rāmānujācārya and viśišTādvaita

Ramanuja’s Visishtadwaita :

There is only one God. He has special attributes. The cit and acit form his sarira or body. He is nirguna in the sense of being free from blemishes and saguna in the sense of being ‘samasta kalyana gunakara’. Brahman is the atman of the atma.

There is prakriti. (Nature etc.. all you see around you). It is real. It is not maya.

There are numerous Jivatmas. These jivatmas are amsas or fractions of the divine paramatma. They are distinct from the brahman but inseperable from Him. They are dependent on the brahman, but they have free will. This is how they can accumulate karma. However they are also under the control of Brahman. Jivas are not just consciousness they are also knowers or gnyaatas.

Surrender to the Brahman and He will destroy your Karma. Spend your life in His Service. This prapatti yoga.

Mother Lakshmi or SriDevi, pleads the cases of the individual jivatamas with the paramatma.


For more basic details on Visihtadwaita you may refer Sri Ramanuja and Visisthadwaita , Qualified Non-Dualism Simplified by K. R. Krishnaswami.


June 10, 2015

Philosophy is an enquiry into reality. It’s about reason. It needs dispassionate intelligence.
Religion cares about emotional well-being and social order. It also advocates a method, which if followed religiously will lead to the same reality as above.

vis’iSTAdvaita is a philosophy.
s’rivaiSNavism is a religion in the hindu fold of religions.

s’rI rAmAnujAcArya was a very renowned exponent of both, though not the absolute founder.

Both Advaita and Visishtadvaita agree in brahma satyam – The brahman is real.

But while Advaita says jagat mithyam or the world is illusory, Visishtadvaita says the world or prakRti is real too.

And where advaita says that jeeva and brahman are the same, Vishitadvaita says that the jeevAtmas and brahman are different and each jeevAtma is different from the other.

The trayatattva of this philosophy says that the brahman manifests itself as cit – sentinent beings and acit – non-sentinent beings. (Elsewhere on this site you can read about the pancabhEda of dvaita).

The statement: iti sarvam samanjasam meaning that everything has been reconciled to satisfaction refers to the reasoned reality and emotional experience.

There is a personal God or brahman with some attributes. Someone that can be approached/attained. While the jeevAs and prakRti are different from brahman they are inseparable from Him. The cit and acit (cidacit) are viewed as his body.

As per Ramanujacharya, pratyakSa pramANas or knowledge through direct sensory perceptions will not lead to the brahman.

He also says that inference or anumAna pramANa is of little value in gaining brahmagnyAna.

The s’abda pramANa or the verbal testimony of the RSis  as given to us via the vEdAs, upaniSads and vEdAnta are the guide to attaining brahmagnyAna.

Intuition and not tarka (pure logic) is the way as per rAmAnujAcArya.

He does not agree with s’ankarAcArya that brahman is nirguNa and that avidyA is the cause of plurality. He says that brahman has attributes savis’ESa.

tat tvam asi is also interpreted differently.
While s’ankarAcArya says Thou art That (brahman),
rAmAnujAcArya says that you are that body of His
and mAdhvAcArya says you are that dAsa (servant) of His.

The relation between the paramAtma and jeevAtma is variously defined as:
AdhAra and Adheya : support and supported,
niyanta and niyaamya: controller and controlled,
s’ESin and s’Esa: the independent and dependant,
ams’I and ams’a: the whole and the part.

The brahman to rAmanuja is sarva rakSaka – the protector of all and has all the good attributes.

He says that while the brahman is to be known through s’abda pramANa, the jeeva is known internally as I.

He says that the jeeva has kartRtva, bhOktRtva and gnyAtRtva. It can do things, enjoy things and know things. It has free-will and can accumulate karma, which binds it. mOkSa means reaching vaikunTha and enjoying the bliss of viSNu’s presence and getting the opportunity to serve Him eternally (nitya kainkarya prApti). This can be attained by following s’abda and by the grace of God. Non-living (insentinent) things cannot do, enjoy and know. s’RSTi and pralaya are both caused by the contact between the cit and acit.

This doctrine says that prapatti or surrender is easier than the gnyAna, karma and bhakti yOgAs, and will lead to the same parama puruSArtha (ultimate goal) of mOkSa (freedom). The divine mother, s’rI or prakRti will mediate with viSNu and ask Him to temper justice with mercy and to shower His grace on the jeevAs. That is why this sect of vAiSNavism is called s’rI vaiSNavism.