By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Nimbarka, NimbArka, Nimbaarka
Nimbārka (12th cent. A. D.)
Nimbārka was a well-known teacher of Vedānta who advocated a balanced combination of bhakti (devotion to God) and jñāna (knowledge) like Rāmānuja (A. D. 1017-1137) and Madhva (A.D. 1238-1317). Though his date of birth is not known, he is known to have passed away in A. D. 1162.
He was born of Jagannātha and Sarasvatī, a Telugu-speaking couple who lived at Nimbāpura (now identified with Naidu Pattana) in the Bellary district of Karnataka State. His original name was Niyamānanda. His followers consider him as the incarnation of Sudarśana (discus of Lord Viṣṇu).
According to one legend, he was given the name ‘Nimbārka’ by a samnyāsin who accepted food in his house after sunset, thinking it was still daytime, since Nimbārka through his devotion and prayers to Lord Srīkṛṣṇa had created that
illusion through the Sudarśana discus which shone in the western horizon like the sun! The samnyāsin was able to see the sun (= arka) from atop a nimba (neem) tree! After learning the truth, the samnyāsin gave him this name (‘Nimbārka’).
He migrated to Vṛndāban (in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh) and lived the rest of his life there.
He had many disciples and followers, both ascetics and householders. Out of them Harivyāsadeva (15th cent. A. D.) and Keśava Kāśmīrin were more well-known.
His magnum opus is Vedāntapārijāta Kaustubha, a brief and clear commentary on the Brahmasutras. The Daśaśloki (also called Siddhāntaratna), a small work of ten verses expounding the author’s doctrine for the tyros, is also attributed to him.
Wearing of the gopīcandana as two perpendicular lines on the forehead with a dark dot in the centre as also carrying a rosary of tulasī beads is the hallmark of Nimbārka’s followers.
His philosophy is now well-known as Dvaitādvaita.
See BRAHMASUTRAS (NIMBĀRKA) for details.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore