Achintya Bheda Abheda
Shaiva : Pratyabhijña
TEACHERS (Acharyas )
* Akṣapāda Gotama
* Raghavendra Swami
ACHINTYA BHEDA ABHEDA
* Kamalakanta Bhattacharya
* Kanada ,
* Bhagavat Gita
SHASTRAS AND SUTRAS
* Other Indian philosophies
RAMANUJA (traditionally, 1017–1137 CE;
IAST : Rāmānuja; ) was a
Hindu theologian, philosopher, and one of the most important exponents
of the Sri
Vaishnavism tradition within
Hinduism . He was born in a
Tamil Brāhmin family in the village of
Sriperumbudur , Tamil Nadu.
His philosophical foundations for devotionalism were influential to
Bhakti movement .
Rāmānuja's guru was Yādava Prakāśa, a scholar who was a part of
the more ancient Advaita Vedānta monastic tradition. Sri Vaishnava
tradition holds that Rāmānuja disagreed with his guru and the
non-dualistic Advaita Vedānta, and instead followed in the footsteps
of Indian Alvārs tradition, the scholars Nāthamuni and
Yamunāchārya . Rāmānuja is famous as the chief proponent of
Vishishtadvaita subschool of Vedānta , and his disciples were
likely authors of texts such as the
Shatyayaniya Upanishad .
Rāmānuja himself wrote influential texts, such as bhāsya on the
Brahma Sutras and the
Bhagavad Gita , all in Sanskrit.
Vishishtadvaita (qualified monism ) philosophy has competed with
Dvaita (theistic dualism) philosophy of Madhvāchārya , and
Advaita (monism) philosophy of Ādi Shankara , together the three most
influential Vedantic philosophies of the 2nd millennium. Rāmānuja
presented the epistemic and soteriological importance of bhakti, or
the devotion to a personal God (
Vishnu in Rāmānuja'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.
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 Hagiographies
* 2 Historical background
* 3 Writings
* 4 Philosophy
* 4.1 Comparison with other Vedānta schools
* 5 Influence
* 6 Disciples
* 7 Names
* 8 See also
* 9 References
* 9.1 Bibliography
* 10 External links
Part of a series on
* Sri (
Dvaita , Acintyabhedabheda )
The details of historic Rāmānuja (Tamil :
இளையாழ்வார்) are unknown. His followers in the
Vaishnava tradition wrote hagiographies, some of which were composed
in centuries after his death, and which the tradition believes to be
The traditional hagiographies of Rāmānuja state he was born in a
Brāhmin family, to mother Kānthimathi and father Asuri Kesava
Sriperumbudur , near modern
Chennai , Tamil Nādu.
They place his life in the period of 1017–1137 CE, yielding a
lifespan of 120 years. These dates have been questioned by modern
scholarship, based on temple records and regional literature of 11th-
and 12th-century outside the Sri Vaishnava tradition, and modern era
scholars suggest that Rāmānuja may have lived between 1077-1157.
Rāmānuja married, moved to Kānchipuram , studied in an Advaita
Vedānta monastery with Yādava Prakāśa as his guru. Rāmānuja
and his guru frequently disagreed in interpreting Vedic texts,
Upanishads . Rāmānuja and Yādava Prakāśa
separated, and thereafter Rāmānuja continued his studies on his own.
He attempted to meet another famed
Vedanta scholar of 11th-century
Yamunāchārya, but Sri Vaishnava tradition holds that the latter died
before the meeting and they never met. However, some hagiographies
assert that the corpse of Yamunāchārya miraculously rose and named
Rāmānuja as the new leader of Sri Vaishnava sect previously led by
Yamunāchārya. One hagiography states that after leaving Yādava
Prakāśa, Rāmānuja was initiated into Sri
Vaishnavism by Periya
Nambi, also called Māhapurna, another Vedānta scholar. Rāmānuja
renounced his married life, and became a
Hindu monk . However, states
Katherine Young, the historical evidence on whether Rāmānuja led a
married life or he did renounce and became a monk is uncertain.
Rāmānuja became a priest at the Varadharāja Perumal temple (Vishnu
) at Kānchipuram , where he began to teach that moksha (liberation
and release from samsara) is to be achieved not with metaphysical,
Brahman but with the help of personal god and saguna Vishnu.
Rāmānuja has long enjoyed foremost authority in the Sri Vaishnava
A number of traditional biographies of Rāmānuja are known, some
written in 12th century, but some written centuries later such as the
17th or 18th century, particularly after the split of the
Śrīvaiṣṇava community into the
where each community created its own version of Rāmānuja's
hagiography. The Muvāyirappaṭi Guruparamparāprabhāva by
Brahmatantra Svatantra Jīyar represents the earliest Vadakalai
biography, and reflects the Vadakalai view of the succession following
Rāmānuja. Ārāyirappaṭi Guruparamparāprabhāva, on the other
hand, represents the Tenkalai biography. Other late biographies
include the Yatirajavaibhavam by Andhrapurna.
Modern scholarship has questioned the reliability of these
hagiographies. Scholars question their reliability because of claims
which are impossible to verify, or whose historical basis is difficult
to trace with claims such as Rāmānuja learned the
Vedas when he was
an eight-day-old baby, he communicated with God as an adult, that he
won philosophical debates with Buddhists, Advaitins and others because
of supernatural means such as turning himself into "his divine self
Sesha" to defeat the Buddhists, or God appearing in his dream when he
prayed for arguments to answer Advaita scholars. According to J. A.
B. van Buitenen , the hagiographies are "legendary biographies about
him, in which a pious imagination has embroidered historical details".
Rāmānuja grew up in the Tamil culture, in a stable society during
the rule of the
Hindu Cholas dynasty. This period was one of
pluralistic beliefs, where Vaishnava, Shaiva, Smarta traditions,
Jainism thrived together. In
Hindu monastic tradition,
Advaita Vedānta had been dominant, and Rāmānuja's guru Yādava
Prākāsha belonged to this tradition. Prior to Rāmānuja, the Sri
Vaishnava sampradaya was already an established organization under
Yamunāchārya, and bhakti songs and devotional ideas already a part
of south Indian culture because of the twelve Alvārs . Rāmānuja's
fame grew because he was considered the first thinker in centuries
that disputed Shankara's theories, and offered an alternate
interpretation of Upanishadic scriptures.
Some hagiographies, composed centuries after Rāmānuja's death,
state that he was expelled by a Chola king, Kulottunga II, Rāmānuja
then moved to another kingdom for 12 years, converted a Jain king to
Hinduism after miraculously healing his daughter, and later returned
on his own to Tamil Nādu. However, verifiable historical evidence for
these legends have been lacking, and epigraphical evidence establishes
that Kulottunga II came to power in 1133 CE, while Rāmānuja died in
1137 CE according to sources that claim Rāmānuja was expelled.
According to John Carman, Rāmānuja and his Srīvaiṣṇava
disciples lived under the relatively stable and non-sectarian climate
of the Chola empire, before its decline in the late 12th and 13th
The Sri Vaisnava tradition attributes nine Sanskrit texts to
Rāmānuja – Vedārthasangraha (literally, "Summary of the Vedas
meaning"), Sri Bhāshya (a review and commentary on the
Bhagavad Gita Bhāshya (a review and commentary on the Bhagavad
Gita), and the minor works titled Vedāntapida, Vedāntasāra, Gadya
Trayam (which is a compilation of three texts called the Saranāgati
Sriranga Gadyam and the Srivaikunta Gadyam ), and Nitya
Some modern scholars have questioned the authenticity of all but the
three of the largest works credited to Rāmānuja – Shri Bhāshya,
Vedārthasangraha and the
Bhagavad Gita Bhāshya.
The figure of Rāmānujacharya in Upadesa Mudra inside the
Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam .
Rāmānuja's philosophical foundation was qualified monism , and is
Vishishtadvaita in the
Hindu tradition. His ideas are one of
three subschools in Vedānta , the other two are known as Ādi
Shankara's Advaita (absolute monism) and Madhvāchārya's Dvaita
Rāmānuja accepted that the
Vedas are a reliable source of
knowledge, then critiqued other schools of
Hindu philosophy, including
Advaita Vedānta, as having failed in interpreting all of the Vedic
texts. He asserted, in his Sri Bhāshya, that purvapaksin (previous
schools) selectively interpret those Upanishadic passages that support
their monistic interpretation, and ignore those passages that support
the pluralism interpretation. There is no reason, stated Rāmānuja,
to prefer one part of a scripture and not other, the whole of the
scripture must be considered on par. One cannot, according to
Rāmānuja, attempt to give interpretations of isolated portions of
any scripture. Rather, the scripture must be considered one integrated
corpus, expressing a consistent doctrine. The Vedic literature,
asserted Rāmānuja, mention both plurality and oneness, therefore the
truth must incorporate pluralism and monism, or qualified monism.
This method of scripture interpretation distinguishes Rāmānuja from
Ādi Shankara. Shankara's exegetical approach Samanvayat Tatparya
Linga with Anvaya-Vyatireka, states that for proper understanding all
texts must be examined in their entirety and then their intent
established by six characteristics, which includes studying what is
stated by the author to be his goal, what he repeats in his
explanation, then what he states as conclusion and whether it can be
epistemically verified. Not everything in any text, states Shankara,
has equal weight and some ideas are the essence of any expert's
textual testimony. This philosophical difference in scriptural
studies, helped Shankara conclude that the Principal Upanishads
primarily teach monism with teachings such as Tat tvam asi, while
helping Rāmānuja conclude that qualified monism is at the foundation
COMPARISON WITH OTHER VEDāNTA SCHOOLS
Rāmānujacharya depicted with Vaishnava
Tilaka and Varadraja
Vishishtadvaita shares the theistic devotionalism ideas
with Madhvāchārya 's Dvaita. Both schools assert that Jīva (human
Brahman (as Vishnu) are different, a difference that is
never transcended. God
Vishnu alone is independent, all other gods
and beings are dependent on Him, according to both Madhvāchārya and
Rāmānuja. However, in contrast to Madhvāchārya's views,
Rāmānuja asserts "qualified non-dualism", that souls share the same
essential nature of Brahman, and that there is a universal sameness
in the quality and degree of bliss possible for human souls, and every
soul can reach the bliss state of God Himself. While the 13th- to
14th-century Madhavāchārya asserted both "qualitative and
quantitative pluralism of souls", Rāmānuja asserted "qualitative
monism and quantitative pluralism of souls", states Sharma.
Vishishtadvaita school and Shankara 's Advaita school
are both nondualism Vedānta schools, both are premised on the
assumption that all souls can hope for and achieve the state of
blissful liberation; in contrast, Madhvāchārya believed that some
souls are eternally doomed and damned. Shankara's theory posits that
Brahman and causes are metaphysical unchanging reality, while the
empirical world (Maya ) and observed effects are changing, illusive
and of relative existence. Spiritual liberation to Shankara is the
full comprehension and realization of oneness of one's unchanging
Ātman (soul) as the same as Ātman in everyone else as well as being
identical to the nirguna Brahman. In contrast, Rāmānuja's theory
Brahman and the world of matter are two different
absolutes, both metaphysically real, neither should be called false or
illusive, and saguna
Brahman with attributes is also real. God, like
man, states Rāmānuja, has both soul and body, and all of the world
of matter is the glory of God's body. The path to
asserted Rāmānuja, is devotion to godliness and constant remembrance
of the beauty and love of personal god (saguna Brahman, Vishnu), one
which ultimately leads one to the oneness with nirguna Brahman.
Harold Coward describes Rāmānuja as "the founding interpreter of
Sri Vaisnavite scripture." Wendy Doniger calls him "probably the
single most influential thinker of devotional Hinduism". J. A. B. van
Buitenen states Rāmānuja was highly influential, by giving "bhakti
an intellectual basis", and his efforts made bhakti the major force
within different traditions within Hinduism. Major Vaishnava
temples are associated with the Rāmānuja's tradition, such as the
Srirangam Ranganatha temple in Tamil Nadu.
Modern scholars have compared the importance of Rāmānuja in
Hinduism to that of scholar
Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) in
Rāmānuja reformed the
Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple complex,
undertook India-wide tours and expanded the reach of his organization.
The temple organization became the stronghold of his ideas and his
disciples. It is here that he wrote his influential Vishishtadvaita
philosophy text, Sri Bhashyam, over a period of time.
Rāmānuja not only developed theories and published philosophical
works, he organized a network of temples for Vishnu-
Rāmānuja set up centers of studies for his philosophy during the
11th- and 12th-century, by traveling through India in that era, and
these influenced generations of poet saints devoted to the Bhakti
movement. Regional traditions assert that his visits, debates and
discourses triggered conversion of Jains and Buddhists to Vaishnavism
in Mysore and Deccan region.
The birthplace of Rāmānuja near
Chennai hosts a temple and is an
Vishishtadvaita school. His doctrines inspire a lively
intellectual tradition in southern, northern and eastern states of
India, his monastery and temple traditions are carried on in the most
important and large Vaishnava centres – the Ranganātha temple in
Tamil Nadu , and the
Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala
Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala in
Andhra Pradesh .
* Kidambi Aachan
* ThirukurugaiPiran Pillan
* Nadadhur Azhwan
He is also known as Śrī Rāmānujāchārya, Udaiyavar, Ethirājar
(Yatirāja, king of monks), Bhashyakarar, Godāgrajar, Thiruppavai
Jeeyar, Emberumānār and Lakshmana Muni
Upanishad – a minor
Upanishad repeatedly cited by
Rāmānuja, and influential to his ideas
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Wikiquote has quotations related to: RAMANUJA
* Biography and works, The Internet encyclopaedia of Philosophy
* Biography of Rāmānuja, Sanskrit.org
* Rāmānuja Biography, Surendranath Dasgupta, 1940
* Rāmānuja Literature, Surendranath Dasgupta, 1940
* Bibliography of Rāmānuja\'s works, Item 637, Karl Potter,
University of Washington
* Sri Bhashya: Rāmānuja\'s commentary on Vedanta