From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Visnutattvavinirnaya, ViSNutattvavinirNaya, Vishnutattvavinirnaya

Madhvācārya lived in A. D. 1238-1317. He was the chief architect of Dvaita Vedānta. He has 37 works to his credit. Out of them ten are prakaraṇagranthas or treatises dealing solely with his Dvaita philosophy. The Viṣṇutattvavinirṇaya is the most complete and outstanding among them.

Content of Viṣṇutattvavinirṇaya

It is in prose and is spread over three paricchedas or chapters. The first is the biggest and most exhaustive. The other two are very short.

Overview of Viṣṇutattvavinirṇaya

The points covered in Viṣṇutattvavinirṇaya are as follows:

  • God the Supreme, called Viṣṇu, Nārāyaṇa, Hari or Vāsudeva, can be known only through the sadāgamas or true scriptures.
  • They are the Vedas, the two epics and the Pāñcarātra texts.
  • The Vedas are the supreme authority since they are apauruṣeya.[1]
  • Viṣṇu is the Supreme Reality.
  • Mokṣa or liberation is attained only by his grace.
  • His grace can be attained only by the knowledge of his greatness and devotion to him.
  • The identity of the jīva[2] and īśvara[3] as the advaitins aver can never be proved in any way.
  • Vedic sentences like tat-tvam-asi have been shown that they teach only difference and not identity.
  • The second chapter shows the greatness of Viṣṇu and his consort Lakṣmī.
  • It also denotes the inferiority of all other deities like Brahmā and Śiva.
  • The last chapter is devoted to prove how Viṣṇu is perfect, beyond all the limitations.

Commentaries on Viṣṇutattvavinirṇaya

Out of the several commentaries, the Anuṣudhā by Jayatīrtha[4] is the best. It has seven sub-commentaries.


  1. It is not a creation of human beings.
  2. Jīva means the individual soul.
  3. Īśvara means God.
  4. He lived in A. D. 1340-1388.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore