Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Period :||1017 to 1137|
|Place of Birth :||Perumbudur , Tamil Nadu|
|Guru :||Sri Periya Nambigal|
|Avatars (believed) :|
Sri Ramanuja Acharya (1017 - 1137 AD) was an Indian philosopher and is recognized as the most important saint of Sri Vaishnavism . He held the Vishishtadvaita or Nondualist belief that the world and Brahman were united, like a soul and a body are. His version of Indian Nondualism differed from Shankara's because he acknowledged the existence of differences, and believed that the identity of an object as a part was as important as the unity of the whole. Most importantly, he believed that Brahman was not devoid of attributes but was expressed as a personal God, full of infinite good qualties, as Narayana.
Ramanuja was born Ilaya Perumal to a brahman family in the village of Perumbudur Tamil Nadu India in 1017 AD. From a young age his intelligence and ability to comprehend highly abstract philisophical points were legendary. He took initiation from Yadavacharya a renowned Shankarite scholar. Though his new guru was highly impressed with his analytical ability he was quite concerned by how much emphasis Ramanuja placed on bhakti. After frequent clashes over interpretation Yadavacharya decided the young Ramanuja was becoming too much of a threat and plotted a way to kill him. Ramanuja's cousin Govinda Bhatta (a favourite of Yadavacharya) found out about the plot and helped him to escape.
After renouncing his house-holder life Ramanuja travelled to Srirangam to meet an aging Yamunacharya, the pre-eminent Vishishtadvaita philosopher of the time. Upon his arrival Yamunacharya had already died but had left 3 tasks for Ramanuja to carry out.
- Teach the doctrine of prapati (surrender) to God as the means to moksha.
- A Visishtadvaita Bhashya should be written for the Brahma Sutras of Vyasa which had previously been taught orally to the disciples of the Visishtadvaita philosophy.
- That the names of Parasara, the author of Vishnu Purana, and saint Sadagopa should be perpetuated.
Ramanuja was deeply moved and before the body of his would-be guru he pledged before God to do as he'd been requested. All three tasks were successfully completed.
Ramanuja's philosophy is referred to as Vishishtadvaita because it combines Advaita (oneness of God) with Vishesha (attributes). The philosophy is monotheistic.
God alone exists
Differences with Sankara
Adi Sankara had argued that all qualities or manifestations that can be perceived are unreal and temporary. They are a result of ignorance. Ramanuja believed them to be real and permanent and under the control of the Brahman. God can be one despite the existence of attributes, because they cannot exist alone; they are not independent entities. They are Prakaras or the modes, Sesha or the accessories, and Niyama or the controlled aspects, of the one Brahman.
In Sri Ramanuja’s system of philosophy, the Lord (Narayana) has two inseparable Prakaras or modes, viz., the world and the souls. These are related to Him as the body is related to the soul. They have no existence apart from Him. They inhere in Him as attributes in a substance. Matter and souls constitute the body of the Lord. The Lord is their indweller. He is the controlling Reality. Matter and souls are the subordinate elements. They are termed Viseshanas, attributes. God is the Viseshya or that which is qualified.
Cited from the Devine Life Society Vishishtadvaita page. See links.
Like Adi Sankara before him, he was critical of the caste system. He said, "Does the wearing of a sacred thread make one a Brahmin? One who is devoted to God (Narayana) alone is a Brahmin."
Cited from Sri Ramanuja, His Life, Religion, and Philosophy, published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
Ramanuja's most famous work is known as the Sri Bhasya . It is a commentary on the Brahma Sutras.
His other works are:
- Vedanta Sara (essence of Vedanta)
- Vedanta Sangraha (a resume of Vedanta)
- Vedanta Deepa (the light of Vedanta).
- Biography of Ramanuja.
- Divine Life Society Biography of Ramanuja.
- [Hindu response against Buddhism]
- Divine Life Society Discussion of Ramanuja's philosophy.
- Ramanuja's Philosophy.
- Internet Encyclopedia Profile of Ramanuja.
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