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Difference Between Advaita – Vedanta And Visishtadvaita Philosophy

The insight and interpretation of Advaita Vedanta revolves around an unrelenting logic that ‘whatever is real is non-sublatable.’ In other words, the eternal alone is real and whatever is non-eternal is not real. Thus Advaitas oft-quoted verse, “The Absolute Brahman is real, the world is not real, and the individual and the Absolute are not different.” Visishtadvaita philosophy is not willing to accept such a doctrine, and it introduces certain modifications into this definition of what constitutes the real. It accepts the Upanishadic declaration that the real is eternal, while ascribing some status to that which is non-eternal. Thus, while eternality is still a characteristic of Brahman, the non-eternality of the world does not deprive it of reality. There are logical and thus doctrinal consequences to this. However, as we shall observe, this latter school does not propose that the eternal Brahman and the non-eternal world are real in the same meaning of the term ‘real.’

The insight of Visishtadvaita philosophy (qualified monism of Sri Ramanujacharya) is that ‘whatever is experienced and lasts for even a moment is real.’ Their minimum claim is that there is such a thing as consciousness, and this consciousness points to an object. Their claim is that all knowledge is valid and there is no such thing as error. Thus everything is both real and knowable. There is nothing which is not real. Therefore Brahman is both eternal and non-dual, even while mysteriously qualified or characterized by selves and matter which form its body. Brahman is one only, while having all sentient and non-sentient entities as its modes or attributes. Though there is mutual difference between the modes and the possessor thereof and among the mode themselves, the whole is mystically conceived of as a single three-in-one complex unity.