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One of the four major Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas, a theistic school of Vedānta, founded by Nimbārka in the 11th or 12th century ce. Its teaching is also sometimes characterized as propounding bhedābheda (‘identity in difference’) and is similar in some respects to Rāmānuja's Viśiṣṭādvaita. Like Rāmānuja, Nimbārka recognizes three principles: the sentient or spiritual (cit; also known as bhoktṛ—the enjoyer), the non-sentient or non-spiritual (acit; also known as bhogya—the object of enjoyment), and Ῑśvara or Brahman. These three are related neither though their difference (bheda) from each other nor their identity (abheda); instead, they are conceived of as real entities naturally existing in a state of equilibrium between the opposing poles of difference and identity. Nevertheless, for Nimbārka, the other two principles are not, as they are for Rāmānuja, attributes of Ῑśvara, although they are inseparable from him. Since, for the Nimbārka tradition, Ῑśvara or Brahman is indistinguishable from the personal God, Kṛṣṇa, liberation can only be achieved by following the path of total surrender (prapatti) to the latter, or, according to some texts, his representative (i.e. the devotee's guru). See also Nimbārka.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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