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Tattva Viveka Of Madhvacharya

Tattva Viveka of Madhvacharya is a treatise dealing with categorization of realities. It is one of the 37 works of Sri Madhvacharya and sub-categorized under prakaranas. A prakarana serves as an annexure to the principal treatise of Brahmasutra.

Sri Madhvacharya has written a prakarana, known as Tattva Sankhyana, in which he surveyed the realities accepted in the Dvaita system. Tattva Sankhyana derives its authority from Tattva Viveka. There are some apparent differences between Tattva sankhyana and Tattva Viveka. However, there are no contradictions.


Tattva Viveka begins with the classification of prameya (valid knowledge of realities) into two principal categories: svatantra (independent) and paratantra (dependent). Vishnu, with auspicious qualities and free from blemishes, is completely independent (in respect of existence, motivation and knowledge)

Paratantra is further classified into two, bhava (existing) and abhava (non-existing).
Bhava is of three types
  1. Pragabhava (non-existence before an object comes into existence)
  2. Pradhvamsabhava (non-existence posterior to the destruction of an object)
  3. Atyantabhava (absolute non-existence).

The Nyaya school accepts a fourth type of non-existence called anyonyabhava, the mutual non-existence of objects. Since distinctness being the very nature of things, anyonyabhava is not accepted in Dvaita as a separate non-existing category.

Again the existing entities are classified into two groups, cetana (sentient)and acetna (non-sentient). The former is again classified into two, liberated and subject to bondage. Only Sri, consort of Vishnu, belongs to the former class. She has a class by herself. In the latter group there are again two types, liberated and still in bondage. In bondage to worldly desires, not everyone is endowed with the same capacity. Right from manusyottama (worthy human class) up to four-headed Brahma, their capacity increases in multiples of a hundred. Even in the liberated state, the difference and hierarchy is maintained in a similar way. Taittiriya Upanishad declares nanda taratamya (gradations in bliss). Sri is several times superior to the liberated Brahma. Vishnu’s superiority is infinite times more than Sri.

The beings in Samsara are of three types: low, middle, and high. The high-class souls are muktiyoga (eligible for liberation). Middle class beings are ever bonded; the low class souls are eternally damned.

Non-sentient is of two types, nitya (eternal) and anitya (non-eternal).

Avyakrta (subtle forms of space), time flow, Vedas, Prithvi, five elements, eleven senses, prana (one of the sixteen kalas), gunas, five tanmatras (sight, taste, smell, touch, sound), Mahat, ahamkara and buddhi are classified as eternal. The modifications of these are non-eternal.

Some of the attributes like quality, effect and category are inherent in substances, and some of the attributes remain with substances until they last. Those are called yavadravya bhavi (intrinsic attributes). Some of the attributes vanish before a substance perishes. For example a mango changes from green to yellow as it ripens. Such attributes are known as ayavadravya bhavi (non-intrinsic).

Tattvaviveka concludes with the statement that if a person understands the universe and is dependent and attributes all worldly actions to Vishnu, liberation from Samsara (worldly bondage) is attainable.

Source Methods of Knowledge Perceptual, Non-perceptual and Transcendental According to Advaita Vedanta (1965) Satprakashananda – Allen and Unwin London







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