The theology of Nimbarka: A translation of Nimbarka's "Dasasloki'' with Giridhara Prapanna's "Laghumanjusa"

Geeta R Khurana, Fordham University


This dissertation is an introduction to the theology of the thirteenth-century thinker Nimbarka, summarized in his The Decade of Verses (Dasasloki). The translation here is based on Laghumanjusa by Giridhara Prapanna. Nimbarka marks a turning-point in the history of Hindu theology, both in its metaphysical and theological aspects. As a metaphysician he belongs to the tradition of Difference-in-Identity, according to which reality is bipolar, having a transcendental unitary aspect and a phenomenal differential one. Nimbarka declared that the relationship between the poles was one of independent (Brahman) and dependent (phenomenal beings). The various Difference-in-Identity schools which form the mainstream of Vedantic thought, have different theological assumptions, chief among which is the identity, with the Brahman, of the deity chosen for adoration, who is judged to be the one true God. For Nimbarka, a Vaisnava, the chosen deity is Visnu, a deity who constantly incarnates in the phenomenal world; important among His incarnations are those of the hero Rama and the warrior and cowherd Krsna. Vaisnava theology is thus emphatically an incarnational theology. However, previous Vaisnava theologians had discoursed on Visnu either in His divine form or in His incarnations as divine majesty, a majesty portrayed in scriptures like the Gita and the Pancaratras. But the importance of the Gita and the Pancaratras was equalled, if not superseded, by the Bhagavata Purana (9th century A.D.). While the Gita had portrayed Krsna, God incarnate, as a counsellor in a civil war, the Bhagavata pictured Him as a cowherd who retained all the power of deity, but revealed a totally new personality, radiating sweetness and embodying a variety of entirely human roles: as infant, youth and adult, as son, lover and friend. Living in a bucolic paradise, Krsna is surrounded by adoring cowherds and cowherdesses. Hence the Theology of Sweetness which became increasingly passionate and sexual. Nimbarka can be said to be the inaugurator of this new Theology of Sweetness, without being erotic because of its majesty-oriented Pancaratra. The relationship of the human soul to the deity, as discussed by Nimbarka, is one of devotion and communion, characterized on the part of God by grace and on that of the soul by surrender. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

Subject Area

Theology|Philosophy|Religious history

Recommended Citation

Khurana, Geeta R, "The theology of Nimbarka: A translation of Nimbarka's "Dasasloki'' with Giridhara Prapanna's "Laghumanjusa"" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8818462.