Tuesday, November 2, 2010

ATMA SHATAKAM - SRI SRI SHANKARACHARYA


Mano Buddhi Ahankara Chitta Ninaham
Nacha Shrotra Jihve Na Cha Ghrana Netre
Nacha Vyoma Bhoomir Na Tejo Na Vayu
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham

I am not mind, nor intellect, nor ego, nor the reflections of inner self (chitta).
I am not the five senses. I am beyond that. I am not the ether, nor the earth, nor the fire, nor the wind (the five elements).

I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.



Na Cha Prana Samjno Na Vai Pancha Vayu
Na Va Saptadhatur Na Va Pancha Koshah
Na Vak Pani Padau Na Chopastha Payu
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham


Neither can I be termed as energy (prana), nor five types of breath (vayus),nor the seven material essences (Rasa: plasma, Rakta: blood, Mamsa: muscle, Medas: fat, Asthi: bone, Majja: marrow, Shukla: semen), nor the five coverings (pancha-kosha). Neither am I the five instruments of elimination, procreation, motion, grasping, or speaking.

I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.


Na Me Dvesha Ragau Na Me Lobha Mohau
Mado Naiva Me Naiva Matsarya Bhavah
Na Dharmo Na Chartho Na Kamo Na Mokshah
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham


I have no hatred or dislike, nor affiliation or liking, nor greed, nor delusion, nor pride or haughtiness, nor feelings of envy or jealousy.
I have no duty (dharma), nor any money, nor any desire (kama), nor even liberation (moksha).

I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.


Na Punyam Na Papam Na Saukhyam Na Dukham
Na Mantro Na Teertham Na Vedo Na Yajnaha
Aham Bhojanam Naiva Bhojyam Na Bhokta
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham



I have neither merit (virtue), nor demerit (vice). I do not commit sins or good deeds, nor have happiness or sorrow, pain or pleasure. I do not need mantras, holy places, scriptures (Vedas), rituals or sacrifices (yagnas).
I am none of the triad of the observer or one who experiences, the process of observing or experiencing, or any object being observed or experienced.

I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.


Na Me Mrityu Shanka Na Me Jati Bhedah
Pita Naiva Me Naiva Mata Na Janma
Na Bandhur Na Mitram Gurur Naiva Shishyah
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham



I do not have fear of death, As I do not have death. I have no separation from my true self, no doubt about my existence, nor have I discrimination on the basis of birth. I have no father or mother, nor did I have a birth.
I am not the relative, nor the friend, nor the guru, nor the disciple.

I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.


Aham Nirvikalpo Nirakara Roopaha
Vibhur Vyapya Sarvatra Sarvendriyanam
Sada Me Samatvam Na Muktir Na Bandhah
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham


I am all pervasive. I am without any attributes, and without any form. I have neither attachment to the world, nor to liberation (mukti). I have no wishes for anything because I am everything, everywhere, every time, always in equilibrium.

I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.

Monday, October 25, 2010

THE GREAT INDIAN PHILOSOPHER TRIO - Sriman Madhvacharya



SRIMAN MADHVA

Sriman Madhva was born around 1238 A.D., in a village called Pajaka, about eight miles southeast of the modern town of Udupi, in the Karnataka State. He lived for 79 years and preached Dvaita (Dualism).

Sriman Madhva evolved a dualistic system of Philosophy from the Prasthana-Traya Granthas. It is unqualified dualism. Madhva’s Vaishnavism is called “Sad Vaishnavism”, as it is distinct from “Sri Vaishnavism” of Sri Sri Ramanuja.

Sriman Madhva made a study on “Pancha-Beda”, which is often named as “Atyanta Bheda Darsanam”. It is classified as five distinctions:

1. The distinction between Supreme and the individual soul

2. The distinction between Supreme and non living matter

3. The distinction between the individual soul and non living matter

4. The distinction between one individual soul and the other

5. The distinction between one material thing and another.

The Atyanta Bheda Darsanam has been further categorized as ‘Padartha’ or objective reality, i.e.

a. Independent (Svatantra)

b. Dependent (Paratantra)

The Svatantra is one who is independent in total – meaning God, The Supreme and the Reality. Whereas the ‘Soul’ (Jiva) and the ‘World’ (Jagat) are the dependents (Paratantra) of the Supreme. Hence God rules them. The Supreme is the Independent and cannot be further classified, whereas the dependents are further classified as Chetana and Achetana. The positive signs are the ‘Chetana’ (intellect) i.e. Conscious souls and ‘Achetana’ (ignorant – unawareness or unconscious) that of ‘matter and time’. Unconscious entities are either eternal like the Vedas or eternal and non-externals like ‘Prakriti, time and space’, or non-eternal like the products of ‘Prakriti’.

Before defining the unconscious entity, Sriman Madhvacharya explains about the Svatantra and Paratantra which is Nitya-Mukta i.e. eternally free from Samsara. In this study the ‘Svatantra’ is Maha Vishnu, Who is intelligent and Who is the Governor of the world and Whose Nitya-Mukta or the energy or power is Lakshmi. Vishnu can be realized through various group forms (Vyuhas) and Avataras (Divine incarnations). Likewise, the foremost ‘Paratantra’ is Lakshmi, the energy or power of Vishnu, Who is co-eternal and Who can assume various forms without a material body. She is not affected by pain or sorrow. Their sons are Brahma and Vaayu.

Prakriti (Pra = Supreme + Kriti = created/creation):- It is believed in the philosophy of Sriman Madhva that Creation is different from Him. Based on this study he said that Vishnu is the efficient and the material or the cause of the world. God energizes Prakriti through Lakshmi and makes its evolution into the visible world. Prakriti is the material cause as all the objects, bodies and organs are made by Prakriti. The three aspects of Prakriti are presided over by the three powers – Lakshmi, Bhu (Saraswati – earth) and Durga. Avidya (ignorance) is also a form of Prakriti that hides the Supreme from the vision of the individual soul.

Sriman Madhva believed that the world made of Prakriti is not an illusion but a reality, distinct from God. It is not also a transformation of God as that of curd out of milk nor is it a body of God. Hence it is unqualified and absolute dualism.

Sriman Madhva accepted the classification of souls made by Srimad Ramanuja as:

a) Nitya – the Eternal (like Lakshmi)

b) Mukta or liberated (the Demi-Gods, Rishis, and Sages) and

c) Baddha or bound ones

Sriman Madhva added two more to these: Those who are eligible and not so eligible for Moksha

(i) The completely surrendered ones, even though Baddha are eligible for Moksha.

(ii) Those who are not eligible for salvation are classified as

(a) Nitya-Sansarins i.e bound by the cycle of Samsara and

(b) Those whose destiny is hell – the region of blinding darkness (Tamoyogya).

Based on this classification the individual soul (Jiva), a distinct entity becomes plurality of souls. It is believed, as based on the classification, no two jivas are alike in character. As soul (Jiva) is different from God and matter (Prakriti), it depends on God for guidance. The Lord impels the Jivas to action in accordance with their previous conduct. Because of the past deeds the Jivi has to undergo sufferings and pains by which its impurities are removed, it attains salvation and skips the cycle of life and death and enjoys the blissful and true nature of a Jiva. Although the Jivas are graded and the classes of souls in the realm of bliss are various, as such there is no discord among them as they are aware of Brahman and have no faults. But the soul does not attain equality with God. They are entitled only to serve the Lord. Through nine types of devotion {Nava vidana bakthi} souls attain salvation with the grace of God.

He took a stand different from Sri Sri Shankara on Brahman and constituted nine most famous statements (Prameyas).

The Shloka that lays out the nine prameyas is

SrIman Madhvamate

harih paratarah, satyam jagat, tattvatho bhedho jIvagaNA, hareranucarA, nIchoccabhAvam gatAh |

muktir naijasukhAnubhUtir, amalA bhaktih tatsAdhanam, hyakshrAdi tritayam pramANam, akhilAmnAyaikavedyo harih ||



1) Harih Paratarah

Harih ---------------- Hari
Parataraha -------- (is) Supreme

Hari is the Supreme Lord and there is none superior to Hari. Hari is the One and Only Independent Reality.


2) Satyam Jagat

Satyam --------------- True
Jagat ------------------ World

The world is real. According to Sriman Madhva the reality is very much that we live in this world. In context to Sri Sri Shankara calling this materialistic world as a dream, Sriman Madhva says that we are not yet awakened from the dream to say that this is a dream. Hence what is happening at this moment is to be considered.


3) Tattvatho Bhedho JIvagana

Tattvatho ------------ Virtues
Bhedho -------------- Difference
Jivagana ------------ Living beings

Difference in beings according to their virtues. Every follower of the Madhva school firm believe in the Pancha-bheda—five real and eternal distinctions— Atyanta Bheda Darsanam or Pancha-bheda:

A) Jiiveshvara bheda

The difference between Supreme Being and the Individual Soul {God and Living things}

B) Jadeshvara bheda

The difference between Supreme Being and the Non Living Matter {God and
Things}

C) Jiiva-Jiiva bheda

The difference between two individual Soul. Within the category of trees there are apple trees and there are lemon trees. {If this has been misinterpreted for division in caste then it is NOT the mistake of the Acharya. It may be the difference of two individuals of same family also like two brothers having common parents}

D) Jada-Jiiva-bheda

The difference between individual Soul and Non Living Matter {There is the category of trees and there is the category of hills. Trees and hills belong to different categories.}

E) Jada- Jada bheda

The difference between Non Living Matter. Within the category of books there are religious books and there are friction books.


4) Hareranucaraha

Harer --------------- Hari’s
Anucaraha -------- Followers

Having talked about difference due to distinction, Sriman Madhva concludes all are followers and servants of Hari.


5) Nichoccabhavam Gataha

Nicha --------------- inferior
Uccha -------------- superior
Bhavam ------------ feeling
Gataha ------------- exists

There is gradation among the beings. Some are superior; some are inferior. The law of karma at work. Because of their past karma, there are differences or gradations, taratamya among jivas. We have ripe apples as well as row apples in a basket. If this gradation were not to be there we would not have sentenced a criminal to jail.


6) Muktir Naijasukhanubhutih

Mukthi ------------- Salvation
Naija ---------------- without
Sukha -------------- Bliss
Anubuthir --------- felt

Moksha is the realization of innate happiness of the self. Ones life has a worthy meaning if it has mukthi (salvation).


7) Amala Bhaktih Tatsadhanam

Amala -------------- Pure
Bhakti -------------- Devotion
Tat ------------------- that (mukthi)
Sadhanam --------- Achievement

The means of achieving moksha is uncontaminated and unconditional Bhakti (devotion). Here Sriman Madhva emphasizes on Bhakti alone. There is no mention of Jnana (knowledge).


8) Hyakshsraditritayam Pramanam

Hya ---------------- Conclusion (Anumana)
Akshara --------- Word (Sruthi) (Sabda)
Adhi -------------- and
Tritayam -------- Three
Pramanam ----- Witness (Pratyaksha)

Sriman Madhva while talking of mukthi says it can be achieved through Bhakti alone. Bhakti towards Hari and the jnana (Knowing about Hari) is already available through perception, inference, and scriptural testimony, ie. Pratyaksha, Anumana, and Sabda.

Pratyaksha (perception):

There are jivatmas who have got the vision of the Supreme at some point of time. Like as we could let us say see “Fire”.

Anumana (inference):

Some times at the circumstantial evidence we have got to conclude the presence of the Supreme. Like if there is smoke on a hill we conclude that there must be fire at the bottom of the smoke. Even though fire is not visible from the foot of the hill. Let us suppose there is water in a vessel we immediately conclude it to be hot by seeing the vapors. The earth is rotating on its own axis; there must be some power to spin this huge ball. What is that power which makes this earth rotate?

Sabda (sound from Sruthis):

The testimony of the scripture. This is same as Srimad Ramanuja felt that the destiny has proclaimed at the crown of the all scriptures that SRINIVASA is the Para Brahman.


9) Akhilamnayaikavedyo Harih

Akhila -------------- All
Amnaya ----------- Praise
Eva ----------------- only
Vedyo ------------- Vedas
Harih -------------- Hari

Hari, and Hari alone, is praised in all the scriptures.

THE GREAT INDIAN PHILOSOPHER TRIO - Srimad Ramanujacharya



SRIMAD RAMANUJA

Srimad Ramanuja was born in 1017 in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu. He lived for 120 Years and preached Visistaadvaita (qualified non dualism) philosophy. Though he did not differ much from Sri Sri Sankaras’ Advaita philosophy, he wanted to clarify certain things.

The Visishtadvaita philosophy is an ancient one as it was originally propounded by Sri Bodhayana in his Vritti written around 400 B.C. Based on this, text interpretation of Brahma sutras was made by Srimad Ramanuja.

In the opinion of Srimad Ramanuja, God is not only eternal, ‘His’ nature contains elements of plurality i.e. ‘He’ is empowered with manifestation.

Srimad Ramanuja rejects the doctrine that the materialistic world is illusory and unreal. According to Srimad Ramanuja, the materialistic world is not unreal unless it is viewed as distinct from Brahman. The materialistic world is not simply a realm of false and illusory appearances. He says the materialistic world can never be overlooked by illusion. If illusion itself were to subdue the Brahman, then illusion would be greater than Brahman. His version of this materialistic world is the drama (leela), which happens at His instructions.

Srimad Ramanuja also differs from Sri Sri Shankara on equating Jivatmas and Paramatma. Jivatmas can never be equated to Brahman; though he is a particle of Brahman his position is to serve the Brahman. As the hand is a part of the body and also a servant of the body.

Srimad Ramanuja preferred Saguna Upasana worship in Gross form (idol worship). He agreed to Sri Sri Shankara about the Jnana (knowledge) being important for salvations, but felt Jnana (knowledge) and Bhakti (devotion) are both necessary. Like the knowledge of the pill for a headache alone cannot relive the pain one should take the pill.

The means for moksha is Bhakti through Prappati or Saranagati. Bhakti is a state of mind achieved through the process of karma yoga and / or jnana yoga, wherein the mind naturally flows to Brahman and is delighted only in thought of Brahman. Prappati is a state of mind in which the jivatmas appeals to Brahman to save it from its attachment and consequent pains.

Sri Vaishnavism talks of two types of prappati:

Vadakalai View

Some positive gesture is necessary on the part of the jivatmas to deserve the grace of Brahman, because He can be deemed partial if He grants moksha to both deserving and undeserving. This is based on 'Markata Nyaya'- a comparison with a mother monkey carrying its infant only when the infant takes effort to cling or attach itself to the mother.

Tenkalai View

Lord's grace is spontaneous. He can grant moksha to anyone He likes. This is based on 'Marjala Nyaya'- a comparison to a mother cat carrying its kitten holding it in its mouth without any effort on the part of the infant (unlike in the case of monkey)

Srimad Ramanuja never distinguished between ‘Param nirguna’ (formless, without attributes) and ‘Aparam Saguna’ (with attributes) i.e. Brahman. According to the His theory, God is personal with qualities like omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. When Vedic text describes God as Nirguna it means that God is untouched by the qualities like high and low. Being Saguna (i.e. with attributes) ‘He’ stands perfect without changes in accordance with space and time.

Since God is accepted by this philosopher as Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient, the Srimad Ramanuja declares that ‘He’ is the only ‘Truth’, Jnana (knowledge) and Ananda (bliss). Moreover, the Srimad Ramanuja speaks in his Vedanta sutra that the Lord is immanent, transcendent and unchanging.

Further it is clear that the entire universe is latent in ‘Him’ during ‘Pralaya’ which is projected during creation. But the essence of the Lord will remain unchanged. Hence the difference which is found in ‘Brahman’ in this theory will be named as ‘Svagatha Bheda’ (internal difference). ‘Prakriti’ consists of soul (Jiva) and matter is considered as its modes i.e. ‘Chit-Achit’ and ‘Vishishta’ (truth-world-importance/Visesha). The lord takes five fold forms viz. – ‘Para’ (The transcendent), ‘Vyuha’ (the group), ‘Vibhava’ (the incarnation), ‘Archa’ (the image) and ‘Antaryamin’ (the immanent).

Therefore, what has been witnessed as different/variety of materials, forms and individual souls is not an illusion or Mitya but a part of Brahman’s nature. Matter is considered to be the body of the lord and said to be real. No doubt it is a non-conscious substance (Achit) as it undergoes a real evolution (Parinama) during dissolution (Pralaya) as it exists in a subtle state as ‘Prakara’ (supreme deed) of God. Hence matter is dependent on and is under the control of the Lord. It forms the object of experience for the soul as pleasure and pain and through the nature of Karma of the soul. Hence it is neither ‘good nor bad’.

Why do Jivas need to undergo karma?

Since the ‘Prakriti’ contains trigunas (3 characters) i.e. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, the Karmic cycle is associated for a temporary period. And it is well known that the Supreme being attached with His body [Param Nirguna (formless) with Aparam Saguna form with attributes)] is detached of the bodily actions i.e. Prakriti. That is why ‘His’ state is called ‘Suddha Tattva’ (feature of purity) has only ‘Sattva’ (the truth). Srimad Ramanuja threw some light on ‘Prakriti’ that is body of God. He classified matter as conscious and non-conscious. The conscious matter is given importance as ‘the essence of God’. These souls are categorized as Nitya (eternal) Mukta (free) and Baddha (bound).

Nitya: These souls have attained salvation and live with God permanently at Vaikunta.

Mukta: These souls are free from bondages of birth and death and have attained salvation now after repeated cycles of birth and death.
These two categories of souls live with God but with separate identity as a servant of the Supreme by rendering some service.

Baddha: These souls are still in Samsara (the vicious cycle of life and death) undergoing pains and pleasures according to karma till they are emancipated with the Will and grace of God.

Srimad Ramanuja considered Srinivasa (Tirumala Venkateshwara) as Para Brahman. This is endorsed in the Dyana Sloka of the Sri Bhasya written by him.

Akhila-bhuvana-janma-sTEma-bhangAdhi-leelE
vinatha-vividha-bhUtha-vrAtha-rakshaika DhIkshE
Sruthi-Sirasi VidhIpthE BrahamaNi SrInivAsE
bavathu mama parasmin sEmushI Bhakthi-roopA


The meaning of this verse can be summarized thus:

Akhila Bhuvana Janma stema bhangadhi leele
Vinatha Vividha Bhutha Vratha Rakshaika Dhikshe


Akhila -------- Whole
Bhuvana ---- Universe
Janma -------- Things that has birth
Stema --------- Stability
Bhanga ------- Broken {Instability}
Adhi ----------- Also
Leele ---------- Drama
Vinatha ------- Humble
Vividha ------- Different
Bhutha -------- Beings
Vratha --------- Good Deed
Rakshaika ---- Protect
Dhikshe --------- Vow

The drama of stability and instability of the living things in the whole universe and protection of the good deeds of the humble beings are taken care by Him.

Sruthi Sirasi Vidhipthe Brahamani Srinivase
bavathu mama parasmin semushi Bhakthi-roopa


Sruthi ----- Scriptures
Sirasi ----- over the head
Vidhipthe ---- ordered by destiny
Brahamane ------ Brahman
Srinivase -------- is Srinivasa
Bavathu ------- Let
Mama ------------ Me (myself)
Parasmin ------- attain (you)
Emushi --------- by knowledge
Bhakthi Roopa --- devotion

Destiny has proclaimed at the crown of the all scriptures that SRINIVASA is the Para Brahman. May I attain that Supreme through knowledge and devotion.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

THE GREAT INDIAN PHILOSOPHER TRIO - Sri Sri Shankaracharya



SRI SRI SHANKARA

Sri Sri Shankara was born in Kaladi in Kerala in 788 A.D and preached Advaita (non dualism) philosophy. Though he lived for only thirty-two years, his achievements are unparalleled.

Here are some of his views about BRAHMAN {Supreme Being}

Brahma Satyam. Jagat Mithya. Jivo Brahmaiva Na Parah.

God is real. World is not. The individual is none other than God.

Brahma Satyam. Jagat Mithya.

According to Sri Sri Shankara, there is only one Absolute Brahman and He alone is true (Satya). The materialistic world we live in is not real (Asat), or it is only vyavaharika satya. What does vyavaharika satya mean? Let us suppose we dream of winning a brand new car in a lottery and driving it, though we experience the drive once we are awake there is no car. Did we not experience the car drive in the dream is it not true? Yes, it was true, if so then where is the car? This is vyavaharika satya. Sri Sri Shankara says that appearance of this world is due to Maya—the illusory power of Brahman—, which is neither Sat, nor Asat.

As for the “falseness” of this world - first let us make it clear that Advaita does not claim that this world is false. It only says that it is illusory. Let us pause a minute here and go over the rope and snake analogy. A man sees a coiled rope in insufficient light and thinks it to be a snake, and is therefore afraid. Later, when he sees it again with the help of a light source, he recognizes it as a rope, and realizes he was in error when he thought it to be a snake. However, till he realizes that this object of perception is not a snake, he harbors the illusion that it was a snake i.e. he was under the influence of his own ignorance about the true identity of the thing, and was therefore under mithyatva. The same snake is later, at the moment of realization, understood to be a rope. Similarly, we humans’ think this world has an independent reality, and assumes that the pleasures, joys, frustrations and miseries we experiences here are somehow real. It is this that is mithya.

Jivo Brahmaiva Na Parah.

Sri Sri Sankara equates every individual soul to none other than Brahman. We the Jivatmas (Living Beings) are parted from Brahman and have been in this world ones our moral coils are shed we once again merge with Brahman. We may be identified in many name but we all end up merging with the Supreme. This analogy may help understand better. If we hold a glass tumbler and ask any one if it empty, they say it is empty but no it has air inside it. Is the air inside the tumble different from the air outside? What happens if the glass tumbler is broken? Will not the air which was inside the glass tumbler get mixed with the air outside? Like wise the glass tumbler is our body and the atma is the air in it, one the body is broken (is dead) the atma merges with Paramatma. And the same can be said to the water that is taken out of the ocean by cupping our palm. Is the water in the cupped palm called ocean? No but once it is poured back into the ocean it is ocean. Likewise individual souls {Jivatma} will merge into Supreme Soul {Paramatma} in death.


Sarvam Vishnu Mayam Jagat.


The entire world is filled with Vishnu.

Sri Sri Sankara having said that entire world is filled with Vishnu he introduces Panchayatana Puja.

At the time of Sri Sri Sankara, sectarian worship was very much in vogue. Each school claimed supremacy of their Ishta Devata and philosophy, and was not tolerant of other schools. The primary schools in existence where the sects of Ganapatya, Saura, Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta. A lot of time was spent fighting about the supremacy among these schools. This kind of fighting was not very productive, since it went against the ultimate Advaita teaching of vedanta.

The Panchayatana puja, traditionally practiced among Smartas was established by Sri Sri Shankara, enabling to worship Ishta devata with an Advaita buddhi, while including all the other major sectarian devatas. The Ishta devata to be placed in the center, with the other remaining deities placed around it.

Person generally sits facing East, while placing the devatas in the following order:

Center North East South East South West North West
Ganapati Vishnu Shiva Surya Durga
Surya Shiva Ganapati Vishnu Durga
Vishnu Shiva Ganapati Surya Durga
Shiva Vishnu Surya Ganapati Durga
Durga Vishnu Shiva Ganapati Surya


Jnanat eva tu kaivalyam.

Knowledge alone can give salvation. It is the knowledge of understanding Brahman, which is the only means to attain Moksha.

Aham Brahmasmi I am Brahman

Tat Twam Asi That Thou Art

Ayam Atmane Brahma Self is Brahman

Prajnanam Brahma Consciousness is Brahman

Advaita, Vishishtadvaita & Dvaita

Sri Sri Sankara, Srimad Ramanuja and Sriman Madhva are the most illustrious commentators on the Vedanta Sutras (Brahma-Sutras). These commentators have tried to establish theories of their own, such as

Advaita-Vada (unqualified non-dualism or uncompromising or rigorous monism),

Visishtadvaita-Vada (differentiated or qualified monism) and

Dvaita-Vada (strict or rigorous dualism).

Sri Sri Sankaraa had in view, while preparing his commentary, chiefly the purpose of combating the baneful effects which blind ritualism had brought to bear upon Hinduism.

Dualism (Dvaita), Qualified Monism (Visishtadvaita) and Monism (Advaita) are the three main schools of metaphysical thought. They are all stages on the way to the Ultimate Truth, viz., Para-Brahman (the Supreme Reality). They are rungs on the ladder of Yoga. They are not at all contradictory. On the contrary, they are complimentary to one another. These stages are harmoniously arranged in a graded series of spiritual experiences. Dualism, Qualified Monism, Pure Monism – all these culminate eventually in the Advaita Vedantic realisation of the Absolute or the Transcendental Trigunatita Ananta Brahman.

Sriman Madhva said: “Man is the servant of God”, and established his Dvaita philosophy.

Srimad Ramanuja said: “Man is a ray or spark of God”, and established his Visishtadvaita philosophy.

Sri Sri Sankara said: “Man is identical with Brahman or the Eternal Soul: and established his Kevala Advaita philosophy.

The Dvaitin wants to serve the Lord as a servant. He wishes to play with the Lord. He wishes to taste the sugar-candy.

A Visishtadvaitin wants to become like Lord Narayana and enjoy the divine. He does not wish to merge himself or become identical with the Lord. He wishes to remain as a spark. A Jnani (jnana = knowledge) merges himself in Brahman. He wishes to become identical with Brahman. He wants to become the sugar-candy itself.

People have different temperaments and different capacities. So, different schools of philosophy are also necessary. The highest rung is Advaita philosophy. A Dualist or Qualified Monist eventually becomes a Kevala Advaitin.


Maha Vishu Supreme

Vishnu Mayam Jagat -------------------------- Sri Sri Shankara

Brahamani Srinivase -------------------------- Srimad Ramanuja

Harih Paratarah -------------------------- Sriman Madhva

All the three Acharyas emphasized on the supremacy of Sri Maha Vishnu.


Advaita

With the view that all beings are one, it is very nice to have a society that is not hindered by the inferior and superior status. Every being is respected irrespective of the social and economical differences. The rich and famous have to follow Advaita Philosophy and think that the sections of people who are serving them are equal to them and try to respect the Supreme residing in their hearts.

Sri Krishna confirms this in “Karmasanyasa Yoga” of Bhagavad-Gita in Chapter 5 as:

vidya vinaya sampane brahmane gavi hastini
suni caiva sva pake ca panditah sama darsinah
(Gita 5.18)

The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see equal vision a learned and a gentle Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog eater.


Visistaadvaita

The Supreme (Srinivasa) alone is the protector and without His approval not a single blade of grass is displaced. He and only He is the solution at the time of crisis. Being modest and humble is very important. Moksha is achieved by serving Him.

Charma Slokam:

sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah

Abandon all varieties of obligation due to righteousness and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.


Dvaita

Sri Hari is Sarvottama. The other Demi-Gods including Maha Lakshmi serve Him. Reality in this materialistic world should be accepted. Even though all beings are one, a son has to show respect to his father, like wise an employee to his employer. The serving section have to follow Dvaita Philosophy and think that the people who have employed them are superior to them and try to respect the Supreme residing in their hearts.

Sri Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita explains Arjuna in regard to the Four Varnas. He says “Chatur-Varnam Maya Shrustam, Guna Karma Vibhagasha" The Four Varnas are classified based on Guna and Karma. The Guna that is told here is not the character but the Prakriti’ (nature) of the individual containing the amalgamation of the trigunas i.e. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.

An individual who has Satva guna is categories as Brahamana (teacher/scholar)
An individual who has Satva and Rajas with Rajas in prominence is a Kshatriya (ruler/administrator)
An individual who has Rajas and Tamas with Rajas in prominence is a Vaisya (merchant/tradesmen)
An individual who has Tamo guna is categories as Sudra (worker/crafsmen)

This system of division of labour was to help the individuals in inter dependence to strive for the existence of society. But this division of labour has so much so divide our society that we give much credit to Engineers and Doctors but we care less to Farmers and Soldiers. A road layer and a sanitary cleaner are as important to society as space scientist and research doctor. We usually tell our children to study well and give the instance of becoming a road layer and a sanitary cleaner if they don’t study well in this way we bring the division of labour in them. Instead we can tell them by studying well one can serve the society better than a road layer and a sanitary cleaner even though those work are divine and are necessary for society.

Karma is not the work that we do but is the latent desires that the souls have carried from their past lives. If suppose an individual who had been in the category of Brahamana and had a desire of having lordship over others as a ruler but could not fulfill his desire in that life, he will be given an opportunity by Supreme in the future life in letting him to take birth in a Kshatriya family. The proof for this is in “Atmasamyama Yoga” of Bhagavad-Gita in Chapter 6 Arjuna asks Krishna what would happen to a person who has full faith in Karma yoga but is unable to control his mind and senses and cannot practice it to perfection and passes away midway. Gita 6.37-38. Listening to the queries of Arjuna, Krishna answers that a person who has stepped into the path of Karma Yoga will never come to grieve in this world or in the next. Evil never befalls one who does good. After death, he will be born in a family of prosperous and pious parents after enjoying the celestial world. Gita 6.41-42

But now it is not the Guna and Karma but the birth the deciding factor now. A son of a Brahmin is a Brahmin even though he is rude or rouge and a son of an outcaste is considered an outcaste even he has a profound knowledge and acts a discipled gentleman.

The Basic Doctrine of Dvaita Vedanta



Sriman Madhva has hypothesized (based on Vedic texts and Yukti) that souls are eternal and not created ex nihilo by God, as in the Semitic religions. Souls depend on God for their very “being” and “becoming.” Sriman Madhva has compared this relationship of God with souls to the relationship between a source (Bimba) and its reflection (Pratibimba).

Additionally, Srman Madhva differed significantly from traditional Hindu beliefs in his concept of eternal damnation. For example, he divides souls into three classes, one class which qualify for liberation, Mukti-yogyas, another subject to eternal rebirth or eternally transmigrating due to samsara, Nitya-samsarins, and significantly, a class that is eventually condemned to eternal hell or Andhatamas, known as Tamo-yogyas.

Sriman Madhva followers cite authorities such as Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, verses 2. “There are three types of inclination, which are the self-same natures of the souls, these being satvika, rajasa, and tamasa,” 
Chapter 16, verses 19-20, “These cruel haters, worst among men in the world, I hurl these evil-doers into the wombs of demons only. Entering into demoniacal wombs and deluded, birth after birth, not attaining me, they thus fall, Oh Arjuna, into a condition still lower than that,” for their concept of eternal damnation. 

Sriman Madhva was the second after Srimad Ramanuja in the recent years who revived the timeless Vaishnava tradition. There were 21 different Bashayas (commentaries) before Sriman Madhva. He was the first to establish the facts of trio-patriate classification of souls. By contrast, most Hindus believe that souls will eventually obtain moksha, even after millions of rebirths.

The Supreme Being is Vishnu or Narayana. He is the personal first cause. He is the Intelligent Governor of the world. He lives in Vaikuntha along with Lakshmi, His consort. He and His consort Lakshmi are real. Brahma and Vayu are two of His sons. One can know His nature through the study of the Vedas. He manifests Himself through various Vyuhas or group-forms, and through Avataras (divine incarnations). He is present in the sacred images. He is also the Antaryamin or the Inner Controller of all souls. He creates, maintains and destroys the world.

God is free from Doshas or faults. He is endowed with all auspicious qualities. He is omnipresent or all-pervading and independent. He is beyond time and space. He is greater than Lakshmi. There is no other who is greater than Lakshmi. She is the foremost of the dependents. Lakshmi is the Lord’s Sakti or energy. She is the personification of His power or creative energy. Lakshmi can put on various forms without a material body. She is co-eternal with Vishnu and all-pervading. She beholds the glory of Her Lord through eternity. She is Nitya-Mukta, i.e., eternally free from Samsara. She is not affected by sorrow and pain. She is intelligent.

Sriman Madhva espoused a Vaishnava theology that understands Brahman to be endowed with attributes and a personal God, Vishnu. By Brahman, he referred to Vishnu, as per his statement “brahmashabdashcha vishhnaveva” that Brahman can only refer to Vishnu. Sriman Madhva states that Vishnu is not just any other deity, but is rather the singular, all-important and supreme one. Vishnu is always the primary object of worship, and all others are regarded as subordinate to Him. The deities and other sentient beings are graded among themselves, with Vayu, the god of life, being the highest, and Vishnu is eternally above them.

While each thing is unique, Dvaita philosophy notes five categories of difference (Bheda):

Between the Lord (Isvara) and the self (Jivatman)
Between innumerable selves
Between the Lord and matter (Prakriti)
Between the self and matter
Between phenomena within matter
Despite these differences, there exists a clear and distinct relationship:

Under Dwaita Vedanta (Tattvavada), the soul upon liberation does not lose his distinct identity, which is different from Vishnu, nor does he become equal to Him in any respect. While the mukta does become free of all suffering, his enjoyment is not of the same caliber as His, nor does said mukta become independent of Him.

The mukta experiences the joy which is his own nature, in mukti; whereas in daily life, joy derives from the contact of senses with sense-objects and is therefore transitory and mixed with suffering (which is also caused by the contact of senses with sense-objects), joy in mukti is due to the jiva’s own immutable nature. And because such joy is the jiva’s own nature, it does not fluctuate or end, and it is not mixed with pain. Since the nature of the jiva is different from that of Ishvara, his joy is also of a different nature than His, even upon mukti. Even the joy which is intrinsic to the nature of the jiva can only be realised due to the grace of the Supreme being.

Because a mukta, or liberated person, should not even be physically present in the material universe, unlike the un-liberated. A person who is living in the world cannot be said to be free of sorrow born of material contact, and also cannot be said to experience the joy of his own nature at all times. The very act of living in a gross material body entails things such as eating, sleeping, pleasure and pain, etc., which cannot be accepted in a mukta.

The Advaitic concept of a j├«vanmukta is also absurd because a person who has surmounted the realm of perception and realized the Absolute (as Advaita holds of a mukta) should not continue to exist within and interact with the realm of perception that he has realized as being not-Real—no one continues to perceive a snake after realizing that the object of his perception is actually a rope. The suggestion that such bondage to the world of perception continues for a while after the occurrence of Realization, because of past attachments, is not tenable—such attachments themselves are artifacts of the perceived world that has supposedly been sublated, and should not continue to besiege the consciousness of the Realized. If they do, then we have to either reject the Realization that is said to have occurred, or else reject the notion that the world of perception, as manifesting through the attachments on a supposedly Realized person, can be sublated. In either instance, the notion of j├«vanmukti is not meaningful.

Basic Doctrine of Visistadvaita Vedanta


Visistadvaita is qualified non-dualism. Though the school existed much earlier, Ramanujacarya was the best proponent of the school. Hence it came to be known as Ramanuja darsana. Specifically, his commentary on Brahma Sutras is called Sri Bhashya.

Visistadvaita is closely related to Sri Vaishnava, hence it is seen more as a philosophy of religion rather than an independent spiritual philosophy that is followed by any religion.

Visistadvaita as the term indicates is Advaita that accepts viseshas. Visistadvaitins accept basic advaita or non-duality of jiva and para. In the liberated state jiva is para. Jiva has viseshas of consciousness in unliberated state, unlike in Advaita where jiva is just a witness even in unliberated state (in fact liberation is not for the jivatma, it is for the entity jiva consisting of sukshma sarira etc, which is bound by Prakriti or Maya).

Visistadvaitins accept three pramanas or sources for knowledge: pratyaksha, anumana, sabda.

There are three Tatvas (Tatva-traya) - Isvara, Jiva and Prakriti. Isvara or Brahman is the only independent reality. Jiva and Prakriti are realities dependent on Brahman.

Isvara

Both nirguna brahman and Isvara are accepted and worshipped. Entire world is the play or lila of Isvara. And Isvara hence could be worshipped as sakara. This can also be understood in the light that Visistadvaita is religion + philosophy. Both upasana and Vedanta are closely knit.

The eternal is said to be five-fold, and worshipped in these five forms:

Para - The eternal being. This is Sri Maha Vishnu in times of non-creation in Vaikuntha, sleeping in the coils of infinity.
Vyuha - The one with four aspects, Sankarshana, Vasudeva, Pradyumna and Aniruddha (Vishnu Sahasranama praises Him as caturvyuha, or having four vyuhas).
Antaryamin - The One (as soul) that pervades all creation.
Vibhava - The glorious incarnations of God, such as Sri Rama and Sri Krishna.
Arca - The forms of worship, such as incarnations, idols. Example of Arca-avatara is Venkateswara.

Jiva

Jiva (individual soul) is said to be anu (indivisible), avyakta (unmanifest), acintya (unthinkable), nirvikara (having no distortion or transformation) and jnanasraya (the abode of knowledge). Jiva is an indivisible part of Isvara.

There are three types of Jivas, bound, liberated and eternal. Any Jiva prior to liberation or moksha is said to be bound. Post liberation the Jiva is mukta, and merges in Isvara. There are eternal jives too, that are not bound but exist - such as devatas, consorts, servants, vehicles of Vishnu (Garuda, Java-Vijaya etc).

Prakriti

Prakriti is the cause of manifestation. It causes the three consciousness qualities, satva, rajas and tamas. There are two forms of satva, suddha satva and misra satva. Suddha satva is one that is not touched by rajas and tamas - this is the one that manifests in Vaikuntha, creating the “eternal” beings like Garuda and Ananta. This is said to be nitya vibhuti. The phenomenal world is caused by misra satva, a combination of all the three qualities. This is said to be lila vibhuti.

Moksha

Visistadvaita does not accept the jivanmukti concept of Advaita. According to Visistadvaita, liberation is possible only after the jiva leaves the body. There are different types in this. One is reaching Isvara after death. Another is reaching higher worlds (like swarga) after death, and moving to still higher worlds and ultimately reaching Isvara sannidhya. This is called krama (gradual, stepwise) mukti.

There are four kinds of Isvara sannidhya, in ascending order of evolution:

Salokya - Living in the world of Isvara (ex. Vaikuntha)
Sameepya - Living close to Isvara
Sarupya - Looking just like Isvara
Sayujya - Becoming one with Isvara

Moksha sadhana

There are three concepts in path to liberation, Tatva, hita and purushartha. Tatvas are three as discussed. Hita is fivefold, swa-swarupa (knowing the nature of self), para-swarupa (knowing the nature of the eternal), purushartha swarupa (fulfillment of purposes or goals of life - dharma, Artha, kama and moksha), upaya swarupa (means methods or paths to moksha) and virodhi swarupa (obstacles in attainment of moksha).

There are five avarodhas (virodhi) or obstacles in the path of evolution: Obstacles in realizing self, in realizing God, in liberation, in following means to realization and in attainment of goals

Moksha Upaya is fivefold:

Karma - this includes karma kanda, panca maha yajnas, dhyana, japa etc.

Jnana - This includes vairagya, dhyana, nididhyasana etc found in jnana marga.

Bhakti - This includes devotion and worship. There are seven aids for bhakti, viveka (discrimination and purity), vimoka (detachment), abhyasa (practice), kriya (works, specifically the panca maha yajnas), kalyana (truthfulness, peace of mind, gentleness etc), anavasada (untouched by sorrow or disappointment), anuddharsha (untouched by excitement).

Prapatti (or saranagati) - Prapatti is consecration and surrender. This includes surrender of ego, doing things only to please God and abstaining from all that action that on the contrary (take one towards worldliness), having faith and attributing one’s own caretaking to Isvara.

Acaryabhimana - Having faith in, respecting and following teachers’ words.


The Seven objections to Sri Sri Shankara's Advaita:

Srimad Ramanuja picks out what he sees as seven fundamental flaws in the Advaita philosophy to revise them. He argues:

I. The nature of Avidya. Avidya must be either real or unreal; there is no other possibility. But neither of these is possible. If Avidya is real, non-dualism collapses into dualism. If it is unreal, we are driven to self-contradiction or infinite regress.

II. The incomprehensibility of Avidya. Advaitins claim that Avidya is neither real nor unreal but incomprehensible {anirvachaniya.} All cognition is either of the real or the unreal: the Advaitin claim flies in the face of experience, and accepting it would call into question all cognition and render it unsafe.

III. The grounds of knowledge of Avidya. No pramana can establish Avidya in the sense the Advaitin requires. Advaita philosophy presents Avidya not as a mere lack of knowledge, as something purely negative, but as an obscuring layer which covers Brahman and is removed by true Brahma-vidya. Avidya is positive nescience not mere ignorance. Srimad Ramanuja argues that positive nescience is established neither by perception, nor by inference, nor by scriptural testimony. On the contrary, Srimad Ramanuja argues, all cognition is of the real.

IV. The locus of Avidya. Where is the Avidya that gives rise to the (false) impression of the reality of the perceived world? There are two possibilities; it could be Brahman's Avidya or the individual soul's {jiva.} Neither is possible. Brahman is knowledge; Avidya cannot co-exist as an attribute with a nature utterly incompatible with it. Nor can the individual soul be the locus of Avidya: the existence of the individual soul is due to Avidya; this would lead to a vicious circle.

V. Avidya's obscuration of the nature of Brahman. Sankara would have us believe that the true nature of Brahman is somehow covered-over or obscured by Avidya. Srimad Ramanuja regards this as an absurdity: given that Advaita claims that Brahman is pure self-luminous consciousness, obscuration must mean either preventing the origination of this (impossible since Brahman is eternal) or the destruction of it - equally absurd.

VI. The removal of Avidya by Brahma-vidya. Advaita claims that Avidya has no beginning, but it is terminated and removed by Brahma-vidya, the intuition of the reality of Brahman as pure, undifferentiated consciousness. But Srimad Ramanuja denies the existence of undifferentiated {nirguna} Brahman, arguing that whatever exists has attributes: Brahman has infinite auspicious attributes. Liberation is a matter of Divine Grace: no amount of learning or wisdom will deliver us.

VII. The removal of Avidya. For the Advaitin, the bondage in which we dwell before the attainment of Moksa is caused by Maya and Avidya; knowledge of reality (Brahma-vidya) releases us. Srimad Ramanuja, however, asserts that bondage is real. No kind of knowledge can remove what is real. On the contrary, knowledge discloses the real; it does not destroy it. And what exactly is the saving knowledge that delivers us from bondage to Maya? If it is real then non-duality collapses into duality; if it is unreal, then we face an utter absurdity.