Individual Self and Supreme Self

  • Eric Lott
Part of the Library of Philosophy and Religion book series (LPR)


There is good reason for beginning our detailed comparison of the three representative Vedantins with the question of how the individual self relates to Brahman, the universal Self. We have just seen that it is this inner self that provides Vedanta with its basic model for understanding the transcendental immanence of the supreme Self. In some revelatory texts it seems less an analogical relationship than an affirmation of sheer identity. So it is around just this issue that the major Vedantic debate revolves. If the transcendent Self alone is the ultimate reality, how can any finite being share its nature? If any existent does share that Being, is not its oneness lost and hence its perfection of being diminished? This dilemma leads the monistic branch of Vedanta to argue that the ‘sharing’ must either be illusory, or in reality must be a sheer identity of being. Thus any distinction within Brahman’s fulness of being, or any extension of his simplicity of being, even the idea of any pervasive or participant immanence, is seen as a threat to its transcendent character.


Ultimate Reality Pure Consciousness Absolute Identity Sheer Identity Dependent Existence 
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  1. 20.
    Cf. E. J. Lou, God and the Universe in the Vedantic Theology cf Rāmānuja: A Study in his use of the Self-Body Analogy (Madras, 1976).Google Scholar
  2. 30.
    J. Carman, The Theology of Rāmānuja: An Essay in Inter-religious Understanding (New Haven, 1974) p. 136.Google Scholar
  3. 38.
    H. N. Raghavendrachar, ‘Madhva’s Brahma-Mīmāmsā’, in The Cultural Heritage of India, vol. III (Calcutta, 1969) p. 331.Google Scholar

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© Eric Lott 1980

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  • Eric Lott

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