KIRAN ATMA: Advaita Vedanta
Showing posts with label Advaita Vedanta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Advaita Vedanta. Show all posts

Hinduism And Hindu Theology - What Is Advaita Vedanta?

Advaita Vedanta is a school of thought. One of the divisions of Vedanta, the philosophical school that claims to have discovered the ultimate (anta) message of the Vedas, the ancient holy scriptures. 

  • The Advaita school adheres to the philosophical stance of monism, which argues that everything is governed by a single Ultimate Reality. 
  • Advaita adherents believe that reality is nondual (advaita), meaning that everything in the universe, despite appearances of variety and diversity, is really the formless, unqualified Brahman. 
  • To back up this assertion, the Advaitins provide a compelling explanation for why one sees the universe to be made up of many different and distinct entities. 
  • Advaitans explain this seeming variety with the notion of adhyasa (superimposition), in which a false, erroneous knowledge is projected onto a genuine object—for example, seeing a rope in the twilight and mistaking it for a snake in the traditional Advaita example. 
  • The Advaitins believe that the "snake" is not entirely unreal since it is dependent on the rope for its existence—the snake cannot be seen unless the rope is there. 
  • At the same time, the "snake" is obviously not real, since one does not continue in this mistake, and once the snake's illusion is broken, one can no longer see it. 
  • Similarly, Advaitins believe that our perception of the phenomenal daily world is projected onto the one really actual object in the universe—Brahman. 
  • The universe, like the serpent, is unreal as it is seen yet real as it is dependent on Brahman. 
  • The origins of adhyasa, according to Advaitins, are epistemological, that is, linked to how humans come to know things, while adhyasa's outcomes are both epistemological and ontological (related to how things actually are). 

On the one hand, adhyasa obscures the Ultimate Reality and makes it difficult to see it correctly, while on the other hand, its projective nature shapes our perceptions of the universe. 

  • The cause of all this perplexity, according to Advaitins, is avidya, or primordial ignorance, under the influence of which one develops false beliefs about the universe. 
  • Although it is stated that the operation of ignorance has no beginning, one of the factors that keeps it running is one's karma, which is based on the ongoing acts produced by this erroneous thinking. 
  • The power of illusion (maya) possessed by God (Ishvara), which perplexes humans, is another cause of ignorance. 

God is identified as a qualified (saguna) form of Brahman, hence below the ultimate unqualified (nirguna) Brahman, and himself a result of superimposition, according to Advaita Vedantins. 

  • Because the Advaita school thinks that incorrect thinking is the root of karma bonding, the only way to break free is to acquire the right knowledge. 
  • Although the Advaitans believe that individuals are obligated to do religious acts (nitya karma) as a matter of duty, actions can never bring about the insight that is required for salvation, though they may help by eliminating karmic barriers. 
  • The Advaitins begin their study by appealing to the knowing subject as the one thing that can never be questioned, claiming that this self-consciousness is proof of the presence of the inner Self, or atman. 

Apart from this appeal to experience, they rely heavily on the sacred texts' authority, particularly the Upanishads, to uphold their key doctrines: 

  1. That Brahman is the source of all things; 
  2. That the human soul is ultimately identical to Brahman, albeit hampered by obstacles based on past karma; and that true knowledge is the basis of liberation. 

The philosopher Shankaracharya was the first and greatest Advaita thinker; other notable individuals were his two students, Sureshvara and Padmapada, as well as Mandana Mishra and Vachaspati Mishra. Karl H. Potter (ed. ), Advaita Vedanta up to Samkara and His Pupils, 1981; and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore (eds. ), A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy, 1957, for further details.

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