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Summary: This is a small intro to the Dvaita school of philosophy, for current or prospective subscribers of the Dvaita Mailing List and Dvaita Digest.
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                         Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
                            Tattvavaada, a.k.a. Dvaita
                          Last Updated: November 21, 1998

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  1> What is Dvaita?

Dvaita, or Maadhva siddhaanta, is the name for the doctrine of Vedanta
that asserts the eternal and immutable difference between the individual

  2> Why is Dvaita known as Tattvavaada?

Because that is the correct, and preferred name; the doctrine asserts
_five_ differences, not just the one referred to above, and its
three kinds of entities in the universe (insentient or jaDa, sentient
or chetana, and Vishnu or Iishvara) are all real, and the differences
between any two are also real. Hence, 'tattva' means real entity, and
'Tattvavaada' means "doctrine of real entities." Some have also
also as Bimba-pratibimba-vaada (doctrine of object and image -- to be
explained later), etc. These names are not in normal use.

  3> What are the five differences in Tattvavaada?

Simple -- by considering the three types of entities in pairwise
fashion, one can derive the list of differences between them, which
are: (i) jiiva-Iishvara-bheda, or difference between the soul and
Vishnu; (ii) jaDa-Iishvara-bheda, or difference between the insentient
and Vishnu; (iii) mitha-jiiva-bheda, or difference between any two
nsentients. Here, "insentient" is used to refer to _all_ entities
etc. -- including so-called "living bodies" of creatures, and also
and their symbols, etc.

To clarify: Iishvara is a sentient Being, and the jiiva is sentient
also.  However, this does not imply that both are fully alike;

  4> Why are the five differences important?

The understanding of these five differences is seemingly trivial, but
upon careful consideration, one sees that to properly understand all
of them, one needs to know the significant properties of every kind of
entity in the whole universe! Thus, such understanding is not easily
one's lack of understanding of one or more of these differences. 

For instance, if one acts in ignorance of the Supremacy of Lord
Vishnu, and suffers as a consequence, then one can be said to have
falsely arrogated to oneself His unique and irreproducible properties
like independence, potency, etc. Similarly, the grief one experiences
the passing of a loved one, is due to the false identification of the
nsentient and ever-changing body with the sentient, immutable soul.
etc., which are also failures to perceive difference, are known to
bring grief. One who correctly and fully perceives and understands all
the five differences can be said to have attained knowledge, and to be
fit for mukti (liberation).

  5> Who is the founder of Tattvavaada?

As has been noted in the general FAQ, no school of Vaishnavism can be
also known as Sukha Tiirtha, PuurNa-bodha, and PuurNa-pragnya. Srimad
Ananda Tiirtha is identified with Madhva, the third avataara
(incarnation) of Mukhya PraaNa, the god of life. This identification
comes from the BaLitthaa Suukta of the Rg Veda. Srimad Ananda Tiirtha
s also referred to by his devotees as Srimad Aachaarya, and by
everyone as Sri Madhvaachaarya, based on the identification with the
Vedic deity Mukhya PraaNa, the god of life, who is also known as Vaayu.

A detailed disquisition upon the BaLitthA Suukta can be seen at

  6> What are the tenets of Tattvavaada?

There are nine important points-of-note, given by a verse by Sri
Vyaasa Tiirtha, which translates approximately as: "In Shriiman
Madhva's school, (i) Hari (Vishnu) is supreme; (ii) the universe is
the differents]; (iv) the leagues of jiivas are cohorts of Hari; 
(v) and are with superiority and inferiority [among themselves]; 
(vi) mukti (salvation) is the experience of [the jiiva's] own innate 
correct knowledge; (viii) the three pramaaNas are aksha, etc., 
(pratyaksha, anumaana, aagama - sense-perception, logic, and scripture); 
(ix) Hari is the only entity [primarily] described in all Aamnaayas 
(Shrutis or Vedas)."

A slightly more detailed treatment of the verse can be seen at

  7> Why does Tattvavaada emphasize debate with and denunciation of
     other doctrines? Can it not just just state its own tenets?

and be convinced of the truth of said doctrine. Therefore, Srimad
Aachaarya's school has always held that one needs must understand all
careful analyses and consideration. Mere dogmatic repetition of facts
that are accepted too readily either by accident of birth or inability
to think, is not acceptable as such cannot lead to conviction; a
critical examination of all Tattvavaada precepts with a detailed
analysis of alternative theories in each case -- to arrive at the
truth based on valid proof -- is itself part of the tradition of
Srimad Ananda Tiirtha's school.  Though this practice has been
followed earlier by Sri Shankaraachaarya and Sri Ramanujaachaarya also
n essence, their criticisms of rival theories were not complete and

  8> Isn't Dvaita the mere opposite of Advaita?

Such misperception is one of the reasons why some reject the use of
'Dvaita' to refer to the doctrine of Tattvavaada. While it is true
that Advaita and Tattvavaada have had many debates over hundreds of
years, and that the latter denies the jagan-mithyatva (illusory nature
of the universe) that is one of the fundamental tenets of Advaita, it
s certainly not the case that there is disagreement everywhere, nor
s it the case that one can derive Tattvavaada merely by taking the
opposite of everything claimed by Advaita. But it can be said with
full certainty that on most fundamental issues such as the nature of
rreconcilable differences.

  9> Isn't Dvaita the first step towards learning Advaita?

adherents of Advaita say that by nature and everyday experience one
believes in the reality of the universe, etc., and that such belief
must be got rid if one is to attain complete union with the
nirguNa-Brahman, no serious scholar of Advaita claims that studying
Tattvavaada is a first step towards learning Advaita. For one thing,
t is a rule of all learning that things learned first must not
contradict things learned later; for another, Tattvavaada specifically
examines and denounces many Advaita concepts, and hence, one who has
learned Tattvavaada first cannot possibly accept Advaita later. In
fact Advaitha has not built up a credible system of analysis where the
and rejected thereby establishing Advaita. The exact reverse obtains

  10> Why are scholars and devotees of Sri Madhvaachaarya's school
      referred to as "prachchhanna taarkika"?

This tongue-in-cheek appellate was allegedly affixed by some followers
of Advaita, who were piqued at being called "prachchhanna bauddha"
(disguised Buddhists). This latter designation was used because of the
accept the reality of the universe, both deny that the Creator is an
eternal real, etc.). In turn, Advaitis labeled devotees of Srimad
Aachaarya as "prachchhanna taarkika" (disguised logicians) because of
the latters' use of logic to show that Advaita is inconsistent.

  11> How does worship by Maadhvas differ from other Vaishnava worship?

According to Sri Madhvaachaarya, Vishnu is "worshippable by all
(other) deities, and by everyone, to their best ability." Thus, in
common with other Vaishnava traditions, Maadhvas worship other deities
only as iconic representatives of the Lord, and not as independently
authoritative figures. However, Maadhvas believe that all deities
except for Vishnu's eternal consort Lakshmi, are amukta-jiivas
(un-liberated souls) performing service to Him. Tattvavaada also does
not acknowledge that worship of other claimed deities or prophets,
besides those authorized by shaastra, is useful.

Maadhvas have a "taaratamya" or divine hierarchy of deities after
Vishnu, which is derived from shaastra sources, and said hierarchy is
very important in considerations of worship, since each lesser deity
s worshipped as the iconic representative of the next higher one,
only. Thus, Maadhvas acknowledge a hierarchy of worth among deities
other than Vishnu, and say that each lesser deity is akin to an image
n a mirror, of the one higher. This concept of images captures both
the notion of difference (since the object and its image are not
dentical) and an hierarchy of worth (since the image is never of the
as mentioned previously).

Worship according to Srimad Aachaarya's tradition also differs from
certain other kinds of worship, since the icons or images used for
the actual object of worship. The icon is an adhishThaana, or location
Tattvavaada emphasizes that it is important to understand the
Diety), and to keep it in mind at all times -- one should never

According to Srimad Ananda Tiirtha, icons are of two kinds:
"chala-pratimaa" or "moving icon," and "achala pratimaa" or
"non-moving icon." The "chala" icons are one's elders, Gurus, other
for worship. Of the two kinds of icons, the "chala" have a naturally
Gurus, etc., when performed as worship of the Lord, is of greater
mportance than the worship of stationary symbols. However, at all
times, it is important to be aware that the object or person to whom
one offers service or respect, is not the Lord Himself, nor is
authoritative independently of Him, but is merely His icon.

A detailed account of worship at the Krishna temple in Udupi can be

  12> What is the Tattvavaada concept of moksha?

Under Tattvavaada, the soul upon liberation does not lose his distinct
dentity, which is different from Vishnu, nor does he become equal to
Him in any respect. While the mukta does become free of all suffering, 
become independent of Him.

The mukta experiences the joy which is his own nature, in mukti;
nature. And because such joy is the jiiva's own nature, it does not
fluctuate or end, and it is not mixed with pain. Since the nature of
the jiiva is different from that of Iishvara, his joy is also of a
ntrinsic to the nature of the jiiva can only be realised due to the

  13> Why does Tattvavaada deny jiivan-mukti?

Because a mukta, or liberated person, should not even be physically
material contact, and also cannot be said to experience the joy of his
own nature at all times. The very act of living in a gross material
body entails things such as eating, sleeping, pleasure and pain, etc.,

  14> What is the concept of scripture, according to Tattvavaada?

The apowrusheya-aagamas, or unauthored scriptures, are the primary
entities. Only those powrusheya-aagamas or authored scriptures that
closely adhere to the former have value as explanatory sources of
knowledge about the atiindriya. Independent powrusheya texts are
considered to bring ignorance and delusion, if used to learn about the

and the Vedas and Upanishads) to be canonical texts. Srimad Ananda
Tiirtha however denies claims that part of the Vedas, the so-called
"karma-kaaNDa" or "mantra" portions, are of no use as scripture, and
claims that even those parts are only meant to educate us about Hari.
His school, following his lead, also does not accept that any part of
the Vedas teach anything but the truth, and says that arbitration of
apowrusheya texts, as "true-saying" and "false-saying" is
mpermissible logically and spiritually. All canonical texts _must_ be
considered, and a coherent meaning found without imposing one's own
biases upon the evidence obtained.

An essay comparing Tattvavaada's take on scripture with the monistic
view may be found at 

  15> Who are some of the leading scholars of Tattvavaada?

Historically, there have been many great scholars and saints in the
tradition of Srimad Achaarya. Some of them are:

Sri Vaadiraaja Tiirtha -- is considered the senior-most scholar of
Tattvavaada after Srimad Ananda Tiirtha himself; his works include the
Yukti-Mallikaa, the RukmiNiisha-Vijaya, etc., and a number of
Mahaabhaarata-taatparya-nirNaya into Kannada, and has composed a
number of devotional songs in that language.

There is a page on the web devoted to Sri Vaadiraaja Tiirtha, at

Sri Jayatiirtha -- has written commentaries on a number of Srimad
Aachaarya's works, and is known for his extremely pleasing style of
exposition of Shriiman Madhvaachaarya's Anu-Vyaakhyaana commentary on
the Brahma-Suutra, is an outstanding example of his scholarship, and
s certainly one of the greatest works in Vedanta.

There is a page on the web devoted to Sri Jayatiirtha, at

Sri Purandara Dasa -- is widely renowned as the father of Carnatic
music; is less widely known as the founder of the Hari-Daasa
tradition, that seeks to propagate the doctrine of Tattvavaada through
music, in a language that ordinary people can understand. A
contemporary of Sri Vaadiraaja Tiirtha and Sri Vyaasa Tiirtha, he is

There is a page on the web devoted to Sri Purandara Dasa, at

Sri Vyaasa Tiirtha -- wrote further commentaries on the works of Sri
Jayatiirtha and Srimad Ananda Tiirtha; is known for his extra-ordinary
ability to run any opponent down by force of argument; he ranks as one
of the most renowned polemical scholars of Vedanta.

There is a page on the web devoted to Sri Vyaasa Tiirtha, at

Sri Raghavendra Tiirtha -- is widely known today, thanks to his
excellent reputation for providing succor in times of major
crises. Although he ranks as one of the greatest scholars of
Tattvavaada, he is better known and worshipped by millions, as an
nfallible source of support when one is faced with dire

There is a page on the web devoted to Sri Raghavendra Tiirtha, at

  16> What are the Maadhva institutions of the present day?

The most important one is probably the temple of Krishna at Udupi, in
Udupi-ashhTa-maTha-s, that are dedicated to serving Krishna, at Udupi
and elsewhere. Besides these, there are several other important
maThas, like the Uttaraadi MaTha (which is claimed to be the
nstitution of Sri Jayatiirtha), and the MaTha-s of Sri Vyaasa Tiirtha
and Sri Raghavendra Tiirtha, known by their names.

Some information about the temple in Udupi, and associated facts and
entities, is available at:

  17> Where can I get more information?

One place to look would be the Dvaita Home Page (address given at the
top of this document), which, although not nearly as complete or
exhaustive as its supporters would like, still offers some
nformation. In particular, it has some biographical information about
Srimad Ananda Tiirtha and some other scholars of his school, and some
bibliographical information as well. Besides these, a number of books
of which one, 'The History of the Dvaita School of Vedanta and its
Literature', Motilal Banarsidass, 1981, is considered quite
broad-based, if not completely authoritative. Another work by
Dr. Sharma that may be of some interest is 'Madhva's teachings in his
own words'.

  18> How can I add <> to the Dvaita Home Page?

not merely a correction of an error in existing material, then it is
list/digest so that the same can be reviewed by other prospective
and has the added benefit of enriching the list/digest as well.  If
the material proposed to be added is not your own, then copyright
concerns may have to be addressed.

  19> I'm having some trouble with the Dvaita List; or: I have this
      specific query or request concerning the List.


Canonical definitions are given within square brackets, where known.

A. General terms:

   as-is, is called a pramaaNa. This can be of two types:

      something as-is, is called kevala-pramaaNa.

      the previous, is called anu-pramaaNa; such can be of 
      three types, which are:

    i>    pratyaksha ["vishayaan.h prati-sthitam hi aksham.h"] -- 
          flawless interaction between a sense of perception (like 
          sight), and an object or entity in its domain, is called 

    ii>   anumaana ["tarkaH adushhTaH"] -- inference without flaw
          constitutes logic. Flaws of inference are described below.

    iii>  aagama ["adushhTa vaakya"] -- sentences, or bodies of 
          sentences (texts) without flaw, are called aagama.

Also of interest are:

      exists, is the pramaataa.

      is the prameya.

      as-is, is called pramaa.

Note: pramaa thus means the same thing as kevala-pramaaNa, except that
t is used in a singular sense, to denote _one_ piece of correct
knowledge, etc.; the latter is more often used to indicate a body of
correct knowledge, and such.

B. Error terms.

      translated as 'opposition,' and the definition reads loosely as:
      "Lack of ability is opposition." What the definition means to say
      is that if a statement runs counter to one already accepted, and
      is unable to force its own way, then it must be rejected, for
      being opposed to a known fact.

      translated as 'irrelevance,' and the definition reads: "Lack of
      fulfillment of expectation is irrelevance." In a discussion, if a
      reply given, a point raised, or a statement made, is not in
      accordance with the expectation that it be pertinent to the
      matter under discussion, then it is irrelevant.

      'nullity,' with the definition reading loosely as:
      "Non-satisfaction of the claim constitutes nullity." In a
      discussion, if someone makes a claim, and later gives evidence
      that does not support the claim in full, then such evidence
      suffers from nullity, with respect to the claim. Another type is
      where a definition given does not cover all cases of the
      objects or entities to be defined.

      translated as 'superfluity,' and the definition as: "An excess
      over what is relevant, constitutes superfluity." In a
      discussion, if someone takes the meaning or definition of
      something to cover more than what it should, then such is
      superfluous. Another type is where a definition given covers
      more than the object, entity, or set to be defined.

Note: nyuunataa and aadhikya have also been referred to, in special 
cases, as a-vyaapti (non-domination), and ati-vyaapti (over-domination). 
The latter, ativyaapti, is the error responsible for Russell's paradox.

      consequence," in some cases. More generally, however, if
      something "rests on itself," in the sense that an object or
      entity is stated to have a property such as presence within
      itself, support of itself, etc., then this flaw exists. A standard
      example is "sva-skandha-aarohaNa" or "mounting one's own

      proved by another, and the latter by the former, then this error

      A more general case of the above; if instead of two, we have 'n'
      number of disputed statements, that are tied in a circle so that
      each one proves the next, then circular reasoning is shown.

      requires an assumption, and proof of that assumption requires
      another, and proof of that still another, and so on, then
      infinite regress is said to occur.

      neglects to take into account the fact that it is in opposition
      to accepted evidence. This itself has various forms:
      shruta-haana (neglect of Shruti), dR^ishhTa-haana (neglect of
      pratyaksha), etc.

      be assumed without proof, so that an inference based upon it may
      be accepted, then the inference is subject to the respect that
      has been accorded to one's imagination, and is unacceptable.
      Economy in assumptions is a virtue.	

      made where the consequence runs counter to the source of
      knowledge by which the antecedent is known, then the inference is
      considered incorrect, for opposing the source of its own
      antecedent, and the error made is known as upajiivya virodha; as
      has already been noted, 'upajiivya' is the name given to the
      anu-pramaaNa from which the antecedent is known.

      puts forth a claim earlier in an argument, but subsequently
      attempts to defend a contrary position (i.e., a claim different 
      from the previous), then the apa-siddhAnta-doshha -- the error of 
      an invalid thesis -- is said to occur.

Note: upajiivya virodha is actually a form of pramaa-haana, but is
often referred to separately.


This FAQ is the result of a combined effort by the following individuals:

    Bala R. Krishna <bkrishna -at- dvaita.org>
    N. A. P. S. Rao <napsrao -at- dvaita.org>
    Narahari S. Pujar <pujar -at- che.udel.edu>
    Shrisha Rao <shrao -at- dvaita.org>

The above people would like to thank Dr. D. Prahladachar, Director,
taking the time to review and correct an earlier version of this
FAQ. However, any residual errors that remain are their

The above people have tried their best to ensure that their
exactly. However, it is possible that owing to inadvertence or even
nadequacy of understanding on their part, there are errors in this

This FAQ is the property of the Poornaprajna Samshodhana Mandiram and
may be freely used for non-commercial purposes. However, to use it in
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