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TEACHERS (Acharyas )
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ACHINTYA BHEDA ABHEDA
* Tantra * Shakta
* Kanada , Prashastapada
------------------------- _SHASTRAS AND SUTRAS _
* Pramana Sutras
* Hinduism * Other Indian philosophies
* v * t * e
VEDANTA ( IAST , _Vedānta_, Sanskrit: वेदांत) or UTTARA MīMāṃSā is one of the six orthodox (_āstika_) schools of Hindu philosophy . _Vedanta_ literally means "end of the Vedas ", reflecting ideas that emerged from the speculations and philosophies contained in the Upanishads . It does not stand for one comprehensive or unifying doctrine. Rather it is an umbrella term for many sub-traditions, ranging from dualism to non-dualism , all of which developed on the basis of a common textual connection called the _ Prasthanatrayi _. The _Prasthanatrayi_ is a collective term for the _Principal Upanishads _, the _ Brahma Sutras _ and the _ Bhagavad Gita ._
All Vedanta schools, in their deliberations, concern themselves with the following three categories but differ in their views regarding the concept and the relations between them: _ Brahman _ – the ultimate metaphysical reality, _Ātman _ / _Jivātman _ – the individual soul or self, and _ Prakriti _ – the empirical world, ever-changing physical universe, body and matter.
Some of the better known sub-traditions of Vedanta include Advaita (non-dualism), Vishishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism), and Dvaita (dualism). Most other Vedantic sub-traditions are subsumed under the term Bhedabheda (difference and non-difference). Over time, Vedanta adopted ideas from other orthodox (_āstika_) schools like _ Yoga _ and _ Nyaya _, and, through this syncretism , became the most prominent school of Hinduism . Many extant forms of Vaishnavism , Shaivism and Shaktism have been significantly shaped and influenced by the doctrines of different schools of Vedanta. The Vedanta school has had a historic and central influence on Hinduism.
* 1 Etymology and nomenclature * 2 _Prasthanatrayi_, the Three Sources
* 3 History
* 3.1 Before the _Brahma Sutras_ * 3.2 _Brahma Sutras_ * 3.3 Between the _Brahma Sutras_ and Adi Shankara * 3.4 Gaudapada, Adi Shankara and Advaita Vedanta * 3.5 Ramanuja and Vishishtadvaita Vedanta * 3.6 Madhva and Dvaita
* 4 Overview of the schools of Vedanta
* 4.1 Schools propounding Non-dualism
* 4.3 Schools propounding Bhedabheda
* 4.3.1 Upadhika * 4.3.2 Dvaitādvaita * 4.3.3 Achintya-Bheda-Abheda
* 5 Vedanta philosophy
* 5.1 Common features
* 5.2 Metaphysics
* 5.3 Epistemology
* 5.3.1 Pramana * 5.3.2 Theories of cause and effect
* 6 Influence
* 6.1 Hindu traditions
* 6.2 Neo-Vedanta
* 6.2.1 Criticism of Neo-Vedanta label
* 6.3 Influence on Western thinkers
* 7 Reception * 8 Similarities with Spinoza\'s philosophy * 9 See also * 10 Notes * 11 References
* 12 Sources
* 12.1 Published sources * 12.2 Web-sources
* 13 Further reading
ETYMOLOGY AND NOMENCLATURE
The word _Vedanta_ literally means the _end of the Vedas _ and originally referred to the _ Upanishads _. Vedanta was concerned with the _jñānakāṇḍa_ or Vedic knowledge part called the _Upanishads_. The denotation of Vedanta subsequently widened to include the various philosophical traditions based on to the _ Prasthanatrayi _.
The _ Upanishads _ may be regarded as the end of _Vedas_ in different senses:
* These were the last literary products of the Vedic period. * These mark the culmination of Vedic thought. * These were taught and debated last, in the _ Brahmacharya _ (student) stage.
VEDANTA is one of the six orthodox (_āstika_) schools of Indian philosophy . It is also called _Uttara Mīmāṃsā_, the 'latter enquiry' or 'higher enquiry'; and is often contrasted with _Pūrva Mīmāṃsā _, the 'former enquiry' or 'primary enquiry'. _Pūrva Mīmāṃsā_ deals with the _karmakāṇḍa_ or rituals part (the _ Samhita _ and _Brahmanas _) in the _Vedas_.
_PRASTHANATRAYI_, THE THREE SOURCES
The _ Upanishads _, the _Bhagavadgita _ and the _ Brahma Sutras _ constitute the basis of Vedanta. All schools of Vedanta propound their philosophy by interpreting these texts, collectively called the _ Prasthanatrayi _, literally, _three sources_.
* The _ Upanishads _, or _ Śruti prasthāna_; considered the _Sruti _ (Vedic scriptures) foundation of Vedanta. * The _ Brahma Sutras _, or _ Nyaya prasthana_ / _Yukti prasthana_; considered the reason-based foundation of Vedanta. * The _ Bhagavad Gita _, or _ Smriti prasthāna_; considered the _ Smriti _ (remembered tradition) foundation of Vedanta.
The _Brahma Sutras_ attempted to synthesize the teachings of the _Upanishads_. The diversity in the teaching of the _Upanishads_ necessitated the systematization of these teachings. This was likely done in many ways in ancient India, but the only surviving version of this synthesis is the _Brahma Sutras_ of _ Badarayana _.
All major Vedantic teachers, including Shankara , Bhaskara , Ramanuja , Nimbarka , Vallabha and Madhva , have composed commentaries not only on the _Upanishads_ and _Brahma Sutras_, but also on the _Bhagavad Gita_. The _Bhagavad Gita_, due to its syncretism of Samkhya , Yoga , and Upanishadic thought, has played a major role in Vedantic thought.
The _Upanishads_ do not present a rigorous philosophical inquiry in the form of identifying various doctrines and then presenting arguments for or against them. They form the basic texts and Vedanta interprets them through rigorous philosophical exegesis . Varying interpretations of the _Upanishads_ and their synthesis, the _Brahma Sutras _, led to the development of different schools of Vedanta over time of which three, four, five or six are prominent.
* _Advaita_ , many scholars of which most prominent are Gaudapada (~500 CE) and Shankara (8th century CE) * _ Vishishtadvaita _, prominent scholars are Nathamuni , Yāmuna and Ramanuja (1017–1137 CE) * _ Dvaita _, founded by Madhvacharya (1199–1278 CE) * _ Suddhadvaita _, founded by Vallabha (1479–1531 CE)
* _ Bhedabheda _, as early as the 7th century CE, or even the 4th century CE. Some scholars are inclined to consider it as a "tradition" rather than a school of Vedanta.
* _Upadhika_, founded by Bhaskara in the 9th Century CE * _Svabhavikabhedabheda_ or _ Dvaitādvaita _, founded by Nimbarka in the 13th century CE * _ Achintya Bheda Abheda _, founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534 CE)
The history of Vedanta is divided into two periods: one prior to the composition of the _Brahma Sutras_ and the other encompassing the schools that developed after the _Brahma Sutras_ were written.
BEFORE THE _BRAHMA SUTRAS_
Little is known of schools of Vedanta existing before the composition of the _Brahma Sutras_ (400–450 BCE). It is clear that Badarayana, the writer of _Brahma Sutras_, was not the first person to systematize the teachings of the _Upanishads_, as he quotes six Vedantic teachers before him – Ashmarathya, Badari, Audulomi, Kashakrtsna, Karsnajini and Atreya. References to other early Vedanta teachers – Brahmadatta, Sundara, Pandaya, Tanka and Dravidacharya – are found in secondary literature of later periods. The works of these ancient teachers have not survived, but based on the quotes attributed to them in later literature, Sharma postulates that Ashmarathya and Audulomi were Bhedabheda scholars, Kashakrtsna and Brahmadatta were Advaita scholars, while Tanka and Dravidacharya were either Advaita or Vishistadvaita scholars.
Main article: Brahma Sutras
Badarayana summarized and interpreted teachings of the _Upanishads_ in the _ Brahma Sutras _, also called the _ Vedanta Sutra_. Badarayana summarized the teachings of the classical Upanishads and refuted the rival philosophical schools in ancient India. The Brahma Sutras laid the basis for the development of Vedanta philosophy.
Though attributed to Badarayana, the Brahma Sutras were likely composed by multiple authors over the course of hundreds of years. The estimates on when the Brahma Sutras were complete vary, with Nicholson in his 2013 review stating, that they were most likely compiled in the present form around 400–450 BCE. Isaeva suggests they were complete and in current form by 200 CE, while Nakamura states that "the great part of the _Sutra_ must have been in existence much earlier than that."
The book is composed of four chapters, each divided into four quarters or sections. These sutras attempt to synthesize the diverse teachings of the Upanishads. However, the cryptic nature of aphorisms of the _Brahma Sutras_ have required exegetical commentaries. These commentaries have resulted in the formation of numerous Vedanta schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and producing its own commentary.
BETWEEN THE _BRAHMA SUTRAS_ AND ADI SHANKARA
Little with specificity is known of the period between the _Brahma Sutras_ (5th century BCE) and Adi Shankara (8th century CE). Only two writings of this period have survived: the _Vākyapadīya_, written by Bhartṛhari (second half 5th century ), and the _Kārikā_ written by Gaudapada (early 6th or 7th century CE).
Shankara mentions 99 different predecessors of his school in his commentaries. A number of important early Vedanta thinkers have been listed in the _Siddhitraya_ by Yamunācārya (c. 1050), the _Vedārthasamgraha_ by Rāmānuja (c. 1050–1157), and the _Yatīndramatadīpikā_ by Śrīnivāsa Dāsa. At least fourteen thinkers are known to have existed between the composition of the Brahma Sutras and Shankara's lifetime.
A noted scholar of this period was Bhartriprapancha. Bhartriprapancha maintained that the Brahman is one and there is unity, but that this unity has varieties. Scholars see Bhartriprapancha as an early philosopher in the line who teach the tenet of Bhedabheda .
GAUDAPADA, ADI SHANKARA AND ADVAITA VEDANTA
Gaudapada (c. 6th century CE), was the teacher or a more distant predecessor of Govindapada , the teacher of Adi Shankara. Shankara is widely considered as the founder of Advaita Vedanta . Gaudapada's treatise, the _Kārikā_—also known as the _Māṇḍukya Kārikā_ or the _Āgama Śāstra_ —is the earliest surviving complete text on Advaita Vedanta.
Gaudapada's _Kārikā_ relied on the Mandukya , Brihadaranyaka and Chhandogya _Upanishads_. In the _Kārikā_, Advaita (non-dualism) is established on rational grounds (_upapatti_) independent of scriptural revelation; its arguments are devoid of all religious, mystical or scholastic elements. Scholars are divided on a possible influence of Buddhism on Gaudapada's philosophy. The fact that Shankara, in addition to the _ Brahma Sutras _, the principal _Upanishads_ and the _ Bhagvad Gita _, wrote an independent commentary on the _Kārikā_ proves its importance in Vedāntic literature.
Adi Shankara (788–820), elaborated on Gaudapada's work and more ancient scholarship to write detailed commentaries on the Prasthanatrayi and the _Kārikā_. The Mandukya Upanishad and the _Kārikā_ have been described by Shankara as containing "the epitome of the substance of the import of Vedanta". It was Shankara who integrated Gaudapada work with the ancient _Brahma Sutras_, "and give it a _locus classicus_" alongside the realistic strain of the _Brahma Sutras_. His interpretation, including works ascribed to him, has become the normative interpretation of Advaita Vedanta.
A noted contemporary of Shankara was Mandan Mishra , who regarded Mimamsa and Vedanta as forming a single system and advocated their combination known as _Karma-jnana-samuchchaya-vada_. The treatise on the differences between the Vedanta school and the Mimamsa school was a contribution of Adi Shankara. Advaita Vedanta rejects rituals in favor of renunciation , for example.
RAMANUJA AND VISHISHTADVAITA VEDANTA
Rāmānuja (1017–1137 CE) was the most influential philosopher in the Vishishtadvaita tradition. As the philosophical architect of Vishishtadvaita, he taught qualified non-dualism . Ramanuja's teacher, Yadava Prakasha, followed the Advaita monastic tradition. Tradition has it that Ramanuja disagreed with Yadava and Advaita Vedanta, and instead followed Nathamuni and Yāmuna . Ramanuja reconciled the _Prasthanatrayi_ with the theism and philosophy of the Vaishnava Alvars poet-saints. Ramanujan wrote a number of influential texts, such as a bhasya on the _Brahma Sutras_ and the _Bhagavad Gita_, all in Sanskrit.
Ramanuja presented the epistemological and soteriological importance of bhakti, or the devotion to a personal God ( Vishnu in Ramanuja's case) as a means to spiritual liberation. His theories assert that there exists a plurality and distinction between Atman (souls) and Brahman (metaphysical, ultimate reality), while he also affirmed that there is unity of all souls and that the individual soul has the potential to realize identity with the Brahman. Vishishtadvaiata provides the philosophical basis of Sri Vaishnavism .
MADHVA AND DVAITA
Dvaita was propounded by Madhvacharya (1238–1317 CE). He presented the opposite interpretation of Shankara in his Dvaita, or dualistic system. In contrast to Shankara's non-dualism and Ramanuja's qualified non-dualism, he championed unqualified dualism. Madhva wrote commentaries on the chief _Upanishads_, the _Bhagavad Gita_ and the _Brahma Sutra_.
Madhva started his Vedic studies at age seven, joined an Advaita Vedanta monastery in Dwarka (Gujarat), studied under guru Achyutrapreksha, frequently disagreed with him, left the Advaita monastery, and founded Dvaita. Madhva and his followers Jayatirtha and Vyasatirtha, were critical of all competing Hindu philosophies, Jainism and Buddhism, but particularly intense in their criticism of Advaita Vedanta and Adi Shankara.
Dvaita Vedanta is theistic and it identifies Brahman with Narayana, or more specifically Vishnu, in a manner similar to Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita Vedanta. But it is more explicitly pluralistic. Madhva's emphasis for difference between soul and Brahman was so pronounced that he taught there were differences (1) between material things; (2) between material things and souls; (3) between material things and God; (4) between souls; and (5) between souls and God. He also advocated for a difference in degrees in the possession of knowledge. He also advocated for differences in the enjoyment of bliss even in the case of liberated souls, a doctrine found in no other system of Indian philosophy.
OVERVIEW OF THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA
SCHOOLS PROPOUNDING NON-DUALISM
Shankaracharya Main article: Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta ( IAST _ Advaita Vedānta_; Sanskrit : अद्वैत वेदान्त) espouses non-dualism and monism. _Brahman_ is held to be the sole unchanging metaphysical reality and identical to _Atman_. The physical world, on the other hand, is always-changing empirical _Maya_ . The absolute and infinite _Atman_-_Brahman_ is realized by a process of negating everything relative, finite, empirical and changing. The school accepts no duality, no limited individual souls (_Atman_ / _Jivatman_), and no separate unlimited cosmic soul. All souls and existence across space and time is considered as the same oneness (i.e. monism). Spiritual liberation in _Advaita_ is the full comprehension and realization of oneness, that one's unchanging _Atman_ (soul) is the same as the _Atman_ in everyone else, as well as being identical to the _nirguna_ _Brahman_.
_Vishishtadvaita_ asserts that _Jivatman_ (human souls) and _Brahman_ (as _Vishnu_) are different, a difference that is never transcended. With this qualification, Ramanuja also affirmed monism by saying that there is unity of all souls and that the individual soul has the potential to realize identity with the _Brahman_. _Vishishtadvaita_, like _Advaita_, is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta in a qualified way, and both begin by assuming that all souls can hope for and achieve the state of blissful liberation. On the relation between the _Brahman_ and the world of matter (_Prakriti_), _Vishishtadvaita_ states both are two different absolutes, both metaphysically true and real, neither is false or illusive, and that _saguna_ _Brahman_ with attributes is also real. Ramanuja states that God, like man, has both soul and body, and the world of matter is the glory of God's body. The path to _Brahman_ (_Vishnu_), according to Ramanuja, is devotion to godliness and constant remembrance of the beauty and love of the personal god (_bhakti _ of _saguna_ _Brahman_).
Main article: Shuddhadvaita Vallabhacharya
_ Shuddhadvaita _ (pure non-dualism) states that the entire universe is real and is subtly _ Brahman _ only in the form of _ Krishna _. Vallabhacharya, the propounder of this philosophy, agreed with Advaita Vedanta's ontology , but emphasized that _prakriti_ (empirical world, body) is not separate from the _Brahman_, but just another manifestation of the latter. Everything, everyone, everywhere—soul and body, living and non-living, _jiva_ and matter—is the eternal _ Krishna _. The way to _Krishna_, in this school, is _bhakti _. Vallabha opposed renunciation of monistic _sannyasa_ as ineffective and advocates the path of devotion (_bhakti_) rather than knowledge (_jnana_). The goal of _bhakti_ is to turn away from ego, self-centered-ness and deception, and to turn towards the eternal _Krishna_ in everything continually offering freedom from _samsara _.
SCHOOL PROPOUNDING DUALISM - DVAITA
This school is based on the premise of dualism. _Atman_ (soul) and _Brahman_ (as _Vishnu_) are understood as two completely different entities. _Brahman_ is the creator of the universe, perfect in knowledge, perfect in knowing, perfect in its power, and distinct from souls, distinct from matter. In _Dvaita_ Vedanta, an individual soul must feel attraction, love, attachment and complete devotional surrender to _Vishnu_ for salvation, and it is only His grace that leads to redemption and salvation. Madhva believed that some souls are eternally doomed and damned, a view not found in _Advaita_ and _Vishishtadvaita_ Vedanta. While the _Vishishtadvaita_ Vedanta asserted "qualitative monism and quantitative pluralism of souls", Madhva asserted both "qualitative and quantitative pluralism of souls".
SCHOOLS PROPOUNDING BHEDABHEDA
Main article: Bhedabheda
_Bhedābheda _ means "difference and non–difference" and is more a tradition than a school of Vedanta. The schools of this tradition emphasize that the individual self (_Jīvatman_) is both different and not different from _Brahman_. Notable figures in this school are Bhartriprapancha, Bhāskara (8th–9th century), Ramanuja's teacher Yādavaprakāśa, Nimbārka (13th century) who founded the Dvaitadvaita school, Caitanya (1486–1534) who founded the Achintya Bheda Abheda school and Vijñānabhikṣu (16th century).
Bhaskara, in postulating _Upadhika_, considers both identity and difference to be equally real. As the causal principle, _Brahman_ is considered non-dual and formless pure being and intelligence. The same _Brahman_, manifest as events, becomes the world of plurality. _Jīva_ is _Brahman_ limited by the mind. Matter and its limitations are considered real, not a manifestation of ignorance. Bhaskara advocated _bhakti_ as _dhyana_ (meditation) directed toward the transcendental _Brahman_. He refuted the idea of _Maya_ and denied the possibility of liberation in bodily existence.
Nimbarkacharya's icon at Ukhra, West Bengal Main article: Dvaitadvaita
Nimbārka propounded _ Dvaitādvaita _, based upon Bhedābheda as was taught by Bhāskara . _Brahman_ (God), souls _(chit)_ and matter or the universe _(achit)_ are considered as three equally real and co-eternal realities. _Brahman_ is the controller _(niyantr)_, the soul is the enjoyer _(bhoktr)_, and the material universe is the object enjoyed _(bhogya)_. The Brahman is _ Krishna _, the ultimate cause who is omniscient, omnipotent, all-pervading Being. He is the efficient cause of the universe because, as Lord of _Karma_ and internal ruler of souls, He brings about creation so that the souls can reap the consequences of their _karma_. God is considered to be the material cause of the universe because creation was a manifestation of His powers of soul _(chit)_ and matter _(achit)_; creation is a transformation _(parinama)_ of God's powers. He can be realized only through a constant effort to merge oneself with His nature through meditation and devotion.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the prime exponent of _Achintya-Bheda-Bheda_. In Sanskrit _achintya_ means 'inconceivable'. _Achintya-Bheda-Abheda_ represents the philosophy of "inconceivable difference in non-difference", in relation to the non-dual reality of _Brahman_-_Atman_ which it calls (_ Krishna _), _svayam bhagavan_. The notion of "inconceivability" (_acintyatva_) is used to reconcile apparently contradictory notions in Upanishadic teachings. This school asserts that _Krishna_ is _ Bhagavan _ of the _bhakti yogins_, the _Brahman_ of the _jnana yogins_, and has a divine potency that is inconceivable. He is all-pervading and thus in all parts of the universe (non-difference), yet he is inconceivably more (difference). This school is at the foundation of the _Gaudiya Vaishnava _ religious tradition.
The important approaches followed by the most noted proponents of different schools of Vedanta are summarized below:
* To theorize that the soul (_Ātman _ / _Jivātman _) and the physical universe (_ Prakriti _) are both identical with and different from _ Brahman _. This view is held by Bhartriprapancha. * To place non-dualistic ideas in the most important place, relegating dualistic ideas to an interim position. This approach is followed by Shankara. * To theorize that non-dualism is qualified by difference. This is Ramanuja's approach. * To emphasize dualism, discrediting and offering an alternative explanation of non-dualistic ideas. This is from Madhva.
Sivananda gives the following explanation:
Madhva said, "Man is the servant of God," and established his Dvaita philosophy. Ramanuja said, "Man is a ray or spark of God," and established his Visishtadvaita philosophy. Sankara said, "Man is identical with Brahman or the Eternal Soul," and established his Kevala Advaita philosophy.
Despite their differences, all schools of Vedanta share some common features:
* _Brahman_ exists as the unchanging material cause and instrumental cause of the world. * The _Upanishads_ are a reliable source of knowledge (_Sruti Śabda_ in Pramana ); Vedanta is the pursuit of knowledge into the _Brahman_ and the _Ātman_. * Belief in rebirth and the desirability of release from the cycle of rebirths, _(mokşa)_. * The self (_Ātman _ / _Jivātman _) is the agent of its own acts (karma ) and the recipient of the consequences of these actions. * Rejection of Buddhism and Jainism and conclusions of the other Vedic schools (Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya , Yoga , and, to some extent, the Purva Mimamsa .
Vedanta philosophies discuss three fundamental metaphysical categories and the relations between the three.
Shankara, in formulating Advaita, talks of two conceptions of _Brahman_: the higher _Brahman_ as undifferentiated Being, and a lower _Brahman_ endowed with qualities as the creator of the universe.
* _Parā_ or Higher _Brahman_: the undifferentiated, absolute, infinite, transcendental, supra-relational Brahman beyond all thought and speech is defined as _parā_ _Brahman_, _nirviśeṣa_ Brahman or _nirguṇa_ Brahman and is the Absolute of metaphysics. * _Aparā_ or Lower _Brahman_: the _ Brahman _ with qualities defined as _aparā_ _Brahman_ or _saguṇa_ _Brahman_. The _saguṇa_ _Brahman_ is endowed with attributes and represents the personal God of religion.
Ramanuja, in formulating Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, rejects _nirguṇa_—that the undifferentiated Absolute is inconceivable—and adopts a theistic interpretation of the _Upanishads_, accepts _Brahman_ as _Ishvara_, the personal God who is the seat of all auspicious attributes, as the One reality. The God of Vishishtadvaita is accessible to the devotee, yet remains the Absolute, with differentiated attributes.
Madhva, in expounding Dvaita philosophy, maintains that _ Vishnu _ is the supreme God, thus identifying the _Brahman_, or absolute reality, of the _Upanishads_ with a personal god, as Ramanuja had done before him. Nimbarka, in his dvaitadvata philosophy, accepted the _Brahman_ both as _nirguṇa_ and as _saguṇa_. Vallabha, in his shuddhadvaita philosophy, not only accepts the triple ontological essence of the _Brahman_, but also His manifestation as personal God (_Ishvara_), as matter and as individual souls.
The schools of Vedanta differ in their conception of the relation they see between _Ātman_ / _Jivātman_ and _Brahman_ / _Ishvara_:
* According to Advaita Vedanta, _Ātman_ is identical with _Brahman_ and there is no difference. * According to Vishishtadvaita, _Jīvātman_ is different from _Ishvara_, though eternally connected with Him as His mode. The oneness of the Supreme Reality is understood in the sense of an organic unity (_vishistaikya_). _Brahman_ / _Ishvara_ alone, as organically related to all _Jīvātman_ and the material universe is the one Ultimate Reality. * According to Dvaita, the _Jīvātman_ is totally and always different from _Brahman_ / _Ishvara_. * According to Shuddhadvaita (pure monism), the _Jīvātman_ and _Brahman_ are identical; both, along with the changing empirically-observed universe being Krishna .
_Pramāṇa_ ( Sanskrit : प्रमाण) literally means "proof", "that which is the means of valid knowledge". It refers to epistemology in Indian philosophies, and encompasses the study of reliable and valid means by which human beings gain accurate, true knowledge. The focus of Pramana is the manner in which correct knowledge can be acquired, how one knows or does not know, and to what extent knowledge pertinent about someone or something can be acquired. Ancient and medieval Indian texts identify six _pramanas_ as correct means of accurate knowledge and truths:
* _Pratyakṣa_ (perception) * _Anumāṇa_ (inference) * _ Upamāṇa _ (comparison and analogy) * _Arthāpatti_ (postulation, derivation from circumstances) * _Anupalabdi_ (non-perception, negative/cognitive proof) * _ Śabda _ (scriptural testimony/ verbal testimony of past or present reliable experts).
The different schools of Vedanta have historically disagreed as to which of the six are epistemologically valid. For example, while Advaita Vedanta accepts all six _pramanas_, Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita accept only three _pramanas_ (perception, inference and testimony).
Advaita considers _Pratyakṣa_ (perception) as the most reliable source of knowledge, and _ Śabda _, the scriptural evidence, is considered secondary except for matters related to Brahman, where it is the only evidence. In Vishistadvaita and Dvaita, _ Śabda _, the scriptural testimony, is considered the most authentic means of knowledge instead.
Theories Of Cause And Effect
All schools of Vedanta subscribe to the theory of _Satkāryavāda_, which means that the effect is pre-existent in the cause. But there are two different views on the status of the "effect", that is, the world. Most schools of Vedanta, as well as Samkhya, support _Parinamavada _, the idea that the world is a real transformation (_parinama_) of Brahman. According to Nicholson (2010 , p. 27), "the _Brahma Sutras_ espouse the realist Parinamavada position, which appears to have been the view most common among early Vedantins". In contrast to Badarayana, Adi Shankara and Advaita Vedantists hold a different view, _ Vivartavada _, which says that the effect, the world, is merely an unreal (_vivarta_) transformation of its cause, Brahman.
Vedanta, adopting ideas from other orthodox (_āstika_) schools, became the most prominent school of Hinduism . Vedanta traditions led to the development of many traditions in Hinduism. Sri Vaishnavism of south and southeastern India is based on Ramanuja's _Vishishtadvaita_ Vedanta. Ramananda led to the _Vaishnav Bhakti_ Movement in north, east, central and west India. This movement draws its philosophical and theistic basis from _Vishishtadvaita_. A large number of devotional _Vaishnavism_ traditions of east India, north India (particularly the Braj region), west and central India are based on various sub-schools of _Bhedabheda_ Vedanta. _Advaita_ Vedanta influenced _ Krishna Vaishnavism_ in the northeastern state of Assam . The Madhva school of Vaishnavism found in coastal Karnataka is based on _Dvaita_ Vedanta.
_Āgamas _, the classical literature of _ Shaivism _, though independent in origin, show Vedanta association and premises. Of the 92 _Āgamas_, ten are (_dvaita _) texts, eighteen (_bhedabheda _), and sixty-four (_advaita _) texts. While the _Bhairava Shastras_ are monistic, _Shiva Shastras_ are dualistic. Isaeva (1995 , pp. 134–135) finds the link between Gaudapada's _Advaita_ Vedanta and _Kashmir Shaivism _ evident and natural. Tirumular , the Tamil _Shaiva Siddhanta_ scholar, credited with creating "Vedanta–Siddhanta" ( Advaita Vedanta and Shaiva Siddhanta synthesis), stated, "becoming _Shiva_ is the goal of Vedanta and _Siddhanta_; all other goals are secondary to it and are vain."
_ Shaktism _, or traditions where a goddess is considered identical to _ Brahman _, has similarly flowered from a syncretism of the monist premises of _Advaita_ Vedanta and dualism premises of _Samkhya–Yoga_ school of Hindu philosophy, sometimes referred to as _Shaktadavaitavada_ (literally, the path of nondualistic _Shakti_).
Neo-Vedanta, variously called as " Hindu modernism", "neo-Hinduism", and "neo-Advaita", is a term that denotes some novel interpretations of Hinduism that developed in the 19th century, presumably as a reaction to the colonial British rule. King (2002 , pp. 129–135) writes that these notions accorded the Hindu nationalists an opportunity to attempt the construction of a nationalist ideology to help unite the Hindus to fight colonial oppression. Western orientalists , in their search for its "essence", attempted to formulate a notion of "Hinduism" based on a single interpretation of Vedanta as a unified body of religious praxis. This was contra-factual as, historically, Hinduism and Vedanta had always accepted a diversity of traditions. King (1999 , pp. 133–136) asserts that the neo-Vedantic theory of "overarching tolerance and acceptance" was used by the Hindu reformers, together with the ideas of Universalism and Perennialism , to challenge the polemic dogmatism of Judaeo-Christian-Islamic missionaries against the Hindus.
The neo-Vedantins argued that the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy were perspectives on a single truth, all valid and complementary to each other. Halbfass (2007 , p. 307) sees these interpretations as incorporating western ideas into traditional systems, especially Advaita Vedanta . It is the modern form of Advaita Vedanta, states King (1999 , p. 135), the neo-Vedantists subsumed the Buddhist philosophies as part of the Vedanta tradition and then argued that all the world religions are same "non-dualistic position as the philosophia perennis", ignoring the differences within and outside of Hinduism. According to Gier (2000 , p. 140), neo- Vedanta is Advaita Vedanta which accepts universal realism:
Ramakrishna, Vivekananda and Aurobindo have been labeled neo-Vedantists (the latter called it realistic Advaita), a view of Vedanta that rejects the Advaitins' idea that the world is illusory. As Aurobindo phrased it, philosophers need to move from 'universal illusionism' to 'universal realism', in the strict philosophical sense of assuming the world to be fully real.
A major proponent in the popularization of this Universalist and Perennialist interpretation of Advaita Vedanta was Vivekananda , who played a major role in the revival of Hinduism . He was also instrumental in the spread of Advaita Vedanta to the West via the Vedanta Society , the international arm of the Ramakrishna Order .
Criticism Of Neo-Vedanta Label
Nicholson (2010 , p. 2) writes that the attempts at integration which came to be known as neo- Vedanta were evident as early as between the 12th and the 16th century−
... certain thinkers began to treat as a single whole the diverse philosophical teachings of the Upanishads, epics, Puranas, and the schools known retrospectively as the "six systems" (_saddarsana_) of mainstream Hindu philosophy.
Matilal criticizes Neo- Hinduism as an oddity developed by West-inspired Western Indologists and attributes it to the flawed Western perception of Hinduism in modern India. In his scathing criticism of this school of reasoning, Matilal (2002 , pp. 403–404) says:
The so-called 'traditional' outlook is in fact a construction. Indian history shows that the tradition itself was self-conscious and critical of itself, sometimes overtly and sometimes covertly. It was never free from internal tensions due to the inequalities that persisted in a hierarchical society, nor was it without confrontation and challenge throughout its history. Hence Gandhi, Vivekananda and Tagore were not simply 'transplants from Western culture, products arising solely from confrontation with the west.
...It is rather odd that, although the early Indologists' romantic dream of discovering a pure (and probably primitive, according to some) form of Hinduism (or Buddhism as the case may be) now stands discredited in many quarters; concepts like neo- Hinduism are still bandied about as substantial ideas or faultless explanation tools by the Western 'analytic' historians as well as the West-inspired historians of India.
INFLUENCE ON WESTERN THINKERS
An exchange of ideas has been taking place between the western world and Asia since the late 18th century as a result of colonization of parts of Asia by Western powers. This also influenced western religiosity. The first translation of _Upanishads_, published in two parts in 1801 and 1802, significantly influenced Arthur Schopenhauer , who called them the consolation of his life. He drew explicit parallels between his philosophy, as set out in _The World as Will and Representation_, and that of the Vedanta philosophy as described in the work of Sir William Jones. Early translations also appeared in other European languages. Influenced by Śaṅkara's concepts of _Brahman_ (God) and _māyā_ (illusion), Lucian Blaga often used the concepts _marele anonim_ (the Great Anonymous) and _cenzura transcendentă_ (the transcendental censorship) in his philosophy.
According to Nakamura (1950 , p. 3), the Vedanta school has had a historic and central influence on Hinduism:
The prevalence of Vedanta thought is found not only in philosophical writings but also in various forms of ( Hindu ) literature, such as the epics, lyric poetry, drama and so forth. ...the Hindu religious sects, the common faith of the Indian populace, looked to Vedanta philosophy for the theoretical foundations for their theology. The influence of Vedanta is prominent in the sacred literatures of Hinduism, such as the various Puranas, Samhitas, Agamas and Tantras...
The Vedanta contained in the Upanishads, then formulated in the _Brahma Sutra_, and finally commented and explained by Shankara, is an invaluable key for discovering the deepest meaning of all the religious doctrines and for realizing that the _ Sanatana Dharma _ secretly penetrates all the forms of traditional spirituality.
Flood (1996 , pp. 231–232, 238) states,
..the most influential school of theology in India has been Vedanta, exerting enormous influence on all religious traditions and becoming the central ideology of the Hindu renaissance in the nineteenth century. It has become the philosophical paradigm of Hinduism "par excellence".
SIMILARITIES WITH SPINOZA\'S PHILOSOPHY
German Sanskritist Theodore Goldstücker was among the early scholars to notice similarities between the religious conceptions of the Vedanta and those of the Dutch Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza, writing that Spinoza's thought was
... so exact a representation of the ideas of the Vedanta, that we might have suspected its founder to have borrowed the fundamental principles of his system from the Hindus, did his biography not satisfy us that he was wholly unacquainted with their doctrines comparing the fundamental ideas of both we should have no difficulty in proving that, had Spinoza been a Hindu, his system would in all probability mark a last phase of the Vedanta philosophy.
The Brahman, as conceived in the Upanishads and defined by Sankara, is clearly the same as Spinoza's 'Substantia'."
As to Spinoza's Deity—_natura naturans_—conceived in his attributes simply and alone; and the same Deity—as _natura naturata_ or as conceived in the endless series of modifications or correlations, the direct outflowing results from the properties of these attributes, it is the Vedantic Deity pure and simple.
* ^ Historically, Vedanta has been called by various names. The early names were the Upanishadic ones (_Aupanisada_), the doctrine of the end of the _Vedas_ (_Vedanta-vada_), the doctrine of _ Brahman _ (_Brahma-vada_), and the doctrine that _Brahman_ is the cause (_Brahma-karana-vada_). * ^ The _Upanishads_ were many in number and developed in the different schools at different times and places, some in the Vedic period and others in the medieval or modern era (the names of up to 112 _Upanishads_ have been recorded). All major commentators have considered twelve to thirteen oldest of these texts as the Principal _Upanishads_ and as the foundation of Vedanta. * ^ Sivananda also mentions Meykandar and the _ Shaiva Siddhanta _ philosophy. * ^ 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 . * ^ Nicholson (2010 , p. 26) considers the _Brahma Sutras_ as a group of sutras composed by multiple authors over the course of hundreds of years. The precise date is disputed. Nicholson (2010 , p. 26) estimates that the book was composed in its current form between 400 and 450 BCE. * ^ The Vedanta–sūtra are known by a variety of names, including (1) Brahma–sūtra, (2) Śārīraka–sutra, (3) Bādarāyaṇa–sūtra and (4) Uttara–mīmāṁsā. * ^ Estimates of the date of Bādarāyana's lifetime differ. * ^ Bhartŗhari (c. 450–500), Upavarsa (c. 450–500), Bodhāyana (c. 500), Tanka (Brahmānandin) (c. 500–550), Dravida (c. 550), Bhartŗprapañca (c. 550), Śabarasvāmin (c. 550), Bhartŗmitra (c. 550–600), Śrivatsānka (c. 600), Sundarapāndya (c. 600), Brahmadatta (c. 600–700), Gaudapada (c. 640–690), Govinda (c. 670–720), Mandanamiśra (c. 670–750). * ^ There is ample evidence, however, to suggest that Advaita was a thriving tradition by the start of the common era or even before that. Shankara mentions 99 different predecessors of his Sampradaya. Scholarship since 1950 suggests that almost all Sannyasa Upanishads have a strong Advaita Vedanta outlook. Six Sannyasa Upanishads – Aruni, Kundika, Kathashruti, Paramahamsa, Jabala and Brahma – were composed before the 3rd Century CE, likely in the centuries before or after the start of the common era; the Asrama Upanishad is dated to the 3rd Century. The strong Advaita Vedanta views in these ancient Sannyasa Upanishads may be, states Patrick Olivelle , because major Hindu monasteries of this period belonged to the Advaita Vedanta tradition. * ^ Scholars like Raju (1972 , p. 177), following the lead of earlier scholars like Sengupta, believe that Gaudapada co-opted the Buddhist doctrine that ultimate reality is pure consciousness (_vijñapti-mātra_) . Raju (1972 , pp. 177–178) states, "Gaudapada wove into a philosophy of the Mandukaya Upanisad, which was further developed by Shankara." Nikhilananda (2008 , pp. 203–206) states that the whole purpose of Gaudapada was to present and demonstrate the ultimate reality of Atman, an idea denied by Buddhism . According to Murti (1955 , pp. 114–115), Gaudapada's doctrines are unlike Buddhism. Gaudapada's influential text consists of four chapters; Chapter One, Two and Three of which are entirely Vedantin and founded on the Upanishads, with little Buddhist flavor. Chapter Four uses Buddhist terminology and incorporates Buddhist doctrines but Vedanta scholars who followed Gaudapada through the 17th century, state both Murti and Richard King, never referenced nor used Chapter Four, they only quote from the first three. While there is shared terminology, the doctrines of Gaudapada and Buddhism are fundamentally different, states Murti (1955 , pp. 114–115) * ^ Nicholson (2010 , p. 27) writes: "The _Brahmasutras_ themselves espouse the realist Parinamavada position, which appears to have been the view most common among early Vedantins." * ^ Shankara synthesized the _Advaita–vāda_ which had previously existed before him, and, in this synthesis, became the restorer text-decoration: none">māyā_) is not to say that it is unreal; it is to say, instead, that it is not what it seems to be, that it is something constantly being made. _Maya_ not only deceives people about the things they think they know; more basically, it limits their knowledge." * ^ The concept of _Brahman_ in _Dvaita_ Vedanta is so similar to the monotheistic eternal God, that some early colonial–era _Indologists _ such as George Abraham Grierson suggested Madhva was influenced by early Christians who migrated to India, but later scholarship has rejected this theory. * ^ According to Nakamura and Dasgupta, the _Brahmasutras_ reflect a _ Bhedabheda _ point of view, the most influential tradition of Vedanta before Shankara. Numerous Indologists, including Surendranath Dasgupta, Paul hacker, Hajime Nakamura, and Mysore Hiriyanna, have described _Bhedabheda_ as the most influential school of Vedanta before Shankara. * ^ A few Indian scholars such as Vedvyasa discuss ten, Krtakoti discusses eight, but six is most widely accepted; see Nicholson (2010 , pp. 149–150) * ^ Anantanand Rambachan (1991 , pp. xii–xiii) states, "According to these studies, Shankara only accorded a provisional validity to the knowledge gained by inquiry into the words of the Śruti (Vedas) and did not see the latter as the unique source (_pramana_) of _Brahmajnana_. The affirmations of the Śruti, it is argued, need to be verified and confirmed by the knowledge gained through direct experience (_anubhava_) and the authority of the Śruti, therefore, is only secondary." Sengaku Mayeda (2006 , pp. 46–47) concurs, adding Shankara maintained the need for objectivity in the process of gaining knowledge (_vastutantra_), and considered subjective opinions (_purushatantra_) and injunctions in Śruti (_codanatantra_) as secondary. Mayeda cites Shankara's explicit statements emphasizing epistemology (_pramana–janya_) in section 1.18.133 of Upadesasahasri and section 1.1.4 of Brahmasutra–bhasya. * ^ Nicholson (2010 , p. 27) writes of Advaita Vedantin position of cause and effect - Although Brahman seems to undergo a transformation, in fact no real change takes place. The myriad of beings are essentially unreal, as the only real being is Brahman, that ultimate reality which is unborn, unchanging, and entirely without parts. * ^ Vivekananda, clarifies Richard King, stated, "I am not a Buddhist, as you have heard, and yet I am"; but thereafter Vivekananda explained that "he cannot accept the Buddhist rejection of a self, but nevertheless honors the Buddha's compassion and attitude towards others". * ^ The tendency of "a blurring of philosophical distinctions" has also been noted by Burley. Lorenzen locates the origins of a distinct Hindu identity in the interaction between Muslims and Hindus, and a process of "mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim other", which started well before 1800.
* ^ Chatterjee Flood 1996 , p. 231,232,238 * ^ Koller 2013 , pp. 100–106; Sharma 1960 , p. 211; Hiriyanna 1948 , pp. 19,21–25,150–152 * ^ Chatterjee Raju 1972 , pp. 176–177; Isaeva 1992 , p. 35 with footnote 30 * ^ Raju 1972 , pp. 176–177. * ^ Chatterjee Scharfe 2002 , pp. 58–59,115–120,282–283 * ^ Flood 1996 , p. 231,232,238. * ^ Clooney 2000 , pp. 147–158. * ^ Mohan Lal Sandal 1925 , p. 16, Sutra 30. * ^ King 1995 , p. 268 with note 2. * ^ Ranganathan ; Hiriyanna 1948 , pp. 19,21–25,150–152; Grimes 1990 , pp. 6–7 * ^ Dasgupta 1922 , pp. 28. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Hiriyanna 1948 , pp. 19,21–25,150–152. * ^ Pasricha 2008 , p. 95. * ^ Balasubramanian 2000 , p. xxx–xxxiiii; Deutsch & Dalvi 2004 , pp. 95–96 * ^ Chatterjee Nakamura 1949 , p. 436 * ^ Balasubramanian 2000 , p. xxxiii; Sharma 1996 , pp. 124–125 * ^ Nakamura 1950 , p. 3; Sharma 1996 , pp. 124–125 * ^ Sharma 1996 , pp. 124–125. * ^ Hiriyanna 1948 , pp. 19,21–25,151–152; Sharma 1960 , pp. 239–241; Nicholson 2010 , p. 26 * ^ Satischandra Chatterjee, Dhirendramohan Dutta (1939). _AN INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN PHILOSOPHY_. Rupa Publications India Pvt. Limited (2007 Reprint). p. 317. ISBN 978-81-291-1195-1 . * ^ Sharma, Chandramohan (2009). _A Critical Summary of Indian Philosophy_. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 239–241. ISBN 978-81-208-0365-7 . * ^ Pandey 2000 , p. 4. * ^ "Indian Philosophy - Historical Development of Indian Philosophy Britannica.com". * ^ James Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 978-0823931798 , page 746 * ^ _A_ _B_ Nakamura 1949 , p. 436. * ^ Nicholson 2013 , p. 26, Quote: "From a historical perspective, the Brahmasutras are best understood as a group of sutras composed by multiple authors over the course of hundreds of years, most likely composed in its current form between 400 and 450 BCE.". * ^ NV Isaeva (1992), Shankara and Indian Philosophy, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-1281-7 , page 36 * ^ Hiriyanna 1948 , pp. 151–152. * ^ Nicholson 2010 , pp. 26–27; Mohanty & Wharton 2011 * ^ Nakamura 1950 , p. 426. * ^ _A_ _B_ Roodurmum 2002 . * ^ Hiriyanna, M. (1948). _The Essentials of Indian Philosophy_. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass (2008 Reprint). pp. 19, 21–25, 150–152. 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* _ Vedanta Treatise: The Eternities_ by Swami Parthasarathy * _The System of Vedanta_ by Paul Deussen . 1912. Reprint 2007. * _Forgotten Truth: The Primordial Tradition_ by Huston Smith * _Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies_ and " Vedanta Sutras of Nārāyana Guru" by Karl Potter and Sibajiban Bhattachārya * _The Upanishads_ by Sri Aurobindo , Sri Aurobindo Ashram , Pondicherry , 1972. * _Choice Upanishads_ by Swami Parthasarathy * _Vedanta: A Simple Introduction_ by Pravrajika Vrajaprana * Vedanta Hub - Resources to help with the Study and Practice of Vedanta
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