Vanity thought #1700. Madhvacarya is not our enemy

I’ve found tattvavādī explanation of Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam verse so I want to get back to that subject before continuing with criticism of Gauḍiyā siddhānta by fellow vaiṣṇavas from Madhva sampradāya.

First of all, in Madhva sampradāya they don’t believe in freely disseminating their texts, and by freely I don’t mean as in free beer but that only qualified brāhmaṇas should be allowed to read them and no one else. Consequently, there isn’t much to go on here for us, especially without knowledge of Sanskrit (because Sanskrit pdfs are at least easier to find). I don’t think anyone in that sampradāya is eager to translate them to English. In fact, knowledge of Sanskrit is probably one of the necessary qualifications for reading and English translations would go contrary to their doctrine.

Secondly, some Madhvas got the internet bug and realized that without English they won’t get anywhere so they manually translated relevant passages which poses a problem – are they translating ALL relevant passages or are they hiding something they don’t want us to see? It’s a question about their intentions and their bias and it has to be answered first. As I said last time and as I plan to discuss again – they don’t look like acting in good faith and on the orders of their authorities, just as self-appointed internet activists.

We should also keep in mind that Madhvācārya is listed in our paramparā and therefore we can’t say that he was wrong about this verse. Nor can we say that his genuine followers are wrong, too, though those who descend into criticizing other vaiṣṇavas are a fair game.

In this light it should be immediately suspicious that their refutation of our reading of Kṛṣṇas to bhagavān svayam comes not from commentaries on Bhāgavatam but from commentaries on Bhagavad Gītā.

It appears that Madhvācārya skipped this verse (SB 1.3.28) in his commentary on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam – this isn’t stated by our critics, however. It would have been a nice admission or, if Madhva commented on this verse indeed, it would be an inexcusable omission. Maybe Madhva’s commentary is mentioned in Jīva Gosvāmī’s Krama Sandarbha but I don’t think we have an English translation of it yet. This means that we don’t know what was Madhva’s position on Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam and have to deal only with his followers.

Okay, the most prominent commentary on Bhāgavatam in that tradition is by Vijayadhvaja called Padaratnāvalī but we don’t have it in English, too. Somehow our critics do not quote from it either even if it’s more than likely to contain an explanation of this verse. It could be that Vijayadvaja’s purports were included in Bhāgavatam edition Śrīla Prabhupāda used for translation himself but it’s rather voluminous so probably not.

In any case, we don’t have a proper presentation from our critics, explaining how this verse has been understood by their most prominent commentators on Bhāgavatam itself, but they rather give us a link to a commentary on Bhagavad Gītā 10.41. This link itself is like twenty years old and the entire site hasn’t been updated in years, which I understand to mean that either Kṛṣṇa Himself or the true keepers of tattvavādī tradition put a shush on these useless arguments.

Anyway, what do we have there?

First half of the page deals with Bhagavad Gītā’s verse itself, there’s an introduction by Rāghavēndra Tīrtha and some comments from Jayatīrtha, one of the most prominent followers of Madhvācārya who is listed in our paramparā, too. Then suddenly there’s Bhagavatam verse 1.3.27 followed by the first line from 1.3.28, which is Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. It’s preceded only by the word “bhAshhya” without attributing it to anyone. There are these three lines, Sanskrit commentary, English translation, and then another commentary from Jayatirtha’s “prameya-dIpikA TippaNI” with English translation, then summary by the author of the page itself.

It took me a while to understand the structure of the page – first there’s intro, then Gītā 10.40, then Gītā 10.41, then purport by Madhvācārya (I guess, it’s unattributed) which in itself is split, and then sentences and paragraphs from Madhva are commented by Jayatīrtha, and then the author of the page adds his own two cents and these are addressed to us. I’d say we don’t need this change and we can look at what Madhvācārya and Jayatīrtha had to say ourselves.

The context is important – Madhvācārya and Jayatīrtha weren’t discussing Kṛṣṇa’s position among other forms of Viṣṇu but BG 10.41: “Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.” It was about establishing the superiority of viṣṇu-tattva as opposed to various creations manifested in the material world.

When looking from this perspective one should naturally establish that Lord’s incarnations such as Matsya or Kurma must not be equated with relatively inferior beings such as Manus, ṛṣis and devās. These three categories come from SB 1.3.27 and in that chapter they are inserted there between the list of Viṣṇu avatāras and declaration that Kṛṣṇa is God Himself. From Madhva’s point of view it needed to be proven that avatāras are higher than ṛṣis and Manus and they are viṣṇu tattva, not vibhūtis from Gita 10.41.

I should note that viṣṇu tattva is not the term normally used by tattvavādīs here so it’s our translation but the point is the same – we need to see the difference between Viṣṇu and His vibhūtis. Just look at Madhācārya’s uninterrupted line of thought:

    • He alone is the Bhargava, the Dasharathi, Krishna, etc.; other (great) jIva-s are endowed with His amsha,” thus says the Gautama-khila.

“The R^ishhi-s, the Manu-s, and the devatA-s, the kings who are the sons of Manu, are all, along with Brahma, to be known
to be energized by Hari, only; the forms [of Vishnu] like Krishna, are the self-same Lord,” thus says the Bhagavata.

Having stated that the sages, etc., are endowed with the energy of the Lord, the incarnations like Varaha, are stated to be His own self-same nature…

What have we got to disagree with here? Absolutely nothing. We would subscribe to this point of view one hundred percent. The paragraph doesn’t end there, however, and it’s from the continuation as well as from Jayatīrtha’s commentary that our modern day critics screw out there meaning. Is it fair to do so? I’ll address this in another post.


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