The cause or reason for creation is addressed in the Brahma Sutras. In Ramanuja's (the founder of modern Vishishtadvaita) commentary on the Brahma Sutras, his Sri-Bhasya, this is in verses 2.1.32-36. Ramanuja's commentary on these verses is essentially in agreement with Sankara's commentary. Here are the verses and most of Ramanuja's commentary on these verses from his Sri-Bhasya (Swami Vireswarananda translator):
- (Brahman is) not (the creator of the world) because (creation appears to have) a motive (behind).
There is some motive or purpose at the back of this creation and the Lord has no purpose to gain by such creation. Nobody engages himself in any action without a motive or purpose. This purpose can be twofold. It can be either to satisfy one's own desire or for the sake of others. Brahman being self-sufficient, It has nothing to gain for Itself by the creation of this world. Neither can it be for the sake of the individual souls, for in that case It would have created a world full of happiness, out of pity for the souls, and not this world full of suffering for them. Therefore, as Brahman has no purpose whatsoever to achieve by this creation, It cannot be the cause of the world.
- But (Brahman's creative activity) is mere pastime, as is seen in the world.
Even as kings engage themselves in activity, like playing with a ball, without a motive but for mere amusement, or even as children playing out of fun, so also Brahman, without any purpose to gain, engages Itself in creating this world of diversity as a mere pastime.
An objection is raised against this view expressed in this Sutra. The creation of a world in which there is so much suffering would subject Brahman to the charge of partiality and cruelty. So Brahman who is full of pity cannot be the cause of this diabolical world even out of mere sport.
- Partiality and cruelty cannot (be attributed to Brahman) on account of Its taking into consideration (other reasons in that matter), because (the scripture) declares (it to be) so.
Some are born as men while others are born as gods; so the Lord is partial to some. He is cruel insomuch as He creates a world full of suffering for the souls. The latter part of the Sutra refutes these objections and says that on account of the Lord's taking into consideration the past Karma of the various beings before creating them as gods, man, or lower animals, partiality cannot be attributed to Him. Souls are born according to their past Karma in different species. So their Karma accounts for the difference in their condition and not the Lord's partiality. Sruti also declares the same thing: 'A man becomes good by good work, bad by bad work' (Br. III. ii. 13). the Lord is only the operative cause in the creation of beings; the main cause is the past Karma of the beings. Just as rain helps different seeds to sprout, each according to its nature, so the Lord is the general efficient cause in bringing the latent tendencies of each individual to fruition. Hence He is neither partial or cruel.
- If it be said (that is) is not (possible) for want of any distinction in work (before creation), (we say) no, because (the world) is beginningless; this is reasonable and is also seen (from the scriptures).
...Moreover, creation is also beginningless, and when the scriptures talk of the beginning of creation they mean only the beginning of a new cycle. This is borne out of texts like, 'the Lord devised the sun and the moon as before' (Rig Veda X. cxc. 3).
So partiality and cruelty cannot be attributed to the Lord.
- And because the attributes (required for the creation of the world) are possible (only in Brahman, It is the cause of the world).
As all attributes necessary necessary for the creation of the world which were denied in the Pradhana and atoms in Sutra II. i. 29 are possible in Brahman. It is alone the cause of the world. As the powers of the Pradhana and atoms are limited and as they are of the same nature as things seen in the world, there are any number of objections against against the possibility of their being the cause of the world. But as scriptures alone are the source of knowledge with respect to Brahman, It being quite different in nature from all things experienced, and as scriptures declare that It possesses infinite powers and that It has no other motive than sport in creation and arranges the diversity of creation in accordance with the Karma of the souls, It alone can be the cause of the world.