Tattvavâda has an essential doctrine that all the `svarUpAmsha'-s of the Lord, such as Matsya, Kurma, etc., and the Original (Moola) form are identical in all respects. The Shrutis such as neha nAnAsti kiJNchana and the Brahma Sûtra na sthAnato.api parasya ubhayaliN^gaM sarvatra hi state clearly that there cannot be any difference or gradation among the forms of the Lord. ISKCON has many concepts which are fundamentally against this concept. Some of these are briefly mentioned:
- The two-handed from of the Lord Krishna is superior to all other forms of the lord such as Narayana, Vishnu, etc. This is based on a statement in the Bhâgavata (1.3.28) -- kR^ishhNastu bhagavAn.h svayam.h. According to Jîva Goswami this shloka indicates the primal position of Sri Krishna and all other statements which indicate otherwise should be interpreted to sustain this position. The other text used by ISKCON is ahaM sarvasya prabhavo (Bhagavad Gita 10.8), where `sarva' is interpreted to include other forms of God like Nârâyana. Though it is admitted that the forms are identical in terms of `tattva' (essence), they differ in `rasa' or more complete manifestation of the capabilities. All these concepts are not only totally against Tattvavâda, but are classified as major sins (`nava-vidha dveshha' -- indicating the nine forms of hatred of the Supreme Being, by denying His unique greatness and freedom from all defects and limitations) which lead to eternal hell. The texts used by ISKCON are perfectly capable of being correctly interpreted to support the doctrine of total identity in all the forms of the Lord and indeed have been done so by Achârya Madhva in his compositions. Incidentally, ISKCON claims identity of the two-handed form Krishna with their founder Sri Krishna Chaitanya.
- ISKCON also believes that there are three different features of the Lord and realization of Him by the soul will be higher for Bhagavan than for Brahman or Paramathma. The same quote from Bhâgavata mentioned earlier is used to "prove" this. Tattvavâda makes no distinction of any such kind as realization of the Supreme being is essentially based on the Swaroopa of the soul and its Jnana, Karma, etc. In his AnuBhâshya, Achârya Madhva clearly enunciates:
sachchidAnanda Atmeti mAnushhaistu sureshvaraiH |
yathAkramaM bahuguNaIH brahmaNA tvakhilairguNaiH |
upAsyaH sarvavedaishcha... ||
The auspicious qualities of the Lord are infinite in number & extent and cannot be visualized or even understood by anyone else. Mukti Yogya souls are required to understand and worship Him as Sat, Chit, and Ananda as well as Atma (their own inner controller). Superior souls with higher Svarupa abilities will worship gradually increasing numbers of the qualities, while Chaturmukha Brahma has the intrinsic capacity to worship all the infinite auspicious qualities of the Lord.
The manifested forms of the Lord do not yield different results depending on which one is worshipped.3.2 Jîvas a part of the Supreme Being?
Tattvavâda considers that the Jîvas are bhinnAMsha-s of the Lord -- based on the faithful interpretation of the Gîtâ text -- mamaivAMsho jIvaloke jIvabhUtaH sanAtanaH and the Brahma Sûtra -- ata eva chopamA sUryakAdivat.h. A clear distinction has to be made between the Self-Same Forms of the Supreme being, like Râma, Krishna, Matsya, etc., which are not only the same in essence but also have equal capabilities and auspicious qualities in all respects (mentioned earlier). Jîvas are like images of the Lord with many similar qualities but are essentially different from Him. These differences which are intrinsic to them will persist even after Mukti is attained. The most important and basic differences, like the atomic nature of the souls and their eternal and total dependence on the Supreme Being, will never change since they are a part of the soul's essential nature.
On the other hand, ISKCON accepts that the living entities are part and parcel of the Lord. Their concepts are based on a totally different interpretation of the Gîtâ text mentioned earlier, the matter not being fully cleared among themselves. But Sri Prabhupada translates the Gîtâ text XV-7 as follows :
The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmented parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling with the six senses, which include the mind. In his purport for that verse, which begins with, "In this verse, the identity of the living being is clearly given. The living entity is the fragmented part of the Supreme Lord -- eternally.
This concept is entirely unacceptable to Tattvavâda because it is against the Shruti Pramânas and others considered in the Brahma Sûtras.3.3 A Question of Gradation
A cardinal doctrine in Tattvavâda is the gradation among souls, with Chaturmukha Brahma and Mukhyaprâna being considered the highest -- Jîvottama. The differences in the positions attained in creation, period of sâdhanâ, degree of devotion, knowledge, etc. are due to their intrinsic superiority (svarUpa uttamattva). All the Jîvas have their svarUpa qualities which remain unaltered throughout their eternal existence including Mukti, when they enjoy bliss according to their capacity. Unless this feature is accepted, it will be impossible to accept that the Supreme being is free from the defects of vaishamya and nairghR^iNya (partiality or neglect). The position of Tattvavâda is well-supported by numerous Shrutis & Smritis like the Gîtâ and Brahma Sûtras. For example, the Brahma Sûtra
Both the Lord and the living entity, being qualitatively spirit-soul, have the tendency for peaceful enjoyment. However, when the part of the Supreme Personality of Godhead that is the living entity unfortunately wants to enjoy without Krishna, he is put into the material world, where he begins his life as Brahma and is gradually degraded to the status of an ant or a worm in stool.
This concept suggesting a fall from an exalted condition of the Jîva (though it is part of "the Supreme Personality of Godhead") does not have any scriptural support. Though târatamya (Gradation) is not specifically rejected, its importance in the scheme of things is also not clearly understood in ISKCON as the same Jîva is thought to be capable of being both Brahma and a worm. According to Sri Madhva, ISKCON's philosophy is therefore incapable of causing mukti, because he says:
tAratamyaM tato j~neyaM sarvochchattvaM harestathA |
etadvinA na kasyApi vimuktiH syAt.h kathaJNchana ||
In other words, the gradation of souls is to be understood, and the quality of Hari as the Supreme to be understood based on this (that is, that Hari is not merely blandly superior, but is superior even to the highest of Jîva-s), and that without this understanding, no mukti is possible under any circumstance.
3.4 The Unknown `Panchama Purushârtha'
According to Tattvavâda, like all other schools of Vedânta, Moksha is the Supreme Purushârtha or objective of the Soul. The realization of one's own nature of bliss for eternal enjoyment is by the grace of the Supreme Being. By His Aparoksha, the veils obscuring the Jîva's own swarupa and that of the Supreme Being are removed. The intense love of the Supreme Being, called devotion, continues in Moxa as well. Since it is natural and is of the essential nature of the Jîva himself, it transforms itself into Bliss.
On the other hand, ISKCON considers that there is a fifth purushârtha even superior to Moksha, which a true devotee of Krishna will seek. This is prema bhakti, of the same kind as the Gopis had for Krishna in His incarnation. This devotion involves performing some service to the Lord, which will continue even after liberation. This appears to be based on a superficial reading of a verse from Bhâgavata extolling the love that very exalted devotees have for the Supreme being by saying that their devotion is so natural and intense that they do not have even Mukti as their objective. They say that this love will continue even after Mukti and is not a substitute thereof. This concept is not accepted by Tattvavâda, as Achârya Madhva has quoted in Gîtâ Bhâshya (Chapter 2 -- shloka 50 ) --
na moxasadR^ishaM kiJNchid.h adhikaM vA sukhaM kvachit.h |
R^ite vaishhNavamAnandaM vAN^mano.agocharaM mahat.h ||
-- ityAdeshcha brahmAdipadAdapyadhikatamaM sukhaM cha mokSha,
iti siddham.h ||
Similarly ISKCON admit that even intense hatred for the Supreme being can result in Liberation giving the examples of Shishupala etc. But Tattvavâda holds that only devotion can get Mukthi and never dvesha or hatred for God, The examples quoted in the Bhâgavata are explained by the concept of Jîva Dvayâvesha -- Shishupala having the swarupa of Jaya (the gate keeper at Vaikuntha) who was afflicted with a life on Earth due to a curse by a Rshi. There was an âvesha or superimposition of an evil Jîva who was actually responsible for all of Shishupala's temporary hatred for God. So only the good deserve Mukti and obtain it.
3.5 Four Correct Traditions?
atah kalau bhavisyanti catvarah sampradayinah |
sri-brahma-rudra-sanaka vaisnavah ksiti-pavanah ||
ramanujam srih svcakre madhvacaryam caturmukhah |
sri-visnu-svaminam rudro nimbadityam catuhsanah ||
Tattvavâda does not accept the validity of this shloka, which seems to hold that different Vedânta schools which have been arguing over the correct interpretation of Vedânta Shrutis since their inception are all valid -- in spite of essential differences. The same confused approach of ISKCON is also seen in their acceptance of the Bhâgavata Bhâshya by Sridhara Swamin, which tends to interpret many texts according to Advaitic tenets, while they claim to follow Dvaita school whenever it's convenient. According to Tattvavâda, the only correct school is that of Achârya Madhva -- ante siddhastu siddhAnto madhvasyAgama eva hi in the words of the revered saint -- Sri Vâdirâja.
There are also some beliefs peculiar to ISKCON which are not shared by any of the three major Vedânta schools. These are:
4.1 Identification of their Founder Sri Krishna Chaitanya with Lord Krishna
- They interpret the Bhâgavata text -- kR^ishhNavarNaM kalau kR^ishhNaM ... yajanti hi sumedhasaH as showing Chaitanya (a.k.a. Chaitanya Mahâprabhu) as an incarnation of Vishnu. This interpretation is baseless. No Avatar of the lord in Kaliyuga is stipulated by authorized compositions like Purânas, etc., composed by Sri Veda Vyâsa.
- There are also basically untrue and fanciful stories in some "historical" works written much after him about Sri Krishna Chaitanya giving assurances to Achârya Madhva of following him and preaching the correct doctrines. Madhva's authentic biography Sumadhvavijaya, composed immediately after Achârya Madhva, and his tradition do not report any such events. Since they are not mentioned, there is no ground for such stories.
- Even the Vishnu Sahasranâma, known to depict the thousand names of Vishnu, is quoted in support by ISKCON -- suvarNavarNa hemAN^go varAN^gashchandanAN^gadI, etc., which are all used to refer to only one form of the Lord in the original -- to refer to Sri Krishna Chaitanya! Tattvavâda does not accept these or any such interpretations with no valid basis, which even prima facie appear to fail the test of consistency with valid scriptural statements.
- A work called Chaitanya Charitâmrta also elaborates an entirely fanciful account of the visit of Sri Krishna Chaitanya to Udupi and his "defeating" the Tattvavâdi ascetics there. Needless to say, the account has no basis of reality, since it was composed much later with no record of any discussions being preserved. It also, in the words of Mm. B.N.K. Sharma, grossly misunderstands the Tattvavâda position on "the relative positions of karma, j~nâna and bhakti in the scheme of the sâdhana-s". It should also be noted that the fictitious Tattvavâda Achârya in the Chaitanya Charitâmrta is not allowed a single quotation from scripture in favor of his position, while his opponent offers several. Also to be noted is that Chaitanya propounds a "fifth purushârtha" entirely without support from scripture, but is not challenged upon the point by the Tattvavâda teacher, which is incredible. These and other such bogus accounts appear to be embellishments thought up in the recent past by illiterates.
There are other concepts based essentially on Brahma Vaivarta Purâna allegedly glorifying Râdhâ as superior even to Lakshmî (eternal consort of the Lord), the superior position of Goloka, etc. None of these find a place in Tattvavâda, and these quotes are all equally bogus.(false)
A completely bogus text called Tatvamuktâvali or Mayâvâda-Shata- Dushani, written by an 18th century scholar called Poornânanda, has been wrongly attributed to Achârya Madhva. There are authentic and traditional documents which clearly show that this is totally incorrect.