Vedanta (/vɪˈdɑːntə/; Sanskrit: वेदान्त, IAST: Vedānta) or Uttara Mīmāṃsā is one of the six (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy. Vedanta literally means "end of the Vedas", reflecting ideas that emerged from the speculations and philosophies contained in the Upanishads. It does not stand for one comprehensive or unifying doctrine. Rather it is an umbrella term for many sub-traditions, ranging from dualism to non-dualism, all of which developed on the basis of a common textual connection called the Prasthanatrayi. The Prasthanatrayi is a collective term for the Principal Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.
All Vedanta schools, in their deliberations, concern themselves with the following three categories but differ in their views regarding the concept and the relations between them: Brahman – the ultimate metaphysical reality, Ātman / Jivātman – the individual soul or self, and Prakriti – the empirical world, ever-changing physical universe, body and matter.
Some of the better known sub-traditions of Vedanta include Advaita (non-dualism), Vishishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism), and Dvaita (dualism). Most other Vedantic sub-traditions are subsumed under the term Bhedabheda (difference and non-difference). Over time, Vedanta adopted ideas from other orthodox (āstika) schools like Yoga and Nyaya, and, through this syncretism, became the most prominent school of Hinduism. Many extant forms of Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Shaktism have been significantly shaped and influenced by the doctrines of different schools of Vedanta. The Vedanta school has had a historic and central influence on Hinduism.
The word Vedanta literally means the end of the Vedas and originally referred to the Upanishads. Vedanta was concerned with the jñānakāṇḍa or Vedic knowledge part called the Upanishads. The denotation of Vedanta subsequently widened to include the various philosophical traditions based on to the Prasthanatrayi.
Vedanta is one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Indian philosophy. It is also called Uttara Mīmāṃsā, the 'latter enquiry' or 'higher enquiry'; and is often contrasted with Pūrva Mīmāṃsā, the 'former enquiry' or 'primary enquiry'. Pūrva Mīmāṃsā deals with the karmakāṇḍa or rituals part (the Samhita and Brahmanas) in the Vedas.[note 1]
The Upanishads, the Bhagavadgita and the Brahma Sutras constitute the basis of Vedanta. All schools of Vedanta propound their philosophy by interpreting these texts, collectively called the Prasthanatrayi, literally, three sources.
The Brahma Sutras attempted to synthesize the teachings of the Upanishads. The diversity in the teaching of the Upanishads necessitated the systematization of these teachings. This was likely done in many ways in ancient India, but the only surviving version of this synthesis is the Brahma Sutras of Badarayana.
All major Vedantic teachers, including Shankara, Bhaskara, Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Vallabha and Madhva, have composed commentaries not only on the Upanishads and Brahma Sutras, but also on the Bhagavad Gita. The Bhagavad Gita, due to its syncretism of Samkhya, Yoga, and Upanishadic thought, has played a major role in Vedantic thought.
The Upanishads present an associative philosophical inquiry in the form of identifying various doctrines and then presenting arguments for or against them. They form the basic texts and Vedanta interprets them through rigorous philosophical exegesis. Varying interpretations of the Upanishads and their synthesis, the Brahma Sutras, led to the development of different schools of Vedanta over time of which three, four, five or six[note 3] are prominent.[note 4]
The history of Vedanta is divided into two periods: one prior to the composition of the Brahma Sutras and the other encompassing the schools that developed after the Brahma Sutras were written.
Little is known of schools of Vedanta existing before the composition of the Brahma Sutras (400–450 BCE).[note 5] It is clear that Badarayana, the writer of Brahma Sutras, was not the first person to systematize the teachings of the Upanishads, as he quotes six Vedantic teachers before him – Ashmarathya, Badari, Audulomi, Kashakrtsna, Karsnajini and Atreya. References to other early Vedanta teachers – Brahmadatta, Sundara, Pandaya, Tanka and Dravidacharya – are found in secondary literature of later periods. The works of these ancient teachers have not survived, but based on the quotes attributed to them in later literature, Sharma postulates that Ashmarathya and Audulomi were Bhedabheda scholars, Kashakrtsna and Brahmadatta were Advaita scholars, while Tanka and Dravidacharya were either Advaita or Vishistadvaita scholars.
Badarayana summarized and interpreted teachings of the Upanishads in the Brahma Sutras, also called the Vedanta Sutra,[note 6] possibly "written from a Bhedābheda Vedāntic viewpoint." Badarayana summarized the teachings of the classical Upanishads[note 7] and refuted the rival philosophical schools in ancient India. The Brahma Sutras laid the basis for the development of Vedanta philosophy.
Though attributed to Badarayana, the Brahma Sutras were likely composed by multiple authors over the course of hundreds of years. The estimates on when the Brahma Sutras were complete vary, with Nicholson in his 2013 review stating, that they were most likely compiled in the present form around 400–450 BCE. Isaeva suggests they were complete and in current form by 200 CE, while Nakamura states that "the great part of the Sutra must have been in existence much earlier than that."
The book is composed of four chapters, each divided into four quarters or sections. These sutras attempt to synthesize the diverse teachings of the Upanishads. However, the cryptic nature of aphorisms of the Brahma Sutras have required exegetical commentaries. These commentaries have resulted in the formation of numerous Vedanta schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and producing its own commentary.
Little with specificity is known of the period between the Brahma Sutras (5th century CE) and Adi Shankara (8th century CE). Only two writings of this period have survived: the Vākyapadīya, written by Bhartṛhari (second half 5th century), and the Kārikā written by Gaudapada (early 6th or 7th century CE).
Shankara mentions 99 different predecessors of his school in his commentaries. A number of important early Vedanta thinkers have been listed in the Siddhitraya by Yamunācārya (c. 1050), the Vedārthasamgraha by Rāmānuja (c. 1050–1157), and the Yatīndramatadīpikā by Śrīnivāsa Dāsa. At least fourteen thinkers are known to have existed between the composition of the Brahma Sutras and Shankara's lifetime.[note 8]
A noted scholar of this period was Bhartriprapancha. Bhartriprapancha maintained that the Brahman is one and there is unity, but that this unity has varieties. Scholars see Bhartriprapancha as an early philosopher in the line who teach the tenet of Bhedabheda.
Gaudapada (c. 6th century CE), was the teacher or a more distant predecessor of Govindapada, the teacher of Adi Shankara. Shankara is widely considered as the founder of Advaita Vedanta. Gaudapada's treatise, the Kārikā—also known as the Māṇḍukya Kārikā or the Āgama Śāstra—is the earliest surviving complete text on Advaita Vedanta.[note 9]
Gaudapada's Kārikā relied on the Mandukya, Brihadaranyaka and Chhandogya Upanishads. In the Kārikā, Advaita (non-dualism) is established on rational grounds (upapatti) independent of scriptural revelation; its arguments are devoid of all religious, mystical or scholastic elements. Scholars are divided on a possible influence of Buddhism on Gaudapada's philosophy.[note 10] The fact that Shankara, in addition to the Brahma Sutras, the principal Upanishads and the Bhagvad Gita, wrote an independent commentary on the Kārikā proves its importance in Vedāntic literature.
Adi Shankara (788–820), elaborated on Gaudapada's work and more ancient scholarship to write detailed commentaries on the Prasthanatrayi and the Kārikā. The Mandukya Upanishad and the Kārikā have been described by Shankara as containing "the epitome of the substance of the import of Vedanta". It was Shankara who integrated Gaudapada work with the ancient Brahma Sutras, "and give it a locus classicus" alongside the realistic strain of the Brahma Sutras.[note 11] His interpretation, including works ascribed to him, has become the normative interpretation of Advaita Vedanta.[note 12]
A noted contemporary of Shankara was Maṇḍana Miśra, who regarded Mimamsa and Vedanta as forming a single system and advocated their combination known as Karma-jnana-samuchchaya-vada.[note 13] The treatise on the differences between the Vedanta school and the Mimamsa school was a contribution of Adi Shankara. Advaita Vedanta rejects rituals in favor of renunciation, for example.
Rāmānuja (1017–1137 CE) was the most influential philosopher in the Vishishtadvaita tradition. As the philosophical architect of Vishishtadvaita, he taught qualified non-dualism. Ramanuja's teacher, Yadava Prakasha, followed the Advaita monastic tradition. Tradition has it that Ramanuja disagreed with Yadava and Advaita Vedanta, and instead followed Nathamuni and Yāmuna. Ramanuja reconciled the Prasthanatrayi with the theism and philosophy of the Vaishnava Alvars poet-saints. Ramanuja wrote a number of influential texts, such as a bhasya on the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, all in Sanskrit.
Ramanuja presented the epistemological and soteriological importance of bhakti, or the devotion to a personal God (Vishnu in Ramanuja's case) as a means to spiritual liberation. His theories assert that there exists a plurality and distinction between Atman (souls) and Brahman (metaphysical, ultimate reality), while he also affirmed that there is unity of all souls and that the individual soul has the potential to realize identity with the Brahman. Vishishtadvaiata provides the philosophical basis of Sri Vaishnavism.
Dvaita was propounded by Madhvacharya (1238–1317 CE).[note 14] He presented the opposite interpretation of Shankara in his Dvaita, or dualistic system. In contrast to Shankara's non-dualism and Ramanuja's qualified non-dualism, he championed unqualified dualism. Madhva wrote commentaries on the chief Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutra.
Madhva started his Vedic studies at age seven, joined an Advaita Vedanta monastery in Dwarka (Gujarat), studied under guru Achyutrapreksha, frequently disagreed with him, left the Advaita monastery, and founded Dvaita. Madhva and his followers Jayatirtha and Vyasatirtha, were critical of all competing Hindu philosophies, Jainism and Buddhism, but particularly intense in their criticism of Advaita Vedanta and Adi Shankara.
Dvaita Vedanta is theistic and it identifies Brahman with Narayana, or more specifically Vishnu, in a manner similar to Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita Vedanta. But it is more explicitly pluralistic. Madhva's emphasis for difference between soul and Brahman was so pronounced that he taught there were differences (1) between material things; (2) between material things and souls; (3) between material things and God; (4) between souls; and (5) between souls and God. He also advocated for a difference in degrees in the possession of knowledge. He also advocated for differences in the enjoyment of bliss even in the case of liberated souls, a doctrine found in no other system of Indian philosophy. 
Advaita Vedanta (IAST Advaita Vedānta; Sanskrit: अद्वैत वेदान्त) espouses non-dualism and monism. Brahman is held to be the sole unchanging metaphysical reality and identical to Atman. The physical world, on the other hand, is always-changing empirical Maya.[note 15] The absolute and infinite Atman-Brahman is realized by a process of negating everything relative, finite, empirical and changing. The school accepts no duality, no limited individual souls (Atman / Jivatman), and no separate unlimited cosmic soul. All souls and existence across space and time is considered as the same oneness (i.e. monism). Spiritual liberation in Advaita is the full comprehension and realization of oneness, that one's unchanging Atman (soul) is the same as the Atman in everyone else, as well as being identical to the nirguna Brahman.
Vishishtadvaita asserts that Jivatman (human souls) and Brahman (as Vishnu) are different, a difference that is never transcended. With this qualification, Ramanuja also affirmed monism by saying that there is unity of all souls and that the individual soul has the potential to realize identity with the Brahman. Vishishtadvaita, like Advaita, is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta in a qualified way, and both begin by assuming that all souls can hope for and achieve the state of blissful liberation. On the relation between the Brahman and the world of matter (Prakriti), Vishishtadvaita states both are two different absolutes, both metaphysically true and real, neither is false or illusive, and that saguna Brahman with attributes is also real. Ramanuja states that God, like man, has both soul and body, and the world of matter is the glory of God's body. The path to Brahman (Vishnu), according to Ramanuja, is devotion to godliness and constant remembrance of the beauty and love of the personal god (bhakti of saguna Brahman).
Shuddhadvaita (pure non-dualism) states that the entire universe is real and is subtly Brahman only in the form of Krishna. Vallabhacharya, the propounder of this philosophy, agreed with Advaita Vedanta's ontology, but emphasized that prakriti (empirical world, body) is not separate from the Brahman, but just another manifestation of the latter. Everything, everyone, everywhere—soul and body, living and non-living, jiva and matter—is the eternal Krishna. The way to Krishna, in this school, is bhakti. Vallabha opposed renunciation of monistic sannyasa as ineffective and advocates the path of devotion (bhakti) rather than knowledge (jnana). The goal of bhakti is to turn away from ego, self-centered-ness and deception, and to turn towards the eternal Krishna in everything continually offering freedom from samsara.
This school is based on the premise of dualism. Atman (soul) and Brahman (as Vishnu) are understood as two completely different entities. Brahman is the creator of the universe, perfect in knowledge, perfect in knowing, perfect in its power, and distinct from souls, distinct from matter. [note 16] In Dvaita Vedanta, an individual soul must feel attraction, love, attachment and complete devotional surrender to Vishnu for salvation, and it is only His grace that leads to redemption and salvation. Madhva believed that some souls are eternally doomed and damned, a view not found in Advaita and Vishishtadvaita Vedanta. While the Vishishtadvaita Vedanta asserted "qualitative monism and quantitative pluralism of souls", Madhva asserted both "qualitative and quantitative pluralism of souls".
Bhedābheda means "difference and non–difference" and is more a tradition than a school of Vedanta. The schools of this tradition emphasize that the individual self (Jīvatman) is both different and not different from Brahman. Notable figures in this school are Bhartriprapancha, Bhāskara (8th–9th century), Ramanuja's teacher Yādavaprakāśa, Nimbārka (7th century) who founded the Dvaitadvaita school, Caitanya (1486–1534) who founded the Achintya Bheda Abheda school and Vijñānabhikṣu (16th century). [note 17]
Bhaskara, in postulating Upadhika, considers both identity and difference to be equally real. As the causal principle, Brahman is considered non-dual and formless pure being and intelligence. The same Brahman, manifest as events, becomes the world of plurality. Jīva is Brahman limited by the mind. Matter and its limitations are considered real, not a manifestation of ignorance. Bhaskara advocated bhakti as dhyana (meditation) directed toward the transcendental Brahman. He refuted the idea of Maya and denied the possibility of liberation in bodily existence.
Nimbārka propounded Dvaitādvaita, based upon Bhedābheda as was taught by Bhāskara. Brahman (God), souls (chit) and matter or the universe (achit) are considered as three equally real and co-eternal realities. Brahman is the controller (niyanta), the soul is the enjoyer (bhokta), and the material universe is the object enjoyed (bhogya). The Brahman is Krishna, the ultimate cause who is omniscient, omnipotent, all-pervading Being. He is the efficient cause of the universe because, as Lord of Karma and internal ruler of souls, He brings about creation so that the souls can reap the consequences of their karma. God is considered to be the material cause of the universe because creation was a manifestation of His powers of soul (chit) and matter (achit); creation is a transformation (parinama) of God's powers. He can be realized only through a constant effort to merge oneself with His nature through meditation and devotion. 
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the prime exponent of Achintya-Bheda-Abheda. In Sanskrit achintya means 'inconceivable'. Achintya-Bheda-Abheda represents the philosophy of "inconceivable difference in non-difference", in relation to the non-dual reality of Brahman-Atman which it calls (Krishna), svayam bhagavan. The notion of "inconceivability" (acintyatva) is used to reconcile apparently contradictory notions in Upanishadic teachings. This school asserts that Krishna is Bhagavan of the bhakti yogins, the Brahman of the jnana yogins, and has a divine potency that is inconceivable. He is all-pervading and thus in all parts of the universe (non-difference), yet he is inconceivably more (difference). This school is at the foundation of the Gaudiya Vaishnava religious tradition.
The important approaches followed by the most noted proponents of different schools of Vedanta are summarized below:
Sivananda gives the following explanation:
Madhva said, "Man is the servant of God," and established his Dvaita philosophy. Ramanuja said, "Man is a ray or spark of God," and established his Visishtadvaita philosophy. Sankara said, "Man is identical with Brahman or the Eternal Soul," and established his Kevala Advaita philosophy.
Despite their differences, all schools of Vedanta share some common features:
Vedanta philosophies discuss three fundamental metaphysical categories and the relations between the three.
Shankara, in formulating Advaita, talks of two conceptions of Brahman: the higher Brahman as undifferentiated Being, and a lower Brahman endowed with qualities as the creator of the universe.
Ramanuja, in formulating Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, rejects nirguṇa—that the undifferentiated Absolute is inconceivable—and adopts a theistic interpretation of the Upanishads, accepts Brahman as Ishvara, the personal God who is the seat of all auspicious attributes, as the One reality. The God of Vishishtadvaita is accessible to the devotee, yet remains the Absolute, with differentiated attributes.
Madhva, in expounding Dvaita philosophy, maintains that Vishnu is the supreme God, thus identifying the Brahman, or absolute reality, of the Upanishads with a personal god, as Ramanuja had done before him. Nimbarka, in his dvaitadvata philosophy, accepted the Brahman both as nirguṇa and as saguṇa. Vallabha, in his shuddhadvaita philosophy, not only accepts the triple ontological essence of the Brahman, but also His manifestation as personal God (Ishvara), as matter and as individual souls.
The schools of Vedanta differ in their conception of the relation they see between Ātman / Jivātman and Brahman / Ishvara:
Pramāṇa (Sanskrit: प्रमाण) literally means "proof", "that which is the means of valid knowledge". It refers to epistemology in Indian philosophies, and encompasses the study of reliable and valid means by which human beings gain accurate, true knowledge. The focus of Pramana is the manner in which correct knowledge can be acquired, how one knows or does not know, and to what extent knowledge pertinent about someone or something can be acquired. Ancient and medieval Indian texts identify six[note 18] pramanas as correct means of accurate knowledge and truths:
The different schools of Vedanta have historically disagreed as to which of the six are epistemologically valid. For example, while Advaita Vedanta accepts all six pramanas, Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita accept only three pramanas (perception, inference and testimony).
Advaita considers Pratyakṣa (perception) as the most reliable source of knowledge, and Śabda, the scriptural evidence, is considered secondary except for matters related to Brahman, where it is the only evidence.[note 19] In Vishistadvaita and Dvaita, Śabda, the scriptural testimony, is considered the most authentic means of knowledge instead.
All schools of Vedanta subscribe to the theory of Satkāryavāda, which means that the effect is pre-existent in the cause. But there are two different views on the status of the "effect", that is, the world. Most schools of Vedanta, as well as Samkhya, support Parinamavada, the idea that the world is a real transformation (parinama) of Brahman. According to Nicholson (2010, p. 27), "the Brahma Sutras espouse the realist Parinamavada position, which appears to have been the view most common among early Vedantins". In contrast to Badarayana, Adi Shankara and Advaita Vedantists hold a different view, Vivartavada, which says that the effect, the world, is merely an unreal (vivarta) transformation of its cause, Brahman.[note 20]
Vedanta, adopting ideas from other orthodox (āstika) schools, became the most prominent school of Hinduism. Vedanta traditions led to the development of many traditions in Hinduism. Sri Vaishnavism of south and southeastern India is based on Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita Vedanta. Ramananda led to the Vaishnav Bhakti Movement in north, east, central and west India. This movement draws its philosophical and theistic basis from Vishishtadvaita. A large number of devotional Vaishnavism traditions of east India, north India (particularly the Braj region), west and central India are based on various sub-schools of Bhedabheda Vedanta. Advaita Vedanta influenced Krishna Vaishnavism in the northeastern state of Assam. The Madhva school of Vaishnavism found in coastal Karnataka is based on Dvaita Vedanta.
Āgamas, the classical literature of Shaivism, though independent in origin, show Vedanta association and premises. Of the 92 Āgamas, ten are (dvaita) texts, eighteen (bhedabheda), and sixty-four (advaita) texts. While the Bhairava Shastras are monistic, Shiva Shastras are dualistic. Isaeva (1995, pp. 134–135) finds the link between Gaudapada's Advaita Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism evident and natural. Tirumular, the Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta scholar, credited with creating "Vedanta–Siddhanta" (Advaita Vedanta and Shaiva Siddhanta synthesis), stated, "becoming Shiva is the goal of Vedanta and Siddhanta; all other goals are secondary to it and are vain."
Shaktism, or traditions where a goddess is considered identical to Brahman, has similarly flowered from a syncretism of the monist premises of Advaita Vedanta and dualism premises of Samkhya–Yoga school of Hindu philosophy, sometimes referred to as Shaktadavaitavada (literally, the path of nondualistic Shakti).
Neo-Vedanta, variously called as "Hindu modernism", "neo-Hinduism", and "neo-Advaita", is a term that denotes some novel interpretations of Hinduism that developed in the 19th century, presumably as a reaction to the colonial British rule. King (2002, pp. 129–135) writes that these notions accorded the Hindu nationalists an opportunity to attempt the construction of a nationalist ideology to help unite the Hindus to fight colonial oppression. Western orientalists, in their search for its "essence", attempted to formulate a notion of "Hinduism" based on a single interpretation of Vedanta as a unified body of religious praxis. This was contra-factual as, historically, Hinduism and Vedanta had always accepted a diversity of traditions. King (1999, pp. 133–136) asserts that the neo-Vedantic theory of "overarching tolerance and acceptance" was used by the Hindu reformers, together with the ideas of Universalism and Perennialism, to challenge the polemic dogmatism of Judaeo-Christian-Islamic missionaries against the Hindus.
The neo-Vedantins argued that the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy were perspectives on a single truth, all valid and complementary to each other. Halbfass (2007, p. 307) sees these interpretations as incorporating western ideas into traditional systems, especially Advaita Vedanta. It is the modern form of Advaita Vedanta, states King (1999, p. 135), the neo-Vedantists subsumed the Buddhist philosophies as part of the Vedanta tradition[note 21] and then argued that all the world religions are same "non-dualistic position as the philosophia perennis", ignoring the differences within and outside of Hinduism. According to Gier (2000, p. 140), neo-Vedanta is Advaita Vedanta which accepts universal realism:
Ramakrishna, Vivekananda and Aurobindo have been labeled neo-Vedantists (the latter called it realistic Advaita), a view of Vedanta that rejects the Advaitins' idea that the world is illusory. As Aurobindo phrased it, philosophers need to move from 'universal illusionism' to 'universal realism', in the strict philosophical sense of assuming the world to be fully real.
A major proponent in the popularization of this Universalist and Perennialist interpretation of Advaita Vedanta was Vivekananda, who played a major role in the revival of Hinduism. He was also instrumental in the spread of Advaita Vedanta to the West via the Vedanta Society, the international arm of the Ramakrishna Order.
Nicholson (2010, p. 2) writes that the attempts at integration which came to be known as neo-Vedanta were evident as early as between the 12th and the 16th century−
... certain thinkers began to treat as a single whole the diverse philosophical teachings of the Upanishads, epics, Puranas, and the schools known retrospectively as the "six systems" (saddarsana) of mainstream Hindu philosophy.[note 22]
Matilal criticizes Neo-Hinduism as an oddity developed by West-inspired Western Indologists and attributes it to the flawed Western perception of Hinduism in modern India. In his scathing criticism of this school of reasoning, Matilal (2002, pp. 403–404) says:
The so-called 'traditional' outlook is in fact a construction. Indian history shows that the tradition itself was self-conscious and critical of itself, sometimes overtly and sometimes covertly. It was never free from internal tensions due to the inequalities that persisted in a hierarchical society, nor was it without confrontation and challenge throughout its history. Hence Gandhi, Vivekananda and Tagore were not simply 'transplants from Western culture, products arising solely from confrontation with the west.
...It is rather odd that, although the early Indologists' romantic dream of discovering a pure (and probably primitive, according to some) form of Hinduism (or Buddhism as the case may be) now stands discredited in many quarters; concepts like neo-Hinduism are still bandied about as substantial ideas or faultless explanation tools by the Western 'analytic' historians as well as the West-inspired historians of India.
An exchange of ideas has been taking place between the western world and Asia since the late 18th century as a result of colonization of parts of Asia by Western powers. This also influenced western religiosity. The first translation of Upanishads, published in two parts in 1801 and 1802, significantly influenced Arthur Schopenhauer, who called them the consolation of his life. He drew explicit parallels between his philosophy, as set out in The World as Will and Representation, and that of the Vedanta philosophy as described in the work of Sir William Jones. Early translations also appeared in other European languages. Influenced by Śaṅkara's concepts of Brahman (God) and māyā (illusion), Lucian Blaga often used the concepts marele anonim (the Great Anonymous) and cenzura transcendentă (the transcendental censorship) in his philosophy.
According to Nakamura (1950, p. 3), the Vedanta school has had a historic and central influence on Hinduism:
The prevalence of Vedanta thought is found not only in philosophical writings but also in various forms of (Hindu) literature, such as the epics, lyric poetry, drama and so forth. ...the Hindu religious sects, the common faith of the Indian populace, looked to Vedanta philosophy for the theoretical foundations for their theology. The influence of Vedanta is prominent in the sacred literatures of Hinduism, such as the various Puranas, Samhitas, Agamas and Tantras...
Frithjof Schuon summarizes the influence of Vedanta on Hinduism as follows:
The Vedanta contained in the Upanishads, then formulated in the Brahma Sutra, and finally commented and explained by Shankara, is an invaluable key for discovering the deepest meaning of all the religious doctrines and for realizing that the Sanatana Dharma secretly penetrates all the forms of traditional spirituality.
Flood (1996, pp. 231–232, 238) states,
..the most influential school of theology in India has been Vedanta, exerting enormous influence on all religious traditions and becoming the central ideology of the Hindu renaissance in the nineteenth century. It has become the philosophical paradigm of Hinduism "par excellence".
German Sanskritist Theodore Goldstücker was among the early scholars to notice similarities between the religious conceptions of the Vedanta and those of the Dutch Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza, writing that Spinoza's thought was
... so exact a representation of the ideas of the Vedanta, that we might have suspected its founder to have borrowed the fundamental principles of his system from the Hindus, did his biography not satisfy us that he was wholly unacquainted with their doctrines [...] comparing the fundamental ideas of both we should have no difficulty in proving that, had Spinoza been a Hindu, his system would in all probability mark a last phase of the Vedanta philosophy.
Max Müller noted the striking similarities between Vedanta and the system of Spinoza, saying,
The Brahman, as conceived in the Upanishads and defined by Sankara, is clearly the same as Spinoza's 'Substantia'."
As to Spinoza's Deity—natura naturans—conceived in his attributes simply and alone; and the same Deity—as natura naturata or as conceived in the endless series of modifications or correlations, the direct outflowing results from the properties of these attributes, it is the Vedantic Deity pure and simple.
Achintya-Bheda-Abheda (अचिन्त्यभेदाभेद, acintyabhedābheda in IAST) is a school of Vedanta representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference. In Sanskrit achintya means 'inconceivable', bheda translates as 'difference', and abheda translates as 'non-difference'. The Gaudiya Vaishnava religious tradition employs the term in relation to the relationship of creation and creator (Krishna, Svayam Bhagavan), between God and his energies. It is believed that this philosophy was taught by the movement's theological founder Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486 - 1534) and differentiates the Gaudiya tradition from the other Vaishnava Sampradayas. It can be understood as an integration of the strict dualist (dvaita) theology of Madhvacharya and the qualified monism (vishishtadvaita) of Ramanuja.Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara (Sanskrit: आदि शङ्कर [aːdɪ ɕɐŋkɐɽɐ]) was an early 8th century Indian philosopher and theologian who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. He is credited with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism.His works in Sanskrit discuss the unity of the ātman and Nirguna Brahman "brahman without attributes". He wrote copious commentaries on the Vedic canon (Brahma Sutras, Principal Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita) in support of his thesis. His works elaborate on ideas found in the Upanishads. Shankara's publications criticised the ritually-oriented Mīmāṃsā school of Hinduism. He also explained the key difference between Hinduism and Buddhism, stating that Hinduism asserts "Atman (Soul, Self) exists", while Buddhism asserts that there is "no Soul, no Self".Shankara travelled across the Indian subcontinent to propagate his philosophy through discourses and debates with other thinkers. He established the importance of monastic life as sanctioned in the Upanishads and Brahma Sutra, in a time when the Mīmāṃsā school established strict ritualism and ridiculed monasticism. He is reputed to have founded four mathas ("monasteries"), which helped in the historical development, revival and spread of Advaita Vedanta of which he is known as the greatest revivalist. Adi Shankara is believed to be the organiser of the Dashanami monastic order and unified the Shanmata tradition of worship. He is also known as Adi Shankaracharya, Shankara Bhagavatpada, sometimes spelled as Sankaracharya, (Ādi) Śaṅkarācārya, Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda and Śaṅkara Bhagavatpādācārya.Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta (; Sanskrit: अद्वैत वेदान्त, IAST: Advaita Vedānta, literally, "not-two"), originally known as Puruṣavāda, is a school of Hindu philosophy, and one of the classic Indian paths to spiritual realization. The term Advaita refers to its idea that the true self, Atman, is the same as the highest metaphysical Reality (Brahman). The followers of this school are known as Advaita Vedantins, or just Advaitins, and they seek spiritual liberation through acquiring vidyā, meaning knowledge, of one's true identity as Atman, and the identity of Atman and Brahman.Advaita Vedanta traces its roots in the oldest Upanishads. It relies on three textual sources called the Prasthanatrayi. It gives "a unifying interpretation of the whole body of Upanishads", the Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita. Advaita Vedanta is the oldest extant sub-school of Vedanta, which is one of the six orthodox (āstika) Hindu philosophies (darśana). Although its roots trace back to the 1st millennium BCE, the most prominent exponent of the Advaita Vedanta is considered by the tradition to be 8th century scholar Adi Shankara.Advaita Vedanta emphasizes Jivanmukti, the idea that moksha (freedom, liberation) is achievable in this life in contrast to Indian philosophies that emphasize videhamukti, or moksha after death. The school uses concepts such as Brahman, Atman, Maya, Avidya, meditation and others that are found in major Indian religious traditions, but interprets them in its own way for its theories of moksha. Advaita Vedanta is one of the most studied and most influential schools of classical Indian thought. Many scholars describe it as a form of monism, others describe the Advaita philosophy as non-dualistic.Advaita influenced and was influenced by various traditions and texts of Hindu philosophies such as Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, other sub-schools of Vedanta, Vaishnavism, Shaivism, the Puranas, the Agamas, as well as social movements such as the Bhakti movement. Beyond Hinduism, Advaita Vedanta interacted and developed with the other traditions of India such as Jainism and Buddhism. Advaita Vedanta texts espouse a spectrum of views from idealism, including illusionism, to realist or nearly realist positions expressed in the early works of Shankara. In modern times, its views appear in various Neo-Vedanta movements. It has been termed as the paradigmatic example of Hindu spirituality.Bhedabheda
Bhedābheda Vedānta is a subschool of Vedānta, which teaches that the individual self (jīvātman) is both different and not different from the ultimate reality known as Brahman.Brahma Sutras
The Brahma sūtras (Sanskrit: ब्रह्म सूत्र) is a Sanskrit text, attributed to Badarayana, estimated to have been completed in its surviving form some time between 450 BCE and 200 CE. The text systematizes and summarizes the philosophical and spiritual ideas in the Upanishads. It is one of the foundational texts of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy.The Brahma sutras consists of 555 aphoristic verses (sutras) in four chapters. These verses are primarily about the nature of human existence and universe, and ideas about the metaphysical concept of Ultimate Reality called Brahman. The first chapter discusses the metaphysics of Absolute Reality, the second chapter reviews and addresses the objections raised by the ideas of competing orthodox schools of Hindu philosophies as well as heterodox schools such as Buddhism and Jainism, the third chapter discusses epistemology and path to gaining spiritually liberating knowledge, and the last chapter states why such a knowledge is an important human need.The Brahmasutra is one of three most important texts in Vedanta along with the Principal Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. It has been influential to various schools of Indian philosophies, but interpreted differently by the non-dualistic Advaita Vedanta sub-school, the theistic Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita Vedanta sub-schools, as well as others. Several commentaries on the Brahma-sutras are lost to history or yet to be found; of the surviving ones, the most well studied commentaries on the Brahmasutra include the bhashya by Adi Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhvacharya, Bhaskara and many others.It is also known as the Vedanta Sutra (Sanskrit: वेदान्त सूत्र), deriving this name from Vedanta which literally means the "final aim of the Vedas". Other names for Brahma Sutra is Sariraka Sutra, wherein Sariraka means "that which lives in the body (Sarira), or the Self, Soul", and Bhikshu-sutra, which literally means "Sutras for monks or mendicants".Brahman
Brahman connotes the highest Universal Principle, the Ultimate Reality in the universe. In major schools of Hindu philosophy, it is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists. It is the pervasive, genderless, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes. Brahman as a metaphysical concept is the single binding unity behind diversity in all that exists in the universe.Brahman is a Vedic Sanskrit word, and it is conceptualized in Hinduism, states Paul Deussen, as the "creative principle which lies realized in the whole world". Brahman is a key concept found in the Vedas, and it is extensively discussed in the early Upanishads. The Vedas conceptualize Brahman as the Cosmic Principle. In the Upanishads, it has been variously described as Sat-cit-ānanda (truth-consciousness-bliss) and as the unchanging, permanent, highest reality.Brahman is discussed in Hindu texts with the concept of Atman (Self), personal, impersonal or Para Brahman, or in various combinations of these qualities depending on the philosophical school. In dualistic schools of Hinduism such as the theistic Dvaita Vedanta, Brahman is different from Atman (soul) in each being. In non-dual schools such as the Advaita Vedanta, Brahman is identical to the Atman, is everywhere and inside each living being, and there is connected spiritual oneness in all existence.Dvaita Vedanta
Dvaita Vedanta (; Sanskrit: द्वैत वेदान्त) is a sub-school in the Vedanta tradition of Hindu philosophy. Alternatively known as Bhedavāda, Tattvavāda and Bimbapratibimbavāda, Dvaita Vedanta sub-school was founded by the 13th-century scholar Madhvacharya. The Dvaita Vedanta school believes that God (Vishnu, supreme soul) and the individual souls (jīvātman) exist as independent realities, and these are distinct. The Dvaita school contrasts with the other two major sub-schools of Vedanta, the Advaita Vedanta of Adi Shankara which posits nondualism – that ultimate reality (Brahman) and human soul are identical and all reality is interconnected oneness, and Vishishtadvaita of Ramanuja which posits qualified nondualism – that ultimate reality (Brahman) and human soul are different but with the potential to be identical.Dvaita (द्वैत) is a Sanskrit word that means "duality, dualism". The term refers to any premise, particularly in theology on the temporal and the divine, where two principles (truths) or realities are posited to exist simultaneously and independently.Gaudapada
Gauḍapāda (Sanskrit गौडपाद) c.6th century CE), also referred as Gauḍapādācārya, was an early medieval era Hindu philosopher and scholar of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy. While details of his biography are uncertain, his ideas inspired others such as Adi Shankara who called him a Paramaguru (highest teacher).Gaudapada was the author or compiler of the Māṇḍukya Kārikā, also known as Gaudapada Karika. The text consists of four chapters (also called four books), of which Chapter However, doctrinally Gaudapada's work is Vedantic. Vedānta gives freedom and options to be taken by different maturity levels and mindsets which leads to similar experience of physical and mental wellbeing and enlightenment as the end result of peace and Harmony found within and in society following such freedom of thought and expression with respect. The first three chapters of Gaudapada's text have been influential in the Advaita Vedanta tradition. Parts of the first chapter that include the Mandukya Upanishad have been considered a valid scriptural source by the Dvaita and Vishistadvaita schools of Vedanta.Ishvara
Ishvara (Sanskrit: ईश्वर, IAST: Īśvara) is a concept in Hinduism, with a wide range of meanings that depend on the era and the school of Hinduism. In ancient texts of Indian philosophy, depending on the context, Ishvara can mean supreme soul, ruler, lord, king, queen or husband. In medieval era Hindu texts, depending on the school of Hinduism, Ishvara means God, Supreme Being, personal god, or special Self.In Shaivism and for almost all Hindus, Ishvara is synonymous with "Shiva", sometimes as Maheshvara or Parameshvara meaning the "Supreme lord", or as an Ishta-deva (personal god). For a few Vaishnavists, it is synonymous with Vishnu. In traditional Bhakti movements, Ishvara is one or more deities of an individual's preference from Hinduism's polytheistic canon of deities. In modern sectarian movements such as Arya Samaj and Brahmoism, Ishvara takes the form of a monotheistic God. In Yoga school of Hinduism, it is any "personal deity" or "spiritual inspiration". In Advaita Vedanta school, Ishvara is a monistic Universal Absolute that connects and is the Oneness in everyone and everything.Madhvacharya
Madhvacharya (Madhvācārya; Kannada: ಮಧ್ವಾಚಾರ್ಯ; Sanskrit pronunciation: [mɐdʱʋaːˈtɕaːɽjɐ]; CE 1238–1317 ), sometimes anglicised as Madhva Acharya, and also known as Pūrna Prajña and Ānanda Tīrtha, was a Hindu philosopher and the chief proponent of the Dvaita (dualism) school of Vedanta. Madhva called his philosophy Tatvavāda meaning "arguments from a realist viewpoint".Madhvacharya was born on the west coast of Karnataka state in 13th-century India. As a teenager, he became a Sanyasi (monk) joining Brahma-sampradaya guru Achyutapreksha, of the Ekadandi order. Madhva studied the classics of Hindu philosophy, particularly the Principal Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras (Prasthanatrayi). He commented on these, and is credited with thirty seven works in Sanskrit. His writing style was of extreme brevity and condensed expression. His greatest work is considered to be the Anuvyakhyana, a philosophical supplement to his bhasya on the Brahma Sutras composed with a poetic structure. In some of his works, he proclaimed himself to be an avatar of Vayu, the son of god Vishnu.He was a critic of Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta and Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita Vedanta teachings. He toured India several times, visiting places such as Bengal, Varanasi, Dwarka, Goa and Kanyakumari, engaging in philosophical debates and visiting Hindu centres of learning. Madhva established the Krishna Mutt at Udupi with a murti secured from Dwarka Gujarat in CE 1285.Madhvācārya's teachings are built on the premise that there is a fundamental difference between Atman (individual soul, self) and the Brahman (ultimate reality, God Vishnu), these are two different unchanging realities, with individual soul dependent on Brahman, never identical. His school's theistic dualism teachings disagreed with the monist teachings of the other two most influential schools of Vedanta based on Advaita's nondualism and Vishishtadvaita's qualified nondualism. Liberation, asserted Madhva, is achievable only through the grace of God. The Dvaita school founded by Madhva influenced Vaishnavism, the Bhakti movement in medieval India, and has been one of the three influential Vedānta philosophies, along with Advaita Vedanta and Vishishtadvaita Vedanta. Madhva's historical influence in Hinduism, state Kulandran and Kraemer, has been salutary, but not extensive.Nondualism
In spirituality, nondualism, also called non-duality, means "not two" or "one undivided without a second". Nondualism primarily refers to a mature state of consciousness, in which the dichotomy of I-other is "transcended", and awareness is described as "centerless" and "without dichotomies". Although this state of consciousness may seem to appear spontaneous, it usually follows prolonged preparation through ascetic or meditative/contemplative practice, which may include ethical injunctions. While the term "nondualism" is derived from Advaita Vedanta, descriptions of nondual consciousness can be found within Hinduism (Turiya, sahaja), Buddhism (emptiness, pariniṣpanna, rigpa), and western Christian and neo-Platonic traditions (henosis, mystical union).
The Asian idea of nondualism is developed in the Vedic and post-Vedic Hindu philosophies, as well as in the Buddhist traditions. The oldest traces of nondualism in Indian thought are found in the earlier Hindu Upanishads such as Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, as well as other pre-Buddhist Upanishads such as the Chandogya Upanishad, which emphasizes the unity of individual soul called Atman and the Supreme called Brahman. In Hinduism, nondualism has more commonly become associated with the Advaita Vedanta tradition of Adi Shankara.In the Buddhist tradition non-duality is associated with the teachings of emptiness (śūnyatā) and the two truths doctrine, particularly the Madhyamaka teaching of the non-duality of absolute and relative truth, and the Yogachara notion of "mind/thought only" (citta-matra) or "representation-only" (vijñaptimātra). These teachings, coupled with the doctrine of Buddha-nature have been influential concepts in the subsequent development of Mahayana Buddhism, not only in India, but also in East Asian and Tibetan Buddhism, most notably in Chán (Zen) and Vajrayana.
Western Neo-Platonism is an essential element of both Christian contemplation and mysticism, and of Western esotericism and modern spirituality, especially Unitarianism, Transcendentalism, Universalism and Perennialism.Ramanuja
Ramanuja (traditionally, 1017–1137 CE; IAST: Rāmānujā; [ɽaːmaːnʊdʑɐ] ) was an Indian theologian, philosopher, and one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism. His philosophical foundations for devotionalism were influential to the Bhakti movement.Ramanuja's guru was Yādava Prakāśa, a scholar who was a part of the more ancient Advaita Vedānta monastic tradition. Sri Vaishnava tradition holds that Ramanuja disagreed with his guru and the non-dualistic Advaita Vedānta, and instead followed the footsteps of Indian Alvārs tradition, the scholars Nāthamuni and Yamunāchārya. Ramanuja is famous as the chief proponent of Vishishtadvaita subschool of Vedānta, and his disciples were likely authors of texts such as the Shatyayaniya Upanishad. Ramanuja himself wrote influential texts, such as bhāsya on the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, all in Sanskrit.His Vishishtadvaita (qualified monism) philosophy has competed with the Dvaita (theistic dualism) philosophy of Madhvāchārya, and Advaita (monism) philosophy of Ādi Shankara, together the three most influential Vedantic philosophies of the 2nd millennium. Ramanuja presented the epistemic and soteriological importance of bhakti, or the devotion to a personal God (Vishnu in Ramanuja's case) as a means to spiritual liberation. His theories assert that there exists a plurality and distinction between Ātman (soul) and Brahman (metaphysical, ultimate reality), while he also affirmed that there is unity of all souls and that the individual soul has the potential to realize identity with the Brahman.Sivananda Saraswati
Sivananda Saraswati (or Swami Sivananda; 8 September 1887 – 14 July 1963) was a Hindu spiritual teacher and a proponent of Yoga and Vedanta. Sivananda was born Kuppuswami in Pattamadai, in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. He studied medicine and served in British Malaya as a physician for several years before taking up monasticism. He lived most of his life near Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh.
He was the founder of the Divine Life Society (DLS) in 1936, Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy (1948) and author of over 200 books on yoga, Vedanta, and a variety of subjects. He established Sivananda Ashram, the headquarters of the DLS, on the bank of the Ganges at Sivanandanagar, 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from Rishikesh.Sivananda Yoga, the yoga form propagated by his disciple Vishnudevananda, is now spread in many parts of the world through Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. These centres are not affiliated with Sivananda's ashrams, which are run by the Divine Life Society.Smarta tradition
Smarta tradition (स्मार्त) is a movement in Hinduism that developed during its classical period around the beginning of the Common Era. It reflects a Hindu synthesis of four philosophical strands: Mimamsa, Advaita, Yoga, and theism. The Smarta tradition rejects theistic sectarianism, and it is notable for the domestic worship of five shrines with five deities, all treated as equal – Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, Ganesha and Devi (Shakti). The Smarta tradition contrasted with the older Shrauta tradition, which was based on elaborate rituals and rites. There has been considerable overlap in the ideas and practices of the Smarta tradition with other significant historic movements within Hinduism, namely Shaivism, Brahmanism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism.The Smarta tradition is aligned with Advaita Vedanta, and regards Adi Shankara as its founder or reformer. Shankara championed the ultimate reality is impersonal and Nirguna (attributeless) and any symbolic god serves the same equivalent purpose. Inspired by this belief, the Smarta tradition followers, along with the five Hindu gods include a sixth impersonal god in their practice. The tradition has been called by William Jackson as "advaitin, monistic in its outlook".The term Smarta also refers to Brahmins who specialize in the Smriti corpus of texts named the Grihya Sutras, in contrast to Shrauta Sutras. Smarta Brahmins with their focus on the Smriti corpus, contrast from Srauta Brahmins who specialize in the Sruti corpus, that is rituals and ceremonies that follow the Vedas.Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda (Bengali: [ʃami bibekanɔndo] (listen); 12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902), born Narendranath Datta (Bengali: [nɔrendronatʰ dɔto]), was an Indian Hindu monk, a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna. He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century. He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India, and contributed to the concept of nationalism in colonial India. Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission. He is perhaps best known for his speech which began with the words - "Sisters and brothers of America ...," in which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893.
Born into an aristocratic Bengali Kayastha family of Calcutta, Vivekananda was inclined towards spirituality. He was influenced by his guru, Ramakrishna, from whom he learnt that all living beings were an embodiment of the divine self; therefore, service to God could be rendered by service to humankind. After Ramakrishna's death, Vivekananda toured the Indian subcontinent extensively and acquired first-hand knowledge of the conditions prevailing in British India. He later travelled to the United States, representing India at the 1893 Parliament of the World's Religions. Vivekananda conducted hundreds of public and private lectures and classes, disseminating tenets of Hindu philosophy in the United States, England and Europe. In India, Vivekananda is regarded as a patriotic saint, and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day.Vedanta Desika
Sri Vedanta Desikan (Swami Desika, Swami Vedanta Desika, Thoopul Nigamaantha Desikan) (1268–1369) was a Sri Vaishnava guru/philosopher and one of the most brilliant stalwarts of Sri Vaishnavism in the post-Ramanuja period. He was a poet, devotee, philosopher and master-teacher (desikan). He was the disciple of Kidambi Appullar, also known as Aathreya Ramanujachariar, who himself was of a master-disciple lineage that began with Ramanuja. Swami Vedanta Desika is considered to be avatar (incarnation) of the divine bell of Venkateswara of Tirumalai by the Vadakalai sect of Sri Vaishnavite. Vedanta Desika belongs to Vishwamitra gotra.Vedanta Resources
Vedanta Resources Limited is a global diversified metals and mining company with its headquarters in London, United Kingdom. It is the largest mining and non-ferrous metals company in India and has mining operations in Australia and Zambia and oil and gas operations in three countries. Its main products are Zinc, Lead, Silver, Oil & Gas, Iron Ore, Steel, Aluminium and Power. It has also developed commercial power stations in India in Odisha (2,400 MW) and Punjab (1,980 MW).The company is primarily owned by the family of Anil Agarwal through Volcan Investments, a holding vehicle with a 61.7% stake in the business. Vedanta limited (formerly Sesa Goa / Sterlite) is one of the many Indian subsidiaries of Vedanta resources and operates iron ore mines in Goa.Vedanta was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index until Chairman, Anil Agarwal's offer to take the company private went unconditional in September 2018.Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita (IAST Viśiṣṭādvaita; Sanskrit: विशिष्टाद्वैत) is one of the most popular schools of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy. Vedanta literally means the end of the Vedas. VishishtAdvaita (literally "Advaita with uniqueness; qualifications") is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy. It is non-dualism of the qualified whole, in which Brahman alone exists, but is characterized by multiplicity. It can be described as qualified monism or qualified non-dualism or attributive monism. It is a school of Vedanta philosophy which believes in all diversity subsuming to an underlying unity.
Ramanuja, the main proponent of Vishishtadvaita philosophy contends that the Prasthanatrayi ("The three courses"), namely the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma Sutras are to be interpreted in a way that shows this unity in diversity, for any other way would violate their consistency. Vedanta Desika defines Vishishtadvaita using the statement, Asesha Chit-Achit Prakaaram Brahmaikameva Tatvam : Brahman, as qualified by the sentient and insentient modes (or attributes), is the only reality.Ānanda (Hindu philosophy)
Ānanda (Sanskrit: आनन्द) literally means bliss or happiness. In the Hindu Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad gita, ānanda signifies eternal bliss which accompanies the ending of the rebirth cycle. Those who renounce the fruits of their actions and submit themselves completely to the divine will, arrive at the final termination of the cyclical life process (saṃsāra) to enjoy eternal bliss (ānanda) in perfect union with the godhead. The tradition of seeking union with God through passionate commitment is referred to as bhakti, or devotion.
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