[Advaita-l] Advaita Vedanta

Sriram Krishnamurthy asksriramjobs at gmail.com
Wed Sep 9 07:57:34 CDT 2009

Source : http://www.vedaneri.com/advaithavedantha.htm

The term Vedanta literally means, the end portion of Vedas. That means,
these texts generally come at the end of the Samhita or Brahmana portion of
the Veda sakhas. Vedantic texts are also called Upanishads. Upanishad
literally means the knowledge (and hence the book also) which takes oneself
(upa) near to the Truth with (ni) all definiteness (Sad) to loosen and
destroy the shackles of one’s bondage. This, “treating a portion
differently” is necessitated, because the first portion which is infact the
major portion (which we call vedapurva) talks about deeds and rites,
sacrifices and ceremonies for whom the qualified person adhikari, the
result, etc are totally different.

Those who have gone through the first portion that is to say, those who have
led a life as detailed in that portion are eligible for the second portion,
which talks about the absolute. It means that the truth revealed would be
meaningful only to them. Thus within a single text, we are able to see the
first portion as a means and the last portion as the end. It is very natural
that the end portion need not be elaborate and the means portion cannot be

The Upanishads generally use negative words such as advaitam, anantam,
avyavaharyam, alakshanam, acintyam etc. to mean the absolute. But the word
“advaitam” has become a bitter pill for the acharyas of other schools of
thought. And also, it is improper to consider advaitam as yet another school
of thought. Advaitam is the nature of the absolute being as the Vedas

Advaita tradition

It is considered that Sri Dakshinamurthy the knowledge aspect of Siva the
primordial teacher as the first in the tradition. But for Him, the knowledge
of absolute oneness negating all the perceived differences could not have
been revealed. Such a non conceiveable truth could never be a product of
mental speculation because mind deals only with differences.

At the time when the Vedic tradition was split into more than seventy sects
because of wrong or improper or illogical interpretations of the Vedas, Siva
Himself came to the rescue of this glorious tradition from schisms in the
form of Sankaracharya. Sri Sankara’s erudition is so clear, very thorough
and direct to the point. His contribution to the advaitic tradition is
enormous and hence will be remembered forever. But considering him as the
founder of advaita is incorrect. In Taittiriya commentary, Sri Aadi Sankara
gratefully attributes the knowledge of advaita to the ancient tradition of

In the tradition of advaitic teaching we can find a noted difference between
the teaching methodology of pre-Sankara and post-Sankara teachers. The
post-Sankara teachers consider Sankara’s approach as the fulcrum.

Advaita knowledge

The crux of the vedantic teaching is in the definiteness of the self-being
one and the supreme. Advaitam, meaning one without another is not a word
coined by any acharya. But it is the word used by various upanishads to mean
the absolute. The cause of the universe being non other than the self, the
constituents of the universe and the universe as a whole are essentially non
different from the self.

Sense of difference and hence the sense of separation being doubtless but an
erroneous knowledge leading to all sorts of psychological problems is
considered as ignorance from a higher standpoint as revealed by the
Upanishads. Thus dvaitam (considering the sense of difference as real in the
absolute sense) is ignorance and advaitam is the knowledge which can negate
it. Sense of separations perpetuates the sorry state of affair called
Samsara and sense of oneness can alone snap this self-perpetuating cycle.

Moksha should never be translated as salvation, which implies two things.
Unacceptable condemnation on one side and irrational redemption on the
other. Here rational thinking or pursuit of truth is sacrificed at the altar
of a nominated Saviour.
Moksha means freedom, freedom from the stackles of ones own notions, freedom
from the urge to become. Since everyone’s essential pursuit is infact
absolute freedom called moksha, there is no end for the cycle of becoming
(birth & death time wise, place wise and situation wise) without gaining it.

Means for freedom can never be known without knowing the nature of bondage.
Ignorance of oneself being the cause for bondage, one can free oneself
forever only with the knowledge of self. Seeing oneself in everything and
everything in oneself, known, as “sarvatmabhava” is the result of one’s
abidance in the knowledge of advitiya atma, the self one without a second.

Moksha is called Parama Purushartham (supreme pursuit) since it implies
total fulfilment and with this pursuit alone, human life becomes meaningful.
Due to this alone, the last ashrama called Sannyasa asrama is always
assoicate with knowledge of self as means and Moksha as the end.

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