- (c. 1197 to 1276 C.E.)Vedanta philosopherMadhva was a brilliant, prolific scholar of VEDANTA who developed his own DVAITA or dual-ist philosophy.Madhva was born near Udipi in Karnataka in a village called Rajapitha, which may be the mod-ern Kalyanapura. He was born into an orthodox Vaishnavite BRAHMIN family. He became the dis-ciple of Acutyapreksha, a great teacher.Madhva studied the writings of SHANKARA, the great non-dual (ADVAITA) philosopher, but concluded by rejecting his teachings. In fact, he eventually wrote tracts opposing 21 important philosophers in order to establish his own phi-losophy of dvaita or dualist VEDANTA. He made a circuit of the south of India, going first to Trivan-drum and staying in RAMESHVARAM, the famous Vaishnavite holy city in Tamil Nadu. As he spoke, he would argue against the various existing philo-sophical schools. He later traveled in North India, living in such places as HARIDVAR and Badarika. He is said to have converted many followers of Shan-kara in his travels. Eventually, he even converted his own GURU.Madhva produced a massive corpus of work including commentaries on all the 13 orthodox Vedic Upanishads, the Vedanta Sutra, and the Bhagavad Gita. In these works he relentlessly argued for the idea that God and the human self or soul were completely distinct from each other, and that the world also was completely distinct from God. His profound dualism was a challenge to the non-dualist thinkers who preceded and fol-lowed him, who represent by far the largest school of Vedanta. He argued that only the grace of God, in the form of KRISHNA, could save a human being from the endless round of birth and rebirth, and only BHAKTI, or devotion to the divinity, could res-cue humans from the abyss of successive rebirth.Further reading: S. N. Dasgupta, The History of Indian Philosophy (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1975); Vasudeva Rao, Living Traditions in Contemporary Contexts: The Madhva Matha of Udupi (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 2002); B. N. K. Sharma, Dvaita Philosophy as Expounded by Sri Madhvacarya (Madras: University of Madras, 1996); Swami Tapasyananda, Bhakti Schools of Vedanta (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, n.d.).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.