(70) Saints, acharyas, their teachings and their religion.
The Saints and the acharyas of
Bharatvarsh have always established and expounded the devotional and the
philosophical themes of the Upnishads, Gita and the Bhagwatam which form
the body of Sanatan Dharm. There are no discrepancies in their
descriptions. If any discrepancy is seen in their descriptions, it is only
the lack of correct interpretation by the reader, because every Saint
describes the Divine theory in his own style and so you have to understand
the style of his writing.
The common source.
One thing you must know, that it is God Who reveals
the scriptures, directly and through Brahma; it is God Who sends the
Divine personalities from His abode to come to this earth planet and to
establish the Sanatan Dharm; and it is God Who Himself descends on the
earth planet to reveal His absolute Blissfulness through His leelas
and to show the path of bhakti, which is the soul and
the essence of Sanatan Dharm and all of the scriptures. Thus, the eternal
Sanatan Dharm is produced by God, represented by God, and established,
promoted and promulgated by the eternal associates of God.
This is the reason that all the Divine writings of the
acharyas and Saints are in perfect coordination with the Upnishads,
Gita and the Bhagwatam. All the names and the forms of God and the
philosophy of God realization that they have described are already in the
scriptures. But they have further simplified the path of devotion to God
and expanded the devotional material by revealing the leelas of
Radha Krishn a lot more than they are described in the Upnishads, Puranas
and the Bhagwatam.
The Divine forms of one single God.
The difference which is seen in their writings is the
representation of the form of God, and this difference relates to the
actual Divine status of that Divine personality. It also represents this
fact, that one supreme God has all these forms.
Ramanujacharya came from Vaikunth abode, so he
emphasized on the bhakti of God Vishnu but he also described about
the worship of Bhagwan Ram and Bhagwan Krishn. He wrote about Ram in his
book Ram Patal and Ram Rahasya. Nimbarkacharya came from Golok abode, so
he represented the loving devotion of Radha Krishn. Shankaracharya was the
descension of God Shiv Who is God of yog and liberation and also an
ardent devotee of Krishn, so Shankaracharya explained about gyan
and yog but he inserted bhakti in the very end of Aprokchanubhooti.
He detailed the description of Krishn devotion in
the Prabodh Sudhakar. Goswami Tulsidas is an eternal devotee of Bhagwan
Ram so he extensively adores and praises Bhagwan Ram in all of his
writings, but at one spot he also writes in the Vinay Patrika that,
Maya cannot do any
tricks upon him because he has Nand Kumar (Krishn) in his heart. These
references represent the Divine status of that Divine personality and, at
the same time, they also represent the internal self-submissiveness of all
the Divine forms of one single God.
Clarification of the philosophical differences related
to soul, maya,
The differences which are seen in the bhashyas
(commentaries on the scriptures) of the Jagadgurus are not
substantial differences. They are the descriptions of the same Divine
substance in a different manner and with a different approach, and
sometimes they are further clarifications of the same Divine truth.
For example: (a) Shankaracharya said in his bhashya
that God is impersonal (nirakar) and maya is only
an illusion. Ramanujacharya did not reject the existence of nirakar
brahm and the illusive nature of maya, but he further explained
that nirakar brahm is an aspect of purushottam brahm (the
supreme personality of God) and is established in Him, and maya
itself is not an illusion, only its effects are illusionary, whereas
maya is an eternal and lifeless power.
(b) The other Jagadgurus said that soul is an
infinitesimal part of the chit shakti of God. Jeev Goswami further
unfolded this situation and explained that there is a power called jeev
shakti which is an affiliate to chit shakti. Soul is
actually an infinitesimal part of that jeev shakti.
(c) Nimbarkacharya and Vallabhacharya established the
Divine supremacy of Krishn but they did not fully describe the Divinity of
Radha Rani. Jeev Goswami and Roop Goswami, further explained that Radha
Rani is the soul of Krishn and the absoluteness of the hladini
power which is the main personal power of supreme God Krishn. They wrote
the detailed descriptions of the Divine love states and the ecstasies of
Gopis, Krishn and Radha as they are seen in Golok and Divine
Vrindaban, in the Krishn Sandarbh, Preeti Sandarbh and Ujjwal Neelmani.
Thus we see that there is no substantial difference in the writings of the
Jagadgurus and the acharyas. They are the descriptions of
the same Divine existence in their own style of writings and according to
their own Divine experiences.
The gist of their teachings.
Now we can have a glimpse of the prime theme of the
writings of our Saints and the acharyas: Nimbarkacharya
showed the path of selfless devotion to Radha Krishn; Shankaracharya
(509-477 BC) talked about yog and brahm gyan but his
sachchidanand brahm was Krishn Whom he himself adored (Pra. Su. 195,
200, 250); Ramanujacharya stressed on humbleness and total
self-submission (prapatti) to God Narain (Vishnu); Madhvacharya
said that the only goal of a soul is to selflessly and wholeheartedly
love and surrender to God; Vallabhacharya propounded the path of
pushti which is total submission to Krishn with a real humble desire
of receiving His Grace; and Chaitanya Mahaprabhuji said that a
devotee should desire for the Divine love of Krishn Who is seen playing in
There were great Saints in all the provinces of India
but mostly they were in the Ganges valley. Some of the most important
Saints of South India are: the Alwars (between 7th to 9th century),
Shathkopacharya (c. 7th century), Vilvamangal whose Krishn Karnamrit is
famous, Gyaneshwar (1275-1296) who wrote the Gyaneshwari when he was only
fifteen, Shridhar Swami (c. 11th century) who wrote the famous commentary
on the Bhagwatam called the Shridhari Teeka, Namdeo (1270-1350), Tukaram
(1608-1649) whose devotional poems called “Abhang” are well known in his
area, and Samarth Guru Ramdas (1605-1681) who wrote “Dasbodh” and who was
a very popular and prestigious Saint of his time. Bhakt Narsi Mehta of
Junagarh (Kathiawar), Shree Daduji (1544-1603) of Gujarat and Bhakt
Nabhadas (c. 16th century) of South India (near river Godavari) were also
Nabhadas is the one who wrote in the poetry form
the brief life history of about 500 Divine personalities since the
beginning of this kalp and up to his lifetime.
Goswami Tulsidas (1497-1623), Kabir
(1398-1517), Jaideo (15th century), Madhusudan Saraswati
(16th century) and Meerabai (1501-1573) were the most popular
Saints whose writings are well known to the scholars.
Tulsidas was born in Uttar Pradesh and lived mostly
in Varanasi. His work, the “Ramayan,” was authenticated by God Shiv
Himself and is most popular in India. Kabir was born in Varanasi
and lived in Varanasi. He wrote some couplets
in local language which relate to bhakti, gyan and renunciation.
Bhakt Raidas (15th century) was also in Varanasi during that time.
Jaideo was born in Bengal and then he came to Puri.
His poetic descriptions of Radha Krishn leelas called “Geet Govind”
is such an excellent representation of Sanskrit literature, which still
has no comparison.
Madhusudan Saraswati was born in Bengal and spent
most of his life in Varanasi. He was an erudite scholar of Shankar Vedant,
the advait vad, but when he learned about the charm of Krishn love
he devoted himself to Krishn devotion and had His Divine vision. He wrote
several books of which “Bhakti Rasayan” and “Goodharth Deepika”
(commentary on the Gita) are important. At the end of the fifteenth
chapter of the Gita he writes,
“The supremacy of Krishn and the
incredibly amazing excellence of Krishn love is authenticated by all the
scriptures. Still if someone doesn’t accept this and has some kind of
feeling of neglect against Krishn, (because of his transgressions) he will
enter into the hellish state of maya.”
Meerabai was born in Marwar district (Rajasthan).
She had an intense longing for Krishn since her very childhood. Her
marriage, when she was only fifteen, couldn’t interrupt her devotion, but
the family situation caused her to leave home and she went to Vrindaban
where she met Jeev Goswami. Her songs of love and longing for Krishn are
famous. She had the Divine vision of Krishn in Vrindaban. In her later
days she went to Dwarika where she disappeared into the Deity of
The Sikh religion of Punjab was established with the advent of Guru
Nanak who was born near Lahore (Punjab) in 1469. His son Srichand (1494 -
c.1644) established the “Udeseen” sect which follows the religious
guidelines of Sanatan Dharm. “Guru Granth Saheb” is the book of Sikh
religion which is a collection of the sayings of Nanak and its other Sikh
Masters. Nanak talked about nirakar brahm but he never told the dry
gyan; he stressed upon bhakti and gyan both, although
his bhakti was not the real affectionate bhakti as
described by the Vaishnav acharyas.
During the same period, around the fifteenth and the
sixteenth centuries, there were a number of rasik Saints and
acharyas like Swami Haridas, Hit Harivansh, Surdas, Nanddas,
Dhruvdas, Roop Goswami and Sanatan Goswami etc., who lived in Braj and
enlivened the heart of every devotee with Radha Krishn love, whoever came
to them. So we see that all the acharyas and Saints represented
bhakti which is the central theme of Sanatan Dharm.
These Saints and the acharyas had their own
followings which later on took the shape of a religion in which a
particular form of devotion was introduced as taught by the originator of
that religion. In this way, in different periods of time, several
religions were formed all over India. But the beauty of these religions
was that, when they started, all of them represented pure bhakti
which is the central theme of the scriptures (the Upnishads, Gita and
the Bhagwatam) and which was expounded by all of the Saints and the
acharyas. Just like the fingers of a hand appear to be separate, but
they are not; they are together. Similarly, all the religions of India
are initially tied up with the string of bhakti as if they are all
one single religion of bhakti which is appearing in several forms.
The absolute, omniscient, omnipresent, omnigracious,
all-Blissful, all-beautiful and all-kind God has interrelated and
intersubmissive five main forms (Vishnu, Shiv, Durga, Bhagwan Ram and
Bhagwan Krishn), Who have Their own Divine abodes that represent sweeter
and sweeter manifestations of the Divine Bliss. (This philosophy is
described in detail in
“The Divine Vision of Radha Krishn.”) They are all
various forms and abodes of one single God. Souls who reach these Divine
abodes enjoy the absolute Bliss of a non-ending and ever-increasing nature
every moment. Your Beloved God, in the Divine abode, gives His personal
loving care of such an unlimited limit that drowns a soul in the sweetness
of His loving association forever. All of these abodes are attainable
through selfless bhakti.