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Criticism of Vishishtadvaita Vishleshana Vivecanam

Some time ago, we came across a document. Some person had written a 120 page long refutation of vishishtadvaita and published it online by the name of “vishishtadvaita visleshana vivechanam”.  It seems to have been in debate with another vishishtadvaitin. Now, we have always maintained that it is futile to debate over darshanas online. That is why we have not resorted to it thus far on the blog and maintained a distance from such debates.

However, we have to regretfully break that rule just this once. We wouldn’t have even considered reading this tedious “refutation” if it were not for the fact that the author makes a mud-slinging accusation at Vishishtadvaitins as follows:

“What the Viśiṣṭādvaitins did was labelling the pure devotees that were before Sri Rāmānuja as "Alwars" and falsely interpreted their works to suit the Viśiṣṭādvaita position. Kulasekhara Maharaja was never called ālwar before the advent of Sri Rāmānuja”

When someone who is so painfully ignorant of our tradition makes such claims, we cannot keep quiet. What our acharyas did for the protection of the divya prabandham, be it those who wrote commentaries, those who wrote stOtras on the azhwars, or those like thozappar, who fell off a cliff and attained paramapada while rescuing nammazhwar during muslim invasions, is something that no critic, who writes from a comfy armchair at home, with a mediocre knowledge of vishishtadvaita, can ever understand.

Incidentally, I am still wondering how he came up with that allegation on kulasekhara azhwar. It is well known that the information on azhwars and their divya prabandham were collated by nAthamuni, the prAchArya of yAmunAchArya, who in turn was the prAchArya of shrI rAmAnuja. So, kulasekhara azhwar was indeed well known prior to shrI rAmAnuja. That the divya prabandham is vishishtadvaitic in nature is visible from a cursory reading.

Such slanderous allegations, born of a misplaced over-confidence in one’s own tradition and a disrespect for other traditions, are no better than say, that of Appayya claiming mAdhvAchArya fabricated texts.

The tone of this statement prompted us to write a critique of the “refutation”. We have attached two documents here – one is the original “vishishtadvaita visleshana vivechanam” of the author and the other is our critique of that work. It took us some time to understand because the author is addressing someone he was debating with, and so it was a conversational write-up in tone. Interested readers can access them here:



And this is our criticism:


We have tried to ensure our criticisms are restricted to countering the author’s objections rather than attempting a wholesale condemnation of his tradition, though the 2 are sort of interrelated, so its' a bit difficult. But we have tried our best to stick to a straight line as much as possible.

The articles are very long. We do not blame you if you do not have the interest to read; it was quite tedious for us. But for those who persevere, I suppose it will mean you will be able to fully understand two major traditions of Vedanta and have no doubts about their tenets.

9 comments :

  1. Dear Readers,

    Regarding this article, this was up earlier, but we have just reuploaded our document (the critique) again after correcting some errors. That is why we had not changed the green ticker at the top of the blog until now despite having this article up.

    If you had downloaded the document earlier, we request you to download it again, as changes have been made to interpretations of certain purANa sloKAs in the document (Specifically, the "abhasa" and "pratibimba" slokas from the kUrma purANa).

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  2. Thank you !!! vAzhi EthirAsan vAzhi EthirAsan vAzhi ethirAsan !

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  3. This is somewhat out of context but it will be a great help if you can take the pain of explaining this. I have limited understanding, please correct me if i am wrong but as much as i could understand the jiva is the body of Paramatma. Then how can the jiva live in a sharira (which is also the sharira of Paramatma) that can be destroyed? How does the jiva come in this material world?
    I have no knowledge of Vishishtadwaita but could'nt help myself from questioning after reading your. Sorry if i have commited any offense.

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    1. Everything is the body of Brahman. Both Jivas and Jagat as per "yasya prithvi sharIram" and "yasya Atma sharIra". So both the Jiva, as well as the Jiva's body, are bodies of paramatma.

      There are two ways by which paramAtma sriman nArAyaNa pervades the vastus. One is the antarAtma by which he is the innerself of the entire Jagat as a whole, the latter being his body. The other is antaryAmitva where he individually pervades each and every molecule, making each and ervery thing individually (in addition to the whole described earlier) as his bodies as well.

      In the gita, note that Krishna says "yo yo yam yam tanuh bhakta" (7.21) where he refers to the other devas as "tanuh" - his bodies. This is again a clear proof of sharIrAtma bhAva being the heart of vedAnta. In fact, "antaryAmin" itself means body-soul relationship everywhere.

      Hope this clarifies.

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    2. //How can the jiva live in a sharira (which is also the sharira of Paramatma) that can be destroyed? How does the jiva come in this material world?//

      Paramatma, as mentioned earlier, pervades everything and has all as his sharIra, not just the jIva. Just as body and soul are 2 distinct entities, so are jivAs/jagat and paramAtma. Since paramAtma has no karma, doshas of the body do not affect him.

      There is no time the jIva "came" into the world as everything is anAdi.

      I think you need to study some works on this properly as your question is imperfectly framed and betrays a limited understanding. I suggest 2 things:

      1) Envision yourself as the atma, imagine you have no karma and then imagine how your body is related to you, serves you, is supported by you, nourished by you and cannot exist without you. It is a practical example. That is the relationship between jivAs and paramAtma, jagat and paramAtma.

      2) Read the document provuded in this article. We have explained the concept thoroughly there.

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    3. Thank you so much for the explanation

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  4. Very nice rebuttal Adiyen.Thank you so much for taking pains in bringing out this masterpiece .May lord Narayan bless you.Dvaitins are seriously spreading propaganda against our sect and this was very much need of the hour.Thank you so much .Adiyen I have few questions in your article you said to refer books to further understand kaivalya Mukti ,can you name few books ? Secondly Adiyen in few places wherever dvaitin has quoted BG 16.20 and talked about eternal damnation,who have agreed to him.I am aware few acharyas take it as it ,but Adiyen I have seen many acharyas say that ‘they never attain me’ is figurative and lord is to ,merciful to abondon Jivatma eternally .Hence never attain me means ,jeeva keeps going in Samsarin cycles for eons I.e for long long period he doesn’t attain him so it’s like eternally damned .But it’s not literal.It only ,means duration is so long that lord calls it eternal.Adiyen is this explanation correct as per shashtras and various vadik nyayas and other sri vaishnavism tenents set by Purvaacharyas or this explanation is deviation from tradition ?

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  5. Adiyen one more question.For eternal damnation you have cited vedant Desika tatparya Chandrika BG 16.20 Bhashya.From version available online I read his commentary on 16.20 I didn’t find concept of eternal damnation there ( I read commentary on this verse only not whole text ) .Adiyen can you tell me in which work verse number swami Desikan discusss concept of Nitya Samsarin ? Adiyen few sri Vaishnavas told me that swami Desikan talks about both views pro eternal damnation and against eternal damnation .While he favoured eternal damnation he has acknowledged the alternative explanation by taking ‘not attaining me ‘ as figurative not literal much like in purush Suktam ‘thousand heads’ is taken figurative not literally and simply means countless heads.?Adiyen can you tell me in which work Desikan and verse number has acknowledged this alternative explanation of taking it figuratively ?Thank you .

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  6. We have already explained this. No more will be said, as it is not within the scope of our blog.

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