Although Vasinavas do not stress logic over devotion, under the pressure of their social environment and the need to present consistent argument in light of their theological views, many of them have given substantial contributions in the field of philosophy. From their very founder-acaryas up to the present day, the Sri-sampradaya and the Madhva-sampadaya are distinguished for having some of the greatest scholars in history. The entire asset of their literary legacy amounts to hundreds of books concerning various branches of knowledge. Among the Sri Vaisnavas, Sri Vedanta Desika (1268-1369 AD), the greatest exponent of Visistadvaita after Sri Ramanujacarya, authored more than a hundred works, including several important books on philosophy, such as the Nyaya-parisuddhi and the Nyaya-siddhanjana, in which he utilizes the dialectical approach and terminology of Nyaya to syncretise the conclusions of Vedanta, and the Sesvara-mimansa, a Vaisnava interpretation of the Mimamsa-sutras of Jaimini. Among the Madhvas, Vyasa Tirtha (ca. 1450-1550 AD) wrote the Nyayamrta, which presents dualist thought with sophisticated logic. At the other extreme, the scope. Not only did they write original treatises and commentaries on the Brahma-sutras as most Vaisnava scholars did, but they also commented upon all traditional philosophical works such as the Nyaya-sutras, Yoga-sutras, Samkhya-karika, etc. In course of time, his earned them ample recognition in scholarly circles all over India and consequentially furthered their cause to a great extent. In one sense, this may be seen as an astute preaching stratagem. The widespread and lasting outcome of such scholarly enterprises are felt even today, for while most Indian universities offer Advaita Vedanta as a major discipline, relatively few offer Vaisava Vedanta as an option.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in a very prolific phase in the history of Indian philosophy. Navadvipa, in West Bengal, was then known as a major centre of scholarship, where youths from known as a major centre of scholarship, where youths from different parts of the country thronged for higher studies. The influence of Buddhism and Jainism had already waned centuries before, and the systems of Samkhya and Purva-mimamsa had become obsolete. Nyaya and Vedanta, however, were flourishing, and renowned scholars like Raksadhara Misra, Vasudeva Sarvabhauma, Vyasa Tirtha, Raghunatha Siromani, Vallabhacarya, Madhusudana Sassvati, Haridasa Nyayalankara, Janakinatha Tarkacudamani, Mathuranatha Tarkavagisa, Ramabhadra Sarvabhauma, Bhavananda Siddhanta Vagisa, Harirama Tarkavagisa, Visvanatha Nyayapancanana, Jagadisa Tarkalankara and Jayarama Nyayapancanana all lived within a hundred years of Lord Caitanya's era and compiled important philosophical treatise and commentaries, particularly on Nyaya. According to one traditional account, Mahaprabhu Himself also authored a commentary on Nyaya. It is said that when a great logician resident of Nadia saw that commentary and realized that it was far superior to any of his own writings, he became very morose, which ld Mahaprabhu to throw the text into the Ganges in order to appease his distress.
Despite many hundreds of years of philosophical legacy behind them, Lord Caitanya's main followers did not take much interest in directly discussing orthodox philosophy. Among the Six Gosvamis of Vrndavana, Sri Jiva Gosvami (ca. 1513-1608 AD) was the only one who dealt with views of different philosophical schools. Before going to Vrndavana, he spent over a decade studying in Varanasi, where he acquired a sound background in Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisesika, MImamsa and Vedanta. He reveals his command of these systems in his Sarva-samvadini, written as an auto-commentary on the Bhagavata-sandarbhas.
It was only in the eighteenth century that the Gaudiya sampradaya was blessed by a philosopher who could second Jiva Gosvami, and a third one is yet to be seen. The appearance of Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana (1700-1793 AD) was indeed timely, when there was a necessity to establish the legitimacy of the Gaudiya lineage and philosophy when they were being disputed. Vidyabhusana accomplished this by writing commentaries on standards scriptures such as the Brhma-sutras, Dasopanisad and Bhagavad-gita. Besides these, he also authored original treatises like the tattva-dipika. Although the concept of a short exposition dealing with different philosophical systems had already been considerably explored previously, this work of Vidyabhusana is perhaps the second Vaisnava contribution in the genre. Until then, the only renowned Vaisnava work of the sort was the Paramata-bhanga of Vedanta Desika, a compilation of fifty-four stanzas in Manipravala (Sanskritized Tamil), in which the author briefly describes and refutes fifteen non-Vaisnava philosophies and finally established the superiority of Vaisistadvaita. In a similar fashion, at the end of the Tattva-dipika, Vidyabhusana established the superiority of Acintya-bhedabhed. Yed it is remarkable that, despite their fierce criticism of so many philosophies, neither of them criticized other Vaisnava, as it has become common nowadays. This is skilfully explained by Vedanta Desika in the Paramata-bhanga (10):
Veriyar tulavudai vittagan tanmaiyin meyyarivar
Kuriyar nediyavar enru oru arana nanneriyal
Ariyar tirattil arul purintu arana nanneriyal
Ciriyar valigal alippatum tingu kalippatarke
"The who are completely devoted do not find fault with Vaisnavas who are learned and absorbed in the transcendental qualities of the Supreme Lord Krsna, Who wears fresh Tulasi garlands. On the other hand, just to protect innocent people from proponents of misleading philosophies and deliver the latter from sinful deeds, such merciful Vaisnava conversant with the Vedas smash their fallacious arguments."
Although it is unlikely that Vidyabhusana was acquainted with Desika's work, since it was confined to a local vernacular, it is quite evident that he knew Madhava's (14th century AD) Sarva-darsana-sangraha, a classical philosophical compendium comprising summary studies of prominent theistic and non-theistic, systems, from which he seems to have borrowed not only the conceptual structure of the text but also several definitions, classifications and arguments. In this short but intense composition, Vidyabhusana displays the heights of his outstanding scholarship in very refined language and reasoning. Most traditional texts with commentaries and sub-commentaries, and for centuries they vied with each other on the validity of their concepts and conclusions. Vidyabhusana masterly refutes each of them by pointing out flaws and internal contradictions as well as by using arguments given by the opponent schools of a particular system. Therefore the readers should keep in mind that the author is not always retorting from the Vaisnava standpoint, which he keeps mostly for his grand finale. In the sections on Buddhism and Jainism, for example, he more or less follows the argumentation of Sankaracarya, who was notable for vehemently defeating Buddhism and re-establishing Vedic religion in India. It should also be mentioned that in these two sections, Vidyabhusana does not refer to primary sources. This means that that he is describing these systems in the same way that they are presented by the Vedantis, which may not portray texts verbatim. At the end of his introduction, the author makes a sort of disclaimer – perhaps to make it clear that the never intended the atheistic systems to sound meaningful at all.
One may wonder what motivated Vidyabhusana to write this book, which, for the most part, does not directly deal with topics concerning Lord Krsna, the only thing that Vaisnavas actually hanker to hear and speak about . Although the manuscript has no dedication, since it belonged to Sawai Jai Singh II, the King of Jaipur, it is possible that Vidyabhusana may have written it for the King's personal studies. It is very clear available historical documentarions that Sawai Jai Singh had a genuine interest in philosophy, particularly Vaisnava philosophy, some of his own. Moreover, Vidyabhusana did not send copies of his text to different places as he did in the case of many of his other books, which seems to suggest that he had a particular purpose in mind. There seems to be some indications that this text may have been composed before the Govinda-bhasya, where the author again deals with many of the topics discussed here, but in a more elaborate manner. If this was the case, since the Govinda-bhasya overshadowed the Tattva- dipika, it would be natural for the author to give preference to the propagation of the former. Baladeva Vidyabhusana may also have felt the urge to dissuade innocent souls from the allurements of philosophical systems that do not lead to the ultimate goal of life, as expressed by Vedanta Desika. Furthermore, in his concluding words, h wished that his work may bring joy to the learned. Her makes a similar statement at the end o his Siddhanta-darpana, wherein Nanda Misra commented that the author intended that his book would bring relief to the devotees who were hurt by the words of fools. Vaisnavas naturally feel pain when they hear a philosophy that opposes the principles of pure bhukti (unalloyed love for Krsna). It is expected that such devotees will feel delight upon hearing the refutation of each non Vaisnava Philosophy here, just as the inhabitants of Vrndaana felt joy when Krsna killed each demon the attacked Him.
India has long been the land of theology and philosophy or darsana. The word darsaa literally means vision, but in the present contents it has a special meaning, the vision of Reality. The human mind is inquisitive from a person's very birth. As one grows, one becomes inquisitive about things around him, about life and its purpose, the causes of suffering and its solution. The innate desire of every living being is to be happy and have no suffering in our life. The human mind has pondered over this paradox since the dawn of creation. Learned Vidura inquired about this paradox to the great sage Maitreya five thousand years ago. To know the root cause of suffering and find a permanent solution for it is one the chief aims of most of the Indian darsana schools. The Indian philosophical systems developed out of a desire to find answers to these questions. When many schools of sarsana developed, it became a custom, for each to try to prove its solution as the best. This done to help its adherents have staunch faith in its principles, and gave them the ability to face their opponents. Thus a learned student of any school would be expected to know the views of other schools, and to be capable of refuting those that differed from his own.
In the beginning there was no single textbook for learning the views of other schools on prominent issues. One would learn them either by studying them directly, or get some knowledge by learning through refutations found in his own system. Every prominent school had its sutra text, commentaries on them and other independent works. Usually the commentaries and independent works would give the opponent's view (purva-paksa) and its refutation. Good examples of this are found in the bhasyas and commentaries to Vedanta-sutra, Nyaya-sutra, Yoga-sutra and so on.
To know an opponent's view thoroughly one needed to study that system. This could be very time consuming. In due course, therefore, a need was felf to collect the opinions of various schools in one book. Jain scholars took the lead in this field. The earliest known such work is Naya-cakra of Acarya Mallavadi (5th century AD), which gives a summary of twenty-one different schools of thought. Jains believe that Reality has many facets and thus there cannot a single absolute vision. All schools without refuting any of them, his idea being Jainism includes all of them. Not all the twenty- one schools he mentions were in fact prominent and only a few of them became widespread.
With the passage of time the concept of six systems, sad-darsana, became popular. Haribhadra Suri (750 AD), a prominent Jain scholar of his time, composed Sad-darsana-samuccaya. This is also one of the earliest known works of doxography, wherein the author collected philosophical principles scattered throughout six major darsana schools. These were not, however, the same as the six classical systems known today, viz, Nyaya, Vaisesika, Samkha, Yoga, Purva-mimamsa and Uttara-mimamsa. The six darsana described in his book are Bauddha, Nyaya, Samkhya, Jain, Vaisesika and Jainminiya (i.e., Purva-mimamsa), in this order. According to those who follow the Vedas, schools of philosophy can be divided into groups: those of the believers (astika) and the non-believers (nastika) in the Veda. Sad-darsana—samuccaya, being the work of a jain, a nastika school, contains the views of both groups. This book, however, did not become very popular because of its brevity. It contains oly a few verses devoted to each system and avoids even the slightest discussion on any debatable issue. Much kater, in the 14th century, another Jain, Gunaratna Suri, wrote an elaborate commentary on it.
Haribhadra Suri also wrote another work called Sastra-varta-samuccaya. In this work he shows the defects in a particular dardana and suggest how to rectify it so that it can come into harmony with Jain darsana.
On the Hindu suide, the first word of this type is called Sarva-darsana-siddhanta-sangraha or Sarva-siddhanta-sangraha in short, which is attributed to famous teacher of Avaita Vedanta, Sri Sankaracarya (8th century AD). However, there is a controversy as to whether it was really penned by the great acarya. It contains descriptions of fourteen schools: Lokayata, Arhata (Jain), the four Buddhist philosophical systems of Madhyamika, Yogacara, Sautrantika, and Vaibhasika, Vaisesika, Nyay; the two Purva-mimamsas of Prabhakara and Kumarila Bhatta, Samkhya, Patanjala Yoga, Vedavyasa, and Advaita Vedanta.
Madhyamika, Yogacara, Sautrantika and Vaibhasika are the four divisions of Buddhism. Prabhakara and Kumarila Bhatta are followers of Jaimini's Mimamsa. The school of Vedanyasa included in the list refers to the teaching of Mahabharata and Puranas. This is distinguished from the school of Vedanta-sutra, which is also attributed to him.
There have been some other lesser known of doxography such as Sarva-darsana-kaumudi by Madhava Sarasvati (14th century AD). He describes fifteen schools beginning with that of Carvaka and ending with the Advaita Vedanta of Sanskaracarya. Another work by the name Sad-darsana-samuccaya, different from that of Haribhadra Suri, was written by Rajasekhara in the 14th century AD. Sarva-mata-sangraha of an unknown author from Kerala was published in the beging of the last century. All these works are out of print and hardly known or studied by the scholars.
Madhusudana Sarasvati, the famous 16th century author of Avaita-siddhi, also wrote a work called Prasthana-bhed. This book is written to show that the purpose of all Vedic scriptures, directly or indirectly, is only in knowing Bhagavan. It does not discuss the non-Vedic schools. It considers eighteen branches of vidyas (knowledge_: the four Vedas, namely Rg, Yajur, Sama and Atharva, four Upavedas, namely, Ayurveda, Dhanurveda, Gandharva-veda, and Sama and Atharva, four Upavedas namely, Ayurveda, Dhanurveda, Gandharva-veda, and Sthapatya-veda, six limbs of the Veda (vedanga), namely Silksa, Vyakarana, Nirukta, Chandah, Jyotisa, and Kalpa, along with Purana, Nyaua, Mimamsa, adn Dharma- sastra. The Upapuranas are included in the Puranas, Vaisesika in Nyaya, and Vedanta within Mimamsa. Mahabharata, Ramayana, Samkhya, Patanjala, Pasupata and Vaisnava scriptures are all subsumed under the Dharma-sastra Madhusudana also lists six non-Vedic schools but does not discuss them because they do not lead to his stated ultimate purpose of life.
Overall, the most popular work in this field is 14th century Sarva-sarsana-sangraha of Madhavacarya. It contains descriptions of the basic principles of all the contemporary popular and some not so popular schools. It does not only just give the description of the views of a school but also discusses them in contrast to the views of its competitors. In all, it covers the thoughts of sixteen schools. These are Carvaka (Lokayata), Budhist (in the above four divisions), Jain, Ramanuja, Purna-prajna (Madhvacarya), Nakulisa Pasupata, Maheshvara, Pratyabhijna, Rassvara, Vaisesika, Naiyayika, Jaimini (Purva-mimamsa), Panini, Samkhya, Patanjala (Yoga), and Sankara (Advaita Vedanta). As the author was a protagonist of Sankaracarya's Advaita Vedanta, he discussed this philosophy as the last school, standing faultless above the other's discredited conclusions. He follows a system of gradual improvement. At the beginning of each chapter he finds fault with the chief views of the system just discussed in the previous one. He begins with a description of the Carvaka school in the firstchapter and then points out its flawed epistemology before going on to discuss the nest school, Buddhism. In this way he builds up until he culminates in Advaita Vedanta as the topmost school.
As is evident from the above description, most of these works were written either by Jain scholars or by those of the Advaita Vedanta school. Siddhi-trayam (10th century AD) of Yamunacarya is an early work by a Vaisnava scholar to present the views of his Visita Advaita school on three essential topics: the self (atma), God (isvara), and consciousness (samvit). The author discusses these topics very elaborately and refutes the views of all the popular contemporary schools that do not match with his.
Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana
The Tattva-sipika of Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana is another book in the doxographical genre written by a Vaisnava. Sri Baladeva Visyabhusana was a distinguished acarya and scholar in the Gaudiya school of Vaisnavism. He was a prolific writer and wrote many commentaries on original scriptures like Bhagavad-gita, Upanisads, Srimad-Bhagavata Purana, as well as on the works of previous Gaudiya acaryas such as the Sandarbhas of Sri Jiva Gosvami and Lahghu-bhagavatamrta of Sri Rupa Gosvami. He also wrote independent works like Siddhanta-ratna, Prameya-ratnavali, Kavya-kaustubha and Siddhanta-darpana. However, he is specifically remembered and honoured for his Govinda-bhasya on Vedanta-sutra.
The immediate followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not write any commentary on Vedanta-sutra but primarily wrote commentaries and independent works based upon Srimad-Bhagavata Purana, which they accepted as the explanation of the sutras written by the author of the sutras himself. Because of this lacuna, a controversy arose in Jaipur, Rajasthan, and the Gaudiya school was challenged in the king's court to produce its bhasya on Vedanta-sutra to prove its authenticity. Were it not able to do so, the sect would not be recognized as a legitimate Vedantic sampradaya and would barred from serving the deities of Sri Sri Radha Govindadeva housed in the royal palace. Since Govinadeva was the deity of Rupa Gosvami, one of the leading authorities and inspirations of the school, this was a major crisis for the Gaudiyas. Sri Baladeva took up the challenge and produced Govinda-bhasya in a very short span of time. According to him, the bhasya was produced on the order and by the grace of the Deity Himself. That is why he named it Govinda-bhasya.
Tattva-dipika is another unique work by this esteemed scholar Most likely taking his cue from Madhavacarya's Sara-darsana-sangraha, the author attempts to establish the acintya-bhedabheda-vada of Sri Caitanya as the best school of darsana, taking all other systems as its purva-paksa.
While commenting on Tattva-sandarbha (Anucched 1) of Sri Jiva Gosvami, Sri Baladeva vidyabhusana writes, "Out of lethargy people will read an elaborate commentary, therefore I a=m only writing briefly on this esoteric composition."
He has truly followed this same principle of brevity while writing Tattva-dipika, even more so than in his Tattva-sandarbha commentary Tattva-sipika is extremely terse, and that is probably the reason that it never became popular even among Gaudiya followers. Gaudiya Vaisnavas are more inclined to engage in nama-kirtana, nama-japa,.lila-smarana and vigraha-seva than the study of philosophical texts especially those of outside schools. Thus it is no surprise that a work like Tattva-dipika remained unknown. It lack of expansiveness might also have prevented it from achieving widespread circulation.
Summary of T attva-dipika
The author begins by dividing all the schools of darsanas into the two basic groups of non-believers (nastikas) and believers (astikas). Those who do not accept the authority of the Vedas and God are the non-believers, and those who accept are the believers. Interestingly, Sri Baladeva lumps even the believers who disagree with Vedavyasa with the non-believers. The reason for this is that if they do not accept the conclusion of the Vedas and propagate the theories spun in their own minds, their acceptance of Veda is nothing more than lip-service. It cannot, therefore, bring the ultimate welfare described in the Vedanta. Thus the author refutes their conclusions for the benefit of a serious spiritualist. Unless one is free of all doubts and very clear about the process, sadhana, one will not be inclined to follow it wholeheartedly. The specialty of T attva-dtpika is that it gives the principle of a school and its refutation simultaneously, whereas in the case of Sarva-darsana- sangraha, the refutation only comes later when the next school is described.
Usually three schools are given as those of the non-believers, viz., Carvaka, Buddhism and Jainism. Generally such compendia begin with Carvaka, since this is the most materialistic philosophy. Sri Baladeva, however, is an exception and puts Carvaka third in the list, perhaps because none of its works are available and there were no real adherents of it during his time. He thus only mentions it later in the context of describing the soul.
Baladeva begins his work with Buddhism. He describes its five- skandha theory and the principle of four types of atoms that constitute the external world. He refutes these ideas by arguing that atoms themselves cannot combine to create the world. They need a sentient agent. However, Buddhism does not accept God as the agent behind creation. If it is argued that the Buddha is the creator, then that is also not possible because he has no purpose in creating. Moreover, in Buddhism the soul is not an eternal entity but only a transient, momentary consciousness. The soul of the Buddha is no exception to this principle. Thus it is not possible for him to create. The author also invokes the standard argument of cause-effect relation used against Buddhism. He refers to the famous four-fold reflections or bhavanas of Buddhism, namely svalaksana-bhavana, ksanika-bhavana, duhkha- bhavana and sunya-bhavana. To refute these, he refers to svetasvatara Upanisad. This seems a bit odd since the Buddhist scholars do not accept the authority of the Vedas. So refuting them on the authority of the Veda cannot be expected to make a convincing argument to the Buddhists. However, as said in the beginning of the book, the primary intention of the author is not to refute the Buddhists or other opponents but to instil faith in the adherents of Vedic knowledge so that they do not become fascinated by the non-Vedic schools. The author proves that without the acceptance of a permanent soul, distinct from the mind-body complex, the idea of getting rid of suffering is futile.
With this he introduces the lain school, which does accept a permanent self in the body. He specifically refers to two of its principles, namely, the size of one's soul being that of one's physical body, and the seven-fold predication known as sapta-bhangi-nyaya. He refutes them both by logical arguments and the practical difficulty in accepting these principles. Next, he introduces the Carvaka school, but not as superior to the Jain. Rather by analogy, he seems to put Carvaka in the same category as the Jains. Mysteriously, he does not hint at why Carvaka is third in his list. He uses very harsh words for the Carvakas, such as calling them murkha (foolish). As is seen in Yamunacarya's Siddhi- trayam, he makes further divisions in the Carvaka school and refutes them all.
After this, he briefly introduces the Madhyamika school of Buddhism, which holds the view that the ultimate truth is the Void, sunya. Sri Baladeva says that the Void cannot be said to exist or not exist. If the first of these is accepted, then it goes against the very definition of voidism, and if the second is accepted, then it cannot be the goal of one's spiritual practice. No existent being aims for a non- existent object.
With this he introduces the first Vedic system, the school of Vaisesika. After speaking about the seven categories of this system he talks about the sixteen padarthas of the Nyaya school (usually referred to as a connected or complementary system of thought), and the process -of liberation propounded by it. He also describes the four means of attaining valid knowledge accepted by the Nyaya school. He mentions an interesting argument given by the Nyaya school to distinguish the soul from the body. Anything that is made up of material parts is meant for other and does not exist for itself, for example, a table or a chair. The body is made up of parts, but the soul is indivisible. Thus the body is meant for the soul. The enjoyer is different from the enjoyed, hence the soul is distinct from the body. This also proves the eternality of the soul because an object without parts cannot be destroyed.
Our author agrees with the Nyaya, Vaisesika, and Prabhakara Mimamsa schools that the soul is eternal and distinct from the material body it occupies, but these schools believe that the soul is all –pervading (vibhi). Which is not acceptable. Sri Baladeva takes resort to Upanisad statements as well as to Vedanta-sutra to refute the idea of the soul being all-pervading, and establishes that it is stated to be vibhu in the scriptures, the reference is to the Immanent Being, Paramatma, and not to the individual self. Moreover, the above-mentioned schools aim only at cessation of suffering but not on attaining happiness. In fact, the Nyaya school counts happiness as one of the twenty-one types of suffering. Suffering, ever is removed, can reappear. Sri Baladeva also reutes the atomic theory of creation propounded by the Vaisesika school.
The next school discussed it Samkhya, which accepts two basic principles of Prakti and Purusa, matter and consciousness, both of which are eternal. Prakrti further evolves twenty-three elements when animated by the conscious principle, Purusa. Along with this Baladeva also introduces the Yoga school of Patanjali, which is based on the system provided by Samkhya. Sri Baladeva refutes both these schools with the argument that the combination of Prakrti and Purusa is not possible because of their opposing natures, the soul being conscious and Prakrti inert. Therefore, the famous analogy of Prakti being a blind woman and Purusa a lame mam is not applicable. The author here makes a brilliant argument against the popular principle of satkarya-vada accepted by these two schools. According to satkarya-vada, nothing is really created or destroyed. The cause and effect exist simultaneously. Effect is nothing but the cause revealed, and cause is nothing but the effect concealed. If this theory is accepted, then suffering could never come to end, but would always exist in some form or the other. Thus there is no possibility of liberation. On the other hand, however, if liberation is a transformation of suffering, then there is no difference between the two and liberation cannot be the goal of life.
Next, the author describes three different denominations of the Minansa school. This includes the Aikabhavika, Prabhakara, and Kumarila Bhatta schools. Aikabhavika is not a well-known system. It is mentioned in the commentary of Sankaracarya on Brhma-sutra 3.1.8. Thus it is a bit of a mystery why Sri Baladeva bothered mentioning and refuting it in such a concise work. Since the Mimamsakas base their systems exclusively on the karma-kanda part of the Vedas, he refutes them by using the Upanisadic statements.
This is followed by a refutation of the Bhedabheda school of Bhaskara. According to this school, the soul is different (bheda) from Brahman in its conditioned state but merges into Brahman at the time of liberation. One must not that the Bhedabheda of Bhaskara is radically different from the Acintya-bhedabheda of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, which holds that the soul continues to maintain its individuality even in the liberated state. Sri Baladeva stresses the ontological identity of the soul in both its conditioned as well as liberated states. This is the basis of bhakti.,
Sri Baladeva also briefly mentions the pasupata and Hiranyagarbha schools. It world have been helpful for the reader if he had shed a little more light on these two systems. However, he appeared to be more interested in focusing on Advaita-vada, which he considers as his main opponent and expends effort in its refutation. First he give basic principles of the two primary divisions of Advaita Vedanta, namely Pariccheda-vada and Pratibimba-vada. The primary defect of these schools is their misinterpretation of sruti statements and accepting imaginary concepts such as the absolute oneness of the atma and Brahman. Sri Baladeva begins by refuting the desire for liberation in this system by logical arguments. Then with trenchant logic he severely attacks the identity between jiva Brhman as propounded by both Paricched –vada as well as Pratibimba-vada. He goes on to scrutinize their concepts of the falsity of the world, and the validity of the very concept of monism. He has very beautifully and briefly culled his arguments, which need a lot of deliberation to grasp them. It is indeed a pleasure for Vaisnavas to study all of these arguments in one place.
Having briefly described the basic principles of various schools and shown their incompleteness or imperfections, Baladeva moves on to discuss the true intent of the scriptures as presented by Badarayana in Vedanta-sutra. According to Vedanta, he writes that there are three ontological categories, namely, Isvara (God), Jiva (individual living being) and maya. Maya is a real energy of God and consists of three gunas called sattva, rajas and tamas. Isvara Jiva and maya are all eternal, the last two being under the control of God. Thus it is only the jiva who is influenced by maya, and never God. Sri Baladeva gives numerous citations to prove these points. The important thing to be noted here is that these references do not any interpretation, unlike Advata Vedanta, where it is necessary to resort to tricks like bhaga-tyaga-laksana to prove the identity of jiva and Brahman. The distinction between jiva and Isvara continues even in the liberated state. This uproots the basic inspiration of Advaita Vedanta, which considers both jiva and Isvara to be products of maya. It also defies the theory of the Bhedabheda school of Bhaskara, which says that the difference between jiva and Brahman exists only in the conditioned state. The author also gives the true purport of the sruti statements that seem to indicate absolute oneness between the jiva and Brhman. The oneness mentioned in these statements informs us of the similarity of the two, both being inherently conscious. The statements that proclaim that there is only one Reality, Brahman (e.g., Gopala-tapani Upanisad 2.65) should not be taken literally. They mean that there is nothing superior or equal to Brahman.
The author gives a unique interpretation of the famous mahavakya, tat tvam asi – "Yau are That." It means that God is the supreme object of love, just as one loves one's own self. Thus this mahavakya teaches union or oneness in love and not ontological oneness. HE further elaborates on this theme of love. He concludes that love for 5the Supree, and not liberation is the ultimate goal of human life, purusartha. This is the novel contribution of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to Indian philosophy and Sri Baladeva brings it out very crisply.
The author cites and comments on five verses of the Gita (15.16-20), which Himself to Arjuna. He raises arguments against the principle of distinction between jiva and Brahman and then refutes them. The author makes the point that by the grace of God one gets a spiritual form at the time of liberation eternally with God in His abode. Then one is never subjected to the law of karma and thus never has to take another material birth. He supports his conclusions with copious citations from varied scriptures.
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