Visistadvaita is developed based on the concept of substance-attribute and it lays down three fundamental metaphysical concepts, namely, the concept of substance and attribute, the concept of relation and the concept of cause and effect. Based on these three concepts, Visistadvaitins proceeds to explicate the metaphysical categories that is broadly divided as substance (dravya) and nonsubstance (adravya).
Visistadvaitins proceeds to explicate the metaphysical categories that is broadly divided as substance (dravya) and nonsubstance (adravya). The substances are six, divided as inert (jada) and noninert (ajada), of which the non-inert entities are further classified as self-revealing (pratyak) and revelation for others (parak), of which Jiva and Ishvara are selfrevealing non-inert substances and nityavibhuti and jnana are parak. The prakriti and kala are inert substances. The non-substances are ten, viz, sattva, rajas, tamas, shabda, sparsha, rupa, rasa, gandha, samyoga and shakti which are the basic metaphysical attributes.
Dravya: Dravya is that which serves as a substratum of modification and modification is that which an adventitious quality inseparable from the substance.
- Prakriti: Prakriti or the primordial cosmic matter is an inert substance, eternal and subject to modification. It consists of three qualities, sattva, rajas and tamas. It is controlled by Ishvara and is dependent on Him for its existence. According to the evolutionary process of Visistadvaitin, twenty-three categories evolve from prakriti.
- Kala: Kala or the Time Principle is also one of the inert substances that is eternal. It is an independent and real substance but is not a part of prakriti. It exists along with prakriti without a beginning or an end. It is within the realm of Brahman and undergoes modification in the form of seconds, minutes, hours, days etc
- Jiva: Visistadvaita presents a distinctive doctrine of jiva, that is different from Brahman and even in the state of liberation it does not lose its individuality. Jivas are infinite in number and they are essentially of the nature of knowledge. Jiva is the knower because it serves as the substrate of knowledge. The jiva instituting of knowledge is known as substantive-knowledge (dharmijnana) which is self-evident but does not reveal the external objects and it knows what is revealed to it.
- Ishvara: Brahman or Ishwara is conceived, by Visistadvaitin as God with attributes like possessing a bodily form, with infinite good qualities and glories. The bodily form of Brahman is not subject to karma like the jivas, but is assumed out of free-will for the benefit of the devotees. The bodily form of Brahman also known as Ishvara is eternal with pure quality.
- Nitya vibhuti: Nityavibhuti or Shuddhasattva is the transcendental matter in contrast to the prakriti that is the cosmic matter. It is a spiritual substance characterised by pure sattva unlike the physical matter which constitutes three gunas. It is non-material and insentient.
- Jnana: The jnana or knowledge by itself is an essential attribute of the jiva, which is known as attributiveknowledge (dharmabhutajnana). Jnana reveals itself and the external objects but does not know them. Jiva is a doer and reaper of results. It is of the dimension of an atom (anu).