You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : April 1996

A Dialogue on Hinduism - General

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Mon Apr 15 1996 - 10:39:58 PDT

                  A Dialogue on Hinduism

               Sri. V.N. GOPALA DESIKAN
         M.A. M.Sc., (Lond.) I.R.T.S. (Retd.)

        66, DR. RANGACHARI ROAD, MADRAS 600 018





1.   Vedas and Sastras

     Vedas - Upanishads - Vedangas Smritis - Itihasas -
     Puranas - Agamas - Mimamsa - Brahma Sutras -
     Prasthana Traya - Systems of philosophy

2.   Alwars and Acharyas

     Alwars and their works - Guru parampara -
     Acharyas and their works

3.   The 'Doctrine Special' of Visishtadvaita

     Pramanas - Senses of Knowledge and action -
     Artha Panchaka - Body/Soul relationship -
     Antaryami Brahmana

4.   The Eternal Jivatma

     Nature of the soul or jivatma Categories of the soul
     (baddha, mukta, nitya)-Dharma bhutajnana

5.   Matter and -Creation

     Achetana and its categories - Prakriti and its
     modifications - Gross and Subtle elements -
     Process of creation Quintuplication (Panchi
     karana)  Tripartition (Trivrit karana) Samashti and
     Vyashti Srishtis - Time (Kala) - Suddha Sattva

6.   Iswara - The Lord and Master

     Iswara - Upadana Karana (Material cause), -
     Nimitta Karana (Instrumental cause), Sahakari
     Karana (Supporting cause) - The Supreme Deity,
     Narayana Purpose of Avataras - Para, Vyuha,
     Vibhava, Antaryami, Archa Divyadesas

7.   Advaita, Visishtadvaita and Dvaita

     Bheda Sruti, Abheda Sruti, Ghataka Sruti - Maya
     or Illusion Three types of reality of Advaitins
     Reality of the world - Reality of dreams - Para
     Brahman and Apara Brahman of Advaitins
     Saguna Brahman and Nirguna Brahman - Mukti,-
     Krama Mukti and Jivan Mukti of Advaitins - Maha
     Vakyas of Advaitins - Essentials of Dvaita -system

8.   Karma, Jnana, Bhakti Yogas

     Ajna and Anujna Kainkaryas Karma Yoga - Jnana
     Yoga - Bhakti - Bhakti vs. Prapatti - Types of
     people worshipping the Lord - People worshipping
     other deities - Types of food - Purity of body,
     speech and mind - Types of gifts - Types of tyagas
     -Types of persons - Salokya, Sarupya, Samipya

9.   jivatma and Paramatma

     Jivatma, the doer (of action) - Lord's role in
     Jivatma's actions - Evolution of the world - Types
     of pralaya - Various systems of philosophy - The
     Saguna Brahman of Sankara - Validity of
     Pancharatra Agamas - Purpose of creation of the

10.  The Departure of the Soul

     Process of departure of soul and elements from the
     body - Path of light and path of smoke - The five
     fires - Distribution of punya and papa of a
     prapanna - Enjoyment of soul in Paramapada

11.  Prapatti

     Angas of prapatti - Destruction of karmas of
     prapanna - Prayaschitta and punishment - Types of
     Prapatti Prapatti and the-three samarpanas
     Behaviour after Prapatti - Ramanuja's advice

12. The Three Secrets

     Ashtakshara and meanings - Dvaya and meanings -
     Charama Sloka and meanings - Siddhopaya and

13.  Vadakalai and Tenkalai

     Differences of opinion between the two seats -
     Points of difference regarding Lakshmi, Kaivalya,
     Bhakti as Upaya " Prapatti Markata nyaya and
     Marjara nyaya - Significance and meaning of
     Lord's compassion Antarvyapti and Bahirvyapti' -
     Sins of devotees

14.  Conclusion

     Importance of Acharya and Bhagavatas Daily
     Service to Lord - The four-sacred books.



Sri Visishtadvaita Research Centre has been promote to
nurture the Visishtadvaita philosophy that has bee handed
down to us from ancient times.  The prima objectives of
the Centre are:

     1.   To support the Madurantakam Sanskrit
          College and those other institutions which
          have similar objectives;

     2.   To extend all practical service to Sri
          Vaishnava Divya Kshetras and other leading
          temples in that class;

     3.   To encourage the Vidwans in the study an
          spread of Visishtadvaita philosophy;

     4.   To publish and make available the vas
          reservoir of Visishtadvaita literature a
          poured out by Maharishis, Alwars an

     5.   To promote continuing research into the
          Visishtadvaita philosophy and to relate it
          findings to modern scientific thinking.  I
          doing so, encourage the younger generation
          to pursue this school of thought wit
          veneration and a deep sense of commitment
          to rational understanding of the subject.

"A dialogue on Hinduism" is the first publication coming
out of this Centre, in pursuance of these objectives, and
to serve as an outline of what the Visishtadvaita school of
thinking is.

The publication has been conceived to inform and
instruct the uninitiated as to what Hinduism is, and in
particular, what Ramanuja's school of philosophy is.  We
do hope and trust that this book, published in English,
will serve the younger generation amongst us who are
curious to know the foundations of Hinduism and the
various philosophies that have been presented to us from
time to time by our Acharyas: notably, Adi Sankara,
Ramanuja and Madhva.

We have been particularly fortunate in persuading Sri V.
N. Gopala Desikan to write this book.  He is eminently
qualified to do so, not only by virtue of his own academic
qualification but also because he has been uniquely
privileged to learn the subject in depth from his father
Navanitam Srirama Desikacharya Swami.  His
grandfather, Navanitam Krishnamacharya Swami had
edited many rare Sanskrit books including Mahabharata,
Upanishad Bhashya of Ranga Ramanuja Swami and
Naya Mayukha Malika of Appayya Dikshitar.

Navanitam Srirama Desikacharya Swami was an has
done yeoman service in Desika's works in Sanskrit and
lucid commentaries on them in Desika Darsanam is
unparalleled in recent times.

Sri V.N. Gopala Desikan is currently Member, Railway
Claims Tribunal.  It is a dream fulfilled for him, because
he has always wanted to share his knowledge with the
younger generation both as a duty and a service in the
cause of our religion and philosophy.  Nothing will make
him happier than to see a large number of our children
benefit from this work.  Equally, nothing else would have
been greater contribution from Visishtadvaita Research
Centre than this first publication from its fold.

We dedicate this publication to the younger generation of
this country whose ability to read and understand our
ancient value system in their own mother tongue has
become less and less convenient.

S.V.S. Raghavan

There is a long-felt need to have a simple, elementary
book in English, explaining the fundamentals a)f our
great philosophy and religion.  In the modern age, people
- including the younger generation - have, the desire to
know about our religion and philosophy, but do not have
the time and facility to study in the conventional way,
under an Acharya.

The Visishtadvaita Research Centre, therefore, entrusted
me with the task of writing a simple book in English on
Sanatana Dharma, as handed to us by the Acharyas of the
Visishtadvaita School.

I consider it a great privilege and honour to have been
entrusted with this noble task.  I am fully aware of my
shortcomings in this regard, but I have faithfully obeyed
the elders and written the book in a most elementary
manner.  To make the points very clear and easy to
understand, I have purposely repeated some ideas.  I
request the reader's indulgence for my purposeful
repetitions, my sole objective being to make the subject
as simple and clear as possible.

Sri R.K. Swamy, President of the Research Centre
deserves all the credit for this venture.  He was a source
of inspiration to me; he enthused and encouraged me to
write this book and gave, me all assistance.  My grateful
thanks are due to him in no small measure.

I am deeply indebted to Sri Ubha Ve - Agnihotram
Ramanuja -Thathachariar Swami; Sri Ubha Ve
Pudukkottai Prof. A. Srinivasa Raghaa,acharya Swami;
and Sri Ubha Ve - Dr. V Varadachariar Swami of French
Institute of Indology, Pondicherry, for very kindly going
through the manuscript and offering valuable

I am grateful to Sri. N.V. Ramanan, Creative Chief and
Director, R.  K. Swamy Advertising Associates Private
Ltd. for patiently going through the manuscripts and
offering valuable suggestions.

I am thankful to Sri R. Subramanian and Sri N.
Padmanaban of R.K. Swamy Advertising Associates
Private Ltd., for the excellent secretarial assistance

This book covers only the basic essentials of our
Siddhanta and is intended for beginners.  It is hoped this
book will kindle further interest to delve deep in the
ocean of our Sastras.

November 1989

V. N. Gopala Desikan

(A beautiful picture of Sri Ramanuja with his hands folded in anjali)


                  (Back of back cover)

Sri V. N. Gopala Desikan, the Author

Sri. Gopala Desikan hails from an illustrious family of
erudite scholars.  His grandfather, Sri. Navanitam
Krishnamachariar Swami, edited and published many
rare Sanskrit works and was one of the greatest
Vaishnavite scholars of his times.  His father, Sri. V.N.
Srirama Desikachariar Swami had edited and written
commentaries on many works of Vedanta Desika and
was the recipient of the President's Award for Sanskrit.

Besides a brilliant academic career, in India and abroad,
Sri Gopala Desikan also studied the sacred works in the
traditional way, under his illustrious father.  having held
very senior positions in the Indian Railways, Sri Gopala
Desikan is presently Member, Railway Claims Tribunal,

Note: When a dash (-) is put above an alphabet, the
alphabet has to be pronounced long.  Rama, like Ball,
Jiva like Keep, Purva like Crude.

Abhava                -  Non-existence
Abheda                -  Non-difference
Acharya               -  Teacher
Achetana              -  Non-sentient
Achit                 -  See Achetana
Adhara                -  Support
Adheya                -  The supported
Advaita               -  Non-dualism (Not two)
Advitiya              -  Without a second
Agama                 -  Religious Treatise
Ahankara              -  Egoism; A stage of prakriti in evolution
Aikya                 -  Identity
Ajnana                -  Ignorance
Akasa                 -  Ether
Akshara               -  Imperishable
Alwar                 -  Vaishnavite Saints
Amnaya                -  Veda
Amsa                  -  Part
Ananta                -  Infinite; Adisesha
Antaryami             -  Immanent one
Anu                   -  Atom
Anumana               -  Inference
Apavarga              -  Release from Samsara
Arthavada             -  Passage in praise, (not to
                         be taken literally always)
Arthapanchaka         -  Five truths
Asat                  -  The changeable
Atma                  -  Self, Soul
Avatara               -  Incarnation
Baddha                -  The bound (soul in samsara)
Bhagavad Gita         -
Bhagavan              -  Paramatma
Bhagavata             -  Devotee of God
Bhagavata Kainkarya   -  Service to devotees of God
Bhakti                -  Devotion to God; Bhakti Yoga
Bhava                 -  Feeling
Bheda                 -  Difference
Bhogya                -  Object of experience or enjoyment
Bhrama                -  Error
Brahman               -  The Supreme
Brahma                -  the four-faced Deva
Chetana               -  Sentient
Chit                  -  See Chetana
Darsana               -  System of philosophy
Dasa                  -  Servant
Dharaka               -  Sustenance, Supporter
Dhayana               -  Meditation
Divya Prabandha       -  Outpourings of Alwars
Dvaita                -  Dualism
Gita                  -  Bhagavat Gita
Guru Prampara         -  The line of teachers
Indriyas              -  Senses
Iswara, Isvara        -  God
Jiva, Jivatma         -  Individual Souls or Self
Jnana                 -  Knowledge
Kainkarya             -  Service
Kaivalya              -  Realisation of Self
Kalyana Guna          -  Auspicious quality
Kama                  -  Desire
Kamya Karma           -  Action prompted by desire
Karma                 -  Action; Result on the
                         Self of its previous actions
Karta                 -  Doer
Kinkara               -  Servant
Lakshana              -  Definition
Lila                  -  Sport
Loka                  -  World
Mahabharata           -
Manas                 -  Mind
Maya                  -  Illusion
Moksha                -  Release from samsara (Attaining Paramapada)
Mukta                 -  Released Soul
Mukti                 -  See Moksha
Mula prakriti         -  Primordial Matter
Mumukshu              -  Seeker of Moksha
Nama                  -  Name
Nara                  -  Man
Narayana              -  Maha Vishnu
Neti                  -  Not thus
Nigama                -  Veda
Niravayava            -  Partless
Nirguna               -  Without qualities
Nirhetuka             -  Unconditioned (without cause)
Nirveda               -  Regret, Repentance
Nityasuri             -  The eternally free
Niyanta               -  Ruler, Controller
Pancharatra           -  Vaishnava Agamas
Papa                  -  Sin
Para                  -  Great
Parama                -  Supreme
Paramapada            -  Sri Vaikunta
Paramatma             -  Supreme Self
Paratantrya           -  Dependence on God, others
Parinama              -  Change
Pradhana              -  See prakriti
Prakara               -  Mode
Prakari               -  The substance which has modes, Brahman
Prakriti              -  Nature, Modification of
                         Matter, Also called
                         Mulaprakriti, pradana,
                         akshara, avyakta
Pramana               -  Source of valid
                         knowledge, authority
Prapanna              -  One who has surrendered his Self to God
Prapatti              -  Self-surrender to God
Prapti                -  Attainment
Prarabdha Karma       -  Past Karma that has begun to bear fruit
Purushartha           -  Ends of human endeavour, Ultimate objective
Purvapaksha           -  Prima facie view
Raga                  -  Desire
Rajas                 -  The quality of prakriti, producing
                         restless activity
Ramanuja              -  Vaishnavite Acharya
Sabda                 -  Verbal testimony,
                         Scriptural authority
Sadhyopaya            -  The means to moksha, which has to be
                         effected by the aspirant
Saguna                -  Possessing attributes
Samashti              -  Aggregate
Samsara               -  Cycle of births and deaths, Bondage
Samsaya               -  Doubt
Samslesha             -  union
Sanchita Karma        -  Past Karma which has not yet commenced to
                         yield fruit
Sankalpa              -  Will
Sankocha              -  Contradiction
Sariri                -  Owner of the body, Atma
Sat                   -  Sentient being
Sattva                -  The quality of prakriti,
                         leading to happiness and harmony
Sesha                 -  one who exists for the
                         purpose of another (Seshi)
Sesi                  -  One who utilises the Sesha for his purpose
Siddhanta             -  The final view, philosophy
Siddhopaya            -  The means which is self existent and
                         readily available, i.e. God
Sivam                 -  Auspicious
Srishti               -  Creation
Sruti                 -  Vedas
Sunya                 -  Non-existent
Svadhyaya             -  Study of Vedas
Tamas                 -  The quality of prakriti resulting in
                         indolence and inertia
Tanmatra              -  Subtle element
Tattva                -  Truth, reality
Upadhi                -  Limiting adjunct, limitation
Upaya                 -  Means to an end
Upeya                 -  End to be attained
Vada                  -  Argument, theory
Vaikunta              -  Sri Vaikunta
Vedanta               -  Upanishad; Philosophy
Vibhu                 -  All pervasive
Vichara               -  Enquiry
Vidheyatva            -  The quality of being controlled
Vijnana               -  Knowledge
Vikara                -  Change
Vikasa                -  Expansion
Viparyaya             -  Wrong notion
Viseshana             -  Attribute of an object
Vislesha              -  Separation
Visishtadvaita        -  Pan - Organismal monism


1.   Sri Bhashya of Ramanuja
2.   Gita Bhashya of Ramanuja
3.   Vedartha Sangraha of Ramanuja
4.   Rahasya Traya Sara of Vedanta Desika
5.   Mumukshuppadi, Tattvatraya and Sri Vachana
     Bhushana of Pillai Lokacharya
6.   Yatindramata Dipika of Srinivasacharya
7.   Vedanta Karikavali of Venkatacharya
8.   Siddhanta traya sangraha of Kapisthalam
9.   The Philosophy of Visishtadvaita by P.N.
10.  Visishtadvaita Vijaya by Ranganathacharya and S.
     Krishnaswamy Iyengar
11.  Vishnuchitta Vijaya by S.  Krishnaswamy Iyengar