An Overview Of Some Salient Facets Of Our Sampradaya - I
The philosophy of Visishtaadhvaita as envisioned and established by Bhagavath Ramanuja through his masterpiece Sri Bhashyam, a commentary on Veda Vyasa’s Brahma Suthras, extols Sriman Narayana (that is, both Narayana and Lakshmi) as the Primordial cause and Supreme Reality.
There are two other prominent Vedantha philosophies — Advaitha of Adhi Sankara and Dhvaitha of Madhvacharya — which also have the Upanishads, Brahma Suthras and Bhagavath Gita as the cornerstones. The three together are called the Prasthaana Thrayam.
In Visishtaadvaitha, Acharyas play a crucial role by facilitating the elevation of the Jivathma. The Lord is the foremost of the Acharyas as the preaching descends on one-to-one basis. Nammazhwar (who is also held as an Acharya), Nathamunigal, Aala Vandhaar, Sri Ramanuja and Sri Vedantha Desika have made great contribution to the Sampradaya.
We shall, in this Note, see the gist of important features of the Vedantha philosophy, with special reference to Visithaadvaitha.
Three Philosophies: Advaitha (Adhi Sankara), Visishtaadvaitha (Sri Ramanuja) and Dhvaita (Madhvacharya).
Common Authorities (Prasthaana Thrayam): Upanishads, Brahma Suthras and Bhagavath Gita are the commonly-accepted authorizes of all Vedhantha philosopies.
Four Vedas: Rug, Yaju, Sama and Atharva.
Six Vedangas: Siksha (phonetics and phonology), Chandhas (meter), Vyakarna (grammar), Niruktha (etymology), Jyothisha (astrology and astronomy) and Kalpa (ritual).
10 Important Upanishads: Isavasya Upanishad, Kena Upanishad, Kata Upanishad, Prasna Upanishad, Mundaka Upanishad, Mandukya Upanishad, Thaithiriya Upanishad, Aithreya Upanishad, Chandhogya Upanishad and Bruhadhaaranyaka Upanishad.
Four Yugas: Krutha, Thretha, Dwaapara and Kali.
Four Varnas: Brahmana, Kshathriya, Vaisya and Sudhra are the four sects of the mankind.
Four Asramas: Brahmachari, Gruhastha, Vaanaprastha and Sanyasi are the four stages of life.
Smruthis: These are Codes of Conduct to be adhered to by the people of different Varnas in different Yugas. Manu, Sandilya, Parasara, Yagyavalkya and Haritha are some of the sages who have authored Smruthis.
Two Ithihasas: Ramayana and Mahabharatha.
18 Puranas: These are divided into three groups — Saathvika, Raajasa and Thaamasa Puranas. Saathvika Puranas: Vishnu Puranam (considered as the Purana Rathnam), Srimath Bhagavatha Puranam, Naarada Puranam, Paadhma Puranam, Varaha Puranam and Garuda Puranam. Raajasa Puranas: Vaamana Puranam, Brahma Puranam, Markandeya Puranam, Bhavishya Puranam, Brahmaanda Puranam and Brahmavaivartha Puranam. Thaamasa Puranas: Mathsya Puranam, Koorma Puranam, Agni Puranam, Linga Puranam, Siva Puranam, Skandha Puranam.
Five Forms of the Lord Supreme: Para (in Sri Vaikuntam), Vyuha (in ThirupPaarkadal and Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradhyumna and Anirudhdha), Vibhava (the Avatharas), Antharyami (in the heart of every Jivathma) and Archa (in temples).
12 Sub-Vyuha Forms: Kesava, Narayana, Madhava, Govinda, Vishnu, Madhusudhana, Thrivikrama, Vamana, Sridhara, Hrishikesa, Padmanabha and Damodara.
10 Avatharas:Mathsya, Koorma, Varaha, Nrusimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Balarama, Krishna and Kalki.
Acharyas: Sriman Narayana, Lakshmi, Vishvaksena, Nammazhwar, Nathamunigal, UyyakKondaar, Manakkal Nambi, Aala Vandhaar, Periya Nambi, Sri Ramanuja, … Sri Vedantha Desika, and so on.
Three Thathvas: Chith (sentient), Achith (non-sentient) and Iswara (God) are the three Realities.
Three Rahasyas: Moola Manthram, Dhvayam and Charama Sloka are the three Secrets.
Means of Salvation: Bhakthi (devotion) and Prapaththi (Surrender) are the only means.
Three Yogas: Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakthi Yoga.
Five Senses of Knowledge: Eye, Ear, Nose, Mouth and Skin are the Jnana Indhriyas.
Five Senses of Action: Tongue, Hand, Leg, genital and Anus are the five Karma Indhriyas.
26 Realities: 1. Moola Prakruthi, 2. Mahath, 3. Ahankaara, 4 to 8. The five Thanmaathras or the Subtle Elements (sound, touch, sight, taste and smell), 9 to 13. The Pancha Bhuthas or Gross Elements (ether, air, light, water and earth), 14. Manas (the Mind), 15 to 19. Jnana Indhriyas or the five senses of knowledge (ear, tongue, eye, nose and skin), 20 to 24. Karma Indhriyas or the five senses of action (mouth, hand, foot, genital and anus), 25. Jeevan and 26. Iswaran are the Thathvas.
Three Qualities of Nature: Sathva (that is noble and leads to happiness), Rajas (that is mediocre and leads to restlessness) and Thamas (that is undesirable and leads to indolence and evil) are the qualities of Prakruthi.
We shall continue with some other features in due course.
Meet you in the next Note.
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