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Post 1on Vis'istAdvaita Vedanta: Some Preliminary definitions and axioms

From: Venkat Nagarajan (
Date: Mon Apr 26 1999 - 13:58:32 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,

Exposure to objects that are capable of manifesting (making clear
or apparent) knowledge about the nature of reality only comes 
about through the combination of our free will and the, ever-
present, limitless grace of God. 

***An attempt to define Vis'istadvaita Vedanta and statement of 
some key axioms:

1. What is Vis'istadvaita Vedanta?

It is a detailed explanation of the nature of reality(i.e., nature of 
all things that exist), based on three independent, valid means 
of acquiring knowledge (PramAnas.)  The independent, 
pramAnas are perception (pratyaksa), inference (anumAna) 
and S'abda (verbal testimony.)  Now we can define a real
as that which is not negated by any of the valid means of 
acquiring knowledge.

A Note on S'abda :  

For now note that S'abda is the most important source of 
knowledge.  There are two kinds; empirical and non-empirical.  
The non-empirical consists of revealed scripture.  Smiriti 
(or that which is remembered) is also recognized by 
Vis'istadvaita Vedanta but not as an independent source.

2.  Key Axiom:

That is infinite cannot be described in perfection (but only in 
a most perfect manner) in the finite realm.

what does this mean?

A) we are limited because we have imperfect senses and 
delusion from avidya karma; that is why scripture has ultimate 
authority in matters that are beyond our finite senses.

B) we are limited because language is a finite tool.

C) However, those that are not subject to imperfect senses and 
have fully expanded Dharma-bhuta-jnanam (i.e., they have all 
knowing knowledge) such as, God himself, and Nitya Suris 
(eternally free souls) are capable of describing the nature of 
reality (which is infinite) in a most perfect manner.  Even
they are limited, however, they have to use finite tools.

Note: This is just an introductory posting, subsequent posts
will deal in rigour with the key concepts.  Before discussing
those concepts though,  I feel it is important for us to 
understand where Vis'istAdvaita Vedanta fits in, i.e., is it 
a theology, a metaphysics, a philosophy.   

Source:  This posting is mostly based on S.M.S. chari's book 
on VedAnta Desika's Tattva-MuktA-KalApa  and to a lesser 
extent on my experiential knowledge (knowledge that 
manifests as a result of contact with objects.)  Since our 
Acharyas had fully expanded dharma-bhuta- Jnanam and 
were not subject to imperfect senses, there is nothing that my 
minuscule set of experiential knowledge can tell you that they 
haven't already said in one of their works.  

(I will clearly identify the source in each posting)  


Venkat (Venkataramanan)