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Re: Ancient Hindu Philosophy ( The Ultimate Truth )

In article <2q48fc$acm@ucunix.san.uc.edu> bi@jupiter.cs.swin.oz.au (Bhaskar Iyer) writes:
> Vishishtadvaita explains that the three entities, i.e, God, man and 
> universe are one integral whole, that man is but an aspect of God.

This is misleading, to say the least.  Visistadvaita does NOT say,
"God + man + universe" = One whole, as the above implies. Rather,
"Brahman is All" -- Sarvam Khalv Idam Brahma, as the Upanishad says.
But Brahman (The All-encompassing, All-auspicious, Enchantingly Beautiful
Lord) is characterized by innumerable attributes, which include the
entireity of souls and matter. But the latter two are two infinitesimal
modes of His existence, and He is not in any way dependent on them.

> But what all these three preach is that man's sole purpose in life is
> to attain and apprehend the vision of the Supreme, i.e, Tatva Darsana
> (apprehension of the Truth) but not to remain content with merely Tatva
> Jnana (intellectual conception of truth).

For Advaita, this is not true.  Advaita itself preaches that
"Tattva Jnanam" yields liberation, and defines such "jnanam" as
mere intellectual realization of the Truth.  This sharply
distinguishes it from the other schools of Vedanta.

Secondly, while all three preach that the Truth is what is to 
be attained, the difference in how Advaita defines "Truth" compared 
to how the other two do so is so vast that Bhaskar's statement that
"all these three preach this..." implies a false unity of purpose.

> As regards the nature of the ultimate Reality, the propounders of the
> three systems were all Brahmavadins, though Sri Ramanuja, the exponent of
> Visishtadvaita identifies this Reality with Vishnu, Sri Madhwacharya, 
> the propounder of Dvaita phylosophy identifies it with Hari, and 
> Sri Sankara, the  propounder of  Advaita,  identifies  it  with
> Brahman, the One without a Second. Any way, these three refer to the 
> same supreme Being.
Not at all. While Madhva and Ramanuja essentially agree, Sankara's
conception of the supreme Being is entirely different, and is in the
opinion of the other two, completely wrong!  In addition, by saying
that only Sankara identifies the ultimate Reality with "Brahman,
the One without a Second", you are once again implying that Ramanuja
is not doing so.  Ramanuja's Brahman also follows the Upanishadic
dictum, "ekam eva advitiyam."  In fact, his conception of the Vedanta
is far more coherent with scripture than those of the other two.

> ~~~~~~~~~
> Sankara looks upon Brahman as Nirguna. Ramanuja and Madhwa conceive
> Brahman as Saguna. How does Sankara define Nirguna? Nirguna according 
> to him means "free from the three gunas (the attributes of Prakriti
> 'inherent nature')".i.e, Satva  (mode of goodness), Rajas  (mode of 
> passion) and  Tamas  (mode of ignorance).

I must disagree once again. This definition of Nirguna is how Ramanuja
uses the term -- free from the Three Worldly Gunas. On the other hand,
Sankara's Brahman is "nirvisesa, cin maatram Brahma". One without *any*
qualities whatsoever. 

> Ramanuja emphasized on Bhakti to a remarkable extent. Devotion to God is
> the means to reach Him. It is of the nature of the supreme love for God.
> It is Prapatti or Saranagatti, total and complete self-surrender to the 
> Will of God. Prapatti is illustrated by the Marjala analogy- the cat
> takes complete care of its kitten. Likewise, the devotee can threaten God,
> "If I am in difficulty, you are to take the blame, oh my Lord!".
> "If I am in difficulty, you are to take the blame, oh my Lord!".
Ramanuja emphasized Bhakti no more than the Gita or the Upanishads did.
Also, in Ramanuja's system, the last quoted sentence is entirely
inappropriate. Complaint against God has little place in his philosophy.
Rather, the *burden* of *protection* should be placed upon God; 
certainly not the blame for our ills. Our karma accounts for that.

> all systems are equally valid from 
> their respective standpoints, depending on the spritual stage of evolution
> of the Sadhaka.

This is rather patronizing, isn't it? Effectively, you are saying,
"Advaita is the best, but Visistadvaita is okay for you people whose
consciousness is less evolved." What a great insult to Ramanuja and 

> It can be said that
> "Advaita is for Adarsa (goal/ideal ), while
> Dvaita is for Acharana (for practice)".

Same comment applies here. Please, lets not be artificial and say,
"All paths lead to the same goal, but Advaita is the best." That
is simply offensive to those of us who don't hold that Sankara's
thought is the ultimate truth. It ain't.


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