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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.