Archive for 23 de mayo de 2011

Dvaita — Duality

 By Br. John Martin Sahajananda

The third position in the Hindu system we’re considering is called Dvaita, a system of duality, proposed by one, Madhva, in 12th century after Jesus. He disagreed with both Shankara and Ramanuja regarding the nature of God, creation and human souls and proposed dualism. Madhva would agree with Sankara and Ramanuja that God alone is eternal (sathyam).

But, according to his teaching, God is Brahman and Brahman is Vishnu and his other incarnations. The universe is essentially different form God. The material world is not an illusion (Shankara). It isn’t the manifestation of God (Ramanuja). It isn’t created by God. The universe, he taught, was there from the beginning, as if it is eternal, though essentially different from God.

Human beings, Madhva taught, are essentially different from God. There’s a gulf between God, the world and humankind. The immeasurable power of Lord Vishnu is seen as the efficient cause of the universe and the primordial matter or prakrti is the material cause of the universe. God is personal and has many qualities, saguna. The human soul is essentially different from God. This position keeps human beings somewhat distant from God and strengthens the relationship between them.

Madhva proposed the path of devotion, bhakthi marga, and good works, karma marga. One needs to surrender to God through devotion and do good works. It’s the Lord who performs actions — energizing the soul from within — awarding the results to the soul, but he, the Lord, isn’t touched by it.

According to Madhva, we are more or less creatures of God (though he may not like to use the word ‘creatures’, in the sense of being created out of nothing). We are essentially different from him and remain so after this life. We are urged to come closer to God through devotion, but we can never merge with him. Liberation (bliss) is awarded to us according to our actions at the end of our spiritual practice, which would be after our death.

These three systems believe that there’s only one God, one eternal Reality. In that sense they are monotheistic religions. But they don’t believe that this one Reality is a creator. This is the main difference between prophetic monotheism and Hindu monotheism. Many think that Hinduism is polytheistic. In practice it looks like that, but Hinduism teaches that there’s only one God and different gods are either various manifestations of that one God or like angels in the prophetic monotheistic systems.

It’s very interesting to note how the Vedic tradition reached its climax in the Upanishads, in the 5th century before Jesus, when it was realized that human consciousness is identical with the divine, and in the 12th century after Jesus, it came down to the dualistic understanding in Madhva, where an essential difference between God and humankind is affirmed.

We can now see that there are three important concepts of a human being: essentially one with God, as per the Advaita of Shankara; manifestation of God as per the Visista Advaita of Ramanuja; and essentially different from God, as per Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Dvaita system of Hinduism. What’s common to them all is the conviction that there’s only one God. In that sense they’re all monotheistic. The difference is in the way we relate with or to that one God.

Br. John Martin Sahajananda


Continued next week



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