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Dasasloki | Vedanta-kama-dhenu :: Nimbarka

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Dasasloki ·   Vedanta-kama-dhenu
Ten verses summarizing Nimbarka's doctrine. Also known as Vedanta-dasa-sloki or Vedanta-kama-dhenu.

(2005-05-26 Jagat)
Source texts
Taken from Sri Nimbarka aur unka sampradaya (Vrindavan : Sarvesvara Visesanka) 1972. page 6.
Original written in: Unknown
Entry added: May 26th 2005
Entry updated: December 10th 2007
Views: 2919
Downloads: 307
Other details
Added by: Jagat
Credits: Jagat
Text version: 1.00 (legend)
Keywords: Vedamta-dasa-sloki, Vedanta-kama-dhenu, Nimbarka
Further notes
Saranabehari Goswami is very critical of the dating of the Nimbarka sampradaya as given by the tradition itself. I personally have never been able to find any clear or decisive information about that sect, and a wide variety of authors gives a rather wide variety of dates for Nimbarka and his principal followers. The tradition itself says that he appeared at the end of the Dvapara yuga, which we can discount. Scholars give a variety of speculations, which need to be examined. Bhandarkar gives his birth as 1162 CE, and others like Baladeva Upadhyay say he is the “oldest among the Vaishnava acharyas” (वैष्णब आचार्यों म‍ें प्रचीनतम), but the speculations run from 531 CE (Virajakant Ghosh) to post Vallabhacharya (R.L. Mitra) The most credible scholar say that he comes after Ramanuja, since certain texts in his Vedanta commentary appear to be based on Sri Bhashya. If this is the only evidence, it is not particularly strong, as such things can point both ways. Vrajavallabha Sharana Vedantacharya (Sri Nimbarkacharya, Sudarshan Patrika, Visesanka 1972, 66-79) finds evidence to show that Shankar debated his ideas, thus placing him before Shankara, i.e., in the 7th century, or even earlier. Sundarananda Vidyavinoda places Nimbarka later than Ramanuja, on the basis of original research. Sashibhushan Dasgupta শ্রীরাধার ক্রম বিকাশ, 195), also points to Nimbarka’s shakti doctrine as following Ramanuja. I would have to go with this consensus and place Nimbarka after the 12th century.

Saranabehari (SBG) was the first person I have read who did not accept anything except for the Vedanta-parijata-saurabha as a genuine work of Nimbarka, rejecting Mantra-rahasya-shodasi, Vedanta-kama-dhenu (Dasasloki), Prabhata-stotra and Radhastakam, the well-known works that are usually considered proofs that Nimbarka was the first to worship Radha and Krishna in sakhi-bhava.

I don’t find his arguments very strong, mainly because he does not present his proofs in any detail. Like many Indian scholars, he lists the dates postulated by previous writers without examining or judging their proofs, so it is hard to find the kernel of verity. My tendency is to be wary of his argument, since he seems predisposed to making every development in the sakhi-bhava dependent on Haridas Swami, and therefore it is necessary to dispose of Nimbarki claims to be originators of the mood.

Vedanta-parijata-saurabha is a short philosophical work and has no mention of Radha or even a whiff of Yugala upasana. Whether this in itself can be proof of anything is hard to say. Could we deduce sakhi or manjari bhava from the writings of Sanatan Goswami? Or Baladeva Vidyabhushan? Could we discard Madhava-mahotsava because there is nothing of the sort in Tattva-sandarbha?

SBG states that Srinivas, Nimbarka’s disciple, who wrote a commentary on VPS named Vedanta-kaustubha, does not mention Radha either. Other, pre-16th century attributed works of the line are disposed of, some for very good reasons. But I find it very hard to accept that Dasasloki was written in the 19th century, as stated by Hazari Prasad Dvivedi (हिन्दी साहित्य, १९५२, पृ 198-199), a very influential and credible historian of Hindi literature. Whatever the actual date of writing, the verse that everyone points to in the Dasasloki, which mentions Radha and the sakhis, is this one:

aGge tu vAme vRSabhAnujAM mudA
virAjamAnAm anurUpa-saubhagAm |
sakhI-sahasraiH parisevitAM sadA
smarema devIM sakaleSTa-kAma-dAm ||5||

We should remember the Goddess, daughter of Vrishabhanu, who joyfully sits to Krishna’s left, and whose beauty and blessedness match his, and who is constantly served by thousands of sakhis, and who awards all desires.

SBG (page 61) quotes one Sudarshan Singh, who denies that this is truly a basis for sakhi-bhava worship. (अवश्य ही दशश्लोकी में श्रीराधाकृष्णकी वन्दना है, पर उससे मधुर भाव या सखी भाव संप्रदाय को पोषण मिले, ऐसा कोई बीज नहीं है । उषा मासिक, अक्टूबर १९५२). I don’t see the validity of this statement.

There are two commentaries on the Dasasloki, one by Purushottam Acharya (usually number 7 on the parampara lists), Vedanta-ratna-manjusha, the other by Harivyasa Devacharya (no. 35 and definitely dated as a junior contemporary of Sri Rupa), Siddhanta-ratnanjali. SBG discredits both of these works as predating developments in the sakhi mood, i.e., the early to mid-16th century. Though these are predominantly concerned with siddhanta, Purushottam, who follows Sri Sampradaya arguments about Lakshmi, concludes that Radha and the Vraja-vadhus are premadhisthatri-devis, while Lakshmi is aishvaryadhisthatri devi, which is definitely an evolution of Shakti-tattva. Some of the texts he quotes (rAdhayA mAdhavo devo, etc.) are among those interpolated texts that are quite late. It would be hard to place this commentary too far ahead of our watershed moment, but even if it were only a day, it would still show Nimbarka sampradaya primacy.

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Editor comments (0)
Additional notes from the editors' research and selected discussion forum contributions.
Nimbarka's dates · Posted by Jagat on May 26th 2005 - 22:14 +0200
A farily controversial issue.
  • The tradition holds that he was born in year 15 of the Kali Age, i.e., over 5000 years ago.
  • Nimbarka scholars more amenable to the historical method place him before Shankaracharya.
  • Most Western scholars place him in the 12th or 13th centuries. Some even push the date later than this, but traditional guru lists make this option highly unlikely.

It is hard to find any rock hard evidence to substantiate any of these positions, though the first view seems most unlikely.

In either of the other two options, however, Nimbarka's pioneering role in the worship of Radha and Krishna seems reasonably justifiable.