*VisA - VishishtAdvaita :)
VishishtAdvaita Vedanta (IAST Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta;Sanskrit: विशिष्टाद्वैत;Tamil: விஷிஷ்டாத்வைதம் )) is a sub-school of the Vedānta (literally, end or the goal of Knowledge, Sanskrit) school of Hindu philosophy, the other major sub-schools of Vedānta being Advaita and Dvaita.
VishishtAdvaita (literally "Advaita with uniqueness/qualifications") is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy.
It is non-dualism of the qualified whole, in which Brahman alone exists, but is characterised by multiplicity. It can be described as qualified monism or attributive monism.
Asesha Chit-Achit Prakaaram Brahmaikameva Tatvam - Brahman as qualified by the sentient and insentient modes (aspects or attributes) is the only reality.
It is a school of Vedanta philosophy which believes in all diversity subsuming to an underlying unity.
Ramanuja, is the main proponent of Visishtadvaita philosophy .
Theory of Existence
VishishtAdvaita adheres to a system of complete reality.
It upholds the doctrine of Satkaryavada as against Asatkaryavada.
Satkaryavada is pre-existence of the effect in the cause. It maintains that karya (effect) is sat or real. It is present in the karana (cause) in a potential form, even before its manifestation.
Asatkaryavada is non-existence of the effect in the cause. It maintains that karya (effect) is asat or unreal until it comes into being. Every effect, then, is a new beginning and is not born out of cause.
More specifically, the effect is a modification of what exists in the cause and doesnot involve new entities coming into existence. This is called as parinamavada or evolution of effect from the cause.
This doctrine is common to the Samkhya system and VishishtAdvaita system.
Kārya and kāraṇa [Cause & Effect]
The kāraṇa (cause) and kārya (effect) in Vishishtadvaita is different form other systems of Indian Philosophy.
Brahman is both the kāraṇa(cause) and the kārya(effect).
Brahman as the cause does not become the Universe as the effect.
Brahman is assigned two kāraṇatvas (ways of being the cause):
Nimitta kāraṇatva — Being the Efficient/ Instrumental cause.
For example, a goldsmith is assigned Nimitta kāraṇatva as he acts as the maker of jewellery and thus becomes the jewellery's Instrumental cause.
Upādāna kāraṇatva — Being the material cause. For example, the gold is assigned Upādāna kāraṇatva as it acts as the material of the jewellery and thus becomes the jewellery's material cause.
The Universe and Sentients always exist, much like Brahman.
However, they undergo transformation. They begin from a subtle state and undergo transformation. The subtle state is called a causal state, while the transformed state is called the effect state. The causal state is when Brahman is internally not distinguishable by name and form. The effect state is when the internal distinction becomes pronounced.
It can be said that Vishishtadvaita follows Brahma-Prakara-Parinama Vada. That is to say, it is the modes (Jivas and Jagath) of Brahman which is under evolution.
The cause and effect only refer to the pan-organistic body transformation. Brahman as the Universal Self is unchanging and eternal.
The essential feature is that the underlying entity is the same, the changes are in the description of that entity.
For eg. Jack was a baby. Jack was a small kid. Jack was a middle-aged person. Jack was an old man. Jack is dead
The body of a single personality named Jack is described as continuously changing. Jack doesnot become "James" because of the change.