Vedanta

Vedanta

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Vedanta'
Start a new discussion about 'Vedanta'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia


Vedānta also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: , ) was originally a word used in Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda
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....

 texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix
Addendum
An addendum, in general, is an addition required to be made to a document by its reader subsequent to its printing or publication. It comes from the Latin verbal phrase addendum est, being the gerundive form of the verb addo, addere, addidi, additum, "to give to, add to", meaning " must be added"...

 to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal [end] of the Vedas." By the 8th century CE, the word also came to be used to describe a group of philosophical traditions concerned with the self-realisation by which one understands the ultimate nature of reality (Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

).
Vedanta can also be used as a noun to describe one who has mastered all four of the original Vedas.
Vedānta is also called Uttarā Mīmāṃsā, or the 'latter enquiry' or 'higher enquiry', and is often paired with Purva Mīmāṃsā, the 'former enquiry'. Pūrva Mimamsa, usually simply called Mimamsa
Mimamsa
' , a Sanskrit word meaning "investigation" , is the name of an astika school of Hindu philosophy whose primary enquiry is into the nature of dharma based on close hermeneutics of the Vedas...

, deals with explanations of the fire-sacrifices of the Vedic mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s (in the Samhita
Samhita
Samhita may refer to"*the basic metrical text of each of the Vedas**specifically, these texts with sandhi applied *post-Vedic texts known as Samhitas:** Ashtavakra Gita...

 portion of the Vedas) and Brahmana
Brahmana
The Brāhmaṇas are part of the Hindu śruti literature. They are commentaries on the four Vedas, detailing the proper performance of rituals....

s, while Vedanta explicates the esoteric teachings of the
{{Other uses|Vedanta (disambiguation)}}

{{Hindu philosophy}}
Vedānta (vɪˈdɑːntə, ʋeːd̪aːn̪t̪,
Devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: {{lang|sa|वेदान्त}}, {{IAST|Vedānta}}) was originally a word used in Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda
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....

 texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix
Addendum
An addendum, in general, is an addition required to be made to a document by its reader subsequent to its printing or publication. It comes from the Latin verbal phrase addendum est, being the gerundive form of the verb addo, addere, addidi, additum, "to give to, add to", meaning " must be added"...

 to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal [end] of the Vedas." By the 8th century CE, the word also came to be used to describe a group of philosophical traditions concerned with the self-realisation by which one understands the ultimate nature of reality (Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

).
Vedanta can also be used as a noun to describe one who has mastered all four of the original Vedas.
Vedānta is also called Uttarā Mīmāṃsā, or the 'latter enquiry' or 'higher enquiry', and is often paired with Purva Mīmāṃsā, the 'former enquiry'. Pūrva Mimamsa, usually simply called Mimamsa
Mimamsa
' , a Sanskrit word meaning "investigation" , is the name of an astika school of Hindu philosophy whose primary enquiry is into the nature of dharma based on close hermeneutics of the Vedas...

, deals with explanations of the fire-sacrifices of the Vedic mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s (in the Samhita
Samhita
Samhita may refer to"*the basic metrical text of each of the Vedas**specifically, these texts with sandhi applied *post-Vedic texts known as Samhitas:** Ashtavakra Gita...

 portion of the Vedas) and Brahmana
Brahmana
The Brāhmaṇas are part of the Hindu śruti literature. They are commentaries on the four Vedas, detailing the proper performance of rituals....

s, while Vedanta explicates the esoteric teachings of the
{{Other uses|Vedanta (disambiguation)}}

{{Hindu philosophy}}
Vedānta (vɪˈdɑːntə, ʋeːd̪aːn̪t̪,
Devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: {{lang|sa|वेदान्त}}, {{IAST|Vedānta}}) was originally a word used in Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda
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....

 texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix
Addendum
An addendum, in general, is an addition required to be made to a document by its reader subsequent to its printing or publication. It comes from the Latin verbal phrase addendum est, being the gerundive form of the verb addo, addere, addidi, additum, "to give to, add to", meaning " must be added"...

 to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal [end] of the Vedas." By the 8th century CE, the word also came to be used to describe a group of philosophical traditions concerned with the self-realisation by which one understands the ultimate nature of reality (Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

).
Vedanta can also be used as a noun to describe one who has mastered all four of the original Vedas.
Vedānta is also called Uttarā Mīmāṃsā, or the 'latter enquiry' or 'higher enquiry', and is often paired with Purva Mīmāṃsā, the 'former enquiry'. Pūrva Mimamsa, usually simply called Mimamsa
Mimamsa
' , a Sanskrit word meaning "investigation" , is the name of an astika school of Hindu philosophy whose primary enquiry is into the nature of dharma based on close hermeneutics of the Vedas...

, deals with explanations of the fire-sacrifices of the Vedic mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s (in the Samhita
Samhita
Samhita may refer to"*the basic metrical text of each of the Vedas**specifically, these texts with sandhi applied *post-Vedic texts known as Samhitas:** Ashtavakra Gita...

 portion of the Vedas) and Brahmana
Brahmana
The Brāhmaṇas are part of the Hindu śruti literature. They are commentaries on the four Vedas, detailing the proper performance of rituals....

s, while Vedanta explicates the esoteric teachings of the {{IAST
Aranyaka
The Aranyakas are part of the Hindu śruti, the four Vedas; they were composed in late Vedic Sanskrit typical of the Brahmanas and early Upanishads; indeed, they frequently form part of either the Brahmanas or the Upanishads....

s (the "forest scriptures"), and the Upanishads, composed from ca. the 9th century BCE, until modern times.

Vedanta is not restricted or confined to one book and there is no sole source for Vedāntic philosophy.

History


In earlier writings, 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...

 'Vedānta' simply referred to the 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...

s, the most speculative and philosophical of the Vedic texts. However, in the medieval period of Hinduism, the word Vedānta came to mean the school of philosophy that interpreted the Upanishads. Traditional Vedānta considers scriptural evidence, or shabda pramāna
Testimony
In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. All testimonies should be well thought out and truthful. It was the custom in Ancient Rome for the men to place their right hand on a Bible when taking an oath...

, as the most authentic means of knowledge, while perception, or pratyaksa
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

, and logical inference, or anumana
Inference
Inference is the act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true. The conclusion drawn is also called an idiomatic. The laws of valid inference are studied in the field of logic.Human inference Inference is the act or process of deriving logical conclusions...

, are considered to be subordinate (but valid).

The systematization of Vedāntic ideas into one coherent treatise was undertaken by Badarāyana
Vyasa
Vyasa is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa , or Krishna Dvaipayana...

 in the Vedānta Sutra
Brahma Sutras
The Brahma sūtras , also known as Vedānta Sūtras , are one of the three canonical texts of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. A thorough study of Vedānta requires a close examination of these three texts, known in Sanskrit as the Prasthanatrayi, or the three starting points...

 which was composed around 200 BCE. The Vedānta-sūtra are known by a variety of names, including (1) Brahma-sūtra, (2) Śārīraka, (3) Vyāsa-sūtra, (4) Bādarāyaṇa-sūtra, (5) Uttara-mīmāṁsā and (6) Vedānta-darśana.
The cryptic aphorisms of the Vedanta Sutras are open to a variety of interpretations, resulting in the formation of numerous Vedanta schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and producing its own sub-commentaries. Consistent throughout Vedanta, however, is the exhortation that ritual be eschewed in favor of the individual's quest for truth through meditation governed by a loving morality, secure in the knowledge that infinite bliss awaits the seeker. Nearly all existing sects of Hinduism are directly or indirectly influenced by the thought systems developed by Vedantic thinkers. Hinduism to a great extent owes its survival to the formation of the coherent and logically advanced systems of Vedanta.

Source texts


All forms of Vedānta are drawn primarily from the Upanishads, a set of philosophical and instructive Vedic
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....

 scriptures. "The Upanishads are commentaries on the Vedas, their putative end and essence{{Citation needed|date=April 2010}}, and thus known as Vedānta or "End of the Veda". They are considered the fundamental essence of all the Vedas and although they form the backbone of Vedanta, portions of Vedantic thought are also derived from some of the earlier āranyakas
Aranyaka
The Aranyakas are part of the Hindu śruti, the four Vedas; they were composed in late Vedic Sanskrit typical of the Brahmanas and early Upanishads; indeed, they frequently form part of either the Brahmanas or the Upanishads....

.

The primary philosophy captured in the Upanishads, that of one absolute reality termed as Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 is the main principle of Vedanta. The sage Vyāsa
Vyasa
Vyasa is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa , or Krishna Dvaipayana...

 was one of the major proponents of this philosophy and author of the Brahma Sūtras based on the Upanishads. The concept of Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 – the eternal, self existent, immanent and transcendent Supreme and Ultimate Reality which is the divine ground of all Being - is central to most schools of Vedānta. The concept of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 or 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 also there, and the Vedantic sub-schools differ mainly in how they identify God with Brahman.

The contents of the Upanishads are often couched in enigmatic language, which has left them open to various interpretations. Over a period of time, several scholars have interpreted the writings in 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...

s and other scriptures like Brahma Sutras according to their own understanding and the need of their time. There are a total of six important interpretations of these source texts, out of which, three (Advaita, Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita) are prominent, both in India and abroad. These Vedantic schools of thought were founded by Shri Adi Shankara, Shri Ramanuja
Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...

 and Shri Madhvacharya, respectively. It should be noted, however, that the Indian pre-Shankara Buddhist writer, Bhavya, in the Madhyamakahrdaya Kārika describes the Vedānta philosophy as "Bhedabheda
Bhedabheda
Bhedābheda Vedānta is one of the several traditions of Vedānta philosophy in India. “Bhedābheda”is a Sanskrit word meaning “Difference and Non-Difference.” The characteristic position of all the...

". Proponents of other Vedantic schools continue to write and develop their ideas as well, although their works are not widely known outside of smaller circles of followers in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

While it is not typically thought of as a purely Vedantic text, 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...

 has played a strong role in Vedantic thought, with its representative syncretism of Samkhya
Samkhya
Samkhya, also Sankhya, Sāṃkhya, or Sāṅkhya is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and classical Indian philosophy. Sage Kapila is traditionally considered as the founder of the Samkhya school, although no historical verification is possible...

, 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...

, and 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 thought. Indeed, it is itself called an "upanishad" and thus, all major Vedantic teachers (like Shankara, Rāmānuja, and Mādhvāchārya) have taken it upon themselves to compose often extensive commentaries not only on the Upanishads and Brahma Sutras, but also on the Gita. In such a manner, Vedāntists both old and new have implicitly attested to the Gitā's importance to the development of Vedantic thought and practice.{{Citation needed|date=September 2007}}

Advaita Vedānta



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...

 (IAST
IAST
The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration is a transliteration scheme that allows a lossless romanization of Indic scripts as employed by the Sanskrit language.-Popularity:...

 {{IAST|Advaita Vedānta}}; 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...

: {{Unicode|अद्वैत वेदान्त}} əd̪ʋait̪ə ʋeːd̪ɑːnt̪ə) was propounded by 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...

 and his grand-guru Gaudapada
Gaudapada
Gaudapada was a very early guru in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy...

, who described Ajativada
Ajativada
The Sanskrit term Ajativada can be translated as "non-creation". Ajativada is one of several alternately-held creation theories in Advaita Vedanta philosophy. According to Advaita Vedanta, the world of appearances is considered an illusion, and not to "exist". The idea that the illusory world was...

. It is the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta
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...

 (literally, end or the goal of 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....

, 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...

) school of Hindu philosophy
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...

. According to this school of Vedānta, Brahman is the only reality, and the world, as it appears, is illusory. As Brahman is the sole reality, it cannot be said to possess any attributes whatsoever. An illusory power of Brahman called Māyā
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...

 causes the world to arise. Ignorance of this reality is the cause of all suffering in the world and only upon true knowledge of Brahman can liberation be attained. When a person tries to know Brahman through his mind, due to the influence of Māyā, Brahman appears as God (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:...

), separate from the world and from the individual. In reality, there is no difference between the individual soul jīvātman (see 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...

) and Brahman. Liberation lies in knowing the reality of this non-difference (i.e. a-dvaita, "non-duality"). Thus, the path to liberation is finally only through knowledge (jñāna).

Vishishtadvaita


Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita Vedanta is a sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy, the other major sub-schools of Vedānta being Advaita, Dvaita, and Achintya-Bheda-Abheda. VishishtAdvaita is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy...

 was propounded by Rāmānuja
Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...

 and says that the jīvātman is a part of Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, and hence is similar, but not identical. The main difference from Advaita is that in Visishtadvaita, the Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 is asserted to have attributes (Saguna brahman
Saguna brahman
Saguna Brahman came from the Sanskrit "with qualities" and Brahman "The Absolute".-Advaita:...

), including the individual conscious souls and matter. Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, matter and the individual souls are distinct but mutually inseparable entities. This school propounds 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...

 or devotion to God visualized 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....

 to be the path to liberation. Māyā
Maya
-Peoples, languages, numerical systems:* The Maya peoples, peoples of southern Mexico and northern Central America** Maya civilization, their historical civilization** Mayan languages, the family of languages spoken by the Maya...

 is seen as the creative power of God.

Dvaita


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

 was propounded by Madhwāchārya
Madhvacharya
Madhvācārya was the chief proponent of Tattvavāda "Philosophy of Reality", popularly known as the Dvaita school of Hindu philosophy. It is one of the three most influential Vedānta philosophies. Madhvācārya was one of the important philosophers during the Bhakti movement. He was a pioneer in...

. It is also referred to as tatvavādā - The Philosophy of Reality. It identifies God with Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 completely, and in turn 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....

 or his various incarnations like 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...

, Narasimha
Narasimha
Narasimha or Nrusimha , also spelt as Narasingh and Narasingha, whose name literally translates from Sanskrit as "Man-lion", is an avatar of Vishnu described in the Puranas, Upanishads and other ancient religious texts of Hinduism...

, Srinivāsa etc. In that sense it is also known as sat-vaishnava philosophy to differentiate from the Vishishtadvaita school known by sri-vaishnavism. It regards Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, all individual souls (jīvātmans) and matter as eternal and mutually separate entities. This school also advocates 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 the route to sattvic liberation whereas hatred (Dvesha)-literally 'twoness') and indifference towards the Lord will lead to eternal hell and eternal bondage respectively.
Liberation is the state of attaining maximum joy or sorrow, which is awarded to individual souls (at the end of their sādhana), based on the souls' inherent and natural disposition towards good or evil. The achintya-adbhuta shakti (the immeasurable power) of Lord Vishnu is seen as the efficient cause of the universe and the primordial matter or prakrti is the material cause. Dvaita also propounds that all action is performed by the Lord energizing every soul from within, awarding the results to the soul but Himself not affected in the least by the results.

Dvaitādvaita



Dvaitādvaita
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...

 was propounded by Nimbārka
Nimbarka
Nimbarka , is known for propagating the Vaishnava Theology of Dvaitadvaita, duality in unity. According to scholars headed by Prof. Roma Bose, he lived in the 13th Century, on the assumption that Śrī Nimbārkācārya was the author of the work Madhvamukhamardana...

, based upon an earlier school called Bhedābheda
Bhedabheda
Bhedābheda Vedānta is one of the several traditions of Vedānta philosophy in India. “Bhedābheda”is a Sanskrit word meaning “Difference and Non-Difference.” The characteristic position of all the...

, which was taught by Bhāskara
Bhāskara (philosopher)
Bhāskara was an Indian philosopher in the Bhedabheda tradition of Vedanta philosophy.He wrote commentaries on the Brahma Sutras, and contested Shankara's doctrine of māyā .According to Swami Prabhavananda,...

. According to this school, the jīvātman is at once the same as yet different from Brahman. The jiva relation may be regarded as dvaita from one point of view and advaita from another. In this school, God is visualized as 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...

.

Shuddhādvaita



Shuddhadvaita
Shuddhadvaita
Shuddadvaita is the "purely non-dual" philosophy propounded by Vallabhacharya , the founding philosopher and guru of the or , a Hindu Vaishnava tradition focused on the worship of Krishna. Vallabhacharya's pure form philosophy is different from Advaita...

 was propounded by Vallabha. This system also identifies Bhakti as the only means of liberation, 'to go to Goloka
Goloka
Goloka is the eternal abode of Krishna, Svayam bhagavan according to some Vaishnava schools, including Gaudiya Vaishnavism and the Swaminarayan Sampraday....

' (lit., the world of cows; the Sankrit word 'go', 'cow', also means 'star'). The world is said to be the sport (Leela) 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...

, who is Sat-Chit-Ananda
Satchitananda
Saccidānanda, Satchidananda, or Sat-cit-ānanda is a compound of three Sanskrit words, Sat , Cit , and Ānanda , meaning Existence , Consciousness, and Bliss respectively...

.

Story of Vedanta


There is a story in Mundaka Upanishad that runs like this: Once in a tree there were two birds, one at the upper branch, serene, majestic and divine, and the other at a lower branch, restlessly pecking fruits, sometimes sweet sometimes bitter. Every time, when the restless bird ate a bitter fruit, it looked at the upper bird and climbed a branch up. This occurred a number of times and eventually the bird reached the topmost branch. There it was not able to differentiate itself from the divine bird, and then it learned that there was only one bird in the tree, the upper bird, which is described as divine, the real form of the other restless bird. This is the thought of Vedanta. The fruits in the story are 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....

, the restless bird denotes a human soul, and the majestic bird denotes 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...

.

Further reading

  • The System of Vedanta by Paul Deussen. 1912. Reprint 2007.
  • The Eye of Shiva. New York, William Morrow & Co. 1981. Amaury de Reincourt
  • Forgotten Truth: The Primordial Tradition by Huston Smith
    Huston Smith
    Huston Cummings Smith is a religious studies scholar in the United States. His book The World's Religions remains a popular introduction to comparative religion.-Education:...

  • Theology After Vedanta by Francis X. Clooney
    Francis X. Clooney
    Francis Xavier Clooney, S.J., is a professor and a Roman Catholic priest.-Career:After earning his doctorate in South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in 1984, he taught at Boston College until 2005, when he became the Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of...

  • Sankara and Indian Philosophy, by Natalia Isayeva
  • A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy by Hajime Nākāmura
  • Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies and "Vedanta Sutras of Nārāyana Guru" by Karl Potter and Sibajiban Bhattachārya
  • Isherwood, Bowles, Vedanta, Wicca, and Me by Lee Prosser. 2001. ISBN 0-595-20284-5
  • The Upanishads by Sri Aurobindo
    Sri Aurobindo
    Sri Aurobindo , born Aurobindo Ghosh or Ghose , was an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet. He joined the Indian movement for freedom from British rule and for a duration became one of its most important leaders, before developing his own vision of human progress...

     http://www.sriaurobindoashram.info/Contents.aspx?ParentCategoryName=_StaticContent/SriAurobindoAshram/-09%20E-Library/-01%20Works%20of%20Sri%20Aurobindo/-12_The%20Upanishad_Volume-12. Sri Aurobindo Ashram
    Sri Aurobindo Ashram
    The Sri Aurobindo Ashram was founded by Sri Aurobindo on the 24 November 1926 . At the time there were no more than 24 disciples in the Ashram...

    , Pondicherry. 1972.
  • Vedanta Treatise- The Eternities by Swami Pārthasārathy
    Swami Parthasarathy
    Swami Parthasarathy is a modern exponent of Vedanta. His multi-disciplined academic base includes post-graduation from the University of London. For a period of over half a century, he has dedicated himself to the study, research and propagation of Vedanta and its practical application to life...

      http://www.vedantaworld.org
  • Vedanta: A Simple Introduction by Pravrajika Vrajaprana
    Pravrajika Vrajaprana
    Pravrajika Vrajaprana is a writer on Vedanta, the history and growth of the Vedanta Societies and a nun at Vedanta Society of Sarada Convent.Her works on Vedanta include, Vedanta: A Simple Introduction , editor of Living Wisdom...

      http://www.vedanta.com
  • Swami Bhoomānanda Tirtha http://www.brahmavidya.orgNarayanashrama Tapovanam
    Narayanashrama Tapovanam
    Narayanashrama Tapovanam is an Ashram located at Venginissery village, 10km South-West of Thrissur city, in Kerala state, India. It was founded by Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha in 1963. The Ashram, which is located in the hillock of Pandava Giri, is a centre for learning and practising Brahmavidya and...

    ]
  • Three Upanisads of The Vedanta by J.L. Bansal  http://threeupanisads.blogspot.com/2010/09/book-released.html


{{Other uses|Vedanta (disambiguation)}}

{{Hindu philosophy}}
Vedānta (vɪˈdɑːntə, ʋeːd̪aːn̪t̪, Devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: {{lang|sa|वेदान्त}}, {{IAST|Vedānta}}) was originally a word used in Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda
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....

 texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix
Addendum
An addendum, in general, is an addition required to be made to a document by its reader subsequent to its printing or publication. It comes from the Latin verbal phrase addendum est, being the gerundive form of the verb addo, addere, addidi, additum, "to give to, add to", meaning " must be added"...

 to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal [end] of the Vedas." By the 8th century CE, the word also came to be used to describe a group of philosophical traditions concerned with the self-realisation by which one understands the ultimate nature of reality (Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

).
Vedanta can also be used as a noun to describe one who has mastered all four of the original Vedas.
Vedānta is also called Uttarā Mīmāṃsā, or the 'latter enquiry' or 'higher enquiry', and is often paired with Purva Mīmāṃsā, the 'former enquiry'. Pūrva Mimamsa, usually simply called Mimamsa
Mimamsa
' , a Sanskrit word meaning "investigation" , is the name of an astika school of Hindu philosophy whose primary enquiry is into the nature of dharma based on close hermeneutics of the Vedas...

, deals with explanations of the fire-sacrifices of the Vedic mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s (in the Samhita
Samhita
Samhita may refer to"*the basic metrical text of each of the Vedas**specifically, these texts with sandhi applied *post-Vedic texts known as Samhitas:** Ashtavakra Gita...

 portion of the Vedas) and Brahmana
Brahmana
The Brāhmaṇas are part of the Hindu śruti literature. They are commentaries on the four Vedas, detailing the proper performance of rituals....

s, while Vedanta explicates the esoteric teachings of the {{IAST
Aranyaka
The Aranyakas are part of the Hindu śruti, the four Vedas; they were composed in late Vedic Sanskrit typical of the Brahmanas and early Upanishads; indeed, they frequently form part of either the Brahmanas or the Upanishads....

s (the "forest scriptures"), and the Upanishads, composed from ca. the 9th century BCE, until modern times.

Vedanta is not restricted or confined to one book and there is no sole source for Vedāntic philosophy.

History


In earlier writings, 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...

 'Vedānta' simply referred to the 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...

s, the most speculative and philosophical of the Vedic texts. However, in the medieval period of Hinduism, the word Vedānta came to mean the school of philosophy that interpreted the Upanishads. Traditional Vedānta considers scriptural evidence, or shabda pramāna
Testimony
In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. All testimonies should be well thought out and truthful. It was the custom in Ancient Rome for the men to place their right hand on a Bible when taking an oath...

, as the most authentic means of knowledge, while perception, or pratyaksa
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

, and logical inference, or anumana
Inference
Inference is the act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true. The conclusion drawn is also called an idiomatic. The laws of valid inference are studied in the field of logic.Human inference Inference is the act or process of deriving logical conclusions...

, are considered to be subordinate (but valid).

The systematization of Vedāntic ideas into one coherent treatise was undertaken by Badarāyana
Vyasa
Vyasa is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa , or Krishna Dvaipayana...

 in the Vedānta Sutra
Brahma Sutras
The Brahma sūtras , also known as Vedānta Sūtras , are one of the three canonical texts of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. A thorough study of Vedānta requires a close examination of these three texts, known in Sanskrit as the Prasthanatrayi, or the three starting points...

 which was composed around 200 BCE. The Vedānta-sūtra are known by a variety of names, including (1) Brahma-sūtra, (2) Śārīraka, (3) Vyāsa-sūtra, (4) Bādarāyaṇa-sūtra, (5) Uttara-mīmāṁsā and (6) Vedānta-darśana.
The cryptic aphorisms of the Vedanta Sutras are open to a variety of interpretations, resulting in the formation of numerous Vedanta schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and producing its own sub-commentaries. Consistent throughout Vedanta, however, is the exhortation that ritual be eschewed in favor of the individual's quest for truth through meditation governed by a loving morality, secure in the knowledge that infinite bliss awaits the seeker. Nearly all existing sects of Hinduism are directly or indirectly influenced by the thought systems developed by Vedantic thinkers. Hinduism to a great extent owes its survival to the formation of the coherent and logically advanced systems of Vedanta.

Source texts


All forms of Vedānta are drawn primarily from the Upanishads, a set of philosophical and instructive Vedic
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....

 scriptures. "The Upanishads are commentaries on the Vedas, their putative end and essence{{Citation needed|date=April 2010}}, and thus known as Vedānta or "End of the Veda". They are considered the fundamental essence of all the Vedas and although they form the backbone of Vedanta, portions of Vedantic thought are also derived from some of the earlier āranyakas
Aranyaka
The Aranyakas are part of the Hindu śruti, the four Vedas; they were composed in late Vedic Sanskrit typical of the Brahmanas and early Upanishads; indeed, they frequently form part of either the Brahmanas or the Upanishads....

.

The primary philosophy captured in the Upanishads, that of one absolute reality termed as Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 is the main principle of Vedanta. The sage Vyāsa
Vyasa
Vyasa is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa , or Krishna Dvaipayana...

 was one of the major proponents of this philosophy and author of the Brahma Sūtras based on the Upanishads. The concept of Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 – the eternal, self existent, immanent and transcendent Supreme and Ultimate Reality which is the divine ground of all Being - is central to most schools of Vedānta. The concept of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 or 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 also there, and the Vedantic sub-schools differ mainly in how they identify God with Brahman.

The contents of the Upanishads are often couched in enigmatic language, which has left them open to various interpretations. Over a period of time, several scholars have interpreted the writings in 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...

s and other scriptures like Brahma Sutras according to their own understanding and the need of their time. There are a total of six important interpretations of these source texts, out of which, three (Advaita, Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita) are prominent, both in India and abroad. These Vedantic schools of thought were founded by Shri Adi Shankara, Shri Ramanuja
Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...

 and Shri Madhvacharya, respectively. It should be noted, however, that the Indian pre-Shankara Buddhist writer, Bhavya, in the Madhyamakahrdaya Kārika describes the Vedānta philosophy as "Bhedabheda
Bhedabheda
Bhedābheda Vedānta is one of the several traditions of Vedānta philosophy in India. “Bhedābheda”is a Sanskrit word meaning “Difference and Non-Difference.” The characteristic position of all the...

". Proponents of other Vedantic schools continue to write and develop their ideas as well, although their works are not widely known outside of smaller circles of followers in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

While it is not typically thought of as a purely Vedantic text, 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...

 has played a strong role in Vedantic thought, with its representative syncretism of Samkhya
Samkhya
Samkhya, also Sankhya, Sāṃkhya, or Sāṅkhya is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and classical Indian philosophy. Sage Kapila is traditionally considered as the founder of the Samkhya school, although no historical verification is possible...

, 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...

, and 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 thought. Indeed, it is itself called an "upanishad" and thus, all major Vedantic teachers (like Shankara, Rāmānuja, and Mādhvāchārya) have taken it upon themselves to compose often extensive commentaries not only on the Upanishads and Brahma Sutras, but also on the Gita. In such a manner, Vedāntists both old and new have implicitly attested to the Gitā's importance to the development of Vedantic thought and practice.{{Citation needed|date=September 2007}}

Advaita Vedānta



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...

 (IAST
IAST
The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration is a transliteration scheme that allows a lossless romanization of Indic scripts as employed by the Sanskrit language.-Popularity:...

 {{IAST|Advaita Vedānta}}; 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...

: {{Unicode|अद्वैत वेदान्त}} əd̪ʋait̪ə ʋeːd̪ɑːnt̪ə) was propounded by 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...

 and his grand-guru Gaudapada
Gaudapada
Gaudapada was a very early guru in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy...

, who described Ajativada
Ajativada
The Sanskrit term Ajativada can be translated as "non-creation". Ajativada is one of several alternately-held creation theories in Advaita Vedanta philosophy. According to Advaita Vedanta, the world of appearances is considered an illusion, and not to "exist". The idea that the illusory world was...

. It is the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta
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...

 (literally, end or the goal of 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....

, 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...

) school of Hindu philosophy
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...

. According to this school of Vedānta, Brahman is the only reality, and the world, as it appears, is illusory. As Brahman is the sole reality, it cannot be said to possess any attributes whatsoever. An illusory power of Brahman called Māyā
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...

 causes the world to arise. Ignorance of this reality is the cause of all suffering in the world and only upon true knowledge of Brahman can liberation be attained. When a person tries to know Brahman through his mind, due to the influence of Māyā, Brahman appears as God (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:...

), separate from the world and from the individual. In reality, there is no difference between the individual soul jīvātman (see 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...

) and Brahman. Liberation lies in knowing the reality of this non-difference (i.e. a-dvaita, "non-duality"). Thus, the path to liberation is finally only through knowledge (jñāna).

Vishishtadvaita


Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita Vedanta is a sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy, the other major sub-schools of Vedānta being Advaita, Dvaita, and Achintya-Bheda-Abheda. VishishtAdvaita is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy...

 was propounded by Rāmānuja
Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...

 and says that the jīvātman is a part of Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, and hence is similar, but not identical. The main difference from Advaita is that in Visishtadvaita, the Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 is asserted to have attributes (Saguna brahman
Saguna brahman
Saguna Brahman came from the Sanskrit "with qualities" and Brahman "The Absolute".-Advaita:...

), including the individual conscious souls and matter. Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, matter and the individual souls are distinct but mutually inseparable entities. This school propounds 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...

 or devotion to God visualized 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....

 to be the path to liberation. Māyā
Maya
-Peoples, languages, numerical systems:* The Maya peoples, peoples of southern Mexico and northern Central America** Maya civilization, their historical civilization** Mayan languages, the family of languages spoken by the Maya...

 is seen as the creative power of God.

Dvaita


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

 was propounded by Madhwāchārya
Madhvacharya
Madhvācārya was the chief proponent of Tattvavāda "Philosophy of Reality", popularly known as the Dvaita school of Hindu philosophy. It is one of the three most influential Vedānta philosophies. Madhvācārya was one of the important philosophers during the Bhakti movement. He was a pioneer in...

. It is also referred to as tatvavādā - The Philosophy of Reality. It identifies God with Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 completely, and in turn 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....

 or his various incarnations like 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...

, Narasimha
Narasimha
Narasimha or Nrusimha , also spelt as Narasingh and Narasingha, whose name literally translates from Sanskrit as "Man-lion", is an avatar of Vishnu described in the Puranas, Upanishads and other ancient religious texts of Hinduism...

, Srinivāsa etc. In that sense it is also known as sat-vaishnava philosophy to differentiate from the Vishishtadvaita school known by sri-vaishnavism. It regards Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, all individual souls (jīvātmans) and matter as eternal and mutually separate entities. This school also advocates 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 the route to sattvic liberation whereas hatred (Dvesha)-literally 'twoness') and indifference towards the Lord will lead to eternal hell and eternal bondage respectively.
Liberation is the state of attaining maximum joy or sorrow, which is awarded to individual souls (at the end of their sādhana), based on the souls' inherent and natural disposition towards good or evil. The achintya-adbhuta shakti (the immeasurable power) of Lord Vishnu is seen as the efficient cause of the universe and the primordial matter or prakrti is the material cause. Dvaita also propounds that all action is performed by the Lord energizing every soul from within, awarding the results to the soul but Himself not affected in the least by the results.

Dvaitādvaita



Dvaitādvaita
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...

 was propounded by Nimbārka
Nimbarka
Nimbarka , is known for propagating the Vaishnava Theology of Dvaitadvaita, duality in unity. According to scholars headed by Prof. Roma Bose, he lived in the 13th Century, on the assumption that Śrī Nimbārkācārya was the author of the work Madhvamukhamardana...

, based upon an earlier school called Bhedābheda
Bhedabheda
Bhedābheda Vedānta is one of the several traditions of Vedānta philosophy in India. “Bhedābheda”is a Sanskrit word meaning “Difference and Non-Difference.” The characteristic position of all the...

, which was taught by Bhāskara
Bhāskara (philosopher)
Bhāskara was an Indian philosopher in the Bhedabheda tradition of Vedanta philosophy.He wrote commentaries on the Brahma Sutras, and contested Shankara's doctrine of māyā .According to Swami Prabhavananda,...

. According to this school, the jīvātman is at once the same as yet different from Brahman. The jiva relation may be regarded as dvaita from one point of view and advaita from another. In this school, God is visualized as 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...

.

Shuddhādvaita



Shuddhadvaita
Shuddhadvaita
Shuddadvaita is the "purely non-dual" philosophy propounded by Vallabhacharya , the founding philosopher and guru of the or , a Hindu Vaishnava tradition focused on the worship of Krishna. Vallabhacharya's pure form philosophy is different from Advaita...

 was propounded by Vallabha. This system also identifies Bhakti as the only means of liberation, 'to go to Goloka
Goloka
Goloka is the eternal abode of Krishna, Svayam bhagavan according to some Vaishnava schools, including Gaudiya Vaishnavism and the Swaminarayan Sampraday....

' (lit., the world of cows; the Sankrit word 'go', 'cow', also means 'star'). The world is said to be the sport (Leela) 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...

, who is Sat-Chit-Ananda
Satchitananda
Saccidānanda, Satchidananda, or Sat-cit-ānanda is a compound of three Sanskrit words, Sat , Cit , and Ānanda , meaning Existence , Consciousness, and Bliss respectively...

.

Story of Vedanta


There is a story in Mundaka Upanishad that runs like this: Once in a tree there were two birds, one at the upper branch, serene, majestic and divine, and the other at a lower branch, restlessly pecking fruits, sometimes sweet sometimes bitter. Every time, when the restless bird ate a bitter fruit, it looked at the upper bird and climbed a branch up. This occurred a number of times and eventually the bird reached the topmost branch. There it was not able to differentiate itself from the divine bird, and then it learned that there was only one bird in the tree, the upper bird, which is described as divine, the real form of the other restless bird. This is the thought of Vedanta. The fruits in the story are 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....

, the restless bird denotes a human soul, and the majestic bird denotes 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...

.

Further reading

  • The System of Vedanta by Paul Deussen. 1912. Reprint 2007.
  • The Eye of Shiva. New York, William Morrow & Co. 1981. Amaury de Reincourt
  • Forgotten Truth: The Primordial Tradition by Huston Smith
    Huston Smith
    Huston Cummings Smith is a religious studies scholar in the United States. His book The World's Religions remains a popular introduction to comparative religion.-Education:...

  • Theology After Vedanta by Francis X. Clooney
    Francis X. Clooney
    Francis Xavier Clooney, S.J., is a professor and a Roman Catholic priest.-Career:After earning his doctorate in South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in 1984, he taught at Boston College until 2005, when he became the Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of...

  • Sankara and Indian Philosophy, by Natalia Isayeva
  • A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy by Hajime Nākāmura
  • Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies and "Vedanta Sutras of Nārāyana Guru" by Karl Potter and Sibajiban Bhattachārya
  • Isherwood, Bowles, Vedanta, Wicca, and Me by Lee Prosser. 2001. ISBN 0-595-20284-5
  • The Upanishads by Sri Aurobindo
    Sri Aurobindo
    Sri Aurobindo , born Aurobindo Ghosh or Ghose , was an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet. He joined the Indian movement for freedom from British rule and for a duration became one of its most important leaders, before developing his own vision of human progress...

     http://www.sriaurobindoashram.info/Contents.aspx?ParentCategoryName=_StaticContent/SriAurobindoAshram/-09%20E-Library/-01%20Works%20of%20Sri%20Aurobindo/-12_The%20Upanishad_Volume-12. Sri Aurobindo Ashram
    Sri Aurobindo Ashram
    The Sri Aurobindo Ashram was founded by Sri Aurobindo on the 24 November 1926 . At the time there were no more than 24 disciples in the Ashram...

    , Pondicherry. 1972.
  • Vedanta Treatise- The Eternities by Swami Pārthasārathy
    Swami Parthasarathy
    Swami Parthasarathy is a modern exponent of Vedanta. His multi-disciplined academic base includes post-graduation from the University of London. For a period of over half a century, he has dedicated himself to the study, research and propagation of Vedanta and its practical application to life...

      http://www.vedantaworld.org
  • Vedanta: A Simple Introduction by Pravrajika Vrajaprana
    Pravrajika Vrajaprana
    Pravrajika Vrajaprana is a writer on Vedanta, the history and growth of the Vedanta Societies and a nun at Vedanta Society of Sarada Convent.Her works on Vedanta include, Vedanta: A Simple Introduction , editor of Living Wisdom...

      http://www.vedanta.com
  • Swami Bhoomānanda Tirtha http://www.brahmavidya.orgNarayanashrama Tapovanam
    Narayanashrama Tapovanam
    Narayanashrama Tapovanam is an Ashram located at Venginissery village, 10km South-West of Thrissur city, in Kerala state, India. It was founded by Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha in 1963. The Ashram, which is located in the hillock of Pandava Giri, is a centre for learning and practising Brahmavidya and...

    ]
  • Three Upanisads of The Vedanta by J.L. Bansal  http://threeupanisads.blogspot.com/2010/09/book-released.html


{{Other uses|Vedanta (disambiguation)}}

{{Hindu philosophy}}
Vedānta (vɪˈdɑːntə, ʋeːd̪aːn̪t̪, Devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: {{lang|sa|वेदान्त}}, {{IAST|Vedānta}}) was originally a word used in Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda
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....

 texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix
Addendum
An addendum, in general, is an addition required to be made to a document by its reader subsequent to its printing or publication. It comes from the Latin verbal phrase addendum est, being the gerundive form of the verb addo, addere, addidi, additum, "to give to, add to", meaning " must be added"...

 to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal [end] of the Vedas." By the 8th century CE, the word also came to be used to describe a group of philosophical traditions concerned with the self-realisation by which one understands the ultimate nature of reality (Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

).
Vedanta can also be used as a noun to describe one who has mastered all four of the original Vedas.
Vedānta is also called Uttarā Mīmāṃsā, or the 'latter enquiry' or 'higher enquiry', and is often paired with Purva Mīmāṃsā, the 'former enquiry'. Pūrva Mimamsa, usually simply called Mimamsa
Mimamsa
' , a Sanskrit word meaning "investigation" , is the name of an astika school of Hindu philosophy whose primary enquiry is into the nature of dharma based on close hermeneutics of the Vedas...

, deals with explanations of the fire-sacrifices of the Vedic mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s (in the Samhita
Samhita
Samhita may refer to"*the basic metrical text of each of the Vedas**specifically, these texts with sandhi applied *post-Vedic texts known as Samhitas:** Ashtavakra Gita...

 portion of the Vedas) and Brahmana
Brahmana
The Brāhmaṇas are part of the Hindu śruti literature. They are commentaries on the four Vedas, detailing the proper performance of rituals....

s, while Vedanta explicates the esoteric teachings of the {{IAST
Aranyaka
The Aranyakas are part of the Hindu śruti, the four Vedas; they were composed in late Vedic Sanskrit typical of the Brahmanas and early Upanishads; indeed, they frequently form part of either the Brahmanas or the Upanishads....

s (the "forest scriptures"), and the Upanishads, composed from ca. the 9th century BCE, until modern times.

Vedanta is not restricted or confined to one book and there is no sole source for Vedāntic philosophy.

History


In earlier writings, 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...

 'Vedānta' simply referred to the 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...

s, the most speculative and philosophical of the Vedic texts. However, in the medieval period of Hinduism, the word Vedānta came to mean the school of philosophy that interpreted the Upanishads. Traditional Vedānta considers scriptural evidence, or shabda pramāna
Testimony
In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. All testimonies should be well thought out and truthful. It was the custom in Ancient Rome for the men to place their right hand on a Bible when taking an oath...

, as the most authentic means of knowledge, while perception, or pratyaksa
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

, and logical inference, or anumana
Inference
Inference is the act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true. The conclusion drawn is also called an idiomatic. The laws of valid inference are studied in the field of logic.Human inference Inference is the act or process of deriving logical conclusions...

, are considered to be subordinate (but valid).

The systematization of Vedāntic ideas into one coherent treatise was undertaken by Badarāyana
Vyasa
Vyasa is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa , or Krishna Dvaipayana...

 in the Vedānta Sutra
Brahma Sutras
The Brahma sūtras , also known as Vedānta Sūtras , are one of the three canonical texts of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. A thorough study of Vedānta requires a close examination of these three texts, known in Sanskrit as the Prasthanatrayi, or the three starting points...

 which was composed around 200 BCE. The Vedānta-sūtra are known by a variety of names, including (1) Brahma-sūtra, (2) Śārīraka, (3) Vyāsa-sūtra, (4) Bādarāyaṇa-sūtra, (5) Uttara-mīmāṁsā and (6) Vedānta-darśana.
The cryptic aphorisms of the Vedanta Sutras are open to a variety of interpretations, resulting in the formation of numerous Vedanta schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and producing its own sub-commentaries. Consistent throughout Vedanta, however, is the exhortation that ritual be eschewed in favor of the individual's quest for truth through meditation governed by a loving morality, secure in the knowledge that infinite bliss awaits the seeker. Nearly all existing sects of Hinduism are directly or indirectly influenced by the thought systems developed by Vedantic thinkers. Hinduism to a great extent owes its survival to the formation of the coherent and logically advanced systems of Vedanta.

Source texts


All forms of Vedānta are drawn primarily from the Upanishads, a set of philosophical and instructive Vedic
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....

 scriptures. "The Upanishads are commentaries on the Vedas, their putative end and essence{{Citation needed|date=April 2010}}, and thus known as Vedānta or "End of the Veda". They are considered the fundamental essence of all the Vedas and although they form the backbone of Vedanta, portions of Vedantic thought are also derived from some of the earlier āranyakas
Aranyaka
The Aranyakas are part of the Hindu śruti, the four Vedas; they were composed in late Vedic Sanskrit typical of the Brahmanas and early Upanishads; indeed, they frequently form part of either the Brahmanas or the Upanishads....

.

The primary philosophy captured in the Upanishads, that of one absolute reality termed as Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 is the main principle of Vedanta. The sage Vyāsa
Vyasa
Vyasa is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa , or Krishna Dvaipayana...

 was one of the major proponents of this philosophy and author of the Brahma Sūtras based on the Upanishads. The concept of Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 – the eternal, self existent, immanent and transcendent Supreme and Ultimate Reality which is the divine ground of all Being - is central to most schools of Vedānta. The concept of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 or 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 also there, and the Vedantic sub-schools differ mainly in how they identify God with Brahman.

The contents of the Upanishads are often couched in enigmatic language, which has left them open to various interpretations. Over a period of time, several scholars have interpreted the writings in 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...

s and other scriptures like Brahma Sutras according to their own understanding and the need of their time. There are a total of six important interpretations of these source texts, out of which, three (Advaita, Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita) are prominent, both in India and abroad. These Vedantic schools of thought were founded by Shri Adi Shankara, Shri Ramanuja
Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...

 and Shri Madhvacharya, respectively. It should be noted, however, that the Indian pre-Shankara Buddhist writer, Bhavya, in the Madhyamakahrdaya Kārika describes the Vedānta philosophy as "Bhedabheda
Bhedabheda
Bhedābheda Vedānta is one of the several traditions of Vedānta philosophy in India. “Bhedābheda”is a Sanskrit word meaning “Difference and Non-Difference.” The characteristic position of all the...

". Proponents of other Vedantic schools continue to write and develop their ideas as well, although their works are not widely known outside of smaller circles of followers in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

While it is not typically thought of as a purely Vedantic text, 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...

 has played a strong role in Vedantic thought, with its representative syncretism of Samkhya
Samkhya
Samkhya, also Sankhya, Sāṃkhya, or Sāṅkhya is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and classical Indian philosophy. Sage Kapila is traditionally considered as the founder of the Samkhya school, although no historical verification is possible...

, 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...

, and 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 thought. Indeed, it is itself called an "upanishad" and thus, all major Vedantic teachers (like Shankara, Rāmānuja, and Mādhvāchārya) have taken it upon themselves to compose often extensive commentaries not only on the Upanishads and Brahma Sutras, but also on the Gita. In such a manner, Vedāntists both old and new have implicitly attested to the Gitā's importance to the development of Vedantic thought and practice.{{Citation needed|date=September 2007}}

Advaita Vedānta



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...

 (IAST
IAST
The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration is a transliteration scheme that allows a lossless romanization of Indic scripts as employed by the Sanskrit language.-Popularity:...

 {{IAST|Advaita Vedānta}}; 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...

: {{Unicode|अद्वैत वेदान्त}} əd̪ʋait̪ə ʋeːd̪ɑːnt̪ə) was propounded by 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...

 and his grand-guru Gaudapada
Gaudapada
Gaudapada was a very early guru in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy...

, who described Ajativada
Ajativada
The Sanskrit term Ajativada can be translated as "non-creation". Ajativada is one of several alternately-held creation theories in Advaita Vedanta philosophy. According to Advaita Vedanta, the world of appearances is considered an illusion, and not to "exist". The idea that the illusory world was...

. It is the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta
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...

 (literally, end or the goal of 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....

, 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...

) school of Hindu philosophy
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...

. According to this school of Vedānta, Brahman is the only reality, and the world, as it appears, is illusory. As Brahman is the sole reality, it cannot be said to possess any attributes whatsoever. An illusory power of Brahman called Māyā
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...

 causes the world to arise. Ignorance of this reality is the cause of all suffering in the world and only upon true knowledge of Brahman can liberation be attained. When a person tries to know Brahman through his mind, due to the influence of Māyā, Brahman appears as God (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:...

), separate from the world and from the individual. In reality, there is no difference between the individual soul jīvātman (see 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...

) and Brahman. Liberation lies in knowing the reality of this non-difference (i.e. a-dvaita, "non-duality"). Thus, the path to liberation is finally only through knowledge (jñāna).

Vishishtadvaita


Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita Vedanta is a sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy, the other major sub-schools of Vedānta being Advaita, Dvaita, and Achintya-Bheda-Abheda. VishishtAdvaita is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy...

 was propounded by Rāmānuja
Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...

 and says that the jīvātman is a part of Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, and hence is similar, but not identical. The main difference from Advaita is that in Visishtadvaita, the Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 is asserted to have attributes (Saguna brahman
Saguna brahman
Saguna Brahman came from the Sanskrit "with qualities" and Brahman "The Absolute".-Advaita:...

), including the individual conscious souls and matter. Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, matter and the individual souls are distinct but mutually inseparable entities. This school propounds 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...

 or devotion to God visualized 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....

 to be the path to liberation. Māyā
Maya
-Peoples, languages, numerical systems:* The Maya peoples, peoples of southern Mexico and northern Central America** Maya civilization, their historical civilization** Mayan languages, the family of languages spoken by the Maya...

 is seen as the creative power of God.

Dvaita


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

 was propounded by Madhwāchārya
Madhvacharya
Madhvācārya was the chief proponent of Tattvavāda "Philosophy of Reality", popularly known as the Dvaita school of Hindu philosophy. It is one of the three most influential Vedānta philosophies. Madhvācārya was one of the important philosophers during the Bhakti movement. He was a pioneer in...

. It is also referred to as tatvavādā - The Philosophy of Reality. It identifies God with Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

 completely, and in turn 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....

 or his various incarnations like 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...

, Narasimha
Narasimha
Narasimha or Nrusimha , also spelt as Narasingh and Narasingha, whose name literally translates from Sanskrit as "Man-lion", is an avatar of Vishnu described in the Puranas, Upanishads and other ancient religious texts of Hinduism...

, Srinivāsa etc. In that sense it is also known as sat-vaishnava philosophy to differentiate from the Vishishtadvaita school known by sri-vaishnavism. It regards Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, all individual souls (jīvātmans) and matter as eternal and mutually separate entities. This school also advocates 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 the route to sattvic liberation whereas hatred (Dvesha)-literally 'twoness') and indifference towards the Lord will lead to eternal hell and eternal bondage respectively.
Liberation is the state of attaining maximum joy or sorrow, which is awarded to individual souls (at the end of their sādhana), based on the souls' inherent and natural disposition towards good or evil. The achintya-adbhuta shakti (the immeasurable power) of Lord Vishnu is seen as the efficient cause of the universe and the primordial matter or prakrti is the material cause. Dvaita also propounds that all action is performed by the Lord energizing every soul from within, awarding the results to the soul but Himself not affected in the least by the results.

Dvaitādvaita



Dvaitādvaita
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...

 was propounded by Nimbārka
Nimbarka
Nimbarka , is known for propagating the Vaishnava Theology of Dvaitadvaita, duality in unity. According to scholars headed by Prof. Roma Bose, he lived in the 13th Century, on the assumption that Śrī Nimbārkācārya was the author of the work Madhvamukhamardana...

, based upon an earlier school called Bhedābheda
Bhedabheda
Bhedābheda Vedānta is one of the several traditions of Vedānta philosophy in India. “Bhedābheda”is a Sanskrit word meaning “Difference and Non-Difference.” The characteristic position of all the...

, which was taught by Bhāskara
Bhāskara (philosopher)
Bhāskara was an Indian philosopher in the Bhedabheda tradition of Vedanta philosophy.He wrote commentaries on the Brahma Sutras, and contested Shankara's doctrine of māyā .According to Swami Prabhavananda,...

. According to this school, the jīvātman is at once the same as yet different from Brahman. The jiva relation may be regarded as dvaita from one point of view and advaita from another. In this school, God is visualized as 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...

.

Shuddhādvaita



Shuddhadvaita
Shuddhadvaita
Shuddadvaita is the "purely non-dual" philosophy propounded by Vallabhacharya , the founding philosopher and guru of the or , a Hindu Vaishnava tradition focused on the worship of Krishna. Vallabhacharya's pure form philosophy is different from Advaita...

 was propounded by Vallabha. This system also identifies Bhakti as the only means of liberation, 'to go to Goloka
Goloka
Goloka is the eternal abode of Krishna, Svayam bhagavan according to some Vaishnava schools, including Gaudiya Vaishnavism and the Swaminarayan Sampraday....

' (lit., the world of cows; the Sankrit word 'go', 'cow', also means 'star'). The world is said to be the sport (Leela) 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...

, who is Sat-Chit-Ananda
Satchitananda
Saccidānanda, Satchidananda, or Sat-cit-ānanda is a compound of three Sanskrit words, Sat , Cit , and Ānanda , meaning Existence , Consciousness, and Bliss respectively...

.

Story of Vedanta


There is a story in Mundaka Upanishad that runs like this: Once in a tree there were two birds, one at the upper branch, serene, majestic and divine, and the other at a lower branch, restlessly pecking fruits, sometimes sweet sometimes bitter. Every time, when the restless bird ate a bitter fruit, it looked at the upper bird and climbed a branch up. This occurred a number of times and eventually the bird reached the topmost branch. There it was not able to differentiate itself from the divine bird, and then it learned that there was only one bird in the tree, the upper bird, which is described as divine, the real form of the other restless bird. This is the thought of Vedanta. The fruits in the story are 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....

, the restless bird denotes a human soul, and the majestic bird denotes 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...

.

Further reading

  • The System of Vedanta by Paul Deussen. 1912. Reprint 2007.
  • The Eye of Shiva. New York, William Morrow & Co. 1981. Amaury de Reincourt
  • Forgotten Truth: The Primordial Tradition by Huston Smith
    Huston Smith
    Huston Cummings Smith is a religious studies scholar in the United States. His book The World's Religions remains a popular introduction to comparative religion.-Education:...

  • Theology After Vedanta by Francis X. Clooney
    Francis X. Clooney
    Francis Xavier Clooney, S.J., is a professor and a Roman Catholic priest.-Career:After earning his doctorate in South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in 1984, he taught at Boston College until 2005, when he became the Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of...

  • Sankara and Indian Philosophy, by Natalia Isayeva
  • A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy by Hajime Nākāmura
  • Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies and "Vedanta Sutras of Nārāyana Guru" by Karl Potter and Sibajiban Bhattachārya
  • Isherwood, Bowles, Vedanta, Wicca, and Me by Lee Prosser. 2001. ISBN 0-595-20284-5
  • The Upanishads by Sri Aurobindo
    Sri Aurobindo
    Sri Aurobindo , born Aurobindo Ghosh or Ghose , was an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet. He joined the Indian movement for freedom from British rule and for a duration became one of its most important leaders, before developing his own vision of human progress...

     http://www.sriaurobindoashram.info/Contents.aspx?ParentCategoryName=_StaticContent/SriAurobindoAshram/-09%20E-Library/-01%20Works%20of%20Sri%20Aurobindo/-12_The%20Upanishad_Volume-12. Sri Aurobindo Ashram
    Sri Aurobindo Ashram
    The Sri Aurobindo Ashram was founded by Sri Aurobindo on the 24 November 1926 . At the time there were no more than 24 disciples in the Ashram...

    , Pondicherry. 1972.
  • Vedanta Treatise- The Eternities by Swami Pārthasārathy
    Swami Parthasarathy
    Swami Parthasarathy is a modern exponent of Vedanta. His multi-disciplined academic base includes post-graduation from the University of London. For a period of over half a century, he has dedicated himself to the study, research and propagation of Vedanta and its practical application to life...

      http://www.vedantaworld.org
  • Vedanta: A Simple Introduction by Pravrajika Vrajaprana
    Pravrajika Vrajaprana
    Pravrajika Vrajaprana is a writer on Vedanta, the history and growth of the Vedanta Societies and a nun at Vedanta Society of Sarada Convent.Her works on Vedanta include, Vedanta: A Simple Introduction , editor of Living Wisdom...

      http://www.vedanta.com
  • Swami Bhoomānanda Tirtha http://www.brahmavidya.orgNarayanashrama Tapovanam
    Narayanashrama Tapovanam
    Narayanashrama Tapovanam is an Ashram located at Venginissery village, 10km South-West of Thrissur city, in Kerala state, India. It was founded by Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha in 1963. The Ashram, which is located in the hillock of Pandava Giri, is a centre for learning and practising Brahmavidya and...

    ]
  • Three Upanisads of The Vedanta by J.L. Bansal  http://threeupanisads.blogspot.com/2010/09/book-released.html












{{Indian Philosophy}}
{{philosophy of religion}}