DWAITA SECT IN KARNATAKA
‘Dwaita’ is a Hindu school of philosophy propounded by Madhvacharya (1238-1317) in the thirteenth century. The adherents of this school are called ‘mAdhva’s.(Vaishnavas) This is the third and the last interpretation of the Vedantic texts. This is philosophy is in direct variance with both Adwaitha preached Sri Shankaracharya and Vishishtadwaitha propounded By Sri Ramanujacharya. The Madhva sect of Brahmanism which is based on this philosophy has its followers in Karnataka, Andhrapradesh, Tamilnadu and Maharashtra in particular and other states to a lesser extent. It has its nucleus at Udupi a temple town in coastal Karnataka. The eight mutts established by Madhacharya and the celebrated Krishna temple are to be found in this town.
The teachings of Sri Madhvacharya are contained in the Sanskrit commentaries composed by him for important Vedantic texts. These commentaries include Brahmasutra-bhashya, Bhagavadgeetha-bhashya, Bahagavdgeetha-tatparya-nirnaya, Upanishad Bhashya, (Commentaries on ten principal Upanishats) Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya, Rg Bhashya, Khandartha –nirnaya, Yamaka-bharatha, Bhagavata-tatparya-nirnaya, Tattva-viveka and Pramana-lakshana.
Some other works by Madhvacharya focus on the ceremonies and rituals to be practiced by the adherents of the sect. They delineate the duties of the householder as well as the Sanyasi. They also describe non religious activities such as house building. These precepts are contained in texts such as ‘tantra-sara-sangraha’, ‘sadachara-smriti’ and ‘tithi nirnaya’. His contribution to devotional literature is contained in musical compositions like ‘narasimha-nakha-stuti’ and ‘dwadasha stotra’. In all, he has written some forty books, all of them in Sanskrit.
The philosophy of Madhvacharya is based on dualism as against the monistic religion preached by Shankaarcharya. It accepts that there is a fundamental and unalterable difference between the God (dEva) and the soul. (Jeeva) In addition to this it avers that there are five essential differences that have to be accepted in toto. (Panchabheada) They are the differences between, between: Brahman and matter, Brahman and Selves, a Self and another Self, Self and matter and one object and another. (ಜಡ-ಈಶ್ವರ, ಜೀವ-ಈಶ್ವರ, ಜೀವ-ಜೀವ, ಜಡ-ಜೀವ, ಜಡ-ಜಡ) These notions do give rise to a hierarchical structure of beings and things. The school argues that the God is the independent (svatantra) ‘Bimba’ and the soul is not independent. (Asvatantra) It believes that the world is real and presents a strong critique of the ‘Maayaavaada’ propounded by Shankaracharya in his monistic argument. This philosophy is also known as ‘tattvavaada’.
The establishment of the Krishna temple and the eight ‘mathas’ (maTas) in Udupi, as also the presence of many devoted and scholarly disciples went a long way in the spread of this sect. The ‘matha’s at Udupi such as Pejavara, Kaniyuru, Sode, Puttige, Krishnapura, Adamaru, Palimaru and and Siruru have a pontiff their own and a circle of influence. Important disciples of Madhvacharya include Vishnutirtha, Padmanabhatirtha, Naraharitirtha, Trivikrama-panditacharya, Jayatirtha, (Teekacharya) Vyasatirtha, Vadiraja, Raghavendra-swamin etc. These pontiffs have set up religious institutions at various places such as Mulabagilu, Kundapura, Sosale, Mantralaya (Bridavana), Majjigehalli, Kudali, Malkhed and Balegaru. Some of these mathas as also Uttaradi-mathas spread across the state have their own followers even though all of them are included under the generic term ‘mAdhva’. Four mathas have a presence in Tulunadu only. Gaud Saraswath Brahmins have their own mathas under the names Gokarnamatha and Kasimatha. They too have their branches in many places. Madhvas hold the ‘Brindavana’ (Samadhi-Grave) of their pontiffs in great reverence and some of them have become pilgrimage centres.
‘Keertanasahitya’ or ‘Haridasasahitya’ is a direct offshoot of the Madhva sect. Even though Vyasaraya and Narahariteertha had some compositions to their credit, Puranadaradasa and Kanakadasa form the nucleus of this body of devotional-musical poetry. The need to reach the common people in their own language and a desire to free the sect from the shackles of hierarchical caste system within the frame work Dwaitha philosophy were instrumental in the genesis of this movement. Kanakadasa in particular had to wage a lone battle to assert this point of view. Haridasa movement became an integral part of the Pan-Indian Bhakti movement. The tradition of Dasa-sahitya was continued by composer-poets like Vijayadasa, Jagannathadasa, and Helavanakatte Giriyamma etc. However Madhva sect did not loosen the constrictions of the caste system to any appreciable extent. However, haridAsas do have a deep sense of social responsibility and are bitterly critical of rigid practices and rituals. The contribution of Madhva sect to the architecture and sculpture of Karnataka are minimal. This could be attributed to the fact that it had no royal support worth mentioning.
Further Readings and Links:
history of the Dwaitha school of VEdAnta and its literature’ By
B.N.Krishnamurthy Sharma, (In two volumes) 1960, Book Sellers Pub.