Vishistadvita: Qualified Non-Dualism; derived from vishishta (qualified) + advaita (non-duality). The general term vishistadvaita may refer to a variety of philosophies within Sanatana Dharma, but without qualifiers specifically refers to a school of Vedanta philosophy expounded by the Vaishnava teacher, Srimad Ramanujacharya. Vishistadvaita Vedanta philosophy is closely associated with the beliefs and practices of Sri-Vaishnavism, an branch of Vaishnavism popular in the south of India.
Discussion: Vishistadvaita Vedanta, like other schools of Vedanta philosophy, is based on the triad body of texts (prasthana traya) consisting of the principal Upanishads, the Brahma-Sutra and the Bhagavad-Gita. As with the other schools, Vishistadvaita deals with the relationship between Brahman (Ishvara), sentient beings (chit or souls) and insentient universe (achit or matter). The three entities, according to Vishistadvaita, are eternally real and distinct. The insentient universe and the sentient beings within it, however, are present within the pan-organistic body of Ishvara, who is the Universal Soul. In other words, the world is the body of Brahman, and everything within creation is inseparable yet eternally dependent upon Brahman. The individuality of the jivatman (individual soul) and the nature of objective reality, therefore, are considered absolutely real. According to Ramanujacharya, Brahman is Vishnu-Narayana, the Supreme Ruler and Lord of the Universe. Sentient beings are His eternal servants, and complete self-surrender (prapatti) to Narayana is a requisite to liberation from samsara.
In whom the Adityas, Rudras and Vasus are held together; in whom are set firm the worlds; that which was and that which shall be – tell me of that Support – who may He be? (Atharvaveda Samhita X.7.22)