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Hari Sarvottama Vayu Jeevottama

A very warm welcome to the blog of Madhwa Brahmins community.
We, Madhwa Brahmins are followers of Jagadguru Sriman Madhwacharya. We originally hail from places in Karnataka and the neighboring states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Our main dialects are Kannada, Tulu, Marathi, Telugu and Konkani.

A brief background of Jagadguru Sri Madhwacharya:

prathamO hanumAn nAma dviteeyO bheema Eva cha |
pUrNaprajna tRuteeyastu bhagavat kAryasAdhakaH ||

As the above shloka from khila vAyustuti explains, Sri Madhwacharya (also known by the names Poornaprajna and Anandateertha) is the third incarnation of Lord MukhyaprAna Vaayu, after Lord Hanuman and Lord Bheemasena. He is the chief proponent of TattvavAda, popularly known as Dvaita. He was born on Vijayadashami day of 1238 CE at Paajaka Kshetra, a small village near Udupi. He is the 22nd commentator on the Brahma sutras of Lord Sri Veda Vyasa.

Kindly note that this blog contains important topics discussed in our Orkut community and some articles on tattvavAda philosophy. All the topics can be found in the BLOG ARCHIVE (right side)

08 May, 2009

The Unique contributions of Shri Madhvacharya


With my very limited understanding I am making a bold attempt to list out some of the unique contributions of our madhvAchArya. I know it is impossible to put all the unique contributions of jIvOttama vAyu in words but just thought of sharing the miniscule amount of information I have tried to gather form a few sources. These few points absolutely don’t do any justice to the great Acharya’s contributions.

Here are a few points taken directly from the book:

Madhvacharya (Life and Teachings) By Bannanje Govindacharya (Kannada Original)
English version by Dr.K.Krishnamurthy & Dr.U.P.Upadhyaya

1. The material ethereal sky that is one of the five elements filling this universe is that which suffers destruction along with the universe. It is permeated by a super blue color, beyond the reach of the bare eye. But there is another sky that fully pervades the universe, within and without; which transcends the universe and is eternal. It
is called ‘avyAkrta-AkAsha’ or ‘undifferentiated space’

bhUtamapyasitaM divyadrstigOchaaramEvaatu,
utpadyatE avyAkrtam hi gaganaM sAkshigOcharaM||
(Anu Vyakhyana 2.3)

2. The atoms which are the micro-elements of physical matter are not at all ultimate and indivisible entities. In every atom too there are innumerable subtle particles

mahattvAnutvayOrnaiva visrAntirupalabhyatE. (Anu Vyakhyana 2.3.6)

3. There is life movement in plants, herbs and creepers too. That vegetation-life too can respond to the actions
of man. There are plants that thrill to the melody of music and yield sprouts, flowers and fruits

gItAt pushpaphalAvAptiH sparshAt kArshyam rasAr sthitiH (Anu Vyakhyana 2.2.10)

4. No matter is completely destroyed. Destruction is another name for only a change in form. We say that the body is destroyed. But really speaking, the body is not destroyed, it has become ashes; that is all. Thus existence and non-existence are two sides of the same coin

sarvE bhAvA abhaavAsea padArthAstEna sarvadA
astyabhAvOsticha dhvamsO dEhAbhAvasea bhasmatA. (Anu Vyakhyana 2.2.6 )

5. From the microcosm to the macrocosm, the entire universe is completely interfused. To understand any one thing completely, a complete knowledge of the entire universe becomes necessary. By knowing one, all can be known. One who does not know all, does not know even one

Ekam ea tatvatOjnAtum vinA sarvajnatAm narah na samarthO machEendrOpi tasmAt
sarvatrajqnasEt (Gita Bhashya. 4.9 )

6. Enclosed within the fifteen fences of name, lordship, thought, speech, action, strength, food, mind, sense organ, earth, water, fire, air, sky and faith, the sixteenth jiva- kala or soul's particle lies hidden. When these fifteen inconscient fences are broken, the soul gets self-awareness. This is called self-realization. To one who
has attained self-realization, the way beyond to God-realization becomes easy.

samyak samAhitAnaAm tu praptAnAm shODahIM kalAM
aparOksadrsAM kvApi turIyaM drsyatEpadaM. (Manduka Bhasya )

First, the realization is of the ‘I’ principle. Next comes the realization of the ‘He’ principle. This is the secret of the realization of “So’ham” (I:HE), the Ultimate Truth. One who is unaware of his own self, or one who mistakes such awareness of self
itself as ultimate realization, can never progress in the pathway of God- realization.


KRuShNa in the gIta says

chAturvarNyaM mayA sR^iShTaM guNakarmavibhAgashaH
tasya kartAramapi mAM viddhyakartAramavyayam. 4-13

For this shrImadAchArya has explained in his bhAshya that the chAturvarNya system mentioned by kRuShNa is not the caste system prevalent in today’s society but they are varNas of the jIva!
varNa means colour (varNa = baNNa in kannada). It’s used in the same sense of “avana baNNa bayalAyitu”
varNa is intrinsic to the jIva svarUpa of a mukti yOgya manuShya chEtana.

svabhavikO brAhmaNAdiH samAdyairEva bhidyaE yOnibhEdakrtO bhEdOjnEya
chaupAdhikastvayam. (Gita Tatparya. 4-13.)

If AchArya hadn’t shown us the truth, the Lord’s words wouldn’t have been understood as an universal statement transcending space and time.

Ref: Madhvacharya (Life and Teachings) By Bannanje Govindacharya (Kannada Original)
English version by Dr.K.Krishnamurthy & Dr.U.P.Upadhyaya

sarva-shabdha vAchyatva

It was only AchArya madhva who said every syllable, every sound in this universe is a name of God.
The sound that the lizard makes is similar to the sound humans make when they are astonished. AchArya says that sound of the lizard tells us how wonderful this creation of the Lord is and should make us realise His greatness.

bahu chitra jagat bahudAkaraNat
parashaktiranaMta guNah paramaH (dvAdasha stOtra)

ShrImadAcharya was the only one said every vEda mantra ultimately refers to paramAtma hari only.
Shankaracharya rejects a huge chunk of vEdas and upanishats that don’t support his theory of advaita as “atatvavEdaka” .
Ramanujacharya says that specific veda mantras refer to specific deities only.
Where as AchArya madhva says every part of the vEda talks about paramAtma only and everything is tatvavEdaka.
This is an unique contribution

Ref: Discourses of Shri Bannanje Govindacharya

Social role in sAdhane

kRuShNa in the gItA says:

ArurukShOrmunEryOgam karma kAraNamucyatE |
yOgArUDhasya tasyaiva shamaH kAraNamucyatE || 6 - 3 ||

kRuShNa gives the guidelines for those who have obtained aparOkSha and those who are striving for the same.
For this verse of the gIta, AchArya madhva gives an extraordinary definition to the concept of karma.
He says karma is “nAnA janasya shushrUSha” or serving different people is karma for those who are striving in the path of mOkSha sAdhane!
Our dearest AchArya gave a new dimension to the social face of sAdhane which none of the pUrva AchAryas thought of! Social service is one of the most important aspects of spiritual upliftment.

Ref: Discourse on the gIta (chapter 6) by Shri Bannanje Govindacharya.

Bimba – pratibimba vAda

The plurality of souls was adhered in all schools of thought such as Jainism, pUrva mimAmsa, nyAya vaishEShika, sAMkhyAyOga, vishiShTAdvaita, schools of nimbAraka, vallabha and chaitanya, even islam and Christianity. It was only shankaracharya who rejected this concept.
ShankarAchArya’s concept of jIvaikyabhAVa brought a big question of who has a~jnAna that which is the cause of bondage. If jIva had a~jnAna it would be like accepting that there are jIvas apart from Brahman and if Brahman had a~jnAna it would be admitting that nirguNa tatva had a guNa called a~jnAna. Again a~jnAna cannot be an attribute to the parabrahman.

RamAnujachArya said that the relationship of the two is based on sharIra-shraIri bhAva (relationship of the body and its indweller) and there is AnandasAmya in mOkSha.

AchArya madhva said that the relationship of the soul and God is like the object and its reflection which in true spirit reflects the concept of asvatantrya of the jIva.
Adherents of EkAtmavAda resort to the theory of upAdhis or “conditioning factors” of embodiment etc to explain the diversity of experience without assuming the individuals themselves to be essentially different and many.
AchArya madhva says it is impossible to experience the joy and sorrows of others in any stage including mOkSha and this jIva bhEda is not merely aupAdhika. It is only possible to be empathetic with other people but never experience their miseries/joys of their minds and body.

Ref: 'Shri Madhva's Teachings in his own words' by BNK Sharma
'matatrayasamIkSha' by Dr. AV Nagasampige
Discourse on madhva vijaya (15 Canto) by Shri Bannanje Govindacharya

Research works on Puranas

mahAbhAratha tAtparya nirNaya is the first ever research work done on rAmAyaNa and mahAbhArata. Another work called bhAgavata tAtparya of AchArya is a research work on the bhAgavata mahApurANa.

There are several contradicting and confusing incidents and aspects in our purANas. Several incidents mentioned in the bhAgavatha don't match with those mentioned in the mahAbhAratha. Different purANas have different versions of the same incident.
Several aspects in the epics throw bad light on gods and are very confusing.
Surprisingly all the purANAs have been authered by the same author bhagavAn vEdavyasa who Himslef says that there are no contradictions in shRutis and smRutis!

Unable to digest these, several hindu philosophers never considered purAnas as pramANas while establishing their schools of thought. Most of them backed only on shRuti pramANas.
However shrImadAchArya beautifully cleared all these inconsistencies in these works. The statement "itihAsapurANAbhyAM vEdaM samupabRuMhayEt" makes sense only when there is clarity in the itihAsa-purANa graMtha-s to begin with.
We should also note that purANas are written in samAdhi, guhya and darshana bhAsha-s. Most of them have inner allegorical meanings. To understand these kinds of complexities achArya's research works come to our rescue.

Iconography and architecture

It wouldn’t be wrong if it is said that shrImadAchARya was the only AchArya who contributed not only in the field of philosophy but also in fields of iconography, temple vAstu, art, science, music and poetry.
AchArya madhva in his work called tantrsArasaMgraha gives great details about how icons of worship should look like. He gives dimensions, postures, positions etc of idols covering every minute detail. He also explains about temple vAstu, methods of consecration, procedures of re-installation, etc. This work of AchArya can be definitely used as a reference text for sculptors and architects even today.

Music and poetry

The authentic biography of madhvAchArya, shrI madhvavijaya says that AchArya was a great musician. The author says that once AchArya made a barren tree bloom with flowers and fruits just by singing melodious songs.

ayamEva gOviShayatOπ
sadasi janatArthitO javAt|
puShpamRuta phalamahO vidadhE
janasuptidAnupamagAnasaMpadA|| (10-53)

bhAVaprakAshika mentions that AchArya had composed gAnashAstra.
His exemplary sense of music and poetry is reflected in his compositions known as dvAdasha stOtra. The same trend of composing poetry infused with bhakti meant for singing (hADugabbagaLu) was carried on by kalyANI dEvi, vAdirAjaru, nArAyaNapanDitAcharyaru , etc. This was the beginning of the glorious dAsasAhitya and haridAsa parampare.
YakshagAna which is performed even to this day was initiated by AchArya’s direct disciple shrI narahari tIrtha under the guidance of AchArya. These forms of performing arts were used to spread ~jnAna to the masses.

Composing songs meant for singing was initiated by shrImadAchArya only. None of the pUrva AchAryas had done anything like this (today some of the compositions of other AchAryas have been popularised by musicians. However those were actually not composed for the sake of singing. In other words they are not haaDugabba-s)
JayadEva’s gIta gOvinda is a shRungAra kAvya the main purpose of which was to glorify the romantic aspect of kRuShNa. Again this has been made popular by musicians and dancers owing to its beautiful poetry and themes that can be used for recitals. None of these are haaDugabba-s like those of AchArya.

Gender of the soul

AchArya madhva explained that gender is the property of the jIva and not the gross body. The sthUla sharIra is jaDa which gets discarded and destroyed periodically. And jaDa cannot have attributes like gender. Therefore gender is the attribute of the soul.
This cleared a lot of confusions present in shAstras.
Madhvacharya said that every sAtvika soul is eligible for mOkSha including women and shUdras. There was (still is) this misconception that a jIva has to be born only as a brahmin male to perform sAdhane for mOkSha. Women, shUdras and vaishyas were considered nIcha yOnayaH unfit for mOkSha sAdhane. AchArya madhva eliminated all this false dogmas.
In the 9th chapter of the gIta, Lord kRuShNa says:

mAm hi pArtha vyapAshritya yEπ syuH pApayOnayaH
strIyO vaishyastatha shUdrastEπ yAnti parAm gatiM|| (9- 32)

This verse was misinterpreted by all pUrvAchAryas that the birth of women, vaishyas and shUdras are degraded or sinful births.
However AchArya gave the true meaning of the Lord’s words that pApayOnayaH refers to men who are cursed to be born as women due to some sinful acts or souls of higher kakSha-s taking births in lower orders (like dEvatas being born as vaishyas or shudras).
This means that Lord is so kind that He ensures mOkSha even to such cursed souls (who are eligible for mukti)

bhAVaprakAshika mentions that AchArya had composed gAnashAstra

I just enquired with pujya Shri Bannanje Govindacharya about gAnashAstra of Shri Madhvacharya. He said that there is no solid proof that AchArya had written any graMtha on gAna shAstra. Nevertheless he was a great musician and has given some information about music in some of his works.
Thanks Manjunath for asking this. A misconception got clarified!

Concept of mOkSha

There were a lot of theories floating around amongst different mathas about the concept of mOkSha.
sAnkhya-s, naiyAyika-s and others believed that mukti is devoid of any blissful experience and is just a state where all miseries get ceased. Shankaracharya said that when avidya ceases then what is left is just Brahman.
Ramanujacharya said that the soul experiences the same brahmnAnanda in mOkSha. The gradations like Rushis, dEvatas seen in souls are merely aupAdhika and don’t exist in mukti. In both these cases the individuality of the soul gets lost.
AchArya madhva with the aid of shRutis said that mOkSha is an individual experience of the self. The soul experiences its inherent AnaMda to its fullest extent.

muktirhitvA&nyathArUpaM svrUpENa vyavasthitaH

mOkSha is a blissfull state. If this was not the case, there would be no meaning in striving hard for mukti!
AchArya also maintained that there is tAratamya in the AnaMda experienced in mOkSha since the inherent capabilities of the souls and their sAdhanes too differ (mode and duration of sAdhane).
The setup of our world is an imperfect version of what is seen in mOkSha. There too the mukta jIvas enjoy all kinds of joy including conjugal bliss, for, their inherent nature gets revealed to their fullest extent.
The tAmasik souls have their mOkSha in eternal hell since their inherent nature “demands” that kind of liberation, for, a~jnAna, ayatArtha ~jnAna, viparIta ~jnAna, dvEsha , dukha and other such negative qualities are their svarUpa.
The rAjasik souls having a svarUpa of samshaya ~jnAna and a mixture of sukha and dukha remain eternally in samsAra which is their natural course.
The Lord directs the course of the three types of souls according to their nature.

Concept of bhakti

Shankaracharya stressed only upon ~jnAna as part of mOkSha sAdhane.
He said that only ~jnAna and satkarma are essential, where ~jnAna is pradhAna and karma is apradhAna. The realisation that the single Atma is satya leads to mukti and hence this ~jnAna is important. karma is required to obtain this ~jnAna and after one obtains it (~jnAna) karma is not required anymore.

Ramanujacharya stressed only on bhakti as part of mOkSha sAdhane.
In his siddhAMta, there are two types of bhakti, sAdhya bhakti and upAya bhakti.
The bhakti generated out of yama-niyamAdi ashTAMga yOga is called upAyabhakti and this requires shAstra ~jnAna, pAMDitya, uttama kula, etc.
An easier way is the sAdhyabhakti or prapatti. This doesn't require any ~jnAna, shAstrAdhyayana, etc and is an aMtaraMga aspect.

AchArya madhva gave a very unique definition to the concept of bhakti.
He said that bhakti and ~jnAna are inseparable.

mAhAtmya~jjnAnapUrvastu sudRuDhaH sarvatO&dhikaH|
snEhO bhaktiriti prOktaH tayA muktirna chAnyathA|| (MBTN - 1- 85)

Bhakti is the uninterrupted love towards the Lord that comes out of knowing His unparallel greatness which thus becomes more than the love towards anything else!
The love towards paramAtma has to come through the knowledge of His greatness. Hence ~jnAna is very important.
What is the use of that knowledge that doesn't generate love towards Him (for, yatArtha ~jnAna has to induce that love) and what is the use of that love that comes from reasons unknown (a mere blind belief - mUDhanambike)?
This bhakti (or ~jnAna, since they are two sides of the same coin) with virakti (nishkAma karma) leads to mukti.

Ref: matatrayasamIkShA
Author: Dr. A V Nagasampige
(Publisher: Shri Raghavendra darshana kendra)


The concept of tAratamya is mentioned in the shRutis. The taittarIya and chAMdOgya upanishats give details of tAratamya.
This concept was highlighted and stressed upon by shrI madhvAchArya which none of the other pUrvAchAryas did.
tAratamya or hierarchy is based on the inherent attributes of the soul. This is an eternal system which holds good even after mukti.
This inherent gradation is not unfair because unequal treatment of unequals is just, where as equal treatment of unequals is unjust. The Lord gives the souls their due based on the intrinsic yOgyata.
A study of the shRutis makes one realize how practical and true the system of gradation is. For example, the iMdriyas are controlled by the mind (manas). The mind is controlled by the intellect (buddhi) and we see that iMdriyAbhimAni dEvatas are inferior to manObhimAni dEvatas who are in turn inferior to the buddhyAbhimAni dEvatas and so on…

This knowledge of tAratmya is yatArtha ~jnAna and is an intrinsic part of mOkSha sAdhane.

tAratamyaM tatO ~jjEyaM sarvOcchataM harEstathA|
Etad vinA na kasyApi vimuktiH syAt kathaMchana|| (MBTN – 1.82)

Ref: matatrayasamIkShA
Author: Dr. A V Nagasampige
Publisher: Shri Raghavendra darshana kendra

Discourses of Shri Bannaje Govindacharya

Nakha stuti

ShrI madhvAchArya has composed an extraordinary shlOka called nakhastuti. This work is unique because there are two different chchaMdas (meters) in one shlOka. This kind of composition cannot be seen in entire Sanskrit literature!
The 1st two lines of the stanza are in shArdUlavikrIDitA cchandas of 23 letters and the second set of lines are in sragdhara cchandas of 21 letters.
These two meters denote the story of narasimhAvatAra.
The Lord tears open the entrails of hiraNyakaShipu like how the lion kills its pray (shArdUlavikrIDitA) and then He wears those entrails like a garland round His neck (srak- dhara)!
Being a musician AchArya ended the nakhastuti in sragdhara since vAyustuti was in the same meter.
There is yet another interesting reason behind this stuti. There is a vEda maMtra:

simhaM nasaMta madhvO ayAsaM
harimarushaM divO asya patiM ||

This maMtra says that madhva prayed to Lord narasimha. The nakhastuti is like an explanation to this vEdic verse which also has 21 letters!
(AchArya in his bhImAvatAra prayed to narasimha rUpa through manyusUkta. )
Madhvacharya never deviates from the vEdas!

Source: Discourse on vAyu stuti by Shri. Bannanje Govindacharya

This discourse is available at

Concept of one God

madhvAchArya was the one who truly preached the concept of one God.
In the 10th chapter of madhva vijaya, the author likucha nArAyaNapaMDitAchArya records the following dialogue of AchArya madhva to the muslim ruler on the banks of the gaMga:

yo&sau devO vishvadIpaH pradIptaH kurmaH sarvaM tatparAnugrahENa
yAmastAvat tUrNamAshAmudIchImityAdyaM tadbhAhayA chitravAkyaM 10.17

AchArya says that all our actions are controlled by just one supreme being like how the entire world is illuminated by just one sun.
He gave out the true meaning of the gIta, that , only one Lord creates, sustains, controls and destroys this entire universe (refer chapter 9 &10 of the gIta).
paramAtma is just one (EkamEva advitIya). The rest are all jIvas whom the Lord uses to perform His activities.
Through brahma He creates the universe, through rudra He destroys, through various tatvAbhimAni deities He controls the brahmAnDa and the pinDAnDa.


Dear Dilip, this is an excellent job! Please keep it up!

I have a doubt here.

By knowing one, all can be known. One who does not know all, does not know even one

Somehow I feel the above sentences are contradicting each other.


5. From the microcosm to the macrocosm, the entire universe is completely interfused. To understand any one thing completely, a complete knowledge of the entire universe becomes necessary. By knowing one, all can be known. One who does not know all, does not know even one

What is meant by "knowing one" or "knowing all"?

Do Rjus understand avyakta Akasha which is infinite or know everything in the Universe ?


thank u for giving us this much of good knowledge....

i need some more explanation
from ur this below post....

KRuShNa in the gIta says

chAturvarNyaM mayA sR^iShTaM guNakarmavibhAgashaH
tasya kartAramapi mAM viddhyakartAramavyayam. 4-13

For this shrImadAchArya has explained in his bhAshya that the chAturvarNya system mentioned by kRuShNa is not the caste system prevalent in today’s society but they are varNas of the jIva!
varNa means colour (varNa = baNNa in kannada). It’s used in the same sense of “avana baNNa bayalAyitu”
varNa is intrinsic to the jIva svarUpa of a mukti yOgya manuShya chEtana.


By knowing one, all can be known. One who does not know all, does not know even one

Somehow I feel the above sentences are contradicting each other.

The above sentence was picked up from the English translation of Sri. Bannanje Achar’s original kannada book “AchArya madhva: baduku – baraha”. (English version by Dr.K.Krishnamurthy & Dr.U.P.Upadhyaya)
I checked the kannada original and the translation appears to be correct. I will check if I can get more details/explanations on this. Thanks for asking!

Do Rjus understand avyakta Akasha which is infinite or know everything in the Universe ?

I guess chaturmukha brahma understands the universe completely. I leave it to others to clarify...not too sure of this.

Do Rjus understand avyakta Akasha which is infinite or know everything in the Universe ?

brahma and vAyu can know the entire universe....however they have to put their effort for it (AlOchanEna), unlike paramAtma and ramA dEvi who always know it.


ShrImadAcharya proclaimed that all vedic and puranic literature bears a philosophical meaning. The entire lot of shRuti-s and smRuti-s ultimately talk only about the glories of the Lord. This is the concept of Adhytamapara samanvaya.

When AchArya was at the janArdana temple at Ujire, there was a Vedanta vAda ghosti. AchArya was known as an expert in jnAnakhAMDa of the vEdas (those parts that highlight philosophical aspects). There were a set of yA~jnikas present there who were experts in karmakhAMDa part of the vEdas (those parts that highlight karma aspects, like procedures in yAgas etc). They wanted to defeat AchArya who always stressed upon the fact of Adhytamapara samanvaya. They picked up “mahAnAmnI maMtra” and its procedural parts which was related to mahAvrata that appears in aitarEya brAhmaNa and araNyaka. They challenged AchArya thinking that he wouldn’t be able to bring samanvaya in the procedural parts of the Vedas. Being experts in karmakhAMDa they were confident that they would be able to defeat him.
However AchArya made samanvaya even to the karmakhAMDa aspect of the vEdas and astonished the yAgnikas. They fell at the feet of AchArya and accepted defeat.

AchArya got his pravachana documented and this is the famous khaMDarthanirNaya or karmanirNaya.
This was a revolutionary work that rooted out several misconceptions that were prevalent.
In this work AchArya says:

rUDhiyOgau vinA kashchinnairvArthO vEdagO bhavEt|
tatrApi yougikO mukhyaH sarvatrAsti sa vaidekE||

“In Vedas one has to follow the epistemological meaning (yOgArtha) along with the regular meaning of usage (rUDhArtha). Amongst the two the epistemological meaning has more importance”
For ex: agni means fire. It also means aga + ni = that force that makes the immobile world to move = paramAtma.

Source: "AchArya madhva : baduku-baraha" - Shri Bannanje Govindacharya
Ishavasya Pratishtana, Udupi


Ramesh said...

Excellent work. Keeep it up. Hare Srinivasa.

Unknown said...

Hi please correct a part of the point No. 5

5. By knowing one, all can be known. to be changed to " By knowing just one, all can not be known"

Dr. Purna Prasad said...

Dhanyosmi Devaru. Excellent compilation of Acharya Madhwa's unique contribution.

Hare Govinda
Purna Prasad