whole; if the parts were inherent in the whole, then any part would be found anywhere in the whole. Therefore the relation between the parts and the whole is of a supra-logical nature.

    From this position the author of the Ṣaṭ-sandarbha jumps to the conclusion that, wherever there is an appearance of any whole, such an appearance is due to the manifestation of Paramātman, which is the ultimate cause and the ultimate reality (tasmād aikya-buddhyālambana-rūpaṃ yat pratīyate tat sarvatra paramātma-lakṣaṇaṃ sarvakāraṇam asty eva, p. 252).”

    Is this relation correctly presented?
    And can you please cite the origin of these statements and correct if there are some inconsistencies? I could locate the contents of the second paragraph in the Paramātma sandarbha but not sure where the first half is from.

    Regards.

    Like

  3. as far as I know kevala-bheda is a shaivite philosophy. Madhwas accept bheda as well as abheda. Their similarly is not rejected by them

    Like

  4. (I think this comment I didnot get this comment posted here, hence posting again. Please delete if it’s duplicate)

    Radhe Radhe

    Regarding the last comment about kevala-bheda being opposed to Vedanta, is it possible that Sri Jiva would comment that Madhwa doctrine is opposed to Vedanta since he greatly praises Madhwa in Tattva sandarbha? Someone commented on the last point as follows:

    “Must be careful when we say Dvaita Siddhanta is opposed to Vedanta and rejected by Sri Jiva. It is like cutting the base of the branch we are sitting on.”

    And then this person posted the tika of Sri Madhva on SB 11.7.51:

    //madhvaḥ : avaya-vyavayavānāṁ ca guṇānāṁ guṇinas tathā |
    śakti-śaktimatoś caiva kriyāyās tadvatas tathā ||
    svarūpāṁśāṁśinoś caiva nityābhedo janārdane |
    jīva-svarūpeṣu tathā tathaiva prakṛtāv api |
    cid-rūpāyām ato’naṁśā aguṇā akriyā iti |
    hīnā avayavaiś ceti kathyante te tv abhedataḥ |
    pṛthag-guṇādy-abhāvāc ca nityatvād ubhayor api |
    viṣṇor acintya-śakteś ca sarvaṁ sambhavati dhruvam |
    kriyāder api nityatvaṁ vyakty-avyakti-viśeṣaṇam |
    bhāvābhāva-viśeṣeṇa vyavahāraś ca tādṛśaḥ |
    viśeṣasya viśiṣṭasyāpy abhedas tadvad eva tu |
    sarvaṁ cācintya-śaktitvād yujyate parameśvare |
    tac-chaktyaiva tu jīveṣu cid-rūpa-prakṛtāv api |
    bhedābhedau tad anyatra hy ubhayor api darśanāt |
    kārya-kāraṇayoś cāpi nimittaṁ kāraṇaṁ vinā || iti brahma-tarke ||

    ātmani caivaṁ vicitrāś ca hi | sarvopetā ca tad-darśanāt | sarva-dharmopapatteś ca | svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca | yatra sapta ṛṣīn para ekam āhur ity ādeś ca | naivāsatyaṁ kvacid asmin pareśe sarvaṁ yuktaṁ pūrṇa-śakteḥ sadaiva itica viśvambhara-śrutiḥ |

    tasmād ekasminn api śarīre bhedābhedāt prabhavāpyayau yujyate, na ca virodhaḥ | sthūla-sūkṣmavat | āpekṣikam atrāpi yujyate |

    buddhi-saṁsthas tv ātma-bhedo’vyaktastho jīva ucyate |
    tenaiva saha saṁsthānāt parātmā sthūla-buddhibhiḥ |
    jīvaval lakṣyate viṣṇur yathaivāmbusthitārkavat |
    paramārkaḥ pārimāṇyāḍd vartulatvādinā tathā ||
    arka-svarūpānabhijñaiḥ śiraḥ pādādi-varjitaḥ |
    acetanaś ca kalpeta tat-tejo-mātra-darśibhiḥ ||
    sūrya-dehādi-bhinnaṁn hi tejo-maṇḍalam eva tu |
    dṛśyate sthūla-matibhir evam eva janārdana || iti prabhāsake ||51||
    //
    Also since Sri Jiva had identified the bhedavadins with Kanada, Gautama, Samkhya, Patanjali etc. Is it correct to identify the bhedavadins in the last verse (solely) with Madhwas?

    Please kindly give your opinion.

    Dhanyavaad!

    Like

    • The reason I identified kevala-vada with the Madhvaites is that they dont accept one-ness with qualityless Brahman (this is so well-known that I am not going to belabor it more). In fact, they dont accept that such qualityless Brahman exists! That is what Sri Jiva is mentioning here as contradicting Vedanta (i.e. the Upanisads). The commentary that you cited above is irrelevant to what Sri Jiva is writing. As for cutting off the branch one is sitting on- what I have learned in our parampara is that Sri Caitanya is Sri Krsna Himself, and it is with Him that the Caitanya branch began. Not accepting Sri Jiva’s writings -plain as they are- is the real cutting off of one’s branch. This is the last I will say on this. Let people believe what they want.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This applies to which relationship :-

    Shaktiman and Shakti (Jiva)

    Shaktiman and Shakti (Māyā)

    Shaktiman and Shakti (Antaranga)

    • Or all of the above !!!?
    • Or there is different explanation for each of them.

    Like

    • IMO Mainly for the first two. Since example of modification/transformation(clay into pot) is given.
      Antarangashakti’s manifestations(which may also be called bhedābheda) are not modification of Bhagavan/Brahman but rather His own swarupa but manifesting varieties which are also the svarupa only.

      Like

      • But do u really think that any kind of “Bedha” is applicable in the context of Antaranga Śakti and Kṛṣṇa!

        Like

      • Although the type of relation between shakti and shaktimān(parts and whole etc.) would likely apply to all shaktis since the relation is supra-logical in the first place.

        Like

  6. The relationship between antaranga shakti and shaktimān or gunas like Sat, chit and Ananda with Brahman are described elsewhere in the Sarvasamvadini. May be TK Das ji can do a future post on that. In Laghu Bhagavatamrita Rupa Goswami says(regarding ‘bheda’ between deha and dehi of Bhagavan):

    sac-cid-ānanda-sāndratvāt dvayor evāviśeṣataḥ |
    aupacārika evātra bhedo’yaṁ dehi-dehanoḥ ||

    Note that he says that the bheda is ‘aupacārika’ only. This would apply to everything about antarangāshakti.

    Like

    • This (aupacArika bheda) applies even to Sri Mahalakshmi(who is the embodiment of antarangāshakti) who is not different from the svarupa of Vishnu. Please check Anuccheda 100 of Bhagavat sandarbha where Vishnupurana(1.9.44-45) is cited by Sri Jiva along with Sridhara Swami’s commentary. Hence Bhagavan’s so called bheda with Antaranga shakti can be rightly called ‘aupacArika’ only.

      Like

      • Priti Sandrabha somewhere says “Antaranga Śakti reside inside Kṛṣṇa in apṛkata form and in personal form that Śakti exist as Śrī Rādhā, Rukmini, Sītā etc………….”.

        Like

  7. Radhe Radhe
    Could you translate this passage from Sarvasamvadini?

    ittham eva vyākhyātaṁ śrī-viṣṇu-purāṇe’pi svāmi-pādaiḥ—

    viṣṇu-śaktiḥ parā proktā kṣetrajñākhyā tathāparā |
    avidyā karma-saṁjñānyā tṛtīyā śaktir iṣyate || [vi.pu. 6.7.61] iti |

    atra viṣṇu-śaktiḥ viṣṇoḥ svarūpa-bhūtā parā cit-svarūpā śaktiḥ parama-pada-para-brahma-para-tattvādy-ākhyā proktā | pratyastamita-bhedaṁ yat tat sattā-mātraṁ [vi.pu. 6.7.53] ity atra prāg-uktaṁ svarūpam eva kāryonmukhaṁ śakti-śabdenoktam iti ||

    ataḥ svarūpasya kāryonmukhatvenaiva śaktitvaṁ, na svata ity āyātam |

    tataś ca viśeṣya-rūpaṁ tad eva svayaṁ śaktimad-viśeṣaṇa-rūpaṁ, kāryonmukhatvaṁ tu śaktiḥ, jagac ca kārya-kṣamatva-mūlam iti | tat-kṣamatvādi-rūpā nityaiva sā śaktir ity avagamyate |

    tathāpi vastuto’tyanta-vyatirekeṇa tasyā nirūpyatvābhāvān na tataḥ pṛthaktvam astīty abhiprāyeṇaiva tathoktam iti jñeyam | vastv evāstu kā tatra śaktir nāma iti mataṁ tu na vedāntināṁ matam | saty api vastuni mantrādinā śakti-stambhādi-darśanāt yukti-viruddhaṁ caitat |

    tasmāt svarūpād abhinnatvena cintayitum aśakyatvād bhedaḥ | bhinnatvena cintayitum aśakyatvād abhedaś ca pratīyate iti śakti-śaktimator bhedābhedāv evāṅgīkṛtau | tau cācintyau iti ||

    DhanyavAdah

    Like

    • Here is a quick translation without transliterations; my clarifications are in parenthesis. Hopefully it is all correct; I am lacking context here so buyer beware–

      ittham eva vyākhyātaṁ śrī-viṣṇu-purāṇe’pi svāmi-pādaiḥ—

      The same has been explained by Sri Sridhar svami-pada in Sri Visnu-purana

      viṣṇu-śaktiḥ parā proktā kṣetrajñākhyā tathāparā |
      avidyā karma-saṁjñānyā tṛtīyā śaktir iṣyate || [vi.pu. 6.7.61] iti |

      Visnu satki is called parA, another sakti is called ksetrajna, and a third sakti is named avidya-karma.

      atra viṣṇu-śaktiḥ viṣṇoḥ svarūpa-bhūtā parā cit-svarūpā śaktiḥ parama-pada-para-brahma-para-tattvādy-ākhyā proktā | pratyastamita-bhedaṁ yat tat sattā-mātraṁ [vi.pu. 6.7.53] ity atra prāg-uktaṁ svarūpam eva kāryonmukhaṁ śakti-śabdenoktam iti ||

      (Visnu-sakti = Visnu’s svarupa sakti; para = cit-svarupa – conscious by nature.) Visnu’s svarupa sakti, which is conscious by nature, is called names beginning with parama-pada, para-brahma and para-tattva. The svarupa (essential nature) which is previously mentioned in Vi.pu. 6.7.53 – pratyastimita-bhedam yat tat satta-matram – “[where/when] all bhedas have ended, that is just pure existence” – is referred to here by the word śakti in this verse specifically when engaged in action.

      ataḥ svarūpasya kāryonmukhatvenaiva śaktitvaṁ, na svata ity āyātam |

      Therefore the svarupa (essential nature) is called sakti only when it is engaged in action, and not by itself.

      tataś ca viśeṣya-rūpaṁ tad eva svayaṁ śaktimad-viśeṣaṇa-rūpaṁ, kāryonmukhatvaṁ tu śaktiḥ, jagac ca kārya-kṣamatva-mūlam iti | tat-kṣamatvādi-rūpā nityaiva sā śaktir ity avagamyate |

      It follows that, that which is the visesya (substantive or the object which is to be qualified), is itself qualified as the possessor of saktis. Only when active, (the visesya) is called sakti. And because the world is rooted in the capacity for action, it is understood that that sakti has this capacity for action and so forth eternally.

      tathāpi vastuto’tyanta-vyatirekeṇa tasyā nirūpyatvābhāvān na tataḥ pṛthaktvam astīty abhiprāyeṇaiva tathoktam iti jñeyam | vastv evāstu kā tatra śaktir nāma iti mataṁ tu na vedāntināṁ matam | saty api vastuni mantrādinā śakti-stambhādi-darśanāt yukti-viruddhaṁ caitat |

      Even so, because this sakti is never mentioned as completely different from the vastu, with the intention to state that it is also not different from the vastu, the sakti is explained to be so. Let the vastu alone exist, what is the need for sakti? This is not acceptable to the Vedantis. It is seen that mantras etc. have the sakti such as the capacity to stiffen etc. (separately) existing objects. Therefore, the notion that there is no sakti is opposed to logic.

      tasmāt svarūpād abhinnatvena cintayitum aśakyatvād bhedaḥ | bhinnatvena cintayitum aśakyatvād abhedaś ca pratīyate iti śakti-śaktimator bhedābhedāv evāṅgīkṛtau | tau cācintyau iti ||

      Therefore, because it is impossible to think of the sakti as being non-different from the svarupa, bheda is apparent. And. because it is impossible to think of the sakti as different from the svarupa, abheda is apparent. As such, bheda and abheda both must be accepted between the sakti and the saktiman (and not pure bheda, or pure abheda). And this bheda and abheda is acintya (known through sastra alone).

      Like

  8. The second half of the quotes about criticism of Kevala-bhedavadins etc. are actually quoted verbatim from Sri Ramanuja’s Sribhashya(1.1.1). Sri Jiva is quoting the opinion of Ramanuja here.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s