|Doctrines|| ||This is one of the four traditional Vaishnava sects or sampradayas. It is also known as the Sanakadi-sampradaya. The members are the followers of Nimbarka, who was the founder.|
Nimbarka wrote nine works, the most important being his commentary on the Brahma Sutra, called the Vedantaparijatasaurabha, and his Dasasloki.
The doctrine of the Nimavats is the philosophy of Nimbarka, which is called dvaitadvaita-vada, the theory of dualism and nondualism. Nimbarka was one of the Vaishnava Vedantins who in contrast to Shankara argued that the world is real. Ramanuja had been the first to attack Shankara's Advaita Vedanta and called his view "qualified dualism." Nimbarka's Vedanta was "both dualism and nondualism," Madhva maintained the view of "dualism," while Vallabha inclined to "nondualism."
According to Nimbarka, God transforms himself into the world of material objects and jivas, individual souls, but does not lose himself in these, for he is simultaneously one with and distinct from matter and jivas. God alone has independent existence while matter and jivas are derived parts of God and are dependent on him and are controlled by him. All the Vaishnavas unlike Shankara believed in a personal God. For Nimbarka this was Krishna, who is omniscient, omnipotent, and the ultimate cause. Moksha, liberation, is attained through realisation and participation in the true nature of Lord Shri Krishna, and is possible only through the grace of Krishna. To obtain this it is necessary to practise bhakti, devotional attachment.
There is a solar element to the Nimavats, for Nimbarka is believed to have been an incarnation of Surya, the sun god, or of Sudarsana, the discus of Vishnu or Krishna.
|History|| ||Nimbarka was a Telugu brahman who came from the Bellary district on the border of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. His father's name was Jagannatha and Nimbarka is also called Nimbaditya or Niyamananda. However, the traditional home of Nimbarka is claimed as Vrndavana near Mathura in north Bengal. He probably migrated there from the South. The Mathura area is the centre of the Vaishnavas in northern India. The date of Nimbarka is controversial, either he lived in the twelfth century soon after Ramanuja or in the middle of the fourteenth century. |
A story of a miracle tells of how Nimbarka acquired his name. At his home late one evening a Bairagin ascetic appeared wanting food. The ascetic was under a vow not to eat after sunset. To allow enough time to provide hospitality, Nimbarka caught the sun in a nim tree and stopped it setting until after the ascetic had eaten.
Almost nothing is known of the history of the sect since its foundation. The Nimavats are said to have suffered much persecution by the Jains and others. At one time the sect nearly disappeared.
We do have the names and texts of scholars that followed on from Nimbarka and helped keep the sect alive. Srinivasa is believed to have been a pupil of Nimbarka and in his Vedantakaustaubha he elaborated the Vedantaparijatasaurabha of Nimbarka . This work was continued by Purusottama, a pupil of Srinivasa, in his Vedantaratnamanjusa, and in the fourteenth century in the Vedantakaustubhaprabha of Kesava Kasmirin.
|Symbols|| ||Solar symbols are important in the life story of Nimbarka. He is believed to be an incarnation of Surya or Sudarsana. Sudarsana as the discus of Vishnu or Krishna is a solar symbol. In the legend of Nimbarka, he stops the sun setting by catching it in a nim tree. The nim tree is universally associated with solar worship.|
The members of the sect place on the forehead two vertical lines of white clay (gopichandana) with a central black spot. They carry a rosary and wear a necklace of sacred tulasi wood.
|Adherents|| ||Many are wandering sannyasins, renunciants, while others are married householders. Nimavats are especially numerous in Bengal, especially in the Mathura area.|
| ||Vrndavana, near Mathura in the Monghyr district of North Bengal, India.|