The Philosophy of Visistadvaita

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Item Code: IDG643
Author: P.N. Sri Nivasachari
Publisher: The Adyar Library and Research Centre
Language: English
Edition: 1978
ISBN: 0835674959
Pages: 698
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.6" X 5.9"
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Book Description

We are happy to make available again this work on Visistadvaita which has been much in demand.

Professor P. N. Srinivasachari in his Preface to the edition of 1943 states: 'The main purpose of this work is to give a critical and comprehensive exposition of the central features of the philosophy of Visistadvaita and its relation to other schools of Vedanta. Visistadvaita is not as widely known as Advaita among students of Philosophy. It has also suffered at the hands of its few expositors who use the misleading term " qualified monism" as its English equivalent and who in their interpretations identify it with the Bhedabheda system of Vedanta and Hegelian thought. With a view to do justice to Visistadvaita and set the balance right so far as influence on modern thought is concerned, I published in 1928 Ramanuja's Idea of the finite Self in a very concise form. My later work, The Philosophy of Bhedabheda, published in 1934, was designed to serve as an exhaustive introduction to the study of Ramanuja and the development of his system in the history of Indian Philosophy. The present work is a comprehensive but modest survey of the system of Visistadvaita as outlined in a series of eight lectures delivered by me under the auspices of the University of Madras.

'Visistadvaita maintains its position in the history of Indian thought by establishing its own siddhanta by a criticism of rival systems. It has, at the same time, a synthetic insight into the essentials of other Darsana-s and accepts whatever in them is consistent with its own basic principles. It is a true philosophy with its own basic principles. It is a true philosophy of religion which reconciles the opposition between philosophy and religion and the conflict between monism and pluralism. If it is liberally interpreted in terms of contemporary philosophy and comparative religion without in any way sacrificing its foundational principles, it is capable of satisfying the demands of science and philosophy on the one hand, and of ethics and religion on the other; and an attempt is made in the following pages to give such an interpretation.

'It is a pleasure to acknowledge my indebtedness to all those who have helped me in the preparation of this book. I had the rare privilege of sitting at the feet of the late mahamahopadhyaya kapisthalam Desikachariar Swami, and being instructed by him in the essentials of the Visistadvaita Darsana. My thanks are due to my teacher, Sri S. Vasudevachariar, who warmly encouraged me in this venture by reading the typescript and offering valuable suggestions; to my esteemed friend, Professor M. Hiriyannna, for the great care with which he went through the MS. and for important and friendly counsel; to Dewan Bahadur V.K. Ramanujachariar, who in spite of the infirmities of old age, read portions of the typescript and commended this " labour of love"; and to Rao Bhadur K. V. Rangaswami Aiyangar who also read portions of the work and helped to secure its early publication. I record my gratitude to my friends, Rao Saheb M. R. Rajagopala Aiyangar, Sri G. K. Rangaswami Aiyangar and Sri K. R. Sarma for their continued and enthusiastic assistance in reading through the proofs and in the citation of authorities; I am also beholden to Dr. R. Nagaraja Sarma who willingly read portions and offered valuable criticism and to Sri D. Ramaswami Aiyangar for similar help on some of the concluding chapters. My thanks are due to Sri P. Sankaranarayanan for kindly preparing the Index. I take this opportunity of acknowledging my obligations to the Madras University for the kind permission to utilize my lectures on Ramanuja in the preparation of this work.'






Mere Philosophy is speculative and his no finality; Mere Religion is dogmatic: Hostility between Philosophy and Faith at five different levels: (1) Naturalism v. Supernaturalism, (2) Vitalism v. Animism or Pranaism, (3)Sensationalism v. Anthropomorphism, (4) Rationalism v Dogmatism, (5) Intuitionism or Mysticism v. Revelational Faith; Philosophy and religion reconciled in the Philosophy of Religion as Visistadvaita Darsana, enshrined in the Upanisadic brahmavid apnoti param; tattva, hita and purusartha; Metaphysics, morals and religion.


Visistadvaitiac theory of Perception. Coordination of five factors-The object or Uisaya, sense-organ or indriya, manas, atman, Paramataman; dharamahuta-jnana-the key-word of epistemology-the Self and its con-sciousness; finite-infinite; no contradiction. Value in religious experience. Janana is substance-attribute: Drvya-guna: theory of Judgment or prediction: No self-contradiction in subject-object relation. Pratyaksa-svikalpaka and nirvikalpaka.: internal or organic relation: reconciles realism and idealism. Theory of Truth-Satkarya-vada, integrity of experience at all levels: pratyaksa, anumana and sabda. Theory of Error-partial knowledge is not an illusion: Pragmatic test. Illusions, dreams, hallucinations can be explained by physiological psychology and ethics. The Advaitic view criticized and re-interpreted. Each theory of truth, pragmatism, realism and coherence, has its won place in the Visistadvaitic theory of knowledge leading to ontology.


The nature of Brahman as the Sat-the Absolute of Philosophy as the God of religion; Smakara's theory of two Brahman-s in the Sutra, Sadvidya, Anandmayadhikarana, Ubhayalinga, Karya Brahman; criticized. Three types of Advaita-the Illusion theory, the Phenomenal theory and the Realistic theory ; criticism of Advaita by Bhaskara and other Bhedabheda school: criticism of Bhedabheda by Ramanuja: Visistadvaita-not an adjectival theory: not pantheistic or theistic; Ramanuja's clinching argument-Brahman as Saririn, avidya as karman: the creational process is for mukta-making; categories reinterpreted : Brahman as saguna with metaphysical, moral and aesthetic perfections.


The metaphysical attributes of Satya, jnana, ananta; no sublation of appearances of reality; Reality and value; criticism of the theory of Nirvisesa Brahman by Bhedabheda: Ramanuja's criticism of Bhedabheda; Brahman as jnana; jytisam jyotis, no contradiction in self-consciousness; Brahman as the Inner Self: Brahman as ananta-infinity explained.


The evils of mere intellectualism-transition to ethical philosophy. Criticism of the niyoga view of the Mimamsaka and the Advaita view of akarma-criticism of Advaita by Dhyana-niyoga-vada: criticism of the latter by Bhaskara-criticism of Nisprapancikarana-niyoga-vada-refutation of rival theories by Ramanuja: Transition from niyoga to niyantr-the parable of the prince-Brahman as the Inner Ruler Immortal or antaryamin of cit and acit, eminent as well as immanent-the Inner Self of all beings: isvara: The chief actor in the moral universe, chief of the five factors in moral experience: Divine and human freedom reconciled.


Isvara as dispenser of justice according to deserts: No caprice or cruelty in the divine nature: Isvara as Redeemer or Raksaka: emancipation by expiation impossible: removal of Karman by krpa: Isvara as the ' Hound of Heaven' seeking the sinner to devour his sin; five forms of Brahman : para, uyuha, vibhava, antaryamin and arca: the true meaning of avatara and arca as the reservoir of mercy; the five forms equally real; the attributes of the Raksaka explained: Visistadvaita as Srivaisnavism: Sriyahpati-Law and Love as one in two; analysis of evil-physical, moral and metaphysical; criticism of the theories of Advaita and Bhedabheda; Analysis of karman-psychological, ethical and religious aspects; karman and krpa reconciled; the extremes of Buddhism and Christianity refuted by the Gita view.


Sesin defined: no hedonistic theory: Sesin as svamin; Isvara as Father of all; Motherhood of god; Kaimkarya, service to all jiva-s.

Visistadvaitic Aesthetics, as the philosophy of the beautiful. Beauty of God as Paramjyotis, Bhuvana-sundara and Manmathamanmatha; Cosmology reinterpreted in terms of the lila theory; five forms of divine beauty; the theory of brahmarasa; the moods of devotion; Krsna-lila-the lila of love; srngararasa; the meaning of brahmananda; the Advaitic view criticized by Bhaskara and Ramanuja.


Co-ordination of metaphysical, moral and aesthetic qualities: Satya, jnana, ananta, amala and ananda; sarira-saririn relation; a synoptic view; pradhana-pratitantra, keynote of Vedanta; A synthetic view: Satkarya-vada, samandhikaranya, aprthaksiddha-visesana and prakara-prakarin relation reinterpreted in the light of the synthetic view as extolled in the Antaryami-vidya; the meaning of the term Saririn defined: faulty definition examined: This view reconciles all contradictions, all texts, all schools of thought; Brahman is the source, sustenance and satisfaction of finite existence and experience.


Meaning and value described in the Sadvidya as expounded in the section called 'Armabhana' in the Sutra-s; non-difference in the causal relation ; Brahman, the immanent and transcendent cause of the cosmos; criticism of vivartavada, brahmaparinamavada, asatkaryavada and the samkhya view; the true meaning of cause as applied to acit, cit and Isvara, the mechanical, the teleological and the ontological views reconciled; cosmic, moral and spiritual order; process, progress and purpose; pralaya and srsti; unity and uniformity of nature; evolution of prakrti; comparison with western theories; the creative urge-a lila of love in terms of esthetic philosophy; the religious motive of the cosmic process; the moulding of the mukta or soul-making.


Terms spirit, self and soul ambiguous; the term atman clear, distinct and adequate; negative definitions, criticism of mechanistic, biological, sensationalistic and rationalistic views; positive definitions: Atman different from the twenty-three categories of prakrti; experience definition; the Gita view: self and its consciousness; the three function of consciousness: cognitive conative and affective; Jnatrtva, kartrtva and bhoktrtva; the three states consciousness continuous and not contradictory; metempsychosis and the sorrows of samsara; the philosophical view of the self as the logical, ethical and aesthetic ego, as the prakara or sarira of the atman; the paradox of the jiva as mode and monad explained.


Transition to ethical Religion-the Adventures of the empirical Self. The cycle of Smsara: the seesaw of Avidya-karman: the shallow optimism of the materialistic hedonist; Sick-mindedness; Pessimism-aminevitable stage in spirituality; the mumuksu idea of the summum bonum of life or purusartha; steps to self-realization- Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga


The psychology of the moral self as determined by the three guna-s; the self as thinker and agent; the meaning of niskara-karman, the master thought of Vedantic moral developed by a criticism of the hedonistic theories of the Vedavadin and the rationalistic views of the Buddhist and Samkhya: refutation of the activistic and ascetic views of moral: Duty for duty's sake: an end in itself; Formulation: Advantages: Moral autonomy, dignity, inner value; determined by each man's station in life or svadharma; Concrete illustrations; yajna, dana, tapas and yuddha.


The goal of conduct as self-realization or atmavalokana: Transition from the metaphysics of moral to the spiritual philosophy of atmakama, from the 'ought' to the deeper 'is'; atman different from dehatman or the empirical self; self-realization, the result of moral and spiritual discipline; the need for samatva and spiritual service and benevolence to all beings; concrete illustrations; the significance of marriage, property, war fare as social institutions; the four stages mentioned in the Gita: Egoism and altruism reconciled and transcended; spiritual knowledge of the atman, a stepping stone to religion which consists in shifting the centre of activity from atman to Paramatman.


Mumuksutva: A progression in God-realization and bhakti and supreme means to mukti; the extremes of the Mimamsaka view of karman and the Advaita view of jnana rejected by non-samkara Vedantin-s; intermediate theories examined: Dhyananiyogauada, nisprapancikarana-niyoga-uada, and the Bhedabheda discipline of jnajkarma-samuc-caya rejected; Ramanuja's idea of the relation between the two Mimamsa-s; their organic unity and common aim; criticism of the Advaitic view of two kinds of Vidya-s and meditation on Saguna Brahman and Nirguna Brahman: Brahman is one and the upasana-s have the same goal; sadhana-saptaka, upasana, and Upanisadic command just as duty is a Vedic imperative; vedana is a dhyana or loving meditation on Brahman or bhakti; Brakman in the saririn of the self; the chief among the thirty-two vidya-s; bhakti is illumined by jnana; fruition through grace; bhakti is continuous meditation in which representation acquires the vividness of a living presence; it involves reciprocity, unconditionality and intrinsic value: the Gita as bhakti-sastra; the paramaikantin: higher stages: Para-bhakti, para-jnana and parama-bhakti; Vedanta Desika on steps to salvation: Paramapada-sopana.


Prapatti a brahmavidya, not an alien graft on the Upanisad; Vedanta Desika's view; an alternative to bhakti; it has intrinsic and independent value, ease, naturalness, immediate efficacy and universal applicability and appeal; the sacred rahasya-s: mulamantra, dvaya and carama-sloka; the six anga-s of prapatti: mahauisuasa, the central sadhana; the three requisites of atmaniksepa, phalasamarpana, bharasamarpana and svarupasamarpana, or the renouncement of the hedonistic, moralistic and egoistic views; Isvara Himself upaya and upeya; the theory of vyaja reconciles the upaya-upeya problem or paradox; Ramayana as Saranagati-veda; Vadakalai and Tenkalai views of Prapatti: markata and marjara-nyaya-s: Tenkalai view: prapatti not an upaya as grace is unconditioned: five forms of the Redeemer, embodiments of antecedent grace: Pillai Lokacarya's Sriuacana-bhusana as classical exposition of the theory: comparison of the two views: contrast; and reconciliation: a Christian parallel; justification by works and by faith; the Nazarene and Nammalvar compared: supernatural, historic and mystic views; the view of the Alvar more comprehensive and tolerant; the religion of daya or the religion of universal deliverance.


Section I. The religion of the Sribhasya. The Vedanta as spiritual experience. Every Adhikarana establishes the supreme tattva and expounds it as an anubhava as iilustrated in the first two chapters of the sutra-s.
Section II. The Philosophy of the Bhagavad-visaya. Ubhaya Vedanta, as a true darsana. The metaphysics of Vedanta embodied in the mystic experience of Nimmalvar as expounded in the Idu and by Vedanta Desika in his Dramidopanisad.


Transition from the theistic to the mystic experience; mysticism defined; the proof of the existence of God is experience of God; three stages: self-renouncement, introversion, and self-realization; unitive consciousness-karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga; the Bhagavata enshrines mystic experience par excellence: Bhagavad-visaya: bhagavan as Beauty, Love and bliss; the game of love to Brahmanize the self; bhagavat-kama, not erotism; samslesa and vislesa; Nimmalvar's experience of the agony of separation and the bliss of the unitive consciousness; the Upanisadic view; the bhava-s of bhakti: five stages: nyakinayaka-bhava: the spiritual marriage of Andal reveling in Krsna-preman: Gopi-love transcendental; freed form all taint of sensuality and sin; consummation in rasa-lila.


The 'homing instinct' of the vidvan or the mystic: the ascent to the absolute: Criticism of jivanmukti: mukti is freedom from embodiment and not in embodiment: Samkara's view of Karya Brahman criticized: Ramanuja's siddhanta; the mystic description of mukti in the Kausitaki-upanisad: Brahamagandha, brahmarasa, brahmadrsti, brahmanubhava; mukti is alogical, amoral and supra personal experience; criticism of the other theories of mukti; mukti is chiefly sayujya; not svarupa-aikya, but visista-aikya, avibhaga, avinabhava; no mergence, absorption or identity or destruction of the self; three ways of describing the indescribable state of brahmanubhava: cosmic consciousness: jnana as all-pervasive knowledge: Freedom: Equality of attributes: kaimakarya-the chief rasa, no slave mentality; bliss, samya, self-forgetfulness in the bliss state: thought expires in enjoyment; Time as eternity; three meanings: temporal series in the phenomenal world of lila; the eternal 'now' in nitya; Advaita view countered; Suddhasattva: matter without its mutability; aprakrta form; the realm of ends; the self Brahmanized in brahmaloka; all eternal values conserved in Paramapada: no loss of self.


The place of Vaisnavism in the history of Indian Philosophy: pre-Ramanuja Visistadvaita: the Alvar-s and their mystic experiences. The Acarya-s as the followers and expositors of the Alvar-experience: Nathamuni, the founder of Ubhaya Vedanta; Alvandar, the immediate precursor of Ramanuja; his chief works. Ramanuja, the greatest exponent of Visistadvaita and his chief works; Post Ramanuja Visistadvaita: Pillai Lokacarya and his works: Vadanta Desika and his works. Siddhanta as synthesis. The two schools of srivaisnavism, differences reconciled.


Bhakti movement in India in the Muhammadan and Christian periods traced to the influence of Ramanuja: Chief features; Monotheistic faith in Visnu as the all-sustaining Self and Saviour; Bhakti, the chief means to moksa; the establishment of the spiritual brotherhood of man; the proselytizing influences of Islam and Christianity overcome; Vaisnavism in the United Provinces-Remananda: his chief disciple, kabir; reconciles Hinduism and Islam; the Nimbarka schools of Bhadab head: the Dvaita darsana of Madhvacarya: the Suddhadvaita of Vallabhacarya; the Acintya Bhedabheda of Caitanya and Bengal Vaisnavism; Bhakti religion in Maharashtra; Saiva Siddhanta; Sikhism; Arya Samaj; Brahma Samaj; reconciles Hinduism and Christianity; the Vaisnavism of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa; Mahatma Gandhi's song of the true Vaisnava; the influence of Vaisnavism on Islam and Christianity; Its claims to be a universal religion.


Section I. The central truth of Visistadvaita summed up methodically; the main charges leveled against it, examined and refuted.
Section II. A critical estimate of Visistadvaita as a Vedantic system.
Section III. Dvaita, Advaita and Visistadvaita contrasted with the western systems. Theism, Monism and Pantheism; different views of the Upanisadic 'thou art That'; synthesis, the chief merit of Visistadvaita: the need for the reorientation of the system in the light of modern thought without impairing its integrity; Visistadvaita as the mediating link of love; the claims of Vedanta to universality summed up in the twin truths of the Brahamanization of the atman and service to humanity; its spiritual hospitality.





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