Sri Krishna-Chaitanya

by Nisikanta Sanyal | 1933 | 274,022 words | ISBN-10: 818919500X

The present work is an attempt to offer a theistic account in the English language of the career and teachings of Sri Chaitanya (representing the Absolute Truth in His full manifestation). Sri Chaitanya came into this world to make all people understand that in reference to their eternal existence they should have nothing to do with non-Godhead. A...

Chapter 8 - Founder-Acharyas (d): Madhva (Madhvacharya or Srimat Purnaprajna)

Srimat Purnaprajna or Madhvacharya made his appearance in this world in the Saka year 1040 in the sacred tirtha known as the Pajaka Kshetra situated about eight miles to the south-east of Udupi Kshetra in South Canara. His name, before he accepted sanyasa, was Vasudeva. Sri Vasudeva came of a Brahman family, his father’s name being Sri Narayana Bhatta, who bore the surname ofMadhvageha due to the fact that one of his ancestors, who was an immigrant from the country of Ahichchhatra, built his dwelling in the middle part of the village-settlement. His mother’s name was Vedabati or Vedavidya. Vasudeva accepted renunciation of the ascetic’s staff (danda sanyasa) from Sri Achyutapreksha, the disciple of Sri Prajnatirtha, in the line of Garudabahan, without obtaining the previous permission of his parents, at the age of eleven, and received the designation of ‘Anandatirtha’, or its equivalent ‘Madhva’. Sri Achyutapreksha at that time happened to be in charge of the shrine of Sri Ananteswara, situated in the neighbouring village of Rajatapeethapura.

The order of spiritual preceptorial succession, according to the Madhvas of Rajatapeethapura, of Madhvacharya, is as follows:

  1. Sri Narayana as Hansa,
  2. Four-faced Brahma,
  3. Chatuhsanah,
  4. Durvasa,
  5. Pasatirtha Yati,
  6. Satyaprajna,
  7. Prajnatirtha,
  8. Achyutapreksha, and
  9. Madhva.

It is not our purpose in this place to enter into the details of his career which was long and eventful. Srimad Madhva was the worshipper of Boy Krishna, whose holy Form, miraculously rescued from a sinking boat, was solemnly installed by him at Sri Udupi Kshetra and still receives worship from the sannyasins, his successors in the disciplic line. Sri Madhvacharya had a most powerful physique. He journeyed twice to Sri Badarika and visited all the principal tirthas of India where he preached his doctrines and engaged in successful disputations with the leading scholars of the rival schools. Sri Madhvacharya disappeared from this world in the 79th year of his advent.

Sri Madhvacharya wrote numerous works and established many Maths with organized service and worship for the purpose of spreading his bifurcial theistic view. As many as thirty-eight separate works, all in Sanskrit, from his pen, are still extant. The literature thus brilliantly inaugurated swelled to immense proportions by subsequent additions of many valuable works by his successors.

The teaching of Sri Madhvacharya is found summarized in a short verse which is regarded by the members of the school as giving a correct view of his position and may be rendered thus: “Divine Vishnu is the Highest of all. The world is true. Between Godhead, jiva and matter there exists fivefold eternal reciprocal difference. The jivas (individual souls) are the servants of Sri Hari. There exists gradation of fitness among jivas. The manifestation of the function in conformity with the proper nature of the jiva is emancipation (mukti). The practice of the realized function conformably with the soul’s own proper nature is pure, unalloyed or causeless devotion. Sound, inference and direct perception constitute the triple evidence. Sri Hari is the only Object Who is knowable by the whole body of the Scriptures; or, in other words, realization of Godhead is possible only by following the path of the heard revealed sound (sruti).” The whole of this position has been accepted specifically by Sripad Baladeva Vidyabhusana in his ‘Prameya Ratnavali’. This definitely establishes the descent of Sri Gaudiya Sampradaya, that follows Sri Krishna Chaitanya, from the Madhva school and justifies its descriptive title Madhva-Gaudiya (or Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya) Sampradaya, current among the devotees.

According to Sri Madhvacharya, as has already been stated, Sri Vishnu is the Highest Entity.

Reality is of two kinds, viz.,

  1. self-regulated and
  2. subordinate.

Vishnu is the one perfectly self-regulated Entity. He is the Abode of infinite, free-from defect, beneficent, qualities. He is all-powerful, autocrat, the Regulator of the animate and inanimate worlds, from the tip of finger-nail to the top of hair the holy embodied Form of existence, intelligence and bliss, cognizant and delighting in His own real nature and without any subjective heterogeneity. There is no distinction between His body and Himself as the possessor of body. There is absolute identity between His Body, Quality, Action and Name. That is to say, there is no dividing line between His Name, Form, Quality and Activity (LeeIa). He is Eternal, the Regulator of all, the Lord of all, Iswara (Ruler) of even Brahma, Mahesa and Lakshmi and for this reason He is the Highest Godhead, i.e., God of all the gods. He is in every Age and country the holy embodied Form of the Possessor of all pure energy. Those persons who notice any distinction or distinction and non-distinction in the Name, Form, Quality and Activity of the Avataras viz., Fish, Tortoise, etc., certainly enter the realm of gross ignorance (tamas). There is no particle of absence of self-consciousness in Sri Hari. His holy Form possesses hand, foot, mouth, belly, etc., all those being of the nature of pure bliss. From Him proceed always creation, stability, destruction, the course of the souls, knowledge, bondage, emancipation, etc. Divine Vishnu exists eternally as the Archetype of all individual souls who are His differentiated parts. In other words, in the realm full of the pastimes of the pure intelligence, an endless series of differentiated souls from Brahma to the lowest insect endowed with the embodied forms of the principles of existence, cognition and bliss are eternally existent. They are the unqualified counterparts of the corresponding Forms of Vishnu Who, in His eternal and various Forms, is their Archetype. The individual souls in Vaikuntha are the substantive, unqualified reflections of the corresponding Divine Forms. Individual souls are differentiated from Godhead. The soul is an embodiment of the principles of cognition and bliss in a small measure, which principles exist in their fullest measure in the Person of Godhead. The material bodies of the bound souls do not correspond to their original pure spiritual forms, and, therefore, from the nature of the physical forms of the bound souls the nature of their original forms cannot be inferred.

Sri Hari has two kinds of constituent parts (amsas) viz.,

(1) differentiated counterparts, e.g., individual souls (jivas) in Vaikuntha, and

(2) undifferentiated parts of Himself, viz., the Divine manifestations (Avataras), e.g., in the divine Forms of the Fish, Tortoise, etc.

In His pastimes Divine Vishnu manifests Himself in a fourfold Form, viz., Vasudeva, Samkarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, for the purpose of such activities as creation, etc. In the Form of Pradyumna He creates the world, in the Form of Aniruddha maintains, and in the Form of Samkarsana, destroys it. In the Form of Vasudeva He delivers souls. The functions of creation and destruction are carried out by Divine Vishnu by means of gods exercising delegated power, or by the highest grade of souls exercising similar power. Vishnu as Pradyumna in this manner endows Brahma with the creative power and as Samkarsana confers on Rudra the power of destruction. He himself as Aniruddha exercises the power of maintenance, and as Vasudeva confers deliverance. Divine Vishnu from time to time appears in this world as Avataras in the Forms of Fish, Tortoise, etc. In the twenty-four Forms as Keshava, etc., and Vasudeva, etc., He is the Regulator of the gods who represent the twentyfour principles of the universe, and in the five Forms as Vasudeva, Samkarsana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, and Narayana, He governs the five encasements.

He regulates the four states of differentiated souls, viz.,

  1. waking,
  2. dreaming,
  3. sleeping,
  4. unbound, in the four Forms of Visva, Taijas, Prajna and Turiya.

As the Soul and the Soul of souls He is the Regulator of the gross and spiritual bodies, corresponding to the real nature of the souls and, remaining manifest in all the limbs of souls as Ananta, He rules over them. He is the Source Who imparts their initiative to the gods representing the principles of the universe, and to the different senses. He is not responsible for the meritorious and sinful acts of jivas to which He employs them according to their fitness and in exercise of their freedom of will. Although He appears in the world in the various Forms of Fish, Tortoise, Man, etc., His birth and activities or bodies are not phenomenal, notwithstanding their material appearance to the vision of bound jivas.

His Avatara are of two kinds, viz.,

  1. Embodiments of knowledge, and
  2. Embodiments of power. Sri Krishna is the Appearance (Avatara) of Divine cognition and power in conjunction.

In such Divine Appearances as those of Dhanvantari, etc., Krishna’s power of showing mercy to His devotees alone is manifest. Sri Vaikuntha is the eternal Divine Abode of Vishnu. At the beginning of creation the twin Divine Abodes, viz., the White Island (Sveta-dvipa) and the Divine Seat in the form of Sri Ananta (Anantasana), appear in this world. Sri Lakshmi is the beloved Divine Consort of Vishnu. She accompanies Her Lord to this world in His Appearances and is associated with Him in various Forms with the infinite reciprocal Forms of her Lord. The different names of Sri Lakshmi are: Sree, Bhu, Durga, Maya, Jaya, Kriti, Santi, Ambhrani, Sita, Dakshina, Jayanti, etc., each having distinctive functions. Vishnu creates the material universe at the beginning of every cycle (kalpa) using the eternal inanimate force, that has no beginning, as the material cause. This world is neither non-existent, nor false, nor ‘momentary’. The different objects are limited in duration as regards their existence in their particular forms, but are eternal as regards their constituent principle.

There is categorical difference (1) between the individual soul (jiva) and Godhead, (2) between one individual (jiva) and another, (3) between matter and Godhead, (4) between individual soul (jiva) and matter and (5) between one form of matter and another form. Sri Madhvacharya accepts this fivefold difference as real.

Individual souls (jivas) are divided into three classes, according as their original nature is made of either:

  1. intelligence and bliss, or
  2. of a mixture of intelligence and joy and misery of ignorance, or
  3. of unmixed misery and ignorance.

Individual souls (jivas) are provided with physical and mental bodies in accordance with their actions of the previous cycle (kalpa), at the beginning of material creation. Individual souls (jivas) are infinite in number. One’s proper nature or the capacity of attaining to it, is eternal and belongs eternally to all individual souls. It is the primal cause of all efforts of all individual souls. Action (karma), although destructible, is eternal in the continuity of its flow or sequence. Previously performed activity (karma), which is without a beginning, is the second cause. There is a third cause in the shape of the effort at the time of the performance of the act. All these are subject to Vishnu, Lord of the material energy (maya). In other words Godhead awards the worldly course of individual souls by means of these three causes, but they have no power over Him as He is the Lord of material Energy (Maya). Liberation (mukti) is the realization of their own proper natures by persons endowed with the luminous, self-expressive (sattvic) quality, on the dissolution of the symbolic material body, by the practice of devotion. It is not something adventitious but only the continued establishment of the individual soul in his own proper nature.

The eternal material cases, super-imposed on the real or spiritual nature of the soul, are two in number, viz.,

  1. the case forged by the soul and
  2. the envelope bestowed by the material energy of Godhead (Maya).

When Godhead is favourably disposed He destroys completely the coating of nescience caused by the soul and removes the screen of the material energy (maya) which is a gift of the Divinity. Thereupon the soul is enabled to see with his spiritual eye the Supreme Person dwelling in his own heart. The devotion that is aroused after the beatific vision is the highest or unalloyed, being devoid of all foreign impulses in the shape of physical activity (karma), etc. It is only by devotion that the favour of Godhead is attained. This leads to liberation (mukti), being the attainment of the Feet of Vishnu. This is followed by devotion in her real, proper form which is not the means but the goal. The initial stage in the process, is listening with faith to the words of Scriptures glorifying the greatness of Godhead, from the lips of devotees (sadhus).

Sri Madhvacharya admits the authority of the triple evidence of,

  1. direct perception,
  2. inference, and
  3. revelation (agama).

The last is sub-divided into (l) those Scriptures that are not made by any person, and (2) those so made. To the first of these groups belong the Vedas such as Rik, etc., Upanishad, the formulae that deliver from mental function (mantram), Brahmanas, the concluding portion of the Veda (parisista), etc. To the second group are assigned History- (Itihasa), supplementary accounts (Purana), fivefold knowledge (pancha-ratra), etc. The Puranas, etc., help in understanding the real significance of the Vedas.

The Puranas are of three kinds, viz.,

  1. Sattvika,
  2. Rajasika, and
  3. Tamasika.

The Sattvika Puranas, such as Srimad Bhagavatam, etc., are alone admissible as evidence of the Truth. If any portions of the Rajasa Puranas are in conformity with the statements of the Sattvika Puranas those may also be accepted as evidence. Those parts of the Sattvika Puranas that express ideas contrary to the sattvika view, were intended for deluding the atheists (daityas), and should not be accepted by righteous persons. The Tamasa Puranas were concocted for deluding evil-minded persons (daityas). All Puranas, in so far as they support the sattvic view, are admissible as evidence. The following views of Sri Madhvacharya are also interesting. The servant of Vishnu (Vaishnava), the All-pervasive Lord, is the highest of all animate beings (jivas). The worship of Vishnu alone is to be performed. All worship of other gods is forbidden. Everything is gained by uttering the Name of Hari. The Vaishnava, even if he be sprung from a Chandala family, is the revered of all. Vaishnavas are to be served with zeal and no offense must be permitted against them. The Brahmana is recognized by straightforwardness, the Sudra by duplicity of conduct.

Sri Chaitanya is the disciplic successor of Sri Madhvacharya and ultimately of Sri Brahma, the original Founder after whom the community (sampradaya) is named as the Brahma Sampradaya.

The order of spiritual succession (amnaya) up to the present time from Sri Brahma, as preserved in the Brahma Gaudiya Sampradaya, is as follows:

  1. Sri Krishna,
  2. Brahma,
  3. Narada,
  4. Vyasa,
  5. Madhwa,
  6. Padmanabha,
  7. Nrihari,
  8. Madhava,
  9. Akshobhya,
  10. Jayatirtha,
  11. Jnanasindhu,
  12. Dayanidhi,
  13. Vidyanidhi,
  14. Rajendra,
  15. Jayadharma,
  16. Purushottama,
  17. Vyasatirtha,
  18. Lakshmipati,
  19. Madhavendra Puri,
  20. Iswara (Advaita, Nityananda),
  21. Sri Chaitanya,
  22. (Swarupa, Sanatana) Rupa,
  23. (Jiva) Raghunatha,
  24. Krishnadasa,
  25. Narottama,
  26. Viswanatha,
  27. (Baladeva) Jagannatha,
  28. (Bhaktivinode) Gaurakishore,
  29. Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Sri Barshabhanavidayitadas.

All these are paramahansas and Sri Chaitanya’s undifferentiated servitors. The writer is devoid of all aptitude for service and endeavours to have his mind humbly fixed on the lotus feet of Sri Guru Sri Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, as the unworthy object of his causeless mercy and of his associated counterparts.

The views of the four Founder-Acharyas of the respective Vaishnava communities (sampradayas) briefly noticed above, stand in such close and organic relation to the teaching of Sri Chaitanya and to one another that their relationship will be best brought out in course of the narrative and at the proper place, in the light of the philosophy of Sri Chaitanya which, as I have already noticed, reconciles, harmonizes and perfects them. For the present it will be sufficient for our purpose to notice in regard to these four schools that the system of Sri Chaitanya, although it is identical with none of them, either wholly or partially admits the special excellence of certain features of each. Thus, for example, Sri Chaitanya accepts more or less the eternal specific Form of the Divinity as Embodiment of all-existence, all-knowledge and allbliss sachchidananda nitya Bigraha) of Madhva, the postulations of Ramanuja regarding Divine Power, the principle of unalloyed non-dualism and of Godhead as ‘the All of His Own’ and the eternal dualistic-monotheism of Nimbarka which last has been perfected by Sri Chaitanya into the truly scientific Truth of the Doctrine of inconceivable simultaneous distinction and non difference.

The act of Sri Chaitanya in preferring the Brahma community (sampradaya) by His entry into it as Disciple, to which Sri Madhvacharya also belongs, to the other Vaishnava schools, is explained by the fact that the doctrine of unalloyed differentialism propounded by Sri Madhvacharya which makes the mutual difference, as between, Godhead, individual soul (jiva) and the material world, definite and permanent and also recognizes their eternal separate existence, keeps all individual souls (jiva) most clearly and frankly at a great distance from the fell disease of absolute monism which is the opposite pole, being the empirical denial of the essence of all theistic thought passing itself off as theism to the insidious seductions of which most worldly people are so easily liable to succumb. We shall return to this important subject in its proper place.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: