[Advaita-l] A brief Refutation of the 'Tattvodyota' of Sri Madhvacharya

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Sep 24 05:11:02 CDT 2011


At the annual MahAgaNapati vAkyArtha vidwat sadas that concluded at Sringeri
recenty, a scholar from Kalaty, Sri K.P.Babu Das, took up the prakaraNa work
of Sri Madhvacharya named 'Tattvodyota' for a brief refutation.  For want of
time, he touched upon only a selection of the points raised/objected to in
the book.  In 2008 he had taken up the 'mAyAvAdakhaNDanam' of Madhva for
replying.  This paper is already published by the Sringeri Mutt and I shall
try to upload it shortly.

In the present discourse the scholar highlighted several points a few of
which are:

1. Madhva says: The advaitins have accepted that 'negation/sublation' (of
the world) 'bAdhyatvam' is also mithyA. This would render the world
'abAdhya', un-negatable. To this point the reply given  is: the pair
bAdhyatvam and abAdhyatvam belongs to the vyAvahArika in Advaita.  As only
the secondless Brahman is the ultimate reality all notions such as the
world, its negatability or otherwise, etc. belong to the phenomenal.

2. All the verses quoted therein from a Buddhistic work to show that Advaita
is no different from it only confirm the Upanishadic statements about the
Truth, the world, etc. The scholar also quoted the verse from the 'matta
vilAsa prahasanam' which I had quoted which says that the Buddhists
formulated their system by taking inputs from the Upanishads and the

3. Madhva says: प्रत्यक्षबाधितं च जगन्मिथ्यात्वम् । सदिति प्रतीयमानत्वात् ।
[The claim of unreality of the world is contradicted by pratyakSha as the
world is experienced as 'is'. ]  The reply given for this is: The 'is'ness
of the adhiShThAna Brahman alone is experienced while the world is
experienced as 'is'.  So, there is no contradiction in the claim of the
unreality of the world vs. its being experienced as 'is'.  It is also to be
noted that the Madhva school itself has admitted that the 'sattA' ('is'ness)
of the world derives from the 'sattA' of Brahman.   यदधीना यस्य सत्ता
तत्तदित्येव भण्यते I (quoted by Sri Raghavendra Tirtha in the PuruSha sUkta
bhAShyam )

Also it is to be noted that to prove that प्रत्यक्षबाधितं च जगन्मिथ्यात्वम्
one has to undertake the examination only AFTER the bhrama has gone.  In the
case of the world-bhrama, the mithyAtvam is understood/determined only AFTER
enquiry and the resultant realization.  In the post-enquiry/realization
state there is no bAdha for this realization.  The pratyakSha-born prateeti
as 'the world is' is no harm since such a prateeti is had even with regard
to the experience of sunrise/sunset, the experiencing of the
rotation/revolution of the world, etc.  In all these cases, even after the
right knowledge has arisen (through another pramANa), the prateeti continues
as nature would have it.  However, the knowledge about the real state of
affairs is certainly present in the perceiver.

Some points other than what the scholar mentioned:
4. Madhva says: न च प्रत्यक्षसिद्धं अन्येन केनापि बाध्यं दृष्टम् . We have
the experience that the Earth is stationary.  Yet, from the words of the
scientists we come to know that such is not the case; the Earth is in
constant rotation and revolution.  This is another case of प्रत्यक्षसिद्धस्य
आप्त (अन्य) वाक्येन(शास्त्रेण) बाध्यत्वम् । So is the case with the
'experience' of sun rise and sun set. Nor can there be an objection, as
stated by Madhva, such as: चन्द्रप्रादेशादिविषयं तु
दूरस्थत्वादिदोषयुक्तत्वादपटु । [The illusion of the small size of the moon
etc. when compared to their original/real sizes, is owing to their distant
location from the seer on the earth and as such due to the
inadequacy/incapacity of the perceiving eye to see the correct size of the
moon, etc.] न च जगत्प्रत्यक्षस्यापटुत्वे किञ्चिन्मानम् । [Nor is there any
proof for holding that the world-perception is due to the
defect/inefficiency in the perceiving apparatus.]

To this observation of Madhva we have this to say:

Even in the case of the of the size of distant objects, it is to be reckoned
as a case of illusion/bhrAnti.  This is because we come to know of the
actual size of the object only from another pramANa, a shAstra that
specializes in it.  Till then one believes that what one sees as the size of
the object as the real size. Since our wrong knowledge has been
contradicted/replaced / bAdhita by another yathArtha jnAna, it is
indisputably a case of bhramA alone.  That the wrong knowledge was caused by
'inefficient capacity of the sense organ - eye' is no sufficient explanation
for in every case of a bhrama there is one or the other cause, an incapacity
in the indriya.  Even in the rope-snake illusion, it is only because the eye
is incapacitated to have perfect vision of things in insufficient light does
the bhrama takes place.  What is common to all illusions, including the one
about the size of the distant object, however, is the baadha that comes
about from a pramANAntara.  It is ONLY AFTER the bAdha comes about we seek
explanations like defect/inefficiency, etc. as causing the bhrama and NOT
BEFORE.  Hence these post-bAdha explanations do not save the situation from
being experienced as a bhrama in the first place.

Similar is the case with the jagat bhrama.  It is owing to the ignorance
about the true 'thing', 'vastu' Brahman that one gets into the bhrama of the
deha-manas Self and the world of names and forms.  It is the Upanishad
pramaNa that contradicts / corrects / brings about the bAdha of this bhrama
pertaining to the atma and jagat.

The Upanishad wants the jiva to see Brahman and not the world.

ब्रह्मैवेदं पुरस्तात् ब्रह्म पश्चात् ......ब्रहमैव विश्वमिदं वरिष्ठम्

पुरुष एवेदं सर्वम्
तस्य को मोहः कः शोकः एकत्वमनुपश्यतः ।
यत्र त्वस्य सर्वमात्मैवाभूत् तत्केन कं पश्येत् ...
आत्मैवेदं सर्वम्, ब्रह्मैवेदं सर्वम्
यत्र नान्यत्प्श्यति ...तद्भूमा
यो मां पश्यति सर्वत्र सर्वं च मयि पश्यति...[भ.गी]
ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविः....
वासुदेवः सर्वम्
By saying: मामुपेत्य तु कौन्तेय पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते the Lord says that once
the realization of Brahman takes place, there is no longer the perception of
the world as the world.  The perceiving instrument, the perceiving person
and the perceived world, which are all part of mAyA/prakRti/Ishwara IcchA
/moha shakti are now realized to be none other than the One akhaNDa Brahma

यत्र नान्त्पश्यति नान्यच्छृणोति ...तद्भूमा , यत्र अन्यत्पश्यति...तदल्पम् By
this teaching the Chandogya shruti makes it very clear that the
non-perceiving of the world as the world but perceiving it as none other
than the substratum Brahman is true realization.  The opposite of this
vision is bondage.  By this anvaya-vyatireka method the shruti establishes
the unreality of the world.  This is the reply to Madhva's objection: न च
जगतोऽज्ञानजन्यत्वे किञ्चिन्मानम् [Nor is there any proof for the
ignorance-base of the world]. ज्ञाननिवर्त्यता / बोनिवर्त्यता of the
world-bhrama/perception is what is taught by such Shruti passages. Sri
Krishna has made several statements to teach that ignorance is at the base
of the world-experience:
अज्ञानेनावृतं ज्ञानं तेन मुह्यन्ति जन्तवः
मोहितं नाभिजानाति
ज्ञानेन तु तदज्ञानं येषां नाशितमात्मनः
मम माया दुरत्यया
भूतप्रकृतिमोक्षं च ये विदुर्यान्ति ते पराम्

All these statements go to prove that it is owing to ignorance (of the
Truth, Brahman, Atman, one's own real nature) one experiences the world.
Shankaracharya comments on the Gita verse:
इति क्षेत्रं तथा ज्ञानं ज्ञेयं चोक्तं समासतः।
मद्भक्त एतद्विज्ञाय मद्भावायोपपद्यते।।13.18।।

//मद्भक्तः मयि ईश्वरे सर्वज्ञे परमगुरौ वासुदेवे समर्पितसर्वात्मभावः* यत्
पश्यति शृणोति स्पृशति वा 'सर्वमेव भगवान् वासुदेवः' इत्येवंग्रहाविष्टबुद्धिः*
*मद्भक्तः।* स एतत् यथोक्तं *सम्यग्दर्शनं विज्ञाय*, मद्भावाय मम भावः मद्भावः
परमात्मभावः तस्मै मद्भावाय उपपद्यते मोक्षं गच्छति।।//

It is the one with the Brahman-vision that is able to give up the
world-vision.  This correction of the world vision by jnanam into
Brahman-vision is the proof that the world-experience is a bhrama.

The experience of distant objects with the distorted knowledge about their
size, etc. , the experiencing of the superimposed snake and the experiencing
of the world - all these three have one thing in common: what is being
experienced is not the truth but the correcting / corrected knowledge is the
truth.  There is a prior pre-correction knowledge and a  later
post-correction knowledge to replace the former.
पूर्वप्राप्त-अयतार्थज्ञानस्य पश्चात्प्रमाणान्तरप्राप्तज्ञानाद्बाधस्तु (१)
दूरस्थचन्द्रादेरयतार्थज्ञानस्य (२) रज्ज्वज्ञानजन्यसर्पस्य  (३)
सम्भवति ।  समानमेतेषु पृर्वप्राप्तज्ञानं पश्चात्प्राप्तप्रमाणाद्बाध्यते इति

The jiva is in samsara owing to the non-perception of the Truth, Brahman,
and perceiving the world in the place of Brahman as the truth. It is prakRti
/mAyA/Ishwara icchA that makes us to perceive the world and remain in
samsara.   Also Brahman/Atman cannot be perceived owing to its being
extremely subtle.  It is beyond one's sensory grasp.

Also, prakRti comprises of the seer, the seeing instruments and the seen
world.  The paTutvam and apaTutvam both pertain to the instruments that come
under the common nomenclature of 'prakRti'.

5.  On the sidelines of the sadas I enquired with scholars about the meaning
of the Rg.vedic mantra 2.24.12 commencing with the words 'विश्वं सत्यं’
(vishwam satyam) quoted by Madhva to show that the world is real.  I learned
that this mantra is taken up by the Advaita Siddhi by Madhusudana Saraswati
to give its correct meaning and it is: It is a praise by the yajamAna in a
yAga addressed to Indra and Brahmanaspati saying that 'whatever/everything
(vishvam = sarvam)  is said about you, satyasamkalpatva, etc. is definitely
real (satyam = anAropitam).  Whatever you do, resolve, will not be a

The amarakosha 2154 / 54 / 55 says for the word vishvam:

समं सर्वम्
विश्वमशेषं कृत्स्नं समस्तनिखिलाखिलानि निःशेषम्
समग्रं सकलं पूर्णमखण्डं स्यादनूनके
The TIkA for the above says: all these 14 words denote the concept of

This mantra does not talk about the world or its reality. The mere words
'vishwam' and 'satyam' in juxtaposition will not constitute a vedic proof
for the notion that the world is real.  Moreover, the Madhva school has
designated only a relative reality (paratantra satyam) to the world, clearly
distinguishing it from the absolute reality (swatantra satyam) of Brahman.
They also admit that the world has no 'sattA' (existence/reality) of its
own; it borrows sattA from Brahman.  In other words brahmasattA alone is the
basis for the world's sattA.  I had quoted a verse quoted by the Madhva
school: यदधीना यस्य सत्ता तत्तदित्येव भण्यते.  There can never be an analogy
other than the rope-snake, shell-silver type to explain the
svasattAshUnyatva and parasattAdheenatva of an object.  This is a brief
translation of the Rg.vedic mantra from Griffith's translation:

// the waters do not violate the vratas of Brahmanaspati (RV 2.24.12)//   *
http://tinyurl.com/3wsl59p* <http://tinyurl.com/3wsl59p>

The Sayana Bhashya also says the same thing that I have stated above on that
Rg.vedic mantra.


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