About the Book
This work investigates a figure, Nimbarka, who is famous and yet shadowy as to his identity, his time, his authentic teachings and work. The method followed in this investigation is adequate: First, securing as basis a work whose genuineness is not controvertible, the Vedantaparijata saurabha; second, in its light, investigates the genuineness of other works allegedly historical documents; fourth, ascertains the kind of literary or doctrinal affinity that exists between Nimbarka and Samkara and Srinivasa; fifth, discerns the contrasts and affinities between the teachings of the saurabha and other forms of Vaisnavism; sixth, draws the conclusions of such on historical enquiry with careful discrimination and moderation in claims of certainty or probability.
The author has also provided a close analysis of the Saurabha as the solid basis of his exposition of its philosophy. It has the quality of security, being solidly grounded in a text with which the author is thoroughly familiar and which he has scrutinized in and out. Due to his talent as a Sanskritist, he has drawn all the implications of Nimbarka’s expression, vocabulary and phrasing. All Vedanta scholars will be grateful to have this work in hand.
About the Author
Dr. Joseph Satyanand IMS, Professor of Indology at Vishwa Jyoti Gurukul, Varanasi, holds a Shastri degree from Sampurnanaand Sanskrit University, Varanasi and a Theological degree from the Jnanadeepa Vidyapitha, Pune. He had his earlier philosophical studies at the Vishwa Jyoti Gurukul. Later he received his M.A. in Sanskrit-Pali and Ph.D. in Sanskrit (Vedanta) from the University of Pune. He teaches Indian Philosophy and Religion in a number of philosophical and theological centres in India.
It may please many that the idea to take up this study on the teachings of Nimbarka came from the late Ma Gangadevi Vedanta Pancatirtha of Varanasi. My contact with the late Mayi introduced me to the Nimbarka Sampradaya, of which she was a great spiritual authority. Her encouraging request took me to study the Vedantaparijata Saurabha of Nimbarka for my doctoral research.
Many pertinent questions concerning Nimbarka and his school of Vedanta continued to ring on my ears. One of them was the question raised by Dr Rasik Vihari Joshi : Why is there no reference to Samkara bhasya in Nimbarka’s commentary and why has Nimbarka not refuted the views of opponents as Samkara, Ramanuja, Vallabha, Sri Kantha and Baladeva Vidyabhusana have done? I have tried to find answers to some of these questions in my Thesis titled ‘Nimbarka and His Philosophy’ submitted to the University of Poona in 1983. The present work is a revision of my doctoral Thesis.
One of the striking features of the intellectual life of our ancient sages, as remarked by R.G. Bhandarkar, was a total lack of historical sense. “Tradition often confuses” says Bhandarkar, “different persons together and attributes to one what belongs to another.” Nimbarka, the author of the Vedantaparijata Saurabha, and his school of thought have also suffered at the hands of the historical confusion. Nimbarka, like the other ancient sages, has persued the contemplation on the mystery Brahman and atman with scant regard for his own personal importance. The ultimate realization of his contemplation has been handed down to us in the form of a commentary on the Brahmasutras called the Vedantaparijata Saurabha. The absence of any historical data about its author in the Saurabha has caused confusion of myths, legends and beliefs with history. I have tried to discuss, to discern and to distinguish facts from beliefs and history from myths. The first six chapters of the present work contain these discoveries of mine.
The bhedabhedavada as unfolded by Nimbarka in the Saurabha is the touchstone for judging the authenticity of any other works attributed to the Acarya. Scholars in the past did not take note of this fact. This failure on their part has really done great disservice to the cause of Nimbarka and to the antiquity of his school. Many works containing doctrines either contradictory to the ones propounded in the Saurabha, the magnum opus of Nimbarka or are in no way in conformity with his general teachings and outlook are attributed to the Acarya. Therefore we have tried to examine the authenticity of many works alleged to be written by Nimbarka and have found them as later additions. This discovery had enabled us to have deeper insight into the bhedabheda philosophy of Nimbarka. Chapters Seven to Eleven of this work present the philosophy of Nimbarka as propounded in the Saurabha.
I take this occasion to express my sincere gratitude to all those who helped me in one way or other in the prosecution of this work. I am very grateful to my guide Dr. S.D. Joshi, M.A Ph D, the then Director of the Centre of Advanced Study in Sanskrit, University of Poona, whose valuable, scholarly and enlightening guidance can be seen in this present work. Pro. Richard De Smet Ph. D. of De Nobili College, Poona and Pro. V. Venkatachalam, the present Vice-Chancellor of Sampurnand Sanskrit University, Varanasi who have helped me see through the many confusing and intriguing situation that crept up from deeper study and meditations on the subjects.
Invaluable help regarding the traditional aspect of the Nimbarka school of thought was given by SriMai Gangadevi panchatirtha of Varanasi, by Sri Vrajavallabha Sharana of Sriji Mandir Vrindavana, and Sri Kathiyababa, the Mahant of Kathiyababa Ashram, Vrindavana.
I have been to various libraries in my effort to collect meaningful material for the study. Many grateful thanks to the librarians of C.A.S.S, University of Poona; Jayakar Library, University of Poona; Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune; Jnana Deepa Vidyapitha (Pontifical Athaneum), Pune; Viswa jyoti Gurukul Library, Varanasi; Anada Devi Gurukul Library, Varanasi; Maitri Bhavan, Institute for the study of Religions, Varanasi; Sriji Mandir Library, Vrindavana; University Library Allahabad; Ganganath Jha Research Institute, Allahabad, Sri Nimbarka Pitha, Allahabad; to mention just a few of them and the dedicated staff of these libraries I thank most sincerely.
My gratitude is also due to my Religious Superiors Rev. Fr. Sila Nath, who initiated me into the field of Indology and Rev. Fr. Prabhuprasad and Rev. Fr. Joseph Dilasa who have taken keen interest in this work. A special mention must also be made of my friends Dr. S.K. Lal MA. Ph.D. of C.A.SS, Poona, Dr. Chacko Valiaveettil SJ, Dr. I. Puthiadom S.J. of Maitribhavan, Varanasi, Fr. Albert of Vidyabhavan, Pune who have rendered me valuable help to clear up many doubts and difficulties. To them and my personal friends and well-wishers I owe a debt of immense gratitude.
My sincere thanks to Missio Aachen for making this publication possible for me.
This is an important book. It embodies a definite achievement in the field of Nimbarka research, a field marked so far by uncertainty and ill-grounded beliefs. Dr. Joseph Satyanand undertook a thorough investigation of all the evidence regarding chiefly the life and work but also the teaching of the Vaisnava Vedantin Nimbarka claimed as their founder by the Nimavant or Nimbarka adherents of the Sanakadisampradaya (the tradition going back to Sanaka and his brothers).
There is no reason to doubt the attribution to a certain Nimbarka of the first extant commentary on the Brahmasutra of Badarayana. This is the Vedantaparijata Saurabha, which is therefore to be taken as the criterion by which to evaluate the authenticity of other works allegedly composed by Nimbarka. The evidence from the Saurabha establishes that its author was a Bhagavata Vasudeva Vaisnava and not a Narayana Pancaratrin or a Radha worshipper.
This destroys the validity of the traditional accounts of Nimbarka’s date and life and of the list of other works traditionally ascribed to him. But is it possible to date the Saurabhakara and his authentic work?
The great discovery of the author