[Advaita-l] Re: The current advaita-dvaita debate

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sun Jun 22 03:56:22 CDT 2003

On Fri, 20 Jun 2003, guru prasad wrote:

> As far as my awareness goes, no school was started
> after Dvaita was established, to refute Dvaita.

I believe Vidyashankars' point was that if Dvaita had been the perfect
expression of Vedantic theory (or even if it was a perfect criticism of
non-Vaishnava schools) it would not have been necessary to
start any new darshan.  Yet evidently people did feel the need.  At least
in the case of Vallabha this couldn't be due to a lack of familiarity with
Dvaita doctrines.  He was a Telanga (Andhra) Brahmana and his mother was
the daughter of the rajaguru of Vijayanagara (who was a Dvaitin) plus he
spent a good part of his life in Kashi which being the intellectual
capital of India was bound to have more than a few Dvaitins resident.

> there were any dificulties, its only due to their own
> short-comings and not in the Philosophy itself.

>From the point of view of the Vallabhacharis the problem with Dvaita is
the same as the problem with Advaita.  Both schools (not to mention
others) admit something other than Krishna Bhagavan.  In the case of
Advaita it is Maya.  (Though it is a gross misunderstanding to think that
Maya is independent of Brahman.)  Hence by getting rid of the concept of
Maya, they felt they had a "pure" (shuddha) advaita hence their philosophy
is called Shuddhadvaita Vedanta.  The Dvaita conception of the
relationship between jivas and Ishvara would also be criticised on
similiar grounds.  Krishna Bhagavan alone exists independently.

> > >bhedAbheda" school and the pushTi-mArgI vaishNavas
> > of the vallabha
> > >sampradAya to come up with a "SuddhAdvaita" school.
> >
> >
> > It is classical misunderstanding about Dvaita
> > School. Do you really fail to
> > see difference between advent of Dvaita vs. that of
> > later schools ?  Dvaita
> > is not  **just another** school as you think.
> >

Personally I don't find that Dvaita is "just another school." On the
contrary my failed attempt to get a good comparison going was precisely
because it is so much more.  However neither is it the be all and end all
of opposition to Advaita Vedanta.

> Right, Dvaita was propounded after meticulously
> analysis of word to word, I should say letter to
> letter extraction from 21 previous SidhanTha's. So in
> those days in order to establish an entirely new
> system based on its own etimology and ontolgy is not a
> easy task,

Why do you consider "entirely new" to be a merit?  modern culture makes a
fetish of "new and improved" but for us it is the connection to the
distant past which commends itself.  Both Shankaracharya and Ramanuja
present themselves as not the promulgators of something revolutionary but
the faithful maintainers of tradition.

Etymology and ontology are fine, useful things but so is parampara.
Srinivas earlier posted a list of predecessors of Ananda Tirtha including
one who is prported to have been a contemporary of Shankaracharya.  But
this did not seem to have been of much historical value.  Has any research
been done on this subject?

> so its not like any backyard schools.
>    Even though various debates were held against
> Advaita, one should note that, Advaita not the only
> school that dvaita refuts, its a common mistake that
> people think that Dvaita was formed only to refute
> Advaita, all 21 schools are refuted. On the same
> guidelines, other schools have refuted Advaita so the
> notion is not uncommon.
> > Just having new school is not same as having new school and having
> > full spectrum of dialectical works to refute earlier schools.  Aren't
> > you aware of Dvaita's extensive dialectical works against advaita ?
> > aren't you aware of these works created by founder as well as great
> > scholars through out it's glorious history ? Don't take my word for
> > it, but look at what a third party like DasGupta has to say about it.
> > ( I know you won't trust BNK)
> >

Actually I would trust BNK Sharma. As a scholar there is no reason to
believe he was less than honest and scrupulous even if one doesn't agree
with some of his conclusions.

> >
> > Similarly, do you have any case of  "acintya
> > bhedAbheda" or "SuddhAdvaita"
> > refuting Dvaita's position ? any major works of
> > those schools against Dvaita
> > ?
> >

One runs into the problem of their not being much philosophy in those
later schools at all.  Vallabha wrote commentaries on the Brahmasutras and
Bhagavata Purana (and even those were incomplete and finished by his son
Vitthalanatha) plus 16 small prakarana granthas and stotras.  Gita and
upanishad bhashyas were written by his later followers along with a few
polemical works.

The situation is even worse with the Gaudiyas.  The founder wrote nothing
and it was his 6 disciples who provided the philosophical basis.  The
Brahmasutrabhashya was written centuries later by Baladeva.

But even this is an implicit criticism of Dvaita and Vishistadvaita as
well as Advaita.  Apparently they thought all of this polemical
back-and-forth was just time wasting.

> > Just because those schools are later to Dvaita, it is not necessary to
> > mean that they offer something better or opposed to Dvaita.
> >
> Right, In addition to that, the other schools formed
> after Dvaita have deficiecies to explain and produce
> strong SadAgamas like Dvaita quotes.

This is another criticism they have.  Both of them give paramount
importance to the Bhagavata Purana which is not so prominent in
Vishistadvaita and Dvaita.

>  Most of the
> neo-Vedantins like Chaintinya etc., were formed to
> fulfill the needs of the western world and their
> affulence.

I think you are confusing Chaitanya with Prabhupada the founder of ISKCON.
Chaitanya lived well before the age of Western influence.

> > >And numerous difficulties in all these schools
> > cause people like me to
> > reaffirm advaita.
> >
> > Really ? why do you think so many scholars of
> > Advaita realized the problem
> > and adopted Dvaita in the past ?
> >

For that matter why did Swami Krishnananda late head of the Dvine Life
Society and Swami Chidananda the current head embrace Advaita Vedanta
despite being born in traditionally Dvaita families?

Peoples motivations change for all kinds of reasons so I don't think you
can get too far in either direction with this line of argument.

> >
>  Nobody will ask what you believe is correct or not,
> you belief is based on your decision, but that does
> not suffice to  conclude that you are correct.
> Correctness is based on debates. IF you look back into
> your own history, there are records, AppayaDikshit was
> defeated on a daily basis, VIdhyaRanya etc., all faced
> the challenges and they were all more well-versed, but
> finally they bow down to their opponents.

Their opponents are not ours :-)  Our goal is to understand.  I could have
easily just copied out some stuff about Dvaita siddhantas from books or
prior debates etc. but I wanted to hear the explanations from the
practitioners themselves.  That's the only to really learn well.
Unfortunately human nature being what it is, it didn't work out.  even
then I personally would still like to invite non-advaitins to help we
understand Vedantic issues.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list