The Relation of Qualified Monism and the Upanishads!

Like the philosophy of Samkara, the philosophy of Ramanuja is also based upon the Upanishads. As a matter of fact, both Samkara and Ramanuja saw the Upanishads from their own individual standpoint, emphasized different sections of them to support their own views, and interpreted others according to their own conception of reality. It has been rightly said that the Upanishadi do not contain one philosophy but several philosophies.

Even the roots of the qualified monism of Ramanuja can be found in the Upanishads in the following context:

(i) Trinity:

Ramanuja has taken the trinity of Jiva, Prakriti and Isvara as the Ultimate Reality. In the Svetasvatar Upanishad has been said, “There are three ultimate realities which are all eternal and in­destructible and together constitute Brahman, viz., the powerless ignorant Jiva, all powerful and omniscient God and eternal Prakriti which is made for the enjoyment of the Jiva and by which it attains fruits of its action.”

(ii) Pantheism:


In the context of the discussion between Yajnavalkya and Aruni in the Brhadaranyaka Upanishads, God has been taken as all-pervading in the universe. This pantheistic idea is the basis of the philosophy of Ratnanuja who has taken a God as the soul of Prakrti. Yajnavalk has taken God as the soul of both the world and the Jiva. Such a reference can also be found in the Taittiriya Upanishad.

(iii) Immanence:

According to the Brhadaranyak Upanishad, God is the soul of everything living or non-living. “Just as the spokes of a wheel are bound with its axel, similarly all the living beings, all things of the world, all souls, are centred in God. God is the mind of all.” Other quotations like this can also be found in this Upanishad.

(iv) Liberation:

Rainanuja’s conception of liberation can be traced to the Mundaka Upanishad, where it has been said, “When the devotee see the Purusa of golden complexion which is the doer of all, controller of all and the eternal source of the universe, then he leaves both merits and demerits and attains similarity with the divine from thus becoming liberated.” Similarly, according to the Mundaka Upanishad, the man established in the Brahman consciousness being freed from all sins reaches the land of Brahman. Ramanuja has accepted gradual liberation and liberation by attainment of divine form.