Vishishtadvaita - Key Principles of Vishishtadvaita

Key Principles of Vishishtadvaita

There are three key principles of VishishtAdvaita:

  • Tattva: The knowledge of the 3 real entities namely, jIvA (the sentient); Jagat (the insentient) and Ishvara (Vishnu-Narayana or Parabrahman)
  • Hita: The means of realisation i.e. through Bhakti (devotion) and Prapatti (self-surrender)
  • PurushArtha: The goal to be attained i.e. moksha or liberation from bondage.

Hinduism propounds that every living being, be it a human or animal, has a body and a soul(consciousness) and the bridge between the two is the mind(a mixture of both). If there is an imbalance between any of these three components it can result in illness and 'death'. 'Death' as we know it,is the ceasing of the body to function and therefore the soul which is immortal will have to migrate to another body and occupy some-other mind thereby creating consciousness there, be it a human or animal depending upon the 'karma' or 'past deeds' done in the previous physical body/bodies or life/lives. Central to the philosophy of Hinduism is 'BRAHMAN' which is the embodiment of all souls and therefore the ultimate consciousness. BRAHMAN is infinite, has no dimensions, and is embodiment of all knowledge and the absolute truth and therefore the ultimate bliss and enlightenment for all souls. To join BRAHMAN is the ultimate goal of all souls, a soul can only join BRAHMAN upon becoming perfect, until such time the soul will have to keep changing bodies and experience events based on its karma in-order to perfect itself and therefore - continues the cycle of birth and death. BRAHMAN is also the sum total of the trinity gods( and avatars) worshiped by Hindus viz. 1.Brahma-the creator 2. Vishnu-the protector 3. Shiva or Maheshwara -the destroyer. Brahma is responsible for sending the part of the BRAHMAN which was imperfect to perfect itself on earth and for that purpose created various levels of physical form. Vishnu who is the protector pronounces that one must perform ones DHARMA or duty or follow the laws in-order to obtain good karma and hence graduate to a high physical and mental form and finally join the ultimate BRAHMAN. 3. Maheshwara or Shiva is the god of destruction and 'death' says that just like how a new star can only be born upon the destruction of an old star which has been burning bright, just so do we find that only in complete destruction is there creation and that the ultimate truth,immortality and permanence is in the soul which joins the BRAHMAN and that physical matter is only recycled over and over again. A soul will have been successful when it stops getting recycled like how lowly and unconscious physical matter does. Therefore 'death' is not the end as the soul is immortal and endless.

According to Ramanujacharya, Brahma creates physical form and Maheshwara or shiva destroys physical form, while Vishnu who is BRAHMAN shows us(the souls) the path or teaches us how to attain Moksha and join BRAHMAN by following the Dharmas of life. Therefore Ramanujan's Vishnavite followers believe that we are all flawed souls who are roaming earth in physical form and therefore are not god . All living beings are not god because they are here to pass the test of Dharma and Karma and only upon joining BRAHMAN will they become the embodiment of truth . These two reasons are the cause for rejecting the advaitha and dwaitha philosophy by Ramanujan followers. Ramanujan therefore believes that God or Vinshnu or BRAHMAN is the greatest and we are all mere mortals striving to achieve moksha.

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