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Benefits of Pure devotional Service | What is Achintya-Bheda-Abheda Philosophy? | Shandilya Bhakti Sutra-12

Do you trust that we can have a spiritual body ?

Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 32

वैषम्यादसिद्धिमिति चेनाविजानवद वैशिष्ट्यात

Though jiva is qualitatively same with Brahman/Bhagawan, but quantitatively it differs from God. This truth is established by the philosophy of Avadya-Jnana-Tattva which means that He is one without a second. Therefore, Bhagawan is only one and jiva cannot be Bhagawan.

Purport of Aphorism 32

The Achintya-Bheda-abheda philosophical doctrine established by Sriman Chaitanya Mahaprabhu propagates that Jiva and Bhagawan have the same qualities, but they highly differ in terms of the quantity. It says that the Jiva is subservient to Bhagawan and it accepts the position of an eternal servitor of Bhagawan. On the other hand, Bhagawan is the Supreme, omniscient, omnipresent Being, who is full in all aspects. Other schools of philosophy as mentioned by the Chaandogya Upanishad affirm that there exists two entities, jiva and Bhagawan, although it is mentioned implicitly. Let us take the following examples to understand this concept:

Abheda Shrutis

1) “Aham brahmasmi” which means “I am Brahman”

2) “Ekam eva Advitiyam” or “There is only one being, without any other”

Bheda Shrutis

1) “Brahmavid-apnoti-param” or “One who realizes Brahman attains the summum bonum of life.

2) “Satyam jnanam Brahman-abhipaschita” or Brahman is the eternal source of all wisdom unbounded. He who finds Brahman existing in his heart as in the world beyond this, gets his objects fulfilled with the wisdom of Brahman.

There are many more Bheda and Abheda Shrutis but primarily all of them make distinction between the jiva and Param-atma. If we closely study the Bheda and Abheda shrutis, we find that both the schools of philosophy successfully established the existence of Jiva and Bhagawan as two separate entities.

Understanding the Achitya-Bheda-Abheda Philosophy

The central philosphy of Abheda is that there is only one Brahman that exists. Though the Abheda school of philosophy might seem to preach “I am Brahman”, if we analyze this shruti we find that it affirms that I is separate from Brahman. In this very statement, there exists two separate entities, I the self and Brahaman who is none other than Bhagawan. However, this is a very preliminary stage towards attaining the goal of life.

Later, the Bheda school of thought, presented the teaching of the Abheda school of thought in a more refined manner by assigning the appropriate terms. The terms Jiva and Bhagawan helps differentiating between the two and establishes them as two separate entities.

The central teachings of Abheda- Bhagwan is non-different from Jiva and Bheda- Bhagawan is different from the Jiva is integrated in the Achinty-Bheda-Abheda philosophy.

Here, Achintyabheda-Abheda philosophy brings refinement in the teachings of Bheda and Abheda schools of philosophy. It says that the Jiva and Bhagwan have the same attributes (example: possessing a form, having the ability to display power, wealth etc). But, the quantity of the attributes differ. The Jiva exhibits far-less (in quantity) the attributes of prowess, wealth, beauty, etc, when compared to the infinite potency of Bhagawan.

Therefore, Achintya-Bheda-Abheda clearly crafted the Abheda philosophy of oneness (in terms of presence of all qualities) and Bheda philosophy of difference (in terms of quantity of qualities and existence).

Jivas according to the Bheda and Achintya-Bheda-Abheda philosophy have individual existence and are not one in terms of the quantity of attributes. But at the same time, Abheda and Achintya-Bheda-Abheda are similar when saying that the jiva is similar to Bhagwan in terms of attributes, that the jiva possess all the qualities of Bhagwan.

Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 33

न च क्लिष्टः परः स्यादनन्तर विशेषात्

Though jiva-soul is subjected to the affliction of maya, when he engages in loving service of Godhead he becomes totally free from any sorrow/suffering and becomes blissful.

Purport of Aphorism 33

In the Katha Upanishad it is said that: The man of wisdom, who beholds the Supreme Brahman/Bhagawan as the paramount of eternal reality among all other sentient beings enjoys true eternal bliss. An evolved being regards Brahman as the Fountain-Source of consciousness to all conscious beings and as the only Reality. He does not believe in a second entity of authority and has a firm conviction that Bhagawan is the Monitor self, dwelling in the cave of the heart of all sentient beings. Only Bhagawan grants beings with the fruits of their good and bad deeds (Karma). A man of such unshakable faith in Bhagawan attains true bliss and not others who are ignorant of Him.

Not only does the sentient being attain bliss but also he is blessed with the following:

1) Apahata papa- He is relived of all sins and sinful propensities.

2) Vijara- He becomes ageless.  He does not perceive old-age as other insentient or ignorant beings do. Even if he becomes apparently old for the world, he does not experience any disturbing symptoms of old-age and embraces the aging process with grace.

3) Vimrutyu: He overcomes death. No fear of death lingers at the back of the mind of such a sentient being as he is occupied with the divine remembrance of the Lord. While departing from this world, he does not experience fear of leaving this body as he has a clear vision of his spiritual destination. He is not left with the haunting thought of his journey after death because he accepts the position of serving Bhagawan.  There remains no uncertainty and therefore leaving this body seems nothing more than a journey to the other (spiritual) world.

4) Vijighatsaa: He breaks free from Lustful tendencies and thoughts. He is suffused with immense energy or Ojas Shakti as he does not expend his vital fluid in lower activities. This helps him progress on the spiritual path. He never experiences energy-drain and always remains enthusiastic to carry out his spiritual practices.

5) Apipasa: The tendency of hankering disappears as he attains the ultimate object of satisfaction and joy. A person hankers for something only when there is a sense of incompleteness. But, a spiritually evolved being is completely soaked in his practices and therefore is complete in all respects.

6) Satyakaam: He desires (kam) the Truth (Satya). All his actions are intended to attain the Supreme truth, Bhagawan.

7) SatyaSankalpa: All his actions, spiritual activities come to fruition and floods his heart with immense bliss and contentment.

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