The Epistemology of Visistadvaita (A Study Based on the Nyayaparisuddhi of Vedanta Desika)

Item Code: IDK690
Author: Vedavalli Narayanan
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788121511742
Pages: 183 (23 B/W Figure Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.9" X 5.8"
Weight 390 gm
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Book Description

From the Jacket

The soundness of any system of Philosophy depends on the logical foundations over which it is built. As such epistemology plays a crucial role in the course of its development. This book is an attempt at presenting the epistemology of the Visistadvaita Vedanta based on the thirteenth century classical text, Nyayaparisuddhi composed by the eminent poet philosopher Vedanta Desika. It deals with the pramanas as accepted by the system. After a brief introduction, the second chapter discusses the concept of knowledge. The following three chapters closely follow the text in their treatment of the pramanas. The sixth chapter analyses the desirability of other pramanas as independent source of knowledge and concludes by showing how these can be subsumed in the three main pramanas. The book represents an attempt at delving into an area that has not received much attention earlier.

Vedavalli Narayanan, a student of Visistadvaita Vedanta, obtained her PhD award from Dr. S. Radhakrishnan Institute for Advanced Study in Philosophy, University of Madras, Chennai. She has been a general fellow of the Indian Council for Philosophical Research, New Delhi and a Research Associate with the University Grants Commission; she has also taught Visistadvaita Vedanta at the Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi, for a few years. The present book forms a revised version of her PhD dissertation.


The Indian philosophical tradition makes use of three kinds of inquiry Ninquiry into the source of knowledge (pramana-vicara), inquiry into the objects of knowledge (premeya-vicara), and inquiry into the value system (prayojana-vicara). Of these, the first one is the basis for the other two. Every Vedantic system follows its own pramana theory making suitable modifications in the ground-work of logic and epistemology prepared by the Naiyayika. Like Advaita, Visistadvaita has worked out its pramana theory which is the basis for its metaphysics. The Nyayaparisuddhi of Vedanta Desika, which is comparable to the Vedanta Paribhasa in the Advaita tradition, is an excellent introduction to the epistemology of Visistadvaita. As the name indicates, the Nyaya-parisuddhi adopts and also modifies the pramana theory of the Naiyayika in order to make it acceptable. Though there are quite a few books dealing with Visistadvaita as a total and integral philosophy, the number of books which exclusively deal with its epistemology can easily be counted with fingers. Since pramana-vicara is the basis for both prameya-vicara and prayojana-vicara, scholars interested in Visistadvaita will welcome this book by Dr. Vedavalli Narayanan.

Originally prepared as a doctoral thesis of the University of Madras, this work discusses in six chapters the nature and validity of knowledge, perception, inference, and sabda as the sources of knowledge, and a critique of memory, comparison, postulation, and non-cognition. The presentation is lucid; the issues in epistemology are discussed in an analytical way: and the development of ideas is logical and coherent. I am happy to commend this book to scholars interested in Indian Philosophy in general and Visistadvaita in particular. We require more books like this focusing on the epistemology of Visistadvaita.


The present publication embodies an attempt at presenting the Epistemology of the Visistadvaita Vedanta. It represents the doctoral research work completed under the guidance of Dr. R. Balasubramanian, the then Director of Radhakrishnan Institute for Advanced Study in Philosophy, University of Madras.

The study is mainly based on the Nyayaparisuddhi of Vedanta Desika and considerable material has been gathered from the Buddhisara section of the Tattvamuktakalapa of Vedanta Desika, as both discuss epistemological issues. I have mostly followed the Editions of Uttamur Sri T. Viraraghavacharya.

The scope of this book is to present the epistemological doctrines of the Visistadvaita system and bring out the importance the thinkers of the system attach to logic in arriving at their metaphysical conclusions. I have mostly tried to follow the traditional order while preparing the sequence of the chapters as it is the tried and proven method based on our own thought process in arriving at knowledge.

It is with a sense of deep gratitude that I record my obligations. I must first pay my respects to the late Abhinava Desika, Uttamur Sri T. Viraraghavacharya, who in spite of his old age and frail health explained in detail the text of the Nyayaparisuddhi.

I take this opportunity to express my respect and gratitude to Dr. R. Balasubramanian, for his guidance and help throughout my research and also for his illuminating foreword to this book.

I will be failing in my duty if I do not acknowledge my indebtedness to my father Sri K.R. Padmanabhan, who introduced Vedanta to me by teaching Vedanta Desika's Rahasyatrayasara and whose pro indebtedness to my father Sri K.R. Padmanabhan, who introduced Vedanta to me by teaching Vedanta Desika's Rahasyatrayasara and whose profound knowledge of the subject has always been a source of help and strength to me.

I am extremely thankful to Prof. V.K.S.N> Raghavan, Head of the Department of Vaishnavism, University of Madras, Chennai. But for his help and encouragement I would not have been able to publish this work.

I am highly obliged to my family members for constantly helping me during my research studies and publication thereof.

I also owe my sincere thanks to Sri R. Mukundan who in spite of his busy career as a computer professional, helped me prepare a camera ready copy with his excellent software skills.




Foreword ix
Preface xi
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Select Bibliography 163
Index 165


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