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Thread: Visishtadvaita for DUMMIES - Post 1 - Nature of God

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    Visishtadvaita for DUMMIES - Post 1 - Nature of God

    Namaste folks,

    I tried to understand just a basic outline of the tenets of Visishadvaita from several posts here, but my attempts were futile. The topics were too advanced for me, who was first looking for a very, very basic outline to start with. Hence with the help of several online resources, I tried to venture into this, the most important among them being this link here: http://srikrishnarpanam.blogspot.com...a-part-12.html which is an extract derived itself from referencing other sources on Visishtadvaita. I have given below what is given in this link in a very, very simple format.

    In part 1 here, I would like to state my brief understanding of the nature of god as per Visishtadvaita and point out/ask any questions that may arise.

    In subsequent posts (addressed in different parts), I would like to address nature of jeevatma, and the nature of 'Achit' which together, along with natue of 'god', constitute the 'Tattwa Thrayam' or '3 type of tattwas' according to Visishtadvaita.

    GOD as per Visishadvaita:

    1. God has Gunas - He has 'Soulabyam' - Simplicity, 'Vatsalyam' - He forgives our offences, 'Souseelyam' - He does not look at even a menial human as a 'menial one', he has 'Swamithvam' - as being our father, he takes the responsibility of protecting us and lastly he has 'Soulabyam' - he takes avataras amongst us humans in order to protect us, he mingles as one among us.

    2. God can be represented by a symbol and has an abode. God is blemishless and the abode of all virtues (Kalyana gunams). Together, these two are represented by the property of Bhagvan having the ability to be represented by a symbol (of purity)(ubhayalinga vishishtan where lingam is the Symbol/Chinnam). Also, god has PROPERTIES, in the spiritual sense of the word - he has his eternal abode of Sri Vaikunta and the abode that gets destroyed during the great deluge - also known as 'Leela Vibhuti' - the world.

    3. God can be represented by a FORM. He has a form. AND, most importantly within this form, he has 'bhedas' or differences. These differences amount to the nature of:

    a. The difference within the same family - Within trees a banyan tree is different from a Coconut tree. Similarly though god and jeevatmas both carry 'jnana' or knowledge, the knowledge of god is different from the jeevatma.

    b. The difference between two different families - God is as dissimilar to the insentient matter, as a mountain is different from a tree.

    c. The difference within the same body - God has 3 different aspects to his form - of being the insentient matter, of being the instrument that causes the matter to manifest and of being the device(s) that would be helpful for the instrument to use the matter and create something. Just by the will of god, the insentient is put to use by the instrument via devices and the world is created.

    4. God can be attained only by 'jnana' or knowledge combined with 'bhakti' or devotion. 'Bakthi roopa panna Janathale moksham' - As the jnana or knowledge about god ripens and ripens, devotion begins and at the culmination of one's deep devotion, moksha is attained.

    * * *

    Question #1:

    Can the 'Linga Visishtan Bhagavan' meaning 'Bhagvan has the property of being represented by a Symbol' explained in better terms?

    Thanks,

    Viraja
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Visishtadvaita for DUMMIES - Post 1 - Nature of God

    Post 2 - The salient features and dictates of Visishtadvaita, which includes discussion on 'Nature of Jeevatma':

    * The chit and achit are body of Paramatma. Paramatma is the soul he pervades, directs the jeevatma and the chit. This is the connection between the two.

    * If we call a person by his name and he turns back, we do not ask him if it his jeevatma that responded or his body that responded. This is because they both are so intrinsically connected that they both seem to be one. This
    is the concept of abheda shruti of the vedas.

    Accoring to abheda shruti, everything is body of brahmam, so there is no differentiation between an achit, a jeevatma and paramatma. Since a jeevatma is the body of the paramatma (supersoul) and since the soul is realized, naturally the body (individual soul) is realized. Whereas even within this relationship, if we ask the question of whether the jeevatma and the sarira are the same, then the bheda shruti steps in and says no. This is
    the reason why we see both bheda shruti and the abheda shruti in the vedas. Visishtadvaita tries to reconcile the both using the 'Sarira-atma bhava' concept. According to Sarira-atma bhava, even though the body (jeevatma) is distinct from the paramatma (soul), they are both INSEPARABLE from each other, just as White color cannot be separated from a cloth which is White. It is distinct from bheda shruti in that, Sarira atma bhava recognizes the indistinguishable nature of jeevatma from paramatma, and it is different from abheda shruti in that, it recognizes the distinctness of jeevatma from paramatma. Thus this sarira-atma bhava becomes one of the important
    concepts of Visishtadvaita.

    * Unlike advaita, world is not an illusion in Visishtadvaita, everything is real. All objects we see, everything that happens to us and around us, are all real.

    * Artha-panchakam is a crucial tenet of Visishtadvaita. It deals with 1.Nature of jeevatma 2. Paramatma swaroopa or 'Nature of Destination' 3. Way to go to the destination (upaayam) 4. The obstacles that stand in the way of you reaching the destination (Virodhi swaroopam) and 5. Nature of pleasure
    experienced at reaching destination (Praapya Swaroopa).

    The jeevatma swaroopa (nature of jeevatma) is one of Satyam(truthfulness), Gnana (Knowledge), Anantha (happiness) and Brahmam (bliss). Verily, these are termed in the right sense to be the 'attributes of the jeevatman'.

    In Visishtadvaita, there are two kinds of consciosness (Knowledge), attributive and substantive. The attributive is known as "dharma-bhUta-jnAna", and is liable to contraction or expansion. The substantive is
    known as "svarUpa-bhUta-jnAna" and is immutable. The 'I'ness with which an individual jeevatma perceives itself is known as 'Substantive Consciousness' and this is immutable. Whereas the 'Attributive Consciousness' expands or contracts depending on the level of spiritual ascension of the jeevatma. It can be very limited, as in not knowing anything as in the case of an animal to knowing everything like a god as in the case of
    a fully-realized yogi.

    The nature of destination (also called paramatma swaroopa or 'nature of paramatma') is to enjoy one of the 9 different types of connectivity between jeevatma and paramatma namely 'father and son', 'Protector and Protected', 'Master-Servant', 'Husband and Wife', 'Knower and Known', 'Owned and Owner', 'Bearer and Borne', 'Body and Soul', 'Enjoyer and Enjoyed'.

    Upaaya Swaroopa or 'Way to reach destination': One would reach the goal of attaining the abode of god by practicing 'Saranagathi'.

    Virodhi Swaroopa: One's own internal enemies or the shadripus are the ones that stand against his goal of attaining the Lord.

    Prapya Swaroopa: What you do when you attain the abode of god? You do 'kainkaryam' or 'Services to god'.

    * * *

    Notes to the reader:

    1. Kindly comment and correct the above.

    2. Please address and point to advanced and missing sections in the above.

    Thanks,

    Viraja
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Visishtadvaita for DUMMIES - Post 1 - Nature of God

    Namaste Viraja ji

    You have started an informative thread. I appreciate the intent.

    When I started my journey faced similar road blocks like you have mentioned. It is a very good way to clarify our understandings with learned members.

    However in a complex subject like this in my personal experience it will be effective to keep the descriptive text and questions separate. Elaborate text and then question defeats the purpose.

    May I suggest you a workable solution?

    In case you haven't had a chance to look into the below mentioned free resources, kindly look into them.

    The first two in the list offer step by step information to explore and understand the subject while third and fourth are for advanced readers.

    All these 4 eBooks can be treated as guides (first two), text books (3 & 4)

    1) A Dialog on Hinduism by V. N. Gopala Desikan
    2) Visistadvaita A Philosophy of Religion by K.R.Paramahamsa.
    3) THE PHILOSOPHY OF BHEDABHEDA P.N.SRIN1VASACHARI
    4) THE PHILOSOPHY OF VIS'ISTADVAITA BY P.N.SRINIVASACHARI, M.A.,

    There is one more free resource " The handbook of Srivaishnavism by U Ve Sri Rama Ramanuja Adharm". This is also short and easy to understand eBook.

    My intent isto offer you a solution as the books mentioned are from authenticated sources. Also I miss members like Jignyasu and Phil who had descriptive understandings.

    Hope this information helps you...
    Anirudh...

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    Re: Visishtadvaita for DUMMIES - Post 1 - Nature of God

    Dear Anirudh ji,

    While it is a time-tested approach to read good and recommended works on various philosophies, for a total newbie to philosophy like me who has also lost touch with reading books at large, it is totally overwhelming to jump into a book first. I did try reading one of the recommended books on this topic - 'Fundamentals of Visistadvaita Vedanta' by S.M. Srinivasa Chari and honestly, I didn't like the book. I read more than half the book, but my grasp on the subject was very little because of the author's style of spending volumes of information on refuting Advaita vedanta. Therefore chose this approach of grasping the most important fundamental concepts by disintegrating them to their core simplicity and then to work ground-up to reading books from then on.

    It appears to me that there are still some members in this forum who know the subject extremely well who can tell at a glance whether your stated concept is right or wrong, who can go through what I have written above in posts 1 and 2 in a matter of few minutes. My inspiration is this thread http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=11069 post #12 and above. I am kinda hoping to hear from these members to clarify the above stated points.

    In the meantime, I do realize on comparison with the above stated post that I miss some key concepts, I might post on them in the following day or 2.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. Which one do you recommend the most?

    Cheers,

    Viraja
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Visishtadvaita for DUMMIES - Post 1 - Nature of God

    Namaste Viraja ji

    Which one do you recommend the most?
    It depends up on your interest and your prior knowledge.

    If you wish to get a quick understanding start with #1 and then #2, finally #4 (you can skip #3)

    Book #1 will be interesting, Book #2 will be dry. Book #1 and #2 will give a decent idea of the subject.

    Book #4 will be relatively complex and difficult to visualize. I read #1 and #2. I started #4 but gave up due to other commitments.

    I ll PM my experience :-)
    Anirudh...

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    Re: Visishtadvaita for DUMMIES - Post 1 - Nature of God

    Dropping in after quite some time. Good to see both of you finding joy in study
    namastE astu bhagavan vishveshvarAya mahAdevAya tryaMbakAya|
    tripurAntakAya trikAgnikAlAya kAlAgnirudrAya nIlakaNThAya mRtyuJNjayAya sarveshvarAya sadAshivAya shrIman mAhAdevAya ||

    Om shrImAtrE namah

    sarvam shrI umA-mahEshwara parabrahmArpaNamastu


    A Shaivite library
    http://www.scribd.com/HinduismLibrary

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    Re: Visishtadvaita for DUMMIES - Post 1 - Nature of God

    Post 3 (Last post on topic): Few Key differences with Advaita:

    1. Determinate and Indeterminate Perception: According to Shri Ramanuja, there is no 'indeterminate perception' or perception without differentiation and discrimination. Thus, even if an object is perceived for the first time, there is some apprehension of its qualitative properties. For example, if a cow is perceived for the first time, even if it cannot be recognized as a 'cow', there is some perception of the way its body parts are put together, to identify it as an 'entity'. Similarly, perception is not recognition. To recognize something is to be able to identify something as belonging to a particular group or family whereas no such restrictions apply to perception.

    2. Knowledge: All knowledge involves some degree of discrimination. It is always by differentiating between objects external to one's self, does knowledge manifest.

    A substance is something which is a substratum of a thing. By this, it is meant that anything that carries an attribute, is a substance. An attribute can also be a substance or an attribute.

    Knowledge is a substance as well as an attribute. It is a substance because it can expand or contract. It is an attribute because it belongs to self or god. The Visishtadvaita knowledge differs from Advaita knowledge in that while it can manifest itself (as a self identifies an object the 'knowledge' spontaneoulsy manifests to 'know' the object), it always belongs to the self and points to a thing. There is nothing called 'pure-consciousness' as in Advaita.

    References: 1. http://indian-philosophy.braincells....a/visisht.html
    2. http://list.indology.info/pipermail/...ry/015288.html

    (For further short and succinct description on Causality/Metaphysics/Self/Self and God/Bondage and Liberation, pl. refer to reference 1 given above).
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Visishtadvaita for DUMMIES - Post 1 - Nature of God

    Quote Originally Posted by Omkara View Post
    Dropping in after quite some time. Good to see both of you finding joy in study
    Hi Omkara,

    Nice to hear from you!
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Visishtadvaita for DUMMIES - Post 1 - Nature of God

    Namaste Viraja ji

    This isthe reason why we see both bheda shruti and the
    abheda shruti in the vedas.
    Visishtadvaita tries to
    reconcile the both using the
    'Sarira-atma bhava' concept.


    Few key terminologies are missing like say Ghataka Shruti.

    Unless you explain Bhrda, Abheda and Ghataka clearly, Vishistadvaita is neither complete nor you can convincingly explain how Vishistadvaita differs from Advaita.

    Also, one can skip Jyana yoga OR Karma yoga to reach Bhakthi.
    Anirudh...

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    Re: Visishtadvaita for DUMMIES - Post 1 - Nature of God

    Quote Originally Posted by Anirudh View Post
    Namaste Viraja ji

    This isthe reason why we see both bheda shruti and the
    abheda shruti in the vedas.
    Visishtadvaita tries to
    reconcile the both using the
    'Sarira-atma bhava' concept.


    Few key terminologies are missing like say Ghataka Shruti.

    Unless you explain Bhrda, Abheda and Ghataka clearly, Vishistadvaita is neither complete nor you can convincingly explain how Vishistadvaita differs from Advaita.

    Also, one can skip Jyana yoga OR Karma yoga to reach Bhakthi.
    Namaste,

    Sorry, my bad. I tried to briefly touch monism, dualism and qualified monism in the beginning of my post #2. You might naturally have a better and/or deeper understanding of the points you are talking about as you've read several books on the subject. Please feel free to offer/add any valuable insights.

    Thanks & Regards.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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