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Two Fold Vedanta In Vishita Advaita

Two fold vedanta, known as ubhaya vedanta, is a term used to describe the philosophical system of Vishita Advaita. This sobriquet is a pointer to the twin spiritual heritage of the vishita advaita system, which blends the speculative metaphysics of the Sanskrit Vedantic treatises with the mystical doctrines of the Tamil saint-poets revered as Alwars.

Vishita Advaita expounded by Ramanuja expounded a thorough-going realism in which Brahman is identical to a personal God, whose nature is truth, knowledge and infinity, and who possesses innumerable auspicious qualities and has a divine form. The means of attaining him are loving meditation and self-surrender. The Personal Absolute is Narayana or Vasudeva extolled in Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and Pancharatra texts. The esoteric Pancharatra doctrine deals with the concepts such as the apotheosis of Sri as a divine mediatrix, and as co-equal to her consort Mahavishnu; salvation through prapatti (self-surrender) etc. These ideas are pivotal to Vishita Advaita philosophy.

Between the 2nd and 9th centuries there was a succession of saints (Alwars) who had an ambrosial experience of God in his various forms and incarnations. They recorded these experiences in poetry, the compendium of which is known as Divya Prabandham (sacred hymns).

Just as Vedic rishis directly intuited the shruti, the Alwars directly experienced the Absolute as a Supreme Being and their work are termed Tamil Veda.

Thiruvaimozhi of Nammalvar is regarded as the essence of Vedanta. This may be inferred from the fact that Ramanuja, at a critical juncture in his life, in addition to making a vow that he would write a theistic commentary on Vedanta Sutras also resolved to expound Thiruvaimozhi. A commentary on this work composed under his direction is popularly known as ‘Idu’ (This).

Nammalvar was preceded by Nathamuni (9th century AD) and Yamunacharya (10th century AD) who were adept in both the Sanskrit and vernacular tradition. Ramanuja was a forerunner of many preceptors and scholars of two fold Vedanta.

Parasara Bhatta (11th century AD), Vedanta Desika (13th century AD) and Manavala Mamunigal (14h century AD) are some of the prominent two fold vedantins.

In their works the theism implicit in the Vedantic texts and the philosophical undercurrents of the poems are seen to reinforce each other.