The philosophy of Sri Vaishnavism is known in Sanskrit as Visistadvaita. The term literally means ``non-duality of Reality as characterized by attributes.'' As a classical expression of Vedanta (the philosophical basis for much of Hinduism), the goal of Visistadvaita philosophy is to understand and experience Brahman, the One Blissful Reality who is the all-pervasive ground and sustenance of the universe -- the string upon whom all pearls are threaded. The ``pearls'', individual beings and matter, are inseparable attributes of the Supreme Person, modes of Its existence.
To the devout Sri Vaishnava, the religious concept of Brahman is best expressed by the term ``God''. Brahman is Infinite, not just in physical terms, but in metaphysical and qualitative terms. Brahman is the absolutely real abode of all consciousness. He is infinitely auspicious, infinitely blissful, supremely gracious, infinitely merciful, infinitely beautiful -- in fact, infinitely infinite. The relationship between God and the universe is one of love, as all this is but a conscious emanation from Him. We are to Him as a child is to a parent, as a friend is to a friend, and as a beloved is to a lover.
Brahman also stands in relation to the universe and the individual souls as the Self of each, providing the basis for their reality. As such, Brahman has matter and individual souls as His body, and is therefore the Supreme Being in whom all reality is comprehended. All that we see is but a spilling from the plenitude of His glorious, all-pervasive essence. This is why the favorite devotional name for God among Sri Vaishnavas is Narayana -- He in whom all beings rest.
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