– By Sriramakrishna Turaga
Can you explain me in simple language on the concept of dvaita, visishtadvia and adviata? This is my friends question. I believe many people have this question in their mind.
There are many religions within the fold of sanatana dharma. The more popular of these are the three religions of Dvaita, Advaita and Vishishtadvaita.
Dvaitam: Dvaita sindhanta is initiated by Shri Madhvacharya and hence it is also known as Madhva matam. (13th century)
Visishtadvaitam: Vishishtadvaitam was founded by Sri Ramanujacharya. (11th century)
Advaitam: Advaita sindhanta originates from teachings of Shri Shankaracharya (8th century)
Let us try to briefly understand each of these concepts.
Dvaita sidhanta believes that both the soul and the paramatman are separate. Everything visible to the eye in creation is dependent on the invisible Paramatman Vasudeva, who is the originator of this creation.Shri Madhvacharya proposed “स्वतन्त्र्यमस्व्यंच द्ववववधम् तत्वममष्यमि” meaning Swatantram and Asvatrantram are two tatvas of this creation.
According to this, the world we see is real and so is the God who created it. They are two separate things. Almighty God is Swatantra (free of all bindings), the embodiment of Satchidananda, Sarvagnya (omniscient), sarvashaktishali (omnipotent) and sarvavyapi (omnipresent). He created the world out of joy with his leela.
While God is Swatantra, the jeevatma or soul created by him is not, but, lost is the leela of the paramatman, the Jeevatma is immersed in the notion that he is free. When the Jeevatma realizes that he is not independent and performs his Karma in complete submission to paramatman, such karma becomes nishkama karma. The fruit of such karma is not attributed to the jeevatma. Moksha can only be attained by the devotion of the jeevatma to the paramatma after attaining this self-realization.
Sri Ramanujacharya in this Vedanta philosophy proposed that the jeevatma, prakruti (nature) and the paramatman are the three truths. The Paramatma (Srimannarayana) exists in conjunction with the jeevatma called ‘Chit’ and the prakruti called ‘Achit’. Jeevatam suffers the bhavabhandam (trap of materialistic world) due to its ignorance but by the grace of a sadhguru and God, the jeevatma can get closer to God and attain moksha.
In Advaita sidhanta, Shri Shankara Bhagavatpada proposes the concept of “ब्रह्म सत्यम् जगन्न्त्रमथ्य”. As the name suggests, that which is not Dvaita is Advaita. Sri Shankaracharya suggests that there is only one padartha (substance) in this jagat and that is the Bhrahma and the rest of the world is a myth. Moksha is when we can come out of that myth and know the Brahma padartha.
The question that arises after briefly reading about concepts of these three sidhantas is whether the Gurus rejected the teachings of the others when they proposed their respective religions? Did they not at the time know of each other’s sidhantas?
It would be wrong to say that the Gurus have rejected each other’s teachings. This is clear when we examine the respective teachings in light of the chronological timelines and prevailing situations when each of these sidhantams was conceptualised.
In 8th Century the society was mature where Vaidik knowledge was more prevalent. Hence Sri Shankaracharya introduced the direct concept of Advaita. By 11th Century the society was riddled with rigidity and not capable of appreciating high concepts and Sri Ramanujacharya introduced Visishtadvaitam. He explained that the paramatma residing in all of us and nature is same padharta. By 13th Century the society has become even more rigid and ignorant. That is when Sri Madhvacharya conceptualized the Dvaita Sidhanta to lead the society on the path of Dharma. He simplified bhakti by telling people to walk on the path of nishkama karma to reach paramatma which is separate from jeevatma. In other words, all the concepts were introduced as per the prevalent situation in the society.
The fundamental principle of the sanatana dharma are “एकं सत् ववप्राः बहुदर वदन्न्त्रत ” [meaning The truth is the same but Viprah (sages) define it in different ways or call it by different names] and “आनो भद्राः क्रतवो यन्त्रतु ववश्वताः” [meaning Let the knowledge surround us from all directions].
Sri Shankaracharya, Sri Ramanujacharya and Sri Madhvacharya were the virtuous gurus whose purpose was to guide the society on the path of dharma and they imparted teachings based on society’s maturity and ability to understand and implement. At the outset, their teaching may look different but, there is no change in their practical effect. In other words, their teaching emphasize on how one should follow the dharma marga from the time one wakes up in the morning till he falls asleep at night. The devotee may choose any of the paths laid out but once the practice matures all these paths lead to moksha.
Only a Sadguru can lead us to the path of bhakti and not the person who only claims to be a Guru. As a poet once said, if you surrender and become a disciple showing desire to learn, your yearning will show you path to knowledge and lead you to the Guru who can guide you. Swami Vivekananda’s yearning for knowledge lead him to his Guru Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
When a person realizes that he is different from his Guru and he needs to obtain knowledge from his Guru, he is in the state of Dwaita. That is to say he realizes his yearning to obtain knowledge. (ज्ञातुं)
Once a person realizes his need for knowledge and identifies the Guru who can impart the knowledge to him, he is in state of Vishishtadwaitam. (द्ष्टुम्) Knowledge cannot be attained by realizing the need for it or by identifying the Guru. The person must put to practice the teachings of the Guru, i.e. he must become the Guru. This is the stage of Advaita where there is no difference between the disciple and the Guru (प्रवेष्टुम् ).
For Moksha also we should first realise the lack of bhakti (dwaita) and search for a Guru (Vishihstadwaita), then attain Guru and become one with Guru (Adwaitam). We should grow from the state of Dvaita and join Vishishtadvaitam and then Advaitam to finally merge in Paramatma.
Do we really need to understand all the three or any of these three for moksha? Definitely not necessary. That is why even have stories of an elephant, spider, a snake attaining moksha without any of these understandings but just by pure bhakti. Ofcourse, understanding them might guide us to choose the right path for mokha but not the necessary condition. So bhakti is more important than understanding these concepts.
This is what Lord Krishna says in the Gita.
नरहं वेदैनन तपिर न दरनेन न चेज्ययर।
शक्य एवंववधो द्ष्टुं दृष्टवरनमि मरं यथर।।11.53।।
भक्त्यर त्वनन्त्रययर शक्यमहमेवंववधोऽजुनन।
ज्ञरतुं दृष्टुं च तत्त्वेन प्रवेष्टुम् च परंतप।।11.54।।
It is not possible for anyone to see my form as you are now seeing , by Vedapathanam, by tapas, by dana or by yajnya karma.But O’ Parantapa! Arjuna! Only absolute devotion can lead to knowing me (ज्ञातुं), attaining tatvajnyanam, seeing my true from (द्ष्टुम्) and becoming one with me (प्रवेष्टुम्).
Finally, you may ask which of these three practices is the best?
Some people may believe only one of them is right and other two are wrong, or since i believe in one of them will not follow the other two. Well we can leave it to their personal choice, but it negates fundamental rule of sanatan dharma
आकाशात् पतितं तोयं यथा गच्छति सागरम् |
सर्वदेवनमस्कार: केशवं प्रति गच्छति ||
Just as all the water falling from the sky goes into sea, similarly salutations offered to all devata goes to kesava
As pointed by a learned person, to be able to evaluate a 5th class examination papers, you must have passed 5th class at the least. Similarly, if you want to evaluate a graduation level paper you should have even higher qualifications. Myself and people like me who are miles away from the very first step of Bhakti Marga, are incapable and unqualified to pass judgement on which is the last step of Bhakti Marga leading to moksha. Bhakti marga is the only means of reaching paramatma. Once we embark on this journey and reach the last step we will know for ourselves as to what is the suitable sindhamta. It would be foolish to not follow the bhakti marga just because we do not have clarity on these sidhantas, which are the final levels of this journey.
It is not our place to discuss the capabilities of the sadgurus or evaluate their teachings. The point is not to denigrate anyone, but to say that any person who tries to evaluate the sindhantas has not reached the level of gnyanam. In my view, a person who has attained the gnyanam would understand that all three Sidhantas teach the same truth and find it pointless to compare and debate on them.
By Sriramakrishna Turaga