Hnduism, Srivaisnava Tradition

I have a simple question.

Is Srivaisnava a religion of one or many gods (or even pantheistic)?

Please keep it simple–if that is possible.

Also, is Desika polytheistic or even pantheistic?

I am study Clooney’s word on de Sales and Desika.

THANKS!

Dear Jim: I would recommend just reading the Upanishads. The answer to how these traditions views God is explicitly spelled out in the Upanishads, and defies our normal conventions of classification. There are 12 or 13 principal Upanishads as I recall. They are very short and easy to read. From these, you should be able to gain a good understanding. I recommend not letting anyone tell you it’s pantheistic, monotheistic, polytheistic or whatever. Read for yourself. it’ll take less time and give better answers than reading a thread on a forum.

That is actually two words Sri Vaisnava (not Srivaisnava).

Hindus are generally divided into two groups - Shivaites (worshippers of Shiva) and Vaishnavites (worshippers of Vishnu). A third smaller group is Shaktas (worshippers of the Goddess). Even though each group worships their preferred ‘God’, they also acknowledge the divinity of the other Gods. Hindus are mostly panentheistic although some could be called monist.

Most Hindus would not agree with me, but to me the three groups are very obviously the worshipers of the Father (Shiva), the Son (Vishnu) and the Holy Spirit (the Goddess) respectively.

It’s Monotheistic.

Also, is Desika polytheistic or even pantheistic?

I am study Clooney’s word on de Sales and Desika.

THANKS!

Vedanta Desika was a person not a religion or a philosophy.

The spelling doesn’t matter it can be spelled either way.

Hindus are generally divided into two groups - Shivaites (worshippers of Shiva) and Vaishnavites (worshippers of Vishnu). A third smaller group is Shaktas (worshippers of the Goddess). Even though each group worships their preferred ‘God’, they also acknowledge the divinity of the other Gods.

I can somewhat agree to this though within these sects certain groups only worship their selective God.

Hindus are mostly panentheistic although some could be called monist.

Not true. The largest denomination within Hinduism, Vaishnavism which approximately 70% of Hindu’s belong to is Monotheistic.

Most Hindus would not agree with me, but to me the three groups are very obviously the worshipers of the Father (Shiva), the Son (Vishnu) and the Holy Spirit (the Goddess) respectively.

I don’t agree with this. There is already a Hindu “trinity”, the Trimurti which consists of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer.

Very interesting! So you are saying 70% of Hindus did not celebrate Laxmi Pujan at Diwali because they were busy worshiping Vishnu? And the massive number of people observing MahaShivratri are only from the remaining 30%… You must come from some special place in India.

That’s what I said most Hindus will not agree- but someday they will find out.

However you seem to be very knowledgeable about the ‘Monotheistic’ Hindus - I have not ever met one in all my life.(except maybe Hare Krishna followers).

Your snarky comments and sarcasm are highly unnecessary. No where did I make mention of them celebrating or not celebrating Hindu holidays. Vaishnavism is monotheistic but that does not mean you cannot celebrate festivals and holidays of other gods. There are other deities in the Vaishnavism but they are essentially designated to roles similar to that of angels in Christianity.

The question of why Vaishnavas worship other deities is answered differently by Vaishnavas of different schools, but generally speaking, such other deities are worshipped as conduits to Vishnu, or as His representatives.

dvaita.org/docs/srv_faq.html#othergods

That’s what I said most Hindus will not agree- but someday they will find out.

Shrugs I guess.

However you seem to be very knowledgeable about the ‘Monotheistic’ Hindus - I have not ever met one in all my life.(except maybe Hare Krishna followers).

I’m just simply stating the information.

If you believe in and worship more than one God as well as Goddesses (not taking holiday but actually sit down in front of an image and perform worship/puja) than you are not a Monotheist (no matter what some website claims).

Nobody worships angels.Talking of Laxmi and Shiva as demigods is only done by Hare Krishnas not by **anyone **in India

On main Diwali day and Navaratri, almost all Hindus perform worship of Goddesses (we don’t just take a holiday). I have seen Mahashivratri puja performed (meaning **rituals **performed) in SwamiNarayan temples - then you can not claim to be a Monotheist even if you write it in some website and people like you state it as the truth

This is not the strict Monotheism of Islam. As previously quoted Vaishnavism does not exclude the worship of other deities who are essentially conduits to Lord Vishnu. Vaishnava’s themselves make the claim of Monotheism, take issue with them. It could be argued that they are in fact Henothesitc.

Nobody worships angels.Talking of Laxmi and Shiva as demigods is only done by Hare Krishnas not by **anyone **in India

No where did I say they worship angels I said the roles of Gods are similar to that of angels in Christianity.

On main Diwali day and Navaratri, almost all Hindus perform worship of Goddesses (we don’t just take a holiday). I have seen Mahashivratri puja performed (meaning **rituals **performed) in SwamiNarayan temples - then you can not claim to be a Monotheist even if you write it in some website and people like you state it as the truth

The quote I previously posted explained this.

Shiva is a conduit to Vishnu! Very interesting! People may write such claims on websites. (Hare Krishnas may actually believe it)

I have not met any Vaishnavite who says he is a monotheistic or that Shiva is a conduit to Vishnu. Incidentally my mother’s side family is all Vaishnavas (not the Hare Krishna variety) and my father’s side is Shaivas.

Shiva’s role is similar to an angel - even more interesting!

Just recently I’ve read about Advaita and Dvaita philosophies. Dvaita philosophy is said to have influenced Chaitanya Mahāprabhu (the 16th century progenitor of Gaudiya Vaishnavism - the type ISKCON belongs to), so if you ask me that may explain their ‘monotheistic’-esque philosophy.

(For the benefit of folks who don’t understand what the heck I’m talking about here (you probably already know this, openmind77 ;)) Advaita ‘non-dualism’ is the idea that the so-called ātman (the true ‘self’; human soul) is indistinct from Brahman, the unknown reality of everything. Advaita is quite close to and is often compared with the Western idea of panentheism (i.e. the universe exists within God, who penetrates and at the same time, extends beyond it) or monism.

Dvaita ‘dualism’ (not the same as the Western one), meanwhile, posits contra Advaita that there is a distinction between Brahman, aka the ‘Supreme Ātman’ (Paramātmā) - i.e. ‘God’ (in this case, identified with Vishnu by the founder of the school, Madhvacharya) - and the individual souls (jīvatma). Dvaita teaches the existence of two separate realities: on the one hand, you have Brahman/Paramātmā/Vishnu, the absolute truth of the universe; on the other hand you have stuff like the individual soul (jīva) or inanimate matter, which are also different from each other.

So whereas Advaita teaches that Brahman = Ātman, Dvaita teaches the opposite: God and the individual are not the same, with the existence of individuals being grounded in the divine. Also, while Advaita teaches that liberation or moksha can be achieved with the realization that there is no difference between Brahman and Ātman - that Ātman is the only true existence, with the observable world being unreal and impermanent, Dvaita teaches that moksha is attained by realizing that all finite reality is essentially dependent on the Supreme.

And yes, Madhvacharya’s doctrine is quite close to monotheism: by identifying Vishnu as the singular ‘Supreme Ātman’, all the other gods - Brahma and Shiva included - are relegated into inferior second-class positions. Dividing existence into kshara (those who have destructible bodies) and akshara (those who have indestructible bodies), Madhvacharya taught that only Lakshmi - Vishnu’s consort - is akshara, while the other gods and every other life in the universe are kshara. Vishnu, since he possesses no body to begin with, is exempt from this classification.

Madhvacharya also had the ‘novel’ idea (for Hindus) of dividing souls into three classes: those destined to achieve liberation (mukti-yogya), those destined to be forever subject to death and rebirth (nitya-samsarin), and evildoers who are condemned to eternal ‘damnation’ (tamo-yogya).)

I’ve watched quite a number of Bollywood/Kollywood/Tollywood mythologicals (I like N.T. Rama Rao ;)) to say that there are actually people out there who’ll translate deva as ‘demigod’ or ‘angel’. :smiley:

I heard that in Vaishnavism, Shiva is Vishnu’s number one devotee. (And if I’m not misremembering, Shaivism has the opposite - Vishnu is Shiva’s devotee.) Is that correct?

You all are overwhelming me with details, thanks!

Was Desika a monotheist?

Did his sect have one or more Gods?

To what degree was there agreement about Gods, Goddesses, Pantheism?

Please keep it simple and clear–this is my first time reading in Hinduism.

Is it like the Jews and Christians—there are hundreds of interpretations, or sects or denominations?

THANKS!

I don’t know enough about him to answer these questions.

To what degree was there agreement about Gods, Goddesses, Pantheism?

Please keep it simple and clear–this is my first time reading in Hinduism.

I can’t really say there’s much agreement on God in Hinduism because ideas vary vastly from sect to sect.

Is it like the Jews and Christians—there are hundreds of interpretations, or sects or denominations?

THANKS!

Pretty much.

Our Hindu posters might shed some more light on this, but the first thing I’ll tell you about Hinduism (from an outsider’s POV) is: it’s very confusing, since different sects pretty much have their own different philosophies, which are all ‘valid’. (In fact, there were schools which were ‘atheistic’.) This isn’t like Christianity where even among different denominations you’ll find a number of common ground. ‘Hinduism’ isn’t so much a single, monolithic religion as it is a collection of various schools and philosophies.

So you have stuff like Vaishnavism, which teaches that the god Vishnu (or in some sects, Krishna) is supreme; Shaivism, which teaches that Shiva is supreme; Shaktism, which focuses on the Goddess (Shakti or Devi); or Smartism (Smarta), which says that all the different gods are all equal manifestations of the one.

Is Srivaisnava a religion of one or many gods (or even pantheistic)

Also, is Desika polytheistic, atheistic, agnostic, monotheistic or even pantheistic?

I could use a definitive and concise answer!

Based on what I read about him, Desika (1269-1370) was a Vaishnavist. To be more specific, a Shri Vaishnavist.*

Desika subscribed to a philosophy called Vishistadvaita, a qualified form of Advaita first expounded by Ramanuja (traditionally 1017-1137). As in Advaita proper, the philosophy teaches that Brahman alone exists. What sets it apart, however, is that while in Advaita Brahman is seen to be one, so that all difference and plurality we perceive are but illusions or maya, Vishistadvaita teaches that Brahman is not homogenous, but contains within itself elements of plurality owing to which it truly manifests itself in a diversified world.

Advaita philosophy can be summarized in the adage: “Brahman alone is real, the world (jagat) is unreal, and the individual self (jīva) is non-different from Brahman.” Vishistadvaita philosophy, meanwhile, can be summarized as: “Brahman, as organically related to the sentient (chit; i.e. sentient beings) and insentient (achit; i.e. the inanimate universe), is the only reality.”

Brahman in Advaita is more of an impersonal, formless force. In Vishistadvaita, however, Brahman is perceived more as a sort of ‘personal god’, the all-powerful and all-wise ruler of a real world permeated and animated by his spirit.

Vishistadvaita teaches that Brahman is comprised of three entities: chit-brahman, sentient beings; achit-brahman, the inanimate universe, and Īśvara (the ‘Lord’), the Supreme Cosmic Spirit who maintains complete control over the universe and all the sentient beings, and who is both immanent and transcendent. The triad of Īśvara along with the universe and the sentient beings comprise Brahman: chit and achit form the ‘body’ of Īśvara, who animates them. To sum:

Chit + Achit + Īshvara = Brahman

So to answer, Desika held what we would call attributive or qualified monism or panentheism. (Note: panentheism - God is the all-pervading, eternal animating force behind the universe - not pantheism - God is the universe)

  • There are four main lineages or sampradayas within Vaishnavism, each named after different gods and following subtly different philosophical systems regarding the relationship between the jīva and Brahman/‘God’ (identified with Vishnu or Krishna). Shri Vaishnavism aka Shri sampradaya takes its name from the goddess Lakshmi (aka Shri), Vishnu’s consort. The three other sampradayas are: Brahma sampradaya, which hold to Dvaita philosophy (Madhvacharya, Chaitanya, and the Hare Krishnas belong to this lineage); Rudra sampradaya (after Shiva, aka Rudra) and Kumara-sampradaya, aka Nimbarka sampradaya (named after the four sages known as Kumaras).

patrick457

THANKS!

Great Job!

Thanks!

Is he more of a philosopher such as Socrates or the Stoics?

They had Logos, Stoics.

It was used by John. And the Logos became man–personal.

Let me see if I can summarize the respective ideas of the four Vaishnavite lineages further. If I’ve misstated something please feel free to correct me.

Dvaita (‘dualism’; Brahma Sampradaya):
Brahman ≠ sentient beings (jīvatma) and inanimate, non-sentient matter

(Brahman (= Vishnu), sentient souls, and non-sentient matter are all different from each other. Brahman is a real eternal entity endowed with attributes that governs and controls the universe; sentient beings are rigorously and eternally dependent on Brahman/Vishnu, the ‘Supreme Ātman’.)

Vishishtādvaita (‘qualified non-dualism’; Lakshmi/Shri Sampradaya):
Īshvara (the Supreme) + sentient beings (chit) + universe (achit) = Brahman

(Brahman is comprised of Īshvara (= Vishnu), chit and achit. Chit-achit is the ‘body’ which Īshvara animates.)

Shuddhādvaita (‘pure non-dualism’; Rudra Sampradaya):
Brahman ≡ individual self (jīva) and the inanimate universe

(There is no real difference between the entire universe of living and non-living things and Brahman, identified with Krishna. What sets ‘pure Advaita’ apart from Advaita is its rejection of the idea of māyā or ‘illusion’: unlike Advaita, Shuddhādvaita does not see jīvas and matter as ‘unreal’ but very real, since the world of sentient beings and non-sentient matter and Brahman/Īshvara/Krishna are, in essence, one and the same.)

Dvaitādvaita (‘dual-non-dualism’; Nimbarka Sampradaya):
Brahman = Īshvara ≠ sentient beings (chit, jīva) and universe (achit, jagat)

(Īshvara (= Brahman = Vishnu) and chit-achit have differing attributes and capacities and so are different from each other. But at the same time, both chit and achit depend upon Īshvara for their existence - without him they cannot exist. In this sense, one can also say that chit-achit is not different from Īshvara.)

Patrick

You are a total saint!!!

THANKS!!!

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