There are three prominent Hindu philosophies today: Advaita or monism, Dvaita or dualism, and Visistadvaita or qualified monism. Now the chief exponent of Dvaita was the 13th century philosopher Madhvacharya, but that wasn't all he was. He was a Vaishnava - someone who believes that the god Vishnu is supreme - but his brand of Vaishnavism was rather peculiar. Madhvacharya thought that Vayu the god of wind, whom he equated with the Mukhya Prana or chief vital breath, was a close associate of Vishnu. And he even considered himself to be an incarnation of Vayu.

My question is, has there been any scholarship as to the origins of Madhvacharya's Vayu-centric Vaishnava worldview? Did Vayu start being associated with Visnnu before the time of Madhvacharya, or was this an innovation in Vaishnavism introduced by Madhvacharya?

Now Vayu, like other elemental gods like Indra god of thunder, Agni god of fire, and Surya the sun god, was worshiped more in the Vedic period, but now they're hardly worshiped except in certain Hindu rituals. But was there a revitalization of Vayu worship during the Middle Ages? If so that might have caused Madhvacharya to incorporate Vayu into his system.

For the record, I'm a Hindu and a Vaishnava, but I'm not a follower of Madhvacharya.

EDIT: I should note that there's a Hindu scripture called the Garuda Purana which has a few chapters endorsing Madhvacharya's Vayu-centric Vaishnava worldview. But those chapters were very likely added by Madhvacharya or his followers.

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Some people believe the association began with the Madhwa Brahmins subcaste of Hindu society. They believed that the Hindu philosopher Madhvacharya was a earthly avatar (the third avatar to be exact) of the wind god Vayu on Earth who was supposed to teach worthy souls to worship Vishnu. This belief by members of the subcaste that the philosopher was literally an avatar for the wind god early in his career might have influenced him to see such an association to the point where he even proclaimed as much in his own poetics later in life. There is also the claim that he once had a dream or version during his life where he saw Vishnu in a dream and confirmed what the early Brahmins believed: he was an avatar of Vayu and if Vishnu was telling him all this and was so close to his teachings, then Vayu and Vishnu must have some deep connection (note that this is still scholarly speculation: even my sources are not 100% sure if this is what influenced Madhvacharya to put this association in his teachings, but it is the most accurate guess they have).

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