Difference between Advaita & Vishishtadvaita?

There are two main schools of non-dual Vedanta: advaita and vishishtadvaita (viśiṣṭādvaita  विशिष्टाद्वैत).

Advaita says that the fundamental nature of reality is nothing other than limitless conscious existence.

Vishishtadvaita, or qualified non-dualism, says that even though there is ultimately only one fundamental reality, there is a second force referred to as māyā (माया) that causes Brahman to become multitudinous objects.

Advaita counters this by saying that maya is an inherent aspect of Brahman that doesn’t cause Brahman to become objects, but rather only to appear to be such.

The argument gets rather complex, but that is the basic gist of it.

Both acknowledge the ultimate non-dual nature of reality, but haggle over how manifestation arises out of or appears within Brahman.

I think the argument is intriguing but has little to do with alleviating suffering.

Either understanding can serve as the basis of understanding the limitations of the apparent reality and how ultimately limitless conscious existence is the unassailable fundamental reality.

Technical comparison:

Vishishtadvaita means distinguished non-dualism, or qualified non-dualism.

Viśiṣṭādvaita says…

  1. Brahman is (1) nirguna (Advaita agrees), but also (2) saguna (Advaita disagrees).
  2. 3 Realities are recognized:
    1. Brahman (Isvara)
    2. Soul (cit) (Can also be understood as Jīva)
    3. Nature/matter (acit) (Can be understood as 5 elements)
  3. Brahman is supreme reality. (Advaita agrees)
  4. Conditions/qualities are attributed to Brahman, in aspect of God (Isvara). (Advaita disagrees)
  5. B & C are projections of Isvara (Advaita agrees), but can't be considered apparent-appearances (Advaita disagrees).
  6. B & C are dependent realities on A. (Advaita agrees)
  7. A is independent reality. It doesn't need B/C for it's existence. (Advaita agrees)
  8. B is dependent/inseparable reality of A. (Advaita agrees)
  9. B enjoys independent existence from A. (This almost contradicts the previous point). Like mini-Brahmans who only exist because of Brahman (Advaita disagrees).
  10. B is bound/ignorant. (Advaita agrees)
  11. End of creation cycle, B/C are withdrawn back to A. (Advaita agrees)
  12. Each of Brahman's creation's is distinguishable from Him because of his qualities/functions as Supreme Lord. (Advaita disagrees)
  13. A and B are similar and dissimilar. (Advaita says they are dissimilar in stage of ignorance. But are known to be the same in stage of liberation.)

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