Ramanuja or Ramanujacharya (c. 1017–1137 CE; IAST: Rāmānujā; [ɽaːmaːnʊdʑɐ]) was an Indian philosopher, Hindu theologian, social reformer, and one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism. His philosophical foundations for devotionalism were influential to the Bhakti movement.
Ramanuja’s guru was Yādava Prakāśa, a scholar who was a part of the more ancient Advaita Vedānta monastic tradition. Sri Vaishnava tradition holds that Ramanuja disagreed with his guru and the non-dualistic Advaita Vedānta, and instead followed in the footsteps of Tamil Alvārs tradition, the scholars Nāthamuni and Yamunāchārya.
Ramanuja is famous as the chief proponent of Vishishtadvaita subschool of Vedānta, and his disciples were likely authors of texts such as the Shatyayaniya Upanishad. Ramanuja himself wrote influential texts, such as bhāsya on the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, all in Sanskrit.
His Vishishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism) philosophy has competed with the Dvaita (theistic dualism) philosophy of Madhvāchārya, and Advaita (non-dualism) philosophy of Ādi Shankara, together the three most influential Vedantic philosophies of the 2nd millennium.
Ramanuja presented the epistemic and soteriological importance of bhakti, or the devotion to a personal God (Vishnu in Ramanuja’s case) as a means to spiritual liberation. His theories assert that there exists a plurality and distinction between Ātman (soul) and Brahman (metaphysical, ultimate reality), while he also affirmed that there is unity of all souls and that the individual soul has the potential to realize identity with the Brahman.