Re: superstitions (Ramanuja vs. Madhva)
In article <email@example.com> Mani Varadarajan <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
>Vijay Pai makes a few assertions regarding some apparent
>similarities between Ramanujacharya's (c.1017-1137) and
>Madhvacharya's (12th-13th centuries) philosophies. On the
>surface, this may appear to be true, but a deeper analysis
>clearly demonstrates this to be a very erroneous assumption. I
>have personally heard scholars of Ramanuja's school tell me that
>while Madhva is a Vaishnava, the basis for his philosophy and his
>strange form of Vedanta are entirely different from that of the
>rest of us, i.e., the Visishtadvaitins and the Advaitins. I will
>try to make this clear in the following article.
I have to disagree that Madhva's philosophy is entirely different
from that of the "rest of us". In fact, some scholars have even
tried to show that Madhva's description of jivas as being similar to
the reflection of the Sun in water, is very close to Shankara's!
There have been attempts to give an Advaitic interpretation of
If one systematically goes through the vast philosophical literature
of the orthodox systems, MAdhvas claim, one is sure to conclude that
Madhva's system of qualitative dualism and quantitative pluralism is
the grand culmination of all philosophical AND religious thought.
There has not been any new major philosophical system based on the
Vedas after Dvaita and all the other major systems have been examined
and subject to criticism by Dvaita scholars.
The Gaudiya-Vaishnava sect is only an offshoot of Dvaita and in fact,
the Govinda Bhashya (commentary on the Brahma sutras) of Baladeva
relies heavily on the Brahma Sutra Bhashya of Madhva.
Madhva's school emphasizes the use of logic in philosophical thought
much more than Ramanuja's. As Dasgupta says:(History of Ind. Phil.V 3)
"the logical and dialectical thinkers of the Visistadvaita were
decidedly inferior to the prominent thinkers of the Sankara and the
One does NOT come across any TeekAkAra in the Ramanuja tradition who
has the same logical acuteness as , say, Sriharsa or Citsukha (Advaitins)
or Jayatirtha or Vyasatirtha of the Madhva faith.
In fact, it is fair to say that Jayatirtha and Vyasatirtha represent the
highest dialectical skill in Indian philosophical thought. Especially,
Vyasatirtha's review of the principles, categories, concepts, and
definitions of the Navya-Nyaya (logic) of Gangesa and his school, in his
`tarkatAnDava' represents a huge leap in what may be termed Indian Logic.
The Nyayamrta of Vyasatirtha IS still the highest dialectic achievement
of the Dvaita school and it is also the last word on Dvaita-Advaita
polemics. The criticisms of Advaita raised by the Nyayamrta were so
powerful that for a long time the Advaitins had no significant response.
It took no less a scholar than Madhusudana Sarasvati, the great logician
of Bengal to come to the rescue of Advaita by writing the Advaitasiddhi.
Ramanuja claimed to have given a theistic interpretation of the Brahma
Sutras. But the term ``ViSiShtAdvaita" and the idealogy of the school
were compromising to genuine theism. What exactly is being compromised by
Visisitadvaita? It is the very majesty, transcendence and personal
homogeneity of Godhead! Why? Because the Visistadvaitin ties down his
Deity to an existence perpetually ``qualified" by two attributes --
cit and acit. The highest Being Brahman can never have within Itself
``limitation, difference and other-being". The Visistadvaitic view of
SeSaSeSIbhAva holds that the SeSa contributes to the existence of the
SeSI. But, Brahman, in the final analysis, is completely independent
and the EXISTENCE of everything else is immaterial to the existence
of Brahman. Also, according to the VisistAdvaita, God, Matter and Souls
TOGETHER constitute Brahman, and not God alone, by Himself!!
Ramanuja never looked into the Rg Veda, the Aranyakas and Upanishads with
a view of finding support for the theory that Visnu/Narayana IS the Para
Brahman of the Vedanta. Nor did he try to find a place for Sritattva
(Lakshmi) , Bhakti and Prapatti in the Brahmasutras, although they played
a vital role in the Vaisnavism of the Alvars and of himself.
Perhaps the most glaring shortcoming of Ramanuja's system was his
indifference to the most sacred Vaisnava Purana -- the Bhagavata.
(There is evidence to show that the Bhagavata is earlier than Ramanuja.)
Madhva's system borrows its key tenets from two verses in the Bhagavata:
dravyakarma ca kalaSca svabhAvo jIva eva ca
yadanugrahatah santi na santi yadupekShaya || (2.10.12)
Substance, action, time, innate disposition, the jIva, all
exist by the grace of God; if He neglects them they cease to
idam hi viSvam bhagavAnivetaro yato jagatsthAnanirodhasambhavAh |
Bhagavan (God) is the world; yet He is distinct from it. He is
cause of the existence, destruction, and creation of the world.
The Gita has similar verses (9.4, 9.5) where Krishna affirms that
although He pervades the universe, He is distinct from it. At the
same time He says that the universe does not rest in Him.
>Yes, but why does Madhva deny the statements of unity contained in
>the Upanishads? Why does he resort to distorting sentences such
>as (from the Chhandogya Upanishad):
> aitad aatmyam idam sarvam ... sa atma, tat tvam asi
> aitad aatmyam idam sarvam ... sa atma, atat tvam asi
>doing complete violence to the text and philosophical tradition?
Vyasatirtha goes into a lengthy discussion of precisely this
statement and defends admirably Madhva's interpretation in
>in moksha! Realize the consequences of this -- even in salvation,
>the Dvaita philosophy postulates that there are inherent
>inequalities between the jivas' knowledge and enjoyment of bliss.
>Not differences in their *modes* of enjoyment, mind you, but
>actually *grades of bliss* in salvation!
Madhva defends the gradations in bliss by pointing out the
existence of four different kinds of Moksha -- sAlokya,
sArUpya, sAmIpya, and sAyujya. These four different kinds
of Moksha are awarded to different types of people. And these
types of mukti ARE mentioned in the Upanishads. (See Kali
Santarana Upanishad, for example.)
>Please do continue if you wish, but please take care to understand
>Ramanuja's philosophy before you paint him with the same brush
>as you do Madhva. It is insulting to Ramanuja to do so!
Indeed it is!
Finally, it may be interesting for you to note that I am Smarta
myself, following the Bhagavata tradition. I don't have any
``sectarian" bias in arguing for Madhva.