Read this article to learn about the meaning and reason of qualified non-dualism according to Ramanuja!
Ramanuja’s philosophy is described as qualified non-dualism.
It is monistic because in it the universe and the jiva are postulated to be a part of the supreme Brahman and the supreme reality has been accepted as only one.
But it is a unique kind of monism because in its supreme reality, distinctions of Brahman, soul and the world are also accepted. In Ramanuja’s philosophy, a particular kind of relation between the soul and Ishwara and between the world and Ishwara is believed to exist.
Jiva and Ishwara:
The relation between Jiva and Ishwara is that of the part to the whole. Just as the part cannot be separated from the whole or just as the hand, the foot or any other part of the body has no existence apart from the body, the relation between the jiva and Ishwara is one of inseparability.
But, Ramanuja has not accepted identity between the soul and Brahman, as accepted by Samkara, because the part can never be the whole. According to Ramanuja, even in the highest state of the soul, viz. liberation, there is difference between the soul and Brahman, because although in His proximity, the soul can attain his form, it can never be Ishwara himself.
The relation between Ishwara and the Jiva is like that between substance and quality, whole and part, controller and the controlled. Thus in Ramanuja’s philosophy, the relation between the jiva and Ishwara can be explained by calling it qualified non dualism.
Ishwara and the Universe:
Similarly, the relation between Ishwara and the universe can also be said to be a qualified non-dualism. Ishwara pervades everything. The universe is made of one part of Ishwara. Conscious and unconscious, jiva and the universe—these are the self distinctions of Ishwara, and hence both are related by non-dualism. But Ishwara is also beyond both the conscious and the unconscious. He is above jiva and the universe. He is the supreme person. Ramanuja is a theist as well as a pantheist.
In this way, in Ramanuja’s philosophy, the relation between jiva and Ishwara and that between the universe and Ishwara, as well as the state of liberation can be explained by calling it qualified non-dualism. He has interpreted the statements of Upanishads to explain this relation. For this reason, Ramanuja’s philosophy is called qualified non-dualism.