Advaita Vedanta

Advaita Vedanta

Advaita Vedanta (IAST "IAST|Advaita Vedānta"; Sanskrit Unicode|अद्वैत वेदान्त; IPA2|əd̪vait̪ə veːd̪ɑːnt̪ə) is a sub-school of the Vedānta (literally, "end or the goal of the Vedas", Sanskrit) school of Hindu philosophy. [ [ "Advaita Vedanta: A Philosophical Reconstruction,"] By Eliot Deutsch, University of Hawaii Press, 1980, ISBN 0824802713.] Other major sub-schools of Vedānta are "Dvaita" and "IAST|Viśishṭādvaita". "Advaita" (literally, "non-duality") is a monistic system of thought. "Advaita" refers to the identity of the Self (Atman) and the Whole (Brahman). ["Brahman" is not to be confused with Brahma, the Creator and one third of the Trimurti along with Shiva, the Destroyer and Vishnu, the Preserver.]

The key source texts for all schools of IAST|Vedānta are the Prasthanatrayi—the canonical texts consisting of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras. The first person to explicitly consolidate the principles of Advaita Vedanta was Adi Shankara, [ [ "Thirty-five Oriental Philosophers,"] By Diané Collinson, Robert Wilkinson, Routledge, 1994, ISBN 0415025966.] while the first historical proponent was Gaudapada, the guru of Shankara's guru Govinda Bhagavatpada.

Adi Shankara

Adi Shankara consolidated the Advaita Vedanta, an interpretation of the Vedic scriptures that was approved and accepted by Gaudapada and Govinda Bhagavatpada IAST|siddhānta (system). Continuing the line of thought of some of the Upanishadic teachers, and also that of his own teacher's teacher Gaudapada, (Ajativada), Adi Shankara expounded the doctrine of Advaita — a nondualistic reality.

He wrote commentaries on the Prasthana Trayi. A famous quote from IAST|Vivekacūḍāmaṇi, one of his "IAST|Prakaraṇa graṃthas" (philosophical treatises) that succinctly summarises his philosophy is: [The authorship of this work is disputed. Most 20th-century academic scholars feel it was not authored by Sankara, and Swami Sacchidanandendra Saraswathi of Holenarsipur concurs.]

"IAST|Brahma satyaṃ jagat mithyā, jīvo brahmaiva nāparah" — Brahman is the only truth, the world is illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and individual self
This widely quoted sentence of his is also widely misunderstood.Fact|date=June 2007 In his metaphysics, there are three tiers of reality with each one sublating the previous. The category "illusion" in this system is unreal only from the viewpoint of the absolutely real and is different from the category of the "Absolutely unreal. " His system of vedanta introduced the method of scholarly exegesis on the accepted metaphysics of the Upanishads, and this style was adopted by all the later vedanta schools. Another distinctive feature of his work is his refusal to be literal about scriptural statements and adoption of symbolic interpretation where he considered it appropriate. In a famous passage in his commentary on the Brahmasutra's of Badarayana, he says "For each means of knowledge{PramaNam} has a valid domain. The domain of the scriptures {Shabda PramaNam} is the knowledge of the Self. If the scriptures say something about another domain - like the world around us - which contradicts what perception {Pratyaksha PramaNam} and inference{Anumana PramaNam} (the appropriate methods of knowledge for this domain) tells us, then, the scriptural statements have to be symbolically interpreted..."

Adi Shankara's contributions to Advaita are crucial. His main works are the commentaries on the "Prasthanatrayi" (Brahma Sūtras, Bhagavad Gītā and the Upanişads) and the "Gaudapadiya Karikas". He also wrote a major independent treatise, called Upadeśa Sāhasrī, expounding his philosophy.


The necessity of a Guru

Advaita vedānta requires anyone seeking to study advaita vedānta to do so from a Guru ("teacher"). [Chāndogya Upanishad - ācāryavān puruşo veda. Also see the first prose chapter of Śankara's Upadeśasāhasrī.] The Guru must have the following qualities (see Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.12):
#IAST|Śrotriya — must be learned in the Vedic scriptures and sampradaya
#IAST|Brahmaniṣṭha — literally meaning "established in Brahman"; must have "realised" the oneness of Brahman in everything and in himselfThe seeker must serve the Guru and submit questions with all humility in order to remove all doubts (see Bhagavad Gita 4.34). By doing so, advaita says, the seeker will attain moksha ("liberation from the cycle of births and deaths").

IAST|Sādhana Chatuṣṭaya

Any IAST|mumukṣu ("one seeking moksha") has to have the following four sampattis ("qualifications"), collectively called IAST|Sādhana Chatuṣṭaya Sampatti ("the fourfold qualifications"):
#IAST|Nityānitya vastu viveka — The ability (viveka) to correctly "discriminate" between the eternal (nitya) substance (Brahman) and the substance that is transitory existence (anitya).
#IAST|Ihāmutrārtha phala bhoga virāga — The "renunciation" (virāga) of enjoyments of objects (artha phala bhoga) in this world (iha) and the other worlds (amutra) like heaven etc.
#IAST|Śamādi ṣatka sampatti — the sixfold qualities of śama (control of the IAST|antahkaraṇa [ [ Antahkarana- Yoga (definition)] ] [ In the vedāntic literature, the IAST|antahkaraṇa ("internal organ") is organised into four parts:
*Manas ("mind") — the part that controls sankalpa (will or resolution)
*Buddhi ("intellect") — the part that controls decision taking
*Chitta ("memory") — the part that deals with remembering and forgetting
*IAST|Ahamkāra ("ego") — the part that identifies the Atman ("the Self") with the body as 'I'
] ), dama (the control of external sense organs), uparati (the refraining from actions; instead concentrating on meditation), IAST|titikṣa (the tolerating of IAST|tāpatraya), IAST|śraddha (the faith in Guru and Vedas), IAST|samādhāna (the concentrating of the mind on God and Guru).
#IAST|Mumukṣutva — The firm conviction that the nature of the world is misery and the intense longing for moksha ("release from the cycle of births and deaths").

Advaita vedānta categorically statesWhere|date=August 2008 that moksha, or liberation, is available only to those possessing the above-mentioned fourfold qualifications. Thus any seeker wishing to study advaita vedānta from a teacher must possess these.

Alternative View

OthersWho|date=July 2008 have argued that there is in fact no need for "Gurus" nor for the possessing of certain "legalistic" qualifications in order to study Advaita Vedanta. Advaita Vedanta teaches that the Self is quite capable of knowing itself without these legalistic burdens. Realizing the monistic view of Self or Atman as it relates to Brahman is a matter of simply knowing that you know and can be obtained in an instant without outside direction. The very "essential" core belief of Advaita Vedanta is that you, physical manifestations, the universe and beyond are who you are, you are that, and thus you are your own Guru. You are the source of all knowledge, because you are knowledge itself. "Realizing" these basic facts, that the Self/Atman/You are "Brahman", both immanent and transcendant can be attained in many ways. Teachers or "Gurus" are therefore helpful but not necessary. The only actual"prerequisites" are for one to be "pure" and "true" as stated in the Prashna Upanishad, "The bright world of Brahman can be attained only by those that are "pure and true".



Pramā, in Sanskrit, refers to the correct knowledge, arrived at by thorough reasoning, of any object. IAST|Pramāṇa ("sources of knowledge", Sanskrit) forms one part of a IAST|tripuṭi (trio), namely,
#IAST|Pramātṛ, the "subject"; the "knower" of the knowledge
#IAST|Pramāṇa, the "cause" or the "means" of the knowledge
#Prameya, the "object" of knowledge

In Advaita Vedānta, the following IAST|pramāṇas are accepted:
*IAST|Pratyakṣa — the knowledge gained by means of the "senses"
*IAST|Anumāna — the knowledge gained by means of "inference"
*IAST|Upamāna — the knowledge gained by means of "analogy"
*IAST|Arthāpatti — the knowledge gained by superimposing the known knowledge on an appearing knowledge that does not concur with the known knowledge
*IAST|Āgama — the knowledge gained by means of "texts" such as Vedas (also known as IAST|Āptavākya, Śabda pramāṇa)


IAST|Kārya and kāraṇa

The IAST|kārya ("effect") and IAST|kāraṇa ("cause") form an important area for investigation in all the systems of Vedanta. Two IAST|kāraṇatvas ("ways of being the cause") are recognised:
#IAST|Nimitta kāraṇatva — "Being the instrumental cause". For example, a potter is assigned IAST|Nimitta kāraṇatva as he acts as the maker of the pot and thus becomes the pot's "instrumental cause".
#IAST|Upādāna kāraṇatva — "Being the material cause". For example, the mud is assigned IAST|Upādāna kāraṇatva as it acts as the material of the effect (the pot) and thus becomes the pot's "material cause".

Advaita assigns IAST|Nimitta kāraṇatva to Brahman vide the statements from the Vedas (only two are given below):

"IAST|Sarvāṇi rūpāṇi vicitya dhīraḥ. Nāmāni kṛtvābhivadan yadāste" — That Lord has created all the forms and is calling them by their names (Taitiiriya Aranyaka 3.12.7)
"IAST|Sa īkṣata lokānnu sṛjā iti" — He thought, “Let Me create the worlds” (Aitareya Upanishad [ [ Aitareya Upanishad at] ] 1.1.1)

Advaita also assigns IAST|Upādāna kāraṇatva to Brahman vide the statements from the Vedas (only two are given below):

"IAST|Yathā somyaikena mṛtpinḍena sarvaṃ mṛnmayaṃ vijñātaṃ syādvācāraṃbhaṇaṃ vikāro nāmadheyaṃ mṛttiketyeva satyaṃ" — Dear boy, just as through a single clod of clay all that is made of clay would become known, for all modifications is but name based upon words and the clay alone is real (Chandogya Upanishad [ Chandogya Upanishad] ] 6.1.4)
"IAST|Sokāmayata bahu syāṃ prajāyeti" — (He thought) Let me be many, let me be born (Taittiriya Upanishad [ [ Taittiriya Upanishad] ] 2.6.4)

The Chandogya Upanishad 6.2.1 states

"IAST|Ekamevādvitīyaṃ" — It is One without a second
Thus, based on these and other statements found in the Vedas, Advaita concludes that Brahman is both the instrumental cause and the material cause.

IAST|Kārya-kāraṇa ananyatva

Advaita states that IAST|kārya ("effect") is non-different from IAST|kāraṇa ("cause"). However kāraṇa is different from kārya. This principle is called IAST|Kārya-kāraṇa ananyatva ("the non-difference of the effect from the cause"). To elaborate,
*If the cause is destroyed, the effect will no longer exist. For example, if from the effect, cotton cloth, the cause, threads, are removed, there will be no cloth, i.e., the cloth is destroyed. Similarly if in the effect, thread, the cause, cotton, is removed, there will be no thread, i.e., the thread is destroyed. This is brought out by Adi Shankara in the "IAST|Brahmasūtra Bhāṣya" , commentary on the Brahma sutra, [ [ Brahma Sutras by Swami Sivananda] ] 2.1.9, as:

"IAST|Ananyatve'pi kāryakāraṇayoḥ kāryasya kāraṇātmatvaṃ na tu kāraṇasya kāryātmatvaṃ" — Despite the non-difference of cause and effect, the effect has its self in the cause but not the cause in the effect. The effect is of the nature of the cause and not the cause the nature of the effect. Therefore the qualities of the effect cannot touch the cause.

*During the time of its existence, one can easily grasp that the "effect" is not different from the "cause". However that the "cause" is different from the "effect" is not readily understood. As to this, it is not really possible to separate cause from effect. But this is possible by imagining so. For example, the reflection of the gold ornament seen in the mirror is only the form of the ornament but is not the ornament itself as it (the reflection) has no gold in it at all. Adi Shankara says in the "IAST|Chāṃdogya Upaniṣad Bhāṣya", commentary on the Chandogya Upanishad, 6.3.2:
"IAST| Sarvaṃ ca nāmarūpādi sadātmanaiva satyaṃ vikārajātaṃ svatastu anṛtameva" — All names and forms are real when seen with the "Sat" (Brahman) but are false when seen independent of Brahman.

This way Advaita establishes the non-difference of effect from cause. To put it in a nutshell,:IAST|Kārya is not different from IAST|kāraṇa; however IAST|kāraṇa is different from IAST|kāryaIn the context of Advaita Vedanta,:Jagat ("the world") is not different from Brahman; however Brahman is different from Jagat

alient features of Advaita Vedanta

Three levels of truth

*The transcendental or the "IAST|Pāramārthika" level in which Brahman is the only reality and nothing else;
*The pragmatic or the "IAST|Vyāvahārika" level in which both Jiva (living creatures or individual souls) and Ishvara are true; here, the material world is completely true, and,
*The apparent or the "IAST|Prāthibhāsika" level in which even material world reality is actually false, like illusion of a snake over a rope or a dream.


According to Adi Shankara, God, the Supreme Cosmic Spirit or Brahman (pronounced|ˈbrəh.mən; nominative singular "Brahma", IPA| [ˈbrəh.mə] ) is the One, the whole and the only reality. Other than Brahman, everything else, including the universe, material objects and individuals, are false. Brahman is at best described as that infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, incorporeal, impersonal, transcendent reality that is the divine ground of all Being. Brahman is often described as neti neti meaning "not this, not this" because it cannot be correctly described as this or that. It is the origin of this and that, the origin of forces, substances, all of existence, the undefined, the basis of all, unborn, the essential truth, unchanging, eternal, the absolute. How can it be properly described as something in the material world when itself is the basis of reality? Brahman is also beyond the senses, it would be akin a blind man trying to correctly describe color. It (grammatically neutral, but exceptionally treated as masculine), though not a substance, is the basis of the material world, which in turn is its illusionary transformation. Brahman is not the effect of the world. Brahman is said to be the purest knowledge itself, and is illuminant like a source of infinite light.

Due to ignorance ("IAST|avidyā"), the Brahman is visible as the material world and its objects. The actual Brahman is attributeless and formless (see Nirguna Brahman). It is the Self-existent, the Absolute and the Imperishable (not generally the object of worship but rather of meditation). Brahman is actually indescribable. It is at best "Satchidananda" (merging "Sat" + "Chit" + "Ananda", ie, Infinite Truth, Infinite Consciousness and Infinite Bliss). Also, Brahman is free from any kind of differences. It does not have any "IAST|sajātīya" (homogeneous) differences because there is no second Brahman. It does not have any "IAST|vijātīya" (heterogeneous) differences because there is nobody in reality existing other than Brahman. It has neither "svagata" (internal) differences, because Brahman is itself homogeneous.

Though Brahman is self-proved, Adi Shankara also proposed some logical proofs:
*"Shruti" — the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras describe Brahman in almost exact manner as Adi Shankara. This is the testimonial proof of Brahman.
*Psychological — every person experiences his soul, or atman. According to Adi Shankara, Atman = Brahman. This argument also proves the omniscience of the Brahman.
*Teleological — the world appears very well ordered; the reason for this cannot be an unconscious principle. The reason must be due to the Brahman.
*Essential — Brahman is the basis of this created world.
*Perceptible feeling — many people, when they achieve the "turīya" state, claim that their soul has become one with everything else.

Georg Feuerstein summarizes the advaita realization as follows: "The manifold universe is, in truth, a Single Reality. There is only one Great Being, which the sages call Brahman, in which all the countless forms of existence reside. That Great Being is utter Consciousness, and It is the very Essence, or Self (Atman) of all beings." [ [ Аdvaita - flame of nondualty - english ] ]


IAST|Māyā (IPA|/mɑːjɑː/) According to Adi Shankara, "Māyā" is the complex illusionary power of Brahman which causes the Brahman to be seen as the material world of separate forms. It has two main functions — one is to "hide" Brahman from ordinary human perception, and the other is to present the material world in its stead. Māyā is also said to be indescribable, though it may be said that all sense data entering ones awareness via the five senses are Māyā, since the fundamental reality underlying sensory perception is completely hidden. It is also said that Māyā neither completely real nor completely unreal, hence indescribable. Its shelter is Brahman, but Brahman itself is untouched by the illusion of Māyā, just like a magician is not tricked by his own magic. Māyā is temporary and is transcended with "true knowledge," or perception of the more fundamental reality which straddles Māyā.

Since according to the Upanishads only Brahman is real, but we see the material world to be real, Adi Shankara explained the anomaly by the concept of this illusionary power IAST|Māyā.

tatus of the world

Adi Shankara says that the world is not real(true), it is an illusion, but this is because of some logical reasons. Let us first analyse Adi Shankara's definition of Truth, and hence why the world is not considered real(true).
*Adi Shankara says that whatever thing remains eternal is true, and whatever is non-eternal is untrue. Since the world is created and destroyed, it is not real(true).
*Truth is the thing which is unchanging. Since the world is changing, it is not real(true).
*Whatever is independent of space and time is real(true), and whatever has space and time in itself is real(true).
*Just as one sees dreams in sleep, he sees a kind of super-dream when he is waking. The world is compared to this conscious dream.
*The world is believed to be a superimposition of the Brahman. Superimposition cannot be real(true).

On the other hand, Adi Shankara claims that the world is not absolutely unreal(false). It appears unreal(false) only when compared to Brahman. In the pragmatic state, the world is completely real—which occurs as long as we are under the influence of Maya. The world cannot be both true and false at the same time; hence Adi Shankara has classified the world as indescribable. The following points suggest that according to Adi Shankara, the world is not false (Adi Shankara himself gave most of the arguments, "Sinha, 1993"):
*If the world were unreal(false), then with the liberation of the first human being, the world would have been annihilated. However, the world continues to exist even if a human attains liberation.
*Adi Shankara believes in Karma, or good actions. This is a feature of this world. So the world cannot be unreal(false).
*The Supreme Reality Brahman is the basis of this world. The world is like its reflection. Hence the world cannot be totally unreal(false).
*False is something which is ascribed to nonexistent things, like Sky-lotus. The world is a logical thing which is perceived by our senses.

Consider the following logical argument. A pen is placed in front of a mirror. One can see its reflection. To one's eyes, the image of the pen is perceived. Now, what should the image be called? It cannot be true, because it is an image. The truth is the pen. It cannot be false, because it is seen by our eyes.


IAST|Īshvara (pronounced|ˈiːʃvərə, literally, the Supreme Lord) — According to Advaita Vedanta, when man tries to know the attributeless Brahman with his mind, under the influence of Maya, Brahman becomes the Lord. Ishvara is Brahman with Maya — the manifested form of Brahman. Adi Shankara uses a metaphor that when the "reflection" of the Cosmic Spirit falls upon the mirror of Maya, it appears as the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord is true only in the pragmatic level — his actual form in the transcendental level is the Cosmic Spirit.

Ishvara is Saguna Brahman or Brahman with innumerable auspicious qualities. He is all-perfect, omniscient, omnipresent, incorporeal, independent, Creator of the world, its ruler and also destroyer. He is causeless, eternal and unchangeable — and is yet the material and the instrumental cause of the world. He is both immanent (like whiteness in milk) and transcendent (like a watch-maker independent of a watch). He may be even regarded to have a personality. He is the subject of worship. He is the basis of morality and giver of the fruits of one's Karma. However, He himself is beyond sin and merit. He rules the world with his Maya — His divine power. This association with a "false" knowledge does not affect the perfection of Ishvara, in the same way as a magician is himself not tricked by his magic. However, while Ishvara is the Lord of Maya and she (ie, Maya) is always under his control, the living beings ("jīva", in the sense of humans) are the servants of Maya (in the form of ignorance). This ignorance is the cause of the unhappiness and sin in the mortal world. While Ishvara is Infinite Bliss, humans are miserable. Ishvara always knows the unity of the Brahman substance, and the Mayic nature of the world. There is no place for a Satan in Hinduism, unlike Abrahamic religions. Advaitins explain the misery because of ignorance. Ishvara can also be visualized and worshipped in anthropomorphic form as deities such as Shiva, Vishnu or Devi.

Now the question arises as to why the Supreme Lord created the world. If one assumes that Ishvara creates the world for any incentive, this slanders the wholeness and perfection of Ishvara. For example, if one assumes that Ishvara creates the world for gaining something, it would be against His perfection. If we assume that He creates for compassion, it would be illogical, because the emotion of compassion cannot arise in a blank and void world in the beginning (when only Ishvara existed). So Adi Shankara assumes that Creation is a sport of Ishvara. It is His nature, just as it is man's nature to breathe.

The sole proof for Ishvara that Adi Shankara gives is Shruti's mentions of Ishvara, as Ishvara is beyond logic and thinking. This is similar to Kant 's philosophy about Ishvara in which he says that "faith" is the basis of theism. However, Adi Shankara has also given few other logical proofs for Ishvara, but warning us not to completely rely on them:
*The world is a work, an effect, and so must have real cause. This cause must be Ishvara.
*The world has a wonderful unity, coordination and order, so its creator must have been an intelligent being.
*People do good and sinful work and get its fruits, either in this life or after. People themselves cannot be the giver of their fruits, as no one would give himself the fruit of his sin. Also, this giver cannot be an unconscious object. So the giver of the fruits of Karma is Ishvara. See, Karma in Hinduism for more information.

tatus of God

To think that there is no place for a personal God (Ishvara) in Advaita Vedanta is a misunderstanding of the philosophy. Ishvara is, in an ultimate sense, described as "false" because Brahman appears as Ishvara only due to the curtain of Maya. However, as described earlier, just as the world is true in the pragmatic level, similarly, Ishvara is also pragmatically true. Just as the world is not absolutely false, Ishvara is also not absolutely false. He is the distributor of the fruits of one's Karma. See, Karma in Hinduism for more information. In order to make the pragmatic life successful, it is very important to believe in God and worship him. In the pragmatic level, whenever we talk about Brahman, we are in fact talking about God. God is the highest knowledge theoretically possible in that level. Devotion (Bhakti) will cancel the effects of bad Karma and will make a person closer to the true knowledge by purifying his mind. Slowly, the difference between the worshipper and the worshipped decreases and upon true knowledge, liberation occurs.


The soul or the self (Atman) is identical with Brahman. It is not a part of Brahman that ultimately dissolves into Brahman, but the whole Brahman itself. Now the arguers ask how the individual soul, which is limited and one in each body, can be the same as Brahman? Adi Shankara explains that the Self is not an individual concept. Atman is only one and unique. Indeed Atman alone is {Ekaatma Vaadam}. It is a false concept that there are several Atmans {Anekaatma Vaadam}. Adi Shankara says that just as the same moon appears as several moons on its reflections on the surface of water covered with bubbles, the one Atman appears as multiple atmans in our bodies because of Maya. Atman is self-proven, however, some proofs are discussed—eg., a person says "I am blind", "I am happy", "I am fat" etc. The common and constant factor, which permeates all these statements is the "I" which is but the Immutable Consciousness. When the blindness, happiness, fatness are inquired and negated, "I" the common factor which, indeed, alone exists in all three states of consciousness and in all three periods of time, shines forth. This proves the existence of Atman, and that Consciousness, Reality and Bliss are its characteristics. Atman, being the silent witness of all the modifications, is free and beyond sin and merit. It does not experience happiness or pain because it is beyond the triad of Experiencer, Experienced and Experiencing. It does not do any Karma because it is Aaptakaama. It is incorporeal and independent.

When the reflection of atman falls on Avidya (ignorance), atman becomes "jīva" — a living being with a body and senses. Each jiva feels as if he has his own, unique and distinct Atman, called jivatman. The concept of jiva is true only in the pragmatic level. In the transcendental level, only the one Atman, equal to Brahman, is true.

Adi Shankara exposed the relative and thus unreal nature of the objective world and propounded the truth of the Advaita {One without a second} by analysing the three states of experience of the atman — waking (vaishvanara), dreaming (taijasa), and deep sleep (prajna).


Liberation or Moksha (akin to Nirvana of the Buddhists) — Advaitins also believe in the theory of reincarnation of souls (Atman) into plants, animals and humans according to their karma. They believe that suffering is due to Maya, and only knowledge (called Jnana) of Brahman can destroy Maya. When Maya is removed, there exists ultimately no difference between the Jiva-Atman and the Brahman. Such a state of bliss when achieved while living is called "Jivan mukti". While one is in the pragmatic level, one can worship God in any way and in any form, like Krishna or Ayyappa as he wishes, Adi Shankara himself was a proponent of devotional worship or Bhakti. But Adi Shankara believes that while Vedic sacrifices, puja and devotional worship can lead one in the direction of jnana, true knowledge, they cannot lead one directly to Moksha.

Theory of creation

In the relative level, Adi Shankara believes in the Creation of the world through "Satkaryavada". It is like the philosophy of Samkhya, which says that the cause is always hidden into its effect—and the effect is just a transformation of the cause. However, Samkhya believes in a sub-form of "Satkaryavada" called Parinamavada (evolution) — whereby the cause really becomes an effect. Instead, Adi Shankara believes in a sub-form called "Vivartavada". According to this, the effect is merely an apparent transformation of its cause — like illusion. eg., In darkness, a man often confuses a rope to be a snake. But this does not mean that the rope has actually transformed into a snake.

At the pragmatic level, the universe is believed to be the creation of the Supreme Lord Ishvara. Maya is the divine magic of Ishvara, with the help of which Ishvara creates the world. The serial of Creation is taken from the Upanishads. First of all, the five subtle elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth) are created from Ishvara. Ether is created by Maya. From ether, air is born. From air, fire is born. From fire, water is born. From water, earth is born. From a proportional combination of all five subtle elements, the five gross elements are created, like the gross sky, the gross fire, etc. From these gross elements, the universe and life are created. This series is exactly the opposite during destruction.

Some people have criticized that these principles are against "Satkaryavada". According to "Satkaryavada", the cause is hidden inside the effect. How can Ishvara, whose form is spiritual, be the effect of this material world? Adi Shankara says that just as from a conscious living human, inanimate objects like hair and nails are formed, similarly, the inanimate world is formed from the spiritual Ishvara.

tatus of ethics

Some claim that there is no place for ethics in Advaita, because everything is ultimately illusionary. But on analysis, ethics also has a firm place in this philosophy—the same place as the world and God. Ethics, which implies doing good Karma, indirectly helps in attaining true knowledge. The traditional ethical system put forth by Advaitins is that the basis of merit and sin is the Shruti (the Vedas and the Upanishads). Truth, non-violence, service of others, pity, etc are Dharma, and lies, violence, cheating, selfishness, greed, etc are adharma (sin). However, no authoritative definition of Dharma was ever formulated by any of the major exponents of Advaita Vedanta. Unlike ontological and epistemological claims, there is room for significant disagreement between Advaitins on ethical issues.

The impact of Advaita

Advaita rejuvenated much of Hindu thought and also spurred debate with the two main theistic schools of Vedanta philosophy that were formalized later: Vishishtadvaita (qualified nondualism), and Dvaita (dualism).Advaita further helped to merge the old Vedic religion with popular south-Asian cults/deities, thus making a bridge between higher types of practice (such as jnana yoga) and devotional religion of simple householders.


Mahavakya, or "the great sentences", state the unity of Brahman and Atman. There are many such sentences in the vedas, but one sentence from each veda is usually chosen. They are shown below

List of texts

;PrasthānatrayīAdvaita Vedānta, like other Vedanta schools of Hindu philosophy, recognises the following three texts (known collectively as the Prasthānatrayī) of the Hindu tradition: Vedas- especially the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutras. Many advaitin authors, including Adi Shankara, have written "Bhashyas" (commentaries) on these texts. These texts are thus considered to be the basic texts of the advaita tradition.

;Other textsOther texts include, Advaita Siddhi, [] ] written by Madhusudana Saraswati, Shankara Digvijaya — historical record of Adi Shankara's life accepted by scholars worldwide, Avadhuta Gita and Ashtavakra Gita. Among modern texts, by Swami Vivekananda, and the Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, with The Life Divine being the most prominent, deal with Advaita Vedanta.

;Adi Shankara wrote IAST|Bhāṣya (commentaries) on
* Brahmasūtra
* (Rigveda)
* (Śukla Yajurveda)
* Bhagavadgīta (Mahabhārata)
* Vishnu Sahasranama (Mahabhārata)

;Adi Shankara wrote the following treatises
* (Crest-Jewel of Discrimination)
* Upadeśasāhasri (A thousand teachings)
* Śataśloki
* Daśaśloki
* Ekaśloki
* Ātma bodha
* Vākyasudha
* Tattva bodha
* Siddhānta Tattva Vindu

In fact, the consensus now among scholars is that only Upadeśasāhasri can be securely attributed to Shri Shankara himself.

;Adi Shankara composed many hymns on Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Ganesha and Subrahmanya [2]
* Śivānandalahiri
* Saundaryalahiri
* Śiva Mānasa Pūja

List of teachers

Advaita Vedanta has had many teachers over the centuries in India and other countries.

ee also

* Nondualism
* Jnana yoga, the yoga of knowledge
* Satsang, a sort of spiritual meeting
* Dvaita, an opposing philosophy that accepts duality
* Vishishtadvaita, an opposing philosophy that propounds "qualified nonduality"



*Madhukar, "The Simplest Way", Editions India, USA & India 2006, ISBN 81-89658-04-2
*Madhukar, "Erwachen in Freiheit", Lüchow Verlag, German, 2.Edition, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-363-03054-1
*Mishra, M., "Bhāratīya Darshan" (भारतीय दर्शन), Kalā Prakāshan.
*Sinha, H. P., "Bharatiya Darshan ki ruparekha" (Features of Indian Philosophy), 1993, Motilal Benarasidas, Delhi–Varanasi.
*Swāmi Paramānanda Bhārati, "Vedānta Prabodha" (in Kannada), Jnānasamvardhini Granthakusuma, 2004
*Madhava Vidyaranya, Sankara-Digvijaya, translated by Swami Tapasyananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, 2002, ISBN 81-7120-434-1. Purchase online at []
*Karl H. Potter (ed.), Advaita Vedanta up to Sankara and his Pupils: Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, vol. 3, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1981.
*Karl H. Potter, Austin B. Creel and Edwin Gerow, Guide to Indian philosophy, G. K. Hall, Boston, 1988.
*Eliot Deutsch and J. A. B. van Buitenen, A source book of Advaita Vedanta, University Press of Hawaii, Honolulu, 1971.
*Eliot Deutsch, Advaita Vedanta: a philosophical reconstruction, East-West Center Press, Honolulu, 1969
*Raghunath D. Karmarkar, Sankara's Advaita, Karnatak University, Dharwar, 1966.
*S. G. Mudgal, Advaita of Sankara, a reappraisal: Impact of Buddhism and Samkhya on Sankara's thought, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi,
*A. Ramamurti, Advaitic mysticism of Sankara, Visvabharati, Santiniketan, 1974.
*Kapil N. Tiwari, Dimensions of renunciation in Advaita Vedanta, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1977.
*Kokileswar Sastri, An introduction to Adwaita philosophy : a critical and systematic exposition of the Sankara school of Vedanta, Bharatiya Publishing House, Varanasi, 1979.
*A. J. Alston, A Samkara source-book, Shanti Sadan, London, 1980-1989.
*Satyapal Verma, Role of Reason in Sankara Vedanta, Parimal Publication, Delhi, 1992.
*Arvind Sharma, The philosophy of religion and Advaita Vedanta : a comparative study in religion and reason, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.
*M. K. Venkatarama Aiyar, Advaita Vedanta, according to Sankara, Asia Publishing House, New York, 1965.
*Sangam Lal Pandey, The Advaita view of God, Darshana Peeth, Allahabad, 1989.
*Rewati Raman Pandey, Scientific temper and Advaita Vedanta, Sureshonmesh Prakashan, Varanasi, 1991.
*Adya Prasad Mishra, The development and place of bhakti in Sankaran Vedanta, University of Allahabad, 1967.
*Natalia V. Isayeva, Shankara and Indian philosophy, SUNY, New York, 1993.
*V. Panoli, Upanishads in Sankara's own words : Isa, Kena, Katha, and Mandukya with the Karika of Gaudapada : with English translation, explanatory notes and footnotes, Mathrubhumi, Calicut, 1991-1994.
*Sriraman,B., & Benesch, W., "Consciousness and Science: An Advaita-Vedantic perspective on the Theology-Science dialogue." Theology and Science, vol.3, no.1, pp. 39-54, 2005

External links

* [ Open Directory - Society: Religion and Spirituality: Advaita Vedanta]

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