Dvaita Vedanta

Item Code: NAG166
Publisher: Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, Tirupati
Author: K.R. Paramahamsa
Language: English
Edition: 2012
Pages: 109 (2 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 100 gm
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Book Description

Indian philosophy, Vedana is very ancient and profound with meditative insights. It is derived from Vedas, Upanishads and other allied scriptures. This Vedantic knowledge contemplated by celebrated Rishis and saints has paved way to theories after theories and commentaries after commentories.

The legendary streams of Vedic thought have touched human consciousness as Advaita, Visishtadvaitaa and Dvaita cherished by a Trinity of uncommon scholarly devout saints, Sri Sankaracharya, Sri Ramanujacharya and Si Madhvacharya respectively. They mentioned that human beings realise the Supreme Being either by absolute Unity or by wholistic Devotion. These three paths of course lead to Godhood or Brahman in varying manner.

In Dvaita philosophy Man as Jeevatma and God as Paramatma are the two separate entities, never to unite as one and the same. Human being is comprehended to serve the Supreme and fufill his life’s goal for which he has to qualify himself to acquire the devine blessings of the later. And in Dualism God is Svatantra (independent) and the man is Paratantra (dependent).

This book, ‘Dvaita Vedanta’ deals with Vaishnava Theism unfolded by Sri Madhvacharya. The auther of the book, Sri K.R. Paramahamsa IAS, (Retired) hasexpounded significant topics like Gita Bhashya, Sutraprasthana, Brahmasutra Bhashya, Bhagavata Tatparya, Dasaprakaranas, Upaishad Bhashyas, Rigveda Bhashya, Madhva Pontiffs and other akin subjects in a concise and candid manner according to Dvaita school of thought.

Tirumala Tirupati Devastanams consider it as an honour to publish this valuable work and release to the vast section of readers for deep study and assimilation.



Dualism, as understood in western philosophy, is a ‘theory which admits two independent and mutually irreducible substances’. Samkhya Dualism answers to this definition. But Madhva’s Dvaita, Dualism admits two mutually irreducible principles as constituting Reality as a whole but regards only one of them, God as independent, svatantra and the other as dependent paratantra. God, the Supreme Being is the ,ne and Only Independent Principle, and all finite reality comprising the Prakrti, Purusas, Kala Karma, Svabhava, etc is dependent, Paratantra. This concept of two orders of reality, tattvas, that is, svatantra and paratantra is the keynote of the philosophy of Madhva. This is the highest metaphysical and ontological classification in Madhva’s Dvaita Vedanta. Madhva insists on a difference in status between the two principles, and makes one of them finite, paratantra dependent completely on the other, Svatantra for its being and becoming. In Indian thought, Dvaita signifies a system of philosophy which posits more than one fundamental metaphysical principle or category to explain the cosmos, or a fundamental distinction between the human souls and the Supreme Being, for all time. Dvaita recognizes the states of bondage and release as real states or experiences pertaining to the atman. Madhva is categorical that our finite experiences of embodied existence and our efforts to achieve freedom from bondage have both a real value and validity of their own, and are not mere bubbles of avidya. God, the Supreme Being is the Svantantra, the One and only independent Substance and all else is dependent, paratantra. This dependence is metaphysical and fundamental to the very being and becoming of the finite which can never outgrow it. The dependent reals exist from eternity, but they do so, not their own right, but on sufferance of the Supreme. They are not despite of the Lord, but because of Him. They owe their very existence, knowledge, activity, etc to Him. The only independent Real exists in its own right and in the highest sense of the term. The Supreme may well be and is, at times, referred to in the scriptures as the one without a second, without any prejudice to the reality and subordinate existence of the finite selves such as Prakrti. The finite selves are ‘naught as it were’. Jayatirtha states that ‘scriptures depict the Brahman in diverse ways and from different standpoints, all converging towards the one purpose, mahatatparya of expounding the transcendent and immanent majesty of God Himself in the atman and in the world’. The unity, sovereignty and independence of God are consistent with the claims of reason and demands of metaphysics.

The English term ‘Dualism’ does not adequately express the full content and depth of meaning that Madhva has put into that term ‘Dvaita’. Even the Sanskrit term ‘Dvaita’ does not literally express more than the number of fundamental principles accepted. B.N.K. Sharma suggests ‘Svatantra-advitiya-Brahmavada’ may be an appropriate designation for Madhva’s system to convey directly the highest reach of its thought and its metaphysical ideology. The only internal distinctions that are logically conceivable in the Brahman are those of attributes. The adjunct ‘Svantantra’ serves to emphasize the transcendence of the Supreme over the other reals, and its immanence in them. It also lays emphasis on the primacy of the Supreme as the ‘Para-Siddhanta’ of Madhva’s thought, and the teachings about the finite as constituting the ‘Apara-Siddhanta’, subsidiary truths. This distinguishes from the Nirvisesadvaita of Samkara and the Visistadvaita of Ramanuja.

According to Madhva, God is the creator, preserver, etc of the entire world of matter and souls, world-experience is real. Souls are many and are dependent forever on the Supreme. They are delivered from bondage by His grace. Salvation is a state of active enjoyment of supreme felicity. Madhva quotes extensively the related Vedic hymns that support these points of view.

Visnu is Madhva’s equivalent of the God of religion, the Brahman of the Vedanta and the One Supreme Rreal, Ekam Sat of the Veda. He correlates the various descpriptions of Vedic gods in cosmic terms as the Sarvanamavan the Being who is diversely sung by different names. He equates the Sarvanamavan with Visnu, in the etymological sense of the term as the Being which is unlimited by time, space and auspicious attributes, Vyapta. He establishes, on the basis of Vedic hymns, that monotheism of Visnu is the true faith of Vedic saints.

Madhva designates his philosophy as Pumaprajnadarsana in his Sarvadarsanasamgraha.



Truth-seeking is the basic impetus behind the cognitive process. Knowledge is something that a knower seeks to gain a true apprehension of reality, something that takes place between a subject that knows, and an object that is known. This subject-object implication of knowledge is fundamental. No knowing is possible without a self that knows, and there can be no knowing which is not a knowing of something. They are two aspects of the same spiritual entity, distinguishable but not really two in reality. Knowing, and its object have a unique relation, visaya-visayebhava, a fundamental fact of the situation. This is what is called svatah-pramanya.

In Dvaita system, perception is not apprehension of being as such with differentiation to be superimposed later, but of unique entities whose uniqueness is explicated in the course of later experience. There is no relation of ‘before’ and after’, between cognizing an entity and cognizing its uniqueness. There is only a single cognizing in the situation.

Dvaita claims that there are only three modes of knowing pratyaksa, sense perception; anumana, inference; and sabda, word testimony. It asserts that they are mutually irreducible having distinct spheres of operation. The extra sources of knowledge posited by some other schools can legitimately be subsumed under these three in so far as they are veridical. Madhva asserts that the summit of wisdom lies in a synthesis of these three ways of knowing.

Pratyaksa, Sense Perception
Pratyaksa is perceptual cognition. Its characteristic is that it is immediate and direct. The instrumentality of the sensory mechanism secures this immediacy. This is direct realism. This source of knowledge is basal to the entire structure of knowledge with no vitiating subjectivity.

Madhva states that perception can be corrected only by an enlarged and enhanced perception. No reasoning or scripture can cancel the deliverance of perception for it subsists on it. Perception is the upajivya-pramana for reasoning or scripture.

Dvaita considers the indeterminate perception, nirvikalpa-pratyaksa advocated by Advaita and other schools to be a psychological fiction. All perception is determinate, and discovers the real, characterized by determinate attributes. There is no perceptual revelation of substances and qualities in mutual disconnection.

The sensory mechanism that makes perception is of three layers. The outermost layer consists of five senses of seeing, hearing, smelling tasting and feeling by touch. They furnish information about particular data of experience in their severalty. The layer beneath it is mind, manas. This coordinates the functioning of the outer senses and their data. It prepares the messages for acting upon, on the part of the agent. Besides, it has its own special function. It is the inner sense that brings about memory or recollection. It is a specific recollection of a past event as past, and there is no contradiction between the time of recollecting and the time recollected. It is a genuine recollection, a mode of objectively valid experience. Dvaita similarly admits the objectivity of memory. This is only a recovery of the kevala-pramana of the past, but not an additional category of knowing.

The innermost layer of the perceptual apparatus is the knowing self in its capacity as knower. In its absence, no knowledge can arise through the senses and the mind. The mind presents the messages of the senses to the self’s cognizance. The self in this aspect of the knower or witness is called the Saksin. This concept is an innovation in Dvaita epistemology. It implies that the self in its intrinsic nature is a knower. This knower-ship in relation to the manifold including the fleeting objects is a metaphysical fact.

The term saksin has meaning in relation to the objective realm witnessed and, as such, carries dualistic implications. This dualism is a fact for Dvaita. As suchd, the sakisn is a fundamental verity. It is an unmediated perceiver. Its experiencing is absolutely objective and true. The sakisn has three fields of perception. It cognizes the external world through the senses as passed through the manas. It perceives the data presented by the manas by way of recollection. It has its own sphere of objects.

Dvaita enumerates the objects that the saksin perceives on its own. The self, by virtue of its character as saksin, cognizes itself immediately. Self-consciousness is the fundamental differentia of the self, and this is exercised through the saksin. While in action, the subject cannot be the same as the object. In the matter of awareness, jnapti, there is no contradiction involved in self-knowing. It is this knowing that lies at the basis of all other knowing, and renders the self a ‘self. Some kind of self-consciousness is an inevitable character of the atman. This is generally signified by terms such as svayamprakasa, svatah-siddha and pratyak. This self-knowing is unique.

The saksin cognizes whaterver happens to the self by way of pain and pleasure, or their absence. According to Dvaita, the self is a bhokta experiencing this duality in its intrinsic nature. Even the Samkhya School considers the fact of bhoktrtva as one of the proofs of the reality of the self. In other words, the self is conscious of its own avidya, made known by the saksin. Avidya is a phenomenal category. Its nature is that is exists only by way of presentation to a consciousness. The conditioned self is already within the hold of avidya. Therefore, Dviata makes a frank admission of the finite self’s awareness of its own deficiency.

As regards the physical world, Dvaita holds that the self, by virtue of its nature as saksin, perceives space and time as integrals. They are not forms of intuition, but are objects of primary intuition. When location in space and time is taken as the standard for physical reality, when space and time are fundamental facts in the experience of the self, realism with regard to the physical world is wrought into the basic structure of consciousness. The saksin thus makes the self a personal reality as self-affirmation is the essence or personality. Similarly, it makes the world of space and time an indubitable reality as they form the basic datum of the self’s primeval experience.

Anumana, Inference
Anumana or anu-pramana is inference. Madhva relies for his logical theory on the ancient work Brahmatarka, now extinct. This work has bequeathed to him and his school the main elements of the science of Logic. Dvaita adopts, to a large extent, the logical theory of Nyayasastra as corrected by Brahmatarka.

Sabda, Word Testimony
Sabda is verbal testimony. On the strength of svatah-pramanya principle and allied concepts, Dvaita considers that sabda is an indispensable source of knowledge. It also considers that this cannot be a sub-division of other modes of knowledge such as anumana.

The problems connected with the pramana of sabda relate to the general nature of linguistic communication, and comprehension of such communication. There are also some special problems in connection with the interpretation of sacred testimony such as the embodiment of ultimate wisdom in the Vedanta scriptures.

On the issue of what constitutes a word, Dvaita counters mysticism, sabda-brahma-vada, in line with the Nyaya and Mimamsa sastras. As for the meaning of a term, it may be conventional or etymologically derived, rudhi or yoga. Dvaita elaborates these two types of signification into several levels and their combinations. What the term signifies may be describes as universal or particular or a combination of the two with emphasis on the universal or particular. Dvaita arrives at a conclusion, after detailed consideration, that the word meaning is a specific something characterized by universal contents. It may be that the term may have an abstract and generalized sense by itself. But when it participates in a significant complex of a statement, it acquires specificity of reference. Dvaita negates nihilistic approach to language.

As for the comprehension of a sentence, Dvaita subscribes to the view that the primary grasp of the meaning of the constituent words of the sentence itself involves the grasp of their interrelation, and there is only a single act of apprehension.

As for discovery of the final purport of a discourse or a passage with a single unit of thought, there seems to have been an established canon of clues and grounds accepted by all school of Vedic exegesis, called tatparya-lingas. Madhva relies on the same canon. The opening and conclusion, frequent reiteration, uniqueness of an idea, the idea to which the promise of a reward is attached, commendatory legends and myths, etc and the actual grounds employed are among the grounds enumerated in the said canon. All these are well illustrated in the instruction of Uddalaka to Svetaketu in the Chandogya Upanisad. They furnish the rational basis for one’s understanding of a text and constitute the logic of textual interpretation.

Advaita contends that the ultimate Reality taught in the Upanisads is the Brahman which has no distinctions of quality, and is in essence our essential self. The Upanisads also affirm that the ultimate reality is beyond words. Verbal testimony can only explain what is qualitative. Therefore, for Advaita, the method by which verbal testimony can indicate it is by indirect and secondary signification. Madhva does not admit that the Brahman is devoid of qualities. On the other hand, the Brahman abounds in qualities of the nature of perfections. For him, the Brahman is substantially identical with the self in man. When the Veda says that the Brahman is beyond words, it is only to convey Its uniqueness, immensity and stunning greatness. Even the mention in the Upanisads that the Brahman is beyond words is a method of conveying Its unique majesty. When the verbal testimony in scripture is stretched to its full extent of natural meaning, it cannot signify anything but the Brahman. According to him, Visnu is, in reality, the ultimate denotation of all terms.

Madhva devotes a whole adhikarana in his Sutra-bhashya for establishing the accessibility of Visnu to words. He is very clear that Visnu’s splendor exceeds our utmost powers of glorification. Even words normally significatory of what is imperfect and even evil, when properly elucidated, are transmuted into naming the supreme Godhead. As for secondary signification, nothing that is really beyond all words can ever be conveyed through secondary reference.




Dvaita System of Vedanta 1
Cognition 4
Metaphysical Categories 8
Purusartha, Human Goal 19
Evolution of Dvaita Thought 24
Madhva Hagiology 28
Works of Madhva-Sarvamula 30
Bhagavata Tatparya 44
Mahabharata Tatparyanirnaya 46
Dasaprakaranas 49
Upanisad Bhashyas 58
Rigveda Bhashya 67
Stotras and Miscellaneous Works 71
Works on Worship 73
Jayatirtha 75
Visnudasa 80
Vyasatirtha 84
Other-Madhva Pontif 90
Haridasakuta 97

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