Shri Nimbark was the founder saint of “Nimbark Sampraday”. It is believed that his guru was Devarshi Narad and Narad’s guru was Sankadi that is why his sect also became famous in the name of “Sankadi Sampraday”. Shri Nimbark is believed to be the incarnation of Surya Dev. Few people believe him to be the incarnation of Vishnu’s favourite weapon Sudarshan Chakra.
Just like that of the other great saints of Vedic religion, there is difference of opinion for the lifespan of Shri Nimbark also. According to his devotees he was born in the Dwapar Yug. Some of the scholars also say that he was born in the 5th century AD. But modern scholars have proved with evidence his lifetime in 11th century. According to Dr.G.R.Bhandarkar, he had died in 1162 which is 25 years after the death of Shri Ramanuj. It is believed that in the 12th century, there was a belated culmination of his views because in a way in his times he had criticized Shri Ramanuj’s views and this is possible only when his views have come after Shri Ramanuj’s views. He is believed to have born after Shri Ramanuj and before Shri Madhavacharya.
Shri Nimbark was born at Nimbapur in Andhra Pradesh, present day Naiyadupattan, Bellari district. His mother’s name was Saraswati and father’s name was Jagannath. Some people say that his father’s name was Shri Arun Muni and mother’s name was Jayanthi Devi.
It is believed that since the name of his birth place was Nimbapur, people used to call him Nimbark. But there is a mention of a wonderful incident behind his name which authentically proves the extremity of his devotion.
It is said that formerly his name was Niyamanand. One day, when he was at Dhruv- kshetra on the banks of river Yamuna near Mathura where there is the seat of his sect, a Dandi (an ascetic who carries a staff in his hand) or some say a Jain Monk came to his ashram. Both of them started religious talks and became so engrossed that they did not realize that it was already sunset. After sunset when Acharya invited the guest for dinner but they refused because according to their belief they do not eat after sunset (Dandi and Jains both do not eat after sunset). Acharya felt very bad at this thinking that the guest at his ashram will go away without having food. Seeing his devotee in pain, God created such a situation where in the guests and everyone else saw that it was not Sunset as yet and near the ashram, over the neem tree the sun was shining and its light was spreading all over. Everyone was surprised thinking that how is it possible that after sunset, the sun was rising again. But it did not take time for Acharya to understand that it was by the grace of God and he understood that to let his heart out of pain, Lord Krishna himself in the form of Surya (sun) was spreading sunlight. His heart was delighted with the love of Lord for his devotee. He was thrilled. He bowed to Lord with tears in his eyes and offered food to his guests. After the dinner was over, the Sun, set again.
People took this incident as the realization of Acharya’s meditation and because of the power of Acharya, Sun light could be seen over the neem tree, he was named Nimbaditya or Nimbark.
Nimbark was a great devotee of Lord Krishna that is why he spent most of the time of his life in Mahtura, birth place of Shri Krishna. There is not much information available on his life. Just like the acharyas before him, Shri Nimbark has interpreted his theory on the basis of Brahma-sutra (lines compiled by Ved Vyas) and Bhagvad-Gita. But compared to the bigger annotation written by other Acharyas on basis of Brahma-sutra, Nimbark’s annotation is smaller but very clear. He has also written “dasshloki” out of ten shlokas which gives primary introduction of his theory.
The theory that Shri Nimbark ascertained is also known as the theory of “Dvaitadvait”. The meaning of Dvaitadvait is Dvait (duality) in Advait (single). According to him, the soul and universe is separate from God and also is one. His theory is established on this principle. This is not a new theory but comes down since very old time. Before him, Bhaskar had interpreted the theory of “Bhedabhed” which meant there is “Bhed” (variance) in “Abhed” (identity). This theory of Bahskar is considered to be original and it is believed that Shri Nimbark moulded this theory suitable to Vaishnav theory and introduced his Dvaitadvait theory.
Shri Nimbark has written many religious books but now, apart from “Vedant Sutron ke Bhasya” and “Vedant parijat Saurabh” none of his books are available. He had many disciples who wrote many books based on Nimbark’s teachings. Of this, main is Shri Keshav kashmiri who has also written many other books along with commentary on Brahma-sutra and Bhagvad –gita.
Of the followers of Shri Nimbark, Keshav Bhatt’s followers are without attachment and Hari Vyas’s followers are householders. In his sect Shri Radha-Krishna is worshipped and people put a tilak of Gopi-Chandan.
“Shri Madbhagvat” is believed to be the main granth of this sect. There are many followers of this sect in Mathura and Vrindavan region. The Sriji Mandir near the Loi bazaar in Vrindavan is the chief centre of Nimbark sect. There are many temples of this sect in Vraj region. This sect is also known as Kumara Sampraday.