If ever there was a fighting book, this has to be it. A gem from the saint philosopher, Madhwacharya, this book actually contains several points that Madhwacharya or Madhwa as he is generally called used in his arguments against Adwaithas in a debate several centuries ago.
The language and tenor of the work “Tattvodyota” is such that Prof B N K Sharma calls it the fighting work of Madhwa. Much of Madhwa’s Dwaitha doctrine can be found here. The arguments that he put forth is robust and it “bombarded” the Adwaitha view points and overwhelmed the Adwaitha scholars who had gathered to oppose Madhwa and his Siddantha.
Madhwa employed subtle arguments to overcome two Adwaitha scholars who had challenged him to a debate. The two scholars were Pundarika Puri and Padma Theertha.
Both these Adwaitha scholars had decide to take on Madhwa at the instigation of other Adwaitha scholars. Madhwa had been drawing large crowds and two of the foremost Adwaitha pandits of the day-Shibana Bhatt and Shyama Shastri had lost to Madhwa and become his disciples-Padmanabha Theertha and Narahari Theertha.
Another Adwaitha scholar, Trivikrama Panditacharya had lost to Madhwa after a marathon debate.
Several Adwaitha scholars had got together at Udupi and instigated Pundarika Puri and Padma Theertha (he is the brother of Trivikrama Panditacharya) to take on Madhwa at Udupi.
Madhwa accepted the challenge and this entire episode figures in Chapter 12 of Madhwa Vijaya written by Narayana Panditacharya, the son of Trivikrama Panditacharya.
Legend has it that when Madhwa began his arguments, the two scholars were so tongue tied that they failed to respond. Madhwa, realizing their predicament himself took their side.
The audience and the two scholars were treated to a magnificent debate by a single person who expounded opposite views. The debate was so scholarly and engrossing that each argument put forward seems to be the correct position.
Thus the Acharya himself started the debate providing both the opening arguments (poorvapaksha) and the replies (siddhanta). He began by talking of the Bheda and Bhava (difference) that exists at the human level. This, he said, continues even at the higher level or even at the stage of Moksha. He distinguishes between the Brahman and Jeeva. He debunks the theory that the world is magical and that it is only an illusion.
For Madhwa, God who creates the universe is the Independent reality, while the universe created by him is a dependent reality. Taking this point further, the Acharya says If God is “bimba” or the original substrate, souls are only pratibimbas or images. The image is always dependent on the original; it can never become identical with it. Nor can it match the original. Thus, the original and the image are always distinct.
He came down on Adwaitha philosophy like ton of bricks and compared the Brahman of Adwaitha with the Shunya of Buddhism. In one stroke, he demolished the arguments put forward by the Adwaitha philosophers that they had fundamental differences with the Buddhist way of life. He says theism is the only way of life accepted by the Shastras.
He said the “attributeless” Brahman of Adwaita can hardly be any different from the Shunya of Buddhistic tradition. Narayana, the God is one but there are many divinities. These divinities are godlike and not God, he said.
He further said that no two things in the universe are the same or identical. Each is different from the other. Even leaves of the same tree are not identical as each leaf differs with the other. Thus, the idea propogated by the Adwaitha philosophy that all is one and one is all is wrong, said Madhwa.
To the astonishment of the Adwaitha scholars, Madhwa quoted extensively from several Adwaitha works including Samkshepa Sariraka.
When the Adwaitha scholars said “Vishwam mithyaa drshyatvaat” (the world is false), the Acharya retorted “Chandrapraadeshatvaadivishayam tu
Doorasthatvaadidoshayuktatvaadapatu” (Jayatheertha or Teeka Charya has beautifully explained these two lines)
When the debate went the way of Madhwa, the Acharya held the gathering spellbound with a beautiful rendition of the Vedas. Verses seven to twenty eight in Madhaw Vijaya give us a gist of this recitation.
Narayana Panditacharya then compares Madhwa to a rampaging Narasimha and he says the Acharya used five main weapons to vanquish the defenders of ignorance. The first weapon was the Chakra in the form of Vedas, second was Shanka in the form of Acharya’s Brahma Tarka, third was Puranas as Gada (mace), fourth was the bow as Pancharatra and the last weapon was Ithihasa as sword.
Both Jaya Theertha or Teekacharya and Raghavendra Swamy have written notes on this text.