Fundamentals of Visistadvaita Vedanta: A Study Based on Vedanta Desika's Tattva Mukta Kalapa

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  • Book Name Fundamentals of Visistadvaita Vedanta: A Study Based on Vedanta Desika's Tattva Mukta Kalapa
  • Author S. M. S. Chari
  • Language, Pages English, 442 Pgs. (HB)
  • Upload Date 2022 / 07 / 27
  • ISBN 9788120802667, 8120802667

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Fundamentals of Visistadvaita Vedanta: A Study Based on Vedanta Desika's Tattva Mukta Kalapa
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The doctrine of Visistadvaita, expounded by Ramanuja, was developed into a sound system of philosophy by the most brilliant of his successors, Venkatanatha, 'popularly known as Vedanta Desika'. His chief contribution to the intellectual foundation of the system lay in the composition of the text of Tattva-mukta-kalapa, a treatise of significant philosophical import left for posterity.

In this volume, which is a study of Visistadvaita based on Tattva-mukta-kalapa, the line of arguments advanced by Vedanta Desika is closely followed. The major and important issues related to the philosophy of Visistadvaita--its basic ontological and epistemological approach, the concept of the individual self, God and universe, the idea of sadhana and mukti, and the doctrine of substance and attribute--are all brought within the purview of discussion. The contemporary rival schools represented by Carvakas, Buddhists and Jainas, Nyaya-Vaisesikas, Mimamsakas and the Advaitins, of both orthodox and unorthodox camps, are successfully encountered. In the textual light of Tattva-mukta-kalapa, the notion that Visistadvaita is a theological system is dispelled, and its philosophic core is established beyond doubt.

The author maintains 'the original orthodox style, so characteristic of the ancient Acaryas', in his delineation of topics; yet the exposition remains free from all kinds of scholastic trappings.

The volume is a definitive study of Visistadvaita doctrines, both in their 'philosophical as well as theological aspects. Its in-depth probe of 'the fundamental epistemological and philosophical issues...common to all schools' both in the East and the West makes its appeal to those interested 'in understanding the basic problems of philosophy.

About The Author

S. M. Srinivasa Chari (b. 1919, Mysore) has a brilliant academic record. He is an M. A. in Philosophy from the University of Mysore and a recipient of Ph.D. from the University of Madras. He is a finished Sanskrit scholar trained by eminent traditional teachers. He was a Research Scholar at the University of Madras and a Fellow of the Institute of Philosophy at Amalner in Maharashtra.

Dr. Chari joined the Ministry of Education, Government of India, after the completion of his university career. He retired in 1976 as Joint Educational Adviser.

Dr. Chari has travelled widely. He has participated in international conferences abroad and addressed learned assemblies at University Centres on aspects of Indian philosophy and religion. He is the author of Advaita and Visistadvaita and Vaisnavism



Visistadvaita is one of the great religio-philosophical systems of the world. There are very few modern critical expositions of it based on the bhasya, supplemented by later erudite works.

Dr. Srinivasa Chari has acquired quite a profound knowledge of Visistadvaita from great pundits with whom he studied for years the texts in original. His modern education has endowed him with the capacity to present classical ideas in a lucid and connected way.

Depending on the original texts, in particular on Vedanta Desika's Tattva-mukta-kalapa, Dr. Chari has written an excellent monograph which authoritatively expounds Visistadvaita. Moreover, it attempts to establish that this is a system of philosophy in conformity with logic and experience.



This Book attempts to present in a systematic way the fundamental doctrines of Visistadvaita Vedanta associated with Sri Ramanuja based on the study of Tattva-mukta-kalapa, the magnum opus of Sri Vedanta Desika, who was one of the most distinguished successors of Ramanuja. Although in recent years quite a few books have been written in English on the philosophy and religion of Ramanuja, Visistadvaita as a sound system of philosophy has not received the treatment it deserves. The emphasis placed by Ramanuja on the acceptance of savisesa Brahman or the personal Supreme Being endowed with attributes as the ultimate Reality of philosophy on the strength of the scriptural evidence has led some scholars to feel that Ramanuja's system is essentially theological. Theology understood in the correct sense as an enquiry into the nature of God, is no doubt an important part of Visistadvaita, even as it is in the case of many other Indian philosophical systems. But the Visistadvaita system has both a philosophical as well as theological aspect, and the former is of greater importance for the reason that it gives meaning and value to the latter. The meta-physical doctrines, developed by the Visistadvaitin on the basis of which the system is founded, cannot be understood easily unless one has made a deep study of ancient treatises in the original. Next to the Sri-bhiifYa of Ramanuja, there are two out- standing philosophical classics, Tattva-mukta-kalapa and Satadusani, written by Vedanta Desika. A study of these texts is an essential prerequisite for getting a deeper insight into Visistadvaita tenets. But these are highly technical works written in terse Sanskrit and presented in the classical style replete with subtleties of dialectical arguments. The two texts have therefore remained beyond the approach of ordinary scholars and modern students of philosophy. It is significant that barring passing references to the works, an authentic translation of them has not been attempted in any European language. Even among the existing scholars, brought up strictly in the traditional disciplines of scholarship, there are very few who can claim to have studied them fully. Realising the importance of these two treatises for a fuller understanding of Visistadvaita, I published 1961 a book, Advaita and Visistadvaita, covering a study of Satadusani, which is an important polemical work. I have now attempted to cover Tattva-mukta-kalapa, the other important classic, in the present book.

The main objective of this task is to remove a prevalent impression that Visistadvaita is primarily theology and establish that it is essentially a system of philosophy. It is a system which has been developed, apart from an appeal to scriptural authority, on the basis of well-formulated epistemological, ontological, cosmological and religious doctrines. If there is a single authentic work in which this fact has been demonstrated, it is in Tattva-mukta-kalapa of Vedanta Desika. The scope of this book is not confined to an exposition of Tattva-mukta-kalapa. Nor is it aimed merely at presenting a narrative account of Visistadvaita philosophy and religion. On the basis of the rich material contained in the original Sanskrit text, I have endeavoured to present a critical and comparative account of the basic doctrines of Visistadvaita in their logical sequence. In discussing these doctrines, I have paid greater attention to the underlying issues in order to bring out their philosophic significance. I have therefore avoided, to the extent possible, appeal to scriptural authority. I have also tried to present the doctrines in their original orthodox style, so characteristic of the ancient Acaryas, and therefore refrained from temptations to use the familiar concepts of Western philosophy by way of comparison, because this can often prove misleading.

So far as I am aware, it is for the first time that an attempt is being made to present in English the Visistadvaita doctrines comprehensively on the basis of this authoritative text. Anyone interested in an in-depth study of Visistadvaita Vedanta will find this book invaluable. The doctrines discussed in the book are related to the fundamental epistemological and philosophical issues, which are common to all schools of philosophic thought whether in the East or the West. The book will therefore be useful to all those who are interested in understanding the basic problems of philosophy.

In a work of this type, it is difficult to avoid the use of technical terms in Sanskrit. I have however tried to minimise their use. Wherever I have adopted the Sanskrit words in the body of the text for want of an appropriate English equivalent, I have given the nearest English equivalent. Wherever I have used English terms, I have also given in brackets the Sanskrit words to avoid possible misunderstanding. Sanskrit quotations used in the body of the book have also been explained in English. Except for the commonly used words, all Sanskrit words have been diacritically marked. I have also given a glossary of the Sanskrit terms. I have taken special pains to express the highly technical subject matter in an as simple and lucid manner as possible so that even lay readers should have little difficulty in understanding the book.

In the preparation of this book I have confined my study mainly to the original Sanskrit works on Visistadvaita, drawing material primarily from Vedanta Desikas Tattva-mukta-kalapa and the commentaries thereon, Satadusani, Nyaya-siddhanjana and Nyaya-parisuddhi as well as Ramanuja's Sri-bhasya along with Sruta-prakasika. The other books consulted are indicated in the footnotes. I have also consulted the leading scholars in South India on Vedanta in an attempt to make this book as authoritative a version of the Visistadvaita doctrines as possible. I hope the book will be a useful contribution to the study of philosophy in general and Vedanta in particular. It is with great pleasure that I record my obligations. I must first pay my respects to my revered guru, the late Sri Gostipuram Sowmyanarayanacharyaswami (1878-1943), under whose feet I had the rare privilege and fortune of studying Vedanta in the traditional manner. But for his initiation into the essentials of the Visistadva ita philosophy and his blessings, it would have been impossible for me to accomplish the study of Satadilta1Ji and Tattva-mukta-kalapa. I also owe my success in the present undertaking to another guru, the late Sri Madhurantakam Veeraraghavacharyaswami (1900-83) under whom I studied the original text. I am deeply indebted to both of these Acaryas.

I should also pay my respects to His Holiness Abhinava Ranganatha Brahmatantra Parakalaswami (1884-1966) whose blessings received in my early age have enabled me to understand Visi~tadvaita philosophy. Though I could not study directly under him, I have had the opportunity of receiving considerable knowledge and benefit in the preparation of the present book from three of his learned disciples-Sri Saragur Varadachar, Sri K. S. Varadachar and Sri E. S. Varadachar, As a token of my gratitude to them and also in recognition of the unique contribution made to Visistadvaita Vedanta by H.H. Parakalaswami by his scholarly commentaries on Sri-bhasya and Tattva-mukta-kalapa, I respectfully dedicate the book to him.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Prof. S. Srinivasaraghavan who was kind enough to go through the entire manuscript and offer valued criticism and helpful suggestions. I am also grateful to my esteemed friends, Prof. L. V. Rajagopal and Sri S. Srinivasachar, who have read through the entire typescript and made useful suggestions for improvement. I should also thank Prof. S. s, Raghavachar, Dr. N. S. Anantharangachar, Sri K. S. Krishna Tatachar and Sri A. Srinivasaraghavan who looked through a portion of the typescript and offered useful comments. Prof. T. R. V. Murti, who recently passed away, went through the typescript and came out with a number of valuable suggestions. I express my indebtedness to the departed soul. My thanks are due to all those who have helped me in one way or another .and, in particular, to my wife without whose loving cooperation. I would not have been able to complete this book. I should also express my grateful thanks to the esteemed Professor K. Satchidananda Murty for an evincing keen interest in my work and for graciously writing the Foreword.




Foreword vii
Preface ix
Scheme of Transliteration xvii
List of Abbreviation xix
Meaning of the Term Visistadvaita   1;   Development of Visistadvaita as a Ssystem of Philosophy   2;  Vedanta Desika and Visistadvaita   5; Tattva-Mukta-Kalpa as a Philosophical Treatise   7;   Nature and Scope of Tattva-Mukta-Kalpa   9;   Substance of Tattva-Mukta-Kalpa   12;   Central Theme of Tattva-Mukta-Kalpa   15;   Scope of the Present Book   16


Chapter One  
Definition and Classification of Categories   22;   The Concept of Substance and Attribute   26;   Visistadvaita View   26;   Criticism of Buddhist view Denying Substance   28;   Criticism of Advaitin's Theory of Difference as Illusory   32;   Criticism of Bhaskara's Theory of Bhedabheda   35;   Criticism of the Jaina Theory of Anekanta   38;   The Concept of Relation   42;   Nayaa-Vaisesika Theory of Samavaya   42;   Visistadvaita Theory of Aprthak-siddhi  43;   The Concept of Body-Soul Relation   47;   The Concept of Cause and Effect   52;   Ontological Implication of Causality   52;   Criticism of Carvaka View of Causality   54;   Criticism of Advaitin's Theory of Causality   55;   Criticism of Nyaya-Vaisesika Theory of Cause and effect   59;   Criticism of the Sankhya Theory of Cause and Effect   61;   Criticism of the Buddhist Doctrine of Momentariness   63;   Conclusion   72


Chapter Two  
Perception   74;   Nature and Content of Pratyaksa   74;   Advaitin's Theory of Nirvikalpaka Pratyaksa   75;   Criticism of Buddhist Theory of Savikalpaka Pratyaka  78;   Criticism of Bhartrhari's Theory of Sabda-dhyasa   80;   The Theory of Supernormal Perception   82;   Inference   84;   Anumana as a valid and an Independent Pramana   84;   Method of Estabishing Logical Concomitance   87;   Type of Syllogism   88;   The Components of syllogism   90;   Logical Fallacies   91;   Rules Governing the Logical Argument   92;   Rules Regulating Philosophic Debate   94;   Verbal Testimony   96;   Sabda as a Valid and Independent Pramana   96;   Authoritativeness of the Veda   99;   Vedas and Agamas of Other Schools   104;   Authoritativeness of Smrtis and Puranas   105;   Authoritativeness of Pancaratra Agama   106;   Other Pramanas   107;   Smrti   107;   Upamana   109;   Arthapatti   111;   Anupalabdhi   111;   Relative validity of Pramanas   113


Chapter Three  
Criticism of Mimamsa Theory   117;   Connotation and Denotation of Words   121;   Criticism of Sphotavada   126;   Buddhist Theory of Vakyrtha   128;   Function of Words in Sentence   129;   Import of Samanadhikarana-vakya   131;   Import of Kaksana-vakya   137


Chapter Four  
Knowledge as n Attribute of Jiva   140; Knowledge as Self-Luminous   142;   Knowledge as Eternal   147;   Knowledge as Substance   150;   The Theory of Transcendental Knowledge   153


Chapter Five  
Subject-Object Relation   159;   Theory of Visistadvaita   160;   Criticism of Yogacara Buddhist Theory of Knowledge   161;   Criticism of Sautranttka Buddhist Theory of Knowledge   167;   Criticism of the Theory of Madhyamika Buddhist   169;   Theory of Truth and Error   171;   Criticism of Buddhist Theories of Error   173;   Criticism of Advaitin's Theory of Error   175;   Theory of Satkhyati   176;   Theory of Akhyati   179;   Criticism of the Theory of Anyathakhyati   180;   Self-Validity of Knowledge   183


Chapter Six 187
Jiva as Different form Body and Mind   188;   Jiva as the Subject of Knowledge   191;   Jiva as Self-Luminous   193;   Jiva as Eternal   195;   Jiva as Karta and Bhokta  197;   Theory of Free-Will and Determinism   201;   Plurality of the Individual Selves   203;   Criticism of Ekajivavada   205;   Jiva as Anu   207;   Criticism of Jaina Theory of Jiva   208;   Criticism of Nyaya Theory of Jiva as Vibhu   209;   Jiva and Brahman   212


Chapter Seven 216
Proofs for the Existence of God   217;   Criticism of Nyaya Arguments for Existence of God   219;   The Nature of Ultimate Reality   223;   The Theory of Nirguna Brahman   229;   God and His Attributes   232;   Material Causality of Brahman   242;   Criticism of Yadavaprakasa Theory   243;   Criticism of Bhaskara's Theory   245;   Criticism of Vivartavada   245;   Visistadvaita Theory of Brahman as Material Cause of Universe   246


Chapter Eight  
Criticism of the Doctrine of Avidya   252;   Criticism of the Theory of Universe as Illusory   260;   Universe as an Integral Part of Brahman 271


Chapter Nine  
Eligibility of Jiva for Moksa   277;   Bhakti as the Means to Moksa   280;   Theories of Jnana as the Means to Moksa   287;   Place of Karma in the Spiritual Discipline   295;   Karma and Upasana   300;   Removal of Punya and Papa by Upasana   302;   Path to Moksa   306;   The Nature of Mukti   307;   Criticism of Other Theories of Mukti   310;   Criticism of the Theory of Jivan-Mukti 314


Chapter Ten  
Nature and Order of Evolution   317;   Theory of Pancikarana   321;   Criticism of Sankhya and Naiyayika Theories of Evolution   323;   Nature of the Sense Organs   324;   Theory of Space (Akasa)   328;   Nature of Other Elements   331;   The Element of Vayu   331;   The Element of Agni   334;   The Element of Prithivi   335;   The Theory of Time (Kala)   337;   The Doctrine of Nitya-Vibhuti   340


Chapter Eleven  
Visistadvaita Theory of Attributes   344;   Attributes of Cosmic Matter   344;   Attributes of the Five Elements   345;   Sakti as an Attribute of Causal Substances   350;   Samyoga as Relation   351;   Nayaya-Vaisesika Theory of Attributes   353;   Material Attribute   354;   Mental Attributes   361;   Ethical Attributes   365;   Other Categories   369;   Nayaya Theory of Karma   369;   Nyaya Theory of Samanya   371;   Visistadvaita Concept of Jati   373;   The Concept of Visesa   377;   The Concept of Abhava   378


Chapter Twelve  


Glossary 401
Bibliography 415
Index 417

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