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The world’s second tallest statue in sitting pose of Ramanuja was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India at Hyderabad recently. Which one of the following statements correctly represents the, teachings of Ramanuja?

(a) The best means of salvation was devotion.

(b) Vedas are eternal, self-existent and wholly authoritative.

(c) Logical arguments were essential means for the highest bliss.

(d) Salvation was to be obtained through meditation.

Explanation

The correct answer is (a) The best means of salvation was devotion.

  • Ramanuja believed that the best and ultimate means to salvation is through devotion (bhakti) to Vishnu. He considered loving devotion to God as the surest and fastest path to liberation.
  • Ramanuja rejected the Advaita concept of attaining moksha through metaphysical knowledge alone. According to him, knowledge must be combined with devotion to attain salvation.
  • Ramanuja taught that the jivatma (individual self) is distinct from Paramatma (Supreme Self) and moksha lies in attaining the bliss of Brahman while retaining one’s individuality. This is achieved through single-minded devotion and prapatti (complete surrender).
  • Ramanuja placed great emphasis on temple worship, rituals and other means of expressing love and devotion to God such as chanting, singing hymns, serving at the temple.

The other options are incorrect:

  • (b) Ramanuja did not consider the Vedas as the sole and absolute authority. He advocated that Vedas must be supplemented by Smritis, Puranas etc.
  • (c) Ramanuja rejected dry intellectual pursuit and debates as the path to moksha.
  • (d) Ramanuja disagreed with meditation and knowledge as the sole means to moksha. He stressed on bhakti.

Learn more

  • Ramanuja was an Indian philosopher and theologian born in 1017 CE in Tamil Nadu.
  • He propounded the Vishishtadvaita philosophy, which means qualified non-dualism.
  • His theories assert that there is a distinction between Jivatma (individual self) and Paramatma (Supreme Self) while also affirming that moksha lies in attaining the bliss of Brahman.
  • Ramanuja rejected Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta and instead believed that bhakti (devotion) was the most effective path to moksha.
  • He taught that ultimate reality (Brahman) manifests in five forms – Para (Supreme form), Vyuha (Group form), Vibhava (Incarnate form), Antaryamin (Indwelling form) and Archa (Consecrated form).
  • Ramanuja wrote influential texts like Vedartha Sangraha, Sri Bhashya and Gita Bhashya expounding his philosophy of Vishishtadvaita.
  • He advocated prapatti (complete surrender to God) as the means to moksha. Temple worship, rituals, chanting God’s names were also important for liberation.
  • Ramanuja established temple administration rules, founded 74 centres to spread devotion and initiated many social reforms.

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