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. Gautama, Kaṇāda, Jaimini, Kapila and Patañjali accept bheda. And śrī-rāmānuja and śrī-madhvācārya’s opinion is well-known everywhere. 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! ]