An important religious tradition that developed within Vaishanvism was that of Madhvacharya in the 13th century. Madhavacharya founded a sect directly based on the Bhagavat Purana. He was born at Kalyanapur near Udipi in South Kanara district.
Like Ramanuja, his early training was in Shankara’s philosophy of advaita. However, he soon developed differences with the advaitic philosophy and became a sanyasi and was called Purna Prajna (fully enlightened).
According to the Madhva tradition, he was involved in a debate at Trivandrum with an acharya of Sringeri, which led to his persecution. Thereafter, he travelled to various places in north India, facing innumerable difficulties and finally reached the Himalayas and wrote a commentary on the Vedanta- Sutras.
Subsequently, he returned to Udipi and built a temple of Krishna and spent the rest of his life there preaching. He wrote commentaries on the Upanishads and a companion volume to the Mahabharata, which is one of the important scriptures of the Madhva community.
Madhva’s religion was complete bhakti to Krishna with Radha having no place in it. All other avatars (incarnations) of Vishnu are revered, Shiva is worshipped and the five gods of the Smartas are recognized.
Madhava evolved the philosophy of Dvaita (dualism) school of Vedanta as against Shankara’s Advaita (monism) and Ramanuja’s Vishistadvaita (qualified monism).
According to him five distinctions were eternal. These were the differences between
(i) god and individual soul,
(ii) god and matter,
(iii) individual soul and matter,
(iv) one individual soul and other, and finally
(v) one material thing and another.
His teachings are built on the premise that there is a fundamental difference between Atman (individual soul, self) and the Brahman (ultimate reality, God Vishnu), these are two different unchanging realities, with individual soul dependent on Brahman, never identical.
His school’s theistic dualism teachings disagreed with the monist teachings of the other two most influential schools of Vedanta based on Advaita’s nondualism and Vishishtadvaita’s qualified nondualism. Thus, he was a critic of Adi Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta and Ramanuja’s Vishishtadvaita Vedanta teachings.
Liberation, asserted Madhva, is achievable only through the grace of God.
The Dvaita school founded by Madhva influenced Vaishnavism, the Bhakti movement in medieval India, and has been one of the three influential Vedānta philosophies, along with Advaita Vedanta and Vishishtadvaita Vedanta.
A younger contemporary of Ramanuja was Nimbarka, a scholarly Rhagava Telugu Brahmin from Nimbapura in Bellary district who spent most of his time in Brindavan in Northern India.
In religion he acted the doctrine of surrender (prapatti) and transfaled it into a total devotion to Krishan and Radha. For him Radha is not merely the favourite mistress of Krishna but his eternal consort who lives with him for ever in Goloka, the higher heaven.
Philosophically, he accepted the position that God, the soul and the world were identical yet distinct, the position described as “bheda-bheda“.
Nambarka thus became the founder of a new sect called Sanak sect/Hansa sect allied to, but distinct from, thatof Ramanuja. He expounded his views in a commentary on the Vedantasutras and in another work called Siddhantaratna or Dasaloki.