Author Topic: The Differences  (Read 8508 times)

karthikeyan M

  • Guest
The Differences
« on: May 04, 2009, 01:03:39 AM »
Can anyone tell me what differences are made by Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva respectively.



  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47915
    • View Profile
Re: The Differences
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2009, 10:09:05 AM »
Dear karthikeyan. M

Sankara said that Brahman and the individual soul, which comprises
of mind, ego, intellect and mind-stuff, (Chittam) are having no
differences and they are one and the same without second.  What
is obstructing the seeker to 'see' the differences is his ego, which
creates all sorts of variety, like I and mine.  When the mind is
destroyed (Mano Nasa) along with its siblings of ego, intellect and
the mind stuff, the individual knows no difference and he is Brahman.
The merger is Moksha or liberation.  The individual, the world and
the personal gods are not imaginations.  Jeeva, Jagat and Iswara
are only mind's fabrications.  This is Non dualism of Sankara,
called Advaita, No Two.

Ramanuja said that the difference is there but is qualified.  The seeker
should pray and meditate on Brahman, [he called it Narayana] and
go to Vaikunta, Narayana's abode, and be there enjoying Narayana's august presence there.  At the end of aeon, the individual merges with Brahman [Narayana].  After leaving the body on the earth, such an
individual gets a celestial body, for staying happily in Vaikunta.  The body goes off only at the end of aeon, for final merger.  This is qualified Non dualism or Visishtadvaita.  Two remains for some time and then becomes one.

Madhva said that the individual and the godhead, Brahman, Narayana have to remain only as dual, as two, for all the time.  At best, a blessed seeker goes to Vaikunta and serve Naryana, for all the time enjoying his company.  This is Always Two.  Dualism, or Dvaita.

Arunachala Siva.     

karthikeyan M

  • Guest
Re: The Differences
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2009, 12:28:11 AM »
Comprehending your reply,
Sankara: All are one, there is no second, but again why did Sankara choose 6 deities (Vishnu, Siva, Devi, Surya, Ganesha and later Skanda) and everything is Maya
Ramanuja: Every thing is Narayana and there is only one and he is Narayana
Madhva: Narayana, i.e Krishna and Brahman are different and they exist together, i.e two

On the second note: Ramanuja put foreword his doctrine only after objecting to Sankara's doctrine, did Madva put foreworth his doctrine objecting to both Ramanuja and Sankara



  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47915
    • View Profile
Re: The Differences
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2009, 10:36:31 AM »
Dear karthikeyan. M,

Sankara said that only Brahman is Real and everything is Maya.
Bhagavan Ramana also said this.  He has categorically said that
the jiva, the individual soul, the world, jagat and Iswara, personal
gods are all imaginary. (Who am I?).  However Sankara felt that
it is very difficult to practice or meditate upon the nameless and
formless Brahman, for most of the people.  Hence he came down
from his level and sang songs on Lalita, Siva, Rama, Krishna,
Ganesa and Subrahmanya and Surya.  He thus established Shanmatha, that is six ancillary ways of worship.  These are
Saivam, Saktam, Ganapathyam, Koumaram, Vaishnavam and Souram.
Bhagavan Ramana also recommended worships of any god to begin
with and also to chant the mantras of any god, as one may choose.

Why Ramanuja formed Vishishtadvaita?  In his times, there was only
Sankara's advaita in vogue.  But he said that god (Narayana) should be worshipped to reach his Abode, (Vaikunta) and then merge with him later.

Madhva did not object to Narayana or Krishna's worship.  But he
preferred Krishna since he was attracted by Krishna in Udupi temple.
Philosophically, he felt that the individual at all times, should remain
outside Narayana and serve Him and he cannot ever merge with Him.
Therefore he said it is always dualism.

Arunachala Siva.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47915
    • View Profile
Re: The Differences
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2009, 10:44:42 AM »
Dear karthikeyan. M,

Further, Ramanuja said that there is no caste or creed or asrama and
Narayana can be prayed by any human being.  This is the greatest
contribution of Ramanuja.  He thrashed casteism in his times.  In
Sankara's time, the caste system was no doubt in vogue, but he
was more interested in quashing other religions, like Buddhism,
and internal subways like, Poorva Mimasaka (which said karma
alone shall confer liberation, no need for self enquiry.  See also
the first verse of Upadesa Saram of Bhagavan Ramana.), Jaimini
and Vaishesika ( logic), Kapila and Patanjali (pure yoga marga) etc.,

Arunachala Siva.

karthikeyan M

  • Guest
Re: The Differences
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2009, 10:23:04 PM »
Is Brahman, a God?
Does Ramanuja establish that only Narayana is absolute and he is the everything (God)(unlike Sankara)
Does Madhva establish one cannot merge with Krishna or serve him
« Last Edit: May 05, 2009, 10:26:54 PM by karthikeyan M »


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5130
    • View Profile
Re: The Differences
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2009, 12:02:33 AM »
Dear Karthikeyan,

I think Subramanian has been explaining very lucidly your doubts. I felt a pictorial explanation of the theories of Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva would make it much easier -

The small circle in Visishtadvaita and Dvaita is "I" or "you" and the Big circle is any of Vishnu swarupam. Whereas in Advaita, there is only one circle, there is no small circle and big circle, there is only one. the "I" or "you", Narayana, Shiva, Shakti, or for that matter anything or anyone Christ, Allah, Buddha is one and the same and this is the eternal "I" as stated by Ramana, The Pure I.

Ramanuja and Madhva predominantly saw/focussed on the smaller circle whereas Shankara saw only the One whole circle!

My personal belief and understanding is that even a Visishtadvaitin and Dvaitin will ultimately get merged (Not to be taken Literally, Merging into whole is KNOWLEDGE or Gnana or 'to-know' or 'being') into the Whole - the One - Advaita Tatvam. I have come to understand that one begins his spiritual journey as a Dvaitin, then becomes a Visishtadvaitin and finally realises that He alone IS - Advaita Tatvam. That Sat-Chit-Ananda Tatvam is Advaita Tatvam. And when this happens He will Not Bother about Advaita or Dvaita or Visishtadvaita or any other theory.

You may right click and open in new window to view a bigger picture given above!

Hope it Helps! :)

« Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 12:40:15 AM by Nagaraj »
॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47915
    • View Profile
Re: The Differences
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2009, 10:26:07 AM »
Dear karthikeyan. M, and Nagaraj,

What Nagaraj explained  in his diagram is quite lucid.  Brahman is
non-form and non-name.  But when one comes to God, then all
names and forms start.  There will be Siva with trident and snakes,
there will be Narayana, with conchshell and discus and mace.  All
these are concessions to a person who cannot pray to a formless
and nameless godhead.   Sankara said that Brahman is one without
a second.  Hence, you are also not different from Brahman.  I and
Brahman are the one and the only substance without a second.  This
is Non dual.  Then, what is making us believe that we are different?
It is the ego/mind/body complex.  Once a person overcomes this
he is also Brahman.

Ramanuja and Madhva said, (presumably since what Sankara said
is difficult to contemplate), there is Narayana.  The people should
pray to Him, with love and devotion, desireless action and then reach Him.  After reaching him, i.e. after leaving body such a devotee goes to Vaikunta, and be there with Narayana in a celestial body and serve him. 

Then, the difference between Ramanuja and Madhwa comes up.
Ramanuja said that at the end of the aeon, such great devotees would merge with Him.  Madhwa said:  Nothing doing, we are always different from Narayana.  Our job is to pray to him and serve time,
for all the times.

Arunachala Siva.   

karthikeyan M

  • Guest
The Seven objections to Shankara's Advaita
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2009, 07:04:27 PM »
Thanks for the post,

Yes I did understand what these great people have said.

And more, going by your replies, Brahman is God or further deeper is there no god at all, its all maya and nothing is real ?
I came across this website which says;

The Seven objections to Shankara's Advaita

Ramanuja picks out what he sees as seven fundamental flaws in the Advaita philosophy to revise them. He argues:

I. The nature of Avidya. Avidya must be either real or unreal; there is no other possibility. But neither of these is possible. If Avidya is real, non-dualism collapses into dualism. If it is unreal, we are driven to self-contradiction or infinite regress.

II. The incomprehensibility of Avidya. Advaitins claim that Avidya is neither real nor unreal but incomprehensible, {anirvachaniya.} All cognition is either of the real or the unreal: the Advaitin claim flies in the face of experience, and accepting it would call into question all cognition and render it unsafe.

III. The grounds of knowledge of Avidya. No pramana can establish Avidya in the sense the Advaitin requires. Advaita philosophy presents Avidya not as a mere lack of knowledge, as something purely negative, but as an obscuring layer which covers Brahman and is removed by true Brahma-vidya. Avidya is positive nescience not mere ignorance. Ramanuja argues that positive nescience is established neither by perception, nor by inference, nor by scriptural testimony. On the contrary, Ramanuja argues, all cognition is of the real.

IV. The locus of Avidya. Where is the Avidya that gives rise to the (false) impression of the reality of the perceived world? There are two possibilities; it could be Brahman's Avidya or the individual soul's {jiva.} Neither is possible. Brahman is knowledge; Avidya cannot co-exist as an attribute with a nature utterly incompatible with it. Nor can the individual soul be the locus of Avidya: the existence of the individual soul is due to Avidya; this would lead to a vicious circle.

V. Avidya's obscuration of the nature of Brahman. Sankara would have us believe that the true nature of Brahman is somehow covered-over or obscured by Avidya. Ramanuja regards this as an absurdity: given that Advaita claims that Brahman is pure self-luminous consciousness, obscuration must mean either preventing the origination of this (impossible since Brahman is eternal) or the destruction of it - equally absurd.

VI. The removal of Avidya by Brahma-vidya. Advaita claims that Avidya has no beginning, but it is terminated and removed by Brahma-vidya, the intuition of the reality of Brahman as pure, undifferentiated consciousness. But Ramanuja denies the existence of undifferentiated {nirguna} Brahman, arguing that whatever exists has attributes: Brahman has infinite auspicious attributes. Liberation is a matter of Divine Grace: no amount of learning or wisdom will deliver us.

VII. The removal of Avidya. For the Advaitin, the bondage in which we dwell before the attainment of Moksa is caused by Maya and Avidya; knowledge of reality (Brahma-vidya) releases us. Ramanuja, however, asserts that bondage is real. No kind of knowledge can remove what is real. On the contrary, knowledge discloses the real; it does not destroy it. And what exactly is the saving knowledge that delivers us from bondage to Maya? If it is real then non-duality collapses into duality; if it is unreal, then we face an utter absurdity.

Bhagavad Ramanuja taught his followers to highly respect all Sri Vaishnavas irrespective of caste.

Cited from Sri Ramanuja, His Life, Religion, and Philosophy, published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
Ofcourse we(in the forum) people now cannot say Ramanuja got the points wrong we are not great people, as this being Bhagavan Ramana forum, as Bhagavan followed Sankara teachings, one can possible support the Sankara's points as against Ramanuja, which i don't want this information, but again going by your replies, Brahman is God or further deeper is there no god at all, its all maya and nothing is real ?

« Last Edit: May 07, 2009, 07:14:00 PM by karthikeyan M »


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47915
    • View Profile
Re: The Differences
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2009, 07:58:21 PM »
Dear karthikeyan. M.

I can reply to these seven objections by referring to Sankara's
books and Sureswara's various vaartikas. But these will be
only pedantics.  Meantime, please consider the following:

1. Your dream, is it real or unreal?  If it is real, a friend's death
in the dream state, should be known to you when you wake up.
If you dream of your dead grandfather, visiting your house, if
this dream is real, you should see him, as you wake up.  That
is, dream is real in dream state and unreal in real state. 

2.  Your dream is unreal.  Then you should not have the same
dream again and again.  I have seen such dreams. I have dreamt
that I was failing in Standard X, a number of times, even after
passing M.Sc.!   On top of all, the dreams should not take place
at all!  That is, after passing Std. X, I should not have the dream
of my failing in Std. X at all.  Why is it happening again and again
even after the completion of M.Sc successfully? It is because,
dream is unreal and real both.

3. The dream is neither real nor unreal.  There is no pramana for
the negative, it should be inferred.  The rope on the dark road
is neither real nor unreal.  When you think it is serpent, it is
serpent.  When you get 'enlightened' by a torch light, then it is
only a rope and not a snake.  Hence the snake is mithya, neither
real nor unreal.   

4. In the dream, if you are hungry, only your dream food should
satisfy your hunger.  If you get up and take two bananas, you
may even dream again that you are hungry.  Dream state and
waking state are two different perceptions.  One cannot satisfy
the need of the other.  That is why, Sankara called it mithya,
anirvachanyeam, in describable.  However much a girl reads
about sexual intercourse, she may not be able to 'experience'
it unless she sleeps with her husband, on the nuptial night.
Mithya is translated as seemingly real or seemingly unreal in
English for want of better words.  Mithya is described by
Sankara by some examples, like rope/serpent, silver/oyster shell,
water/water mirage.

5. Sankara is without match.  His is experiential. Due to extraordinary logical abilties, people can argue either in favour or against.  But Sankara is an experiencer and not a logician.  If Madhwa has brought about dualism, later, does it mean, that both Sankara and Ramanuja were wrong?  Saint Raghavendra during his times, defeated both advaitins and qualified advaitins.  Does it mean that only Raghavendra is correct and not everyone else? Everyone is correct
as per logic and view point.  But I repeat, that Sankara's was experiental.  Do not ask whether others were not experiential. 
Everyone was seeing a part of the elephant, and saying it was like
a tree, it was like a mountain, it was like a large fan, etc., But
only a few could see the full elephant.  Sankara, Saint Tiru Jnana
Sambandha  and Bhagavan Ramana saw the elephant in entirety.

6.  Even as per logic, one cannot prove the 'negative'.  If you know
good mathematics, I shall ask you a few questions:  Can you explain
what is minus two?   Why minus two divided by minus two is one?
Why minus two multipled by minus two is plus four?  Why zero
divided by two is infinity?  If zero divided by two is infinity, then
how minus two divided by minus two is one? 

7. Can you prove whether I am not a man?

8. Can you prove that Golda Meir was not woman?

9. A cow is not a cat?

10.  Fortunately, unlike Ramanuja and Madhwa, we are today in
virutal world of computers.  What is virtual reality? Is it unreality?
Is it reality?  Is it neither?  Is it either?  If Bhagavan Ramana
were to living in body today, He would have given the computer example, like He gave cinema-screen example and camera example. 

Arunachala Siva. 


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5130
    • View Profile
Re: The Differences
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2009, 09:09:12 AM »
Dear Karthikeyan, :)

Let alone Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva and others who propounded theories be! Why don't you find out the truth yourself? Why to follow or believe or accept any theories? may be its none of these - Advaita, Dvaita or Visishtadvaita! could be! who knows? the best course is to find out yourself!

Really, find out who is the Ramanuja Shankara or Madhva? I found out that They are all not different from me. They are all verily me. There is a Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva in me - I and not in the books or past or history or mythology.

The first lesson in Vedanta spirituality (as said by Vyasa) is that one should not simply believe anything written here but one has to understand, feel and only when one is convinced and becomes That should one accept what is being taught. Therefore find out for yourself what is THERE actually.

In your post, you have listed the set of points of Ramanuja against Advaita written by somebody on the Internet world according to his own understanding. Similarly why don't you list set of your own points on what you have understood? Validate your own self and not Shankara or Ramanuja or Madhva. Infact they are not going to offer any help to you! thats the reality!

The Reality is that there are no answers or confirmations or validations of what is Right or Wrong or what is Correct or False from anybody. Ultimately you will have to validate all of them by your own self. So why not investigate yourself?

Infact, There are no theories for the TRUTH. in some ways, Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva have only caused damage by propounding their theories including Buddha.

Investigating on these theories is only waste of time!

In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says -

uddhared atmanatmanam
natmanam avasadayet
atmaiva hy atmano bandhur
atmaiva ripur atmanah

A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well. Ramana has said ones own Self is ones Guru. That Self is the GURU you see whoever it may be!

Therefore, It rests only on you alone and not on Shankara or Ramanuja or Madhva or Buddha or anybody else.

We only read commentaries of Bhagavad Gita and various other Vedantic texts written by some one. Why not read it yourself and validate the real essence of Vetantic verses by yourself and not try to validate the commentator's interpretations! why to read the interpretations of others? By doing this one will progress faster whereas if one gets stuck with the theories of Shankara or Ramanuja or Madhva or Buddha, it will only halt ones progress spiritually!

Instead, just take the word by word meaning of the Sanskrit words in the Verses and try and comprehend the essence of the Verse by your own understanding. Sometimes the commentary is just pollution! you may compare your own understanding with the commentary and validate the commentator yourself rather accepting what the commentator says. Most times I find the commentaries Too much waste information. Its simply Dust!

Ramana Maharshi never knew Advaita or Dvaita or Visishtadvaita! Actually he did not set any theories. He only happened to discover at later years that his own understanding matched with NOT Shankara's but the Scriptures - The Upanishads and Vedas!

So why not find out yourself!

It would be great for you as well as all of us if you put forward your own questions through your own analysis rather put forth somebody else's analysis and points



« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 09:44:42 AM by Nagaraj »
॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47915
    • View Profile
Re: The Differences
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2009, 11:53:24 AM »
Dear karthikeyan. M & Nagaraj,

The reply of Nagaraj has two important points. 

The first is, one should be convinced about what he studies, if at all he studies. Bhagavan Ramana never studied anything, it was from His own experience, (Swanuubhava) He gave His teachings.  During His
studies of books for the sake of others, He found that His experience
was same as of Sankara.  The conviction is an important point.
Ribhu Gita says that "I am Brahman, I am convinced I am Brahman!"
It is not merely mouthing of words.  It is the conviction that is more

I can explain this through another example.  Four people were suffering from acute head ache one night.  There was no power
supply too and it was pitch dark.   The first was given a
saridon, he took it and he got cured of head ache.  He is Sankara.
The second one was given a vitamin tablet (stating that it is saridon),
he also got cured of head ache.  He is Ramanuja.  The third was given
a tamarind seed, he took it and he also got cured.  He is Madhva.
In other words the conviction got them cured and not tablets per se.
All the four got liberated in their paths due to their conviction.  Many
drug addicts got cured by administering vitamin B-12 in de addiction camps, stating that it was LSD.  Some got the kicks (!) and in due course they were all cured.  Buddha was also liberated.  But for his headache, he was given a "mint with a hole"  (because he said that
Brahman is Sunya, hole!) and he got cured. 

Philosophy is showing the way.  In that way, Sankara showed the correct way.  Others differed from him with their logics and ratiocinations and discovered new ways.  All got liberated because
they were convinced about it.  This is where surrender and bhakti
comes into play a major role. 

Hunter Kannappa got liberated in six days in Kalahasti temple.  His bhakti and surrender was of Himalayan heights.  And that is why he could pierce out his eye and fix it on Siva Linga. When he tried to pierce his other eye, Siva himself appeared, held him by His hand and said: Stop Kannappa, Stop Kannappa, Stop Kannappa! three times.
Kannappa merged with the effulgence.  Here Kannappa did not advocate any of the three paths.  But he had matchless bhakti and surrender, i.e. conviction.  And this took him to Siva's abode.  Siva
Kosari, a brahmin priest who was hiding behind Siva Linga, and
who was doing puja for years, could not get this.  Because, he had philosophy but less bhakti/surrender.

The second is one should, if it is confusing, throw away all books
and find out the Truth himself.  If he is sincere, Truth will reveal
Itself to him.  I can quote Swami Vivekananda for this.  He was
already well read.  But his reading did not help him.  It was SRK's
utter simplicity and extraordinary devotion and surrender to Kali
that made Vivekananda to take him as his Master.  Vivekananda
tried to go through books.  SRK had already arrived without books! 

Let us not bargain Truth for books.  It is like losing cricket for
the lewd dances of cheerleaders in South Africa.

Arunachala Siva.     


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47915
    • View Profile
Re: The Differences
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2009, 12:17:13 PM »
Dear karthikeyan. M,

One more simile comes to mind.  Three people wanted to cross
the river on a rainy night.  It was pitch dark.  One person got
into a boat (which had no boatman), and crossed the river.
The second got on to the back of a crocodile and he also crossed
the river!  The third one got on the back of a floating corpse and
he also crossed the river.  All the three got liberated!  How?
So long as they were convinced that they were travelling on a boat.
If the second and third would have looked down and seen the
crocodile or the corpse, they would have jumped out and got
drowned.  Even if the first one, if he mistakes the boat for a
crocodile or a corpse, he would also have jumped out and got
drowned.  Conviction is the key word.  Ribhu Gita stresses only
this.  Once a lady devotee said to Bhagavan Ramana:  "You want
me to read Ribhu Gita, but I do not understand even a bit."  Bhagavan Ramana said:  "It does not matter. Mere reading would confer you
liberation.  There is no need to understand. Please have faith and read."  This sums up the whole position.  It is like taking tamarind seed as saridon and taking it for headache and getting cured.
Advaita, Visishtadvaita, Dwaita --- all convey the Truth.  But from the point of view of objective reasoning (it does not matter for Truth seekers) as a codified philosophy, Advaita stands supreme.  And that is why, Gaudapada says in his famous Karika:  "We have no quarrel with anyone.  Everything is acceptable to us."  Sometime back, I wrote:  "When everyone wanted to go to Antarctica and the moon, Gaudapada went to Jupiter in a jiffy."

T.S. Eliot wrote:

What are the roots that clutch
What branches grow out of this stony rubbish?
Son of man, for you know only a heap of broken images,
When the sun beats, dead trees give no shelter,
And cricket no relief.

Arunachala Siva,