I am trying to find the key philosophical differences between the Gaudiya Vaishnava Philosophy of Achintya Bheda Abheda & the Sri Vaishnava philosophy of Vishishtadvaita.

So what exactly is the difference between Achintya Bhedabheda and Vishishtadvaita of Shri Ramanujacharya. One uses Krishna and one uses Shri Vishnu. Apart from that there seems to be no difference. Both say that Chit and Achit are also atomic parts of God. So Jeevis are atomic part of God. We are like drops of Ocean. Bheda in Quantity and Abheda Quality. What is the difference?

Moreover what's Achintya or inconceivable about this?

Also the Dvaitadvaita of Nimbarkacharya and Bhedavheda philosophy of Yamunacharya souunds same as Achintya Bhedabheda? What are the key and important philosophical differences?

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    I've seen on your profile page you said you are 15 years old. There you also quoted some "Hari Krishna mahamantra: Hari Krishna Hari Krishna ..." I think there is no such thing as Hari Krishna, but there is Hare Krishna! :) I think that a person of an age of 15 is too young to study some heavy philosophy such as Vedanta, in particular Vedanta sutra commentaries of different Vaishnava traditions. ... Aug 18, 2017 at 5:33
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    ... I suggest you to wait until you become older, say 19 or 20 and then start studying Vedanta. Then your mental abilities and intelligence will become sharper and you will be more capable of studying such a difficult subject. Until then you can read many other books which are not so much difficult to grasp, such as stories of Lord Krishna in the Puranas, etc, Bhagavad gita and Srimad Bhagavatam with commentaries, etc. Whole life is ahead of you, don't rush. Aug 18, 2017 at 5:34
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    @brahmajijnasa "Whole life is ahead of you, don't rush" This is an extremely wrong attitude, which life are you talking about? Mere 60-70 years of life? How long is that? The earlier you start the better it is. Years spent without doing any spiritual activity is pure waste.
    – Pinakin
    Aug 20, 2017 at 10:53
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    @ChinmaySarupria I think this is not the wrong attitude. The persons who are very young are better to read some easier literature than Vedanta systems of philosophy. In that young age mental abilities and intelligence are not very much sharp yet, and the person is often not capable to comprehend much of what he may have read of Vedanta. Btw, he has said in his question "... because they seem absolutely the same to me" which shows that he cannot distinguish the differences. Aug 21, 2017 at 2:16

2 Answers 2


The key difference between the two systems is how the two systems handle the relationship between Brahman and the universe. Ramanuja's system says that the relationship between the universe and God is that of sarira-sariri while Caitanya's system says it is Saktimat-sakti. These two concepts are explained below.

Ramanuja's Visistadvaita Vedanta

The idea of Brahman's Svabhava necessitates a theory of His relation with the manifested Jivas and Nature (Prakrti). For, his being endowed with Bala (creative power) and Karunya (redemptive grace) indicates the existence of a created universe of Nature and Jivas. Ramanuja's task as a Vedantin is to formulate a theory of unity of all existence in the face of multiplicity constituted of Nature (Prakriti) and Jivas. ...but a Vedantic theologian has also got to formulate a theory showing how the unity of all existence is possible in the face of a constantly changing multiplicity, and also how a perfect and sinless Being can be inferred as the creator of a world that is full of sin and suffering. Ramanuja as a Vedantic metaphysician addresses himself to this task.


The plurality of the jivas and the changeful order of Nature are for him even ultimately real. For changelessness does not make anything unreal. Their unity lies in the fact of their being held together in inseparable union (Aprthaksiddhi) in the Supreme Being called Brahman, Isvara, Bhagavan, Narayana etc. They have no existence apart from Him. The dependence is not mutual, but entirely on the part of Jivas and Nature. .... Ramanuja uses several expressive terms to describe this inseparable and integral unity. Some of these are Sarira and Sariri (body and soul), Prakara and Prakari (mode and substance), Visista and Visesana (the qualified whole and the qualifications) etc. All these terms explicate the various aspects of Aprthaksiddhi or inseparable relation.

God or Brahman, who has been described before in terms of his attributes known as Svarupa (Basic nature) and Svabhava (relational nature), has also got a secondary attribute - a body attributively related to Him. That body is the collectivity of Jivas and Nature. Body and Soul are always organically related. .... As for Brahman, the Cosmic Body of Jivas and Nature cannot at all be separated, as their dependence on Him is eternal and is in the nature of things.

Bhakti Schools of Vedanta by Swami Tapasyananda

Caitanya's Achintya Bheda Abheda

The system claims itself to be Advaya Vada, a doctrine of the one without a second, according to which Sat-Cid-Ananda Para-Brahman, identified with Krishna, is the one Supreme Reality.


It may be asked how the non-duality of the Supreme Reality can be understood in relation to the experience of multiplicity experienced in everyday life. Every school of Vedanta has got its own answer. In Sankara's system the manifold is explained away as an illusory manifestation superimposed by ignorance on the non-dual substratum. In the system of Ramanuja, the manifold is accepted as adjectively or organically related to Isvara (God), who along with the manifold, forms the complete whole or the Absolute including in itself all that exists. In the Bengal school of Vaisnavism the relationship accepted is that of Saktimat and Sakti, powerholder and power. An entity and its power are inseparably related and have an identity of being in spite of the difference that could be made of them. For example, fire and its potency expressed as heat and light, form an identical entity though the distinction between them is also simultaneously evident. Similarly is the case with the Supreme Reality (Krishna) and His Sakti or Potency of world manifestation. Their relationship is one of identity in difference, both the terms of relationship being equally real. The Supreme Person remains transcendental while His Sakti projects the world of multiplicity. The multiplicity is in, and of, Sakti, and does not affect the Saktimat. At the same time Sakti, as the potency of the Saktimat, the Supreme Person, has no independent existence apart from Him and constitutes an identical non-dual Whole with Him. Non-duality of the ultimate Reality is thus secured through the concept of Sakti which stands distinct from the Saktimat as the source of the manifested worlds, while at the same time remaining non-different from the transcendent Saktimat. Manifestation is real and not in any sense illusory. It is changeful, but not illusory. The Supreme Reality can have no truck with falsity in any sense.


If Sakti is identical with Saktimat, will not the real transformation of the former be equivalent to the transformation of the later also? In reply to this the Bengal School of Vaisnavism propounds the doctrine of Inconceivable Identity-in-difference (Acintya-bhedabheda). Sakti is both identical and different from Saktimat. It is because of this element of difference that transformation of Sakti does not affect the Saktimat. At the same time the element of identity makes the Supreme Reality Non-dual even in the midst of difference. How these two contradictory features can co-exist is not attempted to be explained logically. For this reason it is designated as Acintya - alogical or incomprehensible by thought. It means logic, which is ultimately based on sense experience, cannot bring it within its laws and it has therefore to be accepted as a fact transcending human experience. At the most it can be said that the idea of the cause being affected and exhausted by change, is the characteristic of relative causes bound by space and time. To apply this rule to the ultimate cause, the Cause of all causes, who has this special capacity of unaffectedness in the midst of change, is illegitimate.

Bhakti Schools of Vedanta by Swami Tapasyananda


Some differences are(It will impractical to try to explain all the differences,so I’ll mention what I can)

Achintya Bheda Abheda,as put forth by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu,selectively picks certain aspects of other philosophies ,and incorporates it into its own {viz a viz more “original” philosophies like those of Ramanujacharya} ,as explained in this answer

But,the difference is not simply “one is Krishna,other is Vishnu”,there’s more to things.

1)Ramanujacharya tried to give a scriptural/Upanishadic backing to his philosophy,especially in the context of Advaita Vedanta and also commenting on other scripture like the Bhagavad Gita;Achintya Bheda Abheda bases itself on more on explicitly Vaishnav Puranas.

2)Also a point of difference between Vishishtadvaita and Achintya Bheda Abheda is Ramanujacharya’s exposition on the nature of certain un emphasized points,like the types of incarnations,for example. This page explains V.Advaita in some detail

  1. Śrī Jīva discusses absolute reality or tattva with an analysis of the famous verse from the Śrīmad Bhagavatām below (Tattva Sandarbha Anuccheda 51 and 52 and Bhagavat Sandarbha Anuccheda 1):

vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate

  • All those who have realized Absolute reality refer to that Reality as non dual consciousness. This reality is named as Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān.*

This verse indicates that absolute reality is advaya- which means “one without a second”. If the worshipper has a non-personal concept of that reality, it manifests to that person as Brahman. If the worshipper has a personal concept, that same absolute reality manifests as Paramātmā or Bhagavān. Of course, all this requires the use of a legitimate process to realize either of them, that is, a method explained in the śāstras.

The difference between Bhagavān and Brahman is that of perception. Bhagavān is the viśiṣṭa or qualified reality, while Brahman is the unqualified reality, but reality is only one. This theology, then, appears similar to the viśiṣṭa advaita tattva of Śrī Rāmānujachārya (advaita means non-dual). However, Śrī Jīva has proposed that Absolute Reality is acintya bheda-abheda tattva. What’s the difference between these two theologies,you may ask.

An example of a viśeṣaṇa is the redness of a red rose. The redness inheres in the rose, and cannot be separated from it. This type of relation is called saṁvāya saṁbandha in nyāya. The brilliance of Śrī Jīva was in recognizing a potential problem with considering everything in existence as a viśeṣaṇa of Bhagavān. For example, Śrī Rāmānujachārya considers the material world as a viśeṣaṇa of Bhagavān.If the world is related to Bhagavān in a similar way as the redness of the rose, then the negative, inferior qualities of the material world become an inherent quality of Bhagavān. This, however, is not correct.

Furthermore, the material world continually transforms, which would then mean that Bhagavān will transform but that is not the case. Bhagavān remains as He is, while His śakti, this world, can transform.

This is one purpose for why Śrī Jīva proposed acintya bheda-abheda tattva. The material world does not inhere in Him unlike redness which inheres in the rose. The material world is not a viśeṣaṇa of Bhagavān, because it does not inhere in Bhagavān; it is different from His svarūpa. This is bheda.

However, the material world is also a type of śakti of Bhagavān, and is dependent on Him for its existence. Therefore, it is a type of viśeṣaṇa of Bhagavān; here the word viśeṣaṇa carries the meaning of śakti. In this sense, there is abheda.

This type of simultaneous bheda and abheda is acintya or inconceivable, and only understood through śāstra (śāstra eka gamyam).

To summarize,acintya bheda-abheda differs from viśiṣṭa-advaita in the interpretation of the word viśeṣaṇa. The word viśeṣaṇa generally means qualifier of an object. In Śrī Jīva’s theology, it means śākti. The śaktis are inseparable from Absolute Reality but also different from Absolute Reality. This is acintya.

(This doesn't cover all the differences between the philosophies)

You may refer this site for further study

I hope this helps,I’ll be adding some more material,if I can.

  • Excellent answer
    – user22253
    Jun 21, 2021 at 18:25
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    @Mr.Green Gold,thank you.I wish there was a way in which questions can be bought to the attention of people,without necessarily using bounties.
    – Amethyst
    Jun 22, 2021 at 16:59
  • unfortunately there seems to be no other way. And fortunately the bounty prgoram works just fine. I spend bounties to attract answers.
    – user22253
    Jun 22, 2021 at 20:19

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