Advaita and advaita vedanta?

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 21 13:30:31 CDT 1999

J. Kingston Cowart <jkcowart at CARI.NET> wrote:

>I had not known there was an advaita outside vedanta.  Could you
>explain further?

Indeed, there is. In addition to the points made by Jaldhar Vyas, if we
look at the use of the word advaita, we also see it in old philosophical
traditions other than Vedanta.

A closely related word, advaya, is frequently used in Mahayana Buddhist
works. To a large extent, advaya refers to the experiential aspect of non-
dualism, while advaita refers to an ontological claim that this non-dual
reality is the highest reality. Specifically in advaita vedAnta, the
argument is also made that this highest reality is pure being, and is the
substratum of the universe and all sensory experience. However, even
without this ontological aspect, there are schools of Mahayana Buddhism,
e.g. the vijnAptimAtra school, which equate the non-dual state with pure

>From around the 10th century, we see the growth of the philosophical
schools of Saivism, loosely called Kashmir Saivism, including the
pratyabhijnA, trika and the siddhAnta (different from south Indian Saiva
Siddhanta in some respects). Except for the siddhAnta, which is dualistic,
these schools of Saivism are also a version of advaita, without being
vedAnta. Indeed, the primary authors of these schools set themselves apart
from the brahmavAda, i.e. vedAnta. The contemporary world has a number of
proponents of views that may be called advaita, but they are not
technically vedAnta. Many of these proponents may be intellectually
indebted to advaita vedAnta, but they are also influenced by other schools
of thought. One finds all gradations here, from those who peddle a mere
mish-mash of partially understood concepts to those who have a deep and
profound insight to offer.


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