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Vedanta

Vedanta (vĬdän´tə, –dăn´–), one of the six classical systems of Indian philosophy. The term "Vedanta" has the literal meaning "the end of the Veda" and refers both to the teaching of the Upanishads, which constitute the last section of the Veda, and to the knowledge of its ultimate meaning. By extension it is the name given to those philosophical schools that base themselves on the Brahma Sutras (also called the Vedanta Sutras) of Badarayana (early centuries AD), which summarize the Upanishadic doctrine. The best-known and most influential of the schools of Vedanta is that of Shankara (AD 788–820), known as the nondualist or advaita Vedanta. Shankara attempted to show that the teaching of the Upanishads was a self-consistent whole. According to Shankara, the ultimate reality is Brahman or the Self, which is pure reality, pure consciousness, and pure bliss. The world has come into being from Brahman and is wholly dependent on it. The criteria of reality are immutability and permanence. Since the world is constantly changing, and since its existence is not absolute but dependent on Brahman, the world is called illusion or maya. Brahman exists as the Absolute, without qualities (nirguna), and also exists with qualities (saguna) as a personal god, Ishvara, who presides over the world of appearance. Shankara divided the Veda into two sections, that dealing with duties and ritual actions (karmakanda) and that dealing with knowledge of reality (jnanakanda) contained in the Upanishads. Spiritual liberation is achieved not by ritual action, which is for those of inferior spiritual capacity, but by eradication of the ignorance (avidya) that sees the illusory multiplicity of the world as real, and by attainment of knowledge of the Self. The qualified nondualism or vishishtadvaita of Ramanuja (1017–1137) argued against Shankara, holding that Brahman is not devoid of qualities, but rather is the possessor of divine qualities. The world and individual souls are not illusion, but have intrinsic reality, although they are dependent on God. Ramanuja, a worshiper of Vishnu, advocated devotion or bhakti as a means of salvation. The dualist or dvaita Vedanta of Madhva (1197–1276) attacked the monistic followers of Shankara and defended a pluralist standpoint. He asserted the permanently separate reality of the world, souls, and God, who is identified with Vishnu. Vedanta in one or the other of its forms has had a pervasive influence on the intellectual and religious life of India, and it is still a living tradition. Well-known modern Vedantists include Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Swami Vivekananda, and Aurobindo Ghose (Sri Aurobindo).

See bibliography under Hindu philosophy.

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Vedanta

Vedanta

Vedanta is the highest teaching of the Vedas, (veda means knowledge), the ancient Sanskrit scriptures of India. There are four Vedas: the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda, and the Artharva-Veda, which are comprised of hymns, ritual texts, and philosophical treaties that are regarded as divine revelation. Vedanta is considered one of the six darshanas (viewpoints) of orthodox Hinduism. However, it is not simply a formal instruction but a revelatory experience of transcendental consciousness.

In 1893, Swami Vivekananda appeared "like an Eastern comet in the Western spiritual sky" and made a startling appearance at the Parliament of Religions at the Chicago World's Fair. With him, he brought news of yoga and Vedanta; since then, yoga has taken solid root in the Western soil, with an estimated 2 million participants outside India. Vedanta, on the other hand, has remained relatively unknown.

The Vedas, completed between 1500-500 B.C.E, were originally an oral tradition, later codified in scriptures called the Upanishads (meaning nearness to wisdom). Of the 108 Upanishads, created between 900-500 B.C.E., some ten out of twelve books are regarded as the principle ones. The Vedanta, like the New Testament of the Bible, not only serves as the end of the Upanishads but the culmination of the scriptures.

Hindu scriptures differ from the sacred writings of other religions as they go beyond faith in particular deities (regarded as legal fictions, useful only at certain stages in life) to awareness of an Absolute, beyond time, space and causality. It is said the Vedanta's two main themes are humanity's true nature as divine, and this divinity as the aim of human life. The ideas of the Vedanta also introduce and reflect the traditional yogic paths.

There are three perspectives of Vedanta: One is dualistic (dvaita ), the second is nondualistic (advaita ), while the third is qualified nondualistic (vishishtadvaita ). The advaita perspective proclaims there are no individual souls, but all are unified. It is called nondualistic because "it acknowledge[s] only one Spirit, a single underlying reality beyond which nothing else could possibly exist."

Sources:

Advaita Vedanta. http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/. March 1, 2000.

Introduction to Vedanta. http://www.geocities.com/RodeoDrive/1415/veda.html. March 30, 2000.

Johnsen, Linda. "Tantra & Classical Yoga." Yoga International (September 1997): 22-29.

Nikhilananda, Swami. The Upanishads. 4 vols. London: Phoenix House, 1951-59; New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1975-1979.

Torwesten, Hans. Vedanta: Heart of Hinduism. New York: Grove Weidenfield, 1985.

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Vedānta

Vedānta (Skt., ‘Veda’ + ‘end’). The end, i.e. culmination, of the Vedas, especially as contained in the last section of the Veda, the Upaniṣads. However, Vedānta understood as the culmination of the Vedas in ordered reflection (i.e. as a philosophical and religious tradition) rests also on the Bhagavad-gītā and on the Brahma Sūtra of Bādarāyaṇa (also known as Vedānta Sūtra) which attempted to bring order and harmony to the scattered reflections in the Upaniṣads on the nature of Brahman and the relation of Brahman to the created order, in particular the continuing presence of Brahman within it as ātman. These three works became the basis of the philosophy of Vedānta, and became the subject of commentaries leading to the diverse interpretations of Vedānta, of e.g. Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and Madhva. Cf. also Uttara-mīmāṃsā.

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Vedanta

Vedanta (Sanskrit, ‘conclusion of the Vedas’) Best known and most popular form of Indian philosophy; it forms the foundation for most modern schools of thought in Hinduism. One of the most influential Vedanta schools was that expounded by the 7th–8th-century philosopher Sankara. This school holds that the natural world is an illusion. There is only one self, Brahman-Atman; ignorance of the oneness of the self with Brahman is the cause of rebirth. The system includes a belief in the transmigration of souls and the desirability of release from the cycle of rebirth. See also Upanishads

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Vedanta

Ve·dan·ta / vāˈdäntə; və-/ • n. a Hindu philosophy based on the doctrine of the Upanishads, esp. in its monistic form. DERIVATIVES: Ve·dan·tic / -tik/ adj.Ve·dan·tist / -tist/ n.

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Vedanta

Vedanta a Hindu philosophy based on the doctrine of the Upanishads, especially in its monistic form.

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Vedanta

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