How does Vaishnava theology reconcile Brahman having infinite bliss but also experiencing sorrow and suffering?

Many Upanishads like Taittiriya say Brahman has infinite bliss:

One hundred times that bliss of Pragâpati is one [infinite] measure of the bliss of Brahman, and likewise of a great sage who is free from desires.

However, Sri Vaishnava theology says that Brahman experiences sorrow and suffering. This is what Pillai Lokacharya says in his philosophical work called the Tattva Traya:

The grief of His devotees over separation from Him dwindles down to such minute proportions, in comparison to His own over their separation, as between water contained in the hoof-mark of a cow and the vast ocean.

How to reconcile?

  • 1
    Brahman in his own nature is Sat chit ananda but when Jiva is seperate from Brahman its not that he has sorrow and suffering like how Jivatma undergoes. Brahman has designed Universe in such way out of compassion for Jiva to again come back to him. Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 4:05
  • atheva upsane karothi thathye atmno bhavathi if you do upsena of lord having sarrow you get the same instead of lord.. lord is not having sarrow, its only pillai lokhacharyas belief and also asura did upsena of lord as giver of pain and death and cheater they begot the same.. so we need to be very careful in upsena of lord.. because we are begetting the same in multitude
    – Prasanna R
    Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 18:24
  • 1
    Bhagavad Gita - "Janma-Karma Cha Me Divyam". He takes birth and indulges in work, just like humans do. Yet his birth and work are not like humans' birth and work. Humans' is bound by karma. He is not.
    – ram
    Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 5:25
  • 1
    @Ikshvaku excellent question, it can also be addressed for Advaita as to what Iswara feels. Tue important philosophical difference of that of pain and suffering. Pain is different from suffering. God has no suffering. But pain is a sensation of the mind and as God is omniscient he knows it also. But our minds suffer, he doesn't suffer and is always filled with Atmananda. Even realised people like Ramakrishma Paramahamsa and Ramana Maharishi experienced pain, but they didn't have the elemental dukha or suffering.
    – user22253
    Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 18:51
  • 1
    @MrGreenGold Very good point about the difference between pain and suffering that God experiences.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Oct 3, 2021 at 21:47

1 Answer 1


Whenever Brahman "experiences" sorrow and suffering, it has a purpose behind it.

In the Rama avatAra, the supreme brahman Vishnu experienced a lot of sorrow and suffering. But according to the Srimad Bhagavatam, all this sorrow and suffering experienced by Sri Ramachandra is only as if. The intention is for God to teach the world the negative effects of getting attached to women.


rakṣo-'dhamena vṛkavad vipine 'samakṣaḿ vaideha-rāja-duhitary apayāpitāyām bhrātrā vane kṛpaṇavat priyayā viyuktaḥ strī-sańgināḿ gatim iti prathayaḿś cacāra


rakṣaḥ-adhamena — by the most wicked among Rākṣasas, Rāvaṇa; vṛka-vat — like a tiger; vipine — in the forest; asamakṣam — unprotected; vaideha-rāja-duhitari — by this condition of mother Sītā, the daughter of the King of Videha; apayāpitāyām — having been kidnapped; bhrātrā — with His brother; vane — in the forest; kṛpaṇa-vat — as if a very distressed person; priyayā — by his dear wife; viyuktaḥ — separated; strī-sańginām — of persons attracted to or connected with women; gatim — destination; iti — thus; prathayan — giving an example; cacāra — wandered.


When Rāmacandra entered the forest and Lakṣmaṇa was also absent, the worst of the Rākṣasas, Rāvaṇa, kidnapped Sītādevī, the daughter of the King of Videha, just as a tiger seizes unprotected sheep when the shepherd is absent. Then Lord Rāmacandra wandered in the forest with His brother Lakṣmaṇa as if very much distressed due to separation from His wife. Thus He showed by His personal example the condition of a person attached to women.

In the example given in the above question, the purpose of brahman experiencing sorrow on separation from his devotees is to show the world that he truly cares for his devotees.

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