Dvaita (Sanskrit: द्वैत) (also known as Bheda-vāda, Tattva-vāda and Bimba-pratibimba-vāda) is a school of Vedanta founded by Shri Madhvacharya.

Dvaita stresses a strict distinction between God--the Supreme-Soul (paramaatma (परमात्मा)) and the individual souls of beings, jiivatma (जीवात्मा). According to Madhvacharya, the individual souls of beings are not 'created' by God but do, nonetheless, depend on Him for their existence.


Dvaita philosophy

Like Ramanuja, Madhvacharya espoused a Vaishnava theology that understands God to be endowed with attributes and a personal God. By Brahman, he referred to Vishnu, as per his statement "brahmashabdashcha vishhnaveva" that Brahman can only refer to Vishnu. Madhva states that Vishnu is not just any other deity, but rather the singularly all-important Supreme One. Vishnu is always the primary object of worship, with all others regarded as subordinate to Him. The deities and other sentient beings are graded among themselves, with Vayu, the god of life, being the highest, and Vishnu eternally above them.

Dvaita or (Indian) Dualistic philosophy is not to be confused with the Western "Dualism" that posits two 'independent' principles. Although Madhva's Dualism acknowledges two principles, it holds one of them (the sentient) rigorously and eternally dependent on the other (Vishnu/God).

Five fundamental, eternal and real differences exist in his system.

  • Between the individual soul (or jīvatma) and God (Brahmatma īshvara or Vishnu).
  • Between matter (inanimate, insentient) and God.
  • Among individual souls (jīvatma)
  • Between matter and jīva.
  • Among various types of matter.

These five differences are said to make up the universe. The universe is aptly called "prapancha" for this reason.

Madhva differed significantly from traditional Hindu beliefs, owing to his concept of eternal damnation. For example, he divides souls into three classes. One class of souls, which qualify for liberation (Mukti-yogyas), another subject to eternal rebirth or eternal transmigration (Nitya-samsarins) and a third class that is eventually condemned to eternal hell or andhatamas (Tamo-yogyas).[1] No other Hindu philosopher or school of Hinduism holds such beliefs. In contrast, most Hindus believe in universal salvation; that all souls will eventually obtain moksha, even if after millions of rebirths.

Vyasatirtha (one of system's eminent disciples) is said to have succinctly captured the basic tenets (nine prameyas) of Madhva's system in a pithy prameya sloka - "SrimanMadhvamate Harih paratarah...", that is, Sri Hari is supreme, a grasp of which may be deemed a fair and accurate understanding of the fundamental position of this system.[2]

Tharathamya or hierarchy among gods

Vishnu is the Supreme Lord and Lakshmi is His eternal consort. Brahma and Vayu occupy the same next level. Their wives (Saraswati and Bharathi[disambiguation needed ] respectively) occupy the next level. Garuda-Sesha-Shiva, Indra-Kamadeva, Surya-Chandra, Varuna, Agni, Ganesha-Kubera and others successively occupy the lower rungs in this hierarchy.

Madhva propounds that life in the world can be divided into two groups, kshara and akshara. Kshara refers to life with destructible bodies, while akshara refers to indestructible bodies. Laxmi is akshara, while others from Brahma and lower are ksharas or jīvas. Possessing no body, Vishnu is exempt from this classification.

Impact of Dvaita movement

  • Madhva's Dualistic view, along with Shankara's Advaita (Nondualism) and Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita (Qualified Nondualism), form some of the core Indian beliefs on the nature of reality.
  • Madhva is considered one of the influential theologians in Hindu history. He revitalized a Hindu monotheism despite attacks, theological and physical, by outsiders. Great leaders of the Vaishnava Bhakti movement in Karnataka, Purandara Dasa and Kanaka Dasa for example, were strong proponents of the Dvaita tradition. The famous Hindu saint, Raghavendra Swami, was a leading figure in the Dvaita tradition.
  • Madhva's theology heavily influenced those of later scholars such as Nimbarka, Vallabha and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. B.N.K. Sharma notes that Nimbarka's theology is a loose réchauffé of Madhva's in its most essential aspects. Vallabha even "borrowed without acknowledgement" a verse from Madhva's sarva-shāstrārtha-sangraha. The followers of Caitanya claim a link to Madhva.
  • Madhva's singular contribution was to offer a new insight and analysis of the classical Vedantic texts, the Vedas, Upanishads, Brahma Sutra, Mahabharata, Pancharatra and Puranas, and place uncompromising Dvaita thought, which had been ravaged by attacks from Advaita, on a firm footing. Before Madhva, nondualism was rejected by others, such as the Mimamsa tradition of Vedic exegesis, and by the Nyaya tradition of classical logic. However, it was only he who built a cogent, alternative system of Vedantic interpretation that could take on Advaita in full measure.

Shiva is worshipped as a subordinate god (deva) by followers of Dvaita. Though this appears intolerant, it is because of the strong monotheistic belief in a non-Impersonal God unlike Advaita for which the identity of God does not matter as it is Nirguna.

Historically, Dvaita scholars have been involved in vigorous debates against other schools of thought, especially Advaita. Whereas Advaita preaches that Atman and Brahman are one and the same, which is not evident to the atman till it comes out of a so-called illusion, Madhvacharya puts forth that Brahman (Vishnu/God) and Atman (soul) are eternally different, with God always the Superior one. It is the same point that Madhvacharya reinforces in one of his doctrines, "Yadi Namaparo Na bhavet Shri Hari, khathamasya vashet Jagatedabhoot. Yadi Namanatasya Vashe Sakalam, Khathamevath nitya sukham Na Bhaveth"

"If you feel there is no God, how do you explain as to why you cannot free yourself from the limitations on Earth? If you feel YOU are the one in control of everything (as Advaita preaches that Soul and God are one and the same), then how come you don't enjoy happiness always and are also subject to sorrow and pain (as God is supposed to be an eternity of happiness)? "

See also


  1. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami. Bhakti Schools of Vedanta pg. 177.
  2. ^ "Dvaita Resources". https://sites.google.com/site/harshalarajesh/. Retrieved 2011-03-18. 

Other sources

  • Deepak Sarma, "An Introduction to Madhva Vedanta," Ashgate, 2003.
  • B.N.K. Sharma, `The History of the Dvaita School of Vedanta and Its Literature', 3rd ed., Motilal Banarsidass, 2000.
  • B.N.K. Sharma, `The Philosophy of Madhvacharya', Motilal Banarsidass, 1986.
  • B.N.K. Sharma, `The Brahma Sutras and Their Principal Commentaries', 3 vols., Munshiram Manoharlal, 1986.

External links

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