Ramanujacarya, The Great Vaisnava Acarya
Sometimes we refer to the Vedanti philosophers as Vidantis, those who have no teeth (vi means without, and danti means possessing teeth). The statements of the Sankara philosophy, which are the teeth of the Mayavadi philosopher, are always broken by the strong arguments of Vaisnava philosophers such as the great acaryas, especially Ramanujacarya. Sripada Ramanujacarya and Madhvacarya break the teeth of the Mayavadi philosophers, who can therefore be called Vidantis, toothless.
Partial realization of the Absolute Truth as impersonal Brahman denies the complete opulences of the Lord. This is a hazardous understanding of the Absolute Truth. Unless one accepts all the features of the Absolute Truth–namely impersonal Brahman, localized Paramatma and ultimately the Supreme Personality of Godhead–one’s knowledge is imperfect. Sripada Ramanujacarya, in his Vedartha-sangraha, says that the real identity of the Absolute Truth must be understood in terms of both His knowledge and His characteristics. Simply to understand the Absolute Truth to be full of knowledge is not sufficient. In the Vedic literature we find that the Absolute Truth knows everything perfectly, but we also learn that not only does He know everything, but He also acts accordingly by utilizing His different energies. Thus to understand that Brahman, the Supreme, is conscious is not sufficient. One must know how He consciously acts through His different energies. Mayavada philosophy simply informs us of the consciousness of the Absolute Truth but does not give us information of how He acts with His consciousness. That is the defect of that philosophy.
It is therefore to be concluded that Sankaracarya, in order to present the Supreme Lord, the living entities and the material nature as indivisible and ignorant, tries to cover the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He maintains that the material cosmic manifestation is mithya, or false, but this is a great blunder. If the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a fact, how can His creation be false? Even in ordinary dealings, one cannot think the material cosmic manifestation to be false. Therefore Vaisnava philosophers say that the cosmic creation is not false but temporary. It is separated from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but since it is wonderfully created by the energy of the Lord, to say that it is false is blasphemous.
Nondevotees factually appreciate the wonderful creation of material nature, but they cannot appreciate the intelligence and energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is behind this material creation. Sripada Ramanujacarya, however, refers to a sutra from the Aitareya Upanisad (1.1.1), which points out that the supreme atma, the Absolute Truth, existed before the creation. Sripada Ramanujacarya confirms that the entire cosmic manifestation emanates from the Absolute Truth, rests upon the Absolute Truth and after annihilation again reenters the body of the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The living entity is originally spiritual, and when he enters the spiritual world or the body of the Supreme Lord, he still retains his identity as an individual soul. In this connection Sripada Ramanujacarya gives the analogy that when a green bird enters a green tree it does not become one with the tree: it retains its identity as a bird, although it appears to merge with the greenness of the tree. Thus although the energies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead interact within the cosmic manifestation, each keeps its separate individual existence. Merging with the material or spiritual energies, therefore, does not involve loss of individuality. According to Sri Ramanujapada’s theory of Visistadvaita, although all the energies of the Lord are one, each keeps its individuality. (CC Adi-lila 7:128,140,121 purports)
Let us offer our respectful obeisances to all the great devotees and acaryas, who are compared to sharks in the great ocean of nectar and who do not care for the various rivers of liberation. (Srila Rupa Goswami, NOD)
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
RAMANUJACARYA (1017-1137) was the principal acarya in the Sri sampradaya, one of the four main lines of Vaisnava teachers and disciples. His Vedanta-sutra commentary — Sri-bhasya — establishes the doctrine known as Visistadvaita, “qualified nondualism.” A staunch proponent of the philosophy of personalism, he taught that although the Supreme Lord and the individual souls are qualitatively one, there is still a difference between them, for the Lord is infinite and the living entities are infinitesimal. Srila Ramanujacarya traveled extensively throughout India, teaching personalism and defeating proponents of monistic philosophy. He founded seventy-four centers of Sri Vaisnavism and initiated seven hundred sannyasis (renounced monks), twelve thousand brahmacharis (celibate students), and thousands of householders, including kings and wealthy landowners.