agadguru Ramanujacharya (1017-1137 BCE) revealed the philosophy of vishishtadvaita vedanta or qualified nondualism, which was opposite to Jagadguru Shankaracharya’s philosophy of advait vedanta.
He stated the God is one, but with internal differences, represented as the souls and the material creation. God has qualities. He is an ocean of Divine knowledge, bliss, compassion and other unlimited attributes.
The world, comprised of the souls and lifeless inert matter, is a part of His being. He is referred to as ‘nirgun’, without any qualities, but what this indicates is that God is without the ‘mayic’ qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas. The material creation arose from God, therefore it is not an illusion. Maya is a power of God and established in Him.
A soul is an infinitesimal fraction of God, just as a spark is a part of a fire. It remains at one place at a time, whereas God is omnipresent. The soul is ignorant, but God is omniscient and omnipotent. Being a fraction of God, the soul will always remain in existence. The soul could be considered equal to God only with respect to the experience of Divine bliss.
The only means for a soul to be liberated from maya is selfless, whole-hearted devotion to God. The soul is an eternal servant of God. To refer to himself as God is a great sin.
Maya is a power of God and dependently established in God. Mayic ignorance can delude a soul, but not God.
Jagadguru Ramanujacharya gave special emphasis to selfless surrender to God, which he called ‘prapatti’. He said to renounce all material attachments, remove one’s prideful ego, and to entrust one’s everything to God. It is only through God’s grace that a soul can attain ultimate Divine happiness.
He said that God resides in the heart of every soul as a witness. He is the supreme Divine personality. He alone is the Creator and Lord of the universe.
Worldly happiness is an illusion in the same way that a rope may be mistaken for a snake. God is our Mother and Father, therefore the duty of the child is to attain the grace of His Divine Mother and Father.
A bhakta (devotee) should remember God’s name and serve God with his body, mind and wealth.
Jagadguru Ramanujacharya said that a soul should sincerely and humbly beg for the forgiveness of his sins; then God, who is causelessly merciful, will forgive him and grace him with supreme Divine bliss.