Three schools of thought
Madhava Kumar Turumella
madhava at EMIRATES.NET.AE
Wed Nov 20 09:02:09 CST 1996
I have just joined this group. Indeed, I am very glad to know that
you have been discussing on Adwaita school of thought. Please give
me a chance to participate in your discussions and learn from you.
I am giving below an article I have written to further develop my
understanding over three schools of thought. I am eager to listen
your valueble comments and criticism.
Further, I apologise for the lenthyness of the Article. But, I did
not want to cut it into two.
Thanks & regards
madhava at emirates.net.ae
The Upanishads and the three schools of thought
(Dwaita, visisthadwaita, advaita)
By Madhava Kumar Turumella, Sharjah, UAE
Any religion in this world survives for ages only because of
the profundity and richness it has gotten in its philosophical
thought. Religious philosophy, in general, is nothing but the
inquiry of the privileged human being in to the unknown. Here
the unknown can be anything. Some people have inquired in to
the existence of God some others have inquired about
themselves like "who am I, where am I from, where am I going"
etceteras. Everyone, who ever inquired with an
inquisitiveness, got separate answers according to their own
understanding. Their understanding has been taught by them to
their disciples and by the disciples to the others, thus
forming a separate school of thought.
Hindu's religious books are called Vedas. Vedas are ,
basically believed to be, God's direct revelations. They are
vast compilations of many hymns received by many seers. In
olden days teachers used to teach vedas to their students,
But, the teaching is not continued like a monologue. The
subject being taught (that is, Vedic hymns) is directly
questioned and the teacher was supposed to satisfy his pupil's
inquisitive mind hence turning the teaching in to a dialogue.
The answers are so great that they again became a part of the
vedas named "upanishads."
As an illustration, we have this question "Who is supposed to
be called as a brahmin?". This question is answered in an
upanishad called "vajrasuchi upanishad." In this upanishad
the student question the guru "kOvA brAhmaNaH?". Meaning "who
is the brahmin." The guru answers rather in a very elaborate
way. The whole dialogue is recorded and kept safe, so that,
we will not get a doubt in future about the subject. In the
same way, "Kena unanishad" is also a question asked by a
student. The very name itself is a question. i.e. Kena = by
Since these upanishads are placed at the end of Vedas, they
are also called as Vedanta i.e. Philosophy. All four vedas
have their own upanishads. Actually we should have had at
least more than 1200 upanishads. Indeed, the foreign
invasions and the attack from the other religions have caused
us loosing most of the upanishads. And the great damage was
done to them by some foreign sanskrit scholars writing their
own upanishads and puts them forth to support their own
religion. For example, we have an upanishad called
"SailOpanishad" means, "That which is told on mountains."
This upanishad is nothing but a sanskrit translation of the
"ten commandments"!. Same way we have another upanishad
called "AllOpanishad" you can rightly guess the name itself
contains "Allah" the muslim God. This upanishad Is again a
translation of some parts of Holy Quron. It is not that the
other religious scholars have done something wrong. Probably,
they must have done this to make us understand their religion.
Unfortunately and inevitably these upanshads have confused the
later days' scholars and there arose a need to identify the
right upanishads. And a massive research had been commenced
and fruitfully we found the "Mouktika Upanishad." This
"Mouktika Upanishad" was taught to Hanuma by Lord Sri Rama.
It is but obvious that when Rama was ruling, there was no
Muslim or Crishtian religions. Hence our scholars have
accepted the "mouktika upanishad" as authentic. Fortunate for
us, in the mouktika upanishad Sri Rama teaches Hamuman about
moral values and quotes from various upanishads. In fact, Sri
Rama has reffered 108 upanishads. That is why we have 108
authentic upanishads. In Mouktika upanishad Sri Rama
advises Hanuman to study "Bruhadaranyaka Upanishad" in order
to understand higher self (the self with in). He also advises
if in case one fails to understand "bruhadaranyaka" then one
should study the 10 main upanishads, further he advises that
better study 108 upanishads.
The ten main upanishads, which are the back bone to the Hindu
philosophical thoughts are named in the following sloka.
SlO : eeSa kEna kaThaH praSna muMDa mAMDookya taittiri
aitarEyaMca ChaMdOgyaM bruhadAranyakaM daSa ||
They are (1) Esavasya (2) Kena (3) Katha (4) prasna (5)
muMdaka (6) maMDookya (7) taittiriya (8) aitarEya (9)
chaMdOgya (10) bruhadAraNyaka.
Thus, these upanishads are standing there to show the right
path to the seeker. Here the seeker means "one who is
inquisitive to understand the higher soul or God." "Is there
someone called God? If so, where is he? what is he doing?" These are the
basic questions each and everyone puts forward when they
happen to meet saints or godmen. You can expect the answer
from Upanishads, but to understand the subtle meaning of
Upanishad one requires a teacher.
The whole Hindu religious philosophy is basically built-up on
three schools of thought. They are dwaita (dualism) founded by
Sri Madhavacharya, vishisthadwaita (qualified non-dualism)
founded by Sri Ramanujacharya and Adwaita (non-dualism) by Sri
Adi Sankara. All three schools try to understand the term
"God" in their own way. In order to sustain their Logic All
three masters have commented on the main "Ten upanishads." I
am trying to put below my understanding over these schools by
using an example of our 3 states we experience in our daily
lives. i.e. Waking state, dream state, deep sleep state.
Dwaita: Founded by Sri Madhavacharya, this school teaches
that God is other than you. That is God is existed as you are
existed to the other person.
For example, I am fully awake now and I can see the computer
right in front of me. I can see and read the article I am
writing now and I can hear the other persons around me,
talking and disturbing me with their doubts. This kind of
state can be illustrated to Dwaita.
Dwaita advises to prostrate to God. Serve him humbly. You
are a slave to him hence obey him what ever is his orders. Do
not try to question him, because he clearly knows what he has
to give to you. Many religions in this world fall into this
dwaita category. A powerful example is Islam. During the
time of difficulties a dwaiti (one who follows dwaita) thinks
in this way :
"What ever you do Oh lord! who am I to quarrel with thee?
Does a picture ever quarrel with the painter?" - Swamy
For more understanding of this dwaita school of thought one is
recommended to read the commentaries on ten upanishads, by Sri
Question does not arise, when we understand Dwaita and try to
obey the things as they are. Dwaita has a great following,
albeit, in this world each and every human is unique in his
intellectual caliber. Hence, one may question "why should I
prostrate to someone who unnecessarily pains me? Dictate
things that I do not want to do? Actually, where is he?".
Here, the reason fails and logic does not come to rescue
dwaita. We can clearly see this in Islam. In islam God never
comes in a human form. Since he is the almighty you can see
him only during the judgment day. In Christianity you can see
the same thinking in a different way "Jesus is Jehovah's son"
that means, Jehovah is there somewhere. Something does not
stand for reason. The dwaita school never accepts human
reasoning. On contrary it says God is beyond reasoning.
There comes Vishistadwaita in to picture.
VishiSThadwaita: Sri Ramanujacharya, founder of Vishistadwaita
school of thought, in his commentaries over 10 upanishads,
says that "God is not a separate entity. Indeed, you are in
him, but you are not him." This is pointed out even in
Bhagawad Geeta. "Like the waves are in the ocean but ocean is
not in the waves."
How does one understand this?... Here is an example.
Before entering into the deep sleep state we experience a
state called dream state. In this state we dream a lot of
things. If suppose, I wanted people around me should not
disturb me and I should put this article in a more
apprehending way. Since, I did not do it in the waking state
in dream state I dream "the same computer, the people around
me, the article I am writing" everything... as a part of me.
That is, I can see everything inside me... I can see
airplanes flying inside me. Logically, how can an airplane
fit in a 5 foot 9 inches individual?... It is only possible
during the dream.
In the same way, Vishistadwaita teaches that you are a part of
God's dream. You are a character that what ever he is
dreaming. You are as if a small bubble in the Ocean called
God. Hence, each and everything in this universe is a part of
Here the question arises: Why is God dreaming? If he is
dreaming, why should he dream different characters? Where is
he? Where am I? Etceteras... Here comes to rescue the Adwaita
of Sri Adisankara, which stands for Logic and gives clear
understanding about oneself.
Adwaita: Sri AdiSankara, the greatest philosopher and
missionary ever seen in this world, is the advocate of this
School of thought. You may wonder, then who founded this?
Actually, I should say that Sri Yagnavalkya, the seer of Sri
Sukla Yajurveda, founded this school.
Awaita teaches that "you are God"... "Tat tvam asi," "that
thou art". Before going to give an example to this, I should
honestly accept that this example does not clearly stand as an
example for Adwaita State. Eventually, I could not find
After the dream state we enter into a state called the "deep
sleep state." In this state, neither the ego (i.e. `I'ness)
existed nor the world. We experience, at least for a few
minutes, absolute bliss. Since there is no ego over there we
can neither explain nor understand what that state is, except
from saying "sukhEna maya nidrA anubhootaya" means, "I slept
very well." In case, if one does question about the happiness
we experienced in deep sleep state, we fail in answering.
In Bruhadranka Upanishad, the Seer says that it is indeed the
very close state to your real state (your self). He
illustrates a bird saying that "like a bird, tired and
fatigued through out the day flying in the world withdraws
it's wings and enters to take rest in it's nest, every being
in this world tired of the daily life withdraws all it's
senses and enters and takes rest in a State called deep sleep
state that is very near to his Real state called as
The followers of Nondualism, tries to experience this state
without sleeping. We call this state as "Samadhi." This is
a state that can only be experienced but can't be explained.
In adwaita God is nothing but absolute bliss. It is also said
that when one experiences this "samadhi" he can understand
that he is God and this world is a part of him. Since he is
there the world is there. Since he can see, the Sun and the
moon and the stars are there. Since he can perceive the nature
is full of greens. If he is not there nothing is there.
Perceiver is always superior than the perceived.
Sri Adisankara while advocating this Nondualism says that
"Since you are a part of this world and right now you are not
in a state of understanding that you are God, you should
follow the path of Bhakti (dwaita) and inquisition
(VishisTadwaita). Adwaita (non-dualism) is a state that has
to be realized. Until you realise you should practice"... And
this practice is nothing but accepting dwaita and
vishistadwaita. Realisation of "that thou Art" is the final
goal. Bhagawat Geeta says "When one realises this state,
everything in this world becomes equal to him." "Sunicaiva
swapakEca paMDitAH samadarsinaH."
Personally, I feel that this is a great school of thought that
only can make us think of equanimity. When one realises that
he is everything, this world and everyone in this world are a
manifestation of himself, he feels no threat from the world.
When there is no threat where is the fear,and when there is no
fear everything is peaceful. When one is at peace he desires
nothing, when one desires nothing he does not think of evil
doings. Hence there is the great prayer in our Brihadaranyaka
"asatOmA sadgamaya - Let me travel from ignorance to the knowledge
"tamasOmA jyOtirgamaya - from darkness to the light"
"mrUtyOrmA amrutaMgamaya - and from death to the immortality"
OM SaMtiH SaMtiH SaMtiH
Seer or not I walk alone...
Madhava Kumar Turumella
P.O.Box. No : 22525
Phone : 00971-6-597451 (Resi)
Fax : 00971-6-597490
E-Mail : madhava at emirates.net.ae
More information about the Advaita-l mailing list