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The Satadhusani is a work by the Sri Vaishnava Acharya Vedanta Desikan consisting of 100 refutations of Adi Shankaracharya's philosophy of Advaita. One chapter of the work is devoted to refuting the Advaita view that those who have attained Brahmajnana do not have to follow the rules of Varnashrama Dharma. At the end of the chapter, the Advaita opponent says, you accuse us of undermining Varnashrama Dharma, but you Sri Vaishnavas also undermine Varnashrama Dharma, by making statues of low-caste devotees of Vishnu who have departed the Earth. Vedanta Desikan responds that when a low-caste devotee of Vishnu has attained Moksha, they’re no longer associated with the caste their body had in life:

Nescience, Karmic residues, the connection to a physical body, and the like has been totally eliminated in them by the special power derived from worshiping the Lord, and their identity with the Lord has been made manifest. As such they are not connected to a particular caste. Treatises on the setting up and the worship of devotees, nevertheless, note that one should make images of them corresponding to the appearance they formerly had on earth so as to exclude other people. Following the authority of the appropriate texts, these treatises then prescribe from among the teachings on the topic of worship only that form of worship that is appropriate for each case. Now, how can you infer that this causes the destruction of Dharma? It is established that, according to the Vedic text “(They traverse) these worlds” [Taittiriya Upanishad 3.10.5], these, who in the liberated state are equal to Ananta, Garuda, and Vishvaksena, perform such acts as following the Lord.

Ananta (Adiseshan), Garuda, and Vishavaksena are Nitya Suris, eternally liberated souls who have dwelt in Vishnu’s highest abode of Paramapada forever, and Vedanta Desikan is saying Muktas or liberated souls attain a state equal to them. But I’m interested in the parts in bold. My question is, what scriptures describe making statues of those who have attained Moksha?

It sounds like the “treatises” he’s referring to themselves rely on “the appropriate texts”. So what are these texts? Do any commentaries on the Satadhushani shed light on this?

  • It is a sad state of affairs that even though advaita preaches everything is brahman in theory, in practice it could not come out of the caste system. The sri vaishnavas have done a better job in this area. – Lazy Lubber Feb 9 at 6:17
  • @LazyLubber To be clear, Sri Vaishnavas do believe in the caste system, it’s just that we think Sharanagati is open to all regardless of caste. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 9 at 6:53
  • @Keshav This might be of interest, if you have not already read it - ramanuja.org/sri/BhaktiListArchives/Article?p=mar96%2F0077.html – Lazy Lubber Feb 9 at 6:57
  • @LazyLubber Raghavachar (who is not a Sri Vaishnava BTW) is wrong about this. Ramanujacharya’s commentary on Gita verse 9.29 is about Sharanagati, whereas Ramanujacharya’s commentary on the Apasudradhikaranam is about Bhakti Yoga. Sri Vaishnavas believe Bhakti Yoga has caste restrictions, whereas Sharanagati has no caste restrictions. For more details see this chapter of Vedanta Desikan’s Rahasyatrayasara: gdurl.com/jPRt5 – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 9 at 7:40
  • @Lazy Lubber it was Ramananda who loosened the caste restrictions a bit. Thats why His folliwers are known as Ramunuja-Ramanandi sect sometimes. – user17294 Feb 9 at 13:46

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