Sri Ramanuja's Visishtadvaita is noted for the following features: (a) it propounds a credible doctrine of complete identity between God and the Absolute; (b) it harmonises God's transcendence (paratva) with His accessibility (soulabhya); and (c) it inculcates the highest type of devotion without belittling the part of intellectualism and social duties in spiritual life.
While the doctrine first gained articulation as a system of thought in the now unavailable writings of Dramidacharya and later in those of the illustrious Yamunacharya, it was Sri Ramanuja (1017--1137) who put these devotional traditions coming from the Alwars down, into the mould of the Upanishadic thought by embodying them in the form of commentaries based on the Vedantic scriptures.
Since then, several pious and scholarly savants wrote on the doctrines of the system, the most brilliant of them' being Sudarsana Suri and Vedanta Desika. There were also several others of lesser calibre and originality but nonetheless noted for their lucid exposition of the system. Among these was the author of the present text Srinivasadasa, disciple of Mahacharya who lived in the later half of the 16th century.
His work, the Yatindramatadipika, is a brief but comprehensive writing on the system, dealing as it does with its epistemology, ontology, psychology, cosmology and theology. As a complete handbook in simple and lucid language, it is one of the best for the study of Visishtadvaita.
Swami Adidevananda asked me to write a Foreword to his translation of the Yattndramatadlpikii and 1 gladly comply with his request for the main reason that the publication of the work is sure to satisfy a long-felt need for a suitable text-book on the Essentials of Visistadvaita.
The Yanndramatadtpikn was composed by Srini- vasarya, a well-known Visistadvaitic philosopher who lived in Tirupati, Chittoor District, about the beginning of the seventeenth century. It is a compendious exposition of the teachings of Visistadvaita in its aspects of metaphysics, morals and religion, familiarly known as tattva, hita and purusartha. The book is called Yanndramatadtpikii, or the Light of the System of Yatindra, or Sri Ramanuja. Sri Rarnanuja like other Vedantins deduces his philosophy from the Sastra; but gives a comprehensive and synthetic interpretation of it by recognizing the validity of Paftcaratra as the word of God and accepting the eq ual value of the teachings of Rsis and the Alvars in the scheme of Ubhaya-vedanta, Visistadvaita accepts the reality of experience in all its levels including dreams and illusions. Its tattva comprises the three entities, God, souls and matter which however are inseparable. God is defined as the saririn or self of souls and matter, as these two live and move and have their being in Him. God exists in five forms as the Eternal beyond the perishing world, the infinite in and beyond the finite, the Immanent, and the Incarnations, historical and perm anent.
The soul has unique monadic being and is yet a mode deriving its essence from God. It is both substance and attribute. Bhakti and prapatti form the chief means of liberation or mukti. Prapatti as absolute surrender to God is available to all souls. Mukti is the attainment of the Absolute beyond the world of space-time; and then the liberated self enjoys the eternal bliss of Brahman. Spirituality and service go together as the vertical and horizontal ways of expressing love.
The work faithfully brings out the main teachings of Sri Ramanuja as summarized above and it mediates between monism and monotheism. The present work eminently succeeds in its laudable attempt to present a readable account of the text and serves as an excellent introduction to the study of Visistadvaita. r am sure this translation which is so far the best in the field will have a good reception .
Study of Indian philosophy is incomplete without a knowledge of Vedanta in its triple setting-Advaita, Visistadvaita and Dvaita. For a beginner, the understanding of Advaita is facilitated by a number of short authoritative manuals now available with accurate translation and other accessories for study. Similar publications on the Visistadvaita are extremely rare. This book is brought out to remove that want in some measure.
The text printed here is based on the Yanndramatadipikii published by Mr V. K. Ramanujacarya and the other two editions of it brought out in the Benares and Anandasrama Sanskrit Series respectively. It has only once been rendered into English, about forty years ago, by Sri Govindacarya Svarnin of Mysore. That edition is now out of print and difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. Though it has been consulted with profit, the present book is conceived on a different plan, The translation here has been made as close and faithful to the original as possible. The collated and punctuated Sanskrit text is given on every page to afford easy reference when- ever the verbatim rendering might appear stiff. Copious notes are appended at the end to elucidate points of difficulty and to supply additional information. An Introduction is prefixed to give a conspectus of the work. It is expected the book in this form will meet the needs of the students of philosophy possessing some knowledge of Sanskrit.
I wish to acknowledge my hearty thanks to Dr K. C. Varadachari, Professor of Philosophy, Sri Venkatesvara College, Tirupati for his valuable help in revising the typescript of the translation; to Professor P. N. Srlnivlsachari for his kind Foreword, and to Swami Vimalananda for his invaluable counsel and suggestive criticism. I am indebted to Professor R. Ramanujachari who was kind enough to read through the typescript. And lastly, I would express my gratitude for the constant encouragement and unfailing kindness which I have received in the preparation of this work from Swami Omkarananda.
The Visistadvaita of Sri Rarnanuja was not only a reaction against the dry ritualism of the Mimarnsakas and the mentalism of atheistic thought which followed the intellectual revolution caused by the Buddha, but also a revival of the theistic Mlmarnsa as advocated by the Vrttikara Bodhayana known also as Upavarsa.! Vedantic theism did not emerge suddenly in the evolution of the philosophy of religion in India. Besides
Bodhayana, SrI Rarnanuja in his Vedarthasangraha refers to Tanka, Dramida, Guhadeva, Kapardin and Bharuci, who were great exponents of theistic Vedanta in the days of yore. Sri R. G. Bhandarkar traces the rudiments of theism to a period anterior to the birth of Buddhism and Jainism. The Ghasundi inscriptionreferring to the shrine of Sankarsana and Vasudeva (about 200 B.C.), the Besnagar inscription recording the erection of a Garuda- column in honour of 'Vasudeva the God of gods' (about 200 B.C.) and the Nanaghat inscription referring to the worship of Sankarsana and Vasudeva (100 B.C.) prove the existence of a theistic faith at a very early period. The great contribution of SrI Ramanuja is that he has given us for the first time a conception of monotheism in a systematic form on the basis of the Upanisads and the Vedantasutras.
The distinctive feature of Visistadvaita, as com- pared with Advaita on the one hand, and Dvaita on the other hand, is its conception of Reality which, while affirming the ultimate unity of the Absolute, allows differentiation through its modes (prakaras) without implying any fundamental difference in the Reality itself. Visisiadvaita accepts as ultimate the three entities of matter (acit), individual self (cit) and Isvara.
Matter and individual self are absolutely dependent on Isvara for their existence, the dependence being similar to that of body upon self. The universe forms the body of Isvara, and he is the Universal Self not only of the unconscious matter but also of the conscious self’s. Body is that which an indwelling self supports and controls for its own services. Similarly matter and selfs; being the .body of Isvara, are supported and controlled by him for his own purposes. Here we come upon Sri Ramanuja's own unique view of the relation of aprthaksiddhi (inseparability) in which Isvara stands to the world consisting of matter and selves. The inseparable relation of body to self, in terms of which the relation of the world to Isvara is conceived, brings out clearly the intimate connection that subsists between substance and attribute. Isvara is substance and the world of matter and selfs form his inseparable attributes.
This conception of organic unity may be illustrated by the instance of a mango. Here the colour, the taste, the smell, the flesh, the shell and the fibre which constitute the whole fruit can be distinguished as being different from one another. Each element in the fruit has its own distinctive attributes. Yet when all these are united, the synthetic whole is regarded as a mango. What is common to all the different parts of the fruit is their inseparable existence. Of the various elements which constitute the mango, we can regard any particular one as the substantive element (visesya) and the rest as attributive elements (visesanas), Likewise the inseparable unity of matter, selfs and Isvara constitute the Reality in which Isvara, the substantive element, directs and predominates over the attributive elements. Though the world of matter and selfs has a real existence of their own, they are entirely subject to the control of Isvara in all their conditions. Sri Ramanuja's system is called Visistadvaita, since the attributive elements (matter and selfs) and the substantive element. (Isvara) form a synthetic unity.
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