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Re: dvaita vs advaita

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Tue Mar 12 1996 - 12:18:36 PST

On Mar 12,  1:57pm, wrote:
> Subject: dvaita vs advaita
> I have a very basic question to this very learned group. could someone please
> tell us what exactly does dvaita and advaitha mean.  kanaka

One of the central questions concerning Vedanta philosophers
is the relationship of the individual self to the Absolute
or Supreme Self.  The *sole purpose* for this question is
to determine the nature of contemplative meditation and
to determine whether moksha, the state of release, is something
worth seeking.

The Dvaita school, inaugurated by Madhvacharya (Ananda Tirtha),
argues that there is an inherent and absolute five-fold difference
in Reality -- between one soul and another, between the soul
and God, between God and matter, between the soul and matter,
and between matter and matter.  These differences are not only
individuations, but also inherent qualitative differences, i.e.,
in its essentially pure state, one individual self is *not*
equal to another in status, but only in genus.

Consequently, any sort of unity, whether it be mystical or
ontological, between the individual self and God is impossible
in Dvaita.  Hence the term ``Dvaita'' or ``dualism''. Liberation
consists of experiencing one's essential nature in parama padam
as a reflection of God's glory.

The Advaita school, represented in its classical and most
powerful form by Sankaracharya, argues that only the Absolute Self
exists, *and* all else is false.  Liberation consists in
the realization that individuality is false, and the one's very
essence is the Absolute Self, pure undifferentiated consciousness,
one without a second.  Since there is only one, and nothing else,
the system is called Advaita, or ``non-dualism''.

Visishtadvaita is also an Advaita, since only God the Absolute
Self exists. However, our concept of God, the supreme divine
reality, includes as its fundamental modes the individual
selves and all of matter.  In other words, God is the indwelling
Self of all, and this ``all'' is real as they are included in
His body.  Therefore, Visishtadvaita literally means
non-duality of the qualified, since God is qualified by
innumerable attributes, including individual selves and matter.

I am sure I have oversimplified, so please feel free to correct