Nimbarka
(c. 12th century)
   Vedanta philosopher
   Nimbarka was a philosopher of the VEDANTA, who founded a sect of VAISHNAVISM centered in Mathura, North India, that focused on RADHA and KRISHNA.
   Nimbarka was born in Andhra Pradesh; his name has been traced by some to the village Nimba or Nimbapura in the Bellary District. One myth explains his name more colorfully: once a wandering mendicant visited Nimbarka, who offered him food. Because the Sun had already set, the ascetic refused, saying that he had vowed not to eat after the Sun had set. Thereupon the philosopher took the last rays of the Sun (arka) and put them up in a neem tree (nimba tree) until food could be prepared and the ascetic could eat.
   Formally, Nimbarka’s Vedantic philosophy is called dvaitavaita, “both dualist and non-dualist,” which makes it quite similar (but not identical) to the philosophy of RAMANUJA and his VISHISHTAD-VAITA, “non-dualism via differencing.” Dvaitad-vaita, as does non-dualism, understands that all is the divinity. All souls and all matter are the stuff of the divine. In this sense there is non-duality between the selves, between materiality and the ultimate. At the same time no individual soul (let alone matter) can ever be as supreme or sublime as the divine, so in that sense there is duality (a difference) between the divinity and the world. Unlike SHANKARA’S VEDANTA, Nimbarka saw the world as real and not an illusion. Less scholarship has been done on Nimbarka’s philosophy than on several of the other major Vedanta philosophers. Eight major works in SAN-SKRIT are attributed to him but only three are available in published form: Vedanta-parijata-sau-rabha, his commentary on the Vedanta Sutra; a work called Dasasloki, which has only 10 verses; and Krishna-stava-raja, a devotional work. Several subcommentaries have been written on his work on the Vedanta Sutra.
   Nimbarka’s system took Krishna to be god, while the devotee took the role of Krishna’s con-sort, Radha, in adoring him and serving him. Nimbarka is perhaps best known to modern India through the Vaishnavite sect named after him, the Nimbarki sect, which is also referred to as the Sanakadi or Hamsa sect of Vaishnavites, centered in Mathura.
   Further reading: M. M. Agarwal, The Philosophy of Nim-barka (Varanasi: Chaukhamba Surbharati Prakashan, 1983); Unmesha Mishra, Nimbarka School of Vedanta (Allahabad: Tirabhukti, 1966); Swami Tapasyananda, The Bhakti Schools of Vedanta (Madras: Ramakrishna Mutt, 1990).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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