In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Mādhva

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Madhvācārya’s Works
  • The Mādhva Saṃpradāya (Community and Institutions)
  • Mādhva Ontology
  • Mādhva Epistemology
  • Mādhva Soteriology
  • Brahma Sūtra Bhāṣyas (Commentaries)
  • Gītā Bhāṣyas (Commentaries)
  • Works by Other Mādhva Scholars
  • Edited Volumes

Hinduism Mādhva
Deepak Sarma
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 April 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 April 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0064


Mādhva Vedānta is a tradition of Vedānta that was developed in the 13th century in southwestern India at modern-day Udupi, by Madhvācārya (1238–1317 CE). The Mādhva school (also known as the Dvaita school) posits that the relationship between Brahman (Vishnu) and the ātman (individual self) is dvaita (dual). Furthermore, Madhvācārya, a realist, claims that the universe is governed by pañcabheda (five types of differences that are real and not illusory): “The universe has five [intrinsic] differences. There is a difference between [each] jīva (enduring self), and Lord [Vishnu]. There is a difference between Lord [Vishnu] and jaḍa (insentient material entities). There is difference between the individual jīvas. There is a difference between jīvas and jaḍas. There is a difference between one jaḍa and another. The [difference among these five] is real.” (Madhvācārya, Viṣṇutattva(vi)nirṇaya). Knowing this, and exhibiting the proper bhakti toward Vishnu, adherents can eventually obtain mokṣa (liberation) from saṃsāra (the cycle of birth and rebirth). While the Mādhva school is not as well known in the West as the school of Advaita founded by Śaṃkarācārya (788–820 CE), or the school of Viśiṣṭādvaita founded by Rāmānujācārya (1017–1137 CE), it is very well known in India, and the Udupi Śrī Kṛṣṇa temple, founded by Madhvācārya himself, is an important pilgrimage site.

General Overviews

The philosophical and historical overviews vary significantly in terms of depth, availability to non-Sanskritists, and academic and theological orientation. Glasenapp 1922 is the first methodical analysis of the tradition and is excellent. Dasgupta 1991, a comprehensive five-volume study of Indian philosophy, includes an excellent technical introduction to Mādhva Vedānta. Sarma 2003 is a systematic introduction for an English-speaking audience. Sharma 1981 is the most comprehensive overview of the Mādhva school and is an indispensable and encyclopedic reference source. Sharma’s other works (Sharma 1986, Sharma 1979) contain a great deal of information, though this is sometimes obfuscated by his polemical style. Siauve 1968 is a clear and in-depth characterization of Mādhva Vedānta that has yet to be surpassed by other Western scholars. While there are other overviews, many are written as hagiographies by non-experts or are sufficiently disorganized to make them less than useful. While most overviews consider the dialogue between the Advaita and Mādhva schools of Vedānta, Hebbar 2004 is unusual in that it considers the dialogue between the Viśiṣṭādvaita and Mādhva schools. There are other overviews in Kannada that have a significant audience but are not mentioned here.

  • Dasgupta, Surendranath. A History of Indian Philosophy. Vol. 4, Indian Pluralism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1991.

    Good technical introduction with special reference to the debates between the Advaita and Mādhva schools. Dasgupta tends to view the Mādhva tradition through an unsympathetic Advaita perspective.

  • Glasenapp, Helmuth von. Madhva’s Philosophy of the Viṣṇu Faith. Translated by Shridhar B. Shrothri. Edited by K. T. Pandurangi. Bangalore: Dvaita Vedanta Studies and Research Foundation, 1992.

    Detailed and meticulous analysis of every aspect of the Mādhva position. A superb overview that is comprehensive. For scholars unable to read the text in the original German (Bonn, Germany: Schroeder, 1923), this is a good translation.

  • Hebbar, B. N. Viśiṣṭādvaita and Dvaita: A Systematic and Comparative Study of the Two Schools of Vedanta with Special Reference to Some Doctrinal Controversies. New Delhi: Bharatiya Granth Niketan, 2004.

    Offers an excellent comparison of the Mādhva and Viśiṣṭādvaita schools of Vedānta.

  • Sarma, Deepak. An Introduction to Mādhva Vedānta. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2003.

    An overview of the Mādhva position with detailed citations from Mādhva texts. Includes translations of the Māyāvādakhaṇḍana, Upādhikhaṇḍana, and Kathālakṣana.

  • Sharma, B. N. K. Madhva’s Teachings in His Own Words. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1979.

    Superb introduction with textual evidence from the entire Mādhva canon. Sanskrit sources are translated.

  • Sharma, B. N. K. History of the Dvaita School of Vedānta and its Literature. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1981.

    Comprehensive overview of the history of the Mādhva school, its major contributors, and their major works. Superb reference source. Also includes some summaries of relevant arguments and themes. Indispensable.

  • Sharma, B. N. K. Philosophy of Śrī Madhvācārya. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986.

    Good introduction, though often polemical. Written for advanced readers who are adept in Sanskrit and already immersed in Vedānta. All citations remain in their original Sanskrit. Important text that includes attacks against Advaita and defenses of Mādhva positions.

  • Siauve, Suzanne. La Doctrine de Madhva: Dvaita Vedanta. Publications de l’Institut Français d’Indologie 38. Pondicherry, India: Institut Français d’Indologie, 1968.

    Textually rich introduction to the Mādhva tradition. Significant reliance upon Madhvācārya’s Anuvyākhyāna and Jayatīrtha’s Nyāya Sudhā. Offers analyses of concepts in Mādhva Vedānta that take into consideration a large part of the Mādhva corpus. First Western scholar to offer such an in-depth analysis.

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