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Urged upon this compassion for mankind, God has assumed a human body so that he might be the refuge of all men; but they do not know him as He is. They consider him to be a man like they are, and they are ignorant of God’s supreme state of being, which is a boundless receptacle of compassion, generosity, goodness, love, etc., and is characterized by its human shape. So for the mere reason that God is their refuge in human shape, they consider him to be of the same class as other human beings and so are mistaken about him. They have assumed the bewildering natures of raksasas and asuras [two classes of demons] which puts an end to God’s supreme compassion in his humanity; their aspirations and enterprises remain fruitless, their knowledge of all God’s creatures and of God himself is erroneous, and they have lost all positive knowledge of anything because they regard God as a man. — from the “Gita-bhasya” by Ramanuja.

Ramanuja (1017–1137) was an Indian theologian, philosopher, and scriptural scholar and one of the leading experts on the classical interpretation of Hindu philosophy. Among his array of accomplishments, Ramanuja instituted the belief in perfection based on a personal divinity who has both a spiritual and material aspect. This belief is given one of its fullest expressions in Ramanuja’s “Gita-bhasya,” the theologian’s commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, the major religious text of Hinduism.

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