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Pluralistic Theism

K. Swaminathan

By T.P. Ramachandran
Arnold-Heinemann, 1976, 132, 20.00

VOLUME I NUMBER 4 October - December 1976

In India one does not choose and adopt a philosophical system; one is born into it and grows up in it. This may sometimes prove a disadvant­age, for it is not easy for the leopard to change its spots. If Dr. Ramachandran’s earlier work on The Concept of Vyavaharika in Advaita Vedanta was a model of lucidity and precision, of sustained and restrained enthusiasm, there was nothing sur­prising in it. What is surprising, however, is that his exposition of the teachings of a ‘rival school’ is marked by the same qualities and by a studied fairness amounting to special pleading for its special features. Originally delivered as a course of lectures for postgraduate students, then printed as two long articles in learned journals and now published as a book, the contents have gained much in compact­ness and clarity by repeated revision. The presen­tation is historical and analytical, and brings out sharply the distinctions, at various crucial points, between dvaita and the other schools. But there are no judgments based on values and hence no room for controversy. A cartographer is no axio­logist; it is enough if his map is accurate. Though strongly theistic, dvaita accepts as real the commonsense world of diverse particulars, gives full weight to pratyaksha in the empirical realm as to sruti in the transcendental, and denies the possibility of pure or contentless consciousness. Hence it has no room for nirguna Brahman or for any middle ground between sat and asat. Darkness itself is not mere absence of light, but a positive category and substance. While everything is thus. unique, all things are held together by a common dependence on a personal God, who is both trans­cendent and immanent and who controls the world from without and guides all beings from within. This Divine Person, Vishnu, the all-pervader and all-ruler, is no abstract principle, but sarva-guna­puma, full of all excellences. This God is appre­hensible, though not comprehensible; he can be known, though not fully.               Unlike Ramanuja, Madhva does not regard images (archas) as manifestations of God. Rama­nuja’s idea of the close relationship of God and jivas is, for Madhva, nothing short of sacrilege. The advaita theory that all souls are one is also anathe­ma and sarvamukti is a sentimental dream. The plurality of souls is real and eternal. Logically, therefore, some souls are condemned to ...

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