Are we discardables?

वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय
नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि।
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा
न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही।।2.22।।

Krishna told this to indicate bodies are really not that important. Just like we change our old clothes, the soul changes the bodies.

A jignasu wondered how should we accept that our bodies are as discardable as clothes. Just like we change our clothes as per our whims and fancies, could the soul do the same to our bodies? It is hard to accept that souls can be so careless and unattached.

This led me to think more deep about this:

 The questions that arise from the above Shloka of Bhagavadgita are these:

  1. Do souls exist?
  2. Do really souls change the body as per their wish?
  3. Krishna says जीर्णानि शरीराणि, what about fully healthy bodies that get killed in accidents, homicides, suicides etc. Do they happen with/without the wishes of the souls?

Such questions are what led to different philosophies like Dvaita, Advaita and Vishishtadvaita.

Lets see what Advaita and Dvaita doctrines of Hinduism have to say about this.

Advaita (Shankaracharya’s Bhashya of Bhagavadgita)

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Shankarabhashya is brief. Just by saying आत्मा पुरुषवत् in the end he upheld the sameness of atma(soul) and purusha(paramatma). Also he translates jeernani dehani as Durbalani Dehani. So it seems he accepted that it is wilful decision of soul to leave the body which is no more having the strength.

Now lets see what Dvaita (Madhwacharya’s Bhashya) says about this:

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Madhwacharya is even briefer. He just says that Krishna talks (aaha) about cloth (vasamsi) just as a model (drishtanta) to understand(anubhavartham) the distinction between Deha and Atma (dehatmaviveka). This means that the model should not be used for any other purposes like how much wilful the soul is and all. He never claims about body becoming weak (Durbala) etc. 

For me it seems Dvaita has steered clear of ambiguous statements. So let me try to analyse the above questions as per Dvaita.

1. Do souls really exist?
If we think Bhagavadgita can be explained from atheist’s perspective we would be wrong. Though atheists can draw useful inputs from some shlokas, fundamental premise of hinduism is that souls do exist. And that there is also Punarjanma for Souls. 

In many Bhashyas and treatises Madhwacharya unequivocally accepts that LifeSoul (Jeevatma) exists and is always dependent or “paratantra” of SupremeSoul(Paramatma) which is “svatantra” and exists in the body in the form of “Bimba”. Without souls Karma philosophy cant be explained. So readers of Bhagavadgita with an intention to understand it always have to accept souls.

2. Do really souls change the body as per their wish, do souls decide? 

As per Dvaita it is left to Paramatma when a soul should depart. And this decision is according to Karma accrued.

Still souls of some people can opt to leave as per their decisons. They are Yogis who have zero karma balance.

2. Krishna says जीर्णानि शरीराणि, what about fully healthy bodies that get killed in accidents, homicides, suicides etc. Do they happen with/without the wishes of the souls ?

All of these happens without the wish of the soul. But it is finally soul who has to leave the body, so the Gita shloka also is perfectly right. Jeernani here should only mean used body not necessarily a weak body. 

Accidents and Homicides take refuge in karma theory.  Suicide is a crime done by people whose mind controls them. Soul may not be happy with it. That’s why it is called Atma Hatya.






Distinction between God and Religion

I always keep religion and God separate. I find religion as an important concept invented to structure humanity, in such a way that seeking God is made easy. Religion is a vehicle and God is the destination. Even if you dont mind the destination(atheist?), you can jump on the vehicle just to experience the ride. But like many inventions of man, religion also has its flaws. The vehicle is prone to accidents.  Some vehicles need their own track, some can go on any road. Some vehicles may fly, and sometimes people may just walk without any vehicle(sanyasis).

Let me elobarate.

God is Personal — God is beyond Senses

Following excerpts are from Kena Upanishad.

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Eyes cannot reach it, Speech cannot and even not Mind
We dont know, and we cannot know how to follow it.

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It is not what speech can lead to, but it is what leads the speech.
Realise that as God not that which you are worshipping.

Note: Suddenly this invalidated all utterances of prayers, songs and Mantras.

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It is not what mind leads to, but it is what leads the mind.
Realise that as God not that which you are worshipping.

Note: Suddenly this invalidated fear/love/devotion/hatredness of God in your mind. It can neither lead to God nor bring wrath upon you.

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It is not what eyes lead to, but it is what leads the eye.
Realise that as God not that which you are worshipping.

Note: Suddenly this invalidated all imagery, all icons, symbols seen with eye..

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It is not what ears lead to, but it is what leads the ears.
Realise that as God not that which you are worshipping.

Note: Suddenly this invalidated all hearing of prayers, songs and Mantras.

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It is not what breath lead to, but it is what leads the breath.
Realise that as God not that which you are worshipping.

Note: Suddenly this invalidated all controls of breath(main Prana) and other variation of pranas (Apana/Vyana/Udana and Samana).

The upanishad further talks about if not senses how to reach God. Interested readers can read the full Upanishad.

Religion is Social —  Religion is experienced through Senses alone.

Religion is a set of customs and social behaviour to a constrained living that helps to keep the senses at bay and allow people to look within. Sometimes it may help reach God, sometimes while putting constraint on one sense, it may give leeway to some other sense  so much that we loose track of seeing inwards.

Religion is aimed at binding people and that is what is destructive also.

An analogy: Neutrons and the nuclear force (strong force) binds protons inside a nucleus from repelling and exploding. However when neutrons increase in number the nucleus becomes unstable. The nuclear force when broken gives a huge explosion. Religion is analogous to neutrons and nuclear force. A religion when given more importance than necessary makes the society unstable. When instigated religion gives raise to terrible wars. A religion is thus a cohesive force that binds people and leads them to destination together. Atleast the motivation of religion should be that.

Religion and Nation

Religion is driven by people with God as anchor. Constitution is driven by leaders with nation as anchor. There are people who say God is not there at all, and there are people who say Nation is a false concept. The biggest problem is when both the anchors are present and have conflicting opinions. Atheists are ok with constitution alone as anchor. Fascists and fanatics are ok with religion alone as anchor. Pragmatists need both anchors. Enlightened need none.



My favourite BhagavadGita Verses

All religions and even constitutions uphold certain universal moral guidelines — ahimsa (harmlessness, non agression), satya (truthfullness), astheya (integrity, not stealing other’s wealth), shoucha – kaya,vacha,manasa (purity of body, mind and speech), indriya nigraha (self control).
What action should be taken in the case of conflicts, should we take exceptions, if yes how we should take it? What is the problem if we refrain from actions completely? How should we judge people, should not we judge them at all? What is an individual’s role in society?

Truly the situation of every individual is different, circumstances are different, times are different, places are different and stake holders are different. Then how to give a precise solution to the above problems?

Mahabharatha, Ramayana, Upanishads, Vedas through numerous characters and stories bring out these exceptions and Bhagavadgita is the essence of it.
So only it is said,

sarvopaniṣado gāvo dogdhā gopālanandanaḥ |
pārtho vatsaḥ sudhīr bhoktā dugdhaṁ gītāmṛtaṁ ||

If all upanishads are cows, krishna is the milkman, arjuna is the calf without which the milk would not have come, and the Gita is the milk.

Today,  Margashira ekadashi is remembered as Gita Jayanti, the day when Bhagavadgita was narrated to Dritarashtra by Sanjaya. On this day some of my favourite shlokas here.

(1) Karma Yoga

karmaṇyevādhikāraste mā phaleṣu kadācana
mā karma phalaheturbhūrmā te sangōstu akarmaṇi

You are entitled to choose your actions (karma), but not the results (phala). So dont focus on doing result-oriented-actions.
Also do not be a no-action person.

kiṁ karma kimakarmeti kavayōpi atra mōhitāḥ |
tatte karma pravakṣyāmi yajñyātvā mōkṣyase aṣubhāt ||

But what actually is karma? And what is not karma? Even well read people get confused here. I will clarify that karma to you, which will liberate you from that bad state.

karmaṇō hyapi bōddhavyaṁ, bōddhavyaṁ ca vikarmaṇaḥ |
akarmanasṣca bōddhavyaṁ gahanā karmanō gatiḥi ||

While teaching one has to teach what is correct-action, what is incorrect-action and what is inaction. The path of karma is really complex.

karmaṇi akarma yaḥ paṣyati, akarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ |
sa budhimān manuṣyeṣu sa yuktaḥ kṛtsnakarmakṛt ||

One who sees action in inaction and inaction in action, that fellow is the intelligent among all. He is the accomplished one.

(2) Reverse Tree Model

ūrdhva mūlaṃ adhaḥ ṣākhaṁ ashvatthaṁ prāhuravyayaṁ
chandāmsi yasya parṇāni yastaṁ veda sa vedavit

This whole character based, karma oriented everlasting world can be modeled as a special tree called Ashvattha tree, that has roots on top and branches below. The knowledge of vedas are its leaves. One who understands this model, knows the vedas.

adhaschōrdhvaṃ prasṛitāstasya ṣākhāḥ guṇa pravṛddhā viṣaya pravālāḥ |
adhaṣca mūlāni anusantatāni karmānubandhīni manuṣya lōke ||

This is one of the difficult verses of Bhagavadgita/ it explains the philosophical model of the entire universe. It says that the three attributes are in the form of the roots. The branches are in the bottom that contains all the life bounded by the karma. The tree is ever growing powerful.

Need to understand model clearly.

(3) Vibhuti Yoga

This is the tenth chapter of Bhagavadgita that explains who is the God. Vibhuti means the “ideal representation”. Unlike many other definitions of God, the definiton here is so simple, so diverse and so meaningful.

Krishna says, among the objects of a class he is that object which is the best in class. He is अ (a) among letters, among vedas he is the Sama Veda, among gods Vasu, among Adityas Vishnu, among senses he is the mind, among Rudras he is Shankara, among mountains he is the Meru. He goes on giving examples. So if we strive to be the best in what we do we will be more near to God.. (perhaps I am over simplifying here)


Aparadha Kshamapana Stotra

Amazing poem this “Aparadha Kshamapana Stotra” written by Adi Shankaracharya.
पृथिव्यां पुत्रास्ते जननि बहवः सन्ति सरलाः
परं तेषां मध्ये विरलतरलोऽहं तव सुतः ।
मदीयोऽयं त्यागः समुचितमिदं नो तव शिवे
कुपुत्रो जायेत क्वचिदपि कुमाता न भवति
In this world there are so many simple children of yours, among them I am the complex ( implicit opposite word to simple, as per the context) rare (virala) and insignificant (tarala) one. But still you should not forsake me, for there could be a bad son but not a bad mother.
I wonder what would he have meant by saying “I am not simple”?
The full lyrics, and the youtube link below.
देव्यपराधक्षमापन स्तोत्रम् न मत्रं नो यन्त्रं तदपि च न जाने स्तुतिमहो न चाह्वानं ध्यानं तदपि च न जाने स्तुतिकथाः । न जाने मुद्रास्ते तदपि च न जाने विलपनं परं जाने मातस्त्वदनुसरणं क्लेशहरणम् ॥१॥ विधेरज्ञानेन द्रविणविरहेणालसतया विधेयाशक्यत्वात्तव चरणयोर्या च्युतिरभूत् । तदेतत् क्षन्तव्यं जननि सकलोद्धारिणि शिवे कुपुत्रो जायेत क्वचिदपि कुमाता न भवति ॥२॥ पृथिव्यां पुत्रास्ते जननि बहवः सन्ति सरलाः परं तेषां मध्ये विरलतरलोऽहं तव सुतः । मदीयोऽयं त्यागः समुचितमिदं नो तव शिवे कुपुत्रो जायेत क्वचिदपि कुमाता न भवति ॥३॥ जगन्मातर्मातस्तव चरणसेवा न रचिता न वा दत्तं देवि द्रविणमपि भूयस्तव मया । तथापि त्वं स्नेहं मयि निरुपमं यत्प्रकुरुषे कुपुत्रो जायेत क्वचिदपि कुमाता न भवति ॥४॥ परित्यक्ता देवा विविधविधसेवाकुलतया मया पञ्चाशीतेरधिकमपनीते तु वयसि । इदानीं चेन्मातस्तव यदि कृपा नापि भविता निरालम्बो लम्बोदरजननि कं यामि शरणम् ॥५॥ श्वपाको जल्पाको भवति मधुपाकोपमगिरा निरातङ्को रङ्को विहरति चिरं कोटिकनकैः । तवापर्णे कर्णे विशति मनुवर्णे फलमिदं जनः को जानीते जननि जपनीयं जपविधौ ॥६॥ चिताभस्मालेपो गरलमशनं दिक्पटधरो जटाधारी कण्ठे भुजगपतिहारी पशुपतिः । कपाली भूतेशो भजति जगदीशैकपदवीं भवानि त्वत्पाणिग्रहणपरिपाटीफलमिदम् ॥७॥ न मोक्षस्याकाङ्क्षा भवविभववाञ्छापि च न मे न विज्ञानापेक्षा शशिमुखि सुखेच्छापि न पुनः । अतस्त्वां संयाचे जननि जननं यातु मम वै मृडानी रुद्राणी शिव शिव भवानीति जपतः ॥८॥ नाराधितासि विधिना विविधोपचारैः किं रुक्षचिन्तनपरैर्न कृतं वचोभिः । श्यामे त्वमेव यदि किञ्चन मय्यनाथे धत्से कृपामुचितमम्ब परं तवैव ॥९॥ आपत्सु मग्नः स्मरणं त्वदीयं करोमि दुर्गे करुणार्णवेशि । नैतच्छठत्वं मम भावयेथाः क्षुधातृषार्ता जननीं स्मरन्ति ॥१०॥ जगदम्ब विचित्रमत्र किं परिपूर्णा करुणास्ति चेन्मयि । अपराधपरम्परापरं न हि माता समुपेक्षते सुतम् ॥११ मत्समः पातकी नास्ति पापघ्नी त्वत्समा न हि । एवं ज्ञात्वा महादेवि यथायोग्यं तथा कुरु ॥१२॥

Review of ACK Valmiki Ramayana

The new Ramayana of Amarachitra Kathe is very good. Beautiful illustrations and very good narration of inner stories of Ramayana. Just like original Valmiki Ramayana it does not conclude things and present them as is ( for example, the atrocities of Asamanjasa, The excavations done by Sagara’s sons destroying the earth, and the misdeeds of Indra). The story of Vishwamitra which he himself narrates in front of koushiki river is also in the book. The sanskrit shlokas “Maa Nishaada” is mentioned inline, the key take away of this shloka – which was in our sanskrit lesson in 9th standard – “Shlokaha Shokatwam Aagataha” is also mentioned. 

The story of Rishyashringa also is present.
So all in all a good feeling after reading the Balakanda.

However at all places Yagna is mentioned as Yagya which in fact is a wrong pronounciation in Hindi. I did not like that in an english book. They should have kept it as Yagna as in the original Sanskrit text.


 First if you know kannada, read this song, listen to this song .
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ಇಳಿದು ಬಾ ತಾಯಿ ಇಳಿದು ಬಾ ||ಪಲ್ಲವಿ||
ಹರನ ಜಡೆಯಿಂದ ಹರಿಯ ಅಡಿಯಿಂದ ಋಶಿಯ ತೊಡೆಯಿಂದ ನುಸುಳಿ ಬಾ;
ದೇವದೇವರನು ತಣಿಸಿ ಬಾ ದಿಗ್ದಿಗಂತದಲಿ ಹಣಿಸಿ ಬಾ ಚರಾಚರಗಳಿಗೆ ಉಣಿಸಿ ಬಾ
ನಿನಗೆ ಪೊಡಮಡುವೆ ನಿನ್ನನುಡುತೊಡುವೆ ಏಕೆ ಎಡೆತಡೆವೆ ಸುರಿದು ಬಾ
ಸ್ವರ್ಗ ತೊರೆದು ಬಾ ಬಯಲ ಜರೆದು ಬಾ ನೆಲದಿ ಹರಿದು
ಬಾ ಬಾರೆ ಬಾ ತಾಯಿ ಇಳಿದು ಬಾ
ದಯೆಯಿರದ ದೀನ ಹರೆಯಳಿದ ಹೀನ ನೀರಿರದ ಮೀನ ಕರೆಕರೆವ ಬಾ .
ಕರು ಕಂಡ ಕರುಳೆ ಮನ ಉಂಡ ಮರುಳೆ ಉದ್ದಂಡ ಅರುಳೆ ಸುಳಿಸುಳಿದು ಬಾ;
ಶಿವಶುಭ್ರ ಕರುಣೆ ಅತಿಕಿಂಚದರುಣೆ ವಾತ್ಸಲ್ಯವರಣೆ ಇಳಿ ಇಳಿದು ಬಾ
ಸುರ ಸ್ವಪ್ನವಿದ್ದ ಪ್ರತಿಬಿಂಬ ಬಿದ್ದ ಉದ್ಬುದ್ಧ ಶುದ್ಧ ನೀರೆ!
ಎಚ್ಚೆತ್ತು ಎದ್ದ ಆಕಾಶದುದ್ದ ಧರೆಗಿಳಿಯಲಿದ್ದ ಧೀರೆ!
ಸಿರಿವಾರಿಜಾತ ವರಪಾರಿಜಾತ ತಾರಾ-ಕುಸುಮದಿಂದೆ
ವೃಂದಾರವಂದ್ಯೆ ಮಂದಾರಗಂಧೆ ನೀನೇ ತಾಯಿ ತಂದೆ
ರಸಪೂರಜನ್ಯೆ ನೀನಲ್ಲ ಅನ್ಯೆ ಸಚ್ಚಿದಾನಂದ ಕನ್ಯೆ!
ಇಳಿದು ಬಾ ತಾಯಿ ಇಳಿದು ಬಾ
ಬಂದಾರೆ ಬಾರೆ ಒಂದಾರೆ ಸಾರೆ ಕಣ್ಧಾರೆ ತಡೆವರೇನೆ?
ಅವತಾರವೆಂದೆ ಎಂದಾರೆ ತಾಯಿ, ಈ ಅಧಃಪಾತವನ್ನೆ?
ಹರಕೆ ಸಂದಂತೆ ಮಮತೆ ಮಿಂದಂತೆ ತುಂಬಿ ಬಂದಂತೆ
ದುಮ್ ದುಮ್ ಎಂದಂತೆ ದುಡುಕಿ ಬಾ
ನಿನ್ನ ಕಂದನ್ನ ಹುಡುಕಿ ಬಾ
ಹುಡುಕಿ ಬಾ ತಾಯೆ ದುಡುಕಿ ಬಾ
ಹರಣ ಹೊಸದಾಗಿ ಹೊಳೆದು ಬಾ
ಬಾಳುಬೆಳಕಾಗೆ ಬೆಳೆದು ಬಾ
ಕೈ ತೊಳೆದು ಬಾ
ಮೈ ತಳೆದು ಬಾ
ಶಂಭು ಶಿವಹರನ ಚಿತ್ತೆ ಬಾ
ದತ್ತ ನರಹರಿಯ ಮುತ್ತೆ ಬಾ
ಅಂಬಿಕಾತನಯನತ್ತೆ ಬಾ
ಇಳಿದು ಬಾ ತಾಯಿ ಇಳಿದು ಬಾ
ಇಳಿದು ಬಾ ತಾಯಿ ಇಳಿದು ಬಾ


When Bhagirata wanted to bring Ganga onto earth, Ganga initially was apprehensive.
She asked,
कोऽपि धारयिता वेगम् पतन्त्या मे महीतले
अन्यथा भूतलम् भित्त्वा नृप यास्ये रसातलम्
If I fall to earth from Himalayas the crust will split and I will go into mantle, so you need to control my speed as I fall.
किम् चाहम् न भुवम् यास्ये नरा मया मृजन्त्यघम्
मृजामि तदघम् कुत्र राजन्स्तत्र विचिन्त्यताम्
I also cant come down to earth because, people want to wipe their sins into me, but where I should wean them off? Please think about it.
Bhagiratha then said,
साधवो न्यासिन: शान्ता ब्रह्मिष्टा लोकपावना:
हरन्त्यघम् तेऽङगसंगात्तेष्वास्ते ह्यघभिद्दरि:
there will be numerous Sadhu’s who would be calm, knowledgable of Brahma, and determined to do good to the entire world. They will take away those sins from you for destroyer of sins resides in them.
धारयिष्यति ते वेगम् रुद्रस्त्वात्माशरीरिणाम्
यस्मिन्नोतमिदम् प्रोतम् विश्वम् शाटीव तन्तुषु
Rudra will help to .control your flow who encompasses this entire world like the thread in shirts
With this, Ganga agreed and so did we get Ganga river from Himalayas.
What I noticed importantly is that It is not just Ganga that is considered as washer of sins. Ganga is a mediator. When there will be sinners who take dip, there should also be virtuous Sadhus who take dip into her. Thats the treaty. Ganga acts as a mediator to transfer the sins from source to sink. Karmaphala has to be attributed to somebody, it just cant vanish.
Secondly we should not break the treaty of Ganga and Bhagiratha. Virtuous people should take away the “Agha”(Poison) from Ganga. “Agha” may stand for both pollution and sin of people.

Dvaita vs Advaita

This is my answer to a Quora question,

Why are Vaishnavas trying to defame Adi Shankaracharya?

Here goes, the answer:

Madhwacharya condemned Advaitha preachers voraciously.

As a result majority of Brahmins converted back to Dvaita philosophy, mainly in karnataka and maharashtra.

Here are some shlokas of Harivayu Stuthi, where it is said Madhwacharya’s arguments were like roar of a lion which silenced the arguments of Pashandavadi.

Why was Madhwacharya so much against Advaitha Vadis?

You and me who are mere below average mortals can’t understand what goes in eminent people’s mind. Madhwacharya thought Advaitha is destroying the moral fibre of society. And such a strong opinion was perhaps required for establishment of kingdoms like Vijayanagar and Marathas under the guidance of able Gurus.

Shankaracharya said the entire creation is Maya.He said world is illusionary like a rope imagined to be a snake in midnight, he said Paramatma and Jeevatma are like mud and pot, contents are same but presented differently. He said God is attributeless, but his illusionary world is full of attributes because of Maya.

Even Buddha taught something similar – Shoonyavada. However unlike Buddha, Shankaracharya used Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavadgita as references to prove Mayavada. This was not acceptable to Madhwacharya. He was furious because many people had accepted Advaitha and slowly people were becoming nihilistic.

In many books and arguments he proves that Shankaracharya’s arguments won’t go well with Vedas and Upanishads. For example,God himself came and taught Gita. He said karma never attaches to him but is applicable to all others. Many many similar shlokas are there that tell that there is distinct God and distinct Jeeva. And none of these are magic, universe is real, world is real, and the creator is real.

The acknowledgement of a real world and panchabedha of objects  is very important to accept differences. Otherwise people will try to see uniformity everywhere while non uniformity is the rule of the world, Taratamya(Difference) is Jaganiyama (Universal Rule)

Note1: I just presented my thoughts on why Madhwacharya used such strong words to oppose Shankaracharya. I respect both of them a lot. Both of them revived hinduism in their respective periods. Both have contributed immensely to Hindu philosophy. Please don’t take offence to this answer of mine.

Note2: I wanted to add this second note for better clarification. Condemnation doesn’t mean defamation. No one, not even Madhwacharya defamed Shankaracharya personally. The attack was on philosophy through refutation of arguments.

Note3: This an answer to a comment that says why Advaita is immoral.

Advaitha talks about Paramarthika Sathya and Vyavaharika Sathya. All shritis/smrits are part of Vyavaharika Sathya and there it approves of worshiping God and that’s how we have got such wonderful compositions by Shankaracharya himself, but it also says it is not the absolute reality.

Reality is the only truth which is common across all three states, – Nidra, Swapna and Jagrata, and is called the fourth state or Turiya.

That being the case people are free to adapt anything in their Vyavaharika Achara. This makes people nihilistic.

Also Madhwacharya was not against Bhamati which also favoured Advaita, because it was only advaitavada not mayavada.

When Brahma is Satya and everything else is Mithya, the question is who originates Mithya.

Shankaracharya says Brahma only is the originator of this Maya, but Vachaspathi Mishra says, Maya has its origin in Jiva. If Jiva originates Maya, Jiva itself cannot be Maya and hence Real and hence is somewhat in sync with Dvaita.

Also to explain more when Maya has its locus in Brahma, Brahma cannot be Nirguna, in fact he has to be opposite of “Sat” to have created Mithya.

If Maya is attributed to Jiva, Brahma is rendered Saguna and hence Poorna. Jiva is attached to Maya because of Avidhya. One who knows Poorna is Poornapragna and hence the best among the Jivas. That’s why Madhvacharya is also called Poornaprajna.