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Dvaita and Advaita

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Wed Mar 13 1996 - 05:15:23 PST

 Beyond Sri Mani"s  very good    summary of the two 
Vedantic Schools, I will add some background material 
to gain a perspective on Madhvaacharya and his differences 
with the Advaita doctrines established by Adi Sankara.

Madhva or Ananda Tirtha lived from 1238-1317 AD. He strongly 
disagreed with Mayaavaada of Sankara . He was a pragmatic 
person , who fought the pessimism of the times (Thirteenth Century)
with the development of a Vedantic System of his own drawing
inspiration from the " Buoyant realism of the Vedas, The transcendental
theism of the Upanishads and the emotional theism of the epics and 
Puranas ."He installed a beautiful Archa of Sri Krishna at Uduppi  and 
imposed the rigorous observance fo fasts on Ekadasis. He held to the view 
that the soul of man is potentially divine (Aprameyaeh Iswara svarupatvaat),
but man in the ignorance of his true status, has so much lost his soul to
his body and its cravings that he requires to be roused from his 
Avidya nidra by God himself or by His great messengers from time to

He was a prolific writer, particularly in Sanskrit. His favorite Vedam is Rg
He wrote a commentary on it. His favorite Upanishad is Aitreyam. He has been 
distinguished by his great dependence on Rg Veda compared to other 
Vedantins. He can be very poetical at times . He  was a mystic, logician and
skilled in handling of dialectical subtelities.In his commentary on Aitreya
his mystic nature helps him to pour out his sentiments on the eternal glory
and majesty of Vishnu . He says: " the voice of clouds, the music of the 
spheres, the fury of the winds, the roar of the waves of the ocean,
 the names of the Gods and Sages are the names of the supreme and voice HIS 
eternal glory and majesty."

he left us 37 works. 31 of them are major works, the rest being stotras and 
miscellaneous works. Among major works, the commentaries on the 
Prasthaana Trayi , Bhashyas on ten major upanishads, Rg Veda  and 
Bhagavata Puraana  and Maha Bharatha are important testimony to his 
erudition and depth.  He s strongly believed that the "divided allegiance 
between Saguna and Nirguna is not conducive to sincerity of thought or 
belief."He identified the Brahman of Vedanta with VISHNU . He pointed out that
Advaitic canvass has a  significant content regarding Saguna Brahman.He 
showed that the failure of the Godless  ritualism of the Purva Mimaamsaa 
and the agnosticism of the Samkhya were conclusive proofs that the
development of philosophy without inclusion of theism had  no chance for 
survival. He  has opined that the "acceptance " & establishment of 
 the ShaN Mathaas  Adi Sankara is  a standing proof of the inevitable reign of
in contemproary philosophy. The strong devotional traditions of  the 
Haridasa Kuta centered around Udipi and Karnataka , the cult of devotion for
in Maharashtra, the literary works of distinguished Dasas  like Sripaada Raja,
Purandara Dasa, 
Kanaka Dasa, Vyasa Raja, Gopala Dasa,and  Vadhi Raja(the great Hayagriva
reached all classes and communities especially in Karnataka. This Haridasa
placed a  rich menu of religion and morality before the Kaandigas and others. 
It preached the philosophy of Naishkarmya, as intrepreted by Madhvaacharya, 
that the enlightened action in a spirit of devotion and dedication to God is a
theme in the Sad Darsanas of India, where the ideal of Moksha dominates as the 
 ulitmate goal of Humans . 

Inspite of my own strong faith and trust in Bhagavat Ramanuja Siddhantham and 
the greatness of Acharyas like Ramanuja and Swami Desikan, I take time to salute
efforts ,the achievements and  legacy of Acharyas like Madhva.