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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Tattvavaada, a.k.a. Dvaita

Last Updated: November 21, 1998

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I. General information; the Dvaita Mailing List and Dvaita Digest

II. Frequently asked questions about Maadhva siddhaanta

III. Appendix A: terms commonly used in Tattvavaada

(A) General terms and their definitions
(B) Error terms and their definitions

(1) Semantic errors
(2) Logical errors

IV. Appendix B: Disclaimer and restrictions

I. General information:

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II. Frequently Asked Questions:

1> What is Dvaita?

Dvaita, or Maadhva siddhaanta, is the name for the doctrine of Vedanta
that asserts the eternal and immutable difference between the individual
soul, or jiiva, and the Supreme Lord, or Iishvara (also known as Vishnu).

2> Why is Dvaita known as Tattvavaada?

Because that is the correct, and preferred name; the doctrine asserts
_five_ differences, not just the one referred to above, and its
scholars and proponents call it the "doctrine of reality," where the
three kinds of entities in the universe (insentient or jaDa, sentient
or chetana, and Vishnu or Iishvara) are all real, and the differences
between any two are also real. Hence, 'tattva' means real entity, and
'Tattvavaada' means "doctrine of real entities." Some have also
referred to Tattvavaada as Bheda-vaada (doctrine of difference), and
also as Bimba-pratibimba-vaada (doctrine of object and image -- to be
explained later), etc. These names are not in normal use.

3> What are the five differences in Tattvavaada?

Simple -- by considering the three types of entities in pairwise
fashion, one can derive the list of differences between them, which
are: (i) jiiva-Iishvara-bheda, or difference between the soul and
Vishnu; (ii) jaDa-Iishvara-bheda, or difference between the insentient
and Vishnu; (iii) mitha-jiiva-bheda, or difference between any two
souls; (iv) jaDa-jiiva-bheda, or difference between insentient and the
soul; and (v) mitha-jaDa-bheda, or difference between any two
insentients. Here, "insentient" is used to refer to _all_ entities
which are not 'chit' or having consciousness, such as matter, energy,
etc. -- including so-called "living bodies" of creatures, and also
such other insentients as space, linguistic or mathematical entities
and their symbols, etc.

To clarify: Iishvara is a sentient Being, and the jiiva is sentient
also. However, this does not imply that both are fully alike;
Iishvara is totally independent, while the jiiva is completely
dependent. It is the energization by the Iishvara that is the
responsible for the activity of the jiiva.

4> Why are the five differences important?

The understanding of these five differences is seemingly trivial, but
upon careful consideration, one sees that to properly understand all
of them, one needs to know the significant properties of every kind of
entity in the whole universe! Thus, such understanding is not easily
gained, and it is said that _all_ misery and unhappiness is due to
one's lack of understanding of one or more of these differences.

For instance, if one acts in ignorance of the Supremacy of Lord
Vishnu, and suffers as a consequence, then one can be said to have
falsely arrogated to oneself His unique and irreproducible properties
like independence, potency, etc. Similarly, the grief one experiences
due to loss of physical beauty, strength, vitality, etc., or due to
the passing of a loved one, is due to the false identification of the
insentient and ever-changing body with the sentient, immutable soul.
In the mundane world, mistaking copper for gold, glass for diamond,
etc., which are also failures to perceive difference, are known to
bring grief. One who correctly and fully perceives and understands all
the five differences can be said to have attained knowledge, and to be
fit for mukti (liberation).

5> Who is the founder of Tattvavaada?

As has been noted in the general FAQ, no school of Vaishnavism can be
said to have been "founded" in a true sense; in historical times, the
doctrine of Tattvavaada was revived by Ananda Tiirtha (1239-1319),
also known as Sukha Tiirtha, PuurNa-bodha, and PuurNa-pragnya. Srimad
Ananda Tiirtha is identified with Madhva, the third avataara
(incarnation) of Mukhya PraaNa, the god of life. This identification
comes from the BaLitthaa Suukta of the Rg Veda. Srimad Ananda Tiirtha
is also referred to by his devotees as Srimad Aachaarya, and by
everyone as Sri Madhvaachaarya, based on the identification with the
Vedic deity Mukhya PraaNa, the god of life, who is also known as Vaayu.

A detailed disquisition upon the BaLitthA Suukta can be seen at

6> What are the tenets of Tattvavaada?

There are nine important points-of-note, given by a verse by Sri
Vyaasa Tiirtha, which translates approximately as: "In Shriiman
Madhva's school, (i) Hari (Vishnu) is supreme; (ii) the universe is
real; (iii) the [five] differences are real [and are the properties of
the differents]; (iv) the leagues of jiivas are cohorts of Hari;
(v) and are with superiority and inferiority [among themselves];
(vi) mukti (salvation) is the experience of [the jiiva's] own innate
joy; (vii) that is achieved by flawless devotion to the Supreme and
correct knowledge; (viii) the three pramaaNas are aksha, etc.,
(pratyaksha, anumaana, aagama - sense-perception, logic, and scripture);
(ix) Hari is the only entity [primarily] described in all Aamnaayas
(Shrutis or Vedas)."

A slightly more detailed treatment of the verse can be seen at

7> Why does Tattvavaada emphasize debate with and denunciation of
other doctrines? Can it not just just state its own tenets?

In order to correctly understand the tenets of _any_ worthwhile
doctrine, is it essential that one be exposed to conflicting views,
and be convinced of the truth of said doctrine. Therefore, Srimad
Aachaarya's school has always held that one needs must understand all
relevant countervailing hypotheses, and must reject them _only_ after
careful analyses and consideration. Mere dogmatic repetition of facts
that are accepted too readily either by accident of birth or inability
to think, is not acceptable as such cannot lead to conviction; a
critical examination of all Tattvavaada precepts with a detailed
analysis of alternative theories in each case -- to arrive at the
truth based on valid proof -- is itself part of the tradition of
Srimad Ananda Tiirtha's school. Though this practice has been
followed earlier by Sri Shankaraachaarya and Sri Ramanujaachaarya also
in essence, their criticisms of rival theories were not complete and

8> Isn't Dvaita the mere opposite of Advaita?

Such misperception is one of the reasons why some reject the use of
'Dvaita' to refer to the doctrine of Tattvavaada. While it is true
that Advaita and Tattvavaada have had many debates over hundreds of
years, and that the latter denies the jagan-mithyatva (illusory nature
of the universe) that is one of the fundamental tenets of Advaita, it
is certainly not the case that there is disagreement everywhere, nor
is it the case that one can derive Tattvavaada merely by taking the
opposite of everything claimed by Advaita. But it can be said with
full certainty that on most fundamental issues such as the nature of
Iishvara, jiiva, attainment of mukti, etc., the two have total and
irreconcilable differences.

9> Isn't Dvaita the first step towards learning Advaita?

If it is, then it is a quite large, reverse, first step! While
adherents of Advaita say that by nature and everyday experience one
believes in the reality of the universe, etc., and that such belief
must be got rid if one is to attain complete union with the
nirguNa-Brahman, no serious scholar of Advaita claims that studying
Tattvavaada is a first step towards learning Advaita. For one thing,
it is a rule of all learning that things learned first must not
contradict things learned later; for another, Tattvavaada specifically
examines and denounces many Advaita concepts, and hence, one who has
learned Tattvavaada first cannot possibly accept Advaita later. In
fact Advaitha has not built up a credible system of analysis where the
puurva paksha or the initial proposition of Tattvavaada is examined
and rejected thereby establishing Advaita. The exact reverse obtains

10> Why are scholars and devotees of Sri Madhvaachaarya's school
referred to as "prachchhanna taarkika"?

This tongue-in-cheek appellate was allegedly affixed by some followers
of Advaita, who were piqued at being called "prachchhanna bauddha"
(disguised Buddhists). This latter designation was used because of the
great similarity between Buddhism and Advaita (both schools do not
accept the reality of the universe, both deny that the Creator is an
eternal real, etc.). In turn, Advaitis labeled devotees of Srimad
Aachaarya as "prachchhanna taarkika" (disguised logicians) because of
the latters' use of logic to show that Advaita is inconsistent.

11> How does worship by Maadhvas differ from other Vaishnava worship?

According to Sri Madhvaachaarya, Vishnu is "worshippable by all
(other) deities, and by everyone, to their best ability." Thus, in
common with other Vaishnava traditions, Maadhvas worship other deities
only as iconic representatives of the Lord, and not as independently
authoritative figures. However, Maadhvas believe that all deities
except for Vishnu's eternal consort Lakshmi, are amukta-jiivas
(un-liberated souls) performing service to Him. Tattvavaada also does
not acknowledge that worship of other claimed deities or prophets,
besides those authorized by shaastra, is useful.

Maadhvas have a "taaratamya" or divine hierarchy of deities after
Vishnu, which is derived from shaastra sources, and said hierarchy is
very important in considerations of worship, since each lesser deity
is worshipped as the iconic representative of the next higher one,
with the idea being that all worship is ultimately meant for Vishnu
only. Thus, Maadhvas acknowledge a hierarchy of worth among deities
other than Vishnu, and say that each lesser deity is akin to an image
in a mirror, of the one higher. This concept of images captures both
the notion of difference (since the object and its image are not
identical) and an hierarchy of worth (since the image is never of the
same worth as the object), and is what causes Tattvavaada to also be
referred to as Bimba-pratibimba-vaada (doctrine of object and image,
as mentioned previously).

Worship according to Srimad Aachaarya's tradition also differs from
certain other kinds of worship, since the icons or images used for
worship are considered to be completely distinct from the Deity who is
the actual object of worship. The icon is an adhishThaana, or location
symbol, while the Deity is invoked for purposes of worship.
Tattvavaada emphasizes that it is important to understand the
difference between the adhishThaana (Image) and the aavaahita (invoked
Diety), and to keep it in mind at all times -- one should never
worship the icon itself as the Lord, as that would be violative of
jaDa-Iishvara-bheda, one of the five kinds of difference.

According to Srimad Ananda Tiirtha, icons are of two kinds:
"chala-pratimaa" or "moving icon," and "achala pratimaa" or
"non-moving icon." The "chala" icons are one's elders, Gurus, other
deities besides Vishnu, etc., while the "achala" icons are statues,
statuettes, pictures, saaligramas etc., that may also be used as icons
for worship. Of the two kinds of icons, the "chala" have a naturally
higher rank than the "achala" -- therefore, service to elders, one's
Gurus, etc., when performed as worship of the Lord, is of greater
importance than the worship of stationary symbols. However, at all
times, it is important to be aware that the object or person to whom
one offers service or respect, is not the Lord Himself, nor is
authoritative independently of Him, but is merely His icon.

A detailed account of worship at the Krishna temple in Udupi can be
seen at:

12> What is the Tattvavaada concept of moksha?

Under Tattvavaada, the soul upon liberation does not lose his distinct
identity, which is different from Vishnu, nor does he become equal to
Him in any respect. While the mukta does become free of all suffering,
his enjoyment is not of the same caliber as His, nor does said mukta
become independent of Him.

The mukta experiences the joy which is his own nature, in mukti;
whereas in daily life, joy derives from the contact of senses with
sense-objects, joy in mukti is due to the jiiva's own immutable
nature. And because such joy is the jiiva's own nature, it does not
fluctuate or end, and it is not mixed with pain. Since the nature of
the jiiva is different from that of Iishvara, his joy is also of a
different nature than His, even upon mukti. Even the joy which is
intrinsic to the nature of the jiiva can only be realised due to the
grace of the Supreme being.

13> Why does Tattvavaada deny jiivan-mukti?

Because a mukta, or liberated person, should not even be physically
present in the material universe, unlike the un-liberated. A person
who is living in the world cannot be said to be free of sorrow born of
material contact, and also cannot be said to experience the joy of his
own nature at all times. The very act of living in a gross material
body entails things such as eating, sleeping, pleasure and pain, etc.,
which cannot be accepted in a mukta.

14> What is the concept of scripture, according to Tattvavaada?

The apowrusheya-aagamas, or unauthored scriptures, are the primary
sources of all knowledge of the atiindriya (extra-sensory)
entities. Only those powrusheya-aagamas or authored scriptures that
closely adhere to the former have value as explanatory sources of
knowledge about the atiindriya. Independent powrusheya texts are
considered to bring ignorance and delusion, if used to learn about the

In common with other schools of Vaishnavism, Tattvavaada considers the
prasthaana-traya (the triad of the Brahma-Suutra, the Bhagavad Gita,
and the Vedas and Upanishads) to be canonical texts. Srimad Ananda
Tiirtha however denies claims that part of the Vedas, the so-called
"karma-kaaNDa" or "mantra" portions, are of no use as scripture, and
claims that even those parts are only meant to educate us about Hari.
His school, following his lead, also does not accept that any part of
the Vedas teach anything but the truth, and says that arbitration of
apowrusheya texts, as "true-saying" and "false-saying" is
impermissible logically and spiritually. All canonical texts _must_ be
considered, and a coherent meaning found without imposing one's own
biases upon the evidence obtained.

An essay comparing Tattvavaada's take on scripture with the monistic
view may be found at

15> Who are some of the leading scholars of Tattvavaada?

Historically, there have been many great scholars and saints in the
tradition of Srimad Achaarya. Some of them are:

Sri Vaadiraaja Tiirtha -- is considered the senior-most scholar of
Tattvavaada after Srimad Ananda Tiirtha himself; his works include the
Yukti-Mallikaa, the RukmiNiisha-Vijaya, etc., and a number of
well-known stotras; he has also translated Srimad Aachaarya's
Mahaabhaarata-taatparya-nirNaya into Kannada, and has composed a
number of devotional songs in that language.

There is a page on the web devoted to Sri Vaadiraaja Tiirtha, at

Sri Jayatiirtha -- has written commentaries on a number of Srimad
Aachaarya's works, and is known for his extremely pleasing style of
writing and argument; his work, the Nyaaya-Sudhaa, which is an
exposition of Shriiman Madhvaachaarya's Anu-Vyaakhyaana commentary on
the Brahma-Suutra, is an outstanding example of his scholarship, and
is certainly one of the greatest works in Vedanta.

There is a page on the web devoted to Sri Jayatiirtha, at

Sri Purandara Dasa -- is widely renowned as the father of Carnatic
music; is less widely known as the founder of the Hari-Daasa
tradition, that seeks to propagate the doctrine of Tattvavaada through
music, in a language that ordinary people can understand. A
contemporary of Sri Vaadiraaja Tiirtha and Sri Vyaasa Tiirtha, he is
regarded by Maadhva-s as an outstanding scholar and devotee.

There is a page on the web devoted to Sri Purandara Dasa, at

Sri Vyaasa Tiirtha -- wrote further commentaries on the works of Sri
Jayatiirtha and Srimad Ananda Tiirtha; is known for his extra-ordinary
ability to run any opponent down by force of argument; he ranks as one
of the most renowned polemical scholars of Vedanta.

There is a page on the web devoted to Sri Vyaasa Tiirtha, at

Sri Raghavendra Tiirtha -- is widely known today, thanks to his
excellent reputation for providing succor in times of major
crises. Although he ranks as one of the greatest scholars of
Tattvavaada, he is better known and worshipped by millions, as an
infallible source of support when one is faced with dire

There is a page on the web devoted to Sri Raghavendra Tiirtha, at

16> What are the Maadhva institutions of the present day?

The most important one is probably the temple of Krishna at Udupi, in
south-western Karnataka, India. There are eight MaTha-s, called the
Udupi-ashhTa-maTha-s, that are dedicated to serving Krishna, at Udupi
and elsewhere. Besides these, there are several other important
maThas, like the Uttaraadi MaTha (which is claimed to be the
institution of Sri Jayatiirtha), and the MaTha-s of Sri Vyaasa Tiirtha
and Sri Raghavendra Tiirtha, known by their names.

Some information about the temple in Udupi, and associated facts and
entities, is available at:

17> Where can I get more information?

One place to look would be the Dvaita Home Page (address given at the
top of this document), which, although not nearly as complete or
exhaustive as its supporters would like, still offers some
information. In particular, it has some biographical information about
Srimad Ananda Tiirtha and some other scholars of his school, and some
bibliographical information as well. Besides these, a number of books
have been written in English, especially by B. N. Krishnamurti Sharma,
of which one, 'The History of the Dvaita School of Vedanta and its
Literature', Motilal Banarsidass, 1981, is considered quite
broad-based, if not completely authoritative. Another work by
Dr. Sharma that may be of some interest is 'Madhva's teachings in his
own words'.

18> How can I add <> to the Dvaita Home Page?

If some new material is to be added to the page, and the suggestion is
not merely a correction of an error in existing material, then it is
requested that you please post your proposed addition to the Dvaita
list/digest so that the same can be reviewed by other prospective
readers of the website, and their comments obtained. This is a
peer-review process that has been adhered to for quite some time now,
and has the added benefit of enriching the list/digest as well. If
the material proposed to be added is not your own, then copyright
concerns may have to be addressed.

19> I'm having some trouble with the Dvaita List; or: I have this
specific query or request concerning the List.

Please see the List/Digest Help File, address given above.

III. Appendix: terms commonly used in Tattvavaada.

Canonical definitions are given within square brackets, where known.

A. General terms:

1. pramaaNa ["yathaarthaM pramaaNam.h"] -- something that describes
as-is, is called a pramaaNa. This can be of two types:

1.1 kevala-pramaaNa ["yathaartha-GYaanaM kevalam.h"] -- knowledge of
something as-is, is called kevala-pramaaNa.

1.2 anu-pramaaNa ["tat-saadhanaM anu-pramaaNam.h"] -- a source of
the previous, is called anu-pramaaNa; such can be of
three types, which are:

i> pratyaksha ["vishayaan.h prati-sthitam hi aksham.h"] --
flawless interaction between a sense of perception (like
sight), and an object or entity in its domain, is called

ii> anumaana ["tarkaH adushhTaH"] -- inference without flaw
constitutes logic. Flaws of inference are described below.

iii> aagama ["adushhTa vaakya"] -- sentences, or bodies of
sentences (texts) without flaw, are called aagama.

Also of interest are:

2.1 pramaataa ["pramaavaan.h pramaataa"] -- a person in whom pramaa
exists, is the pramaataa.

2.2 prameya ["pramaavishayaH prameyaH"] -- the subject of pramaa,
is the prameya.

2.3 pramaa ["yathaarthaGYaanaM pramaa"] -- knowledge of something
as-is, is called pramaa.

Note: pramaa thus means the same thing as kevala-pramaaNa, except that
it is used in a singular sense, to denote _one_ piece of correct
knowledge, etc.; the latter is more often used to indicate a body of
correct knowledge, and such.

3.1 hetu -- antecedent, in an inference.

3.2 saadhya -- consequence, likewise.

3.3 upa-jiivya -- anu-pramaaNa by which hetu is known.

3.4 upa-jiivaka -- anu-pramaaNa fed by, or created by, saadhya.

B. Error terms.

1. Semantic errors (shabda-doshhaaH):

1.1 virodha ["yogyataaviraho virodhaH"] -- This can loosely be
translated as 'opposition,' and the definition reads loosely as:
"Lack of ability is opposition." What the definition means to say
is that if a statement runs counter to one already accepted, and
is unable to force its own way, then it must be rejected, for
being opposed to a known fact.

1.2 asaN^gati ["aakaaN^kshaaviraho asangatiH"] -- This can be
translated as 'irrelevance,' and the definition reads: "Lack of
fulfillment of expectation is irrelevance." In a discussion, if a
reply given, a point raised, or a statement made, is not in
accordance with the expectation that it be pertinent to the
matter under discussion, then it is irrelevant.

1.3 nyuunataa ["vivakshitaasaMpuurtirnyuunataa"] -- This can read as
'nullity,' with the definition reading loosely as:
"Non-satisfaction of the claim constitutes nullity." In a
discussion, if someone makes a claim, and later gives evidence
that does not support the claim in full, then such evidence
suffers from nullity, with respect to the claim. Another type is
where a definition given does not cover all cases of the
objects or entities to be defined.

1.4 aadhikyaM : "sangataavadhikatvamaadhikyam.h" -- This can be
translated as 'superfluity,' and the definition as: "An excess
over what is relevant, constitutes superfluity." In a
discussion, if someone takes the meaning or definition of
something to cover more than what it should, then such is
superfluous. Another type is where a definition given covers
more than the object, entity, or set to be defined.

Note: nyuunataa and aadhikya have also been referred to, in special
cases, as a-vyaapti (non-domination), and ati-vyaapti (over-domination).
The latter, ativyaapti, is the error responsible for Russell's paradox.

2. Logical errors (tarka-doshhaaH):

2.1 aatmaashraya : This can loosely be translated as "assuming the
consequence," in some cases. More generally, however, if
something "rests on itself," in the sense that an object or
entity is stated to have a property such as presence within
itself, support of itself, etc., then this flaw exists. A standard
example is "sva-skandha-aarohaNa" or "mounting one's own

2.2 anyonyaashraya : Loosely, "mutual reliance." If a statement is
proved by another, and the latter by the former, then this error

2.3 chakrakaashraya : "circular reliance," a.k.a. circular reasoning.
A more general case of the above; if instead of two, we have 'n'
number of disputed statements, that are tied in a circle so that
each one proves the next, then circular reasoning is shown.

2.4 anavasthaa : Infinite regress. If the proof of a statement
requires an assumption, and proof of that assumption requires
another, and proof of that still another, and so on, then
infinite regress is said to occur.

2.5 pramaa-haana : "neglect of evidence," as in, when a statement
neglects to take into account the fact that it is in opposition
to accepted evidence. This itself has various forms:
shruta-haana (neglect of Shruti), dR^ishhTa-haana (neglect of
pratyaksha), etc.

2.6 kalpanaa-gaurava : "Respect for imagination." If a statement must
be assumed without proof, so that an inference based upon it may
be accepted, then the inference is subject to the respect that
has been accorded to one's imagination, and is unacceptable.
Economy in assumptions is a virtue.

2.7 upajiivya-virodha : "Opposition to upajiivya." If an inference is
made where the consequence runs counter to the source of
knowledge by which the antecedent is known, then the inference is
considered incorrect, for opposing the source of its own
antecedent, and the error made is known as upajiivya virodha; as
has already been noted, 'upajiivya' is the name given to the
anu-pramaaNa from which the antecedent is known.

2.8 apa-siddhaanta : "Invalid thesis." If a doctrine or a proponent
puts forth a claim earlier in an argument, but subsequently
attempts to defend a contrary position (i.e., a claim different
from the previous), then the apa-siddhAnta-doshha -- the error of
an invalid thesis -- is said to occur.

Note: upajiivya virodha is actually a form of pramaa-haana, but is
often referred to separately.

IV. Appendix B: Disclaimer and restrictions

This FAQ is the result of a combined effort by the following individuals:

Bala R. Krishna <bkrishna -at->
N. A. P. S. Rao <napsrao -at->
Narahari S. Pujar <pujar -at->
Shrisha Rao <shrao -at->

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Last updated: April 16, 1998

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I. Frequently Asked Questions for Haridasas

II. Glossary of Terms with meaning used in Haridasa Sahitya

I. Frequently Asked Questions for Haridasas

1) Who are Haridasas?

The term 'Haridasa' means literally 'servant of Sri Hari'. In common
parlance the term refers to devotional poets, who composed songs in
Kannada (a language in use in South India particularly in Karnataka)
in praise of Sri Hari (The supreme Godhead according to Hindu scriptures,
who is also called Narayana, Vishnu etc.).

The Haridasas were servants of God. Sri Vijayadasa, a famous
Haridasa in his Haridasalakshana Suladi describes the vows that have to be
taken by the Haridasa before ordination. These include absolute
faith in Sruti, Smriti, Purana and Ithihasa as interpreted by Acharya
Madhva and his disciples who preached the Dvaita tenets.

Note : The Haridasas are followers of Sri Madhwacharya who was the founder
of Dvaitha siddhanta which has the following nine fundamental tenets.

* Sri Hari is sarvottama ,sarvashaktha, sarvavyapi etc. The supreme being
is infinitely superior to all, and has infinite capacity and pervades
every where.
* The world is satya (has real existence)
* Bheda (difference between objects and souls etc as observed in the
world) is real and not imaginary as postulated by Advaitha.
* There are fundamental and eternal differences between souls or JIvas who
have different innate capacities.
* All the jIvas are servants and dependents of Sri Hari.
* Mukthi or liberation from the eternal cycle of births and deaths and
suffering in this world is the realisation with God's grace, the innate
bliss that is the essence of the JIva himself.
* Bhakthi (Devotion) is the main sadhana (means) of
achieving Mukthi (liberation).
* There are three pramanas (means of cognising valid truths) only -
Pratyaksha, Anumana and Sabda.
* Hari is knowable only through the Vedas.

The order of the Dasas was built up by a regular band of saintly
souls, who dedicated themselves to the service of the Lord by propagating
their faith and singing the praises of Hari wandered from one end of the
country to the other. The main messages enshrined in their songs were :

* God is easily approachable by all.
* God is to be praised and constantly remembered as our benefactor.
* Realising the true nature of God's benevolence towards us and offering
even simple worship within the means available to one is more acceptable
to Him than ritualistic or pompous ornamentation without mental

They were universally respected and fully supported by MAdhva
pontiffs (MatAdhipathi's or swamiji's) and scholars. The Dasas were
semi-ascetic in their approach to the world at large. They renounced the
pleasures of the world but were house-holders and lived a normal family
life. They accepted food offered to them when they went around with their
bags (called Jolige) without storing it for profit (Unchha Vrutti).

Temples and maThas became their main abode. They went around towns and
villages singing and dancing with a single-stringed tamboori instrument
and castanets. Barefooted, simply dressed in dhoti and turban, the Dasas
presented a picture of simplicity, austerity and elegance.

2) What is Dvaita or TattvavAda?

Dvaita or TattvavAda is one of the leading schools of Hindu philosophy.
It was propounded by AchArya Madhwa (aka MadhwAchArya, Ananda tIrtha).
The cardinal precepts are : The supremacy of Sri Hari and surrender to Him
and service to humanity as the sole means of liberation. Please see item
No.1 for details. The philosophy of Sriman Madhvacharya is essentially
pragmatic with relevance to everyday life. Its emphasis on Duty, Morality
and Devotion to the supreme being at every stage of life leads towards the
twin objectives of building a sound individual and an orderly society.
Acharya Madhwa propagated the true spirit of modesty, selflessness and
sublimity by commending that every individual shall always consider
himself as a servant at the feet of the Supreme Lord, who is the
embodiment of all perfection and perform his assigned role in the world as
his duty towards the Lord.

for further details see Dvaita FAQ. ( or

3) Who was AchArya Madhwa?

He was the founder of the dvaita or tattvavAda school of philosophy. For
more details, see the dvaita homepage (

4) What was the relationship between Dvaita and HaridAsas?

HaridAsas were followers of AchArya Madhva, the founder of the dvaita
school of philosophy. They drew their inspiration from scriptures as
correctly interpreted by AchArya Madhva. Consequently, dvaita provided the
philosophical underpinning for their work. Compositions of Haridasas can
be broadly classified as those essentially meant to explain the Dvaita
vedantha concepts and others which are prima-facie devotional music. The
former were mostly composed by Ascetics and householders who wanted to
popularise Dvaita amongst the masses. They are sometimes in the form of
independent texts like Harikathamruthasara by Sri Jagannatha dasaru in the
18th century, which is accepted as an authority in Thathvavada even by
scholars. Sri Vadiraja has also composed many significant compositions
with this end in view. Such works were mostly composed till the 18th
century. But a large number have been composed by others in the form of
Suladis and Ugabhogas in kannada, which can be sung to rhythm, but are not
particularly intended for musical rendering but for explaining the Thathva
and deal with it in some detail by explaining the concepts in simple
language. Ugabhogas are very short and emphasise a topic considered very
important. Suvvalis are also written occasionally, which contain great
philosophical truths embedded in homespun kannada - Ex. Thathva suvvali of
Sri Jagannatha dasaru.

The majority of songs composed by Haridasas, specially those who
came in the Nineteenth century, however are in the nature of devotional
music extolling the supreme being and our reverence to Him. Occasionally
they also refer to specific Thathvas and injunctions briefly which are
illustrated by stories from Puranas. There is no detailed reasoning and
exposition of the philosophy of Acharya Madhva, which is usually taken as
axiomatic. The drift of the songs is lyrical and didactic rather than
logical and definitive. Nevertheless, certain basic tenets of the system
like the doctrines of Hari sarvOttama (Lord Hari is the Supreme amongst
all gods), 'tAratamya' (gradation), 'panchaBhEda' (fivefold differences
amongst all the entities in the world), the nature of souls, the infinite
and immutable attributes of God, and the nature of 'mOksha (liberation)
are invariably dealt with. Most of the songs are extremely well written
for being sung in classical music - Ragas, Thalas etc. These songs when
sung with great musical beauty and emotional feelings take the singer and
listeners very close to the object of such worship.

For more details you can go to Influence of Sri Madhvacharya on Haridasas
section of Haridasa homepage.


5) What are the basic tenets of Acharya Madhwa's teachings?

* Vishnusarvottamatva - Supremacy of Lord Vishnu
* Vayujeevottamatva - Supremacy of Vayu among Jeevas
* The World is real (satya) and not illusory
* Panchabheda - Five fold distinction
* Bhakti (Devotion to God) is the sure route to God

6) How did the concept of 'haridAsatva' start?

The first person to start the practice of composing devotional
songs in kannada, the language of the people, was Shri NaraharitIrtha, (a
direct disciple of Acharya Madhwa himself in the 14th century), but the
one who really breathed life into the practice was Sri shrIpAdarAja
(aka Sri LakshmInArAyanatIrtha) and his disciple Sri VyAsaIrtha.
They were both mAdhwa pontiffs, with extraordinary proficiency in the
original philosophical compositions of Acharya Madhwa and his disciples
which were in sanskrit. However, in order to draw the common man
into the fold of
devotion, they composed devotional songs in kannada.

Even though there were a few others before him, the first,
universally revered haridAsa who was not an ascetic was Shri Purandara
dAsa. He was a direct disciple of Shri VyAsatIrtha and lived in the 16th
century, contemporary to Sri Purandara is Sri Kanakadasa. Among other
dasas were Sri Vijaya Dasa, Sri Gopala Dasa, Sri Jagannatha Dasa,
Helevanakatte Giriamma and others.

For further details see
'History of Haridasas".

7) What is the Background of Dasa's?

The Dasas, though learned, were humble servants of God and
undertook to spread the message of Acharya Madhva in the simplest, most
comprehensive style. Kannada, the spoken language of the common people was
the medium of communication. Telling phrases couched in common idiom and
racy vocabulary made the compositions directly appealing to the mass of
people. Hundreds of common day-to-day figures of speech, similes and
thoughtful observations with deep insight into human nature made their
songs crystal clear in conceptualisation of abstract thoughts of
philosophy along with their relevance to day to day living. The beauty of
Dasa sahithya lies in simplicity, directness, and clarity without being
crude and inane.

Additionally, Dasa literature appealed not only to a particular
sect or area, caste or community but had a universal appeal. Their sole
purpose was to praise the Lord for his mercy and beneficence. Their art
lay in unravelling the heart without ego, arrogance, cunning or secrecy.
The Dasas broke open the hidden treasures of philosophy unexplored till
then except through sanskrit; the common man had the feast of scriptural
knowledge and drank the ambrosial honey to his heart's content. The Dasas
reiterated the basic concept, that devotion to the Supreme creator was the
only salvation for mankind.

Being in close touch with the life in the raw of common people the
Dasas became shrewd observers of life. Their compositions therefore were
natural, spontaneous and quick to touch the heart. The Dasas preached
basic things such as ephemeral qualities of human life, the superficially
enchanting and miragelike worldly attractions which usually lead to misery
and the deep seated quest for liberation in everyone's heart, which leads
us to the final saving grace of the Supreme being. The incarnations of Sri
Hari was always a very fertile subject and in the hands of Haridasas, He
became a well known figure who was almost human - like Sri Rama and
Krishna who besported themselves in the world while concealing their
incomparable superiority to other persons around them. A similar approach
was adopted by the famous devotion poets in the north like Meera, Surdas
etc. Instead of a frightening and unknown entity to be feared, God became
a person to be adored for His great and auspicious qualities and above all
for his closeness and approachability by all.

8) What kind of life did the haridAsas lead?

HaridAsas were semi-sanyAsis. They renounced all the pleasures of the
world but were house-holders and had a normal family. They were mendicants
who accepted alms for sustenance, without storing it for profit. Temples
and maThas were their main abode. They moved from place to place and lived
by getting food from house to house,(Uncha Vrutti), singing and dancing
with single-minded devotion.

A typical sight would be that of a haridAsa walking on bare foot from
one place to another, playing the tambUri and singing kIrtanas, despising
comfort and rest, suffering hardship and privation, exhorting people to
lives of truth, virtue and devotion to God, conveying their teachings
through soul-stirring music. The gentle message of their songs had a
direct appeal which no heart susceptible to noble impulses could ever

9) What is the Order of 'Dasatva'?

There are no distinctive religious practices and rituals
associated with the order of the Dasas, except perhaps the congregational
prayers held at Pandharpur, or other holy places, temple, maTha, Guru's
(preceptor) house etc. The initiation ceremony and administering oath of
allegiance, and the employment of music and dancing served as part of the
devotional discipline.

The order of the Haridasas (servants of God) was built up by a regular
band of saintly souls, who dedicated themselves to the service of the Lord
and singing the praises of Hari, wandered from one end of the country to
other. These saints of Dasa order centered their affections on Vithala of
Pandharpur as the patron deity of their order. Each of them was awarded an
Ankitha - Nomogram, (nom-de-plume) which was different from his original name, like
Purandara, Vijaya, Gopala etc and they were known by the new name -
Purandara Dasaru etc. In the case of well known ascetics like Sri
Vyasaraja and Vadiraja, while they retained their ordained ascetic names,
they still used a distinctive name of the Lord - Sirikrishna, Hayavadana
etc as Ankitha in their songs.

10) What was the contribution of haridAsas to literature?

KannaDa, the spoken language of the people was the medium of
communication. Telling phrases, couched in racy vocabulary made the
compositions powerful and effective. Hundreds of common figures of speech,
thoughtful observations served to make their song easily understood by the
common man. Beauty lies in simplicity without being crude and inane.

Dvaita sidhdhAnta thus reached many people/devotees through the
music and compositions of the dAsas. Their compositions are equally
available to all - the young and the old, men & women, the pious as
well as the sinful, untouchables as well as high-caste people,
without any distinction of caste, creed, region or religion.
Many of the simple statements made by Haridasas were accepted
into the ordinary vocabulary of common people to express their own
approach to life.

For more details see Haridasas Contribution to Literature

11) What were the main messages propagated by haridAsas?

The main messages enshrined in their songs were :

* God is easily approachable by all.

* God is to be praised and constantly remembered as our benefactor.

* Realising the true nature of God's benevolence towards us and offering
even simple worship within the means available to one is more acceptable
to Him than ritualistic or pompous ornamentation without mental

12) What was the style of Compositions followed by HaridAsas?

Each haridAsa had a distinct style of his own, inimitable and
personal. While PurandaradAsa adopted a simple, lucid KannaDa style with
telling phrases and similes, KanakadAsa revelled in a strong, fighting
style that delivered the message directly. VijayadAdAsa followed his
master Sri Purandaradasa while Sri Jagannathadasa sprinkled his
compositions with many sanskrit words. Each dAsa took a road of his own
choice knowing fully well that the ultimate goal was to praise the Lord.

The compositions of the haridAsas are thought-provoking yet
simple yet serious in content, serious yet enchanting, enchanting yet
didactic. Many serious philosophical tenets were introduced to the
uninitiated as well as described in depth to the expert.

For further details you can refer to Style & Compositions of Haridasas at

13) What type of Compositions did the haridAsas produce?

There is a wonderful fusion of music and poetry in the works of the
haridAsas. There is great variety in their compositions:

* prosody-pada,
* suLAdi,
* ugABhOga,
* tattva-suvvAli,
* shlOka,
* kanda,
* vachana,
* vrittanAma,
* dvipadi,
* tripadi,
* choupadi,
* shatpadi,
* ashtapadi,
* ragale
* yalapad.

We find a vast variety in the subject matter too - biographical,
religious, philosophical, social, ethical, ritualistic, introspective, and
so on. It was PurandaradAsa who composed the famous 'pillAri gItas', the
learning of which has become the firm foundation of karnAtik music even

For further details you can refer to Style & Compositions of Haridasas at

14) What instruments were used by Haridasas?

Haridasas constantly moved from place to place touring towns and
villages singing and dancing with a single-stringed tamboori instrument,
foot bells (kalgejje) and castanets (chatike) being their only musical
accompaniments. Portability and simplicity were the keynotes to the
musical instruments they used.

15) What is the meaning of Devotion?

The path of devotion calls for total surrender to the almighty.
Based on the Upanishads, the Puranas and personal experience, the
proponents of Bhakthi Marga (the path of devotion) have structured their
relationship to God in different ways ie mother-child, preceptor-disciple
(Guru-Shishya), master and servant, husband and wife, Shantha-swaroopa
etc. to feel from the core of their heart intense devotion or love for
Sri Hari. In a nutshell these relationships are called panchavidha
bhavagalu. They are Dasya, Madhura, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Shantha bhava.

Intense love and devotion for the Supreme being lead one to
release from the trammels of worldly sufferings. The road starts
with the directions in Bhagawatha Purana and the Geetha. Liberation is the
slave of devotion.

As taught by Acharya Madhva, Haridasas attach supreme importance
to bhakthi, though karma and jnana (action and knowledge) are also
necessary. In fact, these three means of salvation are complementary to one
another. The Haridasas were imbued with a spirit of equanimity, detachment
from worldly attractions, great love and kindness towards mankind and
other living beings along with a strong sense of social duties and
responsibilties coupled with selflessness. They are like the torch-bearers
guiding those who still wander in the dim darkness of dreary samsara.
Their experiences and expressions give solace to many a passerby to
avoid the pitfalls of life, rest himself and quench his thirst by drinking
the sacred nectar of their most sublime and immortal songs.

For further details you can go to Devotion/Bhakti Movement
at http://www

16) How does one practice devotion?

Devotion calls for both external and internal cleanliness
(Antaranga Shuddi and Bahiranga Shuddi). Internal cleanliness refers to
having a pure mind and heart. To achieve external cleanliness one should
take bath, wear clean & washed clothes, eat the food which has been
offered to God (nEivedya). Internal cleanliness is achieved by following
the prescribed modes of worship of the Supreme being - such as Shravana
(listening), Manana (assimilating), nididhyasana (concentrating one's
mind), etc. of the great and auspicious qualities of God. By doing all
these things one can hope to get devotion.

For further details you can go to Devotion/Bhakti Movement at

17) What is the significance of Taratamya / Panchbheda in the
Dvaita system?

AchArya Madhva has defined Bhakthi or intense devotion to God as
"Mahathmyajnanapoorva", "Sarvathodhika" Sneha. True devotion necessitates
accurate and complete knowledge of the object of Love - its superiority
and goodness etc. As men are always attached to objects of desire or
emotion, the love of God should grow and transcend all other attachments.
Only then will it be possible to achieve the single minded devotion to God
which leads to liberation.

The immense superiority of God in all respects, His transcendental q
ualities and His nature which is infinite and unreachable by words or
thought is extolled by Upanishaths. Thus, our very limited and imperfect
natures, and our total dependence on God's bounties for our very
existence should convince any one of the difference between God and

Existence of multiple conscious beings is also a fact observed by all.
That there is difference amongst such living beings and
they have innate worths which lead them to achieve different levels of
misery or bliss is also an empirical extension of the observations from
the external world. Acharya Madhva has shown that these differences
between God and the soul, the souls themselves, inanimate objects and God
and the souls are also the final conclusions of Vedantha philosophy when
interpreted correctly. In Dasa compositions, these are stated in general
terms and no attempt to explain this doctrine, which is generally stated
as an accepted fact. There are some compositions which refer to the
incorrectness of Advaitha concepts which lead the aspirant away from the
true path.

References are also made to the shruthi texts
which support the Bheda doctrines and the concept of Taratamya or
gradation. The subject is dealt with more exhaustively in Suladis and
Suvvalis. But the emphasis is not on polemics, but on teaching the
essential doctrines to the deserving aspirants. By highlighting the gulf of
between God and man and the great qualities of God and his devotees, the
songs rouse the spirit of man from a life of worldly attachment and turn
it Godward. They deal with all aspects of spiritual discipline taught by
the scriptures and take us along the path of God realization.

18) What is the hierarchy of gods according to dvaita?

Following is the hierarchy of Taratamya Devataas: the number
stands for the rank of the respective devata and bracketed description is the
respective tatvas they belong to:

1. Paramathma, Hari Vishnu (Sarvottama; Purusha)
2. RamA Devi, MahAlakshmi (Avyaka Tatva; MUla prakruti)
3. Brahma and VAyu (mahattatva)
4. Saraswathi or Brahma Pathni and BhArathi or VAyu Pathni
5. Garuda, ShEsha and Rudra (Ahamkara Tatva)
6. Krishna's shanmahishi's: Nila, Bhadra, Mitravinda, Kalindi, Lakshana,
7. Sauparni or Garuda Pathni, VAruni or ShEsha Pathni and PArvathi or
Rudra Pathni
8. Indra and KAma (manasthathva)
9. Ahamkarika PrAna (Tejasahamkara, Tvagindriya)
10. Daksha (Paneendriya), Anirudda and KAmaputra, Rathi and KAmapathni,
SwAyumbhuva Manu (Upasthendriya) Bruhaspathi (shabda), shachi and
Indra pathni
11. PravahavAyu (Vayutatva, BhUtavayu)
12. SUrya (Chakshurindriya), Shataroopa or SwAyambhuva Manupathni,
Chandra(Shrothrendriya) and Yama
13. Varuna (Aptatva, Rasanendriya)
14. NArada
15. Prasoothidevi, Bhrigu and PradhAnagni (Vagindriya, Tejotatva)
16. Sapta Rishi's, PrahlAda and Vyvaswathamanu
17. Mitra, PrAvahidevi and TAra : Bruhaspathi's wives and NiR^ti who is
18. VishvaksEna, Ashwini DevatAs (Ghranendriya), Ganapathi(Akasha Tatva)
KubEra and Shata Devataas.

Here out of Pancheindriya, four has been covered; Prithivi tatva
concerned devataa is ShanEshwara who stands at 25th place. From Pancha
Karmendriya, four has been covered in the above list and the other devataa
is Jayantha who is the son of Indra.

The reverse order of the above ranking is Arohana method.

Haridasas follow the same path what has been shown by Sri Madhwa
and composed their songs accordingly.

19) What is the meaning of VyAsakoota & DAsakoota?

Haridasas were sometimes referred to as belonging to two
divisions: VyAsa Koota and DAsa Koota. The followers of VyAsa Koota were
learned in the Vedas, Upanishads and other Darshanas with a true
constructive appreciation of the metaphysics and of manifestations of
Vishnu. They were strict disciples of Vedavyasa Tradition and have
composed both slokas and Keertanas in Sanskrit and Kannada. The followers
of DAsakoota were generally content to write compositions in kannada which
explained to the masses all elements of value enshrined in the Vedas and
in those involved in Vyasa tradition and taught the masses.

There was no philosophical or doctrinal difference between the two
groups. Both accepted Dvaita philosophy of Acharya Madhwa. The difference
in approach was superficial as the compositions were targeted at different
levels of seekers of truth - the former being intended for those who
wanted to delve deeper while the latter was for the general lay public. In
fact, the Krithis of some saints like Sri Vyasaraja have some, which could
be classified as belonging to Dasakoota. VyAsa Koota was concentrating on
the philosophic aspect of the teaching Thathva, removing connfusion in
interpretation of vedic texts, showing errors of previous
interpretations, turning every prejudice into light and kindling love of
truth into a passion; the other class was singing the praises of Vishnu to
the masses for persuading them to follow the path of Bhakthi in a manner
which they could best understand and follow. Both the groups spread the
message of the great teacher to the farthest corner of the country.

For more details you can refer Vyasakuta and Dasakuta

20) What is "Ankitha"?

It is the phrase or set of words used by a Haridasa, usually at
the end, to sign-off a composition. It is basically a literary signature
or signet /mudrika or pen-name or nom-de-plume that identifies the composed.
Each Haridasa had his or her own ankitha. The table of Haridasas provided
in the Introductory part lists the ankitha of all popular Haridasas.

Ankita was conferred by the Guru after being duly satisfied of the
merits of the student aspiring to be a member of the Haridasa Pantha. The
ankita as Vittala in the case of Purandara, Vijaya and Jagannatha Vittala
was intuitively perceived by the Guru after apprehension of the Swaroopa
Guna and after realisation of the immanence of Bimba Rupi Paramathma in
the soul of the sishya.

However, some Dasas obtained their Ankitas directly through divine
intervention, usually in the form of a dream (this method is called swapna
labda). Some of the saint Haridasas kept their Ankita's of the special
form of Lord to which they were devoted for example Sri Vadiraja -
Hayavadana & Sri Vyasaraja - Siri Krishna. One exception to this rule was
Jagannathadasa who got his ankita on a stone in the Bhima river in

Most of the dasas worshiped Vitthal of Pandharpur and adopted the
God-given 'Ankita' "vitthala". For example "Purandara Dasa", "Vijaya Dasa"
"GopalaVittala" etc.

For further details go to

21) What is a Bhajan? What are the types of Bhajans?

Faith and Bhajan (prayer) are the constituents of Bhakti or
devotion of Haridasa for, by faith and prayer alone that one can acquire
the Nom de Plume of Haridasa.

Prayer is one of the sources of deep constructive energies of life
and has always been a steady uplifting power in the long story of human
progress. Prayer raises man above self-seeking and utilitarian aspiration.
It transcends rationalising tendencies in man. The attempt to find
antecedent causes for everything is bound to explain higher stages in
terms of lower and simpler ones. We are bound to go back and back for our
causes until we lose sight of supreme values of life, and find ourselves
enmeshed in a mechanistic scheme of movements, which is substituted for
more vivid realities subjectively experienced.

Prayer is born of our own need for spiritual fellowship, and it is
a kind of divine mutual and reciprocal correspondence, and gives a
transcendental thrill of life. Prayer in its highest reaches climbs to a
vicarious exercise of the soul, in the sense of feeling with those who
feel and suffer, and thus establish through invisible vibrations, complete
identity with Humanity.

There are three types of Bhajans (prayers). They are;

* supraBhAta (early morning/wakeup) Bhajana
* avarOhaNa (descending order) early morning Bhajana
* ArOhaNa (ascending order) evening bhajana

22) What are the rules which are generally followed before doing bhajan
or devotion to the God?

* The one who does the bhajan should wake up early in the morning.
* On completing the nature call (purification) and dental cleaning one has
to take bath.
* Or one has to wash his face and put Mruthike (mud) of Tulusi (basil
leaves) and start Bhajans.
* According to the environment one should wear suitable clothes.
* One could wear Tulusi (basil leaves) beads necklace which is considered
as sacred to Vishnu.
* After taking bath one has to wear Urdhva Pundra through Gopi Chandana
and Pancha Mudra.
* For evening bhajans one should wear Sandal Paste, Akshatha & Angara
on the forehead.
* One can also tie pink cloth on the head to show the passionlessness.
* One has to detach his mind from impure and unpleasant things which are
happening in and around the place and will be concentrating only the
bhajan and Sri Hari.
* One should adopt restricted food habits.
* One should conduct the Bhajans either in the temple or in the house
where God Icons are specially kept for this purpose.
* One should conduct the bhajans the way in which great Haridasa's has
taught or shown.
* One should try to follow the raga of the songs as laid down by the
composer and should not invent new ragas.
* One should try to keep in his mind the meaning of Shruti, Smruti and
Puranas texts which are summarised in the songs.
* One should sit in a disciplined way to make bhajans.

23) What are the sequence of Bhajans?

The songs which are sung by Haridasas are usually in the following
They are;

* Avahane
* Asana
* Arghya
* PAdya
* Achamana
* SnAna (bath)
* Vastra (cloth)
* Abharana, Upavitha (jewels)
* Gandha (sandal paste)
* Pushpa
* Dhoopa
* Deepa
* NeivEdya
* MangalArathi
* LAli (only during night times)
* Sarva Samarpana

24) What is the meaning of "Padas", "Suladis" and "Ugabhogas"?

* Padas: Padas are composed both before and after the God-Vision
(Aparoksha jnana) obtained by the Haridasas.
* Suladis: Suladis are composed and used for preaching doctrinal points
once Haridasas obtained Aparoksha.
* Ugabhogas: Ugabhogas are composed automatically when they were
experiencing ecstatic meditation.

For further details you may refer to Compositions and Style of haridasas

25) Where can I find biographical information on Important Haridasas :

Haridasa Bhaktha Vijaya written by Beluru Keshavadasa which is considered
to be classical book on Haridasa Sahitya was first published in 1944 (reprinted)
will give brief account of each Haridasas in kannada language

(Ref : Sri Karnataka Bhakti Vijaya, Mysore, Harimandira 1944)

26) Why Vittala is added with Ankitha?

Lord Vishnu in different forms, especially in his Krishna/Vittala form is
the source of inspiration to the Haridasas. The followers of Madhva are
inspired by Krishna. This is mainly because of the importance given to
Krishna by the great Madhvacharya who installed Bala Krishna in Udupi and
also the lord has been wonderfully depicted in the Bhagavata.

Sri Vittala of Pandarapura is associated with Bhakthi and Bhajan movement
since the time immemorial. Sri Vittala is being adorned by large number
of devotees barring caste, religion, sex etc. That might be the reason
for Haridasas associating their ankita with Vittala. Another explanation
is that Sri SripAdaraja who was the beginner of this great movement has
kept his ankita as 'Ranga Vittala' and Sri Purandara Dasa has continued
this tradition by keeping his ankita as Purandara Vittala. This tradition
has continued even to-day.

27) Which are the holy places associated with Haridasa movement?

Pandarapura, Udupi, Tirumala Tirupathi, Manthralaya,
Vraja-Gokula-Brandavana-Mathura, Dvaraka, Srirangam, Hampi, Belur,
Srirangapatna and other few places are associated with Haridasas. These
are the places where Bhakti/Devotion movement has been started and reached
its peak in praising the presiding dieties of the places. Some of the
local dieties are also associated with Haridasas like Kaginele Adikeshava,
Helevanakatte Ranga etc. depending upon the individual haridasa's devotion
and worship.

28) Are all Haridasas Brahmins/Madhwas or are there others who are
associated with this movement?

For worshipping God there is no bar on caste, religion, creed etc.
Other individuals who have faith in God and the principles of dvaita
have also subscribed to Haridasa movement. Sri Kanaka Dasa, Sri Bade sab
Ramdas and others are the living example of individuals who are associated
with dasa movement though they belong to other communities.

29) Are there Dasas in other hindu religious sects also?

Yes, Alwars are assocated with Srivaishnava sect, Hare Krishna Panth aka
ISKON or Gaudiya sect is also associated with bhakti movement. There are
few Advaita dasas also. Shaivites are also associated with Bhakti
movement with their vachanas with different principles.

You can also look at Comparison of Haridasas with other saints of
Haridasa homepage at

30) Which are the regions where Haridasas are concentrated or lived and
Haridasa sahitya is generated?

Most of the Haridasas are from Karnataka and Maharashtra region. In
Karnataka also most of the Haridasas and Haridasa sahitya were available
from Raichur district covering Gadwal, Anegundi, Lingasugur etc and
Dharwad district. It has also spread in south of Karnataka like Mysore,
Bangalore etc.

31) Who are the famous Haridasas?

Among the Yathi (saint) dasas Sri Sripadaraja, Sri Vyasaraja and Sri
Vadiraja thirtha are well known.

Among the house holder haridasas Sri Purandara Dasa, Sri Kanaka Dasa, Sri
Vijaya Dasa, Sri Gopala Dasa, Sri Mohana Dasa, Sri Jagannatha Dasa,
Helevanakatte Giriyamma, Sri Mahipathi Dasa, Sri Venugopala Dasa, Sri
Prasanna Venkata Dasa, Harapanahalli Bhimavva, Sri Guru Jagannatha Dasa,
Sri Pranesha Dasa are most popular.


II Glossary of Terms with meaning used in Haridasa Sahitya

The following is the list of foreign terms used in this document (mainly
from sanskrit and Kannada languages) and their definition/meaning in the
context ofHaridasas.

* Acharya : Spiritual teacher, most commonly used in connection with
Acharya maDhwa.
* angAra : A special coal-based paste worn on the forehead used by
maDhwas. Usually used in combination with akshate.
* Ankitha : A phrase or combination of words used by a dAsa to identify a
composition as his or hers.
* akshathe : A special paste worn on the forehead used by maDhwas. Usually
used in combination with angara.
* arohana : Ascending order
* avarohana : Descending order
* BhAgavata : BhAgavata purAna : one of the holy scriptures revered by all
Hindus. It describes the incarnations of vishnu.
* BhagavadgIta : one of the holy scriptures revered by all Hindus.
* Bhajan : A hymn. Usually sung collectively.
* Bhakthi : devotion
* Bhakthi-marga : The path of devotion
* Bharatha : India. Is also used as short form of MahABhAratabharatha.
* Chatike : Musical instrument used by HaridAsas for their bhajans. It is
made out of wood with small bells which gives sound for their songs.
* dAsa : see HaridAsas
* dAsakUta : gathering of dAsas see FAQ
* dAsatva : the principle of considering oneself a haridAsa, surrendering
to the lord.
* dashAvatAra : the ten incarnations made by Vishnu to protect the world.
* Dhoti : A cloth used by Indians to cover the lower part of their
body. Usually this cloth is made of cotton and is usually white in
* Dvaita : one of the major schools of Hindu philosophy.
* gIta : another term for BhagavadgIta.
* gOpi-candana : Special yellow mud available in Dwaraka, western part of
India which is used by maDhwas for Urdwapundra and other marks on the
* JnAna : Knowledge.
* guru : Teacher, preceptor
* guru-shishya : teacher-pupil
* Hari, Sri Hari : One of the names of Vishnu.
* hari sarvOttamatvatva : The principle of considering hari (or vishnu) to
be \ the foremost amongst all Gods.
* HaridAsa : Servant of God
* Hindu : One of the major religious of the world. The main religion of
India and Nepal.
* Indriya : Sensory organ.
* jada : a non-living or inanimate being.
* jIva : a living being.
* kAlagejje : small bells attached to the foot.
* kannaDa : one of the languages of India, spoken mostly in karnAtaka
* karma : has several meanings. Major ones are fate or Destiny, action
* karnAtaka : one of the states of India.
* karnatak music : One of the traditional schools of Indian music. Popular
in the southern parts of India.
* kIrtana : A song composed according to conventions of classical music.
* MahABhArata, bharatha : A holy epic revered by all Hindus.
* mantra : hymn, a devotional incantation.
* maTha : a religious monastery.
* maThADhipatis : the head of a religious monastery.
* maDhwa : The founder of dvaita or tattvavAda school of Hindu philosophy.
* mADhwa : can be used as a noun to indicate any follower of maDhwa. Can
be used as an adjective to indicate anything related to the dvaita \
school of philosophy.
* mOksha : used interchangeably with "mukthi"to indicate liberation of a
soul from the cycle or birth and death.
* mrutthike : soil or mud which has been sanctified.
* mudrike : signet, ring or ankitha
* mukthi : used interchangeably with "mOksha" to indicate liberation of a
soul from the cycle of birth and death.
* naivEdya : food offered to God.
* nArAyana : One of the names of Vishnu.
* padas: Padas are type of compositions of HaridAsa's composed both before
and after the God-Vision is provided by the Haridasas.
* panchaBhEda : Five-fold difference. See FAQ for more details.
* pancha-Mudra : five seals or symbols. These are used by maDhwas to
sanctify their body.
* panchEndriya : five sensory organs.

* pandharapur : A city in Maharasthra, India, a religious pilgrimage
center for Hindus.
* pAnDuranga : one of the names of Vishnu alias Krishna.
* paramAtma : supreme soul (God)
* pillari gItas : Musical compositions to be taught to beginners
* prakruthi : nature
* purAna : Sacred Hindu mythology supposed to have been composed by
* purusha : human being (male).
* rAma : one of the incarnations of Vishnu.
* rAmayana : a holy epic revered by all Hindus. Describes the life of rAma
one of the incarnations of Vishnu.
* sAhitya : literature
* samsAra : material world.
* samsAra bandhana : worldly bondage (usually meaning misery)
* samgIta : music.
* sanskrit : ancient language used in Hindu religious scriptures.
* sanyAsi : mendicant friar. He is supposed to have renounced all
worldly ties.
* sarvOttamatva : quality of being Supreme, used to denote vishnu or Hari
* shuDhi : purity, clean
* shruti : musical tone used to help a musician stay in tune. It is also
used for vEdas (which are usually heard in ears).
* siDhDhAnta : Fundamental principles.
* sishya : Disciple, follower, student.
* smruti : holy scriptures. Usually used to denote vEdas.
* sulAdis: Suladis are composed and used for preaching doctrinal points
once Haridasas obtained Aparoksha.
* swAmIjI : A (respectful) form of addressing a religious pontiff or
* tAla : rhythm
* tattvavAda : another name for the dvaita school of philosophy.
* tambUri : a single or four stringed instrument used by Indian musicians
as an accompaniment.
* tAratamya : hierarchy
* tulasi : basil plant. Considered to be very dear to Vishnu and hence
revered by all hindus.
* uGabhOgas: uGabhOgas are composed by Haridasas when in ecstatic
* Uncha vrutti : One who earns the food/money not for keeping or saving
and to eat/live for daily basis.
* Urdhva pundra: Five symbols or stamps which are put up by the maDhwa's
on the body through gOpi-candana.
* upanishads : sacred or religious lore of Hindus.
* vEda : sacred scriptures of Hindus.
* ViTTala : one of the names of Vishnu alias Krishna.
* vyAsa : short form of 'vEdavyAsa', one of the incarnations of Vishnu. Is
also used to denote vyAsa Tiirtha a great maDhwa pontiff.
* vyAsakUta : a gathering of scholars see FAQ.

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