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Published by raj

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Published by: raj on Jun 27, 2009
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 VISISHTAADVAITHAM Vs ADVAITHAMRamanuja’s differences with Shankara:
Adi Shankara had argued that all qualities or manifestations that canbe perceived are unreal and temporary. Ramanuja believed them tobe real and permanent and under the control of the
. God canbe one despite the existence of attributes, because they cannot existalone; they are not independent entities. They are
or themodes,
or the accessories, and
or the controlled aspects,of the one
.In Ramanuja’s system of philosophy, the Lord (Narayana) has twoinseparable
or modes, namely, the world and the souls.These are related to Him as the body is related to the soul. They haveno existence apart from Him. They inhere in Him as attributes in asubstance. Matter and souls constitute the body of the Lord. The Lordis their indweller. He is the controlling Reality. Matter and souls arethe subordinate elements. They are termed
, attributes. Godis the
or that which is qualified.Ramanuja opines, wrong is the position of the
thatunderstanding the
without knowing and practicingdharma can result in Brahman knowledge. The knowledge ofBrahman that ends spiritual ignorance is meditational, nottestimonial or verbal.In contrast to Shankara, Ramanuja holds that there is no knowledgesource in support of the claim that there is a distinctionless(homogeneous) Brahman. All knowledge sources reveal objects asdistinct from other objects. All experience reveals an object known insome way or other beyond mere existence. Testimony depends on theoperation of distinct sentence parts (words with distinct meanings).Thus the claim that testimony makes known that reality isdistinctionless is contradicted by the very nature of testimony as aknowledge means. Even the simplest perceptual cognition reveals
something (Bessie) as qualified by something else (a broken hoof,“Bessie has a broken hoof,” as known perceptually). Inferencedepends on perception and makes the same distinct things known asdoes perception.He also holds that the Advaitin argument about prior absences andno prior absence of consciousness is wrong. Similarly the Advaitinunderstanding of a-vidya (not-Knowledge), which is the absence ofspiritual knowledge, is incorrect. “If the distinction between spiritualknowledge and spiritual ignorance is unreal, then spiritual ignoranceand the self are one.”
The Seven objections to Shankara's Advaita:
Ramanuja picks out what he sees as seven fundamental flaws in theAdvaita philosophy to revise them. He argues:
I. The nature of Avidya:
Avidya must be either real or unreal; thereis no other possibility. But neither of these is possible. If Avidya isreal, non-dualism collapses into dualism. If it is unreal, we are drivento self-contradiction or infinite regress.
II. The incomprehensibility of Avidya:
Advaitins claim that Avidyais neither real nor unreal but incomprehensible, {anirvachaniya.} Allcognition is either of the real or the unreal: the Advaitin claim flies inthe face of experience, and accepting it would call into question allcognition and render it unsafe.
III. The grounds of knowledge of Avidya:
No pramana can establishAvidya in the sense the Advaitin requires. Advaita philosophypresents Avidya not as a mere lack of knowledge, as somethingpurely negative, but as an obscuring layer which covers Brahmanand is removed by true Brahma-vidya. Avidya is positive nesciencenot mere ignorance. Ramanuja argues that positive nescience isestablished neither by perception, nor by inference, nor by scripturaltestimony. On the contrary, Ramanuja argues, all cognition is of thereal.
IV. The locus of Avidya:
Where is the Avidya that gives rise to the(false) impression of the reality of the perceived world? There are twopossibilities; it could be Brahman's Avidya or the individual soul's{jiva.} Neither is possible. Brahman is knowledge; Avidya cannot co-exist as an attribute with a nature utterly incompatible with it. Norcan the individual soul be the locus of Avidya: the existence of theindividual soul is due to Avidya; this would lead to a vicious circle.
V. Avidya's obscuration of the nature of Brahman:
Sankara wouldhave us believe that the true nature of Brahman is somehow covered-over or obscured by Avidya. Ramanuja regards this as an absurdity:given that Advaita claims that Brahman is pure self-luminousconsciousness, obscuration must mean either preventing theorigination of this (impossible since Brahman is eternal) or thedestruction of it - equally absurd.
VI. The removal of Avidya by Brahma-vidya:
Advaita claims thatAvidya has no beginning, but it is terminated and removed byBrahma-vidya, the intuition of the reality of Brahman as pure,undifferentiated consciousness. But Ramanuja denies the existence ofundifferentiated {nirguna} Brahman, arguing that whatever exists hasattributes: Brahman has infinite auspicious attributes. Liberation is amatter of Divine Grace: no amount of learning or wisdom will deliverus.
VII. The removal of Avidya:
For the Advaitin, the bondage in whichwe dwell before the attainment of Moksa is caused by Maya andAvidya; knowledge of reality (Brahma-vidya) releases us. Ramanuja,however, asserts that bondage is real. No kind of knowledge canremove what is real. On the contrary, knowledge discloses the real; itdoes not destroy it. And what exactly is the saving knowledge thatdelivers us from bondage to Maya? If it is real then non-dualitycollapses into duality; if it is unreal, then we face an utter absurdity.Even though Bhagavad Ramanuja taught his followers to highlyrespect all Sri Vaishnavas irrespective of caste, he firmly believed inthe tenets of Varnashrama Dharma.

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