Faith

Sareera sareeri concept

The Upanishads say Ekam eva adviteeyam. This means that there is only One Supreme Brahman. In Ramanuja’s Visishtadvaita philosophy, it means that there is none superior to the Supreme One, or equal to Him. It does not mean nothing else exists in this Universe, said V.S. Karunakarachariar in a discourse. There is only one Brahman. Advaita philosophy argues that nothing exists except Brahman. When we see other things, it is because of our illusion. They are not real, but illusory, goes the Advaitic argument.

But there are portions of the Vedas where apart from Brahman, other things also are said to exist. So how does one reconcile this with the argument that nothing else exists except Brahman? That is why Ramanuja said that indeed there is only one Brahman. But other things are real too, and are not illusions. He used what are known as the ghataka srutis, as a bridge to link both ideas present in the sacred scriptures, namely the existence of only one Brahman, but the existence of many other things too. He pointed out that the world was the Lord’s body, for the Lord pervaded everything. This is the sareera sareeri concept of Visishtadvaita.

A contemporary example can be used to explain the idea of the One and the many. Suppose someone holds a clock in his hand and says, “How many clocks do I have?” We would reply, “One clock.” But although he holds only one clock, the clock itself has many parts. Likewise, the world has many things — sentient and non sentient. The Lord is present in all. He is the atma (sareeri) and the world is His body (sareera). Thus, we have One Brahman and many other things too. In just one verse, Nammazhvar gives us the whole idea of the unequalled One and the rest of the world, thus establishing what Ramanuja elaborated on later.


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 7:46:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/sareera-sareeri-concept/article36570795.ece

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