Vishishtadvaita

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Sri Ramanujacharya, pioneer of Vishishtadvaita Vedanta and the foremost Jeeyar of Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya. Ramanujacharya.jpg
Sri Ramanujacharya, pioneer of Vishishtadvaita Vedanta and the foremost Jeeyar of Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya.

Vishishtadvaita (IAST Viśiṣṭādvaita; Sanskrit : विशिष्टाद्वैत) is one of the most popular schools of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy. Vedanta literally means the end of the Vedas.VishishtAdvaita (literally "Advaita with uniqueness; qualifications") is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy. It is non-dualism of the qualified whole, in which Brahman alone exists, but is characterized by multiplicity. It can be described as qualified monism or qualified non-dualism or attributive monism. It is a school of Vedanta philosophy which believes in all diversity subsuming to an underlying unity.

Vedanta or Uttara Mīmāṃsā is one of the six (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy. Vedanta literally means "end of the Vedas", reflecting ideas that emerged from the speculations and philosophies contained in the Upanishads. It does not stand for one comprehensive or unifying doctrine. Rather it is an umbrella term for many sub-traditions, ranging from dualism to non-dualism, all of which developed on the basis of a common textual connection called the Prasthanatrayi. The Prasthanatrayi is a collective term for the Principal Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.

Hindu philosophy various systems of thought in Hinduism

Hindu philosophy refers(philosophies, world views, teachings) that emerged in ancient India. These include six systems (ṣaḍdarśana) – Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta. These are also called the Astika (orthodox) philosophical traditions and are those that accept the Vedas as an authoritative, important source of knowledge. Ancient and medieval India was also the source of philosophies that share philosophical concepts but rejected the Vedas, and these have been called nāstika Indian philosophies. Nāstika Indian philosophies include Buddhism, Jainism, Cārvāka, Ājīvika, and others.

Vedas Ancient scriptures of Hinduism

The Vedas are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman" and "impersonal, authorless".

Contents

Ramanuja, the main proponent of Vishishtadvaita philosophy contends that the Prasthanatrayi ("The three courses"), namely the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma Sutras are to be interpreted in a way that shows this unity in diversity, for any other way would violate their consistency. Vedanta Desika defines Vishishtadvaita using the statement, Asesha Chit-Achit Prakaaram Brahmaikameva Tatvam : Brahman, as qualified by the sentient and insentient modes (or attributes), is the only reality.

Ramanuja Hindu philosopher, exegete of Vishishtadvaita Vedanta school

Ramanuja was an Indian theologian, philosopher, and one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism. His philosophical foundations for devotionalism were influential to the Bhakti movement.

Pratyahara Trayee Prasthanatrayi, literally, three sources , refers to the three canonical texts of Divine philosophy, especially of the Vedanta schools. It consists of:

  1. The Upanishads, known as Upadesha prasthana, and the Śruti prasthāna, especially the Principal Upanishads.
  2. The Brahma Sutras, known as Nyaya prasthana or Yukti prasthana
  3. The Bhagavad Gita, known as Sadhana prasthana, and the Smriti prasthāna
Vedanta Desika Great Sri Vaishnavaitic Guru and Incarnation of Sri Venkatachalapathy of Tirumala

Sri Vedanta Desikan (1268–1369) was a Sri Vaishnava guru/philosopher and one of the most brilliant stalwarts of Sri Vaishnavism in the post-Ramanuja period. He was a poet, devotee, philosopher and master-teacher (desikan). He was the disciple of Kidambi Appullar, also known as Aathreya Ramanujachariar, who himself was of a master-disciple lineage that began with Ramanuja. Swami Vedanta Desika is considered to be avatar (incarnation) of the divine bell of Venkateswara of Tirumalai by the Vadakalai sect of Sri Vaishnavite. Vedanta Desika belongs to Vishwamitra gotra.

Philosophers

The Vishishtadvaitic thought is considered to have existed for a long time, and it is surmised that the earliest works are no longer available. [1] The names of the earliest of these philosophers is only known through Ramanuja's Vedartha Sangraham. Bodhayana, Dramida, Tanka, Guhadeva, Kapardi and Bharuci the prominent ones in the line of the philosophers considered to have expounded the VisishtAdvaitic system.

Bodhayana is considered to have written an extensive vritti (commentary) on the Purva and Uttara Mimamsas. Tanka is attributed with having written commentaries on Chandogya Upanishad and Brahma Sutras. Nathamuni of the ninth century AD, the foremost Acharya of the Vaishnavas, collected the Tamil prabandhas, classified them, made the redaction, set the hymns to music and spread them everywhere. He is said to have received the divine hymns straight from Nammalvar, the foremost of the twelve Alvars, by yogic insight in the temple at Alwar Thirunagari, which is located near Tirunelveli in South India. Yamunacharya renounced kingship and spent his last days in the service of the Lord at Srirangam and in laying the fundamentals of the Vishishtadvaita philosophy by writing four basic works on the subject.

<i>Chandogya Upanishad</i> One of the oldest Upanishadic scriptures of Hinduism, mystical and philosophical text

The Chandogya Upanishad is a Sanskrit text embedded in the Chandogya Brahmana of the Sama Veda of Hinduism. It is one of the oldest Upanishads. It lists as number 9 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads.

Nathamuni was a Vaishnava theologian who collected and compiled the Nalayira Divya Prabandham. Considered the first of Sri Vaishnava āchāryās, Nathamuni is also the author of Yogarahasya, and Nyāyatattva.

In Indian religions and society, an acharya is a preceptor or instructor in religious matters; founder, or leader of a sect; or a highly learned person or a title affixed to the names of learned people. The designation has different meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism and secular contexts.

Ramanuja is the main proponent of Vishishtadvaita philosophy. The philosophy itself is considered to have existed long before Ramanuja's time. [2] Ramanuja continues along the line of thought of his predecessors while expounding the knowledge expressed in the Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Bhagavad Gita. Vedanta Desika and Pillai Lokacharya, disciples in the tradition of Ramanuja, had minor disagreements not on the philosophy, but on some aspects of the theology, giving rise to the Vadakalai and Thenkalai schools of thought, as explained below.

Pillai Lokacharya Indian Vaishnavite leader

Pillai Lokacharya was a prominent Sri Vaishnava leader and philosopher who authored several works important to Vishishtadvaita philosophy.

Philosophy Study of general and fundamental questions

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Theology Study of the nature of deities and religious belief

Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but also especially with epistemology, and asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but also willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship.

Swaminarayan, the founder of Swaminarayan Sampraday, also propagated this philosophy and based the Swaminarayan Sampraday (original name is Uddhava Sampraday) on these ideals. [3]

Swaminarayan founder of Swaminarayan sect

Swaminarayan, also known as Sahajanand Swami, was a yogi, and an ascetic whose life and teachings brought a revival of central Hindu practices of dharma, ahimsa and brahmacharya. He is believed by followers as a manifestation of God.

Swaminarayan Sampraday, formally called Uddhav Sampraday, is a Hindu sect propagated by Swaminarayan. Swaminarayan was handed the leadership of the Uddhav Sampraday by his guru Ramanand Swami to continue to propagate the teachings and philosophy of Vishishtadvaita, which originates from the Sri Sampradaya. His main teaching was that Sri Krishna Purushottam Narayan the resider of Akshardham at midst of Golok is supreme and should alone be worshipped

Uddhava is a character from the Puranic texts of Hinduism, who is the friend and counsellor of Krishna the Avatar. He plays a significant role in the Bhagavata Purana, being taught the processes of yoga and bhakti directly by Krishna. The principle of these discussions is often referred to as the Uddhava Gita, similarly to the Bhagavad Gita wherein Krishna instructs Arjuna. According to some texts Uddhava was also Krishna's cousin, being the son of Devabhaga, who was the brother of Vasudeva, Krishna's father. His physical appearance was so like that of Krishna's that in some instances he is temporarily mistaken for the latter.

Key principles

There are three key principles of Vishishtadvaita:[ citation needed ]

Epistemology

Pramanas

Pramana refers to the correct knowledge, arrived at by thorough reasoning, of any object. Pramana ("sources of knowledge", Sanskrit) forms one part of a triputi (trio).

  1. Pramatir, the subject; the knower of the knowledge
  2. Pramana, the cause or the means of the knowledge
  3. Prameya, the object of knowledge

In Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, only the following three pramanas are accepted as valid means of knowledge:

Rules of epistemology

There are three rules of hierarchy when there is apparent conflict between the three modes of acquiring knowledge:

  • Shabda or Shruti, Pramana occupies the highest position in matters which cannot be settled or resolved by pratyaksa (perception) or by anumana (inference).
  • Anumana occupies the next position. When an issue cannot be settled through sensory perception alone, it is settled based on inference, that is, whichever is the more logical argument.
  • When pratyaksa yields a definitive position on a particular issue, such a perception cannot be ignored by interpreting Shabda in a way which violates that perception.

Metaphysics

Ontology

The ontology in Vishishtadvaita consists of explaining the relationship between Ishvara (Parabrahman), the sentient beings (chit-brahman) and the insentient Universe (achit-brahman). In the broadest sense, Ishvara is the Universal Soul of the pan-organistic body consisting of the Universe and sentient beings. The three ontological entities are described below:

Ishvara

Ishvara (denoted by Vishnu-Narayana) is the Supreme Cosmic Spirit who maintains complete control over the Universe and all the sentient beings, which together also form the pan-organistic body of Ishvara. The triad of Ishvara along with the universe and the sentient beings is Brahman, which signifies the completeness of existence. Ishvara is Parabrahman endowed with innumerable auspicious qualities (Kalyana Gunas). Ishvara is perfect, omniscient, omnipresent, incorporeal, independent, the creator of the universe, its active ruler and also its eventual destroyer. [4] He is causeless, eternal and unchangeable — and is yet the material and the efficient cause of the universe and sentient beings. He is both immanent (like whiteness in milk) and transcendent (like a watch-maker independent of a watch). He is the subject of worship. He is the basis of morality and giver of the fruits of one's Karma. He rules the world with His Maya — His divine power.

Ishvara is considered to have a 2-fold characteristic: he is the indweller of all beings and all beings dwell in Ishvara.[ citation needed ]

Antarvyapi

When Ishvara is thought of as the indweller of all beings, he is referred to as the Paramatman, or the innermost self of all beings.

He who inhabits water, yet is within water, whom water does not know, whose body water is and who controls water from within — He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal.

He who inhabits the sun, yet is within the sun, whom the sun does not know, whose body the sun is and who controls the sun from within — He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.7.4-14

Bahuvyapi

When Ishvara is thought of as the all encomposing and the residence of all beings that is, all beings reside in Ishvara, he is referred to as the paramapurusha. The sentient beings and the insentient universe which form part of the pan-organistic body of Ishvara are encapsulated by Ishvara.[ original research? ]

Sarvam khalvidam Brahma Chandogya Upanishad

Isavasyam idam sarvam Isha Upanishad

Chit

Chit is the world of sentient beings, or of entities possessing consciousness. It is similar to the Purusha of Samkhya system. The sentient beings are called Jīvās and they are possessors of individual consciousness as denoted by "I". The scope of Chit refers to all beings with an "I" consciousness, or more specifically self-awareness. Therefore, all entities which are aware of their own individual existence are denoted as chit. This is called Dharmi-jnana or substantive consciousness. The sentient beings also possess varying levels of Dharma-bhuta-jnana or attributive consciousness

The jivas possess three different types of existence:

  • Nityas, or the eternally free Jivas who were never in Samsara
  • Muktas, or the Jivas that were once in Samsara but are free
  • Baddhas, or the Jivas which are still in Samsara

Achit

Achit is the world of insentient entities as denoted by matter or more specifically the non-conscious Universe. It is similar to the Prakriti of Samkhya system.

Brahman

There is a subtle difference between Ishvara and Brahman. Ishvara is the substantive part of Brahman, while jivas and jagat are its modes (also secondary attributes), and kalyanagunas (auspicious attributes) are the primary attributes. The secondary attributes become manifested in the effect state when the world is differentiated by name and form. The kalyanagunas are eternally manifest.

Brahman is the description of Ishvara when comprehended in fullness– i.e., a simultaneous vision of Ishvara with all his modes and attributes.

The relationship between Brahman and Jivas, Jagat is expressed by Rāmānujā in numerous ways. He calls this relationship as one of:

  • sharIra/sharIrI (शरीर/ शरीरी) (body/indweller);
  • prakAra/prakArI (attribute or mode/substance);
  • ‌shesha/sheshi (Owned/owner);
  • amsha/amshI (part/whole);
  • AdhAradeya/sambandha (supporter/supported);
  • niyamya/niyanta (controlled/controller);
  • rashksya/rakshaka (redeemed/redeemer);

These relationships can be experienced holding Brahman as the father, son, mother, sister, wife, husband, friend, lover and lord. Hence, Brahman is a personal being.

  • What does Nirguna Brahman mean?

Ramanuja argues vehemently against understanding Brahman as one without attributes. Brahman is Nirguna in the sense that impure qualities do not touch it. He provides three valid reasons for staking such a claim:

Shruti/ Shabda Pramana: All shrutis and shabdas denoting Brahman always list either attributes inherent to Brahman or not inherent to Brahman. The shrutis only seek to deny Brahman from possessing impure and defective qualities which affect the world of beings. There is evidence in the shrutis to this regard. The shrutis proclaim Brahman to be beyond the tri-gunas which are observed. However, Brahman possesses an infinite number of transcendental attributes, the evidence of which is given in vakhyas like "satyam jnanam anantam Brahma" (Taittiriya Upanishad).

Pratyaksha Pramana: Ramanuja states that "a contentless cognition is impossible". And all cognition must necessarily involve knowing Brahman through the attributes of Brahman.

Anumana Pramana: Ramanuja states that "Nirgunatva" itself becomes an attribute of Brahman on account of the uniqueness of no other entity being Nirguna. Ramanuja had simplified relationship between bramha and soul.According to him though soul is integral part of bramha it has independent existence. [5]

Theory of Existence

The three ontological entities i.e. Ishvara, Chit and Achit are fundamentally real. It upholds the doctrine of Satkaryavada as against Asatkaryavada .

Briefly,

More specifically, the effect is a modification of what exists in the cause and does not involve new entities coming into existence. This is called as parinamavada or evolution of effect from the cause. This doctrine is common to the Samkhya system and Vishishtadvaita system. The Samkhya system adheres to Prakriti-Parinama vada whereas Vishishtadvaita is a modified form of Brahma-Parinama vada.

Kārya and kārana

The kārana (cause) and kārya (effect) in Vishishtadvaita is different from other systems of Indian philosophy. Brahman is both the kārana (cause) and the kārya (effect). Brahman as the cause does not become the Universe as the effect.

Brahman is assigned two kāranatvas (ways of being the cause):

  1. Nimitta kāranatvaBeing the Efficient/ Instrumental cause. For example, a goldsmith is assigned Nimitta kāranatva as he acts as the maker of jewellery and thus becomes the jewellery's Instrumental cause.
  2. Upādāna kāranatvaBeing the material cause. For example, the gold is assigned Upādāna kāranatva as it acts as the material of the jewellery and thus becomes the jewellery's material cause.

According to Vishishtadvaita, the Universe and Sentients always exist. However, they begin from a subtle state and undergo transformation. The subtle state is called a causal state, while the transformed state is called the effect state. The causal state is when Brahman is internally not distinguishable by name and form.

It can be said that Vishishtadvaita follows Brahma-Prakara-Parinama Vada . That is to say, it is the modes (Jivas and Jagath) of Brahman which is under evolution. The cause and effect only refer to the pan-organistic body transformation. Brahman as the Universal Self is unchanging and eternal.

Brahman having the subtle (sūkshma) chit and achit entities as his Saareeram/Prakaaram(body/mode) before manifestation is the same Brahman having the expanded (stūla) chit and achit entities as Saareeram/Prakaaram(body/mode) after manifestation.

The essential feature is that the underlying entity is the same, the changes are in the description of that entity.

For e.g. Jack was a baby. Jack was a small kid. Jack was a middle-aged person. Jack was an old man. Jack is dead

The body of a single personality named Jack is described as continuously changing. Jack does not become "James" because of the change.

Ethics

Souls and Matter are only the body of God. Creation is a real act of God. It is the expansion of intelligence. Matter is fundamentally real and undergoes real revelation. The Soul is a higher mode than Matter, because it is conscious. It is also eternally real and eternally distinct. Final release, that comes, by the Lord's Grace, after the death of the body is a Communion with God. This philosophy believes in liberation through one's Karmas (actions) in accordance with the Vedas, the Varna (caste or class) system and the four Ashramas (stages of life), along with intense devotion to Vishnu. Individual Souls retain their separate identities even after moksha. They live in Fellowship with God either serving Him or meditating on Him. The philosophy of this school is SriVaishnavism, a branch of Vaishnavism.

Interpretation of Mahāvākyas

1. sarvam khalv idam brahma from Chandogya Upanishad 3.14.1

Translated literally, this means All this is Brahman. The ontology of Vishishtadvaita system consists of:

a. Ishvara is Para-brahman with infinite superlative qualities, whose substantive nature imparts the existence to the modes

b. Jivas are chit-brahman or sentient beings (which possess consciousness). They are the modes of Brahman which show consciousness.

c. Jagat is achit-brahman or matter/Universe (which are non-conscious). They are the mode of Brahman which are not conscious.

Brahman is the composite whole of the triad consisting of Ishvara along with his modes i.e. Jivas and Jagat.

2. ayam ātmā brahma from Mandukya Upanishad 1.2

Translated literally, this means the Self is Brahman. From the earlier statement, it follows that on account of everything being Brahman, the self is not different from Brahman.

3. Tat tvam asi from Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7

Translated literally, it means Thou art that

that here refers to Brahman and thou refers to jiva

Rāmānujā chooses to take the position of universal identity. He interprets this passage to mean the subsistence of all attributes in a common underlying substratum. This is referred to as samānādhikaranya. Thus Rāmānujā says the purport of the passage is to show the unity of all beings in a common base. Ishvara (Parabrahman) who is the Cosmic Spirit for the pan-organistic body consisting of the Universe and sentient beings, is also simultaneously the innermost self (Atmān) for each individual sentient being (Jīvā). All the bodies, the Cosmic and the individual, are held in an adjectival relationship (aprthak-siddhi) in the one Isvara.

Tat Tvam Asi declares that oneness of Isvara.

When multiple entities point to a single object, the relationship is established as one of substance and its attributes.

For e.g. in a statement:

Jack is a tall and intelligent boy

The descriptors tall-ness,intelligence and boy-ness all refer to a common underlying Jack

Similarly, when the upanishads declare Brahman is the Universe, Purusha, Self, Prana, Vayu, and so on, the entities are attributes or modes of Brahman.

If the statement tat tvam asi is taken to mean as only the self is brahman, then sarvam khalv idam brahma will not make sense.

Understanding Neti-Neti

This is an upanishadic concept which is employed while attempting to know Brahman. The purport of this exercise is understood in many different ways and also influences the understanding of Brahman. In the overall sense, this phrase is accepted to refer to the indescribable nature of Brahman who is beyond all rationalisations.

Taittiriya Upanishad 2-9-1 passage "yato vacho nivartanthe.." (words recoil, mind can not grasp...) etc., state the same concept regarding Brahman . The visishtadvaita interpretation is that these passages do not indicate a black hole, but the incompleteness of any statement or thought or concept concerning Brahman. Brahman is these and more. This interpretation is consistent with "sarvam kalvidam brahma". Antaryami Brahmanam of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad passage "yasya prithvi sariram yasya atma sariram" is also interpreted to show that Brahman is not a zero point - "nirvisesha chinmatra" (an entity which has nothing except existence)

The typical interpretation of Neti-Neti is not this, not this or neither this, nor that. It is a phrase meant to convey the inexpressibility of Brahman in words and the futility of trying to approximate Brahman with conceptual models.In VisishtAdvaita, the phrase is taken in the sense of not just this, not just this or not just this, not just that. This means that Brahman cannot be restricted to one specific or a few specific descriptions. Consequently, Brahman is understood to possess infinite qualities and each of these qualities are infinite in extent.

Purpose of human existence

The purpose or goal of human existence is called purushartha. According to the Vedas, there are four goals namely artha (wealth), kama (pleasure), dharma (righteousness) and moksha (permanent freedom from worldly bondage). According to this philosophy, the first three goals are not an end by themselves but need to be pursued with the ideal of attaining moksha.

Moksha

Moksha means liberation or release from samsara, the cycle of rebirth.

Bhakti as the means of attaining moksha

Bhakti is the sole means of liberation in Vishishtadvaita. Through Bhakti (devotion), a Jiva ascends to Vaikuntha, where it continues to delight in His service in a body which is sat cit ananda (spiritual). Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga are sub processes of Bhakti, total surrender, as the devotee acquires the knowledge that the Lord is the inner self. A devotee realizes his own state as dependent on, and supported by, and being led by the Lord, who is the Master. One is to lead a life as an instrument of the Lord, offering all his thought, word, and deed to the feet of the Lord. One is to see the Lord in everything and everything in Him. This is the unity in diversity achieved through devotion. [6] However Sri Ramanuja accepts Saranagati, total surrender at the Lord's lotus feet alone as the sole means to moksha. Wherein, moksha is defined as liberation from samsara and going to Vaikuntha to serve Narayana (Balaji)in a spiritual body. This is a distinguishing feature of this school of philosophy, as both Adishankara's advaita and Anandatirtha's dvaita accept bhakthi for two different concepts of moksha. Swami Ramanuja has supported this opinion with various citations directly from the vedas, and various incidents highlighting sharangathi as means to attain personal stay in the realm of Vaikuntha. Observing total surrender at the Lord's feet guarantees moksha at the end of this birth, and in the time between sharanagathi and death, the surrendered soul must spend his time performing the nice forms of devotion [7] . So bhakthi is not a moksha sadhana, but for anubhava and reaching Vaikuntha, in the Vishishtadvaita Sampradaya

Thenkalai and Vadakalai schools of thought

The Vadakalai sect of Sri Vaishnavism associate themselves with Vedanta Desikan and Ramanujacharya. Vedanta Desikan is one of the foremost learned scholars and philosophers of medieval India, who has written more than a hundred works in Sanskrit and Tamil, Prakrit and Manipravala. He is said to have been born as an incarnation of the divine bell of Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati and also of Ramanujacharya in the month of Purattasi under the star Thiruvonam (Sravana), in the year 1268 CE. All of his works are characterized by his versatility, irrefutable reasoning, logic, examination, deep spiritual insight, ethical fervour and excellent expressions of devotional emotion in delightful style. His Paduka-sahasram and Rahasyatrayasaram are some classic examples. He was a great teacher, logician, expositor, debater, poet, philosopher, thinker and defender of the faith of Vaishnavism. "Kavitaarkika Simham" (lion among poets and debaters), "Sarvatantra Svatantrar" (all-knowing and all-powerful), "Vedaantaachaarya" (the master and preceptor of the Vedanta) are some of the titles attributed to him.

Pillai Lokacharya literally meaning "Teacher for the whole world" is one of the leading lights on the Sri Vaishnava Vedanta philosophy. His work Sri Vachana Bhusanam is a classic and provides the essence of Upanishads. The Tenkalai sect of Sri Vaishnavism looks up to him apart from Swami Ramanuja and Swami Manavala Mamuni. He was a senior contemporary of Vedanta Desika. He is said to have been born as an amsa ("essence") of Kanchi Devaraja (Varadaraja) Perumal to document and immortalize Ramanuja's message in the month of Aippaci under the star Thiruvonam (Sravana), in the year 1205 CE. [8] He is said to have lived for 106 years, during which time, he also helped to safeguard the idol of Ranganatha at Srirangam from Muslim invaders. [8] Pillai Lokacharya confirmed the basics of the Sri Vaishnava system in his 18 monumental works popularly known as Ashtadasa Rahasyangal ("the eighteen secrets") also called the Rahasya granthas ("doctrines that explain the inner meanings") out of which Sri Vachana Bhushanam and Mumukshuppadi are the most famous. Manavala Mamuni expanded on and popularized Lokacharya's teachings arguments in Tamil.

Traditions following Vishishtadvaita

Visishtadvaita and Sri Vaishnavism

The Absolute Supreme Reality referred to as Brahman, is a Transcendent Personality. He is Narayana, also known as Lord Vishnu.

A man who has discrimination for his charioteer and holds the reins of the mind firmly, reaches the end of the road; and that is the supreme position of Vishnu. - 1.3.9 Katha Upanishad

Beyond the senses are the objects; beyond the objects is the mind; beyond the mind, the intellect; beyond the intellect, the Great Atman; beyond the Great Atman, the Unmanifest; beyond the Unmanifest, the Purusha. Beyond the Purusha there is nothing: this is the end, the Supreme Goal.- 1.3.10,11 Katha Upanishad

In terms of theology, Ramanujacharya puts forth the view that both the Supreme Goddess Lakshmi and Supreme God Narayana together constitute Brahman - the Absolute. Sri Lakshmi is the female personification of Brahman and Narayana is the male personification of Brahman, but they are both inseparable, co-eternal, co-absolute and are always substantially one. Thus, in reference to these dual aspects of Brahman, the Supreme is referred to in the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya as Sriman Narayana.

The most striking difference between Srivaishnavas and other Vaishnava groups lies in their interpretation of Vedas. While other Vaishnava groups interpret Vedic deities like Indra, Savitar, Bhaga, Rudra, etc. to be same as their Puranic counterparts, Srivaishnavas consider these to be different names/roles/forms of Lord Narayan citing solid reasons thus claiming that the entire Veda is dedicated for Vishnu worship alone. Srivaishnavas have remodelled Pancharatra homas like Sudarshana homa, etc. to include Vedic Suktas like Rudram in them, thus giving them a Vedic outlook.

Conclusion

Narayana is the Absolute God. The Soul and the Universe are only parts of this Absolute and hence, Vishishtadvaita is the solution to panentheistic and pantheistic ideologies. The relationship of God to the Soul and the Universe is like the relationship of the Soul of Man to the body of Man. Individual souls are only parts of Brahman. God, Soul and Universe together form an inseparable unity which is one and has no second. This is the non-duality part. Matter and Souls inhere in that Ultimate Reality as attributes to a substance [needs to improvisation]. This is the qualification part of the non-duality.

See also

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