Madhva's Dvaita Philosophy

Madhvacharya’s philosophy differs from the upanishads, which teach that God and the individual soul are the same. Madhva taught that matter, the individual soul and God were completely different. His school of thought is known as sad-vaishnavism.

Madhva was born in a poor Brahmin family in a village in Karnataka. In his childhood, he studied vedanta in a monastery. Madhva’s interests were not limited to spirituality alone. He also took part in wrestling, weight lifting and musical activities. His physique was dignified and muscular.

Dvaita’s Tenets

Madhva taught a philosophy which came to be called Dvaita. It’s tenets are:

  • Vishnu is the main deity.
  • Vayu is also worshipped.
  • The world is eternal and real. (This differs from Shankara’s view that the world is only an illusion).
  • Devotion is a sure means to attain liberation.
  • Distinction or absolute difference. Madhva named five real distinctions, which are:
  1. The difference between God and the individual soul
  2. Between matter and spirit
  3. Between one individual soul and another
  4. Between soul and matter
  5. Between one type of matter and another

More Teachings

Madhva taught that knowledge can be gained by studying the vedas, and also through inference and perception. The universe is real, and is characterized by diversity and difference. God creates, sustains and destroys the universe. He governs natural and moral laws, removes ignorance and gives enlightenment. He can grant salvation by dissolving the bondage of the cycle of birth and death.

The Soul

Each soul is unique and individual. One soul is permanently and fundamentally different from another. An unliberated soul may move towards liberation and God by following the righteous path. Or, it may condemn itself to damnation by being evil. If a soul is mediocre, it will continue to rotate in the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.


Eternal salvation can be attained by following the scriptures, doing good deeds and by devotion to God. When a soul attains salvation, it comes under the eternal care and protection of God. Then, the soul is freed from worldly miseries. It experiences spiritual bliss and basks in divine glory. However, Madhva said that the soul does not merge with God, and retains its individuality.

5 responses to Madhva's Dvaita Philosophy

  1. Your claim of madhwa’s teaching differ from Upanishad is not correct. Please provide upanishad which differ .

  2. ”Madhvacharya’s philosophy differs from the upanishads”- this statement is utterly ridiculous.Please give any reference to validate your claim or remove the above from the web.Otherwise this will mislead people.

  3. Only Sri Madwacharya’s teaching is authenticated. It gives us clear picture about the soul and how to live life.

  4. Please support your claims with proof. Show us shlokas in the Upanishads which say that God and individual souls are same.
    Remember, the vedas/Upanishads don’t reveal themselves that easily and we cannot read it like newspapers. There is a deep inner meaning which needs to be understood by studying etymology.
    Above all we needs God’s grace to understand it.
    The whole Haridasa movement in India is to understand the all-powerful God. If God and individual soul are the same, the word, “haridasa” is meaningless. Dasa=Servant. Hari=God. If they are two different entities, then it has meaning. Else how can one do bhakti with himself? Its absurd. Also bhakti will arise if we come to know the greatness of the other person, if he is superior to us. Else what is bhakti?

    Bottomline: Words can have various connotations.
    For example, if we contemplate, Mayaa also means “Leela/Mahima”. So this is Mahima/Leela of God rather than English’s poor translation of Mayaa as illusion in many shlokas of the vedas/upanishads. Just apply this new meaning to the word mayaa and it will reveal a completely amazing interpretation to those shlokas. Mayaa=illusion is just one meaning. But who said its the only meaning?!!

  5. i would like to comment that those people who have given there comments about proving dwaita vada are out of ignorance.They say that maya is lila or mahima,but word is translated in sanskrit as follows:
    MAYA: MA-means to be seen,or to see and YA-means what is not true or its true identity.Unless thus by understanding this how can the above commenters comment so foolishly.And giving about the proof about upanishds, in Sri Isopanishad in mantra 15 it is stated as follows that”O my lord,sustainer of all that lives,Your real face is covered by your dazzling effulgence(called as bramhajyoti in general and is the highest destination of adwait philoshopers).Kindly remove the covering and exhibit yourself to your pure devotee”.Thus by this one can understand that krsna or god is a person and his inpersonel form is his only bright effulgence coming from his body..It is also stated in bhagvat gita that
    “Bramhano hi pratishthaham”-i.e., i am the source of impersonel brahman.Whenever it is mentioned in any upanishad that soul and supersoul is same that means the deep understanding is we are same in quality as that of lord but not same as in quantity to lord.Many shastras say that lord is VIBHU and souls are ANU.Thus hope that this explaination will help the adwaitist and truth searcher to understand the philoshopy of perfect duality or dvaita vaad.(for any further questions email me at radharanigaurangi@gmail.com)