Author: Deepak Sarma (Case Western Reserve University)

Madhvācārya is a 13th century Indian Hindu scholar who began the Dvaita or dualist (also known as Mādhva) tradition of Vedānta. He argues that the ultimate reality (brahman), identified with God as Viṣṇu, is distinct from the world and from each and every ātman (enduring, individual self). His primary opponent is the Advaita (non-dualist) School of Vedānta founded by Ṡaṃkarācārya in the 8th century which holds that ultimate reality is identical to each and every ātman. Madhvācārya argues that the universe is governed by pañcabheda (five types of differences) that are real and not illusory. There is a difference between each self (ātman) and God (Viṣṇu). There is a difference between God (Viṣṇu) and non-sentient material entities (jada). There is difference between individual selves. There is a difference between selves and non-sentient material beings. Finally, there is a difference between one non-sentient material being and another. Madhvācārya argues that knowledge of these differences, knowledge of the supremacy and independence of God, and devotion to God led a chosen few predestined devotees to liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth (moksa). This is Madhvācārya’s doctrine of predestination, svarūpatraividhya (three-fold classification of natural kinds), where some are believed to be predestined to achieve moka, some are believed to be predestined to remain in the cycle of birth and rebirth, and some are believed to be predestined to rebirth in hell for eternity.


Primary Sources
Secondary Sources
Compare/Contrast With

Primary Sources:

The essential points in Madhvācārya’s doctrine can be found in the following anthologies and books:

Classical Indian Philosophy: A Reader. Ed. Deepak Sarma (Columbia University Press, 2011), pp 227-233 contains an introduction and overview of Madhvācārya’s view as well as selections from his writings.

-A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy. Ed. S. Radhakrishnan and C. Moore (Princeton University Press, 1967), p. 508, pp 555-572 contains an introduction as well as selections from his writings.

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Secondary Sources:

Sarma, Deepak. 2003. An Introduction to Mādhva Vedānta. London: Ashgate Publishers Ltd.

An overview of the Mādhva position with detailed citations from Mādhva texts. Includes translations of the Māyāvādakhaṇḍana, Upādhikhaṇḍana, and the Kathālakṣana. Addresses issues from both an insider and outsider perspective.

Sharma, B.N.K. 1986. Philosophy of Śrī Madhvācārya. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Good introduction with the author’s own arguments against Advaita.

Sharma, B.N.K. 1979. Madhva’s Teachings in his own words. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

Good introduction with textual evidence from the entire Mādhva canon. Sanskrit sources are translated.

Siauve, Suzanne. 1968. La Doctrine de Madhva: Dvaita Vedanta. Publications de L’Institut Francais D’Indologie No. 38. Pondichéry: Institut Francais D’Indologie.

Textually rich introduction to the Mādhva tradition.

Internet encyclopedia:

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Compare/Contrast with:

Ṡaṃkarācārya, Advaita.

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