Achintya Bheda Abheda
Achintya Bheda Abheda
Shastras and Sutras
Other Indian philosophies
Vyasatirtha (c. 1460–c. 1539 ), also called Vyasaraja, Vyasaraya
and Chandrikacharya, was a
Dvaita scholar and poet. As the patron
saint of the
Vyasatirtha was at the forefront of
a golden age in
Dvaita which saw new developments in dialectical
thought, flowering of the
Haridasa literature under bards like
Purandara Dasa and
Kanaka Dasa and an amplified spread of Dvaita
across the subcontinent. Three of his polemically themed doxographical
works Nyayamruta, Tatparya Chandrika and Tarka Tandava (collectively
Vyasa Traya) documented and critiqued an encyclopaedic range of
sub-philosophies in Advaita,[note 1] Visistadvaita,  Mahayana
Mimamsa and Nyaya,  revealing internal contradictions and
fallacies. His Nyayamruta caused a significant stir in the Advaita
community across the country requiring a rebuttal by Madhusudhana
Saraswati through Advaitasiddhi.
Apart from his scholarly activities, he penned several kirtanas under
the nom de plume of
Krishna including the classical Carnatic song
Krishna Ni Begane Baaro. Under the reign of
Krishna Deva Raya, he
developed large scale irrigation systems in the villages gifted to him
under grants  and distributed his patronage among the rival schools
of thought building an atmosphere of religious tolerance. For his
immense contribution to the
Dvaita school of thought, he, along with
Madhva and Jayatirtha, are considered to be the three great saints of
Surendranath Dasgupta notes, "The logical skill
and depth of acute dialectical thinking shown by Vyasa-tirtha stands
almost unrivalled in the whole field of Indian thought".  B.N.K
Vyasatirtha "the prince of dialectitians" and goes on to
say that "we find in his works a profoundly wide knowledge of ancient
and contemporary systems of thought and an astonishingly brilliant
intellect coupled with rare clarity and incisiveness of thought and
expression". Even his rival, Appayya Dikshita, is said to have
Vyasatirtha "saved the melon of Madhvaism from bursting
by securing it with three bands", referring to the
Vyasa Traya. 
1 Historical Sources
2 Early Life
3 At Chandragiri
4 At Hampi
5 Later Years
6.2 Tatparya Chandrika
6.3 Tarka Tandava
6.4 Mandara Manjari
11 External Links
Vyasatirtha is derived from his biography by
Somanatha Kavi called Vyasayogicharita and inscriptional evidence.
Purandara Dasa and stories perpetuated through traditions
yield important insights too. Though Vyasayogicharita is a
hagiography, unlike other works in the genre, it is free of
embellishments such as performance of miracles and some of its claims
can be corroborated with inscriptional evidence.  Somanatha
mentions at the end of the text that the biography was approved by
Vyasatirtha himself, implying the contemporary nature of the work.
While some scholars attest the veracity of the text to the claim that
Somanatha was a Smartha,  others question the claim citing a
lack of evidence .
Vyasatirtha was born Yatiraja to Ballanna and Akkamma in a hamlet
called Bannur. According to Vyasayogicharita, the childless couple
approached saint Bramhanya Tirtha, who granted them a boon of three
children with the condition that the second child, who would turn out
to be Yatiraja, be handed over to him. After Yatiraja's upanayana,
Bramhanya Tirtha assumed guardianship over the child.  Bramhanya
was genuinely surprised at the precocious intellect of the child and
intended to ordain him as a monk. Yatiraja, anticipating the
ordination, decided to run away from the hermitage. While resting
under a tree, he had a vision of Vishnu, who urged him to return after
which Yatiraja returned and was subsequently ordained as Vyasatirtha.
Sharma contends that
Vyasatirtha would have been 16 years of age at
this time. 
After the death of Bramhanya Tirtha during the famine of 1475-1476,
Vyasatirtha succeeded him as the pontiff of the mutt at
proceeded to Kanchi, which was the centre for Sastric learning in
South India at the time, to educate himself on the six orthodox
schools of thought. Sharma conjectures that the education Vyasatirtha
Kanchi was responsible for his deep erudition in the
intricacies and subtleties of Advaita, Visistadvaita, Navya
other schools of thought.  After completing his education at
Vyasatirtha headed to
Mulbagal to study the philosophy of
Dvaita under Sripadaraja, whom he would consider as his guru, for a
period of 5 to 6 years. He was subsequently sent to the Vijayanagara
Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya at the behest of Sripada.
Vyasatirtha was received warmly by Saluva
Narasimha at Chandragiri.
 Somanatha speaks of several debates and discussions in which
Vyasatirtha emerged triumphant over the leading scholars of the day.
He also talks about
Vyasatirtha giving spiritual guidance to the king.
Around the same time,
Vyasatirtha was entrusted with the worship of
Venkateshwara idol at
Tirupati and undertook his first South
Indian tour. After the death of Saluva Narasimha,
Chandragiri in the court of
Narasimha Raya II until Tuluva Narasa
Nayaka declared himself to be the de-facto ruler of Vijayanagara. 
At the behest of Narasa,
Vyasatirtha moved to
Hampi and would remain
there for the rest of his life. Some scholars argue against the claim
Vyasatirtha acted as a spiritual adviser to Saluva Narasimha,
Narasimha II and Vira
Narasimha due to the lack of inscriptional
At Hampi, the new capital of the empire,
Vyasatirtha was appointed as
the "Guardian Saint of the State" after a period of prolonged
disputations and debates with scholars led by Basava Bhatta, an
emissary from the Kingdom of Kalinga.  His association with the
royalty continued after
Viranarasimha Raya overthrew
Narasimha Raya II
to become the emperor.
Fernão Nunes observes that "The King of
Bisnega, everyday, hears the teachings of a learned Brahmin who never
married nor ever touched a woman" which Sharma conjectures is
Vyasatirtha.  Somanatha implies that it was around this time that
Vyasatirtha had begun his work on Tatparya Chandrika, Nyayamruta and
Tarka Tandva. After the accession of Krishnadeva Raya, Vyasatirtha,
who the king regarded as his kuladevata, greatly expanded his
influence by serving as an emissary and diplomat to the neighbouring
kingdoms while simultaneously disseminating the philosophy of Dvaita
into the subcontinent. His close relationship to
Krishnadeva Raya is
corroborated by inscriptions on the Vitthala Temple at
accounts by Paes.[note 2]
Vyasatirtha was also sent on diplomatic
missions to the Bijapur Sultante and accepted grants of villages in
newly conquered territories for the establishment of Mutts. Stoker
conjectures that this was advantageous to both the king and
Vyasatirtha as the establishments of mutts in these newly conquered
regions led to political stability and also furthered the reach of
Dvaita.  Somanatha writes of an incident where Krishnadeva Raya
was sent a work of criticism against
Dvaita by an
Advaita scholar in
Kalinga as a challenge. After
Vyasatirtha retaliated accordingly,
Krishnadeva Raya awarded
Vyasatirtha with a ratnabhisheka (a shower of
Vyasatirtha subsequently distributed among the poor.
 The inscriptions speak of grants of villages to Vyasatirtha
Krishnadeva Raya around this period, including Bettakonda, where
he developed large irrigation systems including a lake called
Vyasasamudra.  By supporting bards like
Purandara Dasa and Kanaka
Dasa and composing several hymns himself, he gave a strong impetus to
Sharma notes that there may have been a period of "temporary
estrangement" from the royalty due to internal political friction,
Vyasatirtha retreated to Bettakonda.  After the death
of Krishnadeva Raya,
Vyasatirtha continued to advise Achyuta Deva
Raya. Inscriptions speak of his donation of
Narasimha idol to the
Vittala Temple at Hampi.  His disciples
Vijayendra Tirtha and
Vadiraja Tirtha furthered his legacy by penning polemical works and
spreading the philosophy of
Dvaita into the
Chola and the Malnad
region, eventually assuming pontifical seats at
Kumbakonam and Sodhe
respectively. He passed away in 1539 and his mortal remains are
enshrined in Nava Brindavana, near Hampi. He was succeeded by his
disciple, Srinivasa Tirtha.
Vyasatirtha authored 8 works consisting of polemical tracts,
commentaries on the works of
Madhva and a few hymns. Visnudasacharya's
Vadaratnavali, a polemical treatise against the tenets of Advaita, is
considered to be a significant influence on him.  By tracing a
detailed, sophisticated and historically sensitive evolution of
systems of thought such as Advaita, Vyakarana,
revealing internal inconsistencies, McCrea contends that Vyasatirtha
created a new form of doxography. This style of polemics influenced
Appayya Dikshita, who authored his own doxographical work titled
Nyayamruta is a polemical and expositional work in four chapters. The
first attacks the idealistic foundations of Advaita, which concerns
the falsity of the world. The various definitions of mithyatva
(falsity of the world) by the sub-schools of
Advaita are dealt with
and refuted. In the second chapter,
Vyasatirtha explains how the
Madhva doctrine of five-fold difference can be arrived at by
synthesising information from the three pramanas (pratyeksa, anumana,
Advaita concept of the merging of the soul with the
Brahman is argued against. While the third deals with the critique of
Advaita view on the attainment of true knowledge (jnana), the
fourth argues against soteriological issues in
Advaita like Moksha,
specifically dealing with the concept of Jivanmukti (enlightenment
Vyasatirtha asks whether for an Advaitin, the body
ceases to exist when the veil of illusion has been lifted and the
unity with the
Brahman has been attained.
Nyayamruta caused a furore in the
Advaita community resulting in a
series of scholarly retaliation over centuries. Madhusudhana
Saraswati, a scholar from
Varanasi composed a line by line refutation
of Nyayamruta titled Advaitasiddhi. In response, Ramacharya rebutted
with Nyayamruta Tarangini which was further criticised by Brahmananda
Saraswati. Vanamali Mishra composed a refutation of the Bramhananda
Saraswati's work and the controversy eventually died down.
Vijayendra Tirtha has authored a commentary on
the Nyayamruta called Laghu Amoda.
Tatparya Chandrika or Chandrika is a commentary on Tattva Prakasika by
Jayatirtha, which in turn is a commentary on Madhva's
Bhashya. It not only documents and analyses the commentaries of
Ramanuja on the
Sutra but also their
respective sub-commentaries.[note 3] The goal of
Vyasatirtha here is
to prove the supremacy of the
Madhva bhashya by showing it to be in
harmony with the original source compared to the other commentaries.
The doxographical style of
Vyasatirtha is evident in his copious
amounts of quotations from the main commentaries (of
Visistadvaita) and their respective sub-commentaries under every
adhikarna or chapter. Only the first two chapters of the Brahma
Sutra are covered. The rest was completed by Raghunatha Tirtha in the
Tarka Tandava is a polemical tract targeted towards the
Vyasatirtha and his predecessors borrowed the technical
language, logical tools and terminologies from the
Nyaya school of
thought and there is much in common between the two schools, there
were significant differences especially in epistemology. Jayatirtha's
Nyaya Sudha and
Pramana Paddhati were the first reactions against the
Nyaya school. The advent of Navya
Nyaya widened the differences
between the two schools especially related to the acquisition of
knowledge or pramanas, triggering a systematic response from
Vyasatirtha through Tarka Tandava.
Vyasatirtha refers to and critiques
standard as well as contemporary works of Nyaya: Gangesha Upadhyaya's
Tattvachintamani, Nyayalilavati by Sri
Vallabha and Udayana's
Kusumanjali etc. and their commentaries. The work is divided into
three chapters corresponding to the three pramanas and a number of
topics are raised including a controversial claim arguing for the
supremacy of the conclusion (upasamhara) as opposed to the opening
statement (upakrama). Purva
Advaita adhere to the theory
that the opening statement trumps the conclusion and base their
statements accordingly. Vyasatirtha's claim put him at odds with the
Vedanta community with
Appayya Dikshita being his most vocal opponent.
Vyasatirtha's claim was defended by
Vijayendra Tirtha in Upasamhara
Mandara Manjari is the collective name given to Vyasatirtha's glosses
on three (Mayavada Khandana, Upadhi Khandana, Prapancha Mithyavada
Khandana) out of Madhva's ten refutation treatises called Dasha
Prakarna and one on Tattvaviveka of Jayatirtha. Sharma notes "It is a
tough and keenly argumentative gloss, replete with logical niceties".
Vyasatirtha here expands only on the obscure passages in the
source text therefore the treatment is detailed and intricate.
Bhedojjivana is the last work of
Vyasatirtha as it quotes from his
previous works. The main focus of this treatise is to emphasise the
doctrine of difference (Bheda) in
Dvaita as is evident from the title,
which can be transliterated to "Resuscitation of Bheda". Sarma notes
"Within a short compass, he has covered the ground of the entire
Monistic literature pushed into contemporary prominence and argued an
unexpurgated case for the Realism of Madhva".
As B.N.K Sharma says, Vyasaraja is the prince of the dialecticians of
Dvaita system. He carried forward the work of his distinguished
Jayatirtha and Vishnudasa, explored and
exhausted all the technical and Shastric possibilities of making the
doctrines and interpretations of his school impregnable and
invulnerable to attacks from any quarter.
Surendranath Dasgupta pays
him the highest tribute a modern historian of
Indian philosophy could
pay when he says "the logical skill and depth of acute dialectical
thinking shown by Vyasaraja, stands almost unrivaled in the whole of
Indian thought" (p. viii, preface to vol. IV op. cit). He also follows
the example of great dialecticians like Udayana, Shriharhsa and
Chitsuka in summing up the discussion of the topic at the end of the
sections in pithy samgrahashlokas. Vyasaraja has thus enlarged the
scope and vision of
Shastra and its commentaries (tika) with
the exegetical apparatus of Nyaya,
expanded the significance of the original texts of his school in light
of their methodology. His Tatparya-chandrika is a commentary, only in
name; in effect, it is a scintillating critical and comparative study
of the interpretation of the
Brahma Sutras according to the Bhashyas
of the three main schools of
Vedanta (together with their important
commentaries). Its powerful flow of arguments and breathtaking points
of criticism are such as to leave the modern scholar and critic,
grappling with the Sutras and their commentaries, dumb with
astonishment at the masterly way in which Vyasaraja has successfully
probed the problem of the interpretation of Sutras. The tradition
rightly regards him, with
Jayatirtha as constituting
the 'trinity of authorities on
Madhva siddhanta' (muni-traya) . He
showed to the philosophical world that the system of
not just an effervescence of Puranic
Hinduism or merely revival of
Bhakti cult but a mighty philosophical movement of thought with a well
laid metaphysical structure that could hold its own against other
speculative systems in the field, for richness and depth of thought
and fineness of the speculative content. The age of Vyasaraja was,
thus, the most glorious epoch in the history of
Dvaita school and its
literature and philosophy and has not been rivaled, either before or
after him for so much all-round distinction, progress and development.
The political influence of the
Madhva school also rose to its highest
level under Vyasaraja, as he enjoyed the closest affection, and
commanded the highest esteem of the great Hindu emperor of South
^ Quote from Sastri: It was Vyasatirtha, who, for the first time took
special pains to collect together from the vast range of Advaitic
literature, all the crucial points for discussion and arrange them on
a novel, yet thoroughly scientific and systematic plan
^ Quote from Paes: Raya being washed by a Brahmin whom he held sacred
and who was a great favourite of his. Sharma conjectures that the
washing of the disciple by the guru is found only among the Madhva
people (mentioned in Madhva's Tantrasara) 
^ Bhamati, Panchapadika, Vivarana and Kalpataru of the
Srutaprakasha and Adhikaranasaravali of the
Visistadvaita school and
Tattva Prakasika and
Nyaya Sudha of the
^ Stoker 2016, p. 2.
^ Anantakrishna Sastri, Advaitasiddhi, Calcutta Oriental Series, pages
^ Sharma 2000, p. 44.
^ Sharma 2000, p. 50.
^ Stoker 2016, p. 4.
^ Dasgupta 1991, p. viii.
^ Sharma 2000, p. 97.
^ Sharma 2000, p. 34.
^ a b c d Jackson 2000, p. 903.
^ Stoker 2000, p. 24.
^ Sharma 2000, p. 252-253.
^ Rao 1926, p. xviii.
^ Sarma 2007, p. 157.
^ a b Verghese 1997, p. 8.
^ Jackson 2000, p. 902.
^ a b Sharma, p. 26.
^ Sharma 2000, p. 27-28.
^ Sarma 2007, p. 156.
^ Stoker 2016, p. 29.
^ Sharma 2000, p. 29.
^ Robert Sewell, Forgotten Empire,p. 249-250
^ Stoker 2016, p. 39-40.
^ Stoker 2016, p. 30.
^ a b Sharma 2000, p. 33.
^ Stoker 2016, p. 78.
^ a b Williams 2014.
^ McCrea 2015.
^ Sharma 2000, p. 45.
^ Sharma 2000, p. 53-54.
^ Sharma 2000, p. 57.
^ Sarma 1937, p. 15.
Sharma, B.N.K (2000) . History of
Dvaita school of
its Literature. 2 (3rd ed.). Bombay: Motilal Banarasidass.
Dasgupta, Surendranath (1991). A History of Indian Philosophy, Vol 4.
Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-8120804159.
Dalal, Roshen (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books
India. ISBN 978-0143414216.
Jackson, William (2000). Holy People of the World: A Cross-cultural
Encyclopaedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781576073551.
Stoker, Valerie (2016). Polemics and Patronage in the City of Victory.
Univ of California Press. ISBN 9780520291836.
Sarma, R. Nagaraja (1937). Reign of realism in Indian philosophy.
Sarma, Deepak (2007). Madhvacarya and Vyasatirtha: Biographical
sketches of a Systematizer and his Successors. Journal of Vaishnava
Studies. pp. 145–168.
Verghese, Anila (1995). Religious Traditions at Vijayanagara: As
Revealed Through Its Monuments. Manohar. pp. 145–168.
Rao, Venkoba (1926). Śrī Vyāsayogicaritam: Life of Śrī
Vyāsarāja, a Champū Kāvya in Sanskrit by Somanātha. Bangalore:
Vedanta Studies and Research Foundation.
McCrea, Lawrence (2015). Freed by the weight of history: polemic and
doxography in sixteenth century Vedānta. South Asian History and
Culture, Vol 6. pp. 87–101.
Williams, Michael (2014). Mådhva Vedånta at the Turn of the Early
Modern Period: Vyåsat rtha and the Navya-Naiyåyikas. International
Journal of Hindu Studies. doi:10.1007/s11407-014-9157-7.
Biography of Vyasatirtha
Madhva religious figures
Madhvacharya (1199–1278 CE)
Naraharitirtha (1324-1333 CE)
Jayatirtha (ca. 1365 – ca. 1388)
Sripadaraya (Sripadaraja) (1404 – 1502)
Vadirajatirtha (1480 - 1600)
Vijayendra Tirtha (1514 - 1593)
Purandara Dasa (1484–1564)
Kanaka Dasa (1509–1609)
Raghavendra Swami (1595–1671 CE)
Vijaya Dasa (1682–1755)
Gopala Dasa (1721-1769)
Jagannatha Dasa (1728–1809)
Supreme Personality of Godhead
Avataras of God
Achintya Bheda Abheda)
Laxmi - Ramanuja)
Brahmā - Madhvacharya)
Rudra - Vishnuswami)
Sampradaya (Four Kumāras - Nimbarka)
Chaitanya Vaisnava sampradaya
Six Goswamis of Vrindavana
Vrindavana Dasa Thakura
Names of Godhead
List of names of Vishnu
List of titles and names of Krishna
Incense of India
Criticism of Hinduism
Persecution of Hindus
Hinduism and other religions (
Hinduism * Gautama Buddha
Jainism and Hinduism
Rama in Jainism
Hinduism and Judaism
Hinduism and Sikhism
Ayyavazhi and Hinduism
Bahá'í Faith and Hinduism
Christianity in India)
Diet in Hinduism
God in Hinduism
Hinduism by country
Hindu units of time
Hindu views on evolution
List of numbers in Hindu scriptures