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Vishnu Tattva Vinirnaya Of Madhvacharya – Information

Vishnu Tattva Vinirnaya is one of the major works of Madhvacharya. In the benedictory verse in the book we learn that Bhagavan Vishnu can be known only through Sadagamas (sacred texts). He is superior to things that perish and do not perish (kshara and akshara). He is free from blemishes and has an infinite number of auspicious attributes. These three form the three chapters of Vishnu Tattva Vinirnaya.

Chapter I –  Sadagamika Vijneya

All the four Vedas (Apauruseya meaning unwritten texts), the whole of Pancaratra, Mularamayanam, Itihasam (Puranas), and so on, which are in agreement with Vedas, represent the Sadagamas. Bhagavan Vishnu is known only through Sadagamas by those who have faith and devotion in Him.

Gods, goddesses, dharma, adharma, heaven, hell, virtue, vice, and so on are supersensory matters. These can be known through Agamas only. The Agama are of two types – non-contingent knowledge texts and others that are contingent. The divine and unwritten texts are Vedas. Vedas are flawless documents, proven through the ages and eternal in nature, free from a particular space, time and person.

The knowledge obtained through Vedas is self valid. It does not need other corroborative evidence.

Shrutis say that, except moksha, all other achievements are temporary. The grace of Bhagavan is possible by the knowledge of His supremacy over all others. He is distinct from all others. The difference between A and B will be known by comprehending adjective and substantive or differentiating dharma and praiyogi. In either way it is said it incurs reciprocal dependency. In this connection, Madhva says such objection is untenable, because the difference constitutes the very nature of every object born with an identity. When the object is comprehended, its distinction from all other objects is also simultaneously identified.

Madhvacharya contends that there is not a single statement in any Veda to prove the identity of jivatman with Brahman. All the passages like Tattvamasi, Aham Brahmasmi and so on imply a distinction between the two. To remove any ambiguity, Madhava, while explaining the Upanishad passage Tattvamasi, splits the word “Sa Atma Atvamasi”, meaning thou art not that.

The passage “Aham Brahmasmi” means He understood Himself as Aham (meaning undiscardable), Brahma (meaning perfect), Asmi (meaning eternal or indweller). Similarly all the Vedic passages which the Advaita school interprets as the atman Brahman identity, Madhva explains as only conveying difference.

Apart from the difference between the jiva and Brahman, other difference exist. These are

  1. Brahman and individual beings
  2. Brahman and inanimates
  3. Beings and beings
  4. Being and inanimates
  5. Inanimates and inanimates

These five differences are not created and hence not destroyed. Only Brahman is Advaita, without an equal or above. All the rest in the world are distinct.

The Brahman does not reduce Himself to the form of jivatman due to avidya or any upadhi. Nor can the beings identify themselves with Brahman, jivas are separate entities.

Ksharaksaratitattva – Chapter II

Chaturmukha Brahma, Shiva, the other deities and all other jivas are designated as Ksharas since they possess perishable bodies. Goddess Lakshmi is designated as akshara since her body is imperishable. Bhagavan Vishnu is the superior of these two.

Nirdosha Asesha Sadguna – Chapter III

The discussion between Narada and Brahma in Brahmanda Purana records that Bhagavan Vishnu does not assume a body created by the contact of man and woman. But He reveals himself with His eternal body constituted by bliss and consciousness, which is absolutely free from any blemishes.

The attributes and activities of Bhagavan Vishnu constitute His very nature. These are not different from Him. These are not different from one another also. By obtaining knowledge of Vishnu as possessing infinite auspicious attributes and free from blemishes, one will get rid of transmigration, obtain the bliss devoid of sorrow, and live in His abode near Him. The liberated are different from Him and depend upon Him.