Adventures in Humility

News, Views, and Chews on spiritual issues.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

History of Dvaita Vedanta etc...

Ok, so I've skimmed through the book today. It is exactly what it says in the title; a history of the Dvaita Vedanta school, etc. Quite a boring book for those who are not interested in the subject, and quite a bad choice if it's a delineation of Madhvacharya's philosophy that you're after. The other annoying thing about all these religious books from India is that the Sanskrit verses are in Devanagari. Grrr....

Apart from that this is quite a good book if you're into this type of thing. I went through the chapter where Dr. Sharma discusses Madhva's influence on the Caitanya Vaishnavas of Bengal. From the Internet you'll get the impression that Dvaitins are rather inimical to Gaudiya Vaishnavas, but in this particular chapter Sharma discusses the hows and whys of Madhvite influence on Gaudiyas. I cannot really understand the detailed discussions unless I have some rudimentary knowledge of Devanagari and knowledge of Gaudiya siddhanta (Gosvami literatures) but it is very technical and gone over with a toothcomb, I feel. Of course it is the usual thing of "academic" studies for some curious/disturbing facts to come to light but it's actually quite a positive evaluation on a whole. What a surprise. Sharma even goes so far as to defend Gaudiyas when discussing criticisms of GV made by Bengali academics! There are also some very interesting facts about the parampara issue.

Check out the end of the essay:

"Notwithstanding these limitations and shortcomings, Baladeva's commentary on the [Brahma Sutras] bears the stamp of the greatest influence and impact of Mādhva thought and interpretation upon it. In him Mādhva influence on the Caitanya school has certainly reached its zenith." (p. 596)

There is also some discussion about Madhvite influence in the works of Sripada Rupa and Jiva Gosvamis, which I found to be quite a discovery. I never knew that Laghu-bhagavatamrita had Madhvite influence!

Interestingly there is a later appendix (added in the 2000 edition) which discusses problems found in the 1995 edition of Sat-sandarbhas produced by the duo of Satyanarayan and Kundali dasas of the Jiva Institute! It is these problems (an interpolation in Satyanarayan's edition that upsets Sharma by saying that Madhva is a disciplic descendent of Sankara) that lead Sharma to make other criticisms such as the issue of Caitanya's "argument" with the Udupi Math people. As such, I now find the citation of Sharma made here to be rather disingenuous, it's cited totally out of context! Although Sharma's criticisms don't appear to be based in a good grounding of the Gaudiya philosophy either. He would have shifted the blame onto Krishnadas Kaviraja Gosvamipada if he had bothered to do so.


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