April 7, 2013 by Indian Schools of Thought

Vedanta literally means “VEDA END” or the UPANISADA.  All Vednatists  claim   to have expounded the fundamental teachings of UPANISADA. The word Upnisada is synonym with “RAHASHYAM” means mystery and its derivation UPA-NI-SAD, to sit down near someone, beginning of the reasoning and logical debate . Questions of philosophical nature were raised  in UPANISADA  and the answes were  sought like “What is the cause?  What is Brahaman?  Why do we live? whence we are born?……”  UPANISADA A are known as GIANA KANDA, separated from Vedas  ritualistic Karma Kanda,  outlook of word denying  , a pure reason detached from practice or concrete living (denying the reality of the material world).

Single written philosophical work called Vedanta Sutra or Brahma Sutra;  the term for the ultimate reality being Brahman, authored by Badrayana.  There were different interpretation of  this.  The most important was ADVAITA VEDANTA     or  MAYAVADA.  BRAHAMAN or ultimate reality is identical with Self as pure consciousness and the real material world as illusion , unreal, being the product of ignorance  i.e.  AVIDYA, MAYA.  Its most important interpreter was Gaudapada,  his work MANDUKYA-KARIKA.

ADVAITA means Non-dual,  it recognizes nothing as real.  The doctrine of Self is ultimate reality. “AHAM BRAHAM ASMI”- I am Brahaman,  pure knower or pure consciousness, i.e. ultimate reality is pure consciousness- the real material world  normally experienced has no real intrinsic value of its own. The Self is ultimate  reality behind everything and as such as such a real understanding of anything  was an understanding of the Self, he who knew the Self knew everything , he who knew anything apart from the Self had only ignorance (AVIDYA0) instead.  Everything in the world is viewed as emanation of Self.  Self is defined as the mass of consciousness, raised to the status of the ultimate reality, a condemnation of all knowledge .

It is a philosophical outlook to condemn and reject not all the branches of human knowledge and all the faculties of normal apprehension, but also the reality of the world and life itself.  It became the decisive impediment to science and progress.  In the name of the highest knowledge developed into philosophy which, by reducing nature into a phantom of imagination and by pronouncing that the sources of knowledge like reasoning and experience are intrinsically invalid, had to go against all efforts of mastering –and thereby knowing –the secrets of nature.  The claim to highest illumination passes into its opposite ( Note:  blocked the development of science and knowledge,  invention and discoveries, the cause of the decline of advancement of knowledge  )   

Philosophy of no dualism or pure consciousness, it recognizes nothing  as real.  The Self being only real, its true knowledge i.e. some kind of mystic apprehension of its true nature-is thought to be the highest end, such an    illumination is imagined to bring liberation.  From this point even God is conceived to have reality from empirical point of view,  devotion or prayer  have nothing more than a pragmatic significance.  Thus theistic sentiment is granted some kind of concession, within the structure of ADVAITA   designed to overcome it.

Thus the knowledge in favour of which action is condemned means also a condemnation of knowledge itself, or at any rate , of all that we are accustomed to call knowledge.  Even from the point of view of positive science this was indeed a very reckless-even disastrous –step to take, but indeed a view the idealistic stand- point  ultimately demanded it., thus it is based on dreams and sense illusions.  This is done mainly in two ways, first, Both Guadapada and Sankara elaborately reiterated the old Upanisadic view that the progressive deadening of the normal consciousness in dream –and still further in deep dreamless sleep-a clearer and still clearer realization of the “Pure-Self” is achieved. The dreaming subject was the creator of all that was dreamt of. What  one dreamt of was only mental or the internal and there was no sure distinction between the dreaming and the waking experience.   The working experience, was to be understood in terms of the dreams and since the objects of dreams were but the product of the imagination,  so were also the objects of the waking experience.

Gaudapada formulation of the Advaita Vedanta was called AJATA VADA , the doctrine of no-birth, meaning that the world never came into existence    The pure ego being the only real, the experienced world could never be there , as such it was useless to think that the Brahaman had ever caused the world. Sankara conclusion called VIVARTA VADA,  is essentially meant to be the same denial of change and causality.  The effect could not be anything other than what was already contained in the cause:  that which was only  potential in the cause became actual in the effect.  Sankara argued against both these freely utilizing the arguments of one against the other.  The concept of the causation was infected with an internal contradiction and as such it was only illusion.  This is the essence of Sankara’s VIVARTA VADA  or the doctrine  of the illusory modification of the cause.   The cause alone was real and what appeared as effect was only an illusion.  The necessity of such a view of causation was obvious for the Advaita philosophy.  Admitting that Brahaman or the self was the only reality, it had to be argued that its modification if the form of the world was only illusory.

The Saivas and Vaishnavas rejected Shankara’s Advaita.  The relation of Self to Brahma .  Brahaman meant God, Brahaman interpretation by  is called BHEDABHEDA,  the doctrine of differenciation and non- differenciation.  Analogy of waves and sea, while waves were different than sea but merged into sea.

Ramanuja ‘s interpretation Vishista Advaita-Vada, the doctrine of non dualism or non qualified, a complete system in complete opposition to Advaita of Shankra.  Devotion to God, his commentary SRI-BHASYA, a monist doctrine was conceived as Brahaman or God, it was qualified Monism (VISHISTA  ADVAITA) conceived as Brahma or God in as much as there was also room in it for the reality of individual soul and external world and material world.  The higher reality is the God endowed with all desirable qualities, not consisting of knowledge alone, but having knowledge as attribute, all knowledgeable, all pervading, and all merciful, whatever exists is contained in God therefore admits no independent  elements.  But within unity are distinct elements of  plurality, which it effects mortals…..(PRAKARA) of God are absolutely real, and not figments of illusion. There are soul of varying classes and degrees (CITA)


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