I came across a Shloka by Madhvacharya (ananda teertha) in which he calls advaitins as "deceitful demons". Also, in the work madvavijaya considered to be the authentic biography of Madhvacharya, the portrayal of Adi Shankaracharya as a wicked incarnation of the Asura Maniman is very weird. Ad Hominem attacks on Adi Shankara is made.

Do followers of Madhvacharya actually believe all this?

What about the current scholars and gurus of the Madhva tradition?

Do they believe this?

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    One religious leader trying to prove another a demon.. what a wonderful thing to have for the Hindus.. and what great spiritually evolved persons those people were..
    – Rickross
    Aug 13, 2018 at 5:51
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    I have no opinion one way or the other towards Madhva scholars. The purpose of this question is not to form an opinion but understand belief. Obviously belief varies from person to person but I would like to know the ground reality. Of course, this is a real question. The attacks on Adi Shankaracharya are ad Hominem attacks. How is calling Adi Shankaracharya an Asura or a womanizer not ad Hominem? Comparing Advaita with Buddhism and attacking the doctrine of Maya are all proper arguments. Not calling Adi Shankaracharya a bastard. Such statements have no place in a scholarly treatise. Aug 14, 2018 at 13:33
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    I must also clarify, however, that I do have a low opinion of the original author of Madhvavijaya. The reason has nothing to do with any softcorner for Adi Shankaracharya. I would have had a problem if Madhvacharya was attacked in a similar way by some other scholar. The reason is that these scholars are supposed to be role-models for their followers. They are supposed to encourage constructive argumentation and debates, a proud Indian tradition for milenea. But name calling and ad Hominem attacks disrespect this great tradition. Aug 14, 2018 at 13:47
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    why dont you realise that all these biographies of the early mediveal period are no longer readable? Civilization has advanced and so has sophistication and our preferences. These are just bogus
    – user17294
    Feb 4, 2019 at 15:17
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    I have seen videos where current Madwa gurus talking low of Sringeri Shankaracharya and saying Madwaacharya is the realised one. I personally do not consider those gurus as realised ones when their aim is claim superiority over another.
    – Kanthri
    Jul 3, 2021 at 4:50

7 Answers 7


It is because they cite a specific verse from garuDa purANa which says maNiman demon reincarnated in kali yuga.

As per them the incarnation of vaayu in dwapara yuga was Bheem sena and the incarnation in kali yuga is Madwa (Ananda teertha) who came to defeat the demon maniman in kaliyuga who was previously destroyed in dwapara by bheem sena.

The text maNi manjari is a very important text for the Madhwas as it is written by nArAyana panDitAcharya who was son of Trivikrama panditacharya, a direct disciple of Madhwa himself. He is also the author of authentic biography of madhwa called Sumadhwavijaya.

The views given below are for Sankara, his lineage, his philosophy as well as his disciples like padmapAda.

Chapter 6

Kali and other demons (the enemies of Devatas) were very happy to hear the plan of Dvpara (formerely Sakuni) and honoured Maniman with zeal and spoke to him thus.

'O brother, salutations to you; take birth on earth and destroy the Vedas, puranas and other scriptures completely soon'.

Being inspired or ordered in this way by Kali, Dvapara and other demons, Maniman made up his mind to be born on earth although he had fear of Bhimasena.

When the mind is spoiled, some people will be fickle minded and they will readily accept our Mithyavada philosophy; those not influenced by us, will neglect it; and only some people will try to refute the theory.

After studying the Vedas, he went on a journey in the northern direction and while he was crossing the river, he (Sankara) lost his sacred thread - Yajnopavita - but he continued his journey.

Sankara said - 'O, Sacred cord, you are leaving me; note that I have forsaken you earlier; of what use are you to me; who does not perform Vedic karmas (actions)' So saying, he went away quickly.

The highly learned sage, Paratirtha observed the demonic signs on the bachelor without sutra (sacred cord) and bent his head in disgust, and went away after sipping water thrice as penance for having seen such a wicked persons.

Sankara made out that the sage was aware of the demonic features in him, and hence he went to Badari after crossing river Godavari (Vrdha Ganga). There, he met a disciple of Paratirtha, by name Satyaprajnya) and told as follows:

'I am the disciple of your master (Paratirtha) and I have come here on his permission', but he did not trust his words.

Satyaprajna found out at once that the bachelor was vile, devoid of all good qualities like devotion, detachment from worldly passions and in utter disgust, he abandoned him.

Having experience in his previous birth (as Maniman) and due to strong memory in this birth, Sankara meditated on Brahman as attributeless and with identity of souls (which amounts to Sunya tattva of Buddhism).

Once, the demons (Dvapara and others) approached him during a night and respected him and said 'Sankaracharya, you are our solace'.

'O pure minded padatalotyaja (ie. A person born in Kaladi village) we wish you happiness and prosperity. We think of you in full confidence, as our agent in our task of destroying the Vedas'.

'We will enter the minds of the astikas (who have belief in Veda in form and make them helpful to you and love you. You start assassination the character of Vishnu by citing Vedas of wrong interpretation). So saying the demons went away. (Thus the teachings of Asuras from Stanza 24 to 39).

Govinda Bhatta readily accepted him as his disciple. Sankara told him 'We shall preach Sunyavada (Buddhism) in the guise of Vedanta or otherwise, the people will abuse us as Non Vaidikas. As such, I will study Brahmasutras under Brahmadatta (a sannyasi) to know the meaning and significance of the same'.

The deceitful Sankara spread Buddhism only in the garb of Brahmasutras; he substituted the words 'Sunya' and 'Samvriti' (of Buddhism) respectively by words 'Brahma' and 'avidya' (of Vedanta), the characteristics being the same.

Five wicked persons by name Totaka, Padmapada, Jnanothama, Bijada became disciples of the deceit Sankara.

Notes: They were wicked because they destroyed the minds of even the saintly persons by their perverted teachings.

When his death was approaching, Sankara was suffering from veneral diseases, fever and deep breath. His voice became very feeble.

The deceitful disciples, who were the enemies of Vedas, went to their dying master hastily and asked 'revered master, what we have to do now?'

Sankara told them 'O Great Demons, I have almost done my duty; but the disciples of the Great Paratirtha have to be destroyed.'

So saying to the Great Demons, who were capable of executing the instructions, Sankara called four other intelligent demons and told the following:

'You go to Beejada and ask him what are the difficulties and sorrows I have to face in my future births'. They went in all the ten directions and came back to him.

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    The question is actually this - "Do followers of Madhvacharya actually believe all this? What about the current scholars and gurus of the Madhva tradition? Do they believe this?" So you should be citing the opinions of such persons.
    – Rickross
    Aug 13, 2018 at 5:48
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    Rickross is right. I am more interested in what is believed today by an ordinary dvaita follower and also what is believed by the scholars and gurus. Given that Adi Shankaracharya is respected as a saint by many and furthermore a number of famous stotrams are attributed to him, it would be really strange if many dvaita scholars do consider him a wicked Asura. It is also quite possible that an ordinary follower is simply unaware of these attacks on Adi Shankaracharya. Aug 13, 2018 at 8:54
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    @Jaikrishnan but then Sankara also criticised all the existing sects of that time. He showed that most of the sects like pancharatra and most of Shaiva traditions like pashupata are non vedic. Also samkhya and mimamsa are not good for so called moksha. Then it is natural that they would respond back in strong words and in that process some have crossed the line and used wrong words. But all other vedanta sects have called him crypto Buddhist etc. Aug 13, 2018 at 9:41
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    @Rakesh Joshi Criticizing other doctrines is alright. But did Shankara engage in personal criticism of the proponents of those doctrines? What we find in Madhva / related texts is the latter too. That is the question involved in this discussion. May 3, 2019 at 2:17
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    @Jaikrishnan Go to any ISKCON temple and you will experience first-hand the vitriolic art of demeaning Shankara :) You can also visit Chennai ISKCON. Talk to some Brahmacharis there about this issue.
    – user965167
    Nov 30, 2019 at 10:24

Yes. Madhwas belive that Shankaracharya was a demon. This belief is deeply ingrained inthem and constantly nurtured. Madhwa himself sowed the seeds for such hated in the Mahabharata Tatparya nirnaya. Demonizing Shankara is a daily must for Madhwas. They teach hatred towards Shankara and Advaitins to their young boys in their gurukula through Manimanjari, Madhwa vijaya, Vayustuti, etc. The boys grow up with this hatred and openly discourse in public demonizing Shankara and Advaitins. They have to do that as Madhwacharya has taught them in the Ishopanishad bhashya that not criticizing 'wrong doctrine' will lead to andham tamas.

Here is a collection of instances of demonizing/denigration of Shankaracharya and Advaitins in Madhva texts. It is only a sample; not exhaustive. It has Kannada, English and Sanskrit material. One example, that can never be equalled or surpassed is: Inside this file there are many links to the Madhwa texts under reference.

Vadiraja, in his Kannada Laghu Vayu stuti addresses the Advaitin: You shameless dog, claiming to be Omniscient (deriding the Advaitin's Aham Brahmasmi) you are ignorant of your wife cheating upon you. This text is approved by many Madhwa institutions and they host it/print it. There is a recording of this song by a woman. It is on the net.

These are verses from Madhvacharya's Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya:

अग्रे निधाय मणिमन्तमजेयमुग्रं शम्भोर्वराद्विविधशस्त्रमहाभिवृष्ट्या । तान् सर्वराक्षसगणान्मणिमत्समेतान् भीमो जघान सपदि प्रवरैः शरौघैः । २२.२९५ । अवध्यां स्तान् क्षणेनैव हत्वा भीमो महाबलः । रणे क्रोधवशान् सर्वानतिष्ठद्गिरिमूर्द्धनि । २२.२९६ । ते हता भीमसेनेन प्रापुरन्धन्तमोऽखिलाः । हताः सौगन्धिकवने मणिमांश्च पुनः कलौ । जातो मिथ्यामतिं सम्यगास्तीर्याऽपुस्तमोऽधिकम् । २२.२९७ । According to the above verses, ManNimAn and many others who were slain by Bhima in the Saugandhika vana, //All of them// attained andham tamas.

In the next verse he says 'ManimAn was again born in Kaliyuga and spread the 'wrong doctrine' and attained even greater tamas.' This is another verse of Madhva in the same text: तत्रापरांश्चैव बहूनसत्यं निरीश्वरं चाप्रतिष्ठं च लोकम् । सिद्धोऽहमीशोऽहमिति ब्रुवाणान् गुणान् विष्णोः ख्यापयन् वादतोऽजैत् । २२.२८४ । [22.301] भिन्नं विष्णुमधिकं सर्वतश्च ब्रुवन् प्रवीरान् लक्षमेषां निजघ्ने । Here Madhva claims: In the Saugandhika garden there were those demons who claimed 'I am God, the world is mithya..', whom Bhima defeated by argument and killed, a lakh of them.

I had questioned: Granting that those demons under Kubera's employment claimed 'I am God'. How can all of them do so at the same time? In the case of Hiranyakashipu, Ravana, etc. they were the only one's who claimed to be the Lord of the universe. But how can a lakh people claim so at the same time? Would they not have fought with each other and killed themselves not bearing the Lordship of the other? Also, when they claimed they were God and hence the Lord of everything, how did they call themselves 'servants' of Kubera? How can God, in the Madhwa sense, be a servant of some mortal? Also, if they proclaimed 'the world is unreal', what did they specify to be the substratum, adhiShThanam, of the unreal, appearing world? All these questions have to be answered in default, as the BG 16 ch. verse that Madhwa paraphrases in the MBTN, there are five adjectives given for the world: asatyam, apratishTham, anishvaram, aparaspara sambhutam, kaama haitukam. Should not the Lord given the most important information: the substratum that the asuras claim for the unreal world? No one has given answers to these questions. It is to be remembered that Madhva's thesis is void ab initio since it is wrong on his part to misrepresent Advaita: Advaita never holds the God, Vishnu, to be the subject matter of aham brahmasmi realization. Shankara has stated several dozens of times in the bhashyas that it is the Pure Consciousness shorn of all attributes like Omniscinece, omnipotence, etc. on the part of Brahman (Tat) and the embodied, bound, finite nature on the part of the jiva (aham, tvam) brought on by the body mind complex. So, in the face of such unequivocal statements by Shankara how could Madhva portray Advaita in such a fallacious manner? Even those Madhva scholars who have understood Advaita correctly would not agree with the proposition of Madhva.

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    You should cite sources.
    – Vivikta
    Mar 30, 2022 at 1:48
  • Okay, that's great, I'd suggest you to please add all these verses to your answer itself, along with giving the links to the online texts if possible. Thanks!
    – Vivikta
    Mar 30, 2022 at 3:52
  • But in all the editions of the extant Mahabharata, the Bhima - Maniman, etc. fight episode is there but nowhere is the aspect 'they claimed they were God and the world is unreal.' Madhwa holds the Bh.Gita 16 ch. demoniacal attributes as an indictment of Advaita by Veda Vyasa. This gross misrepresentation of Advaita by Madhva is found in many of his works. Advaita never claims 'I am God (of Madhva persuasion). Advaitins identify only with the Nirguna Brahman when they say 'I am Brahman' as the enlightening, liberating knowledge. For anyone knowing Advaita, Madhwa's claim will be bizarre. Mar 30, 2022 at 3:53
  • Here are two verses which appears at the end of the Madhva Bhagavadgita bhāṣya in the Gitasupersite of IITK and in the printed book of Gujarati press: archive.org/details/… सङ्कराख्यस्य दुर्योनेर्निस्सृतेन रजस्वला। गीतानारी समीरेण शोधिता हंसरूपिणा।।1।। मायिनः शलभायन्ते भास्करस्तस्करायते। यस्य तस्मिन्प्राणनाथे यतीन्द्रे भक्तिरस्तु मे।।2। ।।18.78।। Mar 30, 2022 at 18:11
  • The first verse quoted above caricatures Shankara as a 'duryoniH', born of a 'condemnable womb'. It says 'the menstruating woman, rajassvalaa, GitaanAree, has been rescued by vAyu (Madhva) from the duryonih of sankara (from the ShAnkara bhAShya). The second verse says that the Advaitins were doomed and Bhaskara (pre Madhva, post Shankara commentator) has been rendered a thief. These two verses, though not authored by Madhva himself, are believed to be composed by his disciples and appended by Madhva to his Bh.Gi.commentary upon their request. Mar 30, 2022 at 18:15

Indeed. Prof Chandradhar Sharma writes in Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, page 360,

Madhva is the champion of unqualified dualism (dvaita) and accuses Shankara of teaching the false doctrines of Shönyaväda Buddhism under the cloak of Vedanta. His hatred of Advaita is so great that he calls Advaitins ‘deceitful demons’ who play in the darkness of Ignorance and who must run away now that the omniscient Lord (the Sun of Dualism) is coming to destroy their darkness of arguments and false interpretations of the scriptures. (Reference Tattvoddyota, p. 245- jagatpravähah satyo'yam pafichabhedasamanvitah. jiveshayor bhidä chaiva jivabhedah parasparam. jadeshayor jadänäncha jadajîvabhidâ tathä, Mahàbhâratatâtparya-nirnaya, I, 69-70)


I’m not sure. I used to think That Adi Shankara is an incarnation of Shiva. This page here has references to Adi Shankara both as Shiva and as a demon from different scriptures: Apart from the Padma Purana, does any other Purana say that Adi Shankaracharya will teach mayavadi philosophy?

I wonder if Adi Shanakara is like Ashwatthama, part incarnation of Shiva and part demon.


Since there is a predisposed bias in every ody who has posted above, I think an objective view of posed question and also its answer would be a fresh breath of air.

I have multiple tattva vaada friends and also multiple maayavada friends, who have indeed been brought up in a 'samskaara' of their respective taatvic beliefs and also have had a formal education from their respective educational institutions.

As an outsider, I can confirm that a tiny subset exists in the totality of the people we classify as 'madhwas' or 'smarthas' who dutifully adhere to prescribed practices or even for that matter "tattva chintane"(logical analysis) of their doctrine.

If you ask the above question in the household of a common madhwa or a smartha, who probably go to the same hotel for a family outing, obviously the madhwa family does not believe or for that matter even know that they are on an outing with a follower of "manimantha", as claimed by some. Even as both of them sip on that same french onion soup, they talk of only worldly affairs and not vedanta at all.

But even in the scholarly side of either doctrines. I myself have been witness to multiple vaakyarthas where scholars from either sides purely engage in linguistic etymological and grammatical analysis only in order to get to the root of the tattva they believe in and none of this name calling. Such statements if found in any grantha, not just madhwa's, must be analysed in the boundary of the entire purport of that grantha and must be taken only in that specific sense and must not be a crypto "red herring fallacy" just for the purpose of sealioning the argument.

If indeed one is interested in such tattva chintane I urge them to go and sit in one of these vaakyarthas rather than just listen to half baked online debates with no Vedic pramanas whatsoever.

  • Please don't give answers based on personal opinions here. Your answers or opinions must be supported by śāstras. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Bingming
    Mar 10 at 20:04

All 3 were of strong intellect and great philosophers. Also in reality were humans - so could it be they had normal human emotions and characteristics like ego?

On the current day hatred of Shankaracharya by Madhwas - this is first I have heard of it. I was born into a Madhwa family and only now discovering what it means and trying to understand the philosophy.

Unlike Shankaracharya’s teaching which have a lot more interpretations and modern understanding, madhwacharya’s philosophy is still not accessible. Yes there books but these need modern day interpretations and connect to current context. I think somewhere along the way the Madhwa community got pulled into making it about rituals and lost sight of the actual philosophy.

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    Madhava's philosophy is not primarily not acceptable because what he tried was to contradict Upanishadic philosophies using puranas (circular logic), hence not acceptable. Shankara wasn't the real creator of Advaitic philosophy - he just propounded it throughout India. Advaita existed since Ramayana era (i.e. Ashtavakra Gita), main proponents were - sage Yagnavalkya, Rama, Krishna, Dattatreya, ashtavakra, etc. It unifies all eastern religions into a single table, unlike Madhava who was more influenced with puranas and western style of religions in my opinion.
    – user29449
    Nov 1, 2023 at 6:31
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    – Community Bot
    Nov 1, 2023 at 13:43

What Madhwa said was parama sathya, there cannot be any confusion to that. Basically the time, people and circumstances during Madhwa time are totally different than what we see today. During those days although Moslems were ruling, Hindus in general followed Dharma and debate on different schools of thoughts on Brahmasutra was very alive and kicking. Hence, one could disect Shankara philosophy and show to the world the confusion within the philosophy. However, in current times there is hardly any serious debates on these philosophies, increase of adharmic or Abrahamic influence in the world has sort of literally stagnated inter dharma debate on dharmic philosophies. A person clad in sanyasi cloths is revered and considered holy irrespective of his adherence or real knowledge of Brahmasutras. So bringing here real truth about Shankaracharya would certainly be out of place and often offending...

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    – Adiyarkku
    Apr 16, 2021 at 18:06
  • @Archit these question itself is like do current followers still even believe that sankarachayavis demon it's not asking do madhvaacharya believed so noscriotual source be giving except sumadhvavijaya which is not current
    – Prasanna R
    Apr 17, 2021 at 2:35
  • So we have say answers like as a follower of madhva we believe he is incarnation of demon Manimantga this us not made just like there were several instance of shankaracharya scriptural reference like declaring dharma is false
    – Prasanna R
    Apr 17, 2021 at 2:39
  • I do not quite follow this answer. There is hardly any serious debate on philosophies is completely wrong. There are literally thousands of debates on religion and ethics on YouTube. I would argue that both the numbers of debate that happens and the logical rigor are significantly more now than at the time of Madhva. For instance, you can watch the videos of Cosmicskeptic who is just a student and has undertaken many debates. Watch his videos where he argues for animal rights and please show any text authored by Madhva which puts as strong an argument. Apr 25, 2021 at 18:04
  • You may not find quote of Shankaracharya being an incarnate of Manimanta daitya, but you should understand, a demon possiblity cannot fathom or write bhashya on Brahmasutras. So he had an avesha of Rudra devaru. Rudra saying he would incarnate in kaliyuga to delude demons and preach wrong meaning of scriptures is well known, i will need to quote this though..
    – Vikram
    Apr 26, 2021 at 19:34

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