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The Epistemology of Dvaita Vedanta (An Old and Rare Book)

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Preface The conception of moksa (liberation), which is the basic, dominant and practical motive of Indian philosophy, has at times overshadowed the logical subtlety, depth and skill the power of analysis, the force of argument, the dialectical acumen and the play of reason in the Indian philosophical systems. This has led to the criticism that Indian philosophy and particularly the Vedanta, is a combination of religious faith and reason, being based primarily on the authority of the Veda-...

The conception of moksa (liberation), which is the basic, dominant and practical motive of Indian philosophy, has at times overshadowed the logical subtlety, depth and skill the power of analysis, the force of argument, the dialectical acumen and the play of reason in the Indian philosophical systems. This has led to the criticism that Indian philosophy and particularly the Vedanta, is a combination of religious faith and reason, being based primarily on the authority of the Veda-s But in all the schools of Vedanta there are tracts devoted to the treatment of logical problems and school accepts any of its doctrine without the appropriate logical bases.

The logic and the theory of knowledge of Indian systems of philosophy are largely coloured by their metaphysical tenets. There is no logic in the Indian philosophical systems which is not coloured by their metaphysical doctrines. The epistemology of a system is to a great extent dependent on is ontology. Sri Madhva's logic is closely related to his theory of metaphysics and his theology.

Dr. S. K. Mitra of Calutta University has translated an elementary treatise on Madhva's logic, the Pramanacandrika. Dr. R. Nagaraja Sarma has written a running commentary in English on Madhva's Pramanalaksana in his doctoral thesis The Reign of Realism in Indian Philosoph. The present work, based on the Pramanapaddhati of Jayatirtha, is a brief account of the Dvaita theory of knowledge. In the exposition of the theme the comparative method is not adopted in full but I have freely drawn from the other works of Jayatirtha which are commentaries on Madhva's works. In dealing with the logical categories of Madhva, I have compared them with those of the other systems of Indian philosophy.

My main inspiration for the study of Madhva's philosophy was the late Sri Ssatyadhyana Tirtha of Uttaradi Mutt.

My grateful thanks are due to Pandits Yellatur Narasimhachar and Kowligi Yadunathachar who have helped me in the preparation of the work; to the late S. S. Suryanarayana Sastri who taught me the metaphysical and logical approach to Vedanta; to late Professor Hiriyanna whose suggestions helped me in revising the work; to Dr. V. Raghavan for reading the proofs and making valuable suggestions; and to Dr. K. Kunjunni Raja for going through the work. I am also thankful to the Adyar Library for undertaking to publish it.



Sri Madhva's Dvaita Vedanta is a pluralistic, theistic and realistic system. It derives itsphilosophical tenets from the three authoritative prasthana-s or basic texts (the Upanisad-s, the Bhagavadgita and the Vedanta-sutra-s), from the Purana-, and the Mahabharata.

Madhva declares in many of his works that he is the prophet of Lord Visnu, chosen to interpret correctly the sacred texts and refute the misinterpretations foisted thereon by other commentators. On the strength of a hymn in the Rfveda called the balittha-sukta, Varyu is hailed by Madhva as the greatest of souls (jivottama). Vayu is the mediator between God and man. In the Dvaita Vedanta, Vayu occupies the position of the Christ Christianity. It said that Lord Visnu refuses to take anything that has not come through Vayu. He appeared on this planet thrice as the agent of Visnu. The first incarnation (avatara) of Vayu was Hanuman, the second Bhima and the third Madhva.

Found at the end of several works of Madhva in Sarvamulam (SM), ed. Ramacarya and Krsnacarya, Nirnaya Sagar Press, 1892.
There is a traditional verse condensing the nine leading tenets of Madhva's system:

1. Visnu is the Supreme God mentioned in the scriptures. He is the prime import (mahatatparya) of them all. Madhva asserts that every word in the language primarily signifies Visnu and refers only secondarily to other objects. This assumption greatly helps him in harmonizing the import of the scriptures. The Purana-s which praise as the Supreme Deity are set at naught by him. Visnu is the efficient cause (mimitta-karna) of the universe. He presides over creation, preservation and destruction. He is the liberator from, as well as the cause of, the bondage of Samsara (chain of existence). Nescience (avidya), action (karman) and the subtle body (linga-sarira) are the secondary causes of the chain of existence.

2. The external world is affirmed to be ultimately real (satya). It continues to exist at all times. The world process is beginningless and eternal (anadi and nitya).

3. The ultimate reality of the fivefold difference, namely, the difference between God and soul (Isvara and jiva), between soul and (jiva and jiva), between God and matter, between soul and matter and between matter and matter, is accepted.

4. All souls are dependent on God who alone is independent.

5. Among the souls there is gradation. There are three kinds of souls: those that are fit for liberation (muktiyogya-s), those that travel endlessly through the cycle of birth and rebirth (nityasamsarin-s), adn those that are fit to be eternally in hell (tamoyogya-s).

6. Liberation (moksa) is the realization of the soul's innate bliss.

7. Devotion is the means (sadhana) to it. Devotion is that kind of attachment to the Lord which is based on a complete understanding of His supremacy, transcending the love for one's self and possessions and remaining unshaken under all circumstances. Besides devotion, the Lord's desire to protect the devotee is also necessary for liberation.

8. There are three verbal testimony.

9. The existence of God is known only by correct methods of reasoning.

The devotee seeking liberation should first of all act without desire for obtaining possessions. Actions performed without any selfish motive are called nivrtti-karma. The hearing of the scriptures (sravana), reflection (manan), profound meditation (nididhyasana) and adherence to the duties ordained by the scriptures, lead the devotee tot he immediate cognition (aparoksa-jnana) of Visnu.

Madhva has briefly expounded the epistemology of his system in a short work called Pramanalaksana. This work appears to comprise only a few disjoined and broken sentences interspersed with a string of apparently irrelevant quotations from various books, including pasags from a nonextant and untraceable work on logic called Brahmatarka attributed to Badarayana, who, according to Madhva, was an incarnation of Visnu.

There is an elaborate commentary on this work by Jayatirtha who also wrote an independent maniual of the epistemology of Madhva's system, the Pramana-paddhati. It occupies the same place in Dvaita Vedanta as the Manameyodaya in Mimamsa, the Siddhantamuktavali in Nyaya-vaisesika and the Vedantaparibhasa in Advaita.

The present exposition is based entirely on the Pramanapaddhati (PP) and its eight commentaries (published in Dharwar) and treats of various aspects of Madhva's theory of knowledge. Where necessary his criticism of rival theories is discussed. Jayatirtha's Nyayasudha has been consulted for the discussion in certain chapters.


  Preface ix
  Introduction 1
I. The Concept of Definition 5
II. Pramana-s 13
  The Definition of Pramana 13
  Enumeration of Pramana-s 19
III. Error, Doubt And Dream 30
  Error 30
  Doubt 40
  Dream Cognition 45
IV. Perception 52
V. Inference 57
VI. Defects of Inference 70
  Defects with special reference to the Vulnerable Points in a debate 70
  Futile Objections (Jati) 77
  Fallacies (Hetvabhasa-s) 90
VII. Verbal Testimony 98
VIII. The Problem of Validity 105
  Conclusion 111
Appendix I The Category of Difference in Vedanta 113
Appendix II God in Dvaita Vedanta 118


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Item Code: NAM760 Author: Dr. P. Nagaraja Rao Cover: Hardcover Edition: 1976 Publisher: The Adyar Library and Research Centre ISBN: 0835674428 Language: English Size: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch Pages: 130 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 245 gms
Price: $25.00
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