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The Yoga Dictionary

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The Sanskrit language is rich in words to communicate ideas about spiritual life, yoga, and God realization. This dictionary, appearing by installments in BACK TO GODHEAD, focuses upon the most important of these words (and, occasionally, upon relevant English terms) and explains what they mean.

Dvaita—the philosophy of dualism, or the idea that God and the living entity are two—that they have eternally separate identities.

As espoused by Sripada Madhvacarya (the renowned thirteenth-century spiritual teacher) and his followers, dvaita directly opposes the monistic and impersonalistic philosophy of Sankara, who five centuries earlier had taught that God and the living entity are one. Sankara and his followers believed that the living entity is actually God but has become temporarily forgetful of his true nature because of the power of illusion. When the living entity realizes his true identity as the Supreme, he will again become God.

The dualists argue that if the individual living entity was once God but became covered by illusion, this would mean that God is not all-powerful, not the Supreme—a patent contradiction. God can’t be subject to illusion, since He is the source of all energies, including illusion, or maya. God is never subordinate to any of His energies, so at no time could He forget His own divinity. Therefore, the living entity is not God Himself. Rather, he is one of His energies, who because of his minuteness is liable to fall under the sway of God’s illusory potency.

Concerning the question of whether the Supreme is a person or not, the Sankarites argue that since from our own experience we know that form and personality are limiting, the Supreme, being unlimited, must ultimately be formless and impersonal—undifferentiated Brahman.

In response, the dvaitists maintain that while material form and personality are certainly limiting, formless oneness is even more so. The true conception of the Absolute is a person with unlimited spiritual form, personality, qualities, and pastimes. This is God.

Another argument for the personality of the Supreme is that since the living entity, who is a part of God, has form and personality, it stands to reason that the whole, God, would also have form and personality. Otherwise God’s creation would possess attributes that He, the creator, doesn’t have—again, a patent contradiction.

Dvaitadvaita—the philosophy of combined dualism and monism, or the idea that God and the living entity are simultaneously one and different. The founder of the dvaitadvaita philosophy is the thirteenth-century spiritual teacher Nimbarka.

Dvaitadvaita improves upon dvaita by adding the understanding that while the minute living entity is eternally an individual, distinct from God, he is also qualitatively one with Him. Just as a drop of seawater has all the qualities of the ocean in minute degree, the living entity has all of God’s qualities in minute degree.

In a nutshell, the philosophy of the dvaitadvaitists is this: God and the living entity are one in the sense that the energy and the energetic source can never be separated. But each individual entity, or soul, has an eternal individual identity. No one is separate from God; only through misuse of his minute independence does the living entity forget the Lord and think himself separate from Him. God is the father of all that exists, animate as well as inanimate, and when the conditioned soul realizes that his constitutional position is to serve his Lord, the soul becomes one with God in the sense that his desires and the Lord’s are identical.

For a fuller discussion of dualism and monism, see Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter 7.

Dvapara-yuga—the third in the cycle of the four yugas, or ages.

According to the Vedic literature, the four yugas are Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali. A thousand such yuga cycles comprise twelve hours in the time scale of Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe. Satya-yuga lasts 1,728,000 years, Treta 1,296,000 years, Dvapara 864,00 years, and Kali, the present age, 432,000.

In each successive age, people’s average life span decreases. In Satya-yuga one could live up to 100,000 years. In Treta-yuga 10,000. In Dvapara-yuga one could live up to 1,000 years, and the prescribed means of self-realization, based on people’s longevity and character, was opulent and meticulous worship of the Deity form of the Lord in the temple.

At the end of the last Dvapara-yuga (about 5,000 years ago). Lord Sri Krsna appeared and performed His earthly pastimes.

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