Advaita Vedanta ~ An Introduction


Advaita Vedanta refers to the non-duality school of Hindu philosophy. This in turn springs from the Upanishads. This is elaborated intimately by eminent scholars like Gaudapada and Sri Adi Shankaracharya. Dvaita means duality and Advaita means non-duality. In other words, Advaita means the absence of the duality between subject and object. In our wakeful consciousness we experience duality, but in deep sleep, only non-duality.

Advaita school of thought believes that Brahman is the only reality. Everything else is a mere mirage, appearance, or illusion. One of the most common examples used to describe the state is a momentary view of a snake in a rope when it is lying in the darkness. Here, the snake is an illusion whereas the rope is the reality. In the same manner, the world appears in the mind as the formation over the Self.

This school also believes that Atman. The individual self does not exist of its own. It is but a projection or reflection of Brahman in each being. Jiva is a deluded soul by egotism, desires, and other impurities. Thereby it experiences duality and separation. Thanks to this, each being is certain to experience the cycle of births and deaths. Thus the laws of karma as long as it remains until liberation is achieved.

Brahman is real, but the world in which we live could also be a mere illusion, a kind of mirage. It appears in our consciousness on account of the activity of the mind, and thus the senses. As we completely depend on them, we do not perceive Brahman. The Brahman is the last word in reality, which is hidden altogether. Once they’re fully withdrawn and made silent through detachment. Through purity and renunciation, one can see the Supreme self hidden altogether.

Advaita Vedanta believes that A Guru is indispensable for anyone seeking salvation.  A Guru with the knowledge of both the scriptures and Brahman.  Mandukya Karika of Gaudapada is taken under consideration to be the first available treatise on Advaita Vedanta. The Gigantic works of Shankaracharya constitute its key literature. Successive generations of scholars enriched the varsity of Advaita. They did it through their teachings and scholarly works. The Advaita school also forms a region of Vaishnavism, Saivism, and Shaktism. These schools are under different names.

Select Concepts of Advaita Vedanta

Sadhana Chatushtayam

This is the tetrad which is imperative for spiritual practice and liberation. The next four sets of qualifications are considered essential to understanding salvation, which each aspirant is predicted to cultivate

Nityanita Vastu Viveka: This is the facility to discriminate between what’s eternal (Nitya) and what is temporary (Anitya). The absence of its responsibility for the delusion.

Ihamurtrartha Phala Bhoga virago: Disinterestedness in enjoying the fruits of one’s actions and sense objects here and hereafter. This might arrest the continuation and formation of karma.

Sama Adi Satka Sampatti: Qualities like Sama (control of internal sense organs), Dama (control of external sense organs), Uparati (abstinence), Titiksha (quietness), shraddha (sincerity and faith), and Samadhana are important for self-transformation. Thus, the predominance of sattva, without which one cannot be free from the triple impurities of egoism, attachments, and delusion.

Mumukhatva: Intense aspiration for salvation. It arises mainly because of the good works (karma) within the past. According to the Bhagavad Gita, only after repeated births and deaths, an individual feels a strong drive to achieve salvation. Only after attaining this, the individual turns to the path of salvation.

These are the standards of ascertaining the right knowledge, truth, or valid knowledge. During this world’s duality, it is extremely difficult to know which is true knowledge and which is reliable for salvation. Advaita Vedanta recognizes six Pramanas, Shankaracharya proposed the first three of these Pramanas. The other three were proposed by his followers which are as stated below:

Pratyaksha: This is the knowledge that comes through the perception, comes from spiritual realization. This is often objective knowledge.  This knowledge is experienced directly either through the senses or in deeper states of consciousness

Anumana: This is the knowledge that comes by inference. This is often speculative knowledge based upon supposition or belief.

Upamana: This is the knowledge that comes through analogy, comparison, or contrast. This is often relative knowledge.

Arthapati: Knowledge obtained by meaningful assumptions supported sense and former experience. This is often hypothetical knowledge.

Anupalabdhi: This is knowledge gained through negation.

Agama: This is the knowledge that comes through the study of scriptures. This is often pure theoretical knowledge.

Were you aware of any of these concepts?