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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Six Philosophies > Four Sampradayas > Part II - Brahma Sampradaya

Part II - Brahma Sampradaya



A Introduction


I. Need for a New Darshana

(Criticism of the Vishishtadvaita Vedanta in the version of the followers of

Shri Madhvacarya) 


*        In spite of Ramanujacarya having written lengthly commentaries on Vedanta-sutra and Bhagavad Gita, and other important books like Vedartha-Sangraha, still there was much that had been left undone or insufficiently done by him. Definitely the Advaita system of philosophy had not been disloged from its pedestal on the Upanishads. A passing notice of a few passages from the principal Upanishads, such as was attempted by Ramanuja in his writings, was not sufficient to inspire confidence.


*        It seemed the Vishishtadvaita had, to some extent, played into the hands of Monists in respect of some of its theological and metaphysical views. Not caring for the entire body of pre-Upanishadic literatures and perpetuating the distinction between the karma and jnana-kandas, the Vishishtadvaita system was unwittingly too indiferent to the Vedas and disproportionately exalted the Upanishads over the Mantras.


*        The label and ideology of “Vishishtadvaita” were alike distasteful and compromising to genuine theism. The magesty, transcendence and personal homogeneity of Godhead were on the brink of extinction on such a view. Say what one may, no genuine theist can, for a moment, consent to tie down his Deity (as does the Vishishtadvaita) to an existence perpetually “qualified” by two attributes (visheshas) one of which is sentient (cit) and the other insentient (acit)! The Infinite cannot be a mere cross. The eternal, irrevocable apposition of the dual attributes of cit and acit with the Deity must perforce, mars its self completeness. The Jiva and jada, which according to Ramanuja’s own showing are essentially and eternally distinct from Brahman, cannot be treated as its “attributes” in the same sense in which, for instance, “satyam”, “jnanam”, “anantam” and “ananda” are treated by the Upanishads as attributes of Brahman. The Vishishtadvaitic conception of the relation between Brahman and its so-called attributes of cit and acit was, thus open to serious logical objections.


*        The lable of “Vishishtadvaita” similarly indicates a weakness to try to press Theism into a monistic mould. A “vishishtaikya” of One Substance and two attributes all externally related, is no “aikya” at all, except in a very loose and remote sense.


*        In spite of their undoubted ardour for the cause of Vaishnavism neither Ramanuja nor his predecessors had given it a firm textual footing in the Vedas, Upanishads and Sutras. There originally were a few presumably Vaishnava commentaries on the Vedanta-sutra prior to Ramanujacarya. But since for some centuries before and after Shankaracarya attention had been totally engrossed on higher metaphysical issues of Monism versus Dualism, and latterly, with purely dialectical questions, the theological problems of the relative superiority of the Gods of the Vedantic pantheon and their status, or even the theological identity of Brahman had no attraction for any commentator. But when the great Bhagavata religion had come into philosophical proeminance, in the 10th and 11th centuries, largely through the efforts of the Tamil Vaishnava saints (Alvars), side by side with the speculative systems like those of Shankaracarya, it was time to find a place for the highest God of the the Bhagavata cult, namely Vishnu-Narayana or Vasudeva. Shri Ramanuja himself had, in his works, sounded a sufficiently ‘sectarian’ note and upheld Shri Vishnu-Narayana as the Para-Brahman of the Vedanta. Still, it could not be said that he had suceeded in securing for his God that paramount position (for which he had fought and suffered persecution in his own region), in the sacred literature as a whole, inclusive of the Upanishads and Vedanta-sutra. As a matter of fact, he had never at all looked at the Rig Veda, the Aranyakas and the Upanishads from that point of view and with that object. Although Ramanujacarya had explained about the personal God in his writings, it may be argued that his commentary on the Brahma-sutras is not sufficiently “sectarian”. As a Mayavadi writer commented: “The only sectarian feature of the Ramanujacarya’s commentary is that he identifies Brahman with Vishnu, but this in no way affects the interpretations put on the Sutras and the Upanishads. Narayana, in fact, is but another name of Brahman.” But the time had come for a more positive, passionate and “sectarian” advocacy of the place of Lord Vishnu in Hindu religion and philosophy.


*        For some inscrutable reason, Ramanujacarya showed indifference to the great gospel of Vaishnavism, the Shrimad-Bhagavatam. And so had his predecessor Yamunacarya. This neglect, quite naturally, came, in Advaitic circles, to be interpreted as a tacit admission, on the part of the Vaishnava realists, of the “unquestionable monistic tenor of that Purana.” We learn from Jiva Gosvami’s Sandharbhas that there was at least two such early commentaries on Shrimad Bhagavatam - one by Punyaranya and the other by the celebrated impersonalist dialectician Citsukha. As a result of the labours of these two eminent commentators, Vaishnava Realism must have lost ground and much of its prestige and stood in imminent danger of losing its mainstay in the most popular Vaishnava scripture, unless something was urgently done to rehabilitate it.


*        Parallel to all this and during all these centuries, Shaivism had been growing into a power. From as early as the days of the Puranas, the cult of Shiva had been the main rival of Vaishnavism. The period between the 6th and 12th centuries was the heydey of Shaivism in the South and was distinguished for its mighty literary activity of the Tamil Shaiva saints (Nayanmars). So great was the influence and ascendency of Shaivism in the South that Shri Ramanuja had actually to flee Shri Rangam and find more congenial haunts for his Vaishnavism in distant Melkote in South Karnataka.


*        The combined effects of all these forces must have driven Vaishnava Theism completely to bay. It could not have held out much longer unless some one came forward to rehabilitate its fortune. And such a one was soon to appear on the scene as the champion of Vedantic Theism and Vaishnava Realism in the person of Shri Madhvacarya.



B Shri Madhvacarya (1238-1317)


I) His Life


*        Shri Madhva was born possibly in 1238 and lived 79 years (1317)

*        His parents were Narayana Bhatöa and Vedavati, brahmanas of humble status, in the village of Pajaka, eight miles SE of the town of Udupi. His original name was Vasudeva.

*        At seven he had his Upayana and went through a course of Vedic and Shastra studies. Probably at the age of sixteen he took sannyasi from Acyutapreksha and got the name Purnaprajna.

*        Some time after initiation was spent in the study of Vedantic classics beginning with the Istasiddhi of Vimukatman. However frequent arguments between master and disciple terminated the studies before long.

*        Purnaprajna was then made head of the maöh of Acyutapreksha, under the name of Anandatirtha.

*        The name Madhva was assumed by him for certain esoteric reasons connected with his claim to be an avatara of Vayu.

*        He possessed an uncommon physique and extraordinary intellectual power.

*        Shri Madhva spent some time in Udupi teaching the other disciples of Acyutapreksha. These teachings and constant philosophical disputations developed his dialectic abilities and made him an adept in polemics that he shows himself to be in his works.

*        Encouraged by these successes, he made up his mind to go on a South Indian tour to find a wider field for the propagation of his new ideas - Trivandrum, Kanya Kumari, Shri Rangam, Rameshvaram, etc. This tour took two or three years.

*        Back to Udupi, Shri Madhva was resolved to establish a new sidhanta, and he began his career as an author. His first literary work was the Gita-bhashya.

         Then he started his first North Indian tour. At Badrinath, Madhvacarya left by himself for Mahabadarikashrama, the abode of Vyasadeva, in the upper regions of the Himalayas.

*        He returned after some months and inspired by Vyasadeva he wrote his Brahmasutra-bhashya, which was transcribed to his dictation by his disciple Satyatirtha.

*        The returning trip to Udupi was through Bihar and Bengal, and to the banks of the Godavari, where Madhvacarya had a debate with a veteran scholar Shobhana Bhaööa, who was defeated and became his important disciple under the name of Padmanabha Tirtha. Another important conversion during this tour was of Narahari Tirtha. The first North Indian tour was fruitful and caused considerable impression on the people.

*        Till then Madhva's criticism of the Advaita and other prevailing schools had been merely destructive. He had not offered a new bhashya in place of those he had so ruthlessly criticized. But with the publication of his commentaries on Gita and the Brahma-sutras no one could say he had no alternative system to offer in place of those he critisized.

*        His first achievment after his return to Udupi was the conversion of his very guru Acyutapreksha, completely, to the new sidhanta. He was defeated not without a fierce resistance. Madhvacarya now had got many converts and adherents.

*        In that time, he installed the beautiful deity of Lord Krishna in his Maöh. He introduced some changes in the ceremonial codes and the rigorous fasting on Ekadashi days.

*        After that, Madhvacarya started on his second tour of North India and returning after visiting Delhi, Kurukshetra, Benares and Goa. The subsequent tours were mostly within the Karnataka state.

*        Many literary works had, in the meanwhile, been written by him such as the commentaries of the Ten Upanishads, Shrimad Bhagavatam and Mahabharata.

*        The increasing popularity of the new faith naturally caused no small apprehension to the followers of the established faith - Advaita. Madhvacarya's only business was to dispel the mist of Mayavadi philosophy, to which he was a veritable enemy all through his life. His library which contained a very valuable and rare collection of books was devastated in a raid done by mayavadis.

*        This incident brought Madhvacarya into touch with Jayasimha, the ruler of Kumbha, and in this opportunity the great court pandita Trivikrama Panditacarya was converted. Trivikrama's conversion was a turning point in the history of the faith. He wrote a commentary on Madhva's Brahmasutra-bhashya, called Tattva-pradipa and his son Narayana Panditacarya was the author of the Madhva's biography "Madhva-vijaya".

*        By this time, Madhva's fame spread far and wide, and many more joined to him.

* Then he composed his masterpiece - Anuvyakyana - based on the Vedanta-sutra.

*        The last years of Madhvacarya seem to have been spent in teaching and worship.

* He designated his younger brother Vishnu and seven other disciples to become the founders of the Ashöa-Maöhas of Udupi. Three works were composed about this time: Nyaya-vivarana, Karma-nirnaya and Krishnamrita-maharnarva.

*        Charging his disciples with his last message from his favorite Upanishad, Aitareya - “not sit still but go forth and preach” -, Shri Madhvacarya left this world in 1318.


II. Shri Madhvacarya’s Literary Works


* Shri Madhvacarya wrote thirty seven works, collectively called Sarva-mula. His writings are characterized by an extreme brevity of expression, and a rugged simplicity and directness, without any sophistication and literary ornament. The language of some of them are so terse and elliptical that their meaning could not be fully grasped without a good commentary. They may be classified under four heads:


a) Commentaries on the Prashöhana-traya:

  1) Gita-bhashya, 2) Gita-tatparya, 3) Brahma-sutra-bhashya, 4) Anubhashya, 5) Anu-vyakhyana, 6) Nyaya-vivarana, 7-16) ten Upanishads bhashya, 17) Rig-veda-bhashya


b) Ten short monographs Dasha-prakarana, some elucidating the basic principles  of his system, its logic, ontology, epistemology, etc:

  8) Pramana-lakshana, 19) Katha-lakshana, 20) Upadhi-khandana, 21) Mayavada-khandana, 22) Prapanca-mithyatvanumana-khandana, 23) Tattva-sankhyana, 24) Tattva-viveka, 25) Tattvoddyota, 26) Vishnu-tattva-nirnaya and 27) Karma-nirnaya.


c) Commentaries on Smriti-prashöhana:

  28) Bhagavata-tatparya and 29) Mahabharata-tatparya-nirnaya.


d) Poems, stotras:

   30) Yamaka-bharata, 31) Narasimha-nakha-stuti, 32) Dvadasha-stotra, and some

  works on worship: 34) Tantra-sara-sangraha, 35) Sadacara-smriti, 36) Yati-pranava-kalpa, 37) Krishna-jayanti-nirnaya.


C Dvaita Philosophy Of Shri Madhvacarya


* The cardinal doctrines of Shri Madhvacarya’ Dvaita Vedanta have been summed up as nine in a verse attributed to Vyasatirtha (1478-1539):

  1) harih paratarah - In all respects Lord Vishnu alone is supreme and the highest; 2) satyam jagat - This entire universe is truly and ultimately real; 3) tattvato bhedah - The five-fold difference is fundamental; 4) jiva-ganah harer anucarah - The manifold embodied souls are all dependent on Lord Vishnu; 5) (jiva-ganah) nica-ucca-bhavam gatah - The embodied souls are inherently graded as higher and lower (mainly three-fold); 6) muktir naija-sukhanubhutih - Liberation is enjoing the bliss befitting to one’s original form; 7) amala bhaktish ca tat-sadhanam - The means to secure Liberation is pure devotion to Lord Vishnu; 8) akshadi tritayam pramanam - The means of valid knowledge are only three, viz., perception, inference and verbal testimony; 9) akhilam nayaika vedyo harih - Lord Vishnu alone is made known by the entire mass of scriptures.


I. Ontology


1) Madhva's Ontological Theory


a)       Madhva's ontology is characterized by two principal ideas of being - reality and independence. Reality is related to this material world and souls; while independence is characteristic of the Lord alone.


b)       Shankara says that the real must necessharily be eternal. On the other hand, the Buddhists affirm that it has to be necessharily momentary (kshanika). The Madhva conception of Reality is in between these two concepts. Existence, then is a test of reality. For him, satyam may be the existence at some place and time, and not necessharily for all time and throughout space. Actual existence at some time and place is sufficient to distinguish the real from the unreal. The second test of reality is “practical efficiency”.


c)       Unlike the classical definition of Dualism by Sankhya phiosophy - “a theory which admits two independent and mutually irreducible substances”-, the Dualism of Madhva, while admitting two mutually irreducible principles as constituting Reality as a whole, regards only one of them, viz. God, as the One and only independent principle (svatantra) and the other , viz. all finite reality comprising the prakriti, purushas, kala, karma, svabhava, etc, as dependent (paratantra). This concept of two orders of reality (tattvas), viz. svatantra and paratantra, is the key note of Madhva's philosophy.


2) Madhva's Ontological Scheme


a)       Tattva or reality is of two categories:

                   a1) Svatantra or independent (Lord Vishnu alone)

                   a2) Paratantra or dependent


b)       Paratantra is of two kinds:

                   b1) Bhava or existent

                   b2) Abhava or non-existent:

                   (The three types of abhava are: prag-abhava or anterior, pradhvamshabhava or posterior, and sadabhava or absolute negation).


c)       Bhava or existent entities are of two broad types:

                   c1) Cetana or conscious

                   c2) Acetana or not conscious


d)       Acetana or unconscious entities are three fold:

                   d1) Nitya or eternal ( the Vedas alone)

                   d2) Nityanitya or partly eternal and partly non-eternal

                   (the Puranas, prakriti, kala)

                   d3) Anitya or non-eternal entities, which is divided into:

                             i) Samsrishöa or created (The world and everything else).

                             ii)Asamsrishöa or uncreated

                             (maha-tattva, ahankara, buddhi, manas, ten indriyas,

          the tanmatras and the panca-bhutas).


e)       Cetana or conscious entities can be:

                   e1) Duhkha-sprishöa or those associated with sorrows

                   e2) Duhkhasprishöa or those who are not so (Lakshmi Devi)


f)       The Duhkha-sprishöas are divided in:

                   f1) Vimuktas or released - (devas, rishis, pitris, naras)

                   f2) Duhkha-samstha or those abiding with sorrows, which are of two types:

                             i) Mukti-yogya or salvable

                             ii) Mukti-ayogya or unfit for mukti


g)       The Mukty-ayogyas can be:

                   g1) Nitya-samsharin or ever-transmigrating

                   g2) Tamoyogya or damnable:

                   (martyadhamas, the worst men; daityas, the demons; rakshasas and pishacas).

                   Each one of these tamoyogyas can be:

                             i) Praptandhatamas or those who are already damnned in hell.

                             ii) Sritisamstha or those who are in samsara but are doomed to hell.


3) The Concept Of Visheshas


a) A special feature of Madhva’s philosophy is the category of vishesha, which he introduces to explain the appearance of bheda, where there is none. The category distinguishes a quality from a substance and apart from the whole. Between a substance and its quality or between a whole and its parts there is no difference. The difference appears on account of vishesha. We do not perceive any difference between the cloth and its whiteness, but we perceive the vishesha (particulariry) of the cloth. In the case of God, the principle of vishesha is employed to reconcile his unity with the plurality of his qualities and powers, and the plurality of His divine body , divine dress, divine abode, and the like.


b)       The concept of vishesha is used to accomodate the two conflicting types of texts in the Upanishads - those which speak of Brahman as nirvishesha and the savishesha texts - by which Madhvacarya tries to reconcile the concept of monism with that of plurality.


c)       The concept of vishesha seems to be akin to the concept of acintya-bhedabheda. This view gains further support from the fact that Baladeva Vidyabhushana in his Govinda-bhashya reverts to Madhva's doctrine of vishesha in reconciling monism and pluralism, and characterizes it as being identical with the concept of acintya. He says that Brahman is spoken of as possessing the qualities of sat, cit and ananda, although these qualities constitute the essence of Brahman. This is due to the supralogical functions of vishesha, because vishesha does not imply that Brahman is, from another point of view, identical with its qualities, and from another point of view, different. Nevertheless, we cannot take the concept of Madhvacarya as totally identical to Shri Chaitanya’s because “Madhvacarya’s concept of acintya is not so acintya, or inconceivable, as the acintya of Shri Chaitanya. Madhva’s ‘acintya’ is related to vishesha, which reconciles the appearance of difference and identity, while Shri Chaitanya’s acintya reconciles real difference with real identity.”1

          1(O.B.L. Kapoor)


4) Madhva's Doctrine of "Difference"


a)       According to Madhvacarya, the uniqueness of a particular be it a person or thing, is to be understood in terms of difference from all else. Difference is not merely a component part of a reality, related from outside, but constitutes the very essence (dharmi-svarupa) of an object.


b)       There are three types of differences:

           b1) sajatiya or difference of things of same category

           b2) vijatiya or difference of things of different categories.

           b3) svagata or internal distinctions within an organic whole (this type is not

         admitted by Madhva in its absolute sense).


c) Shri Madhvacarya insists on five absolute and eternal distinctions between Brahman (Ishvara), jiva and jada, or the inanimate world. He quotes from Parama-shruti:


jiveshvara-bhida caiva jadeshvara-bhida tatha

jiva-bhedo mithash caiva jada-jiva-bhida tatha

mithash ca jada-bhedo ’yam prapanco bheda-pancakah

so ’yam satyo hy anadish ca sadish cen nashamapnuyat

na ca nasham prayatyesha na casau bhranti kalpitah

kalpitash cen nivartate na casau vinivartate

daitam na vidyata iti tasmad ajnaninam matam

matam hi jnaninam etan mitam tratam ca vishnuna

yasmat satyam iti proktam paramo harir eva tu


‘The universe consists of five-fold differences): Difference between 1) God and sentient soul; 2) God and the insentient matter; 3) one soul and another; 4) soul and matter; and 5) between one material object and another. This difference is real and beginningless. If it had the origin it would have perished. But it does not perish, not is it imagined through illusion. If it had been imagined it would have terminated. but it does not terminate. Therefore, the contention that there is no duality or difference is the opinion of the ignorant. the enlightened hold that it is known and protected by Vishnu and that,

as such, it is asserted to be real. But Vishnu alone is Supreme.’

II. Epistemology

     (From Madhva’s Vishnu-tattva-vinirnaya)


1) The Proofs about God


*        The existence of God cannot be proved by any inference; for inference of equal force can be adduced against the existence of God. If it is urged that the world, being an effect, must have a creator or maker just as a jug has a potter for its maker, then it may also be urged on the contary that the world is without any maker, like the self; if it is urged that the self is not an effect and that therefore the counter argument does not stand, then it may also be urged that all makers have bodies, and since God has no body, God cannot be the creator.

*        Thus the existence of God can only be proved on the testimony of the scriptures, and they hold that God is different from the individual selves. If any scriptural text seem to indicate the identity of God and self or of God and the world, this will be contradicted by perceptual experience and inference, and consequently the monistic interpretations of these texts would be invalid.

* Now the scriptures cannot suggest anything which is directly contradicted by experience; for, if experience be invalid, then the experience of the validity of the scriptures will also become invalid.The teaching of the scriptures gains additional strength by its consonance with what is perceived by other pramanas; and since all the pramanas point to the reality of diversity, the monistic interpretation of scriptural texts cannot be accepted as true. When any particular experience is contradicted by a number of other pramanas, that experience is thereby rendered invalid.


2) Concept of Upajivaka and Upajiya


*        There are two classes of qualitative proofs, viz, that which is relative or dependent (upajivaka) and that which is independent (upajivya); of these the latter must be regarded as stronger. Perception and inference are independent sources of evidence, and may therefore be regarded as upajivya, while the scriptural texts are dependent on perception and inference, and are therefore regarded as upajivaka. Valid perception precedes inference and is superior to it, for the inference has to depend on perception; thus if there is a flat contradiction between the scriptural texts and what is universally perceived by all, the scriptural texts have to be so explained that there may not be any such contradicton. By its own nature as a support of all evidence, perception or direct experience, being the upajivya, has a stronger claim of validity. Of the two classes of texts, viz, those which are monistic and those which are dualistic, the latter is suppoted by perceptual evidence. So the superiority of the dualistic texts cannot be denied.


III. The World of Experience


1) Doctrine of Sakshi-Pramana


a)       Belief in the reality of the world and its values is, naturally, one of the fundamental tenants of theism. The reality of the world can be proved especially by pratyaksha, direct experience, and by many scriptural texts. Besides these pramanas, Madhvacarya resorts to a special type of pratyaksha called sakshi, the intuitive perception by the self, based on our sakshin or the inner sense-organ of the embodied self (svarupendriya).

b) The sakshi is the ultimate criterion of all knowledge and its validation. This sakshi is competent enough to test and judge the data of our experience, gathered from sense-perception, inference and shastras. Even the statements of the shastras which support impersonalistic views of the unreality of this world or the identity of jiva and Brahman, have to be brought before the bar of sakshi before they can be accepted without question. When texts like 'tat tvam asi' and 'neha nanasti' appear to teach the identity of jiva and Brahman and the unreality of the world, such teaching (or interpretation of these texts) has to be unhesitantingly rejected as invalid because it goes against the upajivya-pramana (that pramana which offers subsistence) which, in present case, is the tested sakshi-anubhava of the difference between the individual self and Brahman and of the reality of the world of experience.

c) Some quotations from Madhvacarya:

  anubhuti virodhena ma na kacana - Nothing is valid which goes against one’s intuitive knowledge.

  na ca anubhava virodhe agamasya pramanyam - The scripture can have no validity if it contradicts experience.


IV. Doctrine of Atman


1) Essence of Selfhood


a) (From Vishnu-tattva-vinirnaya):

  Who is a jiva or the soul? And how is he known? - To this question the reply is: the soul is known as ‘I’. Whenever anyone utters the word ‘I’ it should be understood that he is meaning thereby his jiva or soul. Further, he is subject to happiness or misery. That is, whenever one becomes happy or miserable, the concerned happiness or misery is experienced by the soul. It is the soul who enjoys the happiness and suffers the misery. Moreover, it is the soul who is subjected to this samsara-bandhana and it is the soul who gets release from this bondage and enjoys the bliss of the moksha or final liberation.



The jivas are the reflected counterparts (pratibimba-amsha) of Vishnu. The bodies of the jivas, eternally present in Vaikuntha are transcendental (aprakrita). Hence, they are called unconditioned-reflected counterparts (nir-upadhika-pratibimba-amsha). The bodies of the jivas of the material world are material; therefore, they are called conditioned-reflected-counterparts (sa-upadhika-pratibimba-amsha).


  A question then arises: “What functions like a mirror (upadhi) in the bimba-pratibimba-vada?” Verily, without a mirror there cannot be any reflection. If the jiva is a reflection of Brahman there must be something to act the role of the mirror. What is that upadhi?

Madhvacarya explains that the svarupa or the inherent nature of the jiva itself functions as the upadhi.


b)       The state of the souls in moksha - They are not formless beings or colorless points but atomic individuals with their own specific forms and characteristics. They have spiritual bodies of their own with appropriate organs, and have names and forms which are beyond the knowledge of those still in bondage.

2) Metaphysical Dependence of Souls


a)       In spite of their intrinsic nature of consciousness and bliss, the souls, as finite beings, are in state of absoute dependence and limitation at all times - in bondage and release.

b)       The beginningless involvement of the soul in this world - Though essentially uncreated, they are, nevertheless associated from eternity with a series of material factors known as avaranas (concealment), which are:

                   b1) linga-sharira or a subtle body

                   b2) prarabdha-karma or karma which has begun to bear fruit.

                   b3) kama or desire which is the seed of activity.

                   b4) avidya or ignorance, which is real and destructible.

c)       The source of bondage is also in the same way to be put down ultimately to the will of God. There is no other explanation of the beginningless association of ignorance obscuring the selves except the mysterious will of Brahman.

d)       It is the will of the Lord that the souls shall know Him and realize their respective selfhood only by cleansing themselves of the impurities of prakriti and the distractions of avidya, after a long and ardous process of physical, intellectual and moral effort and spiritual discipline. The seed must be planted in the earth before it can sprout and develop into a fruit tree. The accessories at linga-deha, prarabdha-karma, etc are just the material environment provided by God to help the jivas to unfold themselves. This is indeed the purpose of creation.

e)       There is, thus no problem at all of the first 'fall of man', in Madhva's philosophy. The question is only of the 'ascent of man' by degrees, after he has qualified himself through sincere effort.  Not having possessed the freedom and purity of the Supreme at any time of their lives, or having been 'in any way shares in the divine nature', the question does not arise for Madhva, of how the souls came to lose these and transfer themselves to the rule of karma. Ramanuja holds that neither reason nor shastra can tell us how karma got the souls into its power because the cosmic process is beginningless.


3) Madhva's Theory of Bondage


a)       According to Madhvacarya, souls exist from eternity in the chaos of a material environment under the supervision of God. At the conclusion of each maha-pralaya, He brings them to the forefront of creation. He has no purpose in doing so, save that of helping the souls to exhaust through enjoyment (bhoga) the heavy load of karmas and vasanas. Creation is, thus, and indespensible requisite for the ripening of individual karma and the full development of each soul.

b)       Creation is beginningless in time, but in all the same subject to the Lord's pleasure. He is the ultimate cause of their bondage - not in the sense that He threw them into it at certain point of their history, but that its continuous association with them is, in every way, subject to Him and its freedom will depend on His grace and co-operation. The termination of this entanglement can only be achieved by God's grace earned through sadhanas. Such is the essence of Madhva's view of the reality and terminability of bondage.

c)       It may, no doubt, appear to be a despotic thing for God to envelop the souls in beginningless maya, but it is a necessary evil in the scheme of the universe. The association with material nature is a necessary step in the spiritual evolution of souls and is, therefore permitted by God. It is a painful experience through which everyone of them has to pass before attaining his or her full stature - whatever that might be. It is the desire of the Almighty that the souls shall fulfil themselves only in this way and in no other. And there is no questioning His will, as He is satya-sankalpa.

d)       It is only true knowledge of the soul's relation to God that can redeem it from this bondage. The true and final explanation of bondage is, thus, the 'will of the Lord', and not merely karma, ajnana, kala, gunas, etc. Madhva has gone beyond Ramanuja in tracing the origin of bondage ultimately to Divine will.

e)       Madhavcarya calls his theory of the origin of bondage svabhava-ajnana-vada or the theory of the soul's ignorance of their own true nature and of their dependence on the Supreme Brahman.


4) Theory of Svarupa-Bheda

          (Plurality and difference of nature among souls)


a)       Madhva's doctrine of the souls insists not only upon the distinctiveness of each soul but also upon an intrinsic gradation among them based on varying degrees of knowledge, power and bliss. This is known as taratamya, which comes out more clearly in the the release state where the souls realize their true status. This position is peculiar to Madhva and is not found in any other school of Indian philosophy.


b) (From Madhva’s Mahabharata-tatparya-nirnaya):

  There are broadly three groups of souls: gods, men and demons. Among them gods and superior men are fit to get liberation. The mediocre men are fit only to live in this world being victims to the cycle of birth and death. The worst men go to hell; demons too go to dark regions. Both liberation or reaching higher and brighter regions as well as downfall or sinking into dark nether regions are permanent. There is no return from those regions, whether brighter and darker.

  Human beings can be classified as superior or inferior by considering their hari-bhakti or hari-dvesha. The inferio possess hari-dvesha even though in a lesser degree than what is possessed by demons. Therefore they are destined to reach dark regions. The superior souls possess hari-bhakti even though in a lesser degree than what is possessed by gods and therefore they are fit for moksha. The mediocre possess both hari-bhakti and hari-dvesha and therefore they do not rise high nor they fall down. They remain for ever in this amterial world.


c)       Doctrine of jiva-traividhya or tripartite classification of souls in this world:

                   1) muktiyogya (salvable)

                   2) nitya-samsharin (ever-transmigrating)

                   3) tamoyogya (damnable)

          The doctrine of jiva-traividhya intends to justify and reconcile the presence of evil with divine perfection, in the only rational way in which it could be done, - by fixing the responsibility for goodness or evil upon the moral freedom born of diversity of nature of souls who are themselves eternal and uncreated in time.


d)       An intrinsic divergence of nature and faith into sattvika, rajasa and tamasa which is rooted in the core of individual nature as stated in the Bhagavad-gita (17.2-3), is the ultimate base of this theory, according to Madhvacarya. What is thus ultimate traced to the essential nature (svabhava) of the selves must indeed be unalterable. Other verses from Bhagavad-gita supporting his theory are: BG (14.18), BG (16.5,6,20).



V. Doctrine of Brahman


* Jayathirtha, in his Nyaya-sudha, gives classical expression to the metaphysical ideology of the Upanishads, as conceived by Madhvacarya:

“All texts of the Vedanta declare, indeed, the majesty of the Supreme Brahman as a storehouse of numberless auspicious attributes and free from all imperfections. Of these,

          1) some represent It as endowed with such attributes as omniscience, lordship of all, control of beings from within, beauty, magnanimity and other excellences;

          2) some describe It negatively as free from sin, devoid of grief, having no material body, and so on;

          3) yet others speak of It as being beyond the reach of mind and words, in order to teach us the extreme difficulty of understanding It;

          4) many others depict It as the One without a second, so as to make it clear that man must seek It to the exclusion of all else;

          5) still others proclaim It as the Self of all, so that it may be realized as conferring on all else their existence, knowability and activity.

Thus do scriptures depict the Brahman in diverse ways and from different standpoints all converging towards the one purpose of expounding the transcendental and immanent magesty of God in Himself, in the Atma, and in the world.”


VI. Sadhana-Vicara


1) Freedom and Free Will


a)       The question of human freedom and divine control assumes great importance in philosophy and ethics. Madhvacarya says that it is man himself and not God who is responsible for the evil and suffering in the world. This is the corollary of his theory of svarupa-bheda (intrinsic difference of nature among souls).

b)       Madhvacarya maintains that the human soul is a real agent in all its actions. If the soul is not the karta, the injunctions of the shastras with reference to the obtainment of specific results and the moral law will lose all significance.

c)       The acceptance of real agency (kartritva) to the soul does not, however, make the jiva and absolutely independent agent.

d)       The jiva pursues of his free will a course of action which is determined mostly by his own deep-rooted nature, inclinations and past karmas. But even this is possible because God has given him the power to do things in conformity with his own innate goodness or its opposites. He is not, therefore, a mere puppet in the hands of God. The right to choose between right and wrong is his own, made on his own responsibility and at his own risk (BG 18.63: yathecchasi tatha kuru). This explains why some are Muktiyogyas, some remain in bondage and others qualify for tamas.

e)       Most Indian commentators would take shelter under the inexorable law of karma to reconcile the presence of evil and inequalities in this world with the goodness of God. But even a chain of biginningless karma could not explain why all souls are not equally good or bad, as all of them are equally eternal and their karmas too were equally beginningless and they start simultateously. The explanation given by Madhva is that karma itself is the result of the distinctive nature of each soul (called haöha) which is intrinsic to it.

f)       Questions like: "The jiva was not created out of a void at a particular time. But he is none the less and expression of the nature of God. How then does he happen to be so imperfect while his archetype is also the type of perfection?" Madhvacarya says that it is because the intrinsic diversity of human nature, anadi-svarupa-yogyata.


2) General Scheme of Sadhanas


a) The aim of methaphysical inquiring is the attainment of release through Divine Grace. One has naturally to think of the means of earning it. The shastras describe them as leading to one another, in the following order: 1) freedom from worldly attachment (vairagya) 2) devotion to God (bhakti) 3) study of the shastras (shravana) 4) reflection (manana) 5) meditation ( nididhyasana), and 6) direct realization (sakshat-kara).

b)       Madhva emphazises the point that instruction and guidance of a competent guru and his grace (prasada) are absolutely necessary for shravana and manana to bear fruit.

c)       A seeker is allowed to change his guru if he secures another with a superior spiritual illumination, provided the latter is able and inclined to impart the full measure of grace and illumination that may be required for the self realization of the disciple. Where both the gurus happen to be of equal merit and disposition to grant the full measure of their grace, qualifying for illumination to the aspirant, the permission of the earlier guru shall have to be obtained before securing instruction from the other one.

d)       Bhakti, according to Madhvacarya, is the steady and continuous flow of deep attachment to God, transcending the love of our own selves, our friends and relations, cherished belongings, etc, and fortified by the firm conviction of the transcending majesty and greatness of God as the abode of all perfections and free from all blemish, and by an unshakable conviction of the complete metaphysical dependence of everything else upon Him.

e)       Taratamya or a gradational approach in the practice of Bhakti is a necessary element of the doctrine of Bhakti as propounded by Madhva. The devotional homage to the gods and the sages in spiritual hierarchy is not a matter of courtesy. It is a must. The devas occupy a special position in the government of God's universe with special cosmic jurisdiction delegated to them. They are the greatest devotees of the Lord, the highest order of jnana-yogis and our direct superiors, protectors, guides and gurus. We cannot even think of God without their grace. It is they who inspire our minds along the right lines and turn them Godward and enable us to know and worship Him by their presiding activity over the sense organs, mind, buddhi, etc, and bring our Sadhanas to fruition.

f) From Madhva's Gita-tatparya - "Pleased with the initial bhakti of the jivas the Lord bestows on them firm knowledge of His nature and attributes. He then reveals Himself. Thereafter He inspires them with still more intensive devotion and after showing Himself to the bhaktas He cuts the knot of their prakritic bondage. In the released state also, the jivas remain under the Lord's control imbued with unalloyed devotion to Him".

g)       It is said that Madhvacarya was the first Vaishnava philosopher who has categorically held that the goddess Shri who holds the unique position of being nitya-mukta and samana (having semi-parity with the Lord), remains the most ardent devotee of the Lord from eternity. He also refers to the existence of ekanta-bhaktas, who prefer to be bhaktas instead of sayuja-muktas.

h)       Jayatirtha refers to three stages of bhakti in the ascending order:

                   1) pakva-bhakti or ripe devotion - the means to acquiring knowledge of God.

        Shravana and manana just pave the way for it.

                   2) paripakva-bhakti or riper devotion - the means of direct vision of the Lord.

        Dhyana is the means.

                   3) ati-paripakva-bhakti or mellowed devotion - the spiritual joy of communion

        with the Lord. Here the direct realization of the Lord (aparoksha-jnana) is

        achieved and the bhakta wins the absolute grace (athyartha-prasada)

i)        The two major ingredients of bhakti, according to Madhva:

                   1) a profound awareness of the Lord's magesty (mahatmya-jnana)

                   2) an inborn magnetic attraction to the Lord (sneha)

j)        Conflict between jnana and bhakti as the ultimate means of moksha (from Jayatirtha's Nyaya-shudha):

“In the shastras, wherever it is stated that jnana is the means of moksha, it must be understood that bhakti is also conveyed by it through secondary significatory power of the word. This is because the intimate relationship which exists between them, insofar as jnana is a costituent factor of bhakti which has been defined as a blend of knowledge of the Lord’s majesty coupled with an absorbing love (sneha) for Him.”

k)       The steps of spiritual discipline taught by Yoga-shastra - yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara and dharana are to be treated as accessories to dhyana, which is virtually the same as the state of samadhi or introspection.

l)        Madhvacarya distinguishes carefully between dhyana and aparoksha. The former is defined as a continuous flow of mediate knowledge while the latter is a direct vision of the Supreme Being, in Its "bimba" form. The form revealed in dhyana is, therefore, regarded as just a mental picture, an image constructed by the impressions of the mind, just a substitute and not the original form of God. But the one visualized in aparoksha is the actual revelation of God - the yogi or sadhaka is face to face with the object of his meditation and intuits the Divine form, which is His archetype (bimba). Such direct perception of God is attainable only when the mind is specially attuned to the Supreme by full discipline of shravana, manana and dhyana, in absolute self surrendering devotion to God. Ultimately, it is He that must choose to reveal Himself, pleased by the hungering love of the soul.


VII.Doctrine of Mukti


a)       Madhvacarya’s theory of ananda-taratmya (different levels of bliss) in moksha is a logical conclusion from the hypothesis of svarupa-bheda (differences in nature) and taratamya (gradation) among the souls. The main argument of this theory is that since moksha is only the discovery of enjoyment of one’s own selfhood, in its pristine purity and bliss, there is no possibility of exchanging one’s experiences of bliss with another’s, or of its transference to another, whether wholly or in part. Each souls rests fully satiated and immersed in the enjoyment of its svarupananda to saturation point, so to say. All souls could not have put forth the same quality or quantity of effort of the same intensity or duration. It thus stands to reason that there must be a proportionate difference in the nature of the reward reaped by them. This is one other ground of taratamya (gradation) of ananda (bliss) in moksha. There are highly evolved souls like Brahma and the other gods whose spiritual perfection must surely be greater than that of us mortals. The evidence of shastras tell us of super-human sadhanas practiced by some of the gods and the wide difference in their quality, duration, etc, which are beyond human conception.


b)       Madhvacarya accepts an ascending order of mukti: salokya, samipya, sarupya and sayujya, in which each suceeding stage includes the joy of the preceding step. He says that as sayuja carries with it an element of sarupya also, it cannot be equated with aikyam or monistic liberation.

D Comparison With Other Systems


I. Dvaita versus Vishishöadvaita


1)       Madhva is a rank dualist and does not believe in qualified absolutism. According to Ramanuja differences have no separate existence and belong to identity which they qualify. Identity, therefore, is the last word. But for Madhva differences have separate existences and constiture the unique nature of things. They are not mere qualifications of identity.


2)       Madhva rejects the relation of inseperability (aprithaksiddhi) and the distinctions between substance (dravya) and non-substance (adravya). He explains the relation of identity and difference by means of unique particulars (vishesha) in the attributes of the substance. The attributes are also absolutely real. Hence, Madhva does not regard the universe of matter and souls as the body of God. They do not qualify God because they are substantive existence themselves. Though God is the immanent ruler of the souls and though the souls as well as matter depend on God, yet they are absolutely different from God and cannot form His body.


3)       Ramanuja advocates qualitative monism and qualitative pluralism of the souls, believing as he does that all souls are essentially alike. But Madhva advocates both quantitative and qualitative pluralism of the souls. No two souls are alike. Each has, besides its individuality, its peculiarity also.


4)       Madhva, therefore, believes that even in liberation the souls differ in degrees regarding their possession of knowledge and enjoyment of bliss (ananda-taratamya). Ramanuja rejects this.


5)       Madhva regards God as only the efficient cause of the world and not its material cause which is Prakriti. God creates the world out of the stuff of Prakriti. Ramanuja regards God as both the efficient and material cause of the world.


6)       While Ramanuja makes the liberated soul similar to God in all respects except in some special respects like the possession of the power of creation, preservation and dissolution of this world, and the power of being the inner ruler of the universe, Madhva emphasizes the difference of the liberated soul and God. The soul becomes similar to God in some respects when it is liberated, yet even in these respects it is much inferior to God. It does not enjoy the full bliss of God. The bliss enjoyed by the redeemed souls is fourfold: salokya or residence in the same place with God, samipya or nearness to God, svarupya or having the external form like that of God and sayujya entering into the body of God and partially sharing His bliss with Him. Thus, though according to Ramanuja the liberated souls enjoys the full bliss of the realization of Brahman which is homogeneous, ubiquitous (being everywhere) and Supreme, according to Madhva even the most qualified soul which is entitled to sayujya form of liberation can share only partial bliss of Brahman and cannot become similar to Brahman (Brahma-prakara) in the strict sense of the term.


7)       Madhva believes that certain souls like demons, ghosts and some men are eternally doomed and damned. They can never hope to get liberation. Ramanuja rejects this. The doctrine of eternal damnation is peculiar to Madhvacarya and Jainism in the whole field of Indian Philosophy.

II. Some Flashes of the Madhva’s Dialetic


a) Refutation of Advaita’s Theory of Eka-jiva-vada:

  (from Vishnu-tattva-vinirnaya)


The eka-jiva-vada according to which this entire universe is a figment imagined by one embodied soul is quite unreasonable.

For the enlightenment of that one embodied soul, it should be decided whether he is a preceptor or a pupil and then establish the required pupil-preceptor relation. If X is that soul who is conscious of the fact that everything is his imaginery creation, then he, as a preceptor, will not engage himself in giving instructions to others treating as his pupils. Because all others except himself are unreal and no purpose will be served by giving them any instructions. Obviously, nobody worries about his duties towards persons seen in a dream, e.g. if one obtains a son in one’s dream one never tries for his upbringing and education.

Moreover suppose somehow that one soul is discovered - the difficult does not then and there end. As pointed out above, he cannot function as a preceptor to establish the required pupil-preceptor relation. He cannot also function as a pupil, because that would make him receive instruction from a preceptor who is none but the product of his own imagination and thus unfit to serve any useful purpose like imparting true knowledge.

What is the purpose of learning? It should elevate the pupil on the path of liberation. When we consider the pupil to be that one soul, what does happen when he gets learning? He becomes a preceptor. Is it an elevation or a fall? As it is believed that the preceptor is the illusory product imagined by the pupil, learned pupil when occupies the position of the preceptor will himself become reduced from reality to unreaity. Thus the learning instead of elevating him, will degrade him. None will dare to undertake such a downgrading learning!


b) The Nature of the Upadhi:

   (from Upadhikhanana)


The monist introduces the concept of upadhi to explain that the Omniscient Brahman becomes the ignorant jiva due to upadhi, or the upadhi causes ignorance in Brahman.

Shri Madhvacarya reply: All those who believe in the existence of Brahman as described in the scriptures agree that Brahman is sarva-jna or Omniscient. Now, how can anybody attribute ignorance to Him to become the ignorant jiva? There cannot exist any ignorance in Brahman and that He cannot get contaminated by ignorance.

The monist say: ‘The individual soul is in contact with body, sense-organs etc., which constitute the limiting adjuncts of the soul and on account of this limitation ignorance becomes possible.’ An example is given: There is a mirror which reflects the face. When there is dirt on the mirror, the reflection appears dirty, but the face is clean. Similarly, the individual soul, under the influence of the body, the sense-organs, etc., which constitute the upadhi, can very well be ignorant even though the Brahman is omniscient.

The question then arises: How does the upadhi come in contact with Brahman? Two alternatives are possible: Either it must be due to the svabhava or the inherent nature of Brahman or it must come in contact with Brahman due to ajnana or ignorance. The first alternative can not be accepted by the monists because they will have to agree for dualism, that means, the reality of to ultimate realities - Brahman and upadhi. If it is accepted that the upadhi is caused by ignorance, the question arises: what is the cause of the ignorance? One cannot say that the ignorance is caused by another previous upadhi, because one has to explain what is the cause of that previous upadhi. Therefore this is a example of the fallacy of anvastha or regress to infinite.


c) Brahman and the Plurality of Jivas:


According to the Advaita-vadis, Brahman, the only Reality, gets contaminated by infinite number of the upadhis and appears as many souls. If this is accepted to explain the pluralidade of the jivas, then it will imply necessarily that as long as these souls are in samsara-bandhana, even Brahman will get entangled in the same bondage, because, it is only Brahman, Who, due to the influence of the upadhis, is transmigrating in the form of the souls. Are the monists ready to enchain their Brahman in this manner?

Secondly, it is a fact that all souls cannot get the benefit of liberation whereas many will remain stuck in the worldly bondage. What will then be the position of Brahman? Will It be bound or liberated? It is not possible to believe that It is liberated, because It is there in the worldly bondage in the form of conditioned souls.

The monist cannot contend that the upadhi does not contaminate his Pure Brahman. Because in that case, he will have to admit two Brahmans, one Pure and not having any contact with upadhis and another sa-upadhika-brahman, who gets contact of upadhis and becomes bound in samsara as jivas.


d) Ajnana and Upadhi:


Now there are two concepts believed by the monist, viz. ajnana and uphadhi. But can he explain satisfactorily their existence since both are false? When the advaita-vadin attributes falsity to the upadhis, he must depend upon a prior ajnana, because ajnana happens to be the cause of mithyatva or falsity. Now can he agree to the prior existence of ajnana as the cause of mityatva? That is also not possible because the ajnana must subsist in something as its support. But ajnana cannot subsist in Brahman, the only One Reality. Therefore they say that the ajnana which affects the jiva, resides in him as the support. But it gives rise to the question: “What is the status of he jiva? Is he real or unreal?” If real there will result dualism. To avoid this, the monist will have to state that the jiva is none other than Brahman Itself but contaminated by ajnana. That means that the ignorance has its abode in the ‘ignorance-affected’ Brahman. But how can there be the ‘ignorance-affected’ Brahman before coming into existence of the ignorance itself?


e) The Ashraya of Ajnana:


According to the Advaita-vadin, there are three entities: ajnana, jiva and mithya-upadhi. Then the question is: “What is the ashraya or abode of ajnana?” The monist’s reply is: “the jiva is the ashraya of ajnana.” The next question then is: “What is the status of this jiva?” And the reply is ready-made: “The jiva is Brahman only affected by mithya-upadhi.” Then, “What about the cause of the mithya-upadhi?”, is the further question. “The cause of the mithya-upadhi is the ajnana”, is the ready reply. Shri Madhvacarya asks:  “Do all these questions and answers solve the basic problem of the exact ashraya of ajnana?” Not at all. Because the existence of the mithya-upadhi depends upon the prior establishment of the ajnana; the existence of the jiva depends upon the prior existence of he mitya-upadhi; and the establishment of the ajnana depends upon the prior existence of the jiva as its abode. There results the fallacy of cakraka or arguing in a vicious circle.



E Post- Madhva Period


I. Life and Works of Jayathirtha (1345-88)


*        After Madhva, the next great acarya of the Sampradaya is Jayatirtha. He raised the Dvaita phiposophy to a position of shastraic equality with the Advaita and Vishishöadvaita, by his remarkable industry, depth of scholarship and masterly exposition.

*        For beauty of language and brilliance of style, for proportion, keenness of argument and fairness in reasoning, for refreshing boldness, originality of treatment and fairness of critical acumen, Sanskrit philosophical literature has few equals to place beside him.

*        He stands supremely inimitable and belongs to the class of the great makers of style, especially Sanskrit philosophical prose - like Shabara (commentator on Jamini's works), Shankaracarya, and his commentator Vacaspati Mishra.

*        If Madhva's works were not commented by Jayatirtha, they would never have had prominence in the philosophical world.

*        He was honored with the title of Tikacarya. Even Vyasatirtha, the other great name in the Madhva line, recognized his position.

*        So complete has been the domination of Jayatirtha's works in Dvaita literature of the post-Madhva period that, except for a few cases, the entire course of its subsequent history has been one of commentaries and sub-commentaries on the öikas of Jayatirtha. Because of his brilliance, he has eclipsed the works of his predecessors, as Trivikrama Pandita, Padmanabha Tirtha, Narahari and others.

*        Jayatirtha's father was a nobleman of military rank. He, Jayatirtha, was a keen sportsman, a good rider and athlete. Early in his life he was married to two wives. At the age of twenty he was in the course of one of his riding excursions to the bank of the Candrabhaga river to quench his thirst. He did not even take the trouble to dismount, but rode into the river and bending down from on horseback, put his mouth to the water and drank. On the other side of the river sat an ascetic watching the sight. It was Akshobhya Tirtha. He called Jayatirtha to his side and put him certain strange questions which "at once flashed before the youth's mental eye a vision of his past life". He was strangely affected and sought to be taken as a disciple. His father tried to change his decision but failed. Then he was allowed to go back to his guru. He was soon ordained a monk under the name Jayatirtha, and started learning the shastras under Akshobhya Tirtha.

*        Jayatirtha's main litery works are:

          a) Nyaya-shudha - commentary on Madhva's Anuvyakhyana; b) Tattva-prakashika - commentary on Madhva's Brahma-sutra-bhashya; c) Pramana-paddhati; d) Vadavali;

          e)  and more seventeen works, most of them as commentary on Madhva's works.


II. Life and Works of Vyasatirtha (1460-1539)


*        About a century after Jayatirtha came Vyasatirtha, the prince of dialecticians in the Dvaita system.

*        He became a sannyasi while still in his teens. (it is said that his father had no sons, but by the blessings of Brahmanya Tirtha, he got three - a girl and two boys. He had promised to give a second son to Brahmanya Tirtha. This son was Vyasatirtha). Not long after his guru Brahmanya Tirtha passed away, and he was sent to study Advaita, Vishishöadvaita and Mimamsha systems at Kanchipuram. After this he studied logic and Madhva shastras under the celebrated Shripadaraja.

*        Then Vyasatirtha was sent by Shripadaraja to the court of Vijayanagar, where he was very sucessful in debating with many leading scholars. After some time he was honored as the Guardian Saint of the Kingdom. He became the guru of the famous king Krishnadevaraya.

*        Vyasatirtha was almost the second founder of system of Madhva. In him, the secular and philosophical prestige of the system of Madhva reached its highest point of recognition. The strength which he infused into it through his labours and personality has contributed, in no small measure, to its being even today a living and flourishing faith in South India as a whole.

*        He passed away in 1539 at Vidyanagar and his samadhi, as well as that of Jayatirtha, is in Nava-Vrndavana, an island on the Tungabhadra river near Anegondi.

*        The historian Dasgupta stated: "The logical skill and depth of acute dialectical thinking shown by Vyasatirtha stands almost unrivalled in the whole of Indian thought".

*        Vyasatirtha wrote ten works in all. The most famous of these are: a) Nyayamrita, b) Tarkatandava and c) Tatparya-candrika.

*        The work 'Nyayamrita' was the starting point of a series of brillian dialectical classics. The challenge thrown out by Vyasatirtha in his book was taken up by Madhusudana Sarasvati, in his 'Advaitasidhi'. This was, in its turn, criticized by Ramacarya his Tarangini (beginning of the 17th century); which was again criticized by Brahmananda Sarasvati, who was, in his turn, refuted by Vanamali Mishra.


III. Madhva School and its Institutions


*        Towards the close of his life, Shri Madhvacarya had ordained eight monks (Hrishikesha Tirtha, Narasimha, Janardana, Upendra, Vamana, Vishnu (Madhva's brother), Rama and Adhokshaja Tirtha for the conduct of worship of Shri Krishna at his maöha in Udupi. These eight became the founder of the ashöa-maöhas: 1) Palimar, 2) Adamar, 3) Krishnapur, 4) Puttige, 5) Sirur, 6) Sode, 7) Kanur, and 8) Pejavar maöha.

*        The svamis of the eight maöhas hold office as high priests of the Shri Krishna Maöha, by turns, for two years each. This biennial change of office is known as ‘Paryya’. This unique and well organized system of religious worship and administration is generally believed to have been introduced by Vadiraja Svami, in the 16th century.

*        There are also two other maöhs - Bhandarkee and Bhimanakatte - descending from Acyutaprajna with Satyatirtha at their head.

*        Besides these, a group of four itinerant disciples of Shri Madhvacarya - Padmanabha, Narahari, Madhava and Akshobhya - founded seperate maöhs. These four maöhs were descending together. But after Jayatirtha it branched of into two and some years later one of these split again. Then these three maöhs are going on now by the names of: 1) Vyasaraja maöha, 2) Raghavendra Svami maöha, and 3) Uttaradi maöha. These three maöhs now enjoy the status of "Maöha-traya" or the three premier Madhva maöhs descended from Jayatirtha.

*        Although many svamis of the Udupi Maöhs have made important contributions to Dvaita literature, actually most of the makers of the Dvaita Vedanta and its literature comes from the Maöha-traya, in the line descended from Jayatirtha.