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

Shrisha Rao shrirao1 at mchsi.com
Mon Jun 23 12:22:21 CDT 2003

On Monday, June 23, 2003, at 08:43  AM, kuntimaddi sadananda wrote:

> Just my impression:
> It is good to discuss the other Vedantic philosophies.  If Jay N.
> presented his understanding of dvaita, it would have been educational.
> But what he tried to do is to criticize Advaita and that itself is not
> bad, but his criticism was without correctly understanding  ofthe
> foundations of Advaita and therefore became baseless.   In this process

Not to disagree with what you have said, but let us not get into 
badmouthing someone in his absence.

We both also know of someone who said, `sahanaM sarva-duHkhAnAM 
apratikAra-pUrvakam.h; chintA-vilApa-rahitaM sA titikShA nigadyate' 
(the tolerance of all suffering without desire for retribution; and 
also without worry or lament -- that is called forbearance), and this 
is considered an essential quality for a Vedantin.  One thus cannot 
afford to dwell on a feeling of being wronged and let that cloud one's 

Madhva's commentator Jayatiirtha also notes, `sa hi shAstrasya vishhayo 
bhavati, yo.aj~nAto sandigdho viparyasto vA' (that alone is a subject 
for doctrine, which is unknown, controversial, or misunderstood).  It 
is already well-known and undisputed that persons have flaws, and 
therefore, discussion of this well-known fact by pointing to a specific 
person's flaws is not a worthwhile occupation.

> he in fact reinforced  his  own  statement  for justifying his 
> criticism
> that -advaitins comment that dvaitins criticize advaita  without
> correctly understanding it – He did not realize that  he is confirming
> that comment even in his case.  The statement that Geeta does not teach
> Advaita is ridiculous when Shankara has given exhaustive Geeta bhaashya

A valid point; certainly one cannot admit as a premise such a 
statement, or others such that have been made.

> (I wish Vidya can continue his series on Geeta) and every advaitic
> teacher teaches Geeta to their students.  In addition JayN tried to
> justify the superiority of dvaita based on his wrong understanding of
> Advaita.

We may indeed wonder how much, if any, of the recent discussion has 
been founded on sound understanding of either side, but more to the 
point, it is questionable if the chest-thumping really gets us anywhere.

Just consider that the major challenge to spirituality in this day and 
age is materialism, or even rank hedonism, with which one is constantly 
bombarded by contemporary culture, the various news and entertainment 
media, and the like.  The lure of instant gratification is certainly a 
far bigger threat than any rival classical theology (however 
disbelieved or hated it may be), and threatens to undo the very moral 
fabric of society upon which a coherent and useful debate could be 

Furthermore, as I know many here are already aware, Vedanta as a whole 
is in serious decline as a subject for academic studies.  Some of this 
certainly has to do with the many false guru-s whose scandals and gross 
misrepresentations have conveyed the impression that there is nothing 
to Vedanta.  Other causes that could be attributed to this decline are 
the so-called "Indologists" (names withheld to protect the guilty!), 
these "avidyAyAM antare vartamAnAH svayaM dhIrAH paNDitaM manyamAnAH," 
whose ludicrous and sickening blather has in no small measure 
contributed to lack of public support and interest in Vedanta 
(especially among those whose only exposure is to such).  Last but not 
least is that there is no towering personality who can act as an 
ambassador for Vedanta.  Buddhism is promoted by the Dalai Lama, 
evangelical Christianity by the Pope and others, but how many 
charismatic Vedantins of wide appeal can you name?  Even those of some 
ability (and how few there are!) are too busy with small-time bickering 
and one-upmanship.  Not surprisingly, therefore, more and more 
scholarship in South Asian studies either goes into contemporary social 
or political studies, or else prefers to study Buddhism, which is 
considered the flag-bearer for Eastern philosophical and religious 

As such, without taking anything away from the basic validity of 
scholarly and decorous Vedantic debate, it ought to be remembered that 
such debate is only a small thing in the larger context, and should not 
be allowed to interfere with the larger tasks of preserving and 
propagating morality in society, and of securing for Vaidika studies 
the respect that they deserve.  Otherwise, one's actions are liable to 
savor of uselessness and ignorance, like re-arranging deck chairs on 
the Titanic.

> I must admit that I am more confused now about dvaita's explanation of
> visheshaNa and visheshya and swatah siddham of the objects and
> saakshee-D's validation process.  After reading Vidya's criticism of 
> the
> confused definition of visheshaNa-visheshya provided by JayN, my
> confusion is increased exponentially.

I suggest you reserve final judgment pending detailed examination of 
more authoritative expositions.

> I am hoping Krishna will resolve this without getting into 
> personalities.

Krishna is unfortunately busy with other tasks at present, as am I, but 
perhaps you may consider reading B.N.K. Sharma's `Philosophy of Sri 
Madhvacharya' (Motilal Banarsidass, 1986, reprinted 1991).  See part 
II, `Ontology' (pp. 49 ff.), and especially chapter VII (pp. 73--91) on 


Shrisha Rao

> Sadananda

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