Vishishtadvaita (IAST Viśiṣṭādvaita; Sanskrit: विशिष्टाद्वैत) is one of the most popular schools of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy. Vedanta literally means the end of the Vedas. VishishtAdvaita (literally "Advaita with uniqueness; qualifications") is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy. It is non-dualism of the qualified whole, in which Brahman alone exists, but is characterized by multiplicity. It can be described as qualified monism or qualified non-dualism or attributive monism. It is a school of Vedanta philosophy which believes in all diversity subsuming to an underlying unity.

Ramanuja, the main proponent of Vishishtadvaita philosophy contends that the Prasthanatrayi ("The three courses"), namely the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma Sutras are to be interpreted in a way that shows this unity in diversity, for any other way would violate their consistency. Vedanta Desika defines Vishishtadvaita using the statement, Asesha Chit-Achit Prakaaram Brahmaikameva Tatvam : Brahman, as qualified by the sentient and insentient modes (or attributes), is the only reality.

Sri Ramanujacharya, pioneer of Vishishtadvaita Vedanta and the foremost Jeeyar of Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya.


The Vishishtadvaitic thought is considered to have existed for a long time, and it is surmised that the earliest works are no longer available.[1] The names of the earliest of these philosophers is only known through Ramanuja's Vedartha Sangraham. Bodhayana, Dramida, Tanka, Guhadeva, Kapardi and Bharuci the prominent ones in the line of the philosophers considered to have expounded the VisishtAdvaitic system.

Bodhayana is considered to have written an extensive vritti (commentary) on the Purva and Uttara Mimamsas. Tanka is attributed with having written commentaries on Chandogya Upanishad and Brahma Sutras. Nathamuni of the ninth century AD, the foremost Acharya of the Vaishnavas, collected the Tamil prabandhas, classified them, made the redaction, set the hymns to music and spread them everywhere. He is said to have received the divine hymns straight from Nammalvar, the foremost of the twelve Alvars, by yogic insight in the temple at Alwar Thirunagari, which is located near Tirunelveli in South India. Yamunacharya renounced kingship and spent his last days in the service of the Lord at Srirangam and in laying the fundamentals of the Vishishtadvaita philosophy by writing four basic works on the subject.

Ramanuja is the main proponent of Vishishtadvaita philosophy. The philosophy itself is considered to have existed long before Ramanuja's time.[2] Ramanuja continues along the line of thought of his predecessors while expounding the knowledge expressed in the Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Bhagavad Gita. Vedanta Desika and Pillai Lokacharya, disciples in the tradition of Ramanuja, had minor disagreements not on the philosophy, but on some aspects of the theology, giving rise to the Vadakalai and Thenkalai schools of thought, as explained below.

Swaminarayan, the founder of Swaminarayan Sampraday, also propagated this philosophy and based the Swaminarayan Sampraday (original name is Uddhava Sampraday) on these ideals.[3]

Key principles

There are three key principles of Vishishtadvaita:

  • Tattva: The knowledge of the 3 real entities namely, jiva (living souls; the sentient); ajiva (the nonsentient) and Ishvara (Vishnu-Narayana or Parahbrahman, creator and controller of the world).
  • Hita: The means of realization, as through bhakti (devotion) and prapatti (self-surrender).
  • Purushartha: The goal to be attained, as moksha or liberation from bondage.



Pramana refers to the correct knowledge, arrived at by thorough reasoning, of any object. Pramana ("sources of knowledge", Sanskrit) forms one part of a triputi (trio).

  1. Pramatir, the subject; the knower of the knowledge
  2. Pramana, the cause or the means of the knowledge
  3. Prameya, the object of knowledge

In Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, only the following three pramanas are accepted as valid means of knowledge:

  • Pratyaksa — the knowledge gained by means of perception. Perception refers to knowledge obtained by cognition of external objects based on sensory perception. In modern-day usage this will also include knowledge obtained by means of observation through scientific instruments since they are an extension of perception.
  • Anumana — the knowledge gained by means of inference. Inference refers to knowledge obtained by deductive reasoning and analysis.
  • Shabda — the knowledge gained by means of shruti. Shruti refers to knowledge gained from scriptures - primarily the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.

Rules of epistemology

There are three rules of hierarchy when there is apparent conflict between the three modes of acquiring knowledge:

  • Shabda or Shruti, Pramana occupies the highest position in matters which cannot be settled or resolved by pratyaksa (perception) or by anumana (inference).
  • Anumana occupies the next position. When an issue cannot be settled through sensory perception alone, it is settled based on inference, that is, whichever is the more logical argument.
  • When pratyaksa yields a definitive position on a particular issue, such a perception cannot be ignored by interpreting Shabda in a way which violates that perception.



The ontology in Vishishtadvaita consists of explaining the relationship between Ishvara (Parabrahman), the sentient beings (chit-brahman) and the insentient Universe (achit-brahman). In the broadest sense, Ishvara is the Universal Soul of the pan-organistic body consisting of the Universe and sentient beings. The three ontological entities are described below:


Ishvara (denoted by Vishnu-Narayana) is the Supreme Cosmic Spirit who maintains complete control over the Universe and all the sentient beings, which together also form the pan-organistic body of Ishvara. The triad of Ishvara along with the universe and the sentient beings is Brahman, which signifies the completeness of existence. Ishvara is Parabrahman endowed with innumerable auspicious qualities (Kalyana Gunas). Ishvara is perfect, omniscient, omnipresent, incorporeal, independent, the creator of the universe, its active ruler and also its eventual destroyer.[4] He is causeless, eternal and unchangeable — and is yet the material and the efficient cause of the universe and sentient beings. He is both immanent (like whiteness in milk) and transcendent (like a watch-maker independent of a watch). He is the subject of worship. He is the basis of morality and giver of the fruits of one's Karma. He rules the world with His Maya — His divine power.

Ishvara is considered to have a 2-fold characteristic: he is the indweller of all beings and all beings dwell in Ishvara.

When Ishvara is thought of as the indweller of all beings, he is referred to as the Paramatman, or the innermost self of all beings.

He who inhabits water, yet is within water, whom water does not know, whose body water is and who controls water from within — He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal.

He who inhabits the sun, yet is within the sun, whom the sun does not know, whose body the sun is and who controls the sun from within — He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.7.4-14

When Ishvara is thought of as the all encomposing and the residence of all beings that is, all beings reside in Ishvara, he is referred to as the paramapurusha. The sentient beings and the insentient universe which form part of the pan-organistic body of Ishvara are encapsulated by Ishvara.

Sarvam khalvidam Brahma Chandogya Upanishad

Isavasyam idam sarvam Isha Upanishad


Chit is the world of sentient beings, or of entities possessing consciousness. It is similar to the Purusha of Samkhya system. The sentient beings are called Jīvās and they are possessors of individual consciousness as denoted by "I". The scope of Chit refers to all beings with an "I" consciousness, or more specifically self-awareness. Therefore, all entities which are aware of their own individual existence are denoted as chit. This is called Dharmi-jnana or substantive consciousness. The sentient beings also possess varying levels of Dharma-bhuta-jnana or attributive consciousness

The jivas possess three different types of existence:

  • Nityas, or the eternally free Jivas who were never in Samsara
  • Muktas, or the Jivas that were once in Samsara but are free
  • Baddhas, or the Jivas which are still in Samsara


Achit is the world of insentient entities as denoted by matter or more specifically the non-conscious Universe. It is similar to the Prakriti of Samkhya system.


There is a subtle difference between Ishvara and Brahman. Ishvara is the substantive part of Brahman, while jivas and jagat are its modes (also secondary attributes), and kalyanagunas (auspicious attributes) are the primary attributes. The secondary attributes become manifested in the effect state when the world is differentiated by name and form. The kalyanagunas are eternally manifest.

Brahman is the description of Ishvara when comprehended in fullness– i.e., a simultaneous vision of Ishvara with all his modes and attributes.

The relationship between Brahman and Jivas, Jagat is expressed by Rāmānujā in numerous ways. He calls this relationship as one of:

  • sharIra/sharIrI (शरीर/ शरीरी) (body/indweller);
  • prakAra/prakArI (attribute or mode/substance);
  • ‌shesha/sheshi (Owned/owner);
  • amsha/amshI (part/whole);
  • AdhAradeya/sambandha (supporter/supported);
  • niyamya/niyanta (controlled/controller);
  • rashksya/rakshaka (redeemed/redeemer);

These relationships can be experienced holding Brahman as the father, son, mother, sister, wife, husband, friend, lover and lord. Hence, Brahman is a personal being.

  • What does Nirguna Brahman mean?

Ramanuja argues vehemently against understanding Brahman as one without attributes. Brahman is Nirguna in the sense that impure qualities do not touch it. He provides three valid reasons for staking such a claim:

Shruti/ Shabda Pramana: All shrutis and shabdas denoting Brahman always list either attributes inherent to Brahman or not inherent to Brahman. The shrutis only seek to deny Brahman from possessing impure and defective qualities which affect the world of beings. There is evidence in the shrutis to this regard. The shrutis proclaim Brahman to be beyond the tri-gunas which are observed. However, Brahman possesses an infinite number of transcendental attributes, the evidence of which is given in vakhyas like "satyam jnanam anantam Brahma" (Taittiriya Upanishad).

Pratyaksha Pramana: Ramanuja states that "a contentless cognition is impossible". And all cognition must necessarily involve knowing Brahman through the attributes of Brahman.

Anumana Pramana: Ramanuja states that "Nirgunatva" itself becomes an attribute of Brahman on account of the uniqueness of no other entity being Nirguna. Ramanuja had simplified relationship between bramha and soul.According to him though soul is integral part of bramha it has independent existence.[5]

Theory of Existence

The three ontological entities i.e. Ishvara, Chit and Achit are fundamentally real. It upholds the doctrine of Satkaryavada as against Asatkaryavada.


  • Satkaryavada is pre-existence of the effect in the cause. It maintains that karya (effect) is sat or real. It is present in the karana (cause) in a potential form, even before its manifestation.
  • Asatkaryavada is non-existence of the effect in the cause. It maintains that karya (effect) is asat or unreal until it comes into being. Every effect, then, is a new beginning and is not born out of cause.

More specifically, the effect is a modification of what exists in the cause and does not involve new entities coming into existence. This is called as parinamavada or evolution of effect from the cause. This doctrine is common to the Samkhya system and Vishishtadvaita system. The Samkhya system adheres to Prakriti-Parinama vada whereas Vishishtadvaita is a modified form of Brahma-Parinama vada.

Kārya and kārana

The kārana (cause) and kārya (effect) in Vishishtadvaita is different from other systems of Indian Philosophy. Brahman is both the kārana (cause) and the kārya (effect). Brahman as the cause does not become the Universe as the effect.

Brahman is assigned two kāranatvas (ways of being the cause):

  1. Nimitta kāranatvaBeing the Efficient/ Instrumental cause. For example, a goldsmith is assigned Nimitta kāranatva as he acts as the maker of jewellery and thus becomes the jewellery's Instrumental cause.
  2. Upādāna kāranatvaBeing the material cause. For example, the gold is assigned Upādāna kāranatva as it acts as the material of the jewellery and thus becomes the jewellery's material cause.

According to Vishishtadvaita, the Universe and Sentients always exist. However, they begin from a subtle state and undergo transformation. The subtle state is called a causal state, while the transformed state is called the effect state. The causal state is when Brahman is internally not distinguishable by name and form.

It can be said that Vishishtadvaita follows Brahma-Prakara-Parinama Vada. That is to say, it is the modes (Jivas and Jagath) of Brahman which is under evolution. The cause and effect only refer to the pan-organistic body transformation. Brahman as the Universal Self is unchanging and eternal.

Brahman having the subtle (sūkshma) chit and achit entities as his Saareeram/Prakaaram(body/mode) before manifestation is the same Brahman having the expanded (stūla) chit and achit entities as Saareeram/Prakaaram(body/mode) after manifestation.

The essential feature is that the underlying entity is the same, the changes are in the description of that entity.

For e.g. Jack was a baby. Jack was a small kid. Jack was a middle-aged person. Jack was an old man. Jack is dead

The body of a single personality named Jack is described as continuously changing. Jack does not become "James" because of the change.


Souls and Matter are only the body of God. Creation is a real act of God. It is the expansion of intelligence. Matter is fundamentally real and undergoes real revelation. The Soul is a higher mode than Matter, because it is conscious. It is also eternally real and eternally distinct. Final release, that comes, by the Lord's Grace, after the death of the body is a Communion with God. This philosophy believes in liberation through one's Karmas (actions) in accordance with the Vedas, the Varna (caste or class) system and the four Ashramas (stages of life), along with intense devotion to Vishnu. Individual Souls retain their separate identities even after moksha. They live in Fellowship with God either serving Him or meditating on Him. The philosophy of this school is SriVaishnavism, a branch of Vaishnavism.

Interpretation of Mahāvākyas

1. sarvam khalv idam brahma from Chandogya Upanishad 3.14.1

Translated literally, this means All this is Brahman. The ontology of Vishishtadvaita system consists of:

a. Ishvara is Para-brahman with infinite superlative qualities, whose substantive nature imparts the existence to the modes

b. Jivas are chit-brahman or sentient beings (which possess consciousness). They are the modes of Brahman which show consciousness.

c. Jagat is achit-brahman or matter/Universe (which are non-conscious). They are the mode of Brahman which are not conscious.

Brahman is the composite whole of the triad consisting of Ishvara along with his modes i.e. Jivas and Jagat.

2. ayam ātmā brahma from Mandukya Upanishad 1.2

Translated literally, this means the Self is Brahman. From the earlier statement, it follows that on account of everything being Brahman, the self is not different from Brahman.

3. Tat tvam asi from Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7

Translated literally, it means Thou art that

that here refers to Brahman and thou refers to jiva

Rāmānujā chooses to take the position of universal identity. He interprets this passage to mean the subsistence of all attributes in a common underlying substratum. This is referred to as samānādhikaranya. Thus Rāmānujā says the purport of the passage is to show the unity of all beings in a common base. Ishvara (Parabrahman) who is the Cosmic Spirit for the pan-organistic body consisting of the Universe and sentient beings, is also simultaneously the innermost self (Atmān) for each individual sentient being (Jīvā). All the bodies, the Cosmic and the individual, are held in an adjectival relationship (aprthak-siddhi) in the one Isvara.

Tat Tvam Asi declares that oneness of Isvara.

When multiple entities point to a single object, the relationship is established as one of substance and its attributes.

For e.g. in a statement:

Jack is a tall and intelligent boy

The descriptors tall-ness,intelligence and boy-ness all refer to a common underlying Jack

Similarly, when the upanishads declare Brahman is the Universe, Purusha, Self, Prana, Vayu, and so on, the entities are attributes or modes of Brahman.

If the statement tat tvam asi is taken to mean as only the self is brahman, then sarvam khalv idam brahma will not make sense.

Understanding Neti-Neti

This is an upanishadic concept which is employed while attempting to know Brahman. The purport of this exercise is understood in many different ways and also influences the understanding of Brahman. In the overall sense, this phrase is accepted to refer to the indescribable nature of Brahman who is beyond all rationalisations.

Taittiriya Upanishad 2-9-1 passage "yato vacho nivartanthe.." (words recoil, mind can not grasp...) etc., state the same concept regarding Brahman . The visishtadvaita interpretation is that these passages do not indicate a black hole, but the incompleteness of any statement or thought or concept concerning Brahman. Brahman is these and more. This interpretation is consistent with "sarvam kalvidam brahma". Antaryami Brahmanam of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad passage "yasya prithvi sariram yasya atma sariram" is also interpreted to show that Brahman is not a zero point - "nirvisesha chinmatra" (an entity which has nothing except existence)

The typical interpretation of Neti-Neti is not this, not this or neither this, nor that. It is a phrase meant to convey the inexpressibility of Brahman in words and the futility of trying to approximate Brahman with conceptual models.In VisishtAdvaita, the phrase is taken in the sense of not just this, not just this or not just this, not just that. This means that Brahman cannot be restricted to one specific or a few specific descriptions. Consequently, Brahman is understood to possess infinite qualities and each of these qualities are infinite in extent.

Purpose of human existence

The purpose or goal of human existence is called purushartha. According to the Vedas, there are four goals namely artha (wealth), kama (pleasure), dharma (righteousness) and moksha (permanent freedom from worldly bondage). According to this philosophy, the first three goals are not an end by themselves but need to be pursued with the ideal of attaining moksha.


Moksha means liberation or release from samsara, the cycle of rebirth.

Bhakti as the means of attaining moksha

Bhakti is the sole means of liberation in Vishishtadvaita. Through Bhakti (devotion), a Jiva ascends to the realm of the Lord, where it continues to delight in His service. Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga are natural outcomes of Bhakti, total surrender, as the devotee acquires the knowledge that the Lord is the inner self. A devotee realizes his own state as dependent on, and supported by, and being led by the Lord, who is the Master. One is to lead a life as an instrument of the Lord, offering all his thought, word, and deed to the feet of the Lord. One is to see the Lord in everything and everything in Him. This is the unity in diversity achieved through devotion.[6] However Sri Ramanuja and the Vishishtadvata tradition accept Saranagati, total surrender at the Lord's lotus feet alone as the sole means to moksha, liberation from samsara and going to Vaikuntha. This is a distinguishing feature of this school of philosophy, as both Adishankara's advaita and Anandatirtha's dvaita accept bhakthi for moksha. Swami Ramanuja has supported this opinion with various citations directly from the vedas, and various incidents highlighting sharangathi as means to moksha, over bhakthi. Observing total surrender at the Lord's feet guarantees moksha at the end of this birth, and in the time between sharanagathi and death, the surrendered soul may spend his time piously by involving in devotion. So bhakthi is not a moksha sadhana, but just for anubhava in the Vishishtadvaita Sampradaya

Thenkalai and Vadakalai schools of thought

The Vadakalai sect of Sri Vaishnavism associate themselves with Vedanta Desikan and Ramanujacharya. Vedanta Desikan is one of the foremost learned scholars and philosophers of medieval India, who has written more than a hundred works in Sanskrit and Tamil, Prakrit and Manipravala. He is said to have been born as an incarnation of the divine bell of Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati and also of Ramanujacharya in the month of Purattasi under the star Thiruvonam (Sravana), in the year 1268 CE. All of his works are characterized by his versatility, irrefutable reasoning, logic, examination, deep spiritual insight, ethical fervour and excellent expressions of devotional emotion in delightful style. His Paduka-sahasram and Rahasyatrayasaram are some classic examples. He was a great teacher, logician, expositor, debater, poet, philosopher, thinker and defender of the faith of Vaishnavism. "Kavitaarkika Simham" (lion among poets and debaters), "Sarvatantra Svatantrar" (all-knowing and all-powerful), "Vedaantaachaarya" (the master and preceptor of the Vedanta) are some of the titles attributed to him.

Pillai Lokacharya literally meaning "Teacher for the whole world" is one of the leading lights on the Sri Vaishnava Vedanta philosophy. His work Sri Vachana Bhusanam is a classic and provides the essence of Upanishads. The Tenkalai sect of Sri Vaishnavism looks up to him apart from Swami Ramanuja and Swami Manavala Mamuni. He was a senior contemporary of Vedanta Desika. He is said to have been born as an amsa ("essence") of Kanchi Devaraja (Varadaraja) Perumal to document and immortalize Ramanuja's message in the month of Aippaci under the star Thiruvonam (Sravana), in the year 1205 CE.[7] He is said to have lived for 106 years, during which time, he also helped to safeguard the idol of Ranganatha at Srirangam from Muslim invaders.[7] Pillai Lokacharya confirmed the basics of the Sri Vaishnava system in his 18 monumental works popularly known as Ashtadasa Rahasyangal ("the eighteen secrets") also called the Rahasya granthas ("doctrines that explain the inner meanings") out of which Sri Vachana Bhushanam and Mumukshuppadi are the most famous. Manavala Mamuni expanded on and popularized Lokacharya's teachings arguments in Tamil.

Traditions following Vishishtadvaita

Visishtadvaita and Sri Vaishnavism

The Absolute Supreme Reality referred to as Brahman, is a Transcendent Personality. He is Narayana, also known as Lord Vishnu.

A man who has discrimination for his charioteer and holds the reins of the mind firmly, reaches the end of the road; and that is the supreme position of Vishnu. - 1.3.9 Katha Upanishad

Beyond the senses are the objects; beyond the objects is the mind; beyond the mind, the intellect; beyond the intellect, the Great Atman; beyond the Great Atman, the Unmanifest; beyond the Unmanifest, the Purusha. Beyond the Purusha there is nothing: this is the end, the Supreme Goal.- 1.3.10,11 Katha Upanishad

In terms of theology, Ramanujacharya puts forth the view that both the Supreme Goddess Lakshmi and Supreme God Narayana together constitute Brahman - the Absolute. Sri Lakshmi is the female personification of Brahman and Narayana is the male personification of Brahman, but they are both inseparable, co-eternal, co-absolute and are always substantially one. Thus, in reference to these dual aspects of Brahman, the Supreme is referred to in the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya as Sriman Narayana.

The most striking difference between Srivaishnavas and other Vaishnava groups lies in their interpretation of Vedas. While other Vaishnava groups interpret Vedic deities like Indra, Savitar, Bhaga, Rudra, etc. to be same as their Puranic counterparts, Srivaishnavas consider these to be different names/roles/forms of Lord Narayan citing solid reasons thus claiming that the entire Veda is dedicated for Vishnu worship alone. Srivaishnavas have remodelled Pancharatra homas like Sudarshana homa, etc. to include Vedic Suktas like Rudram in them, thus giving them a Vedic outlook.


Narayana is the Absolute God. The Soul and the Universe are only parts of this Absolute and hence, Vishishtadvaita is the solution to panentheistic and pantheistic ideologies. The relationship of God to the Soul and the Universe is like the relationship of the Soul of Man to the body of Man. Individual souls are only parts of Brahman. God, Soul and Universe together form an inseparable unity which is one and has no second. This is the non-duality part. Matter and Souls inhere in that Ultimate Reality as attributes to a substance [needs to improvisation]. This is the qualification part of the non-duality.

See also


  1. ^ Chandrankunnel, Matthew (2008). Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics. New Delhi: Global Vision Publishing House. p. 945.
  2. ^ Jones, Constance (2007). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. New York: Infobase Publishing. p. 490. ISBN 0816073368.
  3. ^ Williams, Raymond (2001). Introduction to Swaminarayan Hinduism. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press. p. 35. ISBN 0 521 65279 0.
  4. ^ White Yajurveda 32.3
  5. ^ J.L.Mehta VOl3
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Chandrankunnel, Matthew (2008). Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics. New Delhi: Global Vision Publishing House. p. 946.

External links

External links

Achintya Bheda Abheda

Achintya-Bheda-Abheda (अचिन्त्यभेदाभेद, acintyabhedābheda in IAST) is a school of Vedanta representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference. In Sanskrit achintya means 'inconceivable', bheda translates as 'difference', and abheda translates as 'non-difference'. The Gaudiya Vaishnava religious tradition employs the term in relation to the relationship of creation and creator (Krishna, Svayam Bhagavan), between God and his energies. It is believed that this philosophy was taught by the movement's theological founder Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486 - 1534) and differentiates the Gaudiya tradition from the other Vaishnava Sampradayas. It can be understood as an integration of the strict dualist (dvaita) theology of Madhvacharya and the qualified monism (vishishtadvaita) of Ramanuja.


Anupalabdhi (Sanskrit: अनुपलब्धि) means 'non-recognition', 'non-perception'. This word refers to the Pramana of Non-perception which consists in the presentative knowledge of negative facts. Anupalabdhi or abhāvapramāṇa is the Pramana of Non-perception admitted by Kumārila for the perception of non-existence of a thing. He holds that the non-existence of a thing cannot be perceived by the senses for there is nothing with which the senses could come into contact in order to perceive the non-existence.According to the Bhāṭṭa school of Pūrva-Mīmāṃsā and Advaita-Vedānta system of philosophy, Anupalabdhi is a way to apprehend an absence; it is regarded as the source of knowledge, the other five being – pratyakṣa ('perception'), anumāna ('inference'), śabda ('testimony'), upamāna ('comparison') and arthāpatti ('presumption'). The perception of negation or non-existence in its various forms is also due to the relation of attributiveness.All things exist in places either in a positive (sadrupa) or in a negative (asadrūpa) relation, and it is only in the former case that they come into contact with the senses, while in the latter case the perception of the negative existence can only be had by a separate mode of movement of the mind, a separate pramāṇa – anupalabdhi. Indirect knowledge of non-existence can be attained by other means but direct knowledge of non-existence of perceptible objects and their attributes is available only through this kind of pramāṇa which is not inference.There are four verities of Anupalabdhi which have been identified, they are – a) kāraṇa-anupalabdhi or 'non-perception of the causal condition', b) vyāpaka-anupalabdhi or 'non-perception of the pervader', c) svabhāva-anupalabdhi or 'non-perception of presence of itself', and d) viruddha-anupalabdhi or 'non-perception of the opposed'. The lack of perceptible (yogya) adjuncts (upādhi) is known through non-perception of what is perceptible (yogya-anupalabdhi) and the lack of imperceptible adjuncts is known by showing that which is thought to be an adjunct.The followers of Prabhākara and the Vishishtadvaita do not accept anupalabdhi as a separate parmāṇa because the same sense organs which apprehend an entity can also cognize its abhāva or the non-existence.According to Dharmakirti, anupalabdhi is the affirmative assertion of a negative prediction, and is same as anumāna of an abhāva.


Bhedābheda Vedānta is a subschool of Vedānta, which teaches that the individual self (jīvātman) is both different and not different from the ultimate reality known as Brahman.

Brahma Sampradaya

The Brahma Sampradaya (Brahma-sampradāya) refers to the disciplic succession (sampradaya) of gurus starting with Brahma. The term is most often used to refer to the beliefs and teachings of Madhvacharya and his Dvaita philosophy.

The term Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya is used to refer to the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his Gaudiya theology.

Dvaita Vedanta

Dvaita Vedanta (; Sanskrit: द्वैत वेदान्त) is a sub-school in the Vedanta tradition of Hindu philosophy. Alternatively known as Bhedavāda, Tattvavāda and Bimbapratibimbavāda, Dvaita Vedanta sub-school was founded by the 13th-century scholar Madhvacharya. The Dvaita Vedanta school believes that God (Vishnu, supreme soul) and the individual souls (jīvātman) exist as independent realities, and these are distinct. The Dvaita school contrasts with the other two major sub-schools of Vedanta, the Advaita Vedanta of Adi Shankara which posits nondualism – that ultimate reality (Brahman) and human soul are identical and all reality is interconnected oneness, and Vishishtadvaita of Ramanuja which posits qualified nondualism – that ultimate reality (Brahman) and human soul are different but with the potential to be identical.Dvaita (द्वैत) is a Sanskrit word that means "duality, dualism". The term refers to any premise, particularly in theology on the temporal and the divine, where two principles (truths) or realities are posited to exist simultaneously and independently.


Ishvara (Sanskrit: ईश्वर, IAST: Īśvara) is a concept in Hinduism, with a wide range of meanings that depend on the era and the school of Hinduism. In ancient texts of Indian philosophy, depending on the context, Ishvara can mean supreme soul, ruler, lord, king, queen or husband. In medieval era Hindu texts, depending on the school of Hinduism, Ishvara means God, Supreme Being, personal god, or special Self.In Shaivism and for almost all Hindus, Ishvara is synonymous with "Shiva", sometimes as Maheshvara or Parameshvara meaning the "Supreme lord", or as an Ishta-deva (personal god). For a few Vaishnavists, it is synonymous with Vishnu. In traditional Bhakti movements, Ishvara is one or more deities of an individual's preference from Hinduism's polytheistic canon of deities. In modern sectarian movements such as Arya Samaj and Brahmoism, Ishvara takes the form of a monotheistic God. In Yoga school of Hinduism, it is any "personal deity" or "spiritual inspiration". In Advaita Vedanta school, Ishvara is a monistic Universal Absolute that connects and is the Oneness in everyone and everything.


Jaimini was an ancient Hindu scholar who founded the Mimansa school of Hindu philosophy. He was a disciple of sage Veda Vyasa, the son of Parashara. Traditionally attributed to be the author of the Mimamsa Sutras and Jaimini Sutras, he is estimated to have lived around the 4th-century BCE. His school is considered non-theistic, but one that emphasized rituals parts of the Vedas as essential to Dharma.Jaimini's guru was Badarayana, the latter founded the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy, emphasizing the knowledge parts of the Vedas, and credited with authoring Brahma Sutras. Both Badarayana and Jaimini quoted each other as they analyzed each other's theories, Badarayana emphasizing knowledge while Jaimini emphasizes rituals, sometimes agreeing with each other, sometimes disagreeing, often anti-thesis of the other.Jaimini's contributions to textual analysis and exegesis influenced other schools of Indian philosophies, and the most studied bhasya (reviews and commentaries) on Jaimini's texts were by scholars named Shabara, Kumarila and Prabhakara.


Madhvacharya (Madhvācārya; Kannada: ಮಧ್ವಾಚಾರ್ಯ; Sanskrit pronunciation: [mɐdʱʋaːˈtɕaːɽjɐ]; CE 1238–1317 ), sometimes anglicised as Madhva Acharya, and also known as Pūrna Prajña and Ānanda Tīrtha, was a Hindu philosopher and the chief proponent of the Dvaita (dualism) school of Vedanta. Madhva called his philosophy Tatvavāda meaning "arguments from a realist viewpoint".Madhvacharya was born on the west coast of Karnataka state in 13th-century India. As a teenager, he became a Sanyasi (monk) joining Brahma-sampradaya guru Achyutapreksha, of the Ekadandi order. Madhva studied the classics of Hindu philosophy, particularly the Principal Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras (Prasthanatrayi). He commented on these, and is credited with thirty seven works in Sanskrit. His writing style was of extreme brevity and condensed expression. His greatest work is considered to be the Anuvyakhyana, a philosophical supplement to his bhasya on the Brahma Sutras composed with a poetic structure. In some of his works, he proclaimed himself to be an avatar of Vayu, the son of god Vishnu.He was a critic of Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta and Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita Vedanta teachings. He toured India several times, visiting places such as Bengal, Varanasi, Dwarka, Goa and Kanyakumari, engaging in philosophical debates and visiting Hindu centres of learning. Madhva established the Krishna Mutt at Udupi with a murti secured from Dwarka Gujarat in CE 1285.Madhvācārya's teachings are built on the premise that there is a fundamental difference between Atman (individual soul, self) and the Brahman (ultimate reality, God Vishnu), these are two different unchanging realities, with individual soul dependent on Brahman, never identical. His school's theistic dualism teachings disagreed with the monist teachings of the other two most influential schools of Vedanta based on Advaita's nondualism and Vishishtadvaita's qualified nondualism. Liberation, asserted Madhva, is achievable only through the grace of God. The Dvaita school founded by Madhva influenced Vaishnavism, the Bhakti movement in medieval India, and has been one of the three influential Vedānta philosophies, along with Advaita Vedanta and Vishishtadvaita Vedanta. Madhva's historical influence in Hinduism, state Kulandran and Kraemer, has been salutary, but not extensive.

Parinama-vada (Hindu thought)

Pariṇāma-vāda (Sanskrit: परिणामवाद), or theTransformation theory is that which pre-supposes the cause to be continually transforming itself into its effects, and it has three variations – the Satkarya-vada of the Samkhyas, the Prakrti Parinama-vada of the Saiva Siddhanta and the Brahma-Parinama-vada of the Vishishtadvaita Vedanta School of Thought.

Pillai Lokacharya

Pillai Lokacharya (1205–1311 CE) was a prominent Sri Vaishnava leader and philosopher who authored several works important to Vishishtadvaita philosophy.


Prabhākara (active c. 7th century) was an Indian philosopher-grammarian in the Mīmāṃsā tradition. His views and his debate with Kumārila Bhaṭṭa led to the Prābhākara school within Mīmāṃsā. The Prābhākara school is considered to be nastik (atheistic) or Lokayata school. Kumārila said: For in practice the Mimamsa has been for the most part converted into a Lokayata system; But I have made this effort to bring it into a theistic path.Śālikanātha wrote commentaries on Prabhākara in the 8th century.


Ramanuja (traditionally, 1017–1137 CE; IAST: Rāmānujā; [ɽaːmaːnʊdʑɐ] ) was an Indian theologian, philosopher, and one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism. His philosophical foundations for devotionalism were influential to the Bhakti movement.Ramanuja's guru was Yādava Prakāśa, a scholar who was a part of the more ancient Advaita Vedānta monastic tradition. Sri Vaishnava tradition holds that Ramanuja disagreed with his guru and the non-dualistic Advaita Vedānta, and instead followed the footsteps of Indian Alvārs tradition, the scholars Nāthamuni and Yamunāchārya. Ramanuja is famous as the chief proponent of Vishishtadvaita subschool of Vedānta, and his disciples were likely authors of texts such as the Shatyayaniya Upanishad. Ramanuja himself wrote influential texts, such as bhāsya on the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, all in Sanskrit.His Vishishtadvaita (qualified monism) philosophy has competed with the Dvaita (theistic dualism) philosophy of Madhvāchārya, and Advaita (monism) philosophy of Ādi Shankara, together the three most influential Vedantic philosophies of the 2nd millennium. Ramanuja presented the epistemic and soteriological importance of bhakti, or the devotion to a personal God (Vishnu in Ramanuja's case) as a means to spiritual liberation. His theories assert that there exists a plurality and distinction between Ātman (soul) and Brahman (metaphysical, ultimate reality), while he also affirmed that there is unity of all souls and that the individual soul has the potential to realize identity with the Brahman.

Sadananda (of Vedantasara)

Sadananda Yogendra Saraswati, the exponent of the Advaita Vedanta as taught by Adi Shankara and the renowned author of Vedantasara which is one of the best known Prakarana Granthas (text-books) of the philosophy of the Upanishads, was the son of Anantadeva, and probably lived in mid-15th century A.D. He is also reputed to have written - Vedantasiddhanta-sarasangraha, Bhavaprakasa on Bhagavad Gita and Brahmasutra-tatpryaprakasa – which are works of equal repute and importance. Not much is known about the life of this acharya. Hiriyanna states that Sadananda of Vedantasara is different from the Sadananda of Advaitbrahmansiddhi the text that was published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal.In his works Sadananda stresses the liberated being’s freedom from bondage, detachment from the body, and constant goodness, although being beyond virtue. The liberated being after having lived out his prarabdha karma merges with Brahman.Advayananda was the Guru of Sadananda.

Subala Upanishad

The Subala Upanishad (सुबाल उपनिषत्, IAST: Subāla Upaniṣad), also called Subalopanishad (सुबालोपनिषत्), is a Upanishad written in Sanskrit. It is attached to the Shukla Yajurveda, and classified as one of the Samanya Upanishads of Hinduism.The Subala Upanishad, together with the relatively older Mudgala Upanishad, are two Upanishads that discuss the Purusha Sukta of Rigveda, both notable for asserting that Narayana (Vishnu) is the Brahman (Highest Reality, Supreme Being). The Subala Upanishad text differs from Mudgala Upanishad in presenting more verses of the Purusha Sukta, being longer, and for declaring Narayana to be the father, the mother, the refuge, the friend and the goal of every living being.The text is notable as the one frequently referred to by Ramanuja, the 11th-century proponent of Vishishtadvaita (qualified monism) school of Vedanta philosophy and a major influence on Vaishnavism in the 2nd millennium CE. Some modern scholars suggest that the Narayana theology of the Subala Upanishad may have been the decisive impetus to Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita philosophy.

Tat Tvam Asi

Tat Tvam Asi (Devanagari: तत्त्वमसि, Vedic: tát túvam ási), a Sanskrit phrase, translated variously as "Thou art that," (That thou art, That art thou, You are that, or That you are, or You're it) is one of the Mahāvākyas (Grand Pronouncements) in Vedantic Sanatana Dharma. It originally occurs in the Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7, in the dialogue between Uddalaka and his son Śvetaketu; it appears at the end of a section, and is repeated at the end of the subsequent sections as a refrain. The meaning of this saying is that the Self - in its original, pure, primordial state - is wholly or partially identifiable or identical with the Ultimate Reality that is the ground and origin of all phenomena.

Major Vedantic schools offer different interpretations of the phrase:

Advaita - absolute equality of 'tat', the Ultimate Reality, Brahman, and 'tvam', the Self, Atman.

Shuddhadvaita - oneness in "essence" between 'tat' and individual self; but 'tat' is the whole and self is a part.

Vishishtadvaita - identity of individual self as a part of the whole which is 'tat', Brahman.

Dvaitadvaita - equal non-difference and difference between the individual self as a part of the whole which is 'tat'.

Dvaita of Madhvacharya - “Sa atmaa-tat tvam asi” in Sanskrit is actually “Sa atma-atat tvam asi” or “Atman, thou art not that”. In refutation of Mayavada (Mayavada sata dushani), text 6, 'tat tvam asi" is translated as "you are a servant of the Supreme (Vishnu)"

Acintya Bheda Abheda - inconceivable oneness and difference between individual self as a part of the whole which is 'tat'.


The Upanishads (; Sanskrit: उपनिषद् Upaniṣad [ʊpɐnɪʂɐd]), a part of the Vedas, are ancient Sanskrit texts that contain some of the central philosophical concepts and ideas of Hinduism, some of which are shared with religious traditions like Buddhism and Jainism. Among the most important literature in the history of Indian religions and culture, the Upanishads played an important role in the development of spiritual ideas in ancient India, marking a transition from Vedic ritualism to new ideas and institutions. Of all Vedic literature, the Upanishads alone are widely known, and their central ideas are at the spiritual core of Hindus.The Upanishads are commonly referred to as Vedānta. Vedanta has been interpreted as the "last chapters, parts of the Veda" and alternatively as "object, the highest purpose of the Veda". The concepts of Brahman (ultimate reality) and Ātman (soul, self) are central ideas in all of the Upanishads, and "know that you are the Ātman" is their thematic focus. Along with the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahmasutra, the mukhya Upanishads (known collectively as the Prasthanatrayi) provide a foundation for the several later schools of Vedanta, among them, two influential monistic schools of Hinduism.More than 200 Upanishads are known, of which the first dozen or so are the oldest and most important and are referred to as the principal or main (mukhya) Upanishads. The mukhya Upanishads are found mostly in the concluding part of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas and were, for centuries, memorized by each generation and passed down orally. The early Upanishads all predate the Common Era, five of them in all likelihood pre-Buddhist (6th century BCE), down to the Maurya period. Of the remainder, 95 Upanishads are part of the Muktika canon, composed from about the last centuries of 1st-millennium BCE through about 15th-century CE. New Upanishads, beyond the 108 in the Muktika canon, continued to be composed through the early modern and modern era, though often dealing with subjects which are unconnected to the Vedas.With the translation of the Upanishads in the early 19th century they also started to attract attention from a western audience. Arthur Schopenhauer was deeply impressed by the Upanishads and called it "the production of the highest human wisdom". Modern era Indologists have discussed the similarities between the fundamental concepts in the Upanishads and major western philosophers.


Vedanta (; Sanskrit: वेदान्त, IAST: Vedānta) or Uttara Mīmāṃsā is one of the six (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy. Vedanta literally means "end of the Vedas", reflecting ideas that emerged from the speculations and philosophies contained in the Upanishads. It does not stand for one comprehensive or unifying doctrine. Rather it is an umbrella term for many sub-traditions, ranging from dualism to non-dualism, all of which developed on the basis of a common textual connection called the Prasthanatrayi. The Prasthanatrayi is a collective term for the Principal Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.

All Vedanta schools, in their deliberations, concern themselves with the following three categories but differ in their views regarding the concept and the relations between them: Brahman – the ultimate metaphysical reality, Ātman / Jivātman – the individual soul or self, and Prakriti – the empirical world, ever-changing physical universe, body and matter.

Some of the better known sub-traditions of Vedanta include Advaita (non-dualism), Vishishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism), and Dvaita (dualism). Most other Vedantic sub-traditions are subsumed under the term Bhedabheda (difference and non-difference). Over time, Vedanta adopted ideas from other orthodox (āstika) schools like Yoga and Nyaya, and, through this syncretism, became the most prominent school of Hinduism. Many extant forms of Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Shaktism have been significantly shaped and influenced by the doctrines of different schools of Vedanta. The Vedanta school has had a historic and central influence on Hinduism.


Yamunacharya also known as Alavandar and Periya Mudaliar was a Vishistadvaita philosopher in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, India. Ramanuja, one of the leaders of the srivaishnava school sought to be his disciple. He was born in early 10th century CE and was the grandson of a Brahmin, Nathamuni. Nathamuni was a famed yogi who collected to the works of Tamil alvars. Alavandar's birth star was Uttiradam.

Ānanda (Hindu philosophy)

Ānanda (Sanskrit: आनन्द) literally means bliss or happiness. In the Hindu Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad gita, ānanda signifies eternal bliss which accompanies the ending of the rebirth cycle. Those who renounce the fruits of their actions and submit themselves completely to the divine will, arrive at the final termination of the cyclical life process (saṃsāra) to enjoy eternal bliss (ānanda) in perfect union with the godhead. The tradition of seeking union with God through loving commitment is referred to as bhakti, or devotion.

Vedanta Philosophies

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