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Anand's efforts

From: Kasturi Varadarajan (kvaradar_at_cs.uiowa.edu)
Date: Sat Apr 22 2000 - 13:57:57 PDT

Dear friends,
     Recently there have been several posts that have either questioned the
views of srivaishnava acharyas, or suggested that a certain other philosophy
is better than visistadvaita, or have ascribed certain tenets to visistadvaita
that don't belong in it. Amidst this barrage of posts, Anand has been working
hard in clarifying the visistadvaita position. Mani is not around to moderate,
and the learned people have been silent. So I wish to say something in
support of Anand.

      He has correctly pointed out the `the distinction between the metaphysical 
entity Brahman/God and the other metaphysical entity Suddha Sattva, as
established in ViSishtAdvaita. First of all, the nature of Brahman
has to be understood. Then, one has to understand the appropriate
names that can be designated for that Brahman. The most important
of the names turns out to be nArAyaNa, since it explains a lot 
about Brahman and its relationship between all other metaphysical
entities which are sentient and non-sentient. Thus, the word
"nArAyaNa" as used in Upanishads and SrI VaishNava works is not
some "avatAra" of Brahman etc with a particular specific form, 
but verily the all pervading Brahman, which is madeup of jn~yAna 
and also has jn~yAna. Brahman takes up many forms and there are 
specific names assigned to such forms taken by Brahman ie. Brahman
characterized by a specific form is also given a name. For example,
rAma, KrishNa, vAmana are all names of Brahman associated with
a particular form.' And that `when one says that 
krishNa is the Supreme Person, it refers to the Brahman only, who 
is also called as nArAyaNa. No one is objecting the fact that 
KrishNa is svayam BhagavAn ie.KrishNa is indeed the Brahman itself 
having taken a particular form.'

       I wish to supplement this by merely adding that shuddha sattva,
the substance making up the forms of krishna, rama, vamana, and the
four-handed person of the shanka-chakra-gadhaa-dhaari, is insentient or
achetana. Shuddha sattva shares this feature of insentience with 
Prakriti. Thus there is a clear distinction between the paramAtma (who is
sentient) and his forms (that are made of an insentient substance).
This distinction between the paramatma and his forms does not
mean that the supreme being is devoid of auspicious qualities.  

       This (modulo errors of mine) is the position of visistadvaita on
this issue. Given this, the recent posts to which Anand has responded would
fall in one of three categories.

1. The writer has not understood this aspect of Visistadvaita and has
   come to erroneous conclusions based on this misunderstanding. If this
   is the case, Anand has suggested some good references where a clear
   picture of visistadvaita may be obtained. And I am sure the learned
   people on this list will clarify questions in this regard.

2. The writer is aware of this aspect of visistadvaita but is attacking it.
   The writer feels that this aspect has no scriptural justification. In
   this case, this list is not the right place for a debate. (I request the
   long-time members to clarify this point.) And moreover,
   there is a protocol for debate. One cannot jump in and ask for pramANAs
   that deny one's favourite view which has very little to do
   with visistadvaita.

3. The writer does not care about this aspect of visistadvaita but is only
   interested in attacking visistadvaita or saying that some other philosophy
   is better. I don't wish to say anything in this regard, because I hope
   nobody intended this.


Finally, I request some knowledgeable people to point out errors if any in
my description of the visistadvaita position, and also correct me if I have 
misinterpreted the policies of this list. The last thing I want is to create
more confusion in an effort to restore order.

thanks
Kasturi   


 



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