The Rahasyatraya Sara is a work by the Sri Vaishnava Acharya Vedanta Desikan, concerning the meaning of the Rahasya Traya or three secrets of the Sri Vaishnava sect (of which I am a member). (One of these secrets is the Dvaya mantra used to surrender to Vishnu, which I discuss here.) In this excerpt from the Rahasyatraya Sara, Vedanta Desikan discusses the philosophy of Visishtadvaita, according to which Jivatmas (individual souls) and matter are part of Vishnu:

Just as Iswara [Vishnu] is the abode, ashraya or adhara (support) of the attributes which define His essential nature (svarupa viz. Satyam, Jnanam, Anandam, and the like) and of the other qualities possessed by Him with his essential nature so defined (qualities like compassion and accessibility), He is also the inseparable and direct support (ashraya or adhara) of all substances (sentient or non-sentient) other than Himself. He is also the support, through these substances ((i.e.) indirectly), of the qualities that pertain to them. There are some who hold that Iswara is the support, through the jivas, of the bodies supported by the jivas. Some Acharyas say (on the other hand) that both directly by His essential nature and indirectly through the jivas, He is the support of these bodies.

So everyone agrees that the Jivatma or individual soul sustains the body, because the body can't live without the soul. But the question is how Vishnu sustains the body. It seems that some believe that Vishnu only sustains the body indirectly, through the Jivatma. Others believe that in addition to sustaining the body through the Jivatma, Vishnu also sustains the body directly.

My question is, which of these two views does the Sri Vaishnava sect subscribe to? Is this something that different Sri Vaishnava Acharyas disagree about? Is this a difference between Thenkalais and Vadakalais, the two main sub-sects of the Sri Vaishnava sect?

  • Why is it important for you to know which of these two views does Sri Vaishnavism subscribe to?. Shouldn't it be simply, which of these two views is correct? – iammilind Aug 31 '15 at 8:44
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    @iammilind Well, the issue is that Vedanta Desikan says that different people subscribe to different views on this subject, so it may be something that different sects of Hinduism differ on, in which case asking which of the two views is correct would be like asking "Which sect of Hinduism is true?" Now asking which sect of Hinduism is correct is certainly a meaningful question that may be well-worth asking, but it's not the sort of thing that's appropriate for this site. – Keshav Srinivasan Aug 31 '15 at 22:37
  • @iammilind What's more appropriate is asking what view a particular sect of Hinduism subscribes to, or perhaps what views all of the sects subscribe to. In this case, I'm asking about the sect that Vedanta Desikan belonged to, the Sri Vaishnava sect, since that might allow me to find out what he believed in. Also, this entire issue seems like it's premised on a Visishtadvaita view of the relationship between Jivatma and Paramatma, so it may not even be a meaningful question for other sects. – Keshav Srinivasan Aug 31 '15 at 22:45
  • @KeshavSrinivasan, these questions are deep in the heart of Vaishnavism, and best suited to an acharya that you know that family connections or to be asked in private, not in a public forum where many diverse eyes fall on it, as mentioned by the very word 'Rahasya' in RahasyaTrayaSara. Krishna says in the Gita 'tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya' - approach a spiritual teacher with humility and service. – mar Jun 9 '16 at 19:38

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