The three schools of thought on Supreme Reality in Hinduism which explains the relation between a human being and God - dvaita (dualism), advaita (monism), and vishishta advaita (qualified monism) - is often seem to be contrasting and contradicting one another. The school of Dualism expounded by Madhvacharya states that you are separate from God and can never be one with Him. The school of Monism, expounded by Adi Shankaracharya states that you are God, the absolute oneness of God and cannot be separated from Him. The school of Qualified Monism expounded by Ramanujacharya considers you as an aspect of God, a part of the Whole/God and can never merge with Him. Yet, all the three schools profess strong allegiance to texts of Vedanta!
Surprisingly, the three viewpoints were reckoned much much earlier to the advent of the above schools of thought by Hanuman in Ramayana and a wonderful integration of the three may be found in his statement when he was asked how he was related to God. Hanuman answered thus:
dehabhavena daso'smi / when I considered my body, I am your/God's servant. This is dvaita.
jeevabhavena tvadamshakah / when I consider my mind, I am part of you. This is vishishtaadvaita.
atmabhavena tvamevaham / when I consider mySelf, you and I are one. This is advaita.
Knowledge is a structure in Consciousness, at different level of consciousness the same Reality looks differently. Body consciousness, mind consciousness and soul consciousness reflect reality in each in a different way: as separate from, as part of or as one with Reality respectively.
Afterall, the mudras, namam and vibhuti of the dvaitis, vishishtaadvaitis and advaitis respectively through which the three sects distinguish themselves reflects their perception of Reality at their different level of consciousness!
November 14, 20010
Reference: Parthasarathy, A (2004): Vedanta Treatise, Pp. 331-33