Antiquity of Advaita Vedanta

H.B.Dave hbd at DDIT.ERNET.IN
Mon Jun 26 06:50:55 CDT 2000

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Re : Antiquity f Advaita :

Recently there was a long thread of interesting postings on "Antiquity of
Advaita" on our ADVAITA list, which is
still continuing. In between, some branching off has also occured.

It is my observation that philosophical streams like Advaita, Dvaita,
Bhakti, Karmamarga, Vijnanvada, etc. are already there in RigVeda, with Advaita
predominating, irrespective of what Western scholars of Nineteenth and
twentieth centuries say (and try to make us believe).

If one tries to look for terms like Atma, Brahma, Parabrahma, Avidya --
typical of Vedantic discussions, one will not find them in RigVeda, at least
not with the same meaning. RigVeda has to be "read" (shrutam) in RigVeda's way!

If the List members feel it would be useful, I would like to give an essay
on the subject (i.e., "Advaita and other marga in RigVeda"), in form of
several postings, with quotations from the most ancient text, with
explanations, links with later Upanishads, etc.

I am offering this with a hope that I shall be able to bring out that the
seeming dividing lines between various approaches are rather thin. Right
from the time of RigVeda, a debate between followers of SadVada and AsadVada
is going on. What we call Sankhya, Jainmata, Bauddhamata, etc. are very old,
older then their respective assumed propounders like Kapila, Mahaveera or
Gautama Buddha. (This I am saying without any disrespect to any one of these
great thinkers.) What they did was to crystalize the ideas of a particular
stream of thought and explained them that way.

One question may arise here. If RigVeda did have seeds of Advaita, why did
Bhagavan Bhasyakar not mention quotations from RigVeda even at one place
in his learned Bhasyas? I very humbly shall try to answer this as I

The general outline of the series is :
1. Introduction : nature of RigVeda; attitude of RigVedic Rishis;
2. Mantras which contain seed of Advaita (some of them, giving all will be
too much)
3. Mantras which have concepts like Anirvachaniya, brahma, etc.
4. Mantras containing seeds of VijnanVada;
5. Mantras which have mention of BhaktiMarga, YogaMarga, Karmayoga, Sanyasa,
6. Mantras mentioning Self-realization :

The preparation required from the readers would be -- an open mind,
reasonable knowledge of Sanskrit (so that the etymologies given can be followed),
willingness for contemplation and a little bit of patience.

Will the List members be interested? Your suggestions are welcome.

-- Himanshu

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