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Nimbarka Philosophy – Teachings Of Nimbarkacharya

Very little is known of the life of Nimbarka (Nimbaditya or Niyamananda), but he is held in reverence as one of the greatest saints of India, and the monastery he is said to have founded is still a celebrated place of pilgrimage. Nimbarka philosophy remains unique in that it never attacked other schools of philosophy. Here are the important teachings of Nimbarkacharya.

Infinite is God and infinite are the ways to apprehend and comprehend him – and such was the opinion of Nimbarka also as he approached the fundamental problems of God, the universe, and the human soul.

According to the philosophy of Nimbarka Bhedabheda, or dualism in nondualism, Brahman has two aspects, the absolute and the relative, or, in other words, the impersonal and the personal.

In his personal aspect, Brahman possesses attributes, and from him as person has issued the universe of name and form.

But Brahman has not exhausted himself in the creation of the universe, for he [it] is also transcendental and impersonal, without attributes, and as such he [it] is greater than the universe.

The universe is, however, one with, as well as different from, Brahman, even as the wave is one with but different from the ocean, or a ray of the sun is one with but different from the sun. Such also is the relationship between individual souls and Brahman; they are at once one with him and different from him. It is not merely a distinction between the part and the whole that we have in mind, for they are both a part of Brahman, and one with him.

Thus there exists almost an identity between the philosophy of Nimbarka and that of Bhaskara, but with the important difference that according to Bhaskara the individual soul is a part of Brahman only so long as it remains in ignorance – that in knowledge and emancipation it becomes one with him; whereas Nimbarka declares that the individual soul is a part of Brahman, and is also one with him, both in the state of ignorance and in that of knowledge and emancipation.

In the state of ignorance – according to Nimbarka – the individual soul experiences the empirical world of phenomena, while in the state of liberation it attains the superconscious, transcendental vision of the noumenal, the absolute Brahman, at the same time that it realizes itself as living both in union with Brahman and separate from him.

Nimbarka lays stress upon both knowledge and devotion as means of attaining freedom. Knowledge reveals the true nature of Brahman, and devotion culminates in all-absorbing love for him [the personal aspect] and in complete surrender of the finite will to the infinite will, although in both the love and the surrender the individual self remains. For the followers of Nimbarka, Bhagavan Sri Krishna and his divine consort Radha embody both supreme will and supreme love.