SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImadh varavaramunayE nama:
The comprehension of the import of Vedas
True Character of Individual soul and God
Having stated the essence of the Vedas, Bhagavad Rāmānuja explains the
true character of the individual soul and God in the next two passages.
1. The true character of the individual soul does not contain the manifold differences found
in the bodies of celestial beings, humans, animals, plants and in other objects which are
transformations of Nature (Prakṛti).
2. The individual soul is characterized by (or has for its attributes) only knowledge and
3. When the differences due to the body are destroyed, the difference between one soul
and the other cannot be defined through words. Each soul can know the difference only
4. Knowledge or consciousness is the core character of all souls. This is equal in all souls.
The Ācārya teaches that the soul is different from and superior to the body and physical objects.
The soul is not made of elements which make up the body and other objects, and cause them to undergo constant change. Consciousness is the core character of the soul; consciousness and bliss are its attributes. The core consciousness is equal in all souls. Bondage causes the
expansion or contraction of the attribute-consciousness. This produces a temporary difference.
When the differences due to the bodies are destroyed, no difference can be described between
one soul and the next. They will all be exactly the same. The difference can only be known by
one’s own experience of oneself.
Through this description, the opinion of atheists that the body is the soul, either directly or
indirectly, is denied. By noting the difference between the core-consciousness (svarūpa/dharmi
jñāna) and the attribute-consciousness (dharma-bhūta- jñāna), the opinion of Advaitins that the
soul is consciousness without attributes is also denied. The opinion of some schools that there
is inherent difference in the essential character of the souls by which they can be distinguished
has been rejected.
1. This universe is constituted of sentient souls and non-sentient Nature.
2. God is defined as Antaryāmin who controls everything by being within everything.
3. God is the sole cause of creation, protection and destruction of the universe, and the
liberation of souls from bondage.
4. God is full of endless auspiciousness, and is the opposite of all blemish.
5. The true character of God is unique and incomparable with that of anything else.
6. He is the repository of countless, supremely excellent auspicious attributes.
7. He is known through the Vedānta through words like Sarvātma, Paraṃ Brahma, Paraṃ
Jyotiḥ, Paratattva, Paramātma, Sat, etc.
8. He is Bhagavān Nārāyaṇa who is the Supreme Person.
9. The purpose of Vedas is to sing His greatness.
10. The Bheda Śṛti sings His greatness by referring to His position as indwelling controller of
all sentient and non-sentient entities. They refer to all other entities as His potencies, His
aspects, His wealth, His form, His mode, His body etc. since He is the Supreme Soul
and Controller of all.
11.The Abheda Śṛti also sings His greatness, but by using Samānādhikaraṇya with respect
to the sentient and non-sentient entities.
Bhagavad Rāmānuja asserts that the purpose of Vedānta is to explain the greatness of
Bhagavān Nārāyaṇa, who is the Supreme Person. The word ‘Brahman’ denotes the entity which
is excellent in its character and attributes, and which is capable of conferring excellence on
others. The purpose of scripture is to sing His greatness.
God is distinguished from everything else. The Māyāvādins hold that the Brahman is essentially
the same as the soul. This view is denied here. The true character of God transcends
everything including the character of the soul. Unlike the soul, which undergoes bondage in the
form of birth and death due to Karma, the true character of God is untouched by any such
blemish. It is full of supremely excellent auspicious attributes like compassion, beauty, strength,
etc. The Vedānta employs various words to describe Him – Sarvātman (the Soul of all), Paraṃ
Brahman (The Highest Excellence), Paraṃ Jyotiḥ (The Supreme Radiance), Paratattvam (The
Supreme Real), and Sat (The (ultimate) Truth).
The verses are in the Vedānta can be seen to be of two key categories: Bheda and Abheda.
The Bheda (difference) verses clearly bring out the difference between God and other entities.
They identify Him as the inner controller of all. They call other entities as His potencies, His
aspects, His forms, His modes, His wealth or His bodies. Through this they celebrate and
communicate His ability to direct and control other entities. They teach that all entities – sentient and non-sentient – are paratantra or subordinate to the will of God. He creates, sustains destroys the composite universe made of sentient and non-sentient entities solely in accordance to His will. He is also the liberator of the souls from bondage. Though this ability to liberate is also an auspicious attribute, it deserves separate mention since it is relevant to students of Vedānta.
The Abheda verses recognize that all entities are inseparably related to God. So, they employ
Samānādhikaraṇya with respect to other entities, while talking about God. Samānādhikaraṇya is
the employment of words with different meanings in the same case in coordination. For example in ‘the bird is blue’, the word ‘blue’ refers only to the color. But ‘blue bird’ does not refer to the bird which is the same as color blue. It refers to the bird whose form has the color blue for its attribute. In the same way, the Vedānta says, ‘the universe is God’, ‘God is the individual soul’, etc. In these cases, it does not mean that God is exactly the same as the universe or the soul,
but that God has for His body or form or mode, the universe and the individual soul. They are
always one since all entities are inseparably related to God, as may be thought of the bird and
color blue, it becomes possible to use words implying one to refer to the other.
The purpose of Bheda Śṛti is to explain the transcendental glory of God. The purpose of Abheda
Śṛti is to explain that everything has this glorious and excellent being for its Soul. God is both
great and related to the universe. He is both transcendental and immanent. In this manner, the
two types of verses complement each other to explain the complex reality of the universe.
The opinion of some schools which declare one set of verses to be more important than the
other set miss this point completely. There is no justification in the Vedānta itself which favors
one set of verses over another. Scholars concoct some reason and argue that the verses
desirable to them are the better ones, and that verses undesirable to them provide only primitive understanding. Bhagavad Rāmānuja effortlessly solves this problem by providing a framework in which all verses of the Vedānta can be understood equally and consistently.
adiyen ranganatha ramanuja dasan
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