There lived a great ascetic named Aruna Muni in Vaiduryapattnam, on the banks of the Godavari, in Andhra Pradesh in Southern India. He had a pious wife by name Jayanti Devi. Sri Nimbarka was born of Aruna Muni and Jayanti Devi. He flourished in the eleventh century A.D.
At the time of the Namakarana Samskara, the learned Brahmins gave the boy the name Niyamanandacharya. Nimbarka was also known by the names Aruna Rishi and Haripriyacharya.
Aruna Muni and Jayanti Devi performed their son’s sacred thread ceremony and sent him to Rishikul for learning the Vedas, Vedangas, Darshanas, etc. Niyamanandacharya mastered the scriptures in a short time. He was a mighty genius. People from all parts of India came to see this wonderful boy.
When Niyamanandacharya was in his teens, Brahma, the Creator, came to the Ashram of Aruna Muni in the disguise of a Sannyasin. The sun was about to set. The Muni had been out. The Sannyasin asked the wife of the Muni for something to eat. The food had been exhausted. The Muni’s wife remained silent. The Sannyasin was about to leave the Ashram.
Niyamanandacharya said to his mother, “Dear mother! A Sannyasin should not be sent away without food. We will have to suffer for violating Atithi Dharma”. The mother said, “Dear son! Your father has gone out. I have neither fruits nor roots. Moreover, there is no time for me to prepare any food. It is sunset. Sannyasins do not take their meals after sunset”.
Niyamanandacharya said to the Sannyasin, “I shall bring quickly roots and fruits from the forest. I guarantee that the sun will not set till you finish your meals”. Niyamanandacharya placed his Sudarshana Chakra on a Nim tree in the Ashram where it shone like the sun. Brahma, who was in the guise of the Sannyasin, was struck with amazement. In a few minutes Nimbarka returned with roots and fruits and gave them to his mother, who served them to the Sannyasin with intense devotion. As soon as the Sannyasin finished his meals, Nimbarka removed the Sudarshana Chakra from the Nim tree. It was at once pitch dark. One quarter of the night had passed. The Sannyasin, who was Brahma, conferred on the boy the name ‘Nimbarka’ (Nim—Neem tree; Arka—Surya or the sun). Since then he has been called Sri Nimbarkacharya.
Sri Nimbarkacharya is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Hari’s weapon Sudarshana Chakra or discus.
There are four kinds of Avataras: (i) Purna (full) e.g., Lord Krishna, Lord Rama. (ii) Kala (not all-full) e.g., Matsya, Varaha, Hamsa, etc. (iii) Amsa (part) e.g., Jada Bharata, Nara Narayana, etc. (iv) Amsamsa (part of the part) e.g., Sri Sankara, Sri Ramanuja, Sri Nimbarka, etc.
In Vishnu Yana, the spiritual lineage of Sri Nimbarkacharya is given as follows: “The sacred Gopala Mantra of eighteen letters sprang from the lotus mouth of Sri Narayana. It was given to Hamsa Bhagavan. Hamsa Bhagavan in turn initiated the Kumaras who revealed this Mantra to Rishi Narada. Narada taught this to his disciple Sri Nimbarka. Nimbarka gave this Mantra to his disciple Srinivasacharya”.
Sri Nimbarkacharya was the embodiment of mercy, piety, love, kindness, liberality and other divine qualities. He did rigorous austerities at Neemgram and had Darshan of Lord Krishna in that place. In that village only Nimbarka had exhibited his miracle when Brahma came for Bhiksha as a Sannyasin. Another holy place of the Nimbarka sect is Salembabad in Rajasthan. A big Mahant lives here. There is a temple of Nimbarka here.
Brindavan, Nandgram, Barsana, Govardhan and Neemgram are the chief Kshetras or holy lands of the followers of Nimbarkacharya. Parikrama of the 168 miles of Brij Bhumi is their foremost duty. To pay visits on different occasions to Sri Nimbarka’s temple in Neemgram, two miles from Govardhan, is their Sampradayik duty.
The Nimbarka sect is found mostly in Brij Bhumi, viz., Brindavan, Nandigram, Barsana, Govardhan, etc. Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bharatpur, Gwalior, Burdwan and Okara are its centres. The Nimbarka followers are also to be found in Central India, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal.
The Dvaitadvaita Philosophy
Sri Nimbarkacharya wrote the following books: Vedanta Parijat Saurabh, a commentary on the Brahma Sutras; a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita; Sadachar Prakash, a treatise on Karma Kanda; Rahasya Shodasi, an explanation of the Sri Gopala Mantra in verses; Prapanna Kalpa Valli, an explanation of the Sri Mukunda Mantra in verses; Prapatti Chintamani, a treatise pertaining to supreme refuge; Prata Smarana Stotram, adevotional hymn; Dasa Sloki or Kama Dhenu, the ten nectarine verses; and Savisesh Nirvisesh Sri Krishna Stavam.
Sri Nimbarkacharya was the exponent of the Dvaitadvaita school of philosophy. Followers of this cult worship Sri Radha and Krishna. Bhagavata is the most important scripture for them. Jiva and the world are both separate from, and identical with, Brahman. The followers of this school are even now found in Mathura and Brindavan.
Sankara was the exponent of the Kevala Advaita philosophy, Ramanuja of the Visishtadvaita philosophy, Madhvacharya of the Dvaita philosophy, Vallabhacharya of the Suddhadvaita philosophy and Nimbarkacharya of the Dvaitadvaita philosophy. All were great souls. We cannot say that Sankara was greater than Ramanuja or Vallabha was greater than Nimbarka. All were Avatara Purushas. Each one incarnated on this earth to complete a definite mission, to preach and propagate a certain doctrine, which was necessary to help the growth of a certain type of people who flourished at a certain period, who were in a certain stage of devotion. All schools of philosophy are necessary. Each philosophy is best suited to a certain type of people.
All cannot grasp the highest Kevala Advaita philosophy of Sankara all at once. The mind has to be disciplined properly before it is rendered a fit instrument to grasp the tenets of Sankara’s Advaita Vedanta.
Salutations and adorations to all Acharyas! Glory to the Acharyas! May their blessings be upon us all!
~ Swami Sivananda