Ramanujacharya’s Advaita says God has attributes

Sri Ramanujacharya
Sri Ramanujacharya

The Vishishtadvaita or qualified non-dualism philosophy of Sri Ramanujacharya is a refined form of Advaita philosophy and differs from the one proposed by Adi Shankaracharya. Shankracharya’s Advaita philosophy says that Brahmin is the ultimate truth, the world is an illusion, and there is no difference between the.

Brahman and individual self. Whereas Ramanuja’s Vishishtadvaita philosophy says that Brahmin is ultimate and He has numerous attributes. It is incorrect to say that Brahmin is Nirguna (without attributes).

Brahmin, the ultimate truth, is different from individual self. At the same time Brahmin is in every entity of this universe, which is His creation. Brahmin is Paramantma (supreme soul) and individual self is Jeevatma (minute soul). They could be compared to an ocean and drop of water simultaneously.

The ultimate goal of jeevatama is to reach paramantma, just like the destination of every rain drop is the ocean through complete surrender.

Once jeevatma reaches paramatma it will continue to serve paramatma in Paramapadama, the abode of Lord Narayana or Mahapurusha.
He stated God is one, but with internal differences, represented as the souls and the material creation. God has qualities. He is ocean of Divine knowledge, bliss, compassion and other unlimited attributes.

The world, comprised of the souls and lifeless inert matter, is a part of His being. He is referred to as ‘nirgun’, without any qualities, but what this indicates is that God is without the ‘mayic’ qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas. The material creation arose from God, therefore it is not an illusion. Maya is a power of God and established in Him.

A soul is an infinitesimal fraction of God, just as a spark is a part of a fire. It remains at one place at a time, whereas God is omnipresent. The soul is ignorant, but God is omniscient and omnipotent. Being a fraction of God, the soul will always remain in existence. The soul could be considered equal to God only with respect to the experience of Divine bliss.

Ramanuja regards the attributes as real and permanent, but subject to the control of Brahman. The attributes are called Prakaras or modes. Lord Narayana is the Ruler and Lord of the universe. The Jiva is His servant and worshipper. The Jiva should completely surrender himself to the Lord. The oneness of God is quite consistent with the existence of attributes, as the attributes or Shaktis depend upon God for their existence.

The only means for a soul to be liberated from maya is selfless, whole-hearted devotion to God. The soul is an eternal servant of God. To refer to himself as God is a great sin.

Maya is a power of God and dependently established in God. Mayic ignorance can delude a soul, but not God.
Ramanuja gave special emphasis to selfless surrender to God, which he called ‘prapatti’. He said to renounce all material attachments, remove one’s prideful ego, and to entrust one’s everything to God. It is only through God’s grace that a soul can attain ultimate Divine happiness.

He said that God resides in the heart of every soul as a witness. He is the supreme Divine personality. He alone is the Creator and Lord of the universe.

The 3030th birth anniversary of Sri Ramanujacharya will be observed on April 29

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