As I understand it, to them the absolute is a person - Vishnu/Narayana, Rama and Krishna being the most prominent.

What is their stand on the Nirguna Brahman of Advaitists?

I am not interested in their redefinition (if any) of "Nirguna" - just their direct opinion of what Advaitists mean by it.


2 Answers 2



The Ramanandi Sampradaya (which advocates Vishishtadvaita Vedanta), accepts the Advaitic definition of Nirguna Brahman.

Tulsidas, a prominent member of the Ramanandi Sampradaya, explains, in his "Ramcharitmanas" that Brahman (Rama) is originally Nirguna/Nirakara and only becomes Saguna/Sakara for the sake of Jivas:

There are two aspects of God-the one unqualified (Nirguna) and the other qualified (Saguna). Both these aspects are unspeakable, unfathomable, without beginning and without parallel. To my mind, greater than both is the Name, that has established Its rule over both by Its might. Friends should not take this as a bold assertion on the part of this servant; I record my mindís own conviction, love and liking. The two aspects of Brahma (God) should be recognized as akin to fire: the one (viz., the Absolute) represents fire which is latent in wood; while the other (qualified Divinity) corresponds to that which is externally visible. Though both are inaccessible by themselves, they are easily attainable through the Name; therefore I have called the Name greater than Brahma and Sri Rama both. Brahma (God) is one, all-pervading and imperishable; He is all truth, consciousness and a compact mass of joy. Even though such immutable Lord is present in every heart, all beings in this world are nonetheless miserable and unhappy. Through the practice of the Name preceded by Its true appraisement, however, the same Brahma reveals Itself even as the value of a jewel is revealed by its correct knowledge. (Bala-Kanda, Ramcharitmanas)

There is no difference between qualified (Saguna) Divinity and the unqualified (Nirguna) Brahma: so declare the sages and men of wisdom, the Vedas and the Puranas. That which is attributeless and formless, imperceptible and unborn, becomes qualified under the influence of the devotee's love. How can the Absolute become qualified? In the same way as water and the hail-stone are non-different in substance. Infatuation is out of the question for Him whose very Name is like the sun to the darkness of error. Sri Rama, who is Truth, Consciousness and Bliss combined, is like the sun; the night of ignorance cannot subsist in Him even to the smallest degree. He is the Lord whose very being is light; there is no dawn of understanding in His case (for the dawn presupposes night and night there is none in the sunlight of Sri Rama). Joy and grief, knowledge and ignorance, egoism and prideóthese are the characteristics of a Jiva (finite being). Sri Rama is the all-pervading Brahma; He is supreme bliss personified, the highest Lord and the most ancient Being. The whole world knows it. (Bala Kanda, Ramcharitmanas)

Like Advaitins, Ramanandis also believe that it is not possible to perceive the Nirguna aspect of Brahman if one is under Maya/Avidya:

Covered by dense lotus leaves the water could not be easily discerned, even as the attributeless (Nirguna) Brahma is not perceived when veiled by Maya (Ignorance). All the fishes that had their abode in the fathomless water of the lake were uniformly happy, even as the virtuous ever pass their days peacefully. (Aranya Kanda, Ramcharitmanas)


Jiva Goswami, the renowned Gaudiya Vaishnava acharya, in his "Tattva Sandarba" finds the Advaitic Nirguna Brahman to be fictitious:

In this way, by basing their ideas on Brahman and Avidya alone, the Mayavadis contradict themselves when they say that the one undivided Brahman (Nirguna Brahman), pure by virtue of being unadulterated consciousness and thus altogether free from contact with avidya, is nonetheless polluted by contacting avidya and thus becomes the jiva Then again, say the Mayavadis, that the same Brahman becomes the personal Godhead when He serves as the basis of Maya, the illusion concocted from the Jiva's avidya. And under the influence of Maya, Brahman supposedly once more becomes the Jiva. Here we have avidya within the pure spiritual being (Brahman), vidya within the upadhi called God, who is concocted by that avidya, and an illusory status of that same Godhead, who is the proprietor of vidya. We should carefully study how these and other similarly manufactured ideas are simply incoherent.

However, Gaudiya Vaishnavas do subscribe to an impersonal Brahman which is simply seen as the bodily effulgence of Krishna.

  • 1
    the saints are always unbiased than the founders of any sects
    – user17294
    Jan 28, 2019 at 16:19
  • 1
    @parthabanerjee there is no bias. Acharyas has a very different role than "saints". That comparison is not even relevant and the bias aspect only shows our inherent bias.
    – Ambi
    Jan 29, 2019 at 3:55
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    @Ambi before commebting pl read my comments minutrly
    – user17294
    Jan 29, 2019 at 4:07
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    @parthabanerjee I did read your comments. It basically the same as saying something and then following up with no offense intended. Again, just sophistry.
    – Ambi
    Jan 29, 2019 at 8:24
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    nirguna means one without fault, one who have no neecha guna is nirguna.. faultless (nirguna) if you describe god the all supreme one can attach only highest meaning not lowest meaning.. guna (stva, rajas, tamas are triguna) he is nirguna he is above these three gunas.. not bounded by or attached to these gunas as normal jiva would
    – Prasanna R
    Jan 29, 2019 at 10:15

What is their stand on the Nirguna Brahman of Advaitists?

Ramanujacharya states this in his commentary on the Brahma Sutras, in the sections titled "The Great Purvapaksha" and "The Great Siddhanta:"

Brahman, which is pure intelligence and opposed to all difference, constitutes the only reality; and everything else, i.e. the plurality of manifold knowing subjects, objects of knowledge, and acts of knowledge depending on those two, is only imagined on (or 'in') that Brahman, and is essentially false..............

This entire theory rests on a fictitious foundation of altogether hollow and vicious arguments, incapable of being stated in definite logical alternatives, and devised by men who are destitute of those particular qualities which cause individuals to be chosen by the Supreme Person revealed in the Upanishads; whose intellects are darkened by the impression of beginningless evil; and who thus have no insight into the nature of words and sentences, into the real purport conveyed by them, and into the procedure of sound argumentation, with all its methods depending on perception and the other instruments of right knowledge. The theory therefore must needs be rejected by all those who, through texts, perception and the other means of knowledge--assisted by sound reasoning--have an insight into the true nature of things.

So they believe a Nirguna Brahman, as defined by Advaitins, doesn't even exist.

  • 2
    Don't Sri Vaishnavas have a Nirakara aspect of Vishnu?
    – user9969
    Jan 28, 2019 at 16:05
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    @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury That may not have anything to do with what Advaitins think by Brahman.
    – user16618
    Jan 28, 2019 at 16:09

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