Philosophers: Rāmānuja
(1017-1137 CE)


 
[Life & work] | [On-line introductions] | [On-line texts]
LIFE & WORK

Born near Madras in South India, and named Ilaya Perumal, Rāmānuja came (like his predecessors Nāgārjuna and Śakara) from a Brahmin family, and his father died when he was young. He started studying the Vedas with the Ved˙ntic scholar Yadava Prakasha in nearby Kanchipuram, but was a precocious student, and soon came to disagree with his teacher over the correct interpretation of the texts. They eventually parted company acrimoniously (one story has Yadava attempting to have his student murdered).

Rāmānuja married when he was quite young, but found that married life interfered with his studies, so left his wife in order to become a sannyāsin. He eventually, however, became head of the temple at Srīrangam, where he spent much of his life teaching and writing. He also travelled extensively throughout South India, teaching and proselytising. He ended his life at Srīrangam, supposedly having reached the venerable age of 120.

Rāmānuja was a member of the devotional sect, the Śrī Vaişņavas, which saw Brahman %ndash; impersonal in Śakara's non-dualist, advaita approach – as being a personal divinity, the Lord Vişņu. While accepting much of Śakara's argument against the dualist and pluralist schools of thought, Rāmānuja held the advaita position to be too extreme — too academic and cold for his taste. His solution was to argue for the division of reality into three: Brahman in personal form (as Vişņu), material things, and individual souls. The latter two can't exist without the first, but nor can it exist without them.

While accepting that there is only one reality, Rāmānuja argued that Brahman is affected – is qualified – by individuals, hence the label applied to his philosophy: viśitādvaita, usually though somewhat misleadingly translated as "qualified non-dualism" (or "qualified monism"). It's important to see that Rāmānuja isn't saying that his non-dualism is qualified, but that Brahman is. As a personal being, Brahman has qualities (as opposed to Śakara's qualityless notion), and these qualities (such as compassion, love, forgivingness) are defined in terms of (perhaps consist in) its relationship with individuals.

He rejects, therefore, Śakara's argument that Brahman is unknowable unless we lose our individuality and understand that we're simply part of Brahman, as well as the claim that all our perception of the world is illusion. Knowledge of Brahman, and mokşa, comes through bhakti (worship, or love), which we practise as individuals. Our beliefs about the world can't be illusory (whose illusions would they be? Not Brahman's, for Brahman can't go wrong, and not human beings, because they're part of the illusion).

Although Śakara's advaita vedānta remained the most influential of the vedāntic schools, the viśitādvaita vedānta school developed and consolidated by Rāmānuja attracted many of those of a more theistic disposition.

+ One Hundred Philosophers (2004)
U.S.A.:     Barron's Educational Books
U.K.:        Apple Press
Australia: A.B.C. Books
"There ain't half been some clever bastards" (Ian Dury)
The book covers the history of philosophy chronologically from Thales of Miletus (6th century BCE) to Peter Singer (b.1946 CE), with philosophers from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australasia, and the U.S.A., about 60% getting a page, 40% two pages. Scattered through the book are brief introductions to such topics as African, Chinese, and Indian philosophy, scepticism, women in philosophy, mind and body, the philosophy of science, and moral philosophy. The book's divided into periods, each with its own introduction and timeline of other important events. There's also a glossary, suggested further reading, and an index.
WEB PAGES & INTRODUCTIONS
+ Rāmānuja
Article by Shyam Ranganathan from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
+ Ramanuja
Short, placeholder Wikipedia article.
+ Sri Ramanuja
An overview of the Vedartha-sangraha and a brief introduction to the Sribhashya, provided by the Sri Vaishnava Home Page.
ON-LINE TEXTS
+ Complete Works of Aristotle
In various translations, from The Tech Classics Archive.
+ The philosophy of Aristotle
A page from Hellas On Line, offering some introductory material by Barbara Jancar, and Aristotle's complete works in various English translations as zipped text files.
+ Works of Aristotle
Plain-text versions, from the W.D. Ross edition; provided by the University of Georgia at Athens.
+ Read Aristotle
HTML versions in the various translations found below, maintained by S.C. Park.
+ The Works of Aristotle
Just eight, in fact, by the same variety of translators to be found below. There's also a very odd short introduction, which tells us: "It is primarily Aristotle's metaphysics (nature of existence) and epistemology (the study of knowledge) that led to the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and the concept that man must be free to live the life proper to man."
+ Athenian Constitution
Greek text in the Kenyon edition, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
Frederic G. Kenyon translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
Frederic G. Kenyon translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
Frederic G. Kenyon translation, provided by the Constitution Society.
H. Rackham translation, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
+ Categories
E. M. Edghill translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
+ Eudemian Ethics
Greek text, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
H. Rackham translation, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
+ On Dreams
J. I. Beare translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
J. I. Beare translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ On the Gait of Animals
A. S. L. Farquharson translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
+ On Generation and Corruption
H. H. Joachim translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
+ On the Generation of Animals
Arthur Platt translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
+ On the Heavens
J. L. Stocks translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
J. L. Stocks translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ History of Animals
D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ On Interpretation
E. M. Edghill translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
E. M. Edghill translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ On Longevity and Shortness of Life
G. R. T. Ross translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
G. R. T. Ross translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ On Memory and Reminiscence
J. I. Beare translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
J. I. Beare translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ Metaphysics
Greek text, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
W. D. Ross translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
W. D. Ross translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
Hugh Tredennick translation, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
+ Meteorology
E. W. Webster translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
E. W. Webster translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ On the Motion of Animals
A. S. L. Farquharson translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
+ Nicomachean Ethics
Greek text ed. J. Bywater, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
W. D. Ross translation, provided by the Institute for Learning Technologies
plain text version of the above
H. Rackham translation, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
W.D. Ross translation, provided by nothingistic.org
W. D. Ross translation, provided by the Constitution Society.
W. D. Ross translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
PDF W.D. Ross translation, provided by McMaster University.
+ On the Parts of Animals
William Ogle translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
William Ogle translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ Physics
R. P. Hardie and R. K. Gaye translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
R. P. Hardie and R. K. Gaye translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ Poetics
Greek text ed. R. Kassel, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
S. H. Butcher translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
S. H. Butcher translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
W.H. Fyfe translation, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
+ Politics
Greek text ed. W. D. Ross, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
Benjamin Jowett translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
Benjamin Jowett translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
Benjamin Jowett translation, provided by the Constitution Society.
Benjamin Jowett translation, provided by the Politics Hypertext Library, Swansea University.
PDF W.D. Ross translation, provided by McMaster University.
H. Rackham translation, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
+ Posterior Analytics
G. R. G. Mure translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
G. R. G. Mure translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ Prior Analytics
A. J. Jenkinson translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
+ On Prophesying by Dreams
J. I. Beare translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ Rhetoric
Greek text ed. W. D. Ross, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
A hypertextual resource compiled by Lee Honeycutt (with a text-search feature)
W. Rhys Roberts translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
W. Rhys Roberts translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
J. H. Freese translation, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
+ On Sense and the Sensible
J. I. Beare translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
J. I. Beare translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ On Sleep and Sleeplessness
J. I. Beare translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
W. D. Ross translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ On Sophistical Refutations
W. A. Pickard-Cambridge translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
W. A. Pickard-Cambridge translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ On the Soul
J. A. Smith translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
J. A. Smith translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ Topics
W. A. Pickard-Cambridge translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
W. A. Pickard-Cambridge translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.
+ Virtues and Vices
Greek text ed. I. Bekker, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
H. Rackham translation, provided by the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.
+ On Youth and Old Age, On Life and Death, & On Breathing
G. R. T. Ross translation, provided by eBooks@Adelaide.
G. R. T. Ross translation, provided by the Internet Classics Archive.

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