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Reference: Ramanuja's Teachings in His Own Words.

Author: Ramanuja (1017–1137 CE)

Translation by:  M. Yamunacharya, Professor of philosophy, University of Mysore, born late 19th Century.

 

 

The Nature of Brahman

 

Brahman is defined as that from, which everything emanates, by which everything is sustained and that into which everything returns.  According to Ramanuja, this Brahman is characterized by certain qualities by which He is distinguished from everything else in the Universe. He is the source of all existence (sat), and is characterized by Consciousness (Cit) and Bliss (Ānanda). He always exists in inseparable relation to individual souls and nature.

 

****** below is an important passage

Brahman of Ramanuja’s conception is a cidacidvisiṣṭa Brahma i.e, Brahman qualified by Nature and the individual selves which emanate from Him after the manner of the spiders web. (Yathora nabhi sjate ghateca) The web is woven out of the internal secretion of the spider, and into which after having been woven it enters.  So Brahman enters the world of sentient and non-sentient things which emanate out of Him, and sustained by Him and enter into Him. The relation of Brahman to the sentient and nonsentient creation has been elaborated by Ramanuja in his concept of ,Śarira-Śriri Bhāva (body-soul relation) Viśeaa Viśeya Bhāva (Substance-attribute relation), Śea Sesi Bhāva (dependent and depended upon relation), Amśamśī Bhāva (part-whole relation) and Adhārādheya Bhāva (relation of the supporter and supported) Niyanta niyata Bhāva (Ruler and Ruled relation) and Rakaka Rakya Bhava (Redeemer redeemed relation).

 

Let us first take the śarīra śarīri Bhāva. What is a Śarīra or body? Ramanuja enters into a detailed analysis of what body means or ought to mean when he speaks of the śarīra śarīri Bhāva.

 

"In ordinary language the word body" is not, like words such as jar, limited in its denotation to things of one definite make or character,  but is observed to be applied directly (not only secondarily or metaphorically to things

 

74 RAMANUJAS TEACHINGS IN HIS OWN WORDS

 

of altogether different nature and characteristics such as worms, insects, moths, snakes, man, four-footed animals, and so on. We must therefore aim at giving a definition of the word that is in agreement with general use. The definitions given by the purvapakin (opponent)—a body is that which causes the enjoyment of the fruit of actions, etc. ? do not fulfill this requirement. For they do not take in such thing as earth and the like which the texts declare to be the body of the Lord. And further they do not take those bodily forms which the Lord assumes according to his wish. And further, the bodily forms which the supreme person assumes at wish are not special combinations of earth and the other elements: for Smriti says, "The body of the highest self is not made from a combination of the elements: It thus appears that it is also too narrow a definition to say that a body is a combination of the different elements.  Again to say that a body is that the life of which depends on the vital breath with its five modifications is also too narrow viz.. in respect of plants: for although vital air is present in plants, in them it does not support the body by appearing in five special forms. Nor again does it answer to define a body as either the abode of the sense-organs or as the cause of pleasure and pain: for neither of these definitions takes in the bodies of a stone or wood which were bestowed on Ahalyā and other persons in accordance with their deeds. We are thus led to adopt the following definition: Any substance which a sentient soul is capable of completely controlling and supporting for its own purposes and which stands to the soul in an entirely subordinate relation, is the body of that soul. In this sense then, all sentient and non-sentient beings together constitute the body of the Supreme Person, for they are completely controlled and supported by him for his own end, and are absolutely subordinate to Him," (S. Bh. I. L9).

 

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The world of sentient and non-sentient beings is looked upon as the body of Brahman in the sense in which body is defined as above. This raises many problems: for instance, how are we to reconcile the imperfections of the world which is the body of Brahman with the perfection of Brahman? How are we to understand this relationship of śarīra śarīri Bhāva in a way that does not lead us to compromise the perfection of God?

 

Ramanuja poses the problem thus:

 

"It appears that Brahman is essentially free from even a shadow of all the imperfections which afflict all sentient and non-sentient beings, and has for its only characteristics absolutely supreme bliss and knowledge. How then is it possible that this Brahman should actually become manifold, by appearing in the form of a world comprising various sentient and non-sentient beings--all of which are the abodes of all kinds of imperfections and afflictions ?" (S. Bb. I. 4. 26),

 

Ramanujas solution for tbis problem is set forth in the following passage:-

 

The modification taught in our system is such as to introduce imperfections into the highest Brahman: on the contrary, it confers on it limitless glory. For our teaching as to Brahmans modification is as follows: Brahman essentially antagonistic to all evil, of uniform goodness, differing in nature from all beings other than itself, all-knowing, endowed with the power of immediately realizing all its purposes in eternal possession of all it wishes for, supremely blessed--has for its body the entire universe, with all its sentient and non-sentient beings and constitutes the self of the Universe. Now, when this world which forms Brahmans body has been gradually reabsorbed into Brahman, each constituent element being refunded into its immediate cause, so that in the end there remains only the highly subtle, elementary matter which scripture calls

 

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Darkness and when this so called Darkness is itself by assuming a form so extremely subtle that it hardly deserves to be called something separate from Brahman of which it constitutes the body, has become one with Brahman: then Brahman invested with this ultra subtle body forms the resolve, May I again possess a world body constituted by all sentient and non-sentient beings distinguished by names and forms just as in the previous eon and modifies (Pariṇāmayati) itself by gradually evolving the world body in the inverse order in which reabsorption had taken place" (S. Db. I. ~.2·1).

 

Ramanuja explains the Taittiriya Upanisad passage  He desired may I be many, may I go forth, and Sacca Tyac bhavat in the light of the śarīra śarīri Bhāva thus. "The sense of the Taittiriya text therefore is as follows: The highest self, which in itself is of the" nature of unlimited knowledge and bliss, has for its body all sentient and non-sentient beings, instruments of sport for him as it were in so subtle form that they may be called non-existing and as they are his body he may be said to consist of them (tan-maya). Then he by a series of steps beginning with prakrti and the aggregate of souls and leading down to the elements in their gross state so modifies himself as to have these elements for his body. When he is said to consist of them and thus appears in the form of our world. When the text says that the self having entered into it became Sat and Tat, the meaning is that the highest self, which in its casual state had been the universal self, abides, in its effected state also as the self of the different substances undergoing changes and thus becomes this and that (S. Bh, 1. 4.21).

 

"While the highest self thus undergoes a change in the form of a world comprising the whole aggregate of sentient and non-sentient beings--all imperfection and suffering are limited to the sentient beings constituting part of its

 

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body, and all change is restricted to the non-sentient things with constitute another part. The highest self is effected in that sense only that it is the ruling principle, and hence the Self of matter and souls in their gross or evolved state: but just on account of being this, viz., their inner Ruler and Self, it is in no way touched by their imperfections and changes" (S. Bh. 1.4.27).

 

On the basis of the Antaryāmi Brāhmaa of Svetāśvatara Upaniad and the Brihadārayaka which says "He who dwells in the self and within the self, whom the self does not know, of whom the self is the body, who rules the self within. He is thyself, the Ruler within, the immortal." Ramunuja maintains the view that the individual soul is the body or the vehicle of the Supreme soul in the way in which the individual body is the vehicle of the individual soul immanent in it.

 

VIŚEAA- VIŚEYA BHĀVA

 

Ramanuja subsumes the relation of soul to body under the relation known as substance-attribute relation. He calls this the Prakāra Prakāri Bhāva, or substance-mode relation. In this connection he holds what is called the Satkārya view of causal relation according to which the effect is just a modification of the causal substance. He writes:

 

"A substance enters into different states in succession: What passes away is the substance in its previous state, what originates is the substance in its subsequent state. As thus the substance in all its states has being, there is nothing irrational in the Satkārya theory" (S. Bh. II. 1.15).

 

The relation of bodies to the self is strictly analogous to that class characteristics and qualities to the substances in which they inhere: for it is the self only which is their substance and their final cause (Prayojana) and they are modes of the self. That the self only is their substrate

 

RAMANUJAS TEACHINGS IN HIS OWN WORDS

 

appears from the fact that when the self separates itself from the body the latter perishes, that the self alone is their final cause, appears from the fact that they exist to the end that the fruits of the actions of the self may be enjoyed, and that they are modes of the self appears from the fact that they are mere attributes of the self manifesting itself as God, man or the like" (S. Bh. I. 1.1).

 

In His Bhagavadgītā Bhāṣya, commenting on the 7th verse of the Vllth chapter (7.7), Ramanuja draws the following implication from the application of substance-mode relation to Brahman and the world. He writes:

 

"All things thus are predicative to or modes of ParamaPurua: hence Paramapurua alone exists (the substance) adjectivated by everything else. All terms are thus connotations of Him by the rule of Sāmāndhikaranya or the rule which expresses the inseparable relation existing between substance and attribute or the invariable co-existence of subject and predicate.”

 

He speaks in his Śri Bhaya of Sarvaabdavacyātva and Paryavasāvritthi (in ultimate analysis) which means that all terms convey a meaning which has its "proper consummation in Brahman only." The passage runs thus:

 

"From all this it follows that the entire aggregate of things intelligent and non-intelligent, has its Self in Brahman in so far as it constitutes Brahmans body; and as thus, the whole world different from Brahman derives its substantial being only from constituting Brahmans body, any term denoting the world or something in it conveys a meaning which has its proper consummation in Brahman only: in other words all terms whatsoever denotes Brahman in so far as distinguished by the different things which we associate with those terms on the basis of ordinary use of speech and etymology". (S. Bh. I. I.l)

 

“This being so it appears that those as well who hold the theory of the absolute unity of one non-different

 

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substance as those who teach the doctrine of Bhedābheda, (coexisting difference and non-difference), and those who teach the absolute difference of several substances, give up all these scriptural texts which teach that Brahman is the Universal Self" (S. Bh. 1. 1.1)

 

The fact that the scriptures proclaim "that the entire world forms the body of Brahman" shows that they teach the plurality of the world, though differing from him in character, is completely dependent on Him and stands to Him in the relation of mode. It "For as genus (Jāti) and quality (guna) so substances (dravya) also may occupy the position of determining attributes (viśeaa) in so far namely as they constitute the body of something else (S. Bh. I. 1.1).

 

"Intelligent and non-intelligent beings are thus mere modes of the highest Brahman, and have reality thereby only" (p. 138).

 

Ramanuja compares Brahman in relation to souls and matter to a three-coloured piece of cloth, where thread of each colour remains ever distinct:

 

"Of some parti-coloured piece of cloth the material cause is thread, white, red, black, etc. All the same, each definite spot of the cloth is connected with one colour only, white e.g., and thus there is no confusion of colours even in the effected condition of the cloth. Analogously the combination of insentient matter, sentient beings, and the Lord constitutes the material cause of the world, but this does not imply any confusion of the essential characteristics of, enjoying souls, object of enjoyment and the universal Ruler even in the worlds effected state. There is indeed a difference between the two cases, in so far as the threads are capable of existing apart from one another, and are only occasionally obtained according to the volition of men while non-sentient matter and sentient beings in all their states form the body of highest self and thus have a

 

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being only as the modes of that ... But the two cases are analogous, in so far as there persists a distinction and absence of all confusion on the part of the constituent elements of the aggregate. This being thus, it follows that the highest Brahman, although entering into the effected condition, remains unchanged, for its essential nature does not become different" (S. Bh. I. 1.1).

 

God or Brahman in this system is a Being who is infinite, self-manifest and self-happy and is the entire opposite of every kind of evil, and unique seat of every kind of good who is adorned with hosts of amiable attributes, who is the granter of all kinds of boons, and is possessed of an all-transcendent form, who is the evolver, the preserver and the destroyer of everything created, and who is the fit resort of all aspirants. Following the Pāncarātra or Bhāgavata" doctrine of Vyūha, Ramanuja speaks of the five-fold form or manifestation of God namely, para, vyuha, vibhava, antaryāmi and arcāvatāra. Para is the transcendental form of God. Vyūha is the operative form of God known as Vasudeva, Sankarana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, Vibhava is the incarnate form of the Avatāras, Antaryāmīr is the pervasive form of the Deity dwelling in the heart of every living being and realized by the Yogins through meditation, Arcāvatāra ia the Image form in temples and houses of worshippers which God assumes in accordance with the wishes of his devotees. Pillailokacārya, a great Viśitādvaitic teacher of the thirteenth century writes about the Arcā thus:

 

"The Arcā form consists in the images of Bhagavan (God) whith accommodate themselves to the various tastes of the creatures their worship having no fixed form, but that which the worshipper may choose and desire to have of Him: having no fixed name but that which the worshipper may choose and desire to call Him by: all-knowing but seeming as if not knowing: all-powerful but seeming

 

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as if powerless: all-sufficient but seeming as if needy--thus seeming to exchange places, the worshipped with the worshipper, and choosing to be occularly manifest to him in temples and homes, in short at all places and at all times desired."

 

Whenever we worship an image of a Deity which is called pratīk a or symbol by Ramanuja, that worship is carried, through meditation, up to the supreme Being, who not only pervades the image (through his all-pervading power), but makes it His special abode according to our wish so as to be within our easy reach. (Saulabhya). Ramanuja says that by a meditation on Pratika we understand a meditation in which something that is not Brahman is viewed under the aspect of Brahman (S. Bh. IV. 1. 4) According to Ramanuja, Brahman or Īṣvara or God is in inseparable relation to Nature (acit) and individual souls (cit). He is described as cidacitviśiṣṭa Īṣvara, God associated with Nature and Individual souls. In commenting on the Śutra Tarkāpratithānāt, Sāstra Yonitvāt Ramanuja makes out that the nature and existence of Īṣvara cannot be comprehended by mere logic and that one must resort to scripture for this knowledge. Ramanuja also affirms following the passage in the Kathopanishad Yamevaia vnute tena labhya tasyaia ātmā vivnute tanum svām. He whom the self chooseth, to him He condescends to manifest his divine form to such a devotee" (Katha 1.2.23) He reveals himself to one whom He choose out of His special grace. The saints and Seers, the Ālvars and the Acaryas are looked upon as those gifted with the divine eye (divyachaku) so that they may behold the Lords divine form (aprākta Divyamagala vigrah) and communicate their revelation to other mortals.

 

In his commentary on Brahma Sūtra I. 1. 21 antasthadharmopadeśāt Ramanuja brings out luminously his concept

 

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of Divine Personality which is the cream of his theistic philosophy. Let Ramanuja himself speak:

 

...... The form of this person (in the eye) is the same as that person yonder (in the sun), the joints of the one is the joints of the other, the name of the one is the name of the other (S. Bh. 1.1.21)

 

"The person who is perceived within the sun and within the eye, is something different from the individual soul, viz., the highest self; because there are declared qualities belonging to that. The text ascribes to him the quality of having risen above, i.e, being free from all evil and this can belong to the highest Self only, not to the individual soul. For to be free from all evil means to be free from all influence of karma, and this quality can belong to the highest Self only differing from all individual souls which, as is shown by their experience of pleasure and pain are in the bonds of Karma. Those essential qualities also which presuppose freedom from all evil such as mastery over all worlds and wishes, capability of realizing ones purposes, being the inner Self of all, etc. belong to the highest Self alone" (S. Bh, 1.1.21)

 

Brahman as Śein

 

The concept of Śein in the philosophy of Ramanuja represents the concept of paramountcy of God. This leads to the relationship described as Śea Śei Sambandha which may be paraphrased as owner and owned relationship. God is the owner (Śei) and so far as the individual souls are concerned, it represents an attitude of one’s giving himself up to the Lord in entirety. He is to be moulded and ordered at His will, subject to His laws and to have not only every action and every word, but even every thought too, subject to His will.  It involves a continuous endeavor throughout ones life to live in holy obedience to the Lord. Śea Śei Sambandha the relation of absolute dependence upon God and placing one's humble services

 

NATURE OF BRAHMAN 83

 

(Kainkarya) entirely at His disposal. One of the Ālvars, Āndāl says that she is the servant of her sole master God and yields her loyalty to none else in the world.

 

Metaphysically speaking, Śea Śei Sambandha may be described as the whole-part relation in so far as the individual soul with all its limitations can get rid of them only when it is integrated back to the Supreme Being from whom it has emanated as a spark from a flame- ‘Visphulinga’ as the Upanishad puts it. This kind of relation is analogous to Aṁśaṅsi sambandha, which indicates that all the Souls and the whole Universe are parts of the whole which is God. Compare Īsāvāsyamidam Sarvam yatkinca Jagatyām Jagat’ of Īśavasya Upaniad.

 

This idea of the absolute dependence of the Śeṣa on  Śei  gives rise to certain difficulties. The main difficulty is one of reconciling the dependence of the individual soul with the freedom of will or its power of choice between good and evil without conceding which, the individual soul is reduced to an automaton whose strings are pulled by someone else and the moral responsibility of the individual is instantly annulled. This problem is dealt with by Ramanuja in his Bhāṣya on the Sutras Parāttu tacchruteh (11. 3.40)

 

"Is the activity of the individual Soul independent (free) or does it depend on the highest self? It is free: for if it were dependent on the highest self, the whole body of scriptural injunctions and prohibitions would be unmeaning. For commandments may be addressed to such agents only as are capable of acting, refraining from action, according to their own thought and will.

 

This prima-facie view is set aside by the Sūtra. The activity of individual soul proceeds from the highest self as its cause. For scripture teaches this But this view implies the meaninglessness of all scriptural injunctions and prohibitions:- To this the next sutra Kta prayatnā-

 

84 RAMANUJA’S TEACHINGS IN HlS OWN WORDS

 

pekastu vihita pratisiddha vajyarthādibhya (S. Bh, II. 3.41)

 

"The inwardly ruling highest self promotes action insofar as it regards in the case of any action the volitional effort made by the individual soul, and then aids the effort by granting its favour of permission (anumati): action is not possible without permission on the part of the highest self. In this way (i,e. since the action primarily depends on volitional effort of soul) injunctions and prohibitions are not devoid of meaning. But there is a scriptural text. He (the Lord) makes him whom he wishes to lead down to do a bad deed which means that the Lord himself causes men to do good and evil actions, and this does not agree with the partial independence claimed above for the soul. The text quoted, we reply, does not apply to all agents, but means that the Lord wishing to do a favour to those who are resolved on acting so as fully to please the highest person, engenders in their minds a tendency towards highly virtuous action, such as are means to attain to him, while on the other hand in order to punish those who are resolved on lines of action altogether displeasing to him he engenders in their minds a delight in such actions as have a downward tendency and are obstacles in the way of the attainment of the Lord." Thus the Lord himself says, "I am the origin of all, everything proceeds from me; knowing this the wise worship me with love. To the ever devoted worshipping in love, I give that means of wisdom by which they attain to me. In mercy only to them, dwelling in their hearts, do I destroy the darkness born of ignorance, with the brilliant light of knowledge (Gītā Bhaya X. 10-11) (S. Bh. II. 3.41).

 

Brahman as the Whole (Amśi) and the Individual Soul as Part  (Amśa) (Amśāmśi Sambandha)

 

Brahman is sometimes described as the whole and in

 

NATURE OF BRAHMAN   85

 

 

contrast the individual soul is looked upon as a part. This relationship of the whole and part as applied to the relationship between Brahman and individual soul is described as Amśāmśi Sambandha or relation of part and whole. To merely state this is no explanation. We must clearly understand what exactly is meant by this. Feeling the need for crystal-clear clarification of the concept, Ramanuja gives the following explanation while commenting in the Sri Bhaya and Sutra 'amśo  nānā vyapadśāt' (11.3.42) and the subsequent sutras. The sūtras have declared that the individual soul is an agent, and as such dependent on the highest person. The following question now arises--Is the individual soul absolutely different from Brahman'? Or is it nothing else than Brahman itself in so far as under the influence of error or is it Brahman in so far as determined by a limiting adjunct (Upādhi) or is it a part (amśa) of Brahman'? The doubt on this point is due to the disagreement of the scripture texts.

 

But as a difficulty presents itself on the ground of the conflicting nature of the texts, some asserting the difference and some the unity of individual soul and Brahman, the matter is here more specially decided by its being proved that the soul is a part of Brahman. As long as this decision remains unsettled, the conclusions arrived at under the sutras referred to viz., that the soul is non-different from Brahman, that Brahman is 'additional' to the soul, are without proper basis.

 

"To hold that the individual soul is a part of Brahman does not explain matters: for by a 'part' we understand that which constitutes part of the extension of something. If then, the soul occupied 'part of the extension of Brahman, all its imperfections would belong to Brahman. Nor can the soul be a part of Brahman if we take 'part’ to mean a piece (Khana) for Brahman does

 

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not admit of being divided into pieces, and moreover, the difficulties  connected with the former interpretation would present themselves here also. That something absolutely different from something else should yet be a part of the latter cannot in fact be proved. .

 

"Or else let it be said that the soul is Brahman affected by error (Bhrama) ... or let it be assumed, in the third place that the individual soul is Brahman as determined by a beginningless limiting adjunct (Upadhi). Against all these views the Sūtra declares that the soul is a part of, Brahman" since there are declarations of difference and also otherwise, i.e. declarations of unity in  order then, that texts of both these classes may be taken in their primary, literal sense, we must admit that the individual soul is a part of Brahman.

 

"Nor finally is there any good in the theory of the soul being Brahman in so far as determined by a limiting adjunct. For this view is in conflict with texts which distinguish Brahman as the ruler and the soul as the ruled principle, and so on .

 

"In order to be able to account for the two-fold designations of the soul, we must therefore admit that the soul is a part of Brahman." (S. Bh. II. 3.42)

 

"One part (quarter) of it are the immortals in heaven (Kh. III. 12,5) on account of this mantra also the soul must be held to be a part of Brahman. For the word feet denotes a part."

 

Śruti moreover declares the individual soul to be a part of the highest person, an eternal part of Myself becomes the individual soul (Jiva) in the world of life (Bh. Gi, XV.7) For this reason also the soul must be held to be a part of Brahman.

 

The individual soul is a part of the highest self, as the light issuing, from a luminous thing such as fire or the sun is a part of that body: or the generic characteristics

NATURE OF BRAHMAN 87

 

of a cow or horse, and the white or black colour or things in which these attributes inhere: or as the body is a part of all embodied being. For by a part we understand that which constitutes one place (deśa) of something, and hence a distinguishing attribute (Viśeaa) is a part of the thing distinguished by that attribute. Hence those analysing a thing of that kind discriminate between the distinguishing element or part of it, and the distinguished element or part. Now although the distinguishing attribute and the distinguished stand to each other in the relation of part and whole, yet we observe them to differ in essential character. Hence that is no contradiction between the individual and the highest self the former of which is a Viśeaa of the latter standing to each other in the relation of part and whole, and their being at the same time essentially different in nature. Thus the Sūtra, declares not so in the highest. i.e, the highest self is not of the same nature as the individual soul. For as the luminous body is of a nature different from that of its light, the highest self differs from the individual soul which is a part of it.

 

"That the world and Brahman stand to each other in the relation of part and whole, the former being like the light and the latter like the luminous body, or the former being like the power and the latter like that in which the power inheres the former being like the body and the latter like the soul, this, Parāśara and other Smrti writers also declare,  As the light of a fire which abides in one place only spreads all around thus the whole world is the power (śakti) of the highest Brahman.

 

Brahman as Ādhāra or Supporter

Brahman is the support of all that exists. Therefore the relation between Brahman and world. Brahman and the individual souls is the supporter-supported relation or Ādhārādheya Sambandha. The import of relationship

.

 

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is that nothing can exist without the support of Brahman. The Kathopaniat says (II. 5.15) that "when He shines, everything shines after Him: by his light does all this ahine." The Mahānārāyna Upanisad (1.6) declares "The author of this Universe is the hub Bhuvanasya Nābhih of this Universe". The Gita (IX.5) speaks of him as the supporter of all creatures (Bhūta Bhit). Ramanuja summarises the whole position in the following words:

 

"Some texts declare a distinction of nature between non-intelligent matter, intelligent beings, and Brahman, in so far as matter is the object of enjoyment, the souls the enjoying subjects, and Brahman the ruling principle."

 

............ Smiti expresses itself similarly. "Thus eightfold is my nature divided, Lower is this nature: other than this and higher know that Nature of Mine which constitutes the individual soul, by which this world is supported" (Gītā Bhaya VII. 4,5) "All beings at the end of a kalpa return into My nature and again at the beginning of kalpa do I send them forth. Resting on my own Nature again and again do I send them forth. This entire body of beings, which has no power of its own, being subject to the power of Nature" (Bha- Gita IX 7.8) -With me as supervisor Nature brings forth the movable and the immovable and for this reason the world ever moves round." (Bh. Gi, IX, 10). "The great Brahman is my womb, in which I place the embryo and thence there is the origin of all beings" (XIV.3) "This last passage means the womb of the world is the great Brahman, i.e., non- intelligent matter in its subtle state, commonly called prakrti: With this I connect the embryo i.e, the intelligent principle. From this contact of the non-intelligent and the intelligent due to My will there ensues the origination of  beings from Gods down to lifeless things (S. Bb, L 1.1)"

 

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Brahman as Niyantā or Controller

Or Supervisor of Nature and Individual Souls.  

 

Brahman Is the controller (Niyantā) of the Universe and individual souls and they in their turn are the controlled (niyāmya) by him. The Bhagavadgitā speaks of Brahman as the controller of the whole Universe like the one mounted over a machine which is run by him. (Bhrāmayan sava bhūtāni Yāntrāruani māyayā). It again states, "with Me as supervisor Nature brings forth the movable and the immovable" (IX. 10). This idea follows as a corollary from the Ādhārādheya bhāva dealt with earlier. The world is contained in Brahman and evolves from Him and He exists in it as its inner self, inner controller, immortal (antaryāmī)

 

Ramanuja writes :- .

 

"Non-intelligent matter and intelligent beings --holding the relative position of objects of enjoyment and enjoying subjects and appearing in multifarious forms--Other scriptural texts declare to be permanently connected with the highest person in so far as they constitute His body, and thus are controlled by him, the highest person thus constituting their Self. Compare the following passages: He who dwells in the earth and whom the earth does not know, whose body the earth is, and who rules the earth within, he is thyself, the ruler within, the immortal (Br.Up. III. 24)".

 

Brahman as Redeemer (Rekka)

 

To Ramanuja. the idea of God as redeemer of souls, who descends to the earth for the purpose of redemption is of great importance for religion. The faith in the redemptive character of the redeemer (Rakiṣyatīti vivāsa) is considered to be an important element in the context of surrender of the Self to God (Prapatti). This kind of

 

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relationship between God and the individual souls is known as Rakya Rakaka Sambandha, The Lord is the Rakaka and the individual soul is the rakya, According to this concept God is the guardian or the redeemer or saviour of souls, In the very first prayer-poem with which Ramanuja commences his commentary on the Brahma Sūtras, he refers to God's promise of redemption of souls (Rakaika dikshe], Soul-making or moulding of souls is thus looked upon as the very purpose of the world process.

 

The protection that God offers to the individual soul takes also the form of a promise of rescuing him from the sense of fear (abhaya pradāna): The Vainava teachers refer lovingly to the words of Sri Rama in the Rāmāyana where he says that it is his sacred resolve to rescue all, beings from fear (Abhayam sarva bhtebhyo dadāmi etad vratam mama). God has pledged himself to save all souls, even the erring ones. As the Bhagavad Gita says 'I am disposed equally towards all creatures, there is not anyone specially hateful, any specially beloved, to Me." (Bh, Gi. IX.29). 'He is the protector of the whole world, bhuvanasya goptā.'

 

Here Ramanuja introduces the idea of the modus operandi of the grace of God (anugraha or kiPa) which plays such an important part in the act of the redemption of souls. He writes (11.2.5) "The divine supreme person, whose wishes are eternally fulfilled, who is all-knowing and the ruler of all, whose every purpose is immediately realized, having engaged in sport befitting his might and greatness and having settled that work is of a two-fold nature, such and such works being good and such and such being evil, and having bestowed on all individual souls, bodies and sense-organs capacitating them for entering on such work and power of ruling those bodies and organs: and having himself entered into those souls as their inner Self abides within them, controlling them as an animating

 

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and cheering principle. The souls, on their side, endowed with all the powers imparted to them by the Lord and witb bodies and organs bestowed by Him, and forming abodes in which he dwells: apply themselves on their own part and in accordance with their own wishes, to works either good or evil. The Lord, then recognizing them who perform good actions as one who obeys his commands, blesses them with piety, riches, worldly pleasures and final release while him who transgresses his command he causes experience the opposite of all these. There is thus no room whatever for objections founded on deficiency on the Lord's part, of independence in his dealings with men and the like. Nor can he be arraigned with being pitiless and merciless. For by pity we understand the inability, on somebody's part, to bear the pain of other, coupled with a disregard of his own advantage. When pity has the effects of bringing about the transgression of law on the part of the pitying person, it is in no way to his credit: it rather implies the charge of unmanliness (weakness), and it is creditable to control and subdue it. For otherwise it would follow that to subdue and chastise one's enemies is something to be blamed. What the Lord himself aims at is ever to increase happiness to the highest degree, and to this end it is essential that he should reprove and reject the infinite and intolerable mass of sins which accumulate in the course of beginning and endless aeons, and thus check the tendency on the part of individual beings to transgress his laws. For thus he says: 'To them ever devoted worshipping me in love, I give that 'means of wisdom by which they attain to me. In mercy to them dwelling in their hearts do I destroy the darkness born of ignorance with the brilliant light of knowledge" (Bh.G. X, 10, 11)

 

Ramanuja dwells lovingly on the two characteristics of the Lord as the redeemer of souls. They are Saulabhya

 

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or easy accessibility and Sausilya or graciousness, God steps down from his throne to reach the soul struggling in Samsāra and even becomes one like Him (Sajātiya), suffers with him, endures pain with him and leads him by the hand like a friend or comrade, like a lover or guide. He thus leads the individual soul to the realization of its inherent high estate which had been obscured by the influence Karma.  Ramanuja describes this in the form of a parable quoted earlier of the King's son being restored to his father.

 

In this parable the fully trustworthy person is the Acharya or guru or the mediator between God and man, according to Ramanuja's vaiśṇava tradition. The 'he' who then takes steps to recover his son is the Lord himself who incarnates himself as the redeemer age after age. The redeemer is so condescending to his beloved devotee that he says in the Glta (lX. 2): "I reckon that when to a loving devotee .. .I deliver my own self entirely, even that is no sufficient compensation for the love he has borne (for me). I reckon too, that even when I have given my Own self to him I have done little or nothing for him. That is how I think of my beloved lovers" Jnānī tvatmaiva me matam' The Jnāni is to be known as my very soul.' Commenting on Gita VIl. 18: Ramanuja says: "As for the Jnānī l deem him as my own self that is, my very life depends on him. If it be asked how, the reason is that in the same manner that he cannot live without me-his highest goal-I cannot live without him". Beautiful reciprocity, indeed, between the redeemer and redeemed, the Raksaka and the Rakśya.