Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 08 Jul 2021


What are the goals of Vishishta Advaita and Dvaita philosophies?

Note: This article is meant for intellectuals only

[Śrī Bharath Krishna asked: Pādanamaskāraṃ Swāmi, please answer the following questions of mine. Thank you so much for giving wonderful answers to all of my questions. From Your knowledge I have understood that Śrī Ādi Śaṇkarācārya gave the Advaita philosophy for atheists existing in His time so that they become theists. Although Ādi Śaṇkaracārya made His followers believe that they themselves are God, His actual intention was to gradually reveal the complete truth over time. Now You revealed the complete truth that no soul is God (except Human Incarnation of God) and God is actually unimaginable. So I have no doubt related to Ādi Śaṇkaracārya's Advaita philosophy and Your teachings. But I have doubts regarding Viśiṣṭa Advaita and Dvaita philosophies. It is clear from these two philosophies that no soul is complete God, it is either part of God or different from God. What are the goals of these two philosophies? What did the followers of these two philosophies want to achieve?]

Swāmi Replied:- Rāmānuja and Madhva are to be understood as the annexures of Śaṇkara. Śaṇkara started the spiritual journey of theists, who were originally atheists and were converted by Him into theists, but, in such conversion, He had to maintain them on a wrong background that they were already God. There was no other way for Him except to create and maintain this wrong background. The atheists agreed in the existence of God because they were God and they existed. Then, such converted theists asked Śaṇkara that why they were not getting any miraculous power even to create an atom while God is the creator of this entire world. Śaṇkara told that they shall worship God to get pure mind in order to get rid of the influence of practical ignorance (Ajñānavikṣepa) experienced for a long time. In such worship, theoretical devotion and practical service were stressed by Śaṇkara. In course of time, Rāmānuja came and stressed on theoretical devotion saying that they are part of God. Then, Madhva came and stressed on practical service keeping Hanumān as example and told that they are neither God, nor part of God and they are separate servants of God.

In this way, the extended philosophy of Śaṇkara (worship to God) was elaborated and supported by Rāmānuja and Madhva because both these were incarnations of Śaṇkara only. It is a single programme of education conducted in 3 stages called school (Jñānayoga of Śaṇkara), college (Bhaktiyoga of Rāmānuja) and university (Karmayoga of Madhva). The three institutions representing the three divine preachers presents the single programme of education in three subsequent steps. The preacher is one and the same preaching in these three institutions because the same university professor can teach as lecturer in college and as teacher in school. The student passing through these three institutions is also one and the same soul as the academic journey of the student progressed.