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Jiva In Dvaita Viewpoint – Living Beings As Per Dvaita Philosophy

According to Dvaita Vedanta philosophy of Madhvacharya, the difference between Brahman and the rest of the world, created from prakriti, is rooted not in the level of reality but only in the respective degree of independence. There are three real and eternal entities – Ishwara, jiva (living beings or selves) and jada (inanimate objects); Brahman is independent, while jiva and jada are dependent on Brahman.

In the opinion of Madhvacharya, all jivas are pinpoint bearers of cognition (or consciousness), organized in a hierarchy of cognizant subjects. The relationship between the jivas and Brahman is determined by the doctrine of Bimba pratibimba vada but in contrast to Advaita, jiva is regarded as a mere reflection of Brahman not because of some temporary limiting adjuncts not by its very nature.

In the words of Madhvacharya, just as a rainbow is not only a reflection but also a refraction of sun rays, different jivas are differently colored by the light of Brahman penetrating their nature (Anuvyakhyana, 2.3.50). All pramana (valid means of knowledge), while revealing their objects, at the same time supply the material for the intuitive knowledge of the sakshin, which forms the base of every jiva.

Taratamya (gradation) in Dvaita is peculiar not only for the self’s capacity of knowledge, but also for other qualities. Depending upon their former actions as well as upon the respective predominance of the gunas (qualities) of sattva (goodness/purity), rajas (passion), or tamas (ignorance or sloth/dullness), all selves are divided into three categories – nitya mukta (eternally free), mukta (liberated) and badha (bound). The latter, in their turn, might be chosen for mukti yogya (liberation), tamo-yogya (predestined for hell), or destined to stay in samsara forever (nityasamsarinah).

Dvaita insists upon the absolute validity of Vedic injunctions and punya; however the greatest spiritual effort open to an adept is bhakti, which is interpreted as an uninterrupted flow of sneha (love) for Krishna. When a self serves Krishna in this way, He bestows on it his mercy and prasada, as well as, eventually, liberation. The growth of bhakti in the heart of the adept is a clear sign that this person is undoubtedly chosen for liberation. Even in moksha, jiva does not dissolve in Ishwara but acquires various means of bliss and “participation” in the divine nature.

Madhvacharya mentions four kinds of moksha – sayujya or entering the ‘spiritual body’ of Brahman (with a version of Srishti or acquisition of divine powers); salokya, or staying in heaven where one can see Brahman; samipya, or constant closeness to God; and sarupya, or similarity with the divine form.