Is it logical and necessary to bring the concept of inconceivability
to explain relation between jIva+matter and Brahman, as imagined by gaudiya vaishnavas in their "achintya bheda-abheda"
doctrine? Is not this achintya of gaudiyas another kind of mAya of advaitins? Has Bhagavad Ramanuja forgone to explain this
relation concretely in his Sri Bhasya as claimed by gaudiyas?
A pure devotee of Sriman Narayana or any of His transcendental forms
is a perfectionist in gnAna already. Such devotees of the Lord knows truth as it is, and there is no need for auxilary sources
of knowledge. However, a person who is aspiring to become a pure devotee of the Lord, needs absolute knowledge from true,
un-alloyed source and hence there is always a need of debate what is "Absolute truth as given by vedas". Bhagavad Sri Ramanuja
Acharya has given the true purport of vedas in his Sri Bhashya, yet there are many other doctrines prevailing causing confusions
to true Truth seekers. Sri Ramanuja has smashed all other doctrines of confusion and mAya and established pure Sri Visishta-advaitha.
But in the recent centuries, many other doctrines sprouted, rising the need of debate of what is the true meaning of vedas.
This article is an effort in the same direction.
This is an article meant for Gaudiya Vaishnavas with the following understanding of Bhagavad Sri Ramanuja
acharya and Sri Visishta-advaitha:
"Sri Ramanuja found it difficult to describe the relationship of identity and difference and accepts both
of them. Indeed, according to Ramanuja himself (Sribhasya 2.2.12), aprthak- siddhi is not strictly a relation, although his
followers such as Vedanta Desika sometimes speak of it as such.
Thus through careful examination both scholars and acaryas of other sampradayas came to conclude that acceptance
of Ramanuja's term aprthak-siddhi really involves forgoing logic.
In this regard, the Gaudiya acaryas have determined that this logical shortcoming of Sri Ramanuja's metaphysic
is resolved with the concept of acintya, or inconceivability with regard to the nature of ultimate reality and its being simultaneously
one and different.
Thus the Gaudiyas feel that the metaphysic of acintya-bhedabheda tattva better explains the nature of ultimate
reality, and that this explanation is an improvement on the efforts of Ramanuja and others. Ramanuja and others have struggled
to come to grips with the fact that the concepts of either oneness or difference are inadequate to comprehensively explain
the nature of the Absolute. The Gaudiyas have concluded that Brahman is both one and different simultaneously, and that
this is possible because the Absolute possesses inconceivable power (acintya-sakti)".
refer to the comment on the "shortcoming of Ramanuja's metaphysic" at http://www.vnn.org/editorials/ET0305/ET28-8094.html
SrI: SrImatE rAmAnujAya namaH
> " It appears that in reality Ramanuja finds it difficult to describe
> the relationship of identity and difference but accepts both of them.
> Indeed, according to Ramanuja himself (Sribhasya 2.2.12), aprthak-
> siddhi is not strictly a relation, although his followers such as
> Vedanta Desika sometimes speak of it as such.
In the cited VEdAnta SUtra (2.2.12), samavAya sambandha as postulated by VaiSEshika school of thought is criticized because
it will lead to infinite regress. It is not clear as to what the author wants to convey by stating the above.
SamavAya sambandha (Relation called Inherence): is postulated by VaiSEshikas as the relationship binding the inseperable
entities [they state that it exists in five cases - dravya (substance) and guNa, vyakti and jAti etc]. This relationship is
introduced by them to explain as to why two entities exist always together inseparably. Hence, it is also to be noted
that samavAya sambandha and the relata [entities which are related] always exist together.
This gives rise to the question - "By the above logic, it will be necessary to postulate another (second) samavAya sambandha
to account for the inseparable existence of the entity and the samavAya sambandha postulated atfirst. This will lead to the
acceptance of third samavAya sambandha and so on - ad infinitum. How to resolve this fallacy ? ". VaiSEshikas resolve
this by stating that it is the very nature of the samavAya sambandha to always be found with the relata, and hence there is
no need to accept further samavAya sambandhas. To this, we VEdAntins reply that there is no need to postulate an unseen
samavAya sambandha, for it is the very nature of the entities to exist inseparably [like Substance and its attribute].
Hence, the entities are said to be apRuthak-siddha, if they are inseparable, which is by their very nature. Though
samavAya sambandha is an internal relation between, for example in Substance and the attribute, it is superfluous - since
the Substance and its attribute by itself accounts for their inseparable existence. In this sense, apRuthak-siddha can be
termed to be of the type "svarUpa sambandha" as held by NyAya-VaiSEshika school. This by itself is an internal relation
sufficiently explaining the inseparable nature of two entities like Dravya (Substance) and its guNa (attribute).
Basically, the characteristic of the "relation" is to create the empirical usage that the two entities are related.
If the relata by themselves can provide such usage, there is no need to postulate a new relation to account for it. Hence
there is no forgoing of explanation of Bhagavad Ramanuja regarding the attributes of Brahman. For detailed discussions,
please refer SwAmi VEdAnta DESika's Tattva-muktA-kalApa with his own commentary SarvArtha-Siddhi and further commentaries
till SrI "Abhinava DESika" UttamUr VIrarAghavAchArya. One can read the excellent book by SrI SMS Chari on Fundamentals of
ViSishTAdvaita, based on Tattva-muktA-kalApa.
> Thus through careful
> examination both scholars and acaryas of other sampradayas came to
> conclude that acceptance of Ramanuja's term aprthak-siddhi really
> involves forgoing logic.
Infact, acceptance of it is only logical. Acceptance of samavAya sambandha only does not appeal to logic. This is the siddhAnta
of Sage VyAsa, the writer of the SUtras as well. More to follow ...
> In this regard, the Gaudiya acaryas have
> determined that this logical shortcoming of Sri Ramanuja's metaphysic
> is resolved with the concept of acintya, or inconceivability with
> regard to the nature of ultimate reality and its being simultaneously
> one and different.
This is quite funny. Whatever logically established as in SAstras is thrown away and an illogical siddhAnta is brought
in - Is this a way to "resolve" things ? If Bhagavad RAmAnuja is said to have forgone logic, is the explanation involving
inconceivability (achintya) with logical contradiction of simultaneously being one and different any better ? It has to
be noted that, if at all the term "achintya" may have any significance in this context, there has to certainly be a logical
contradiction. When there is no logical contradiction in this context, there will be nothing to be given up as inconceivable.
Since, Bhagavad RAmAnuja has clearly explained the issue, there is no achintya in that case.
> Thus the Gaudiyas feel that the metaphysic of acintya-bhedabheda
> tattva better explains the nature of ultimate reality, and that this
> explanation is an improvement on the efforts of Ramanuja and others.
> Ramanuja and others have struggled to come to grips with the fact
> that the concepts of either oneness or difference are inadequate to
> comprehensively explain the nature of the Absolute.
Inability to understand the tattva of Brahma is accepted by saying it is achintya:
The author has well displayed his ignorance regarding the siddhAnta of Bhagavad RAmAnuja. As questioned above, is it an
improvement ? By the way, it is evident as to who is struggling to understand Bramhan and finally giving up
to be filled with contradictions and safely covering up one's inability by explaining Bramhan to be achintya in the above
This is akin to how advaitins cover-up their siddhAnta by attributing their inability to explain real tattva with their
pet "mAyA" - No one should question on that - The repeated answer is "mAyA" will be both true, false etc - anirvachanIya.
> The Gaudiyas have concluded that Brahman is both one and different
> simultaneously, and that this is possible because the Absolute
> possesses inconceivable power (acintya-sakti)".
Now, what is meant by this statement ? With whom is this Bramhan different and non-different ? Let us do the full case
Let us first take the case of Bramhan being one and different with it's jn~Ana [knowledge]. <<Since Bramhan is all-knower,
it has to have jn~Ana>>. Bramhan being one and different with Chit (JIvAtman) and achit will also be considered next
case: Brahman and His gnAna to be one and different:
It will then mean that Bramhan is one and different with it's jn~Ana because it has achintya Sakti, as stated by the author.
If so, how are Bramhan and its achintya-Sakti related ? Is it that Bramhan and its achintya-Sakti are related through samavAya
sambandha since they are inseparable ? - This is rejected by the Bramha SUtra 2.2.12 itself.
One may consider that Bramhan and its achintya-Sakti to be actually simultaneously non-different and also different. If
so, it should be due to another achintya Sakti - ad infinitum. Hence, to be rejected. Supposing that the achintya-Sakti by
itself is capable of making itself to be simultaneously one and different with Bramhan, there won't be any need to postulate
another achinta-Sakti. If so, now, Bramhan will simultaneously be one and different with it's jn~Ana due to its achintya-Sakti
wherein, this achintya-Sakti will also be simultaneously one and different with Bramhan. Hence, it can be said that Bramhan's
jn~Ana is also simultaneously one and different with it's achintya-Sakti. Is it wise to even think brahman to be different
from its gnAna? What a mess ! Infact, in this case, one will actually be embracing Jaina's theory of sapta-bha~ngi well criticized
by VEdAntins, which makes the achintya-ness reach its peak !!
The best way for a GauDiya will be to state that Bramhan and its achintya-Sakti are apRuthak-siddha as in ViSishTAdvaita
parlance, so that Bramhan is simultaneously one and different with it's jn~Ana. If so, apRuthak-siddha as in Bhagavad RAmAnuja's
siddhAnta as logically perfect has to be admitted! There is no forgoing of logic by Bhagavad RAmAnuja in accepting it between
Bramhan and it's attributes which includes chit and achit. The appropriateness of the siddhAnta that Bramhan is actually one
and different with it's jn~Ana, divine-form etc need not be debated for now.
Infact, SrI BaladEva [GauDiya's commentator to Bramha SUtras] borrows the concept of ViSEsha, as postulated by SrI
AanandatIrtha (Madhva) to explain the non-difference of Bramhan and its attributes like jn~Ana. This is to come out of
the mess created by the illogical achintya.
case: Brahman being one and different with jIva and jada(matter):
Now, lets move onto the case in which Bramhan is considered to be simultaneously one and different with chit (JIvAtman)
and achit, due to its achintya Sakti. Again, Bramhan is then understood to be apRuthak-siddha with its achintya-Sakti.
The question now is, why is the one-ness between Bramhan and jIvAtman being spoken off simultaneously, when they are categorically
stated to be different and also that Bramhan is the controller of the jIvAtman ? If it is said that the one-ness is due to
their similarity in the quality of their svarUpa like being jn~Ana and aananda, then it is a clear logical distinction perfectly
conceivable. There is no need for a special "achintya Sakti" to explain the above.
If it is said that Bramhan and jIvAtman are actually non-different in their svarUpa itself [ie. One and the same entity],
but are also different in their svarUpa [ie. different entities], then we need to resort to something like achintya Sakti,
because there is a direct logical contradiction. Advaitins also say that Bramhan and jIvAtman are non-different in their svarUpa,
but everything else other than Bramhan is an illusion/effect of illusion. This is not acceptable to GauDiyas.
SrI BhAshkara has propounded a type of "BhEda-abhEda" school wherein the svarUpa of Bramhan and jIvAtman are held to
be non-different. The limiting adjunct (upAdhi) is the avidyA in this school, and it is not illusory. Like how aakASa [which
is all-pervading actually] present in a upAdhi like a pot is same in its svarUpa/nature from the aakASa outside the pot, the
all pervading Bramhan is also said to be limited by upAdhis [non-sentient in nature] to give rise to innumerous jIvAtmans.
Such a transformation of Bramhan into chit and achit from the state of PraLaya is attributed to its pariNAma-Sakti [Power
of transformation]. The main flaw in this school is that Bramhan being essentially non-different from jIvAtmans, will be the
actual one suffering the samsAric afflictions. This can't be escaped since everything is accepted to be real.
If GauDiyas want to stick with their achintya-Sakti theory, they have to hold on to non-difference between Bramhan and
jIvAtmans in svarUpa itself. The above criticism will equally hold good for them as well. If it is said that jIvAtmans are
eternally different from Bramhan and hence they are not non-different in their svarUpa, then a precise logical explanation
based on SAstras needs to be provided for what is meant by Bramhan being non-different from jIvAtman ie.in what sense it is
said so, while they are fundamentally different.
proper explanation from Visishta-advaitha with blue-pot example:
Inseperability (apRuthaksiddhi) explained:
ViSishTAdvaitins explain it based on the inseparable nature (apRuthaksiddhi)
of Bramhan and jIvAtmans - which is explained as SarIra-SarIri bhAva. Lets consider the usage "nIlO ghaTaH" [nIlaH ghaTaH]
ie.Blue Pot. Here, one-ness between two entities is spoken off. This is an example of samAnAdhikaraNa sentence wherein the
words denoting various entities occur in the same vibhakti ie.cases.
This usage refers to the Pot which is inseparably qualified by the blue colour.
A very subtle point has to be noted. When the word Blue is used separately in a sentence, it simply refers to the colour Blue.
But, when the same word Blue is used in a samAnAdhikaraNa sentence, it refers to the entity which is the aadhAra/support inseparably
qualified by this colour blue. If the usage is Blue Pot, the word Blue in this sentence does not merely give the meaning "Blue"
- But it actually refers to the substance which is the aadhAra inseparably qualified by this colour blue. The actual substance
which is the aadhAra is obtained from the next word viz. Pot. If the usage is Blue Jar, the substance which is inseparably
qualified by the blue colour is Jar. The usage "Blue Pot" does not mean the direct equation of the identity in the svarUpa
of Blue and Pot ie. It is not to explain the one-ness in the sense of Blue = Pot. It is illogical since Blue and Pot are actually
different in their svarUpa. Hence, the above is the *direct* meaning of such samAnAdhikaraNa sentences as explained in Sanskrit
The abhEda Srutis in Upanishads are similarly so as above in advocating the
one-ness between the Bramhan and jIvAtman. For instance, "aham bramha" does not mean "I, the jIvAtman = Bramhan". Actually,
jIvAtman is suffering in this samsAra and Bramhan is blemishless. Both of them can't be same in their svarUpa. Advaitins resort
to "secondrary meaning" and *not* the direct meaning, while explaining the one-ness between Bramhan and JIvAtman through these
abhEda Srutis. How it is so is not relevant now. The *direct* meaning of this samAnAdhikaraNa sentence will be I,the jIvAtman
is an inseparable attribute of Bramhan - this is the one-ness spoken off here. This is the way Upanishads explain the apRuthaksiddha
nature of Bramhan and jIvAtman and that, jIvAtman does not exist external to Bramhan by being not inseparably united ie. Bramhan
and jIvAtman are actually internally related and form an Organic Whole, and it is not that Bramhan and JIvAtman are linked
through external relation.
Note that, BRuhadAraNyaka Upanishad by itself claims the jIvAtman to be SarIra
of Bramhan. The actual meaning of this word SarIra is explained well by Bhagavad RAmAnuja to take into account all sorts of
usages of this word including that of Sruti apart from worldly usages. SwAmi VEdAnta DESika finally summarizes that any Substance
with jn~Ana [ie. Either Bramhan Or JIvAtman] if present inseparably united (apRuthak-siddha) with a dravya (substance), then
the latter will be the former's SarIra.
It is the genius of Bhagavad RAmAnuja in explaining the direct meaning of
such abhEda Srutis. There can't be any great harmonizer of Upanishads in the true spirit of Bramha SUtras, than Bhagavad RAmAnuja.
Where is the logic forgone ? Where is Bhagavad RAmAnuja "struggling" ? Infact, logic finds its place in this system in perfect
accordance with SAstras, and its the stroke of genius in Bhagavad RAmAnuja to be revered for in so easily resolving the most
complex issue in VEdAnta.
The above analysis holds good for non-difference between Bramhan and achit
as well. Bramhan is jn~Anamaya in svarUpa. achit is actually jaDa and not jn~Anamaya in svarUpa. Obviously, these two can't
be non-different in their svarUpa. But, Upanishads do speak about the non-difference between Bramhan and achit. For instance
by "sarvam khalu idam bramha", one-ness between idam sarvam [All of this in the Universe = Chit + Achit] and Bramhan is stated.
The direct meaning is that, all of this [chit and achit] are inseparable attributes of Bramhan. While bhEda Sruti explains
that the svarUpa of Bramhan is different from that of Chit and achit, abhEda Sruti rejects the notion that they are externally
related and explains that they are actually internally related as inseparable attributes. This is made possible by the
Srutis which clearly explain the nature of chit and achit to be SarIra of Bramhan ie. in being supported by Bramhan [Bramhan
is the ground/aadhAra of chit and achit], controlled by Bramhan etc.
If GauDiyas provide some logically conceivable explanation like this for
the non-difference between Bramhan and Chit + achit as stated in abhEda Srutis
[whether it is acceptable based on SAstras is another issue], then there is nothing inconceivable ie. No need to postulate
some achintya Sakti to be responsible for this nature of relationship between Bramhan and Chit + achit.
Otherwise, when a logically conceivable explanation based on SAstras perfectly
harmonizing everything is available in the form of ViSishTAdvaita, a philosophy hanging with incoceivability in the nature
of ultimate reality hardly has any value.
Gaudiya's vision of jIvas and matter to be shaktis(energies)
of Brahman is responsible for their logical dead-lock and failure to find a concrete solution to resolve inconceivable situation.
Where as, when jIva and matter are seen as inseperable(apRuthak-siddha) attributes of Brahman, then there is no un-explainable
situation arising, which proves the logical correctness of Sri visishtAdvaitha as propounded by Sri Bhagavad Ramanuja Acharya.