[Advaita-l] Buddhism, Advaita and Dvaita - 1

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sat May 14 18:17:14 CDT 2011

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>

Srigurubhyo namaH

In his really very nicely produced book 'The History of the Dvaita school of
Vedanta and its literature' (The Book)

Tiny URL:


Dr.BNK Sharma (BNK) has made several points as a commentary on the Dvaita
system and also on its perception of Advaita.

On page 146 of the Book in the footnote are given by BNK the eight verses
quoted by Sri Madhvacharya in the work 'Tattvodyota':

सत्यं तु द्विविधं प्रोक्तं सांवृतं पारमार्थिकम् ।
सांवृतं व्यवहार्यं स्यान्निवृत्तौ पारमार्थिकम् ॥१
विचार्यमाणे नोऽसत्त्वं सत्त्वं चापि प्रतीयते ।
यस्य तत्सांवृतं तत्स्यात् व्यवहारपदं च यत् ॥ २
निर्विशेषं स्वयंभातं निर्लेपमजरामरम् ।
शून्यं तत्त्वमविज्ञेयं मनोवाचामगोचरम् ॥ ३
जाड्यसंवृतिदुःखान्तपूर्वदोषविरोधि यत् ।
नित्यभावनया भातं तद्भावं योगिनं नयेत् ॥ ४
भावार्थप्रतियोगित्वं भावत्वं वा न तत्त्वतः ।
विश्वाकारं च संवृत्या यस्य तत्पदमक्षयम् ॥ ५
नास्य सत्वं न वा सत्वं न दोषो गुण एव वा ।
हेयोपादेयरहितं तच्छून्यं पदमक्षयम् ॥ ६
अवाच्यं सर्वशब्दैस्तल्लक्ष्यतेऽखिलैः पदैः ।
अज्ञेयं ज्ञानलक्ष्यं च तच्छून्यं पदमक्षयम् ॥ ७
यदखण्डं पदं लक्ष्यं सर्वैरपि विशेषणैः ।
सर्वैर्विशेषणैर्मुक्तं तच्छून्यं पदमक्षयम् ॥ ८

BNK says that Madhva has not given the source of these verses and that it is
confirmed from other researchers' works that these are genuinely buddhistic
ones.  These verses are quoted by Madhva to demonstrate the point that
Advaita is no different from Bauddha darshana.

In the sequel a few of such points have been taken up for analysis. This is
a study to show that the verses under reference have directly or indirectly
a basis/origin in the Vedanta Scripture which includes the Shruti, the
BhagavadgIta and other PuraNa-s.  

In a private conversation Vidwan Sri Mani Dravid Sastrigal mentioned this
verse of महेन्द्रवर्मा in the ’मत्तविलासप्रहसनम्’ -
वेदान्तेभ्यो गृहीत्वार्थान् यो महाभारतादपि ।
विप्राणां मिषतामेव कृतवान् कोशसञ्चयम् ॥

Mahendravarman in his work 'mattavilAsaprahasanam' says this about the
coming into being of the Buddhistic system:

//Taking material from the UpaniShads and also from the MahAbhArata (which
includes the BhagavadgItA), Buddha, even as the brAhmaNa-s (vaidika-s) were
wide awake, accomplished a great fortune - literally filled up his treasury
- (of establishing a vibrant system).//

Such is the piracy that Buddhism has indulged in that its source material is
none other than the scriptures of the SanAtana Dharma, the Vaidika

The verse first quoted by Sri Madhva is now taken up for a detailed study:

सत्यं तु द्विविधं प्रोक्तं सांवृतं पारमार्थिकम् ।
सांवृतं  व्यवहार्यं स्यान्निवृत्तौ पारमार्थिकम् ॥१

//Satyam is spoken of in two modes - sAmvRtam and paaramArthikam.  The
former is 'vyavahAryam' and upon its
removal/destruction/dispelling/negation/sublation (one attains to) the

In the BhagavadgIta 7th Chapter in verses 4 and 5 the Lord has specified His
nature, prakRti, as two-fold: aparA and parA.  The aparA constitutes the
entire created universe which is inert and is the viShaya, kShetram,
bhogya.  And the parA is the Consciousness Principle that is the viShayI,
kShetrajna, the (apparent) bhoktA. We get the confirmation that the above
understanding is correct in the opening verses of the 13th Chapter where the
kShetram and the kShetrajna have been elaborately dealt with where the very
2nd verse says that the knowledge about the two, the kShetram and the
kShetrajna, constitutes 'The Knowledge' meaning that that is the liberating
knowledge.  So, we have in the Gita firm evidence for presenting 'Satyam' /
'tattva' into two, as two-fold.  Of course we have in the Mandukya Upanishad
the clear distinction, the statement, of the tattva as 'relative' in the
pAdatraya and 'absolute' in the Turiya pAda.   

That the two are vyavahAryam and pAramArthikam respectively is also
established in the Shruti.  For example the Mandukya Upanishad specifies
Brahman as four-quartered, chatuShpAt.  The first three pAda-s are the
break-up of the kShetram and the fourth, the TurIya, is the true nature of
the kShetrajna.  In the seventh mantra delineating the turIya there is a
word 'avyavahAryam' - that which never enters into the category of the
vyAvahArika, or the realm that is subject to the transactions involving the
knower-knowing-know(n)able in the three states of waking, dream and sleep. 
By explicitly calling the Turiya, brahman, अव्यवहार्यम् the Shruti is implying
that the other-than-turIya is व्यवहार्यम्.  The Mandukya kArikA 1.17 has the
line: मायामात्रमिदं द्वैतं, अद्वैतं परमार्थतः ।  It is interesting to note that the
Mandukya up. 7th mantra has another word: advaitam.  Thus Advaitam is
pAramArthikam and dvaitam is vyAvahArikam.  The sole objective of the
Vedanta is to free the jIva-chaitanya from the erroneous idea of
samsAritva.  This idea is conveyed by the word 'निवृत्तौ’ in the above verse. 

In the Srimadbhagavatam is a verse on the mAyA-nature of the universe
explained with the rope-snake analogy:

आत्मानमेव आत्मतया अविजानतां
तेनैव जातं निखिलं प्रपञ्चितम् ।
ज्ञानेन भूयोऽपि च तत्प्रलीयते
रज्ज्वां अहेर्भोगभवाभवौ यथा ।। 10.14.25

//A person who mistakes a rope for a snake becomes fearful, but he then
gives up his fear upon realizing that the so-called snake does not exist.
Similarly, for those who fail to recognize You as the Supreme Soul of all
souls, the expansive illusory material existence arises, but knowledge of
You at once causes it to subside. //

The third line  'ज्ञानेन भूयोऽपि च तत्प्रलीयते’ specifically teaches that 'through
Knowledge the falsely projected duality ceases' which is nothing but
ज्ञाननिवर्त्यत्वम्.  The rope-snake analogy too is significant in the above
bhAgavatam verse. The word 'tat-praleeyate' is the one that is corresponding
to the word ' स्यान्निवृत्तौ' of the Bhuddhistic verse quoted by Sri Madhva. 

In the following verse too of the BhAgavatam (UddhavagItaa 17.55) we have
the illusory nature of the world-objects described: 
अर्थे हि अविद्यमाने अपि संसृतिः न निवर्तते।
ध्यायतः विषयान् अस्य स्वप्ने अनर्थ आगमः यथा॥५५॥
//Even though the sense-world (of objects/subject and perceiving) is unreal,
अविद्यमाने अपि, the relative existence of a man who dwells on sense-objects is
never at an end, as troubles come in dreams. (Since dreams are admitted to
be effects of the impressions of the waking state.)//

Here we have the word '(न) निवर्तते’. This is the word that is found in the
Buddhistic verse quoted above which talks about the 'nivRtti' of the
samsara, the 'vyavahAryam', that will result in the 'pAramArthika'. 

Interestingly there is a verse composed by Sri Madhvacharya in his
विष्णुतत्त्वनिर्णयः -

अनित्यत्व-विकारित्व-पारतन्त्र्यादिरूपतः ।

स्वप्नादिसाम्यं जगतः न तु बोधनिवर्त्यता ॥

//PurANas describe the universe with the analogy of a dream, etc. This is
with a view to bring out the ephemerality, mutability, dependence, etc. of
the world.  However, the analogy of dream etc. is not to teach that the
universe is negatable/dispellable/falsifiable due to knowledge.//

The above verse is quoted by Dr.A.V.Nagasampige in his Kannada book 'mata
traya sameekShA' on p. 219 under the section on 'Dvaitadarshana'. 

One can easily see that the purANa, the Bhagavatam, by the words ज्ञानेन
भूयोऽपि च तत्प्रलीयते quoted above is directly contradicting the contention न तु
बोधनिवर्त्यता in the above verse of Sri Madhva.  The other verse of the same
Bhaagavatam (UddhavagItA) quoted above too can be seen to be contradicting
Sri Madhva's thinking.  The word 'na nivartate' (of the state of
samsara/ignorance) with respect to the samsara is seen to correspond with
the words ' ज्ञानेन भूयोऽपि च तत्प्रलीयते'.(which is the state of knowledge). The
purANa emphatically teaches that the 'non-existent' world of objects that
does not seem to cease during the pendency of ignorance, is seen in
experience to cease/subside/be sublated due to Knowledge. This is what is
meant by ज्ञान/बोध-निवर्त्यता. 

The BhAgavatam, again, in the uddhavagItA chapter 23 verse 32 teaches:

यदि स्म पश्यत्यसदिन्द्रियार्थं , नानानुमानेन विरुद्धमन्यत् ।

न मन्यते वस्तुतया मनीषी, स्वाप्नं यथोत्थाय तिरोदधानम् ॥३२॥

//Even if the illumined man sees the objects of the outgoing senses, he does
not consider them as something real and other than the Self, because they
are rejected by inference on account of their multiplicity - as a man, on
waking from sleep, dismisses the vanishing dream perceptions. //

Here one can appreciate the word 'नाना’ which is reminiscent of the Shruti
’नेह नाना अस्ति किञ्चन’ which is interpreted in Advaita as 'there is no
multiplicity at all in the Truth, Brahman'.  The Bhagavatam validates only
the Advaitic interpretation of this shruti in the above verse.

In this verse too the bhAgavtapurANa contradicts the 'न तु बोधनिवर्त्यता'  idea
of Sri Madhva.  For, here in the bhAgavatam the very dream analogy is used
to show how the illumined/enlightened man perceives the world the way the
man awakened from dream (प्रबोधितः/प्रबुद्धः) considers the dream-vision.  In
other words, the बोधनिवर्त्यता of the world is specifically taught by the
bhAgavatam through the dream analogy. The analogy fits the dArShTaantika in
both aspects: dream - awakening - sublation of dream objects/events. 
samsAra/prapancha - illumination/enlightenment - sublation of the world

We said all the above to show how the Buddhist verse quoted by Sri Madhva
says something (सांवृतं  व्यवहार्यं स्यान्निवृत्तौ पारमार्थिकम्) that is already found
in the purANa, smRti. 

Let us revert to the first quarter of the first Buddhistic verse Sri Madhva
has quoted:  'Satyam is spoken of as two types/kinds.'  On page 143 of The
Book BNK has presented a chart-diagram that depicts the layout of the Tattva
as per the Dvaita school where Tattva is shown as broadly two: Swatantra and
Paratantra. Under the former is placed 'ViShNu' and the latter has under it
all that is other than 'ViShNu'.  One can quickly see that the Madhva school
specifies 'two types' of Satyam as shown here in this book by BNK from which
extensive quotes are provided.

On page 142 of the Book BNK says:
// The TattvasankhyAna (11 granthas) enumerates the categories recognized by
Madhva.  Here reality is dichotomized into 'Swatantra' (Independent) and
'paratantra' (dependent).  This is the highest metaphysical and ontological
classification in Madhva's system, whence his system derives its name
'Dvaita'.  God Vishnu is the One Highest Independent Real.  All else is
dependent on Him, including the Goddess Lakshmi, the presiding deity of
a-cit prakRti.  // (emphasis mine)

BNK hastens to add: 'Dependence does not mean unreality.The finite creation
is always dependent on Him and is nonetheless real even as He is'. 

Logic tells us that anything that is dependently real, paratantra satya, is
actually unreal.  No analogy is more apt to depict this category than the
rope-snake.  The 'reality' the rope-snake derives is undoubtedly from the
rope which is the only 'real' in the analogy.  Even with explanations such
as 'the paratantra is not a' dependently real' but only a 'dependent
reality', it does not save the situation since reality, if it is absolute,
does not / need not have to depend on anything else for its reality. 

It is easy for anyone to see that the 'Swatantra' is just the sole Entity,
akin to the 'PAramArthika' of Advaita, the 'para-tantra' consists of all
that the Advaitin holds as 'vyAvahArika'. 

The status of this paratantra is explained clearly by BNK:     

// Though existence is thus 'reality', Madhva recognizes that its highest
expression must be metaphysical independence of every other form of
existence in finite reality, in respect of its being, powers and activity.
Everything in finite reality is therefore grounded in the Independent
Reality, known as Brahman and needs it for its being and becoming. //
(emphasis mine)

My comment: On the basis of BNK's words above, it is pertinent to note that
just as in Advaita, 'existence' 'sat/sattaa' is the same as 'reality',
'satyam' in the Madhva system.  In the famous definition of 'Satyam'
provided by Shankara in the Taittiriya Up.bhashyam for the word 'satyam'
occurring there it is said: 'sadeva satyam'.  It is now confirmed that in
the Madhva system too, this equation is valid: sat (Existence) = satyam
(Reality).   Also, in the above BNK quote, the '...highest expression of it
must be metaphysical independence...' we can easily recognize how just as in
Advaita where the PaaramArthika satyam is held to be on similar lines, the
Madhva system too defines the 'Swatantra Satya' as the 'highest expression
of reality'. This statement of BNK certainly contradicts what he has said
earlier about the paratantra which is 'as real as He'.  If the paratantra is
'as real as He/Hari/ViShNu/Swatantra', why would they take pains to say that
the Swatnatra's is 'highest expression of reality'? If there is absolutely
no difference in the reality between Swatantra and paratantra, why should
they make a comparison between their realities?  This is a very fine example
of the Dvaita school straining itself to somehow show their system as not
falling in the category of Buddhism or Advaita where two types of reality
are openly admitted.  Only the name changes from Paaramarthika - vyAvahArika
to Swatantra - paratantra.  Thus according to the Madhva system reality has
at least two expressions: one 'highest' and the other 'dependent on that
highest'.  One can decidedly appreciate that in the Madhva system the
paratantra DOES NOT ENJOY the same reality status which the swatantra Hari
enjoys even though BNK takes pain to emphasise that the paratantra is 'as
real as He', for obvious reasons.  This is ample evidence to show that 'the
specifying of Reality in two ways' is not unique to Buddhism or Advaita but
an implicitly admitted, well laid-out, method in Dvaita too. 

This sentence of the BNK Book:

'metaphysical independence of every other form of existence in finite
reality, in respect of its being,'

is a fine summary of the Shankara commentary to the Bh.Gita ch.13 verse 12:
'na sat na asat uchyate' while defining Brahman.  Shankara holds Brahman's
existence to be different from the existence / non-existence that objects
enjoy, only upon coming into existence and going out of existence. We say 'a
pot is' only after the pot has been produced.  When the pot is destroyed, we
say 'the pot is not'.  Brahman, on the other hand, is ever existent, not
having to exist only upon coming into existence like a pot. We easily see
that the Madhva system too holds the same idea about Brahman viz-a-viz other
objects. Otherwise, their differentiating between 'finite reality' of
paratantra and 'infinite reality' of Swatantra is not warranted. 

Another quote from BNK's Book:


//While existence in space and time is thus reality and is possessed by the
world of matter and souls, there must be something more than mere existence,
having metaphysical independence or substantiality in its own right which
may be designated as the highest real or the philisophical Absolute which
would be the ultimate expression of all else. Such independent reality
should be immanent in the universe, whence the latter could derive and draw
its sustenance. Without presupposing such a basic and transcendental reality
that would have to be immanent in the world, there would be chaos and
disorder in the universe.

However, Madhva's chief ontological classification of 'being' is into
principles viz. 'svatantra' (Independent Reality) and 'paratantra'
(Dependent Reality). The term 'Reality' represents three primary data: the
thinking self, a world of external realities and indications of an Infinite
Power rising above them.

In Madhva's conclusions of Dvaita metaphysics reached by the evidence of
'pratyaksa' 'anumana' and 'sabda pramana' this infinite power is that
Supreme and Independent Principle which does not depend on any other for its
own nature and existence,  self-awareness or for becoming an object of
knowledge to the thinking selves for the free and unfettered exercise of its
own powers. This 'svatantra-tattva' (independent principle) is called God or
'Brahman' or 'Isvara'. Though Brahman can do very well without prakrti or
purusa (Dependent Realities), it prefers, in its infinite glory and
inexorable will, 'to do with them'. Such dependence (apeksa) of Brahman on
things which are in themselves dependent on It, is no mark of inferiority or
limitation. //


My comments:  One can see that the Madhva system accepts that 'Brahman can
do very well without prakrti or purusa (Dependent Realities)'.  This shows
that they admit, at least theoretically, that Brahman is a secondless
Entity, not in the sense of a negation of a second Brahman but in the sense
of a second of any kind, in this case, the 'dependent realities'.  We come
to such a conclusion since they have already said before that the Swatantra
(Brahman) is not dependent on anything for Its being, existence.  And, most
importantly, the paratantra, dependents, depend for their very existence,
'being and becoming', not mere sustenance, on the Swatantra.  This has been
explicitly stated by BNK as under:

//Everything in finite reality is grounded in the Infinite reality and needs
it for its being and becoming.//  p.62

The dependence of the world of matter and the souls on Brahman is in the
sense that both are functioning at His will, which is the essential
condition and sustaining principle that invests them with their reality and
without which they would be but void names and bare possibilities. //
(emphasis mine) (page 67)

My comments:  The above statements show very clearly that for Dvaita, the
paratantra cannot even 'be', 'exist', in the absence of the 'sattaa'
provided by / drawn from the Swatantra.  There is no 'svatantra-sattaa' for
the paratantra, it is 'parataH sattaa' alone it enjoys. The characterization
of the true status of the paratantra as 'mere void names and bare
possibilities' by none other than an acclaimed authority on Dvaita Vedanta,
Dr.BNK  clearly depicts the Advaitic position with regard to the naama-rUpa
prapancha.  Of special significance is the Advaitic interpretation of the
Chandogya mantra: , वाचारम्भणं विकारो नामधेयम् मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम् which clearly
applies to the above characterization of the paratantra by the Dvaita
school. In advaita too, just as the Dvaitins have specified, the created
world has no substance of its own other than Brahman.  It is nothing but
'void names and bare possibilities' without Brahman. A pot is but a 'void
name and a bare possibility' without the clay, the material cause. A wave or
an ocean are but 'void names and bare possibilities' without their material
water. Thus according to BNK, Dvaita considers that the 'natural' nature of
the world of names and forms to be 'mere voids and bare possibilities'. 
However, ONLY when they are endowed with Hari's 'apekShA', consideration,
they acquire a paratantra reality.  And Hari too can exist without them and
that is His True nature and His 'apekShA' of them is only out of His Will,
otherwise termed mAyA.

All that Advaita categorises under 'vyavahaarika' is shown under
'paratantra' in  Dvaita. While Advaita holds Brahman alone as the
PaaramArthika, Dvaita has 'ViShNu' alone to show under Swatantra.  Thus, the
two-fold categorisation of the Tattva/Satya is not avoidable even for

Thus, we have in the analysis of the first Buddhist verse seen that:


     The specifying of the Tattva/Satyam as two-fold by the Buddhists is not
     antagonistic with the Vedanta scripture.


     It is not unique to Bauddha darshana to specify the Tattva as two even
     as Vedanta has done it.


     Most importantly, Dvaita is no exception to this method as we have seen
     from the various quotes from the BNK Book. 


     In His Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Bhashya Shankaracharya has made a
     trendsetting statement: //सर्ववादिनामपि अपरिहार्य: परमार्थ-संव्यवहारकृतो
     व्यवहारः ।// (Brihadaranyaka bhashya: 3.v.i). // In fact, all schools
     must admit the existence or non-existence of the phenomenal world
     according as it is viewed from the relative or the absolute

  *  This statement, made on the authority of the Shruti, sets the standard
     for the formulation of any system of philosophy.  After all, the aim of
     philosophy is to show a way out of the present state of bondage to a
     state of liberation. The system should be able to describe the present
     state of bondage in understandable terms and set forth the path to
     liberation too in equally comprehensible terms. 
  *  We have seen in the foregoing that the Dvaita school too is subject to
     this rule set by Shankara.
  *  Dr.BNK says that 'Here reality is dichotomized into 'Swatantra'
     (Independent) and 'paratantra' (dependent).'  This is the exact
     translation of the portion सत्यं तु द्विविधं प्रोक्तम् of the Buddhistic verse
     quoted by Sri Madhva to show that Advaita is no different from Bauddha
     darshana.  Dr.BNK's words regarding the 'TattvasankhyAna' of Madhva
     confirms that Dvaita is no exception to the rule:  सत्यं तु द्विविधं प्रोक्तम्.
  *  In BNK's words, Swatantra has 'substantiality in its own right'.
     Obviously, the paratantra has no such substantiality in its own right. 
     That is brought out by his own words: 'without the Swatantra, the
     paratantra will be 'mere void names and bare possbilities'.  This is
     what is portrayed by Shankara in the Chandogya Up.bhashya 4.3.2 as: सर्वं
     च नामरूपादि सदात्मना एव सत्यं, विकारजातं स्वतस्तु अनृतमेव । // The entire world of
     name-form is real ONLY as Sat.  The transformed world (of names and
     forms) however is unreal BY themselves. // In other words, the world of
     names and forms have no substantiality of themselves; they are
     'substances' ONLY because of Brahman/Atman/Self which is the only

     Only the names 'saamvRtam' 'pAramArthika' of Bauddha darshana have been
     replaced by 'paratantra' and 'Swatantra' by the Dvaita school. 


     The nature of the paratantra of the Dvaita is no different from the
     'samvrti' of the Bauddha or 'vyAvahArika'  of Advaita ('void names and
     bare possibilities' in the words of BNK).  The only difference is that
     while the Advaitins and Bauddhas talk about the unreal nature of the
     vyAvahArika openly, the Dvaita school does not explicitly say that, for
     obvious reasons.  They have stopped short of saying that by their words
     'mere voids and bare possibilities.'    

We shall take up the other Buddhist verses quoted by Sri Madhva in later
posts when time permits.


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