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Re: Sharira Athma Bhaavaa..

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Sat Jul 10 1999 - 13:32:13 PDT

Venkat asks:
> Can anyone kindly throw light on this and go on to explain what 
> "Shariram" is??

'SarIra' literally means 'body'.  All that exists is said
to be the 'body' of God, including all conscious selves
and matter.  This means that God is the AtmA or Self, 
and everything that exists is one with God, united with Him
as the body is to the self.

Ramanuja defines what 'body' means in his comment on Brahma-Sutras

	Any substance which a conscious soul is capable of
	completely controlling and supporting for its own
	purposes, and which stands to the soul in an entirely
	subordinate relation, is the body of that soul.

Our body is completely under our control and we shape it 
and use it for our purposes.  When the soul departs from
a body, what remains is lifeless and soon starts to decay, 
and shortly thereafter it is clear it is not a body at all. 

When we see a soul united to a body, we conventionally do not
distinguish the two, and treat the two as indivisible parts.

In the same way, everything that exists is completely 
supported and controlled by the true Self, God.  In this
way, everything is said to be God's body; without God
nothing could conceivably exist.  The other side of this
coin is that if anything is to exist, God is inseparably
associated with it as its Self, supporter, and controller.

[ This is how to understand the various statements of the
  Vedanta which say, "All this is indeed Brahman", "You are
  that Self", "Meditate on the enjoyed, the enjoyer, and
  the controller as being different", etc. ]

This is the SarIra-AtmA bhAva, the body-soul relationship
that is Ramanuja's single biggest contribution to understanding
the Upanishads.  What existed conceptually in the Upanishads
and Alvars' poems was first articulated philosophically 
by Yamunacharya; it was left to Ramanuja to fully develop 
this idea in convincing fashion and show how it is the key 
to understanding the Vedanta, and consequently, the nature of 
the Universe.

rAmAnuja dAsan