Gaudiya vaishnav philosophy

Living beings

According to Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy, consciousness is not a product of matter, but is instead a symptom of the soul. All living beings (jivas), are distinct from their current body – the nature of the soul being eternal, immutable, and indestructible without any particular beginning or end. Souls which are captivated by the illusory nature of the world (Maya) are repeatedly reborn among the various (8 400 000 in number) species of life on this planet and on other worlds in accordance to the laws of karma and individual desire. This is consistent with the concept of samsara found throughout Hindu belief. Release from the process of samsara (known as moksha) is believed to be achievable through a variety of yoga processes. However, within Gaudiya Vaishnavism it is bhakti in its purest state (or “pure love of God”) which is given as the ultimate aim, rather than liberation from the cycle of rebirth.Supreme Person (God) Svayam Bhagavan

Gaudiya Vaishnavas believe that God has many forms and names, but that the name “Krishna” is the ‘fullest’ description because it means “He who is all-attractive”, covering all of God’s aspects, such as being all-powerful, supremely merciful and all-loving. God is worshiped as the eternal, all-knowing, omnipresent, all-powerful and all-attractive Supreme Person. Names of God from other religious traditions, such as Allah and Jehovah, are also accepted as bonafide titles of the same Supreme Person.
One of the defining aspects of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is that Krishna is worshiped specifically as the source of all Avataric incarnations of God. This is based on quotations from the Bhagavata Purana, such as “krsnas tu bhagavan svayam”, translated as “Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead” and from the Bhagavad Gita where Arjuna, when speaking to Krishna, states: “You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala and Vyasa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.”
Krishna is described elsewhere as the “seed-giving father of all living beings” and is worshiped within the Gaudiya tradition literally, as such – Krishna being the “sustaining energy of the universe”.

Inconceivable oneness and difference Achintya Bheda Abheda
Achintya-Bheda-Abheda (अचिन्त्यभेदाभेद, acintyabhedābheda in IAST) is a school of Vedanta representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference, in relation to the power creation and creator, (Krishna), svayam bhagavan and also between God and his energies[4] within the Gaudiya Vaishnava religious tradition. In Sanskrit achintya means ‘inconceivable’, bheda translates as ‘difference’, and abheda translates as ‘one-ness’. 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 best understood as integration of strict dualist (Dvaita) view of Madhvacharya and qualified monism Vishishtadvaita of Ramanujacharya while rejecting absolute monism Advaita of Adi Sankara. This philosophy is particularly distinct part of the Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy espoused by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the context of the soul’s relationship with Krishna, and also Krishna’s relationship with his other energies (i.e. the material world). In quality, the soul (jiva) is described as being identical to God, but in terms of quantity individual jivas are said to be infinitesimal in comparison to the unlimited Supreme Being. The exact nature of this relationship (being simultaneously one and different with Krishna) is inconceivable to the human mind, but can be experienced through the process of Bhakti yoga.
This philosophy serves as a meeting of two opposing schools of Hindu philosophy, pure monism (God and the soul as one entity) and pure dualism (God and the soul as absolutely separate). In practice Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy has much more in common with the dualistic schools, as Krishna is worshiped as a Supreme person.
Caitanya’s philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda-tattva completed the progression to devotional theism. Rāmānuja had agreed with Śankara that the Absolute is one only, but he had disagreed by affirming individual variety within that oneness. Madhva had underscored the eternal duality of the Supreme and the Jīva: he had maintained that this duality endures even after liberation. Caitanya, in turn, specified that the Supreme and the jīvas are “inconceivably, simultaneously one and different” (acintya-bheda-abheda). He strongly opposed Śankara’s philosophy for its defiance of Vyāsadeva’s siddhānta.— (Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, Readings in Vedic Literature: The Tradition Speaks for Itself, Chapter 5)

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 not pantheistic 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.
“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)
The analogy often used as an explanation in this context in the relationship between the Sun and the Sunshine. 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. Thus there is a difference between the souls and the Supreme Lord.

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 fully 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. Mayavadi concept is a direct opposite and a contradicting concept to an early Krishna-theism.
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.

Advertisements

Tags:

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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: