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Satchidanandendra Cardinal Tenets of Sankaras Vedanta

Satchidanandendra Cardinal Tenets of Sankaras Vedanta

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summary of vedantic teachings
summary of vedantic teachings

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04/28/2014

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Salient Features of Sankara's Vedantaby Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati
Pub: Adhyatma Prakasha KaryalayaSource:http://adhyatmaprakasha.org/php/english.php 
* * *
 
Appendix
CARDINAL TENETS OF SANKARA'S VEDANTA
 
* * *
 
Here is a brief summary of the salient features of Sank-ara's Vedanta as described in the previous pages of this book-let. Failure to appreciate the cardinal principles of this sys-tem has resulted in many glaring mis-conceptions, some of which are noted below. Those that seek to know more aboutthis subject, should apply themselves to a serious study of Sankara's Bhashyas on the three branches of study, Prasthanasas they are collectively called—the
Upanishads
, the
Bhagavad  gita
and the
Brahma-Sutras
with the aid of a competentteacher.
1. Brahman
is the reality of the universe, which can beknown only through the Upanishads. It is the Self-luminous
Witness
(
sakshin
), the very Self of us all. There is no
 pramana
or means of right knowledge, which can reveal it;nor is any
 pramana
needed to prove its existence either.
Persons unable to understand this truth have conceived thetheory of 
 Atma-Sakshatkara
(Self-realization) for which theyimagine that practices like the repetition of the
Mahavakyas
(texts like '
Tat-twam-asi
'- That thou art),
laya-chintana
(mergingthe objective world in Brahman by means of meditation) or thepractice of Patañjala yoga, are necessary,
2. The Vedanta-Sastra
is not a
 pramana
directly revealingthe nature of Brahman. It is called '
 pramana
' simply becauseit dispels
avidya
(ignorance) of Brahman. It is called the 'FI-NAL MEANS' (
antya pramana
) because it shows how the dis-tinction of 
 pramana
and
 prameya
(means and object of knowledge) accepted in common parlance, is really due to
 
Salient Features of Sankara Vedanta – Appendix 
avidya
. That is to say, there cannot be any trace of 
 pramana
and
 prameya
after the knowledge of Vedanta has dawned.
Some who have not understood this principle believe thatthe Non-duality taught in the Vedanta texts is a matter of faith,others resort to the strange course of interpreting Vedantictexts according to their own preconceived theory and assertingthat their theory is correct because it is based upon those texts.A few more teach that there are both positive and negativetexts revealing the nature of 
 Atman
, while there are others whohold that the positive (affirmative) texts are more authoritativethan the negative ones,
3.
 Avidya
is an innate, beginningless misconception due toa mental superimposition of the real and the un-real, the Self and the non-self as well as their properties on each other.This
avidya
is known through intuition, This superimpositionis the primus of all notions of the distinctions of 
 pramatr 
,
 pramana
and
 prameya
(knower, means of knowledge and theobject of knowledge).
Vidya
or true knowledge consIsts indiscriminating and determining the true nature of the self and the not-self with the aid of the
Sastra
,
It is evident that those who proceed to prove
avidya
bymeans of reason or
 pramanas
(valid sources of knowledge) orthe authority of the
Sastra
are resorting to an obviously erro-neous procedure, since the very notion of 'knower' is due to
avidya
.
 Avidya,
common life ignorance, doubt or misconceptionof objects, and
vidya
(true knowledge) that dispels it, are bothin the sphere of 
avidya
par excellence. Strictly speaking,
eventhe distinction of avidya and vidya relative to Atman is a hypo-thetical notion allowed by Vedantins as a concession to the pop-ular mind, just as a device for explaining the highest
truth, Thefinal position is that the Reality or
 Atman
transcends both
vidya
and
avidya
.Failure to realize this truth, has given rise to the impermiss-ible demand for the cause of 
avidya
, The topsyturvy process of 2
 
Salient Features of Sankara Vedanta – Appendix 
offering perception, inference, presumption or the
Sruti
aspramanas in evidence of 
avidya
, has been in vogue just becauseof this failure. Curious problems have cropped up regarding thelocus of 
avidya
as well as the number of 
avidyas
, 'Does it residein the individual soul or Brahman? Is there a single
avidya
or arethere as many
avidyas
as there are individual souls? Would uni-versal liberation ensue when the
avidya
of a single
 JIva
is des-troyed? ' And so on!For a detailed discussion of this subject, readers are referredto my '
Vedanta-Prakriya – Pratyabhijna
', a Sanskrit work, wherethe only comprehensive method of Vedanta has been explainedat length, The English Introduction to this book has been separ-ately published by the Adhyatma Prakasha Karyalaya under thetitle '
How to Recognize the Method of Vedanta
'.
4. Vedantic texts purport to teach
 Atman
alone as anentity
; that is to say, they negate what are not really Hisproperties, and culminate in revealing the self-established
 Atman
, There would remain nothing more to be done afterrealizing the import of the texts.
Various strange beliefs prevail among those that are notaware of this open secret. Some imagine that the Vedantic textonly yields an indirect knowledge of 
 Atman
, and that hence therepeated practice of the knowledge of the
Mahavakya
, or themerging of the world of multiplicity in
 Atman
by means of med-itation or the meditation on the qualityless Brahman or thepractice of Patañjala Yoga, or else continued mental repetitionof 
Pranava
(the syllable Aum) etc. is required,
5.
 Atman
is an ineffable entity.
He cannot be expressedby words or sentences; for no genus, quality, action or anyother specific feature pertains to Him, He is devoid of all dis-tinctions and can never be objectified.
Some who cannot understand this, think that negative pro-positions are incapable of giving rise to the knowledge of theform 'I am Brahman' just because they end in merely negating3

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