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Re: Dvaita and Visishtadvaita

From: Krishna Susarla (
Date: Wed May 06 1998 - 14:11:35 PDT

From: R. Dinakaran <>

>One of my good friends who is a member of the Cyber Madhava Sangha
>says he has a simple definition which proves that Dvaita is more
>`down to earth'.

Hare Krishna! Generally, I'm a little cautious when dealing with people who
start off a conversation with the intention of proving that their philosophy
is better than mine, especially when they are members of the CMS. While I
intend no disrespect to that tradition as a whole, individual members of
that forum do often times strike me as being more interested in shooting
down other philosophies than in taking to unalloyed devotional service of
Lord Krishna. I have heard of devotees refer to this in a
less-than-flattering way as j~naana-mishra bhakti, or devotional service
tinged with the desire for mental/philosophical speculation.

>He says that there has to be two entities: Bhagawan and the Bhakta or
>the Seeker and the Sought. If God is within us, how can we seek him,
>he asks (in the Dvaita mailing list).

That there are two distinct entities (Bhagavaan and the jiiva-s) is not
something anyone is going to disagree with (except for advaitists).
Certainly different schools of Vaishnavism attribute different levels of
difference to them, but I personally am not convinced that this is
significant given the goal of performing pure devotional service.

The argument that "if God is within us, how can we seek him?" strikes me as
rather trite. For one thing, it's not clear to me what he is trying to
prove. Is he saying that the Lord does not dwell within the heart of the
living entity? This is false as we know from scripture:

kShetraj~na.m chaapi maam viddhi sarvakShetreShu bhaarata |
kShetrakShetraj~nayorj~naana.m yattajj~naana.m mata.m mama || BG 13.3 ||

kShetra-j~nam - the knower of the field; cha - also; api - certainly; maam -
Me; viddhi - know; sarva - all; kShetreShu - in bodily fields; bhaarata - O
son of Bharata; kShetra - the field of activities (the body);
kShetra-j~nayoH - and the knower of the field; j~naanam - knowledge of;
yat - that which; tat - that; j~naanam - knowledge; matam - opinion; mama -

O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all
bodies, and to understand this body and its knower is called knowledge. That
is My opinion (bhagavad-giitaa 13.3).

This is in response to Arjuna's question inquiring into the nature of
prakR^iti, puruSha, knowledge, the object of knowledge, the field (kShetra)
and the knower of the field (kShetra-j~na). Lord Krishna responds that the
material body is the kShetra, and that the kShetra-j~na is the owner of the
body. Then in this verse He states that He is also the knower in all bodies,
or in otherwords that He is also present in the bodies of all living
entities along with the jiiva.

Later on this chapter, after describing the activities of the living entity
who is bewildered by the modes of material nature (the guNa-s: sattvo-guNa,
raajo-guNa, tamo-guNa), the Lord then says:

upadraShTaanumantaa cha bartaa bhoktaa maheshvaraH |
paramaatmeti chappyukto dehe'smin puruShaH paraH || BG 13.23 ||

upadraShTaa - overseer; anumantaa - permitter; cha - also; bhartaa - master;
bhoktaa - supreme enjoyer; mahaa-iishvaraH - the Supreme Lord;
parama-aatmaa - the Supersoul; iti - also; cha - and; api - indeed; uktaH -
is said; dehe - in the body; asmin - this; puruShaH - enjoyer; paraH -

Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer, who is the
Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and
who is known as the Supersoul (bhagavad-giitaa 13.23).

This more explicitly states the same thing said earlier, that the Lord as
Paramaatmaa also dwells in the body as an overseer (upadraShTaa), although
He remains transcendental (paraH) in spite of this. This is unlike the jiiva
who, because he is in a material body, can be understood to be covered by

Therefore, if your friend disputes the idea that God accompanies the jiiva
within the material body, then he is wrong. He can challenge the authority
of Bhagavad-Gita, but then you can ask him why Madhvaachaarya wrote the
first extant commentary on the Gita if we are not supposed to consider it a
valid pramaaNa.

In answer to the question of "how can we seek out God if He is with us," the
immediate answer is that due to being covered by maayaa, we cannot perceive
the Paramaatmaa within our hearts. So a cleansing process is required. How
can one try to perceive the Lord within us? This is also answered by Lord

dhyaanenaatmani pashyanti kechidaatmaanamaatmanaa |
anye saa.nkheyna yogena karmayogena chaapare || BG 13.25 ||

dhyaanena - by meditation; aatmani - within the self; pashyanti - see;
kechit - some; aatmaanam - the Supersoul; aatmanaa - by the mind; anye -
others; saa.nkhyena - of philosophical discussion; yogena - by the yoga
system; karma-yogena by activities without fruitive desire; cha - also;
apare - others.

Some perceive the Supersoul within themselves by meditation, others through
the cultivation of knowledge, and still others through working without
fruitive desires (bhagavad-giitaa 13.25).

anye tvevamajaanantaH shrutvaanyebhya upaasate |
te'pi chaatitarantyeva mR^ityu.m shrutiparaayaNaaH || BG 13.26 ||

anye - others; tu - but; evam - thus; ajaanantaH - without spiritual
knowledge; shrutvaa - by hearing; anyebhyaH - from others; upaasate - begin
to worship; te - they; api - also; cha - and; atitaranti - transcend; eva -
certainly; mR^ityum - the path of death; shruti-paraayaNaaH - inclined to
the process of hearing.

Again there are those who, although not conversant in spiritual knowledge,
begin to worship the Supreme Person upon hearing about Him from others.
Because of their tendency to hear from authorities, they also transcend the
path of birth and death (bhagavad-giitaa 13.26).

This verse is especially relevant to the majority of us who have neither the
duration of life nor the the strength of sense-control to try to approach
the Lord through the various other processes of dhyaana, j~naana, or
karma-yoga (all of which just bring one to the point of bhakti-yoga anyway).
The process of hearing from authorities is one of the nine methods of
devotional service (shravanam kiirtanam viShnoH smaranam...). Performing
devotional service is actually superior to the other yoga systems because it
is the direct route to attaining Lord Krishna and also because one need not
have any previous qualification for performing it.

Hopefully this was of some use to you. To be honest I don't know if I have
understood your friend's point, which basically sounds rather simplistic to
me, but if that's all it was, I don't think there is any problem.


-- Krishna Susarla