Brahman

Brahman

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In Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Brahman ( ) is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal
Phenomenon
A phenomenon , plural phenomena, is any observable occurrence. Phenomena are often, but not always, understood as 'appearances' or 'experiences'...

 universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute
Absolute (philosophy)
The Absolute is the concept of an unconditional reality which transcends limited, conditional, everyday existence. It is sometimes used as an alternate term for "God" or "the Divine", especially, but by no means exclusively, by those who feel that the term "God" lends itself too easily to...

 or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being. Brahman is conceived as personal
Personal God
A personal god is a deity who can be related to as a person instead of as an "impersonal force", such as the Absolute, "the All", or the "Ground of Being"....

 ("with qualities
Saguna brahman
Saguna Brahman came from the Sanskrit "with qualities" and Brahman "The Absolute".-Advaita:...

"), impersonal
Absolute (philosophy)
The Absolute is the concept of an unconditional reality which transcends limited, conditional, everyday existence. It is sometimes used as an alternate term for "God" or "the Divine", especially, but by no means exclusively, by those who feel that the term "God" lends itself too easily to...

 ("without qualities
Nirguna Brahman
Nirguna Brahman, signifies in Hindu philosophy the Brahman that pervades the Universe, considered without form , as in the Advaita school or else as without material form, as in Dvaita schools of philosophy.-Advaita:According to Adi Shankara, the famous reviver of Advaita...

") and/or supreme
Para Brahman
Para Brahman or Param Brahman - is a term often used by Vedantic philosophers as to the "attainment of the ultimate goal". Adi Shankara has said that there is only one Supreme Para-Brahman and all the other deities are the forms and expansions of this Para-Brahman...

 depending on the philosophical school
Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy is divided into six schools of thought, or , which accept the Vedas as supreme revealed scriptures. Three other schools do not accept the Vedas as authoritative...

.

The sages of the Upanishads teach that Brahman is the ultimate essence of material phenomena (including the original identity of the human self) that cannot be seen or heard but whose nature can be known through the doctrine of self-knowledge (atma jnana
Atman
Atman means 'self' in Sanskrit and is a concept of importance in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Yoga and Jainism:* Ātman * Ātman * Atman Atman may also refer to:...

). According to Advaita, a liberated human being (jivanmukta
Jivanmukta
Jivanmukta is someone who, in the Advaita philosophy of Hinduism, has attained nirvikalpa samadhi - the realization of the Self, Parasiva - and is liberated from rebirth while living in a human body....

) has realised Brahman as his or her own true self (see atman
Atman
Atman means 'self' in Sanskrit and is a concept of importance in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Yoga and Jainism:* Ātman * Ātman * Atman Atman may also refer to:...

).

The Mundaka Upanishad
Mundaka Upanishad
The Mundaka Upanishad or the Mundakopanishad is one of the earlier, "primary" Upanishads, a genre of Hindu scriptures commented upon by Shankara. It is associated with the Atharvaveda. It figures as number 5 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads.It is a Mantra-upanishad, i.e. it has the form...

 says:
Auṃ - That supreme Brahman is infinite, and this conditioned Brahman is infinite. The infinite proceeds from infinite. If you subtract the infinite from the infinite, the infinite remains alone.

Etymology


Sanskrit Brahman (an n-stem, nominative ) from a root
Root (linguistics)
The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family , which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents....

  " to swell, grow, enlarge". is a neuter noun to be distinguished from the masculine —denoting a person associated with Brahman, and from Brahmā
Brahma
Brahma is the Hindu god of creation and one of the Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. According to the Brahma Purana, he is the father of Mānu, and from Mānu all human beings are descended. In the Ramayana and the...

, the creator God of the Hindu Trinity, the Trimurti
Trimurti
The Trimurti is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahmā the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Śhiva the destroyer or transformer," These three deities have been called "the Hindu triad" or...

. Brahman is thus a gender-neutral concept that implies greater impersonality than masculine or feminine conceptions of the deity.

The further origin of is unclear. According to the Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (IEW, "Indo-European Etymological Dictionary"), written by the Austrian-German comparative linguist and Celtic languages expert Julius Pokorny
Julius Pokorny
Julius Pokorny was an Austrian linguist and scholar of the Celtic languages, particularly Irish, and a supporter of Irish nationalism. He held academic posts in Austrian and German universities.-Life:...

, IE root bhreu-, bhreu-d- denotes to swell, sprout (cf Slovenian brsteti - to sprout) It could be from PIE
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 *bherg'h- "to rise, high, eminent", cognate to Old Norse Bragi
Bragi
Bragi is the skaldic god of poetry in Norse mythology.-Etymology:Bragi is generally associated with bragr, the Norse word for poetry. The name of the god may have been derived from bragr, or the term bragr may have been formed to describe 'what Bragi does'...

. Some, including Georges Dumézil
Georges Dumézil
Georges Dumézil was a French comparative philologist best known for his analysis of sovereignty and power in Proto-Indo-European religion and society...

, have said that the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 word flāmen
Flamen
In ancient Roman religion, a flamen was a priest assigned to one of fifteen deities with official cults during the Roman Republic. The most important three were the flamines maiores , who served the three chief Roman gods of the Archaic Triad. The remaining twelve were the flamines minores...

"priest" may also be cognate. However, the standard Indo-Aryan etymological dictionary by M. Mayrhofer (1986–2000, vol. II, p. 236-8) derives brahman 'formulation (of truth) [in poetry], from Indo-Iranian *bhrajh-man < Indo-European *bhreg'h-men; cf. Old Persian brahm, Middle Persian Zurvan
Zurvan
Zurvan may be:*Middle Persian reflex of Avestan zruvan "time"**"Time", the transcendent deity in Zurvanism** Zarvan , the personification of Time in the Shahnamehtoponymy*Zurvan , a village in Larestan County, Fars, Iran....

 'form', Nuristani (Ashkun) blamade 'a god' ( from *brahma-daeva
Daeva
Daeva in Avestan language meaning "a being of shining light", is a term for a particular sort of supernatural entity with disagreeable characteristics. Equivalents in Iranian languages include Pashto dêw , Baluchi dêw , Persian dīv , Kurdish dêw...

?), Old Norse bragr 'poetical art', etc., and argues against connection with Latin flamen.

Conceptualization


In the early Vedic religion
Historical Vedic religion
The religion of the Vedic period is a historical predecessor of Hinduism. Its liturgy is reflected in the mantra portion of the four Vedas, which are compiled in Sanskrit. The religious practices centered on a clergy administering rites...

 Brahman was the name given to the power that made the sacrifice effective, namely the spiritual power of the sacred utterances pronounced by the vedic priests who were by virtue of this known as brahmins. Connected with the ritual of pre-Vedantic Hinduism, Brahman signified the power to grow, the expansive and self-altering process of ritual and sacrifice, often visually realized in the sputtering of flames as they received the all important ghee
Ghee
Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in South Asia and is commonly used in South Asian cuisine....

 (clarified butter) and rose in concert with the mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s of the Vedas.

The Rig Veda says that by desire (RV 10.12.94), the initial manifestation of the material universe came into being from Hiranyagarbha
Hiranyagarbha
Image:Hinducosm Map1.svg|thumb|Click an area to go there. This is one of many material universes, Brahmāṇḍa, which expand from Mahā Viṣṇu when He breathes.|400px|alt=One Brahmāṇḍa, with Garbhodakaśāyī-Viṣṇurect 216 61 277 80 Brahma...

 (literally "golden womb"), out of which the world, organisms and divine beings (deva
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

s) arose:
"Great indeed are the deva
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

s who have sprung out of Brahman." — Atharva Veda


The later Vedic religion
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

 produced a series of profound philosophical reflections in which Brahman is now considered to be the one Absolute Reality behind changing appearances; the universal substrate
Monism
Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

 from which material things originate and to which they return after their dissolution. The sages of the Upanishads made their pronouncements on the basis of personal experience (revelation or sruti
Sruti
' , often spelled shruti or shruthi, is a term that describes the sacred texts comprising the central canon of Hinduism and is one of the three main sources of dharma and therefore is also influential within Hindu Law...

) as an essential component of their philosophical reflection. The earlier Upanisads were written during a time of intensely fertile philosophical and religious revival in which the old dogmas were being questioned and individual personal experiential knowledge was increasingly emphasised over uncritical acceptance of the old myths. The polytheism
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

 that characterises the vedic hymns gives way increasingly to a search for what is common in the diverse forms of nature. The unitive concepts that arise from this tendency are those of dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

and brahman.

The Upanisads recount the teachings of gurus to celibate pupils (Brahmacaryas) who are seeking knowledge of Brahman, the absolute, the origin of things, whose knowledge brings peace. This knowledge of brahman is not mere epistemic knowledge (knowing about something) but a direct, unambiguous knowing that is liberating in its experience. This culture of acquiring personal knowledge and its concomitant liberation
Moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...

 is now referred to as sramanic culture and has constituted an important influence on the development of mainstream Hinduism.

Several mahā-vākyas (great sayings) from the Upanisads indicate what the principle of Brahman is:
Sanskrit Advaita translation Vaishnava translation
prajnānam brahma "Brahman is knowledge" Brahman knows everything
ayam ātmā brahma "The Self (or the Soul) is Brahman" JivaAtma (soul) is of same eternal spiritual transcendental nature as Brahman
aham brahmāsmi "I am Brahman" I am as eternal as Brahman
tat tvam asi
Tat Tvam Asi
Tat Tvam Asi , a Sanskrit sentence, translated variously as "That thou are," "Thou are that," "You are that," or "That you are," is one of the Mahāvākyas in Vedantic Sanatana Dharma...

"Thou art that" ("You are the Supreme") "You are the servant of the Supreme"
sarvam khalv idam brahma "All this that we see in the world is Brahman" ("everything in this material world is Maya, illusion") Brahman is everything, and all we see are His different energies — material or spiritual
sachchidānanda brahma "Brahman or Brahma is existence, consciousness, and bliss". Brahman, has sat-cit-ananda-vigraha — eternal spiritual body which is full of bliss, and He is Supreme Person (conscious Absolute Truth)


In the Upanisads the sages teach that brahman is infinite Being, infinite Consciousness, and infinite Bliss (saccidananda).

It is said that Brahman cannot be known by empirical means — that is to say, as an object of our consciousness — because Brahman is our very consciousness and being. Therefore it may be said that moksha
Moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...

, yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

, samādhi
Samadhi
Samadhi in Hinduism, Buddhism,Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna. In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali....

, nirvana
Nirvana
Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

, etc. do not merely mean to know Brahman, but rather to realise one's "brahman-hood", to actually realise that one is and always was Brahman. Indeed, closely related to the Self concept of Brahman is the idea that it is synonymous with jiva-atma, or individual souls, our atman
Atman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

 (or soul) being readily identifiable with the greater soul (paramatma) of Brahman.

Generally, Vedanta rejects the notion of an evolving Brahman since Brahman contains within it the potentiality and archetypes behind all possible manifest phenomenal forms. The Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

, though they are in some respects historically conditioned, are considered by Hindus to convey a knowledge eternal, timeless and always contemporaneous with Brahman. This knowledge is considered to have been handed down by realised yogins to students many generations before the Vedas were committed to writing. Written texts of the Vedas are a relatively recent phenomenon.

The term Brahmin in the Vedic period actually meant one who has realized Brahman. However, later on Brahmin came to be identified with the highest of the four caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

s, the Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

s, who by virtue of their purity and priesthood were held proprietors of rituals.

Among Hindu sects, Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta is considered to be the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. Other major sub-schools of Vedānta are Dvaita and ; while the minor ones include Suddhadvaita, Dvaitadvaita and Achintya Bhedabheda...

 espouses monism
Monism
Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

. The closest interpretation of the term can be found in the Taittiriya Upanishad (II.1) where Brahman is described as satyam jnanam anantam brahman ("Brahman is of the nature of truth, knowledge and infinity"). Thus, Brahman is the origin and end of all things, material or otherwise. Brahman is the root source and Divine Ground of everything that exists, and is the only thing that exists according to Shankara
Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara Adi Shankara Adi Shankara (IAST: pronounced , (Sanskrit: , ) (788 CE - 820 CE), also known as ' and ' was an Indian philosopher from Kalady of present day Kerala who consolidated the doctrine of advaita vedānta...

. It is defined as unknowable and Satchitananda
Satchitananda
Saccidānanda, Satchidananda, or Sat-cit-ānanda is a compound of three Sanskrit words, Sat , Cit , and Ānanda , meaning Existence , Consciousness, and Bliss respectively...

("Truth-Consciousness-Bliss"). Since it is eternal
Eternity
While in the popular mind, eternity often simply means existence for a limitless amount of time, many have used it to refer to a timeless existence altogether outside time. By contrast, infinite temporal existence is then called sempiternity. Something eternal exists outside time; by contrast,...

 and infinite, it comprises the only truth. The goal of Vedanta is to realize that the soul (Atman
Atman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

) is actually nothing but Brahman. The Hindu pantheon of gods is said, in the Vedas and Upanishads, to be only higher manifestations of Brahman. For this reason, "ekam sat" ("Truth is one"), and all is Brahman. This explains the Hindu view that "All paths lead to the one Truth, though many sages [and religions] call upon it by different names."

As mentioned before, Brahman is proclaimed to be the reality behind everything in this universe, the cause which sustains the effect. So, from the perspective of the Body, Atma (Soul or Self) is Brahman. From the perspective of the World, Brahma (the "Creator" deity)is deemed as the Brahman. From the perspective of Brahma, Isvarah (Personal Godhead according to the Dvaitis) is the (Param) Brahman. From the perspective of Knowledge, Veda is Brahman. So, in one sense whatever we see around is all Brahman. Brahman is hence not an unidimensional aspect. It needs to be viewed and understood from varied perspectives.

Different schools try to establish the primacy or supremacy of the personal or impersonal (or equality) nature of Brahman. Advaita argues the latter and dvaita
Dvaita
Dvaita is a school of Vedanta founded by Shri Madhvacharya....

 the former.

Semantics and pronunciation

Here the underlined vowels carry the Vedic Sanskrit udātta short pitch accent
Vedic accent
The tone accent of Vedic Sanskrit, or Vedic accent for brevity, is traditionally divided by Sanskrit grammarians into three qualities, udātta "raised" , anudātta "not raised" and svarita "sounded" .-The accents:Udātta marks the place of the inherited PIE accent...

. It is usual to use an acute accent symbol for this purpose.
(on the first syllable).


In Vedic Sanskrit
Vedic Sanskrit
Vedic Sanskrit is an old Indo-Aryan language. It is an archaic form of Sanskrit, an early descendant of Proto-Indo-Iranian. It is closely related to Avestan, the oldest preserved Iranian language...

:-
  • Brahma (ब्रह्म) (nominative singular), brahman (ब्रह्मन्) (stem) (neuter gender
    Gender
    Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

    ) means the Great Cosmic Spirit, from root brha
  • Brahmānda (ब्रह्माण्ड) (nominative singular), from stems brha (to expand) + anda (egg), means universe as an expansion of a cosmic egg
    World egg
    A world egg or cosmic egg is a mythological motif found in the creation myths of many cultures and civilizations. Typically, the world egg is a beginning of some sort, and the universe or some primordial being comes into existence by "hatching" from the egg, sometimes lain on the primordial waters...

     (Hiranyagarbha
    Hiranyagarbha
    Image:Hinducosm Map1.svg|thumb|Click an area to go there. This is one of many material universes, Brahmāṇḍa, which expand from Mahā Viṣṇu when He breathes.|400px|alt=One Brahmāṇḍa, with Garbhodakaśāyī-Viṣṇurect 216 61 277 80 Brahma...

    ), or the macrocosm. Brahmanda Purana
    Brahmanda Purana
    The Brahmanda Purana is one of the eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts and has been assigned the eighteenth place in almost all the lists of the Puranas.Brahma in Sanskrit means "the biggest", anda/andam means globe...

     discusses cosmogenesis
    Cosmogenesis
    Cosmogenesis is the origin and development of the cosmos. This term "Cosmogenesis" was used by Helena P. Blavatsky to describe the content of Volume I of her two-volume The Secret Doctrine, published in 1888; volume II was called "Anthropogenesis" or the origin of humanity.-Teilhard...

    . Bhagavata Purana
    Bhagavata purana
    The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

     also discusses cosmogony
    Cosmogony
    Cosmogony, or cosmogeny, is any scientific theory concerning the coming into existence or origin of the universe, or about how reality came to be. The word comes from the Greek κοσμογονία , from κόσμος "cosmos, the world", and the root of γίνομαι / γέγονα "to be born, come about"...

     and fundamental principles of material nature in detail.


In later Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 usage:-
  • Brahma (ब्रह्म) (nominative singular), brahman (stem) (neuter gender
    Gender
    Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

    ) means the concept of the transcendent and immanent ultimate reality of the One Godhead or Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hinduism; the concept is central to Hindu philosophy, especially Vedanta; this is discussed below. Also note that the word Brahman in this sense is exceptionally treated as masculine (see the Merrill-Webster Sanskrit Dictionary). It is called "the Brahman" in English
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

    . Brahm is another variant of Brahman.
  • Brahmā (ब्रह्मा) (nominative singlular), Brahman (ब्रह्मन्) (stem) (masculine
    Masculine
    Masculine or masculinity, normally refer to qualities positively associated with men.Masculine may also refer to:*Masculine , a grammatical gender*Masculine cadence, a final chord occurring on a strong beat in music...

     gender
    Gender
    Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

    ), means the deity or deva
    Deva (Hinduism)
    ' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

     Prajāpati Brahmā. He is one of the members of the Hindu trinity
    Trimurti
    The Trimurti is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahmā the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Śhiva the destroyer or transformer," These three deities have been called "the Hindu triad" or...

     and associated with creation, but does not have a cult in present day India. This is because Brahmā, the creator-god, is long-lived but not eternal i.e. Brahmā gets absorbed back into Purusha
    Purusha
    In some lineages of Hinduism, Purusha is the "Self" which pervades the universe. The Vedic divinities are interpretations of the many facets of Purusha...

     at the end of an aeon, and is born again at the beginning of a new kalpa.


One must not confuse these with:
  • A brāhmaņa (ब्राह्मण) (masculine, pronounced ˈbraːhməɳə), (which literally means "pertaining to prayer") is a prose commentary on the Vedic mantras—an integral part of the Vedic literature.
  • A brāhmaņa (ब्राह्मण) (masculine, same pronunciation as above), means priest; in this usage the word is usually rendered in English as "Brahmin
    Brahmin
    Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

    ". This usage is also found in the Atharva Veda. In neuter plural form, Brahmāņi. See Vedic priest.
  • Ishvara
    Ishvara
    Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

    , (lit., Supreme Lord), in Advaita, is identified as a partial worldly manifestation (with limited attributes) of the ultimate reality, the attributeless Brahman. In Visishtadvaita and Dvaita
    Dvaita
    Dvaita is a school of Vedanta founded by Shri Madhvacharya....

    , however, Ishvara (the Supreme Controller) has infinite attributes and the source of the impersonal Brahman.
  • Deva
    Deva (Hinduism)
    ' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

    s
    , the expansions of Brahman/God into various forms, each with a certain quality. In Vedic Hinduism, there were 33 devas, which later became exaggerated to 330 million devas. In fact, devas are themselves regarded as more mundane manifestations of the One and the Supreme Brahman (See Para Brahman
    Para Brahman
    Para Brahman or Param Brahman - is a term often used by Vedantic philosophers as to the "attainment of the ultimate goal". Adi Shankara has said that there is only one Supreme Para-Brahman and all the other deities are the forms and expansions of this Para-Brahman...

    ). The Sanskrit word for "ten million" also means group, and 330 million devas originally meant 33 types of divine manifestations.

Brahman and Atman


Some Upanishad
Upanishad
The Upanishads are philosophical texts considered to be an early source of Hindu religion. More than 200 are known, of which the first dozen or so, the oldest and most important, are variously referred to as the principal, main or old Upanishads...

ic statements identify the Atman
Atman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

, the inner essence of the human being, with Brahman. While Advaita philosophy considers Brahman to be without form, qualities, or attributes, Visishtadvaita and Dvaita
Dvaita
Dvaita is a school of Vedanta founded by Shri Madhvacharya....

 philosophies understand Brahman as one with infinite auspicious qualities. In Advaita, the ultimate reality is expressed as Nirguna Brahman
Nirguna Brahman
Nirguna Brahman, signifies in Hindu philosophy the Brahman that pervades the Universe, considered without form , as in the Advaita school or else as without material form, as in Dvaita schools of philosophy.-Advaita:According to Adi Shankara, the famous reviver of Advaita...

. Nirguna means formless, attributeless, mega-soul, or spirit-only. Advaita considers all personal forms of God including Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 and Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

 as different aspects of God in personal form, Saguna Brahman
Saguna brahman
Saguna Brahman came from the Sanskrit "with qualities" and Brahman "The Absolute".-Advaita:...

 i.e. God with attributes. In Visishtadvaita and Dvaita
Dvaita
Dvaita is a school of Vedanta founded by Shri Madhvacharya....

, God is Saguna Brahman
Saguna brahman
Saguna Brahman came from the Sanskrit "with qualities" and Brahman "The Absolute".-Advaita:...

 with infinite attributes and is the source of the impersonal Nirguna Brahman
Nirguna Brahman
Nirguna Brahman, signifies in Hindu philosophy the Brahman that pervades the Universe, considered without form , as in the Advaita school or else as without material form, as in Dvaita schools of philosophy.-Advaita:According to Adi Shankara, the famous reviver of Advaita...

, and God's energy is regarded as Devi
Devi
Devī is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, used mostly in Hinduism, its related masculine term is deva. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents...

, the Divine Mother.

The phrase that is seen to be the only possible (and still thoroughly inadequate) description of Brahman that humans, with limited minds and being, can entertain is the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 word Sacchidānanda, which is combined
Sandhi
Sandhi is a cover term for a wide variety of phonological processes that occur at morpheme or word boundaries . Examples include the fusion of sounds across word boundaries and the alteration of sounds due to neighboring sounds or due to the grammatical function of adjacent words...

 from sat-chit-ānanda, meaning "Being — Consciousness — Bliss".

The description of Brahman from Mandukya Upanishad
Mandukya Upanishad
The Mandukya Upanishad is the shortest of the Upanishads – the scriptures of Hindu Vedanta. It is in prose, consisting of twelve verses expounding the mystic syllable Aum, the three psychological states of waking, dreaming and sleeping, and the transcendent fourth state of illumination.This...

:

सर्वं ह्येतद् ब्रह्मायमात्मा ब्रह्म सोयमात्मा चतुष्पात्

sarvam hyetad brahmāyamātmā brahma soyamātmā chatushpāt
- Mandukya Upanishad
Mandukya Upanishad
The Mandukya Upanishad is the shortest of the Upanishads – the scriptures of Hindu Vedanta. It is in prose, consisting of twelve verses expounding the mystic syllable Aum, the three psychological states of waking, dreaming and sleeping, and the transcendent fourth state of illumination.This...

, verse-2
  • Translation:-


sarvam (सर्वम्)- whole/all/everything; hi (हि)- really/surely/indeed; etad (एतद्)- this here/this; brahma (ब्रह्म)- Brahma/Brahman; ayam (अयम्)- this/here; ātmā(आत्मा)- atma/atman; sah(सः)- he; ayam (अयम्)- this/here; chatus(चतुस्)- four/quadruple; pāt(पात्)- step/foot/quarter
  • With the sandhi
    Sandhi
    Sandhi is a cover term for a wide variety of phonological processes that occur at morpheme or word boundaries . Examples include the fusion of sounds across word boundaries and the alteration of sounds due to neighboring sounds or due to the grammatical function of adjacent words...

     expanded:-


सर्वम् हि एतद् ब्रह्म अयम् आत्मा ब्रह्म सः अयम् आत्मा चतुस पात्

sarvam hi etad brahma ayam ātmā brahm sah ayam ātmā chatus paat
  • Simple meaning:-


All indeed is this Brahman; He is Atman; He has four steps/quarters.


Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 is traditionally derived from the root "Vish" which means to enter or pervade, and He is called Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 because He pervades the whole universe. Brahmanda Purana
Brahmanda Purana
The Brahmanda Purana is one of the eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts and has been assigned the eighteenth place in almost all the lists of the Puranas.Brahma in Sanskrit means "the biggest", anda/andam means globe...

 (1.4.25) says that He is called as Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 because He has entered into everything in the universe. The most important aspect is that the whole universe is covered by only three steps of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 which is referred to several times in the Vedas (Rig Veda 1.22.17, 1.154. 3, 1.155.4, Atharva Veda 7.26.5, Yajur Veda 2.25). In His three steps rests the whole universe (Rig Veda 1.154.2, Yajur Veda 23.49). All indeed is Brahman, which can thus be identified with Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

, based on the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

.

Enlightenment and Brahman


While Brahman lies behind the sum total of the objective universe, some human minds boggle at any attempt to explain it with only the tools provided by reason. Gital explains the concept of (Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

 5.21) "beyond the senses, beyond the mind, beyond intelligence, beyond imagination" in a prophecy of the formation of Brahman. Accordingly it will be known in the same material sense when a men from the East comes to explain the wonders of our world. This man will "leave his name and take the one of Kaaz". Until this man comes and transcends to include time, causation and space the idea of Brahman can not be known in a material sense.

Some claim that the origination of the Kaaz is directly linked to the book of Jonah Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

. However later thinkers quote mainly from Mundakopanishad:

Yajur Veda Mundakopanishad 3.2.4 reads: This Self known as Kaaz is not attained by one devoid of strength, nor through delusion, nor through knowledge unassociated with monasticism. But the Self of that knower, who strives through these means, enters into the abode that is Brahman.

Yajur Veda Mundakopanishad 3.2.6 reads: Those to whom the entity presented by the Vedantic knowledge has become fully ascertained, and who endeavour assiduously with the help of the Yoga of monasticism, become pure in mind. At the supreme moment of final departure all of them become identified with the supreme Immortality in the worlds that are Brahman and Kaaz, and they become freed from the cycle of Birth and Death.

Material concept of Brahman


There is reference in Bhagavad-Gita to material nature (mahat-tattva), comprising three gunas (sattva
Sattva
In Hindu philosophy, sattva is the most rarefied of the three gunas in Samkhya, sāttvika "pure", rājasika "dim", and tāmasika "dark". Importantly, no value judgement is entailed as all guna are indivisible and mutually qualifying...

, rajas
Rajas
Rajas ) is, in the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy, one of the three gunas. Of these, rajas, is responsible for motion, energy and preservation...

 and tamas
Tamas (philosophy)
In the Samkhya school of philosophy, tamas is one of the three gunas , the other two being rajas and sattva or purity). Tamas is the template for inertia or resistance to action...

) as Brahman: "The total material substance, called Brahman, is the source of birth, and it is that Brahman that I impregnate, making possible the births of all living beings, O son of Bharata." This should also must be properly understood that Brahman is actually "total substance of the material cause, in which there are three modes of nature", so material nature is Brahman, but whole Absolute Truth is transcendental and it includes 'material Brahman with three modes of nature' as well. Strictly speaking, Brahman is Supreme Personality of Godhead (Vishnu, Siva, Sakthi..).

Advaita Vedanta


The universe does not simply possess consciousness, it is consciousness, and this consciousness is Brahman. According to Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara Adi Shankara Adi Shankara (IAST: pronounced , (Sanskrit: , ) (788 CE - 820 CE), also known as ' and ' was an Indian philosopher from Kalady of present day Kerala who consolidated the doctrine of advaita vedānta...

, knowledge of brahman springs from inquiry into the words of the Upanishads, and the knowledge of brahman that shruti provides cannot be obtained in any other way.

In Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta is considered to be the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. Other major sub-schools of Vedānta are Dvaita and ; while the minor ones include Suddhadvaita, Dvaitadvaita and Achintya Bhedabheda...

, Brahman is without attributes and strictly impersonal. It can be best described as infinite Being, infinite Consciousness, and infinite Bliss. It is pure knowing itself, similar to a source of infinite radiance. Since the Advaitins regard Brahman to be the Ultimate Truth, so in comparison to Brahman, every other thing, including the material world, its distinctness, the individuality of the living creatures are all untrue. Brahman is the effulgent cause of everything that exists and can possibly exist. Since it is beyond human comprehension, it is without any attributes, for assigning attributes to it would be distorting the true nature of Brahman. Advaitins believe in the existence of both Saguna (with qualities, attributes) Brahman and Nirguna (without qualities, or attributes) Brahman, however they consider Nirguna Brahman to be the Absolute Truth.

When man tries to know the attributeless Brahman with his mind, under the influence of an illusionary power of Brahman called Maya, Brahman becomes (Ishvara
Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

), which is the reflection of the Brahman in the environment of illusion (Maya). Just like reflection of moon, in a pool of water. The material world also appears as such due to Maya. (Ishvara
Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

) is Saguna Brahman, or Brahman with attributes. He (gender neutral; "He" only for explanatory purposes) is Omniscient, Omnipresent, Incorporeal
Incorporeal
Incorporeal or uncarnate means without the nature of a body or substance . The idea of incorporeality refers to the notion that there is an incorporeal realm of existence, or "place", that is distinct from the corporeal or material universe. Incorporeal beings or objects are not made out of matter...

, Independent, Creator of the world, its ruler and also destroyer. He is eternal and unchangeable. He is both immanent and transcedent, as well as full of love and justice. He may be even regarded to have a personality. He is the subject of worship. He is the basis of morality and giver of the fruits of one's Karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

. He rules the world with his Maya. However, while God is the Lord of Maya and she (i.e. Maya) is always under his control, living beings (jīva
Jiva
In Hinduism and Jainism, a jiva is a living being, or more specifically, the immortal essence of a living organism which survives physical death. It has a very similar usage to atma, but whereas atma refers to "the cosmic self", jiva is used to denote an individual 'living entity' or 'living...

, in the sense of humans) are the servants of Maya (in the form of ignorance). This ignorance is the cause of all material experiences in the mortal world. While God is Infinite Bliss, humans, under the influence of Maya consider themselves limited by the body and the material, observable world. This misperception of Brahman as the observed Universe results in human emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger and fear. The ultimate reality remains Brahman and nothing else. The Advaita equation is simple. It is due to Maya that the one single Atman (the individual soul) appears to the people as many Atmans, each in a single body. Once the curtain of maya is lifted, the Atm Thus
Ātman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

, due to true knowledge, an individual loses the sense of ego (Ahamkara) and achieves liberation, or Moksha
Moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...

.

Relevant verses from Bhagavad-Gita which establish the Advaita position:

The indestructible, transcendental living entity is called Brahman, and its eternal nature is called adhyatma, the self. (Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

 8.3)

Similar to a person who is not attached to external pleasures but enjoys happiness in the Atman (soul), the person who perceives Brahman (all-pervading consciousness) in everybody feels everlasting joy. (Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

 5.21)

Visishtadvaita Vedanta


Brahman of Visishtadvaita is synonymous with Narayana
Narayana
Narayana or Narayan or Naraina is an important Sanskrit name for Vishnu, and in many contemporary vernaculars a common Indian name. Narayana is also identified as the original man, Purusha. The Puranas present divergent views on Narayana...

, who is the transcendent and immanent reality. Brahman or Narayana is Saguna Brahman
Saguna brahman
Saguna Brahman came from the Sanskrit "with qualities" and Brahman "The Absolute".-Advaita:...

 with infinite auspicious qualities, and not the Advaita concept of attributeless Nirguna Brahman
Nirguna Brahman
Nirguna Brahman, signifies in Hindu philosophy the Brahman that pervades the Universe, considered without form , as in the Advaita school or else as without material form, as in Dvaita schools of philosophy.-Advaita:According to Adi Shankara, the famous reviver of Advaita...

. "Sarvam khalvidam brahma, tajjalaniti santa upasita": According to Ramanuja
Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...

, considering the appearance of the word "tajjalan iti" (Roots: tat + ja = born + la = dissolved), this statement from the Chandogya Upanishad
Chandogya Upanishad
The Chandogya Upanishad is one of the "primary" Upanishads. Together with the Jaiminiya Upanishad Brahmana and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad it ranks among the oldest Upanishads, dating to the Vedic Brahmana period....

 does not simply mean that the universe is Brahman, but that it is pervaded by, born from and dissolves into Brahman. An analogy: fish is born in water, lives in water, and is ultimately dissolved into water; yet the fish is not water.

The concept of Brahman in Visishtadvaita is explained as an inseparable triad of Ishwara-Chit-Achit. Ishvara
Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

, the Supreme Self (Paramatman
Paramatman
In Hindu theology, Paramatman or Paramātmā is the Absolute Atman or Supreme Soul or Spirit in the Vedanta and Yoga philosophies of India....

) is the indwelling spirit (Antaryami) in all. Both the Chit (sentient) and Achit (insentient) entities are pervaded and permeated by Ishvara
Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

. Brahman is the material and efficient cause of the universe. The concept of Brahman in Visishtadvaita can be seen as a hybrid of Advaita and Dvaita positions. Like all other Vaishnava schools of thought, Visishtadvaita is also panentheistic unlike the pantheism
Pantheism
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

 of Advaita. It also proposes a qualified attributive monism
Monism
Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

 approach as opposed to the absolute monism
Monism
Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

 of Advaita.

Brahman is, Antaryami, the real self
Real self
The Real self theory in politics and philosophy proposes that people often have a private "real will" , that is different from their public "expressed will".-References:...

 of all beings. Everything other than Brahman form the Sarira (body) of Brahman. The inseparable relation between the body and the soul is similar to that of substance and attribute which are inseparable. So Brahman is the prakari and the universe is the prakara, mode of Brahman. Hence anything that describes a sentient or insentient being has its connotation only with Brahman, the real and ultimate self. The relationship between Ishvara-Chit-Achit can be further understood as follows:

1. The Sarira-Sariri Concept

The key concept of Visishtadvaita is the Sarira-Sariri Bhaava, the body-soul relationship between the universe and Ishvara
Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

. There are three realities, namely, Ishvara
Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

 (the Lord), Jiva (individual souls), and Jagat (insentient matter). They are not separate entities but together they form an organic whole. This is similar to the concept of body-soul relationship, but on a cosmic scale. Thus, Ishvara
Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

 has the Chit (sentient) and Achit (insentient) entities for His body and being the Supreme Self, exercises complete control over it.

2. Substance-Attribute Concept

In Visishtadvaita, Ishvara
Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

 is the original substance, of which Jiva
Jiva
In Hinduism and Jainism, a jiva is a living being, or more specifically, the immortal essence of a living organism which survives physical death. It has a very similar usage to atma, but whereas atma refers to "the cosmic self", jiva is used to denote an individual 'living entity' or 'living...

 and Prakriti are attributes. An attribute cannot have an existence independent of an underlying substance. The substance-attribute concept establishes an uninterrupted, non-reciprocal relationship between Ishvara
Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

 and the two modes.

Followers of Visishtadvaita refute Advaita thought that if it is indeed true that the one undivided Brahman, whose very nature is pure spirit, is the foundation of Maya and also embodies the liberating force of knowledge, then it is illogical to say that the very same Brahman falls under the influence of the illusory power of Maya and gets covered by ignorance. Thus establishing that Jiva
Jiva
In Hinduism and Jainism, a jiva is a living being, or more specifically, the immortal essence of a living organism which survives physical death. It has a very similar usage to atma, but whereas atma refers to "the cosmic self", jiva is used to denote an individual 'living entity' or 'living...

 and Ishvara
Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

 are indeed separate entities. Since both their identities and capabilities are different, the Jiva
Jiva
In Hinduism and Jainism, a jiva is a living being, or more specifically, the immortal essence of a living organism which survives physical death. It has a very similar usage to atma, but whereas atma refers to "the cosmic self", jiva is used to denote an individual 'living entity' or 'living...

 and the Lord are essentially distinct. In other words, if Brahman is indivisible, changeless, and supreme, then a force of Maya cannot appear within Brahman, modify it, and put it into ignorance.

Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti yoga
Bhakti yoga is one of the types of yoga mentioned in Hindu philosophies which denotes the spiritual practice of fostering loving devotion to a personal form of God....

 is the sole means of liberation in Visishtadvaita. Through Bhakti (devotion), a Jiva
Jiva
In Hinduism and Jainism, a jiva is a living being, or more specifically, the immortal essence of a living organism which survives physical death. It has a very similar usage to atma, but whereas atma refers to "the cosmic self", jiva is used to denote an individual 'living entity' or 'living...

 ascends to the realm of the Lord to serve Him. Karma Yoga
Karma Yoga
Karma yoga , or the "discipline of action" is a form of yoga based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Sanskrit scripture of Hinduism. Of the four paths to realization, karma yoga is the science of achieving perfection in action...

 and Jnana Yoga
Jnana yoga
Jyâna yoga or "path of knowledge" is one of the types of yoga mentioned in Hindu philosophies...

 are natural outcomes of Bhakti, total surrender, as the devotee acquires the knowledge that the Lord is the inner self. A devotee realizes his own state as dependent on, and supported by, and being led by the Lord, who is the Master. One is to lead a life as an instrument of the Lord, offering all his thought, word, and deed to the feet of the Lord. One is to see the Lord in everything and everything in Him. This is the unity in diversity achieved through devotion.

In Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 is Ishvara
Ishvara
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

 and denotes Saguna Brahman
Saguna brahman
Saguna Brahman came from the Sanskrit "with qualities" and Brahman "The Absolute".-Advaita:...

, and the term Brahman means Nirguna Brahman
Nirguna Brahman
Nirguna Brahman, signifies in Hindu philosophy the Brahman that pervades the Universe, considered without form , as in the Advaita school or else as without material form, as in Dvaita schools of philosophy.-Advaita:According to Adi Shankara, the famous reviver of Advaita...

:

I (Ishvara) am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is immortal, imperishable and eternal and is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness. (Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

 14.27)

I (Ishvara) am transcendental, beyond both kshara (the fallible, perishable world) and akshara (the infallible). (Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

 15.18)

Dvaita Vedanta


Brahman of Dvaita
Dvaita
Dvaita is a school of Vedanta founded by Shri Madhvacharya....

 (substantial monism
Monism
Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

) is synonymous with Hari
Hari
Hari is an Avatar, another name of and , and appears as the 650th name in the Vishnu sahasranama of Mahabharata. In Sanskrit "hari" sometimes refers to a colour, green, yellow, or fawn-coloured/khaki. It is the colour of the Sun and of Soma...

 or Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

, who is the most exalted Para Brahman
Para Brahman
Para Brahman or Param Brahman - is a term often used by Vedantic philosophers as to the "attainment of the ultimate goal". Adi Shankara has said that there is only one Supreme Para-Brahman and all the other deities are the forms and expansions of this Para-Brahman...

 (Supreme Brahman), superior to liberated souls and even the impersonal Brahman. Dvaita holds that the individual soul is dependent (paratantra) on God, since it is unable to exist without the energizing support of the universal spirit, just as a tree cannot survive without its sap.

Dvaita
Dvaita
Dvaita is a school of Vedanta founded by Shri Madhvacharya....

 schools argue against the Advaita concept that upon liberation one realizes Brahman as a formless God is erroneous, quoting from Vedanta Sutra:

The form of Brahman is unmanifest, but even the form of Brahman becomes directly visible to one who worships devoutly (tat avyaktam aha, api samradhane pratyaksa anumanabhyam). (Vedanta Sutra 3.2.23)

Within His divine realm, devotees see other divine manifestations which appear even as physical objects in a city (antara bhuta gramavat svatmanah). (Vedanta Sutra 3.3.36)

Dvaita propounds Tattvavada which means understanding differences between Tattva
Tattva
Tattva is a Sanskrit word meaning 'thatness', 'principle', 'reality' or 'truth'. According to various Indian schools of philosophy, a tattva is an element or aspect of reality conceived as an aspect of deity. Although the number of tattvas varies depending on the philosophical school, together they...

s (significant properties) of entities within the universal substrate as follows:
  1. Jîva-Îshvara-bheda — difference between the soul and Vishnu
  2. Jada-Îshvara-bheda — difference between the insentient and Vishnu
  3. Mitha-jîva-bheda — difference between any two souls
  4. Jada-jîva-bheda — difference between insentient and the soul
  5. Mitha-jada-bheda — difference between any two insentients


The Acintya Bheda Abheda philosophy is similar to Dvaitadvaita
Dvaitadvaita
Dvaitadvaita was proposed by Nimbarka, a Vaishnava Philosopher who hailed from Andhra Region. Nimbarka’s philosophical position is known as Dvaitadvaita . The categories of existence, according to him, are three, i.e., Chit, acit, and Isvara...

 (differential monism
Monism
Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

). All Vaishnava schools are panentheistic and perceive the Advaita concept of identification of Atman with the impersonal Brahman as an intermediate step of self-realization, but not Mukti, or final liberation of complete God-realization through Bhakti Yoga
Bhakti yoga
Bhakti yoga is one of the types of yoga mentioned in Hindu philosophies which denotes the spiritual practice of fostering loving devotion to a personal form of God....

.

Abode of Brahman in Gaudiya-Vaishnavism


Gaudiya Vaishnavas also conclude, that Brahman is also Supreme Personality of Godhead. Purport of A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.5.39 confirms this, telling us about Brahmalokah sanatana — eternal abode of Brahman (Krishna, Vishnu):

"..satyalokas tu
brahmalokaḥ sanātanaḥ


.. mūrdhabhiḥ — by the head; satyalokaḥ — the Satyaloka planetary system; tu — but; brahmalokaḥ — the spiritual planets; sanātanaḥ — eternal.

From the forefront of the chest up to the neck of the universal form of the Lord are situated the planetary systems named Janaloka and Tapoloka, whereas Satyaloka, the topmost planetary system, is situated on the head of the form. The spiritual planets, however, are eternal.

PURPORT
... Sometimes Satyaloka, the planet in which Brahmā
Brahma
Brahma is the Hindu god of creation and one of the Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. According to the Brahma Purana, he is the father of Mānu, and from Mānu all human beings are descended. In the Ramayana and the...

 resides, is also called Brahmaloka. But the Brahmaloka mentioned here is not the same as the Satyaloka planetary system. This Brahmaloka is eternal, whereas the Satyaloka planetary system is not eternal. And to distinguish between the two, the adjective sanātana has been used in this case. According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, this Brahmaloka is the loka or abode of Brahman, or the Supreme Lord. ...
Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī, therefore, rightly .. says that the Brahmaloka mentioned here is Vaikuṇṭha, the kingdom of God, which is sanātana, or eternal, and is therefore not exactly like the material creations described above." (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.5.39)


So, Brahman is not just impersonal, but also personal. That Brahman is Supreme Personality of Godhead, though on first stage of realization (by process called jnana
Jnana
Jñāna or gñāna is a Sanskrit and Pali word that means knowledge. It has various nuances of meaning depending on the context. The idea of jnana centers around a cognitive event which is recognized when experienced...

) of Absolute Truth, He is realized (usually by advaita-vedantists, followers of Shankaracarya
Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara Adi Shankara Adi Shankara (IAST: pronounced , (Sanskrit: , ) (788 CE - 820 CE), also known as ' and ' was an Indian philosopher from Kalady of present day Kerala who consolidated the doctrine of advaita vedānta...

) as impersonal Brahman, then (by actual Shankaracarya followers and vaishnavas) as personal Brahman having eternal Vaikuntha
Vaikunta
Vaikuntha , Param Padam , or Paramapadam is the abode of Lord Vishnu. It is believed, in the tradition of Vaishnavites, to be the place of eternal bliss, exclusive to the Lord, His eternal consort, the Goddess Lakshmi, and the three-folded Serpent Sesha Naga, upon whom the Lord, and His Shakti ,...

 abode (also known as Brahmalokah sanatana), then as Paramatma (by process of yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

-meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

 on Supersoul, Vishnu-God in heart) - Vishnu (Narayana
Narayana
Narayana or Narayan or Naraina is an important Sanskrit name for Vishnu, and in many contemporary vernaculars a common Indian name. Narayana is also identified as the original man, Purusha. The Puranas present divergent views on Narayana...

, also in everyone's heart) who has many abodes known as Vishnulokas (Vaikunthalokas), and finally (Absolute Truth is realized by bhakti
Bhakti
In Hinduism Bhakti is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine.Within monotheistic Hinduism, it is the love felt by the worshipper towards the personal God, a concept expressed in Hindu theology as Svayam Bhagavan.Bhakti can be used of either...

) as Bhagavan
Bhagavan
Bhagavan, also written Bhagwan or Bhagawan, from the Sanskrit nt-stem literally means "possessing fortune, blessed, prosperous" , and hence "illustrious, divine, venerable, holy", etc.In some traditions of Hinduism it is used to...

, Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is source of both Paramatma and Brahman (personal and/or impersonal).

In Gaudiya-vaisnavism, philosophers who try to establish that everything is Brahman or Maya
Maya (illusion)
Maya , in Indian religions, has multiple meanings, usually quoted as "illusion", centered on the fact that we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it, created by us. Maya is the principal deity that manifests, perpetuates and governs the illusion and dream of duality...

 are called Brahmavadis (impersonalists) or Mayavadis
Mayavada
Mayavada is a term used to pejoratively refer to the Advaita philosophy of Adi Shankara. It is not used by the followers of the Advaita philosophy to refer to themselves. It is generally used as a derogatory term, by some Dvaita schools...

. Thought they are still considered to be transcendentalists, but of other group (so-called followers of Shankaracarya, because he himself, as avatara of Shiva accepted Brahman to be Vishnu, not impersonal brahmajyoti as God).

The Advaita concept of a Jivanmukta
Jivanmukta
Jivanmukta is someone who, in the Advaita philosophy of Hinduism, has attained nirvikalpa samadhi - the realization of the Self, Parasiva - and is liberated from rebirth while living in a human body....

 is mocked as an absurd oxymoron because a person who has surmounted the realm of perception and realized the Absolute (as Advaita holds) should not continue to exist within and interact with the realm of perception that one has realized as being not real. The suggestion that such bondage to the world of perception continues for a while after the occurrence of God-realization, because of past attachments, is not tenable. Such attachments themselves are artifacts of the perceived world that has supposedly been sublated, and should not continue to besiege the consciousness of the self-realized. A Jivanmukta
Jivanmukta
Jivanmukta is someone who, in the Advaita philosophy of Hinduism, has attained nirvikalpa samadhi - the realization of the Self, Parasiva - and is liberated from rebirth while living in a human body....

, or liberated person, should not even be physically present in the material universe. A person who is living in the world cannot be said to be free of sorrow born of material contact, and also cannot be said to experience the joy of liberation. The very act of being in a gross material body is not accepted in as a Jivanmukta i.e. a person liberated from the cycle of birth and death. The soul upon liberation does not lose its identity, which remains different from God, nor does one become equal to God in any respect. A mukta indeed becomes free from all suffering, but one's enjoyment is not of the same caliber as His, nor does a mukta become independent of Him. The permanent differential aspect of Atman
Ātman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

 (soul) from the Lord is established from:

Never was there a time when I (Ishvara) did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be. (Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

 2.12)

In Dvaita, liberation (Moksha
Moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...

) is achieved by flawless devotion and correct understanding. Devotion to a personal form of God, Saguna Brahman
Saguna brahman
Saguna Brahman came from the Sanskrit "with qualities" and Brahman "The Absolute".-Advaita:...

, indicated here is the transcendental form of Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 or Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 (see Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

). This conclusion is corroborated by the Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

, written by Vyasa
Vyasa
Vyasa is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa , or Krishna Dvaipayana...

 as his commentary on Vedanta Sutra.

O my Lord, Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

, son of Vasudeva, O all-pervading Lord, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You, the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes
(om namo bhagavate vasudevaya janmady asya yatah 'nvayad itaratas cartheshv abhijnah svarat). (Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

 1.1.1)

Vyasa employs the words "janma-adi -- creation, sustenance and destruction; asya -- of the manifested universes; yatah -- from whom;", in the first verse of the Bhagavata Purana to establish that Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 is the Absolute Truth. This is clear testimony of the author's own conclusion that the ultimate goal of all Vedic knowledge is Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

.

Brahman in Early Buddhism


It has been asserted by current secular Buddhism, that Buddhism knows only of the gods (Brahma) and nothing of the Godhead/Absolute/Agathon Brahman. In actuality there can be doubt that in the grammatically ambiguous _expression Brahmabhu’to (attano) which describes the condition of those who are wholly liberated, that it is Brahman (the Absolute) and not Brahma (deva, or mere god) that is in the text and must be read; for it is by Brahman that one who is “wholly awake” has ”become.”

As "Brahma-vihara" means to dwell in Brahman, "Brahma-patha" are the four paths towards achieving it.

The highest appellation in Buddhist Nikayan sutra is “Brahambhutena attano” [MN 1.341] “The Soul is having become Brahman”; absolutely equivalent to ‘Tat tvam asi’ (That/Brahman, thou art). For the Buddha himself is = Brahmabhu’to (Become That, Brahman).
For (1) the comparatively limited knowledge of a Brahma is repeatedly emphasized, and (2) Brahmas are accordingly the Buddhas pupils, not he theirs [ S 1.141-145; Mil 75-76], (3) The Buddha had already been in previous births a Brahma (god) and a Mahabrahma [AN 4.88] hence it is meaningless and absurd in the equation to say Brahmabhu’to=Buddho [AN 5.22; DN 3.84; It 57 etc.], to assume that Brahman= Brahma (god) and that (4) the Buddha is explicitly “much more than a Mahabrahma" [DhA 2.60].
  • [DN 3.84] "The Tathagata means 'the body of Brahman', 'become Brahman'." (this passage also proves [from earlier context] that Brahma (god/s) is utterly different than the word Brahman).
  • [DN 1.249] “ I teach the way to the union with Brahman, I know the way to the supreme union with Brahman, and the path and means leading to Brahman, whereby the world of Brahman may be gained.”
  • [DN 1.248] ”all the peoples say that Gotama is the supreme teacher of the way leading to the Union with Brahman!”
  • [3.646 Pat-Att.] “To have become Brahman [is the meaning of] Brahmabhuto.”
  • [Atthakanipata-Att. 5.72] “To become Brahman is to become highest Svabhava (Self-nature).”
  • [It 57] “Become-Brahman is the meaning of Tathagata.”
  • [SN 3.83] “Without taints, it meant ‘Become-Brahman’.”
  • [SN 5.5] “The Arya Eightfold Path is the designation for Brahmayana (path to Brahman).”
  • [MN 1.341] “The Soul is having become Brahman.”
  • [SN 4.117] "Found the ancient path leading to Brahman."
  • [Majjhima ii, 199] "These alone could conduce to the attainment of the Brahma-sahavyata or the attainment of the world of Brahman."


In the text Lalitavistara (a Northern Buddhistic text), it is written that the Buddha prayed to Parabrahma.

In the Surangama Sutra it reads:
Adoration to the heavenly Deva
Deva (Hinduism)
' is the Sanskrit word for god or deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devs in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devs are also the maintainers of...

s and Rishis,-accomplished
and disciplined executors of this Dharani-
Adoration to Brahman, to Indra
Indra
' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

, to the Blessed Rudra
Rudra
' is a Rigvedic God, associated with wind or storm, and the hunt. The name has been translated as "The Roarer", or "The Howler"....

,
and to their consorts, Indrani and Sahai.
Adoration to Narayana
Narayana
Narayana or Narayan or Naraina is an important Sanskrit name for Vishnu, and in many contemporary vernaculars a common Indian name. Narayana is also identified as the original man, Purusha. The Puranas present divergent views on Narayana...

, Lord of this world, Lord of the
five great Mudras, and to his consort.


It is said in the that the Tathagata is not merely an incorporation of Dhamma but also of the Brahman, he has become not only the Dhamma, but also the Brahman.

"In another passage we read that the 'vehicle that leads to the brahman' (brahmayana) i.e. to Nirvana has its origin in ourselves (attani sambuutam):"

A Brahma-kshetra is a name for a Buddhist monastery.

The Buddha is also called Brahma-patta (skt. Brahma Prapta.).

Buddha talked of "Brahmavihara" as the stage of enlightenment.

The Buddha was also called in texts as "Brahmaprapta" or Individual who has become One with Brahman.

In Modern Day


A Lama who converses with Notovitch explains to him the doctrine of divine incarnation from a Buddhist point of view:

The great Buddha, Soul of the Universe, is the incarnation of Brahma. He remains almost always in passivity, preserving within himself all things from the beginning of time, and his breath vivifies the world. Having abandoned man to his own resources, he yet at certain epochs comes forth from his inertia taking upon himself a human form to save his creatures from irremediable ruin...< 16>http://essenes.net/TheOrthodoxMovementFormulates.html

Alternative Analysis


it is explicitly stated in Buddhist sutras that the worship of an Ishvara (an ancient South Asian term for a creator god, most likely not referring to the Abrahamic God who may not have been known in South Asia during the Buddha's lifetime, but given the context meaning either Shiva, Kali or Brahma ) is unnecessary to the attainment of Nirvana, as the Buddha believed worshippers are still trapped in an endless cycle of rebirth (Samsara). Buddhists do not worship Brahma (a Hindu deity) or "Deva" (an ancient South Indian term for a deity, today meaning either a Hindi translation of the English "God"/ Latin "Deus" concept [although Christian Indians tend to use the term "Parameshvara" or "Supreme Creator God" for the Christian God the Father] or a synonym for the ancient South Asian concept of Brahman). In Buddhism, the historical Buddha, the celestial and predecessor Buddhas, and the Buddhas to Be's (Bodhisattvas) fulfill the devotional needs of believers, while an emphasis is placed on the lack of Creation and Judgement abilities of these Salvation/Teaching deities.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's view


In his writings on the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi , born Mahesh Prasad Varma , developed the Transcendental Meditation technique and was the leader and guru of the TM movement, characterised as a new religious movement and also as non-religious...

 defines Brahman as follows:


Brahman, which is an all-pervading mass of bliss, does not exhibit any quality of bliss. It may be likened to a mass of energy- matter — which does not exhibit any quality of energy... Brahman is that which cannot be expressed into words, even though the Upanishads use words to educate about Its nature. In the field of speech, Brahman lies between two contrary statements. It is absolute and relative at the same time. It is the eternal imperishable even while It is ever changing. It is said to be both This and That. It is spoken of as Sat-Chita-Ananda but includes what is not Sat, what is not Chit, and what is not Ananda. It is beyond speech and thought, yet the whole range of thought and speech lies within It. ‘Within It’ and ‘without It’ are just expressions, and like any other expressions about Brahman they do justice neither to Brahman nor to the speaker nor to the listener. Brahman is lived by man with ease but cannot be spoken of, in the sense that words are inadequate to encompass That which is the unlimited fullness of transcendental Being and the fullness of active life at the same time. Verse 29 of Chapter II (of the Bhagavad-Gita) speak of It as a “wonder”, for it is not anything that can be conceived of intellectually; it is not anything that can be appreciated by emotion...Brahman is the value of our life and the truth of it is that it is lived ‘with ease'.

Śri Aurobindo's view


Śri Aurobindo accepts position of Advaita Vedanta, but gives more emphasis to relative creation and manifestations of Brahman in the relative creation. With Matter as a starting point, Aurobindo finds Brahman completely involved and hidden in it, and then describes a process by which Brahman starts to display itself through a groving scale of principles, showing more and more of its qualities in this world. Main points on this scale are Matter, Life and Mind (in classical Advaita terminology, anna, prana and manas), where Matter has only the quality of Existence (sat), whereas Life and especially Mind also show various grades of the quality of Conscousness (cit). In this position, rather than merging oneself in Brahman through Yoga or some other discipline, Aurobindo suggests a conscious attempt to enable an emergence in this world of an even higher manifestation of Brahman, which he calls Supermind
Supermind (Integral thought)
Supermind in Sri Aurobindo's philosophy refers to the infinite unitary truth-consciousness or truth-idea simultaneously transcendent and immanent to planes of matter, life, and mind. Supermind is the dynamic form of satcitananda , and the necessary conduit, mediator or linkage between satcitananda...

, and corresponding transformation of beings to a divinier race functioning with this principle as a basis.

In description of his teaching and philosophy Aurobindo writes:


The teaching of Śri Aurobindo starts from that of the ancient sages of India that behind the appearances of the universe there is the Reality of a Being and Consciousness, a Self of all things, one and eternal. All beings are united in that One Self and Spirit but divided by a certain separativity of consciousness, an ignorance of their true Self and Reality in the mind, life and body. It is possible by a certain psychological discipline to remove this veil of separative consciousness and become aware of the true Self, the Divinity within us and all.



Śri Aurobindo's teaching states that this One Being and Consciousness is involved here in Matter. Evolution is the method by which it liberates itself; consciousness appears in what seems to be inconscient, and once having appeared is self-impelled to grow higher and higher and at the same time to enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection. Life is the first step of this release of consciousness; mind is the second; but the evolution does not finish with mind, it awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which is spiritual and supramental. The next step of the evolution must be towards the development of Supermind and Spirit as the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will the involved Divinity in things release itself entirely and it become possible for life to manifest perfection.



But while the former steps in evolution were taken by Nature without a conscious will in the plant and animal life, in man Nature becomes able to evolve by a conscious will in the instrument. It is not, however, by the mental will in man that this can be wholly done, for the mind goes only to a certain point and after that can only move in a circle. A conversion has to be made, a turning of the consciousness by which mind has to change into the higher principle. This method is to be found through the ancient psychological discipline and practice of Yoga. In the past, it has been attempted by a drawing away from the world and a disappearance into the height of the Self or Spirit. Sri Aurobindo teaches that a descent of the higher principle is possible which will not merely release the spiritual Self out of the world, but release it in the world, replace the mind's ignorance or its very limited knowledge by a supramental Truth-Consciousness which will be a sufficient instrument of the inner Self and make it possible for the human being to find himself dynamically as well as inwardly and grow out of his still animal humanity into a diviner race. The psychological discipline of Yoga can be used to that end by opening all the parts of the being to a conversion or transformation through the descent and working of the higher still concealed supramental principle.

See also


  • Acintya
    Acintya
    Acintya, also Atintya , also Tunggal is the supreme god of Hinduism as practiced in Indonesia , and most of all in the island of Bali, equivalent to the concept of Brahman...

  • Atman
    Ātman (Hinduism)
    Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

  • Aum
    Aum
    Om or Aum Om or Aum Om or Aum (also , written in Devanāgari as and as , in Sanskrit known as (lit. "to sound out loudly"), ', or ' (also as ') (lit. "Auṃ form/syllable"), is a sacred/mystical syllable in the Dharmic or Indian religions, i.e...

  • Bhagavan
    Bhagavan
    Bhagavan, also written Bhagwan or Bhagawan, from the Sanskrit nt-stem literally means "possessing fortune, blessed, prosperous" , and hence "illustrious, divine, venerable, holy", etc.In some traditions of Hinduism it is used to...

  • Hinduism
    Hinduism
    Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

  • Ishvara
    Ishvara
    Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller in a theistic school of thought or the Supreme Being, or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought.-Etymology:...

  • Jiva
    Jiva
    In Hinduism and Jainism, a jiva is a living being, or more specifically, the immortal essence of a living organism which survives physical death. It has a very similar usage to atma, but whereas atma refers to "the cosmic self", jiva is used to denote an individual 'living entity' or 'living...

  • Monism
    Monism
    Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

  • Mysticism
    Mysticism
    Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

  • Nirguna Brahman
    Nirguna Brahman
    Nirguna Brahman, signifies in Hindu philosophy the Brahman that pervades the Universe, considered without form , as in the Advaita school or else as without material form, as in Dvaita schools of philosophy.-Advaita:According to Adi Shankara, the famous reviver of Advaita...

  • Para Brahman
    Para Brahman
    Para Brahman or Param Brahman - is a term often used by Vedantic philosophers as to the "attainment of the ultimate goal". Adi Shankara has said that there is only one Supreme Para-Brahman and all the other deities are the forms and expansions of this Para-Brahman...

  • Paramatma
  • Saguna Brahman
    Saguna brahman
    Saguna Brahman came from the Sanskrit "with qualities" and Brahman "The Absolute".-Advaita:...

  • Vedanta
    Vedanta
    Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

  • Yoga
    Yoga
    Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...


External links