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Advaita Vedanta

“Advaita” redirects here. For other uses, see Advaita (dis- dating the central premises of this tradition.[8] The princi-
ambiguation). pal, though not the first, exponent of the Advaita Vedanta-
Advaita Vedanta[note 1] is a school of Hindu philosophy interpretation was Adi Shankara in the 8th century, who
systematised the works of preceding philosophers.[11]
Advaita Vedanta, like all Indian philosophies, developed
in a multi-faceted religious and philosophical landscape,
in interaction with the other traditions of India such as
Jainism and Buddhism.[12] In its history, it 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.[13][14][15]
Advaita Vedanta is one of the most studied and most in-
fluential schools of classical Indian thought.[16][17][18] In
modern times, due to developments already set in at me-
dieval times with Hindu responses to Muslim rule,[19] and
further developed by neo-Vedantins and Hindu nation-
alists in colonial times, Advaita Vedanta has acquired a
broad acceptance in Indian culture and beyond as the
paradigmatic example of Hindu spirituality.[20] Many
scholars describe it as a form of monism,[21][22][23] some
as nondualism.[24][25] Advaita Vedanta texts espouse a
spectrum of views from idealism, including illusionism,
to realist or nearly realist positions expressed in the early
works of Sankara.[26]

Statue of Adi Shankara the first historical proponent of Advaita


and religious practice, and one of the classic Indian paths 1 Moksha – liberation through
to spiritual realization.[1] Advaita (Sanskrit; not-two, “no knowledge of Brahman
second”) refers to the idea that the true Self, Atman, is
the same as the highest Reality, Brahman. It gives “a uni-
fying interpretation of the whole body of Upanishads”,[2] Main article: Moksha
providing scriptural authority for the postulation of the
nonduality of Atman and Brahman. Followers seek Traditional Advaita Vedanta centers around the study
liberation/release by acquiring vidyā (knowledge)[3] of and what it believes to be correct understanding of the
the identity of Atman and Brahman. It emphasizes sruti, revealed texts, especially the Upanishads.[27][28]
Jivanmukta, the idea that moksha (freedom, liberation) Correct understanding is believed to provide knowledge
is achievable in this life.[4][5] of the identity of atman and Brahman, which results
Advaita Vedanta is the oldest extant sub-school of in liberation. The main texts to be studied are the
Vedanta[note 2] – one of six schools of orthodox darśanas Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutras. Cor-
(philosophies, world views, teachings).[6][7] The school rect knowledge, which destroys avidya, psychological and
uses concepts such as Brahman, Atman, Maya and oth- perceptual errors,[29] is obtained by following the four
ers that are found in major Indian religious traditions,[8] stages of samanyasa (self-cultivation), sravana, listen-
but interprets them in its own way for its theories of ing to the teachings of the sages, manana, reflection on
moksha.[9][10] Advaita Vedanta traces its roots in the old- the teachings, and svādhyāya, contemplation of the truth
est Upanishads, with Bādarāyaṇa’s Brahma Sutra consoli- “that art Thou”.


1.1 Vidya, Svādhyāya and Anubhava known in any way.

Main article: Svādhyāya 2. And that same true Self, pure conscious-
ness, is not different from the ultimate world
Sruti, revealed texts, and proper reasoning, are the Principle, Brahman ...
main sources of knowledge (vidya) for Shankara and 3. ... Brahman (=the true Self, pure con-
the subsequent Advaita Vedanta tradition.[30][31] Correct sciousness) is the only Reality (sat), since It
knowledge of Brahman is thought to be acquirable by is untinged by difference, the mark of igno-
svādhyāya,[32] study of the self and of the Vedic texts, rance, and since It is the one thing that is not
and nididhyāsana, the study of and contemplation of the sublimatable.[43]
truths and non-duality.[33]
“Pure consciousness” is the translation of jnanam.[44]
Nididhyasana leads to anubhava, direct cognition or un-
Although the common translation of jnanam[44] is
derstanding, which establishes the truth of the sruti.[34]
“consciousness”, the term has a broader meaning of
Adi Shankara uses anubhava interchangeably with prati-
“knowing"; “becoming acquainted with”,[web 2] “knowl-
patta, “understanding”.[web 1] and considers it as the “non-
edge about anything”,[web 2] “awareness”,[web 2] “higher
dual realisation gained from the scriptures”.[35] Dalal and
knowledge”.[web 2]
others state that anubhava does not center around some
sort of “mystical experience,” but around the correct According to David Loy,
knowledge of Brahman.[31][36] Stressing the meaning of
anubhava as knowledge, Saraswati states that liberation The knowledge of Brahman ... is not intu-
comes from knowledge, not from mere experience.[web 1] ition of Brahman but itself is Brahman.[45]
Nikhalananda notes that (knowledge of) Atman and
Brahman can only be reached by buddhi, “reason,”[37]
stating that mysticism is a kind of intuitive knowl- 1.4 Mahavakya – The Great Sentences
edge, while buddhi is the highest means of attaining
knowledge.[38] Main article: Mahāvākyas

1.2 Moksha - liberation Several Mahavakyas, or “the great sentences”, have Ad-
vaitic theme, that is “the inner immortal self and the great
Correct knowledge of Brahman is thought to lead to cosmic power are one and the same”.
[note 3]
Liberation can be achieved while living, and is called 1.5 Stages and practices
Advaita Vedanta gives an elaborate path to attain moksha.
1.3 Identity of Atman and Brahman It entails more than self-inquiry or bare insight into one’s
real nature.[note 6]
See also: Jnana, Prajna, and Prajñānam Brahma Adi Shankara wrote a book, named Upadesasahasri to
guide the practice of an Advaitin, with three prose chap-
Moksha is attained by realizing the identity of Atman and ters and a poetry section. One chapter is dedicated to
Brahman, the complete understanding of one’s real nature Sravana (listening or reading the texts, discussions be-
as Brahman in this life.[42] This is frequently stated by tween the teacher and student), one chapter to Man-
Advaita scholars, such as Shankara, as: ana (thinking), and the third chapter to Nididhyasana
(meditation).[52] The text also includes a guidebook on
characteristics that establish a good teacher, ethics and
I am other than name, form and action.
personal qualities necessary for the Advaita student, and
My nature is ever free!
steps to learn about errors and nescience and about self-
I am Self, the supreme unconditioned Brah-
knowledge, epistemology and Yoga (particularly Jnana
yoga and eight limbed yoga).[53] Shankara and Suresvara
I am pure Awareness, always non-dual.
explicitly recommended the practice of Yoga in an Ad-
— Adi Shankara, Upadesasahasri 11.7, [42]
vaitin’s life.[54]

According to Potter, 1.5.1 Jnana Yoga – Four stages of practice

1. The true Self is itself just that pure Main article: Jnana Yoga
consciousness, without which nothing can be
1.5 Stages and practices 3

Classical Advaita Vedanta emphasises the path of Jnana 1.5.3 Guru

Yoga, a progression of study and training to attain
moksha.[55][56] It consists of four stages:[57][58][note 7] Main article: Guru

• Samanyasa or Sampattis,[59] the “fourfold disci-

Advaita Vedanta school has traditionally had a high rever-
pline” (sādhana-catustaya), cultivating the follow-
ence for Guru (teacher), and recommends that a compe-
ing four qualities:[57]
tent Guru be sought in one’s pursuit of spirituality. How-
• Nityānitya vastu viveka (नित्यानित्य वस्तु ever, the Guru is not mandatory in Advaita school, states
विवेकम्) — The ability (viveka) to cor- Clooney, but reading of Vedic literature and followed by
rectly discriminate between the real and eter- reflection is.[61] Adi Shankara, states Comans, regularly
nal (nitya) and the substance that is appar- employed compound words “such as Sastracaryopadesa
ently real, aging, changing and transitory (an- (instruction by way of the scriptures and the teacher) and
itya).[57][58] Vedantacaryopadesa (instruction by way of the Upan-
• Ihāmutrārtha phala bhoga virāga ishads and the teacher) to emphasize the importance of
(इहाऽमुत्रार्थ फल भोगविरागम्) — The Guru”. This reflects the Advaita tradition which holds
renunciation (virāga) of petty desires that a competent teacher as important and essential to gaining
distract the mind (artha phala bhoga), willing correct knowledge, freeing oneself from false knowledge,
to give up everything that is an obstacle to the and to self-realization.
pursuit of truth and self-knowledge. A guru is someone more than a teacher, traditionally a
• Śamādi ṣatka sampatti (शमादि षट्क reverential figure to the student, with the guru serving
सम्पत्ति) — the sixfold qualities, as a “counselor, who helps mold values, shares experi-
• Śama (mental tranquility, ability to focus ential knowledge as much as literal knowledge, an exem-
the mind).[58][60] plar in life, an inspirational source and who helps in the
• Dama (self-restraint, the virtue of spiritual evolution of a student. The guru, states Joel
temperance). [58][60] Mlecko, is more than someone who teaches specific type
• Uparati (dispassion, ability to of knowledge, and includes in its scope someone who is
be quiet and disassociated from also a “counselor, a sort of parent of mind and soul, who
everything; [58]
“discontinuation of helps mold values and experiential knowledge as much as
religious ceremonies” ) [60] specific knowledge, an exemplar in life, an inspirational
• Titikṣa (endurance, perseverance, abil- source and who reveals the meaning of life.”
ity to be patient during demanding The Advaita philosopher Adi Shankara, in Chapter 1 of
circumstances).[58][60] Upadesasahasri, states that teacher is the pilot as the stu-
• Śraddhā (the faith in teacher and Sruti dent walks in the journey of knowledge, he is the raft as
texts).[58] the student rows. The text describes the need, role and
• Samādhāna (attention, intentness of characteristics of a teacher,[64] as follows,
• Mumukṣutva (मुमुक्षुत्वम्) — A positive When the teacher finds from signs that
longing for freedom and wisdom, driven to the knowledge has not been grasped or has been
quest of knowledge and understanding.[58] wrongly grasped by the student, he should re-
move the causes of non-comprehension in the
• Sravana, listening to the teachings of the sages on
student. This includes the student’s past and
the Upanishads and Advaita Vedanta, studying the
present knowledge, want of previous knowl-
Vedantic texts, such as the Brahma Sutras, and dis-
edge of what constitutes subjects of discrim-
cussions with the teacher;[57]
ination and rules of reasoning, behavior such
• Manana, the stage of reflection on the teachings;[58] as unrestrained conduct and speech, court-
ing popularity, vanity of his parentage, ethical
• Nididhyāsana, the stage of meditation on the truths
flaws that are means contrary to those causes.
and introspection.[58]
The teacher must enjoin means in the student
that are enjoined by the Śruti and Smrti, such
1.5.2 Samadhi as avoidance of anger, Yamas consisting of
Ahimsa and others, also the rules of conduct
While Shankara emphasized sravana (“hearing”), manana that are not inconsistent with knowledge. He
(“reflection”) and nididhyasana (“repeated meditation”), [teacher] should also thoroughly impress upon
later texts like the Dŗg-Dŗśya-Viveka (14th century) the student qualities like humility, which are
and Vedantasara (of Sadananda) (15th century) added the means to knowledge.
samadhi as a means to liberation, a theme that was also — Adi Shankara, Upadesha Sahasri
emphasized by Swami Vivekananda. 1.4-1.5[65][66]

Upanishadic teachings to be understood not in piece-

meal cherrypicked basis, rather in a unified way wherein
the ideas in the Vedic texts are harmonized with other
2 Texts means of knowledge such as perception, inference and
remaining pramanas.[77][79] This theme has been cen-
tral to the Advaita school, making the Brahmasutra as a
See also: Works of Adi Shankara
common reference and a consolidated textual authority
for Advaita.[77][80] However, Brahmasutra is an aphoris-
The identity of Atman and Brahman, and their un- tic text, and itself can be interpreted as non-theistic Ad-
changing, eternal nature,[67] are basic truths in Advaita vaita Vedanta text or as theistic Dvaita Vedanta text; this
Vedanta. The school considers the knowledge claims has led, states Stephen Phillips, to its varying interpre-
in the Vedas to be the crucial part of the Vedas, not tations by various sub-schools of Vedanta.[81] The Brah-
its karma-kanda (ritual injunctions).[68] The knowledge masutra is considered by the Advaita school as the Nyaya
claims about self being identical to the nature of Atman Prasthana (canonical base for reasoning).[79]
and Brahman are found in the Upanishads, which Advaita
The Bhagavad Gita, similarly in parts can be inter-
Vedanta has regarded as “errorless revealed truth.”[68]
preted to be a monist Advaita text, and in other parts
Nevertheless, states Koller, Advaita Vedantins did not
as theistic Dvaita text. It too has been widely stud-
entirely rely on revelation, but critically examined their
ied by Advaita scholars, including a commentary by Adi
teachings using reason and experience, and this led them
Shankara.[82][78] The Bhagavad Gita is considered as the
to investigate and critique competing theories.[68] Along
Smriti Prasthana in Advaita school.[79]
with the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Su-
tras are the central texts of the Advaita Vedanta tradi-
tion, providing the truths about the identity of Atman and 2.2 Siddhi-granthas
Brahman and their changeless nature.[68][69]
Adi Shankara gave a nondualist interpretation of these Additionally there are five Siddhi-granthas that are taught
texts in his commentaries. Adi Shankara's Bhashya in the Advaita-parampara, after study of the Prasthana-
(commentaries) have become central texts in the Advaita trayi:
Vedanta philosophy, but are one among many ancient
and medieval manuscripts available or accepted in this 1. Brahmasiddhi by Mandana Mishra (750–850),
tradition.[11] The subsequent Advaita tradition has further
elaborated on these sruti and commentaries. 2. Naishkarmasiddhi by Sureswara (8th century, disci-
ple of Sankara),

2.1 Textual authority 3. Ishtasiddhi by Vimuktananda (1200),

4. Advaita Siddhi,[web 4] written by Madhusudana

Advaita Vedanta, like all orthodox schools of Hindu
Saraswati - 1565-1665.
philosophy, accepts as an epistemic premise that
Śruti (Vedic literature) is a reliable source of 5. Svarajyasiddhi by Gangadharendra Saraswati (c.
knowledge.[70][71][72] The Śruti includes the four 1800),
Vedas including its four layers of embedded texts - the
Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the early
Upanishads.[73] Of these, the Upanishads are the most
referred to texts in the Advaita school. Most scholars,
3 Darśana (philosophy)
states Eliot Deutsch, are quite convinced that the Śruti in
general, and the philosophical texts that are Upanishads Main article: Hindu philosophy
in particular, express “a very rich diversity” of ideas,
with the early Upanishads such as Brihadaranyaka Up- Advaita Vedanta is one of the six classical Hindu
anishad and Chandogya Upanishad being more readily darśanas, or view on spirituality.[83][84][note 8] The Advaita
amenable to Advaita Vedanta school’s interpretation Vedanta school has been historically referred by various
than the middle or later Upanishads.[74][75] In addition names, states Richard King:[86]
to the oldest Upanishads, states Williams, the Sannyasa
Upanishads group composed in pre-Shankara times (Early names of the school have in-
“express a decidedly Advaita outlook”.[76] cluded) the doctrine of non-dualism (Advaita-
The possibility of different interpretations of the Vedic vada), the school of non-difference (Abheda-
literature, states Arvind Sharma, was recognized by an- darshana), the doctrine of the denial of
cient Indian scholars.[77][78] The Brahmasutra (also called dualism (Dvaita-vada-pratisedha), and non-
Vedanta Sutra, composed in 1st millennium BCE) ac- dualism of the isolated (Kevala-dvaita). The
cepted this in verse 1.1.4 and asserts the need for the term Advaita first occurs in a recognizably
3.2 Ontology - the nature of Being 5

Vedantic context in the prose of Mandukya

Upanishad 7, although it is to a certain extent
prefigured in the Chandogya Upanishad's state-
ment that Brahman is one without a second
(ekam advitiyam).
— Richard King, Early Advaita Vedanta
and Buddhism[86]

3.1 Aims
The main aim of Advaita Vedanta is to explain how mok-
sha can be attained,[67] that is liberation and freedom in
current life, which it concludes is attained by the correct The swan is an important motif in Advaita. It symbolises two
knowledge of the identity of Atman (soul, self) and Brah- things: first, the swan is called hamsah in Sanskrit (which be-
man (ultimate reality), and their oneness, primal nature as comes hamso if the first letter in the next word is /h/). Upon
the sole Reality.[87] repeating this hamso indefinitely, it becomes so-aham, meaning,
“I am That”. Second, just as a swan lives in a lake but its feathers
A main question is the relation between Atman and
are not soiled by water, similarly a liberated Advaitin lives in this
Brahman, which is solved by regarding them to be world but is not soiled by its maya.
identical.[88][89] This truth is established from the old-
est Principal Upanishads and Brahma Sutras, and is also
found in parts of the Bhagavad Gita and numerous other • Vyāvahārika (vyavahara), or samvriti-saya,[94] con-
Hindu texts,[8] and is regarded to be self-evident. The sisting of the empirical or pragmatical reality. It is
main aim of the commentaries is to support this nondu- ever changing over time, thus empirically true at a
alistic (of Atman and Brahman) reading of the sruti.[90] given time and context but not metaphysically true.
Reason is being used to support revelation, the sruti, the It is “our world of experience, the phenomenal world
ultimate source of truth.[91] that we handle every day when we are awake”. It is
Another major problem is raised by the rejection the du- the level in which both jiva (living creatures or indi-
alism of Samkhya between purusha, primal conscious- vidual souls) and Iswara are true; here, the material
ness, and prakriti, inert primal matter. The Reality of world is also true.[93]
prakriti is rejected, instead stating that Atman/Brahman
is the sole Reality. This rejection raises the question how • Prāthibhāsika (pratibhasika, apparent reality, unre-
to explain phenomenal reality. By declaring phenome- ality), “reality based on imagination alone”. It is the
nal reality to be 'unreal,' or an 'illusion,' the primacy of level of experience in which the mind constructs its
Atman/Brahman can be maintained.[88][89] own reality. A well-known examples is the percep-
tion of a rope in the dark as being a snake.[93]
The commentaries also provide a criticism of opposing
systems, including Samkhya and Buddhism.[90]
3.2.2 Absolute Reality
3.2 Ontology - the nature of Being
Brahman Main articles: Brahman, Nirguna Brahman,
See also: Metaphysics and Ontology and Satcitananda

According to Advaita Vedanta Brahman is the

highest Reality,[43][95][96] That which is unborn and
3.2.1 Three Levels of Reality
unchanging,[95][97] and “not sublatable”,[43] and cannot
be superseded by a still higher reality.[98][note 9][note 10]
See also: Two truths doctrine
Other than Brahman, everything else, including the
Shankara uses sublation as the criterion to postulate an
universe, material objects and individuals, are ever-
ontological hierarchy of three levels:[92][93]
changing and therefore maya. Brahman is Paramarthika
Satyam, “Absolute Truth”,[112] and
• Pāramārthika (paramartha, absolute), the Reality
that is metaphysically true and ontologically accu-
rate. It is the state of experiencing that “which is the true Self, pure consciousness ... the
absolutely real and into which both other reality lev- only Reality (sat), since It is untinged by dif-
els can be resolved”. This experience can't be sub- ference, the mark of ignorance, and since It is
lated (exceeded) by any other experience.[92][93] the one thing that is not sublatable”.[43]

Advaita’s Upanishadic roots state Brahman’s school asserts that there is “spirit, soul, self” within each
qualities[note 11] to be Sat-cit-ānanda (being- living entity which is fully identical with Brahman – the
consciousness-bliss)[113][114] It means “true being- Universal Soul.[131][132] This identity holds that there is
consciousness-bliss,” [115][116] or “Eternal Bliss One Soul that connects and exists in all living beings,
Consciousness”.[117] Adi Shankara held that satci- regardless of their shapes or forms, there is no distinc-
tananda is identical with Brahman and Atman.[115] tion, no superior, no inferior, no separate devotee soul
The Advaitin scholar Madhusudana Sarasvati explained (Atman), no separate God soul (Brahman).[131] The One-
Brahman as the Reality that is simultaneously an absence ness unifies all beings, there is the divine in every being,
of falsity (sat), absence of ignorance (cit), and absence and that all existence is a single Reality, state the Ad-
of sorrow/self-limitation (ananda).[115] According to vaita Vedantins.[133] Each soul, in Advaita view, is non-
Adi Shankara, the knowledge of Brahman that Shruti different from the infinite.[134]
provides cannot be obtained in any other means besides To Advaitins, human beings, in a state of unawareness
self inquiry.[118]
and ignorance of this Universal Self, see their “I-ness” as
According to Paul Deussen,[119] Brahman is: different than the being in others, then act out of impulse,
fears, cravings, malice, division, confusion, anxiety, pas-
• Satyam, “the true Reality, which, however, is not the sions, and a sense of distinctiveness.[135][136] Atman-
empirical one” knowledge, to Advaitins, is that state of full aware-
ness, liberation and freedom which overcomes dualities
• Jñãnam, “Knowledge which, however, is not split
at all levels, realizing the divine within oneself, the di-
into the subject and the object”
vine in others and all living beings, the non-dual One-
• anantam, “boundless or infinite” ness, that Brahman is in everything, and everything is
According to Eliot Deutsch, the sat or being, in this expe-
rience of Brahman, is the ontological principle of unity,
and “the oneness not constituted in parts.” Cit or con- 3.2.3 Empirical reality
sciousness points to illuminating awareness of unchang-
ing witness of one’s being. Ananda or bliss is an axi- Māyā Main article: Maya (illusion)
ological concept, as the principle of value, one of joy-
ous existence.[116] Yet, Brahman is not limited to “sat-cit-
ananda”, and expansively includes all “truth, knowledge, The empirical reality is explained in Advaita and
infinite”, best conceptualized as unlimited in every sense other sub-schools of Vedanta with the concept of
through neti neti – “not this, not this”.[120] Maya.[137][138] Human mind constructs a subjective ex-
perience, states Vedanta school, which leads to the peril
The universe, according to Advaita philosophy, does not of misunderstanding Maya as well as interpreting Maya
simply come from Brahman, it is Brahman. Brahman as the only and final reality. Vedantins assert the “per-
is the single binding unity behind the diversity in all ceived world including people are not what they appear to
that exists in the universe.[95] Brahman is the cause of be”.[139] There are invisible principles and laws at work,
all changes.[95][97] Brahman is considered to be the ma- true invisible nature in others and objects, and invisi-
terial cause[note 12] and the efficient cause[note 13] of all ble soul that one never perceives directly, but this invisi-
that exists.[96][121][122] Brahman is the “primordial real- ble reality of Self and Soul exists, assert Advaitin schol-
ity that creates, maintains and withdraws within it the ars. Māyā is that which manifests, perpetuates a sense of
universe.”[103] It is the “creative principle which lies real- false duality (or divisional plurality).[140][141] The empiri-
ized in the whole world”.[123] cal manifestation is real but changing, but it obfuscates
the true nature of metaphysical Reality which is never
Atman Main article: Ātman (Hinduism) changing. Advaita school holds that liberation is the un-
fettered realization and understanding of the unchanging
Reality and truths – the Self, that the Self (Soul) in one-
Ātman (IAST: ātman, Sanskrit: आत्मन्) is a Sanskrit self is same as the Self in another and the Self in every-
word that means “real self” of the individual,[124][125] thing (Brahman).[142]
“essence”,[web 5] and soul.[124][126]
In Advaita Vedanta philosophy, there are two realities:
Ātman is the first principle,[127] the true self of an Vyavaharika (empirical reality) and Paramarthika (ab-
individual beyond identification with phenomena, the solute, spiritual Reality).[143] Māyā is the empirical re-
essence of an individual. Atman is the Universal Prin- ality that entangles consciousness. Māyā has the power
ciple, one eternal undifferentiated self-luminous con- to create a bondage to the empirical world, preventing
sciousness, the Truth asserts Advaita Vedanta school of the unveiling of the true, unitary Self—the Cosmic Spirit
Hinduism.[128][129] also known as Brahman. This theory of māyā was ex-
Advaita Vedanta philosophy considers Atman as self- pounded and explained by Adi Shankara. Competing the-
existent awareness, limitless and non-dual.[130] Advaita istic Dvaita scholars contested Shankara’s theory,[144] and
3.3 Epistemology 7

stated that Shankara did not offer a theory of the rela- 1. Annamaya kosha, food-apparent-sheath
tionship between Brahman and Māyā.[145] A later Ad-
vaita scholar Prakasatman addressed this, by explain- 2. Pranamaya kosha, air-apparent-sheath
ing, “Maya and Brahman together constitute the entire 3. Manomaya kosha, mind-stuff-apparent-sheath
universe, just like two kinds of interwoven threads cre-
ate a fabric. Maya is the manifestation of the world, 4. Vijnanamaya kosha, wisdom-apparent-sheath
whereas Brahman, which supports Maya, is the cause of
the world.”[146] 5. Anandamaya kosha, bliss-apparent-sheath
Brahman is the sole metaphysical truth in Advaita
Vedanta, Māyā is true in epistemological and empiri-
According to Vedanta the wise man should discriminate
cal sense; however, Māyā is not the metaphysical and
between the self and the koshas, which are non-self.
spiritual truth. The spiritual truth is the truth forever,
while what is empirical truth is only true for now. Com-
plete knowledge of true Reality includes knowing both Three states of consciousness See also: Three Bodies
Vyavaharika (empirical) and Paramarthika (spiritual), Doctrine (Vedanta) and Kosha
the Māyā and the Brahman. The goal of spiritual enlight-
enment, state Advaitins, is to realize Brahman, realize the
Oneness.[143][147] Advaita posits three states of consciousness, namely
waking (jagrat), dreaming (svapna), deep sleep
(suṣupti), which are commonly experienced by hu-
3.2.4 Avidya man beings,[152][153] and correspond to the Three Bodies
Ignorance Due to ignorance (avidyā), Brahman is per-
ceived as the material world and its objects (nama rupa 1. The first state is the waking state, in which we are
vikara). According to Shankara, Brahman is in reality aware of our daily world.[155] This is the gross body.
attributeless and formless. Brahman, the highest truth
and all (Reality), does not really change; it is only our 2. The second state is the dreaming mind. This is the
ignorance that gives the appearance of change. Also due subtle body.[155]
to avidyā, the true identity is forgotten, and material real-
3. The third state is the state of deep sleep. This is the
ity, which manifests at various levels, is mistaken as the
causal body.[155]
only and true reality.
The notion of avidyā and its relationship to Brahman cre- Turiya, pure consciousness is the background that un-
ates a crucial philosophical issue within Advaita Vedanta derlies and transcends the three common states of
thought: how can avidyā appear in Brahman, since Brah- consciousness.[web 6][web 7] In this consciousness both ab-
man is pure consciousness?[148] Sengaku Mayeda writes, solute and relative, saguna brahman and Nirguna Brah-
in his commentary and translation of Adi Shankara's man, are transcended.[156] It is the state of liberation,
Upadesasahasri: where states Advaita school, one experiences the infinite
(ananta) and non-different (advaita/abheda), free from
Certainly the most crucial problem which the dualistic experience which results from the attempts
Sankara left for his followers is that of avidyā. to conceptualise (vipalka) reality.[157] It is the state in
If the concept is logically analysed, it would which ajativada, non-origination, is apprehended.[157]
lead the Vedanta philosophy toward dual- Advaita traces the foundation of this ontological theory
ism or nihilism and uproot its fundamental in more ancient Sanskrit texts.[158] For example, chap-
position.[149] ters 8.7 through 8.12 of Chandogya Upanishad discuss
the “four states of consciousness” as awake, dream-filled
Subsequent Advaitins gave somewhat various explana- sleep, deep sleep, and beyond deep sleep.[158][159]
tions, from which various Advaita schools arose.

3.3 Epistemology
Koshas See also: Kosha
See also: Pramana and Epistemology
Due to avidya, atman is covered by sheaths, or bodies,
which hide man’s true nature. According to the Taittiriya The ancient and medieval texts of Advaita Vedanta and
Upanishad, the Atman is covered by five koshas, usually other schools of Hindu philosophy discuss Pramana
rendered “sheath”.[150] They are often visualised like the (epistemology), that is how correct knowledge can be ac-
layers of an onion.[151] From gross to fine the five sheaths quired, how one knows, how one doesn't, and to what
are: extent knowledge pertinent about someone or something

can be acquired.[160][161] In Advaita Vedānta,[162] as in the a proper means of knowledge.[173] Upamana, states
Bhāṭṭa school of Mimāṃsā, the following pramāṇas are Lochtefeld,[174] may be explained with the example
accepted:[163][164] of a traveller who has never visited lands or islands
with endemic population of wildlife. He or she is
1. Pratyakṣa (प्रत्यक्षाय) which means perception. It told, by someone who has been there, that in those
is of two types: external and internal. External per- lands you see an animal that sort of looks like a cow,
ception is described as that arising from the inter- grazes like cow but is different from a cow in such
action of five senses and worldly objects, while in- and such way. Such use of analogy and comparison
ternal perception is described by this school as that is, state the Indian epistemologists, a valid means
of inner sense, the mind.[165] The four requirements of conditional knowledge, as it helps the traveller
for correct perception are accepted by Advaita to be identify the new animal later.[174] The subject
Indriyarthasannikarsa (direct experience by one’s of comparison is formally called upameyam, the
sensory organ(s) with the object, whatever is being object of comparison is called upamanam, while
studied), Avyapadesya (non-verbal; correct percep- the attribute(s) are identified as samanya.[175]
tion is not through hearsay, according to ancient In-
4. Arthāpatti (अर्थापत्ति) means postulation, deriva-
dian scholars, where one’s sensory organ relies on
tion from circumstances.[161][172] In contemporary
accepting or rejecting someone else’s perception),
logic, this pramana is similar to circumstantial
Avyabhicara (does not wander; correct perception
implication.[176] As example, if a person left in a
does not change, nor is it the result of deception
boat on river earlier, and the time is now past the ex-
because one’s sensory organ or means of observa-
pected time of arrival, then the circumstances sup-
tion is drifting, defective, suspect) and Vyavasay-
port the truth postulate that the person has arrived.
atmaka (definite; correct perception excludes judg-
Many Indian scholars considered this pramana as in-
ments of doubt, either because of one’s failure to
valid or at best weak, because the boat may have
observe all the details, or because one is mixing in-
gotten delayed or diverted.[177] However, in cases
ference with observation and observing what one
such as deriving the time of a future sunrise or sun-
wants to observe, or not observing what one does
set, this method was asserted by the proponents to
not want to observe).[166] The internal perception
be reliable. Another common example for arthap-
concepts included pratibha (intuition), samanyalak-
atti in ancient Hindu texts is, that if “Devadatta is
sanapratyaksa (a form of induction from perceived
fat” and “Devadatta never eats during the day”, then
specifics to a universal), and jnanalaksanapratyaksa
the following must be true: “Devadatta eats in the
(a form of perception of prior processes and previ-
night”. This form of postulation and deriving from
ous states of a 'topic of study' by observing its cur-
circumstances is, claim the Indian scholars, a means
rent state).[167]
to discovery, proper insight and knowledge.[164][178]
2. 'Anumāṇa (अनुमान) means inference. It is de-
scribed as reaching a new conclusion and truth from 5. Anupalabdi (अनुपलब्धि) means non-perception,
one or more observations and previous truths by negative/cognitive proof.[179] Anupalabdhi pramana
applying reason.[168] Observing smoke and infer- suggests that knowing a negative, such as “there is
ring fire is an example of Anumana. This epis- no jug in this room” is a form of valid knowledge.
temic method for gaining knowledge consists of If something can be observed or inferred or proven
three parts: pratijna (hypothesis), hetu (a reason), as non-existent or impossible, then one knows more
and drshtanta (examples).[169] The hypothesis must than what one did without such means.[180] In Ad-
further be broken down into two parts, state the vaita school of Hindu philosophy, a valid conclu-
ancient Indian scholars: sadhya (that idea which sion is either sadrupa (positive) or asadrupa (neg-
needs to proven or disproven) and paksha (the ob- ative) relation - both correct and valuable. Like
ject on which the sadhya is predicated). The in- other pramana, Indian scholars refined Anupalabdi
ference is conditionally true if sapaksha (positive to four types: non-perception of the cause, non-
examples as evidence) are present, and if vipaksha perception of the effect, non-perception of ob-
(negative examples as counter-evidence) are absent. ject, and non-perception of contradiction. Only
For rigor, the Indian philosophies also state further two schools of Hinduism accepted and developed
epistemic steps. For example, they demand Vyapti the concept “non-perception” as a pramana. Ad-
- the requirement that the hetu (reason) must nec- vaita considers this method as valid and useful
essarily and separately account for the inference in when the other five pramanas fail in one’s pur-
“all” cases, in both sapaksha and vipaksha.[169][170] suit of knowledge and truth.[164][181] A variation of
A conditionally proven hypothesis is called a niga- Anupaladbi, called Abhava (अभाव) has also been
mana (conclusion).[171] posited as an epistemic method. It means non-
existence. Some scholars consider Anupalabdi to
3. Upamāṇa (उपमान) means comparison and be same as Abhava,[161] while others consider Anu-
analogy.[161][172] Some Hindu schools consider it as palabdi and Abhava as different.[181][182] Abhava-
3.4 Goals of human life and soteriology 9

pramana has been discussed in Advaita in the con- Advaitins, but usually in the context of knowing Brah-
text of Padartha (पदार्थ, referent of a term). A man and Self-realization.[188] The soteriological goal, in
Padartha is defined as that which is simultane- Advaita, is to gain knowledge and complete understand-
ously Astitva (existent), Jneyatva (knowable) and ing of the identity of Atman and Brahman. In Advaita
Abhidheyatva (nameable).[183] Abhava was further Vedanta, the interest is not in liberation in after life, but
refined in four types, by the schools of Hinduism in one’s current life.[189] This school holds that liberation
that accepted it as a useful method of epistemology: can be achieved while living, and a person who achieves
dhvamsa (termination of what existed), atyanta- this is called a Jivanmukta.[41][190]
abhava (impossibility, absolute non-existence, con-
tradiction), anyonya-abhava (mutual negation, re-
ciprocal absence) and pragavasa (prior, antecedent 3.4.2 Jivanmukta
The concept of Jivanmukti of Advaita Vedanta contrasts
6. Śabda (शब्द) means relying on word, testimony of with Videhamukti (moksha from samsara after death) in
past or present reliable experts.[161][179] Hiriyanna theistic sub-schools of Vedanta.[191] Jivanmukti is a state
explains Sabda-pramana as a concept which means that transforms the nature, attributes and behaviors of an
reliable expert testimony. The schools of Hin- individual, after which the liberated individual shows at-
duism which consider it epistemically valid suggest tributes such as:[192]
that a human being needs to know numerous facts,
and with the limited time and energy available, he
can learn only a fraction of those facts and truths • he is not bothered by disrespect and endures cruel
directly.[185] He must rely on others, his parent, fam- words, treats others with respect regardless of how
ily, friends, teachers, ancestors and kindred mem- others treat him;
bers of society to rapidly acquire and share knowl-
edge and thereby enrich each other’s lives. This • when confronted by an angry person he does not re-
means of gaining proper knowledge is either spo- turn anger, instead replies with soft and kind words;
ken or written, but through Sabda (words).[185] The
reliability of the source is important, and legitimate • even if tortured, he speaks and trusts the truth;
knowledge can only come from the Sabda of reliable
sources.[179][185] The disagreement between Advaita • he does not crave for blessings or expect praise from
and other schools of Hinduism has been on how to others;
establish reliability.[186]
• he never injures or harms any life or being (ahimsa),
he is intent in the welfare of all beings;
3.4 Goals of human life and soteriology
• he is as comfortable being alone as in the presence
Main articles: Moksha and Jivanmukta
of others;

• he is as comfortable with a bowl, at the foot of a

3.4.1 Moksha tree in tattered robe without help, as when he is in a
mithuna (union of mendicants), grama (village) and
Advaita, like other schools, accepts Puruṣārtha - the four nagara (city);
goals of human life as natural and proper:[39]
• he doesn’t care about or wear sikha (tuft of hair on
the back of head for religious reasons), nor the holy
• Dharma: the right way to life, the “duties and obli-
thread across his body. To him, knowledge is sikha,
gations of the individual toward himself and the
knowledge is the holy thread, knowledge alone is
society as well as those of the society toward the
supreme. Outer appearances and rituals do not mat-
ter to him, only knowledge matters;
• Artha: the means to support and sustain one’s life;
• for him there is no invocation nor dismissal of
• Kāma: pleasure and enjoyment; deities, no mantra nor non-mantra, no prostrations
nor worship of gods, goddess or ancestors, nothing
• Mokṣa: liberation, release. other than knowledge of Self;

Of these, much of the Advaita Vedanta philosophy fo- • he is humble, high spirited, of clear and steady mind,
cuses on the last, gaining liberation in one’s current straightforward, compassionate, patient, indifferent,
life.[187] The first three are discussed and encouraged by courageous, speaks firmly and with sweet words.

3.5 Ethics
Some claim, states Deutsch, that there is no place for
ethics in Advaita, “that it turns its back on all theoretical
and practical considerations of morality and, if not uneth-
ical, is at least 'a-ethical' in character”.[193] However, adds
Deutsch, ethics does have a firm place in this philosophy.
Ethics, which implies doing good Karma, indirectly helps
in attaining true knowledge.[194]
Adi Shankara, a leading proponent of Advaita, in verse
1.25 to 1.26 of his Upadeśasāhasrī, asserts that the Self-
knowledge is understood and realized when one’s mind is
purified by the observation of Yamas (ethical precepts)
such as Ahimsa (non-violence, abstinence from injuring
others in body, mind and thoughts), Satya (truth, absti-
nence from falsehood), Asteya (abstinence from theft),
Aparigraha (abstinence from possessiveness and craving)
and a simple life of meditation and reflection.[195] Rituals
and rites can help focus and prepare the mind for the jour-
ney to Self-knowledge,[64] however, Shankara discour-
ages ritual worship and oblations to Deva (God), because
that assumes the Self within is different than Brahman.
The “doctrine of difference” is wrong, asserts Shankara,
because, “he who knows the Brahman is one and he is
another, does not know Brahman”.[196] Adi Shankara with Disciples, by Raja Ravi Varma (1904)
Elsewhere, in verses 1.26-1.28, the Advaita text Upade-
sasahasri states the ethical premise of equality of all be-
ings. Any Bheda (discrimination), states Shankara, based 4.1 Pre-Shankara Advaita Vedanta
on class or caste or parentage is a mark of inner error and
lack of liberating knowledge.[197] This text states that the Of the Vedanta-school before[201] the composition of the
fully liberated person understands and practices the ethics Brahma Sutras (400–450 CE ), wrote Nakamura in
of non-difference. [197] 1950, almost nothing is known. The two Advaita
writings of pre-Shankara period, known to scholars such
as Nakamura in the first half of 20th-century, were
One, who is eager to realize this highest
the Vākyapadīya, written by Bhartṛhari (second half
truth spoken of in the Sruti, should rise above
5th century[202] ), and the Māndūkya-kārikā written by
the fivefold form of desire: for a son, for
Gaudapada (7th century CE).[201]
wealth, for this world and the next, and are
the outcome of a false reference to the Self Scholarship after 1950 suggests that almost all
of Varna (castes, colors, classes) and orders of Sannyasa Upanishads have a strong Advaita Vedanta
life. These references are contradictory to right outlook.[203][204][205] Six of these Sannyasa Upanishads
knowledge, and reasons are given by the Srutis – Aruni, Kundika, Kathashruti, Paramahamsa, Jabala
regarding the prohibition of the acceptance of and Brahma – were composed before the 3rd-century
difference. For when the knowledge that the CE, likely in the centuries before or after the start of the
one non-dual Atman (Self) is beyond phenom- common era, states Sprockhoff; the Asrama Upanishad
enal existence is generated by the scriptures is dated to the 3rd-century.[206][207]
and reasoning, there cannot exist a knowledge The strong Advaita Vedanta views in these ancient texts
side by side that is contradictory or contrary to may be, states Patrick Olivelle, because major Hindu
it. monasteries of this period (1st millennium CE) belonged
— Adi Shankara, Upadesha Sahasri 1.44, to the Advaita Vedanta tradition.[203]

4.1.1 Earliest Vedanta

4 History of Advaita Vedanta See also: Vedas, Upanishads, and Darsanas

Advaita Vedanta existed prior to Shankara, but found its The Upanishads form the basic texts, of which
most influential expounder in Adi Shankara.[200] Vedanta gives an interpretation.[208] The Upanishads
4.2 Gaudapada 11

don't contain “a rigorous philosophical inquiry iden- Although Shankara is often considered to be the founder
tifying the doctrines and formulating the supporting of the Advaita Vedanta school, according to Naka-
arguments”.[209][note 14] This philosophical inquiry was mura, comparison of the known teachings of these early
performed by the darsanas, the various philosophical Vedantins and Shankara’s thought shows that most of the
schools.[211] Deutsch and Dalvi point out that in the In- characteristics of Shankara’s thought “were advocated by
dian context texts “are only part of a tradition which is someone before Śankara”.[218] Shankara “was the person
preserved in its purest form in the oral transmission as it who synthesized the Advaita-vāda which had previously
has been going on.”[212] existed before him”.[218] In this synthesis, he was the reju-
venator and defender of ancient learning.[219] He was an
unequalled commentator,[219] due to whose efforts and
4.1.2 Bādarāyana’s Brahma Sutras contributions the Advaita Vedanta assumed a dominant
position within Indian philosophy.[219]
Main article: Brahma Sutras

The Brahma Sutras of Bādarāyana, also called the 4.2 Gaudapada

Vedanta Sutra,[213] were compiled in its present form
around 400–450 CE,[214] but “the great part of the Sutra
Main article: Gaudapada
must have been in existence much earlier than that”.[214]
Estimates of the date of Bādarāyana’s lifetime differ be-
tween 200 BCE and 200 CE.[215] Gaudapada (6th century)[220] was the teacher of Govinda
Bhagavatpada and the grandteacher of Shankara.
The Brahma Sutra is a critical study of the teachings of
Gaudapada uses the concepts of Ajativada and Maya[221]
the Upanishads. It was and is a guide-book for the great
to establish “that from the level of ultimate truth the
teachers of the Vedantic systems.[213] Bādarāyana was
world is a cosmic illusion,”[222] and “and suggests that
not the first person to systematise the teachings of the
the whole of our waking experience is exactly the same
Upanishads.[216] He refers to seven Vedantic teachers be-
[216] as an illusory and insubstantial dream.”[223] In contrast,
fore him:
Adi Shankara insists upon a distinction between waking
experience and dreams.[223]
From the way in which Bādarāyana cites
the views of others it is obvious that the teach-
ings of the Upanishads must have been ana-
lyzed and interpreted by quite a few before him 4.2.1 Māṇḍukya Kārikā
and that his systematization of them in 555 su-
tras arranged in four chapters must have been Gaudapada wrote or compiled[224] the Māṇḍukya Kārikā,
the last attempt, most probably the best. [216] also known as the Gauḍapāda Kārikā and as the Āgama
Śāstra.[note 16] The Māṇḍukya Kārikā is a commentary in
verse form on the Mandukya Upanishad, one of the short-
4.1.3 Between Brahma Sutras and Shankara est but most profound Upanishads, or mystical Vedas,
consisting of just 13 prose sentences. In Shankara’s
According to Nakamura, “there must have been an enor- time it was considered to be a Śruti, but not particularly
mous number of other writings turned out in this period, important. In later periods it acquired a higher status,
but unfortunately all of them have been scattered or lost and eventually it was regarded as expressing the essence
and have not come down to us today”.[201] In his com- of the Upanisad philosophy.
mentaries, Shankara mentions 99 different predecessors The Māṇḍukya Kārikā is the earliest extent systematic
of his Sampradaya.[217] In the beginning of his commen- treatise on Advaita Vedānta,[226] though it is not the old-
tary on the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad Shankara salutes est work to present Advaita views,[227] nor the only pre-
the teachers of the Brahmavidya Sampradaya.[web 8] Pre- Sankara work with the same type of teachings.[227]
Shankara doctrines and sayings can be traced in the works
of the later schools, which does give insight into the de-
velopment of early Vedanta philosophy.[201]
4.2.2 Shri Gaudapadacharya Math
The names of various important early Vedanta thinkers
have been listed in the Siddhitraya by Yamunācārya
(c.1050), the Vedārthasamgraha by Rāmānuja (c.1050– Main article: Shri Gaudapadacharya Math
1157), and the Yatīndramatadīpikā by Śrīnivāsa-
dāsa.[201] Combined together,[201] at least fourteen Around 740 AD Gaudapada founded Shri Gauda-
thinkers are known to have existed between the padacharya Math[note 17] , also known as Kavaḷē maṭha. It
composition of the Brahman Sutras and Shankara’s is located in Kavale, Ponda, Goa,[web 9] and is the oldest
lifetime.[201][note 15] matha of the South Indian Saraswat Brahmins.[228][web 10]

4.3 Adi Shankara of Hinduism, Shankara consolidated and applied it with

his unique exegetical method called Anvaya-Vyatireka,
Main article: Adi Shankara which states that for proper understanding one must “ac-
cept only meanings that are compatible with all character-
istics” and “exclude meanings that are incompatible with
Adi Shankara (788–820), also known as Śaṅkara Bha-
gavatpādācārya and Ādi Śaṅkarācārya, represents a turn-
ing point in the development of Vedanta.[229] After the Hacker and Phillips note that this insight into rules of
growing influence of Buddhism on Vedanta, culminat- reasoning and hierarchical emphasis on epistemic steps
ing in the works of Gaudapada, Adi Shankara gave a is “doubtlessly the suggestion” of Shankara in Brahma-
Vedantic character to the Buddhistic elements in these sutra, an insight that flowers in the works of his com-
works,[229] synthesising and rejuvenating the doctrine of panion and disciple Padmapada.[237] Merrell-Wolff states
Advaita.[219] Using ideas in ancient Indian texts, Shankara that Shankara accepts Vedas and Upanishads as a source
systematized the foundation for Advaita Vedanta in the of knowledge as he develops his philosophical theses, yet
8th century CE, though the school was founded many he never rests his case on the ancient texts, rather proves
centuries earlier by Badarayana.[230] His thematic focus each thesis, point by point using pranamas (epistemol-
extended beyond metaphysics and soteriology, and he laid ogy), reason and experience.[238][239]
a strong emphasis on Pramanas, that is epistemology or
“means to gain knowledge, reasoning methods that em-
power one to gain reliable knowledge”. Rambachan, for 4.3.1 Historical context
example, summarizes the widely held view on one as-
See also Late-Classical Age and Hinduism Mid-
pect of Shankara’s epistemology before critiquing it as
dle Ages

Shankara lived in the time of the so-called “Late clas-

According to these [widely represented sical Hinduism”,[240] which lasted from 650 till 1100
contemporary] studies, Shankara only ac- CE.[240] This era was one of political instability that fol-
corded a provisional validity to the knowledge lowed Gupta dynasty and King Harsha of the 7th cen-
gained by inquiry into the words of the Śruti tury CE.[241] It was a time of social and cultural change
(Vedas) and did not see the latter as the unique as the ideas of Buddhism, Jainism and various traditions
source (pramana) of Brahmajnana. The af- within Hinduism were competing for members.[242][243]
firmations of the Śruti, it is argued, need to Buddhism in particular influenced in India’s spiritual
be verified and confirmed by the knowledge traditions in the first 700 years of the 1st millennium
gained through direct experience (anubhava) CE.[241][244] Shankara, and his contemporaries, made a
and the authority of the Śruti, therefore, is only significant contribution in understanding Buddhism and
secondary. the ancient Vedic traditions, then transforming the ex-
— Anantanand Rambachan[82] tant ideas, particularly reforming the Vedanta tradition
of Hinduism, making it India’s most important tradition
for more than a thousand years.[241]
Sengaku Mayeda concurs, adding Shankara maintained
the need for objectivity in the process of gaining knowl-
edge (vastutantra), and considered subjective opinions 4.3.2 Writings
(purushatantra) and injunctions in Śruti (codanatantra)
as secondary.[231] Mayeda cites Shankara’s explicit state- Main article: Adi Shankara bibliography
ments emphasizing epistemology (pramana-janya) in
section 1.18.133 of Upadesasahasri and section 1.1.4 of Adi Shankara is most known for his systematic reviews
Brahmasutra-bhasya.[231][232] and commentaries (Bhasyas) on ancient Indian texts.
Adi Shankara cautioned against cherrypicking a phrase or Shankara’s masterpiece of commentary is the Brahma-
verse out of context from Vedic literature, and remarked sutrabhasya (literally, commentary on Brahma Sutra), a
that the Anvaya (theme or purport) of any treatise can fundamental text of the Vedanta school of Hinduism.
only be correctly understood if one attends to the Saman- His commentaries on ten Mukhya (principal) Upan-
vayat Tatparya Linga, that is six characteristics of the ishads are also considered authentic by scholars.[245][246]
text under consideration: (1) the common in Upakrama Other authentic works of Shankara include commen-
(introductory statement) and Upasamhara (conclusions); taries on the Bhagavad Gita (part of his Prasthana
(2) Abhyasa (message repeated); (3) Apurvata (unique Trayi Bhasya).[82] His Vivarana (tertiary notes) on the
proposition or novelty); (4) Phala (fruit or result derived); commentary by Vedavyasa on Yogasutras as well as
(5) Arthavada (explained meaning, praised point) and (6) those on Apastamba Dharma-sũtras (Adhyatama-patala-
Yukti (verifiable reasoning).[233][234] While this method- bhasya) are accepted by scholars as authentic works
ology has roots in the theoretical works of Nyaya school of Adi Shankara.[247][248] Among the Stotra (poetic
4.4 Sureśvara and Maṇḍana Miśra 13

works), the Daksinamurti Stotra, the Bhajagovinda Sto- be the major representative of Advaita.[262][263] Other
tra, the Sivanandalahari, the Carpata-panjarika, the scholars state that the historical records for this period are
Visnu-satpadi, the Harimide, the Dasa-shloki, and the unclear, and little reliable information is known about the
Krishna-staka are likely to be authentic.[247][249] various contemporaries and disciples of Shankara.[264]
Shankara also authored Upadesasahasri, his most impor- Several scholars suggest that the historical fame and cul-
tant original philosophical work.[230][248] Of other orig- tural influence of Shankara grew centuries later, partic-
inal Prakaranas (प्रकरण, monographs, treatise), sev- ularly during the era of Muslim invasions and conse-
enty six works are attributed to Adi Shankara. Modern quent devastation of India.[261][265] Many of Shankara’s
era Indian scholars such as Belvalkar as well as Upad- biographies were created and published in and after
hyaya accept five and thirty nine works respectively as the 14th century, such as the widely cited Vidyaranya’s
authentic.[250] Śankara-vijaya. Vidyaranya, also known as Madhava,
Commentaries on Nrisimha-Purvatatapaniya and Shvesh- who was the 12th Jagadguru of the Śringeri Śarada
vatara Upanishads are attributed to Adi Shankara, but Pītham from 1380 to 1386,[266] inspired the re-creation
their authenticity is highly doubtful.[246][251] Similarly, of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire of South India in re-
commentaries on several early and later Upanishads at- sponse to the devastation caused by the Islamic Delhi Sul-
tributed to Shankara are rejected by scholars[252] to tanate.[265][267] He and his brothers, suggest Paul Hacker
be his works, and are likely works of later Advaita and other scholars,[261][265] wrote about Śankara as well as
Vedanta scholars; these include: Kaushitaki Upanishad, extensive Advaitic commentaries on Vedas and Dharma.
Maitri Upanishad, Kaivalya Upanishad, Paramahamsa Vidyaranya was a minister in Vijayanagara Empire and
Upanishad, Sakatayana Upanishad, Mandala Brahmana enjoyed royal support,[267] and his sponsorship and me-
Upanishad, Maha Narayana Upanishad, Gopalatapaniya thodical efforts helped establish Shankara as a rallying
Upanishad.[251] symbol of values, and helped spread historical and cul-
tural influence of Shankara’s Vedanta philosophies. Vid-
The authenticity of Shankara being the author of yaranya also helped establish monasteries (mathas) to
Vivekacūḍāmaṇi[253] has been questioned, but scholars expand the cultural influence of Shankara and Advaita
generally credit it to him.[254] The authorship of Shankara Vedanta.[261]
of his Mandukya Upanishad Bhasya and his supplemen-
tary commentary on Gaudapada’s Māṇḍukya Kārikā has
been disputed by Nakamura.[255] However, other scholars 4.4 Sureśvara and Maṇḍana Miśra
state that the commentary on Mandukya, which is actu-
ally a commentary on Madukya-Karikas by Gaudapada, Main articles: Sureśvara and Maṇḍana Miśra
may be authentic.[247][251]
Sureśvara (fl. 800-900 CE)[268] and Maṇḍana Miśra
were contemporaries of Shankara, Sureśvara often (in-
4.3.3 Influence of Shankara correctly) being identified with Maṇḍana Miśra.[269]
Both explained Sankara “on the basis of their per-
Shankara has an unparallelled status in the tradition of sonal convictions.” Sureśvara has also been cred-
Advaita Vedanta. He travelled all over India to help ited as the founder of a pre-Shankara branch of Advaita
restore the study of the Vedas. [256]
His teachings and Vedanta.
tradition form the basis of Smartism and have influenced Maṇḍana Miśra was a Mimamsa scholar and a follower
Sant Mat lineages.[257] He introduced the Pañcāyatana of Kumarila, but who also wrote a work on Advaita,
form of worship, the simultaneous worship of five deities the Brahma-siddhi.[270] According to tradition, Maṇḍana
– Ganesha, Surya, Vishnu, Shiva and Devi. Shankara ex- Miśra and his wife were defeated by Shankara in a debate,
plained that all deities were but different forms of the one where-after he became a follower of Shankara.[270] Yet,
Brahman, the invisible Supreme Being.[258] his attitude toward Shankara is that of a “self-confident
Benedict Ashley credits Adi Shankara for unifying two rival teacher of Advaita,”[271] and his influence was such,
seemingly disparate philosophical doctrines in Hinduism, that some regard this work to have “set forth a non-
namely Atman and Brahman.[259] Isaeva states Shankara’s Sankaran brand of Advaita.”[270] The “theory of error”
influence included reforming Hinduism, founding monas- set forth in the Brahma-siddhi became the normative
teries, edifying disciples, disputing opponents and engag- Advaita Vedanta theory of error.[272] It was Vachaspati
ing in philosophic activity that, in the eyes of Indian tra- Misra’s commentary on this work which linked it up with
dition, help revive “the orthodox idea of the unity of all Shankara’s teaching.[273]
beings” and Vedanta thought.[260] Hiriyanna and Kuppuswami Sastra have pointed out that
Some scholars doubt Shankara’s early influence in Sureśvara and Maṇḍana Miśra had different views on var-
India.[261] According to King and Roodurmun, until the ious doctrinal points:
10th century Shankara was overshadowed by his older
contemporary Mandana-Misra, the latter considered to • The locus of avidya:[274] according to Maṇḍana

Miśra, the individual jiva is the locus of avidya, while the study of the Vedas and reflection are additional
whereas Suresvara contents that avidya regarding factors.[281]
Brahman is located in Brahman.[274] These two dif-
ferent stances are also reflected in the opposing
positions of the Bhamati school and the Vivarana 4.5.3 Prakasatman - Vivarana school
Main article: Vivarana
• Liberation: according to Maṇḍana Miśra, the
knowledge which arises from the Mahavakya is in- Prakasatman (c.1200-1300)[277] wrote the Pancapadika-
sufficient for liberation. Only the direct realiza- Vivarana, a commentary on the Pancapadika by
tion of Brahma is liberating, which can only be at- Padmapadacharya.[277] The Vivarana lends its name to
tained by meditation.[275] According to Suresvara, the subsequent school. According to Roodurmum, “his
this knowledge is directly liberating, while medita- line of thought [...] became the leitmotif of all sub-
tion is at best a useful aid.[271][note 18] sequent developments in the evolution of the Advaita
4.5 Advaita Vedanta sub-schools The Vivarana-school takes an epistemological approach.
Prakasatman was the first to propound the theory of
After Shankara’s death several subschools developed. mulavidya or maya as being of “positive beginningless
Two of them still exist today, the Bhāmatī and the nature”,[282] and sees Brahman as the source of avidya.
Vivarana.[web 11][217] Perished schools are the Panca- Critics object that Brahman is pure consciousness, so it
padika and Istasiddhi, which were replaced by Prakasat- can't be the source of avidya. Another problem is that
man’s Vivarana-school.[277] contradictory qualities, namely knowledge and ignorance,
are attributed to Brahman.[web 11]
These schools worked out the logical implications of vari-
ous Advaita doctrines. Two of the problems they encoun-
tered were the further interpretations to the concepts of 4.5.4 Vimuktatman - Ista-Siddhi
māyā and avidya.[web 11]
Vimuktatman (c.1200 CE)[283] wrote the Ista-siddhi.[283]
It is one of the four traditional siddhi, together
4.5.1 Padmapada - Pancapadika school with Mandana’s Brahma-siddhi, Suresvara’s Naiskarmya-
siddhi, and Madusudana’s Advaita-siddhi.[284] Accord-
Padmapada (c. 800 CE)[278] was a direct disciple of ing to Vimuktatman, absolute Reality is “pure intuitive
Shankara, who wrote the Pancapadika, a commentary consciousness.”[285] His school of thought was eventually
on the Sankara-bhaya.[278] Padmapada diverted from replaced by Prakasatman’s Vivarana school.[277]
Shankara in his description of avidya, designating prakrti
as avidya or ajnana.[279]
4.6 Later Advaita Vedanta tradition
4.5.2 Vachaspati Misra - Bhamati school
See also: Dashanami Sampradaya and List of teachers
of Advaita Vedanta
Main articles: Bhamati and Vācaspati Miśra

According to Sangeetha Menon, prominent names in the

Vachaspati Misra (c.800-900 CE)[280] wrote the
later Advaita tradition are:[web 12]
Brahmatattva-samiksa, a commentary on Maṇḍana
Miśra’s Brahma-siddhi, which provides the link be-
tween Mandana Misra and Shankara,[273] attempting • Prakāsātman, Vimuktātman, Sarvajñātman (tenth
to harmonise Sankara’s thought with that of Mandana century),
[web 11]
Misra. According to Advaita tradition, Shankara
reincarnated as Vachaspati Misra “to popularise the • Śrī Harṣa, Citsukha (twelfth century),
Advaita System through his Bhamati.” Only two • ānandagiri, Amalānandā (thirteenth century),
works are known of Vachaspati Misra, the Brahmatattva-
samiksa on Maṇḍana Miśra’s Brahma-siddhi, and his • Vidyāraņya, Śaṅkarānandā (fourteenth century),
Bhamati on the Sankara-bhasya, Shankara’s com-
mentary on the Brahma-sutras.[273] The name of the • Sadānandā (fifteenth century),
[web 11]
Bhamati-subschool is derived from this Bhamati.
• Prakāṣānanda, Nṛsiṁhāśrama (sixteenth century),
The Bhamati-school takes an ontological approach. It
sees the Jiva as the source of avidya.[web 11] It sees medi- • Madhusūdhana Sarasvati, Dharmarāja Advarindra,
tation as the main factor in the acquirement of liberation, Appaya Dīkśita (seventeenth century),
5.2 Smarta Tradition 15

• Sadaśiva Brahmendra (eighteenth century), headed by one of his four main disciples, who each con-
tinues the Vedanta Sampradaya.[note 19]
• Candraśekhara Bhārati, Chandrasekharendra
Saraswati Swamigal, Sacchidānandendra Saraswati Monks of these ten orders differ in part in their beliefs
(twentieth century). and practices, and a section of them is not considered
to be restricted to specific changes made by Shankara.
While the dasanāmis associated with the Sankara maths
Contemporary teachers are the orthodox Jagadguru of
follow the procedures enumerated by Adi Śankara, some
Sringeri Sharada Peetham; the more traditional teachers
of these orders remained partly or fully independent in
Sivananda Saraswati (1887–1963), Chinmayananda
their belief and practices; and outside the official control
Saraswati,[web 13] and Dayananda Saraswati (Arsha
of the Sankara maths.
Vidya);[web 13] and less traditional teachers like Narayana
Guru.[web 13] The advaita sampradaya is not a Saiva sect,[web 14][291]
despite the historical links with Shaivism.[note 20] Nev-
ertheless, contemporary Sankaracaryas have more influ-
ence among Saiva communities than among Vaisnava
5 Sampradaya communities.[web 14] The greatest influence of the gurus
of the advaita tradition has been among followers of the
5.1 Advaita Mathas Smartha Tradition, who integrate the domestic Vedic rit-
ual with devotional aspects of Hinduism.[web 14]
See also: Dashanami Sampradaya
According to Nakamura, these mathas contributed to the
Advaita Vedanta is, at least in the west, primarily known
influence of Shankara, which was “due to institutional
factors”.[292] The mathas which he built exist until today,
and preserve the teachings and influence of Shankara,
“while the writings of other scholars before him came to
be forgotten with the passage of time”.[293]
The table below gives an overview of the four Amnaya
Mathas founded by Adi Shankara, and their details.[web 15]
According to the tradition in Kerala, after Sankara’s
samadhi at Vadakkunnathan Temple, his disciples
founded four mathas in Thrissur, namely Naduvil Mad-
hom, Thekke Madhom, Idayil Madhom and Vadakke

5.2 Smarta Tradition

(Vidyashankara temple) at Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Shringeri
Main article: Smarta Tradition
as a philosophical system. But it is also a tradition of
renunciation. Philosophy and renunciation are closely
related:[web 14] Traditionally, Shankara is regarded as the greatest
teacher[294] and reformer of the Smartha.[295] According
to Alf Hiltebeitel, Shankara established the nondualist in-
Most of the notable authors in the advaita terpretation of the Upanishads as the touchstone of a re-
tradition were members of the sannyasa tradi- vived smarta tradition:
tion, and both sides of the tradition share the
same values, attitudes and metaphysics.[web 14]
Practically, Shankara fostered a rapproche-
ment between Advaita and smarta orthodoxy,
Shankara, himself considered to be an incarnation of which by his time had not only continued to
Shiva,[web 14] established the Dashanami Sampradaya, or- defend the varnasramadharma theory as defin-
ganizing a section of the Ekadandi monks under an um- ing the path of karman, but had developed the
brella grouping of ten names.[web 14] Several other Hindu practice of pancayatanapuja (“five-shrine wor-
monastic and Ekadandi traditions remained outside the ship”) as a solution to varied and conflicting
organisation of the Dasanāmis.[286][287][288] devotional practices. Thus one could worship
Adi Sankara is said to have organised the Hindu monks of any one of five deities (Vishnu, Siva, Durga,
these ten sects or names under four Maṭhas (Sanskrit: मठ) Surya, Ganesa) as one’s istadevata (“deity of
(monasteries), with the headquarters at Dvārakā in the choice”).[296]
West, Jagannatha Puri in the East, Sringeri in the South
and Badrikashrama in the North.[web 14] Each math was The Sringeri monastery is still the centre of the Smarta

sect.[294] In recent times bhakti cults have increasingly be- philosophers in India, and it is, we believe, one of the
come popular with the smartas,[297] and Shiva is partic- greatest philosophical achievements to be found in the
ularly favored.[294] In modern times Smarta-views have East or the West”.[303]
been influential in both the Indian and western under- In contrast, King states that its present position as the key
standing of Hinduism. Indian philosophy is a modern phenomenon, which devel-
oped under western Orientalism and Perennialism.[304]

6 Influence on modern Hinduism

6.2.2 Indian nationalism and Hindu Universalism
6.1 Unifying Hinduism Main articles: Hindu nationalism and Hindu reform
Main article: Unifying Hinduism

With the onset of the British Raj, the colonialisation of

Advaita Vedanta came to occupy a central position in the
India by the British, there also started a Hindu renais-
classification of various Hindu traditions. With the onset
sance in the 19th century, which profoundly changed
of Islamic rule, hierarchical classifications of the various
the understanding of Hinduism in both India and the
orthodox schools were developed to shield Hindu Philos-
west.[305] Western orientalist searched for the “essence”
ophy from Islamic influences.[19] According to Nichol-
of the Indian religions, discerning this in the Vedas, and
son, already between the twelfth and the sixteenth cen-
meanwhile creating the notion of “Hinduism” as a uni-
fied body of religious praxis and the popular picture of
'mystical India'.[306] This idea of a Vedic essence was
... certain thinkers began to treat as a taken over by the Hindu reformers, together with the ideas
single whole the diverse philosophical teach- of Universalism and Perennialism, the idea that all reli-
ings of the Upanishads, epics, Puranas, and gions share a common mystic ground.[307] The Brahmo
the schools known retrospectively as the “six Samaj, who was supported for a while by the Unitarian
systems” (saddarsana) of mainstream Hindu Church,[308] played an essential role in the introduction
philosophy.[298] and spread of this new understanding of Hinduism.[309]

The tendency of “a blurring of philosophical distinc- Vedanta came to be regarded as the essence of Hin-
tions” has also been noted by Burley.[299] Lorenzen lo- duism, and Advaita Vedanta came to be regarded as “then
cates the origins of a distinct Hindu identity in the in- paradigmatic example of the mystical nature of the Hindu
teraction between Muslims and Hindus,[300] and a pro- religion”.[262] These notions served well for the Hindu na-
cess of “mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim tionalists, who further popularised this notion of Advaita
other”,[301] which started well before 1800.[302] Both the Vedanta as the pinnacle of Indian religions.[310] It “pro-
Indian and the European thinkers who developed the term vided an opportunity for the construction of a nationalist
“Hinduism” in the 19th century were influenced by these ideology that could unite HIndus in their struggle against
philosophers.[298] colonial oppression”.[311]

Within these doxologies, Advaita Vedanta was given the In modern times, states King, Advaita Vedanta has ac-
highest position, since it was regarded to be most inclu- quired a broad acceptance in Indian culture and beyond
sive system.[19] Vijnanabhiksu, a 16th-century philoso- as the paradigmatic example of Hindu spirituality.[304]
pher and writer, is still an influential representant of these
doxologies. He’s been a prime influence on 19th century 6.2.3 Swami Vivekananda
Hindu modernists like Vivekananda, who also tried to in-
tegrate various strands of Hindu thought, taking Advaita Main articles: Neo-Vedanta, Swami Vivekananda, and
Vedanta as its most representative specimen.[19] Ramakrishna Mission

6.2 Contemporary views A major proponent in the popularisation of this Univer-

salist and Perennialist interpretation of Advaita Vedanta
6.2.1 Historical influence was Vivekananda,[312] who played a major role in the
revival of Hinduism,[313] and the spread of Advaita
Scholars are divided on the historical influence of Ad- Vedanta to the west via the Ramakrishna Mission. His
vaita Vedanta. Some Indologists state that it is one of interpretation of Advaita Vedanta has been called “Neo-
the most studied Hindu philosophy and the most influen- Vedanta”.[314] Vivekananda discerned a universal reli-
tial schools of classical Indian thought.[16][17][18] Advaita gion, regarding all the apparent differences between var-
Vedanta, states Eliot Deutsch, “has been and continues ious traditions as various manifestations of one truth.[315]
to be the most widely accepted system of thought among He presented karma, bhakti, jnana and raja yoga as equal

means to attain moksha,[316] to present Vedanta as a lib- 6.2.5 Neo-Advaita

eral and universal religion, in contrast to the exclusivism
of other religions.[316] Main article: Neo-Advaita
Vivekananda emphasised samadhi as a means to attain
liberation.[317] Yet this emphasis is not to be found in the Neo-Advaita is a New Religious Movement based on a
Upanishads nor with Shankara.[318] For Shankara, medi- popularised, western interpretation of Advaita Vedanta
tation and Nirvikalpa Samadhi are means to gain knowl- and the teachings of Ramana Maharshi.[320] Neo-Advaita
edge of the already existing unity of Brahman and Atman. is being criticised[321][note 22][323][note 23][note 24] for dis-
Vivekananda also claimed that Advaita is the only reli- carding the traditional prerequisites of knowledge of the
gion that is in agreement with modern science. In a talk scriptures[325] and “renunciation as necessary prepara-
on “The absolute and manifestation” given in at London tion for the path of jnana-yoga".[325][326] Notable neo-
in 1896 Swami Vivekananda said, advaita teachers are H. W. L. Poonja,[327][320] his stu-
dents Gangaji[328] Andrew Cohen[note 25] , and Eckhart
I may make bold to say that the only reli- Tolle.[320]
gion which agrees with, and even goes a little
further than modern researchers, both on phys- 6.2.6 Non-dualism
ical and moral lines is the Advaita, and that is
why it appeals to modern scientists so much. Main article: Nondualism
They find that the old dualistic theories are not
enough for them, do not satisfy their necessi-
ties. A man must have not only faith, but intel- Advaita Vedanta has gained attention in western
lectual faith too”.[web 16] spirituality and New Age, where various traditions are
seen as driven by the same non-dual experience.[330]
Nonduality points to “a primordial, natural awareness
Mukerji criticizes this view of Vivekananda: without subject or object”.[web 22] It is also used to refer
to interconnectedness, “the sense that all things are
Without calling into question the right of interconnected and not separate, while at the same time
any philosopher to interpret Advaita according all things retain their individuality”.[web 23]
to his own understanding of it, ... the process
of Westernization has obscured the core of this
school of thought. The basic correlation of re- 7 Relationship with other forms of
nunciation and Bliss has been lost sight of in
the attempts to underscore the cognitive struc- Vedanta
ture and the realistic structure which according
to Samkaracarya should both belong to, and in- The Advaita Vedanta ideas, particularly of 8th cen-
deed constitute the realm of māyā.[314] tury Adi Shankara, were challenged by theistic Vedanta
philosophies that emerged centuries later, such as the
11th-century Vishishtadvaita (qualified nondualism) of
6.2.4 Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Ramanuja, and the 14th-century Dvaita (theistic dualism)
of Madhvacharya.[331]
Main article: Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan further popularized Ad- 7.1 Vishishtadvaita

vaita Vedanta, presenting it as the essence of
Hinduism.[web 17] Radhakrishnan saw other religions, Main article: Vishishtadvaita
“including what Radhakrishnan understands as lower
forms of Hinduism,”[web 17] as interpretations of Advaita Ramanuja’s Vishishtadvaita school and Shankara's
Vedanta, thereby Hindusizing all religions.[web 17] His Advaita school are both nondualism Vedanta
metaphysics was grounded in Advaita Vedanta, but schools,[332][333] both are premised on the assump-
he reinterpreted Advaita Vedanta for a contemporary tion that all souls can hope for and achieve the state of
understanding.[web 17] He acknowledged the reality blissful liberation; in contrast, Madhvacharya and his
and diversity of the world of experience, which he Dvaita subschool of Vedanta believed that some souls
saw as grounded in and supported by the absolute or are eternally doomed and damned.[334][335] Shankara’s
Brahman.[web 17][note 21] Radhakrishnan also reinterpreted theory posits that only Brahman and causes are meta-
Shankara’s notion of maya. According to Radhakr- physical unchanging reality, while the empirical world
ishnan, maya is not a strict absolute idealism, but “a (Maya) and observed effects are changing, illusive and
subjective misperception of the world as ultimately of relative existence.[336][337] Spiritual liberation to
real.”[web 17] Shankara is the full comprehension and realization of

oneness of one’s unchanging Atman (soul) as the same as 8.1 Ontology

Atman in everyone else as well as being identical to the
nirguna Brahman.[333][338][339] In contrast, Ramanuja’s Advaita Vedanta is a substance ontology, an ontology
theory posits both Brahman and the world of matter are “which holds that underlying the seeming change, vari-
two different absolutes, both metaphysically real, neither ety, and multiplicity of existence there are unchanging
should be called false or illusive, and saguna Brahman and permanent entities (the so-called substances)".[345] In
with attributes is also real.[337] God, like man, states contrast, Buddhism is a process ontology, according to
Ramanuja, has both soul and body, and all of the world which “there exists nothing permanent and unchanging,
of matter is the glory of God’s body.[332] The path to within or without man”.[346][note 26]
Brahman (Vishnu), asserted Ramanuja, is devotion to
Advaita three levels of reality theory, states Renard,
godliness and constant remembrance of the beauty and
is built on the two levels of reality found in the
love of personal god (saguna Brahman, Vishnu), one
which ultimately leads one to the oneness with nirguna
8.2 Gaudapada

7.2 Shuddhadvaita According to B.N.K. Sharma, the early commentators

on the Brahma Sutras were all realists,[349] or pantheist
realists.[350] They, states Sharma were influenced by Bud-
Main article: Shuddhadvaita
dhism, particularly during the 5th and 6th centuries Bud-
dhist thought developing in the Yogacara school.[351] The
Vallabhacharya (1479–1531 CE), the proponent of the 6th-century Gaudapada bridged Buddhism and Vedanta,
philosophy of Shuddhadvaita Brahmvad enunciates that suggests Sharma, by taking over the Buddhist doc-
Ishvara has created the world without connection with any trines that ultimate reality is pure consciousness (vijñapti-
external agency such as Maya (which itself is his power) mātra)[220][note 27] and “that the nature of the world is the
and manifests Himself through the world.[340] That is why four-cornered negation”.[220][note 28]
shuddhadvaita is known as ‘Unmodified transformation’
Gaudapada took over the Buddhist concept of “ajāta”
or ‘Avikṛta Pariṇāmavāda’. Brahman or Ishvara desired
from Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka philosophy,[355][356]
to become many, and he became the multitude of indi-
which uses the term “anutpāda”.[357] [note 29] An
vidual souls and the world. Vallabha recognises Brahmn
equivalent theory of “Ajātivāda”, “the Doctrine of
as the whole and the individual as a ‘part’ (but devoid of
no-origination”[361][note 30] or non-creation, is the fun-
damental philosophical doctrine of Gaudapada.[361]
According to Gaudapada, the Absolute Reality, that
is Brahman, is not subject to birth, change and death.
7.3 Dvaita The Absolute is aja, the unborn eternal.[361] Thus both
Buddhism and Gaudapada’s theory posit the doctrine of
unreality of the world.[362]
Main article: Dvaita
Gaudapada, states Raju, “wove Buddhist doctrines into
a philosophy of the Mandukaya Upanisad, which was
Madhvacharya was also a critic of Advaita Vedanta. Ad-
further developed by Shankara”.[363][note 31] At the same
vaita’s nondualism asserted that Atman (soul) and Brah-
time, Gaudapada emphatically rejected some theories
man are identical, there is interconnected oneness of all
of the Buddhists, such as the multiplicity and momen-
souls and Brahman, and there are no pluralities[342][343]
tariness of consciousnesses, which were core doctrines
Madhva in contrast asserted that Atman (soul) and Brah-
of the Vijnanavada school, and their techniques for
man are different, only Vishnu is the Lord (Brah-
achieving liberation.[365] Other scholars such as Murti
man), individual souls are also different and depend on
state, that while there is shared terminology, the doc-
Vishnu, and there are pluralities.[342][343] Madhvacharya
trines of Gaudapada and Buddhism are fundamentally
stated that both Advaita Vedanta and Mahayana Bud-
different.[366][367][note 32]
dhism were a nihilistic school of thought.[344] Mad-
hvacharya wrote four major texts, including Upadhikhan-
dana and Tattvadyota, primarily dedicated to criticizing
8.3 Similarities with Buddhism

Advaita Vedanta and various other schools of Hindu phi-

losophy share numerous terminology and doctrines with
Buddhism. “Probably because of these similarities,”
8 Relationship with Buddhism writes Natalia Isaeva, “even such an astute Buddhologist
as Rozenberg was of the opinion that a precise differen-
8.5 Influence of Mahayana Buddhism 19

tiation between Brahmanism and Buddhism is impossi- texts. In contrast to Advaita which describes knowing
ble to draw”.[369] Of the various schools, the similari- one’s own soul as identical with Brahman as the path to
ties between Advaita and Buddhism have attracted Indian nirvana, in its soteriological themes, Buddhism has de-
and Western scholars attention.[370] Ramanujacharya, the fined nirvana as that blissful state when a person realizes
founder of Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, for example, ac- that he or she has “no self, no soul”.[381][383]
cused Adi Shankara of being a Prachanna Bauddha, that The epistemological foundations of Buddhism and Ad-
is, a “crypto-Buddhist”,[370] and someone who was un- vaita Vedanta are different. Buddhism accepts two valid
dermining theistic Bhakti devotionalism.[371] The non- means to reliable and correct knowledge – perception and
Advaita scholar Bhaskara of the Bhedabheda tradition,
inference, while Advaita Vedanta accepts six (described
similarly around 800 CE, accused Shankara’s Advaita as elsewhere in this article).[163][181][384] However, some
“this despicable broken down Mayavada that has been
Buddhists in history, have argued that Buddhist scriptures
chanted by the Mahayana Buddhists”, and a school that is are a reliable source of spiritual knowledge, correspond-
undermining the ritual duties set in Vedic orthodoxy.[371]
ing to Advaita’s Śabda pramana, however Buddhists have
Given the principal role attributed to Shankara in Advaita treated their scriptures as a form of inference method.[385]
tradition, his works have been examined by scholars for
similarities with Buddhism.[371][372] Buddhism support-
ers have targeted Shankara, states Biderman, while his 8.5 Influence of Mahayana Buddhism
Hindu supporters state that “accusations” concerning ex-
plicit or implicit Buddhist influence are not relevant.[370] Scholars state that Advaita Vedanta was influenced by
Daniel Ingalls writes, “If we are to adopt a metaphysical Mahayana Buddhism, given the common terminology,
and static view of philosophy there is little difference be- methodology and some doctrines.[386][387] Eliot Deutsch
tween Shankara and Vijnanavada Buddhism, so little, in and Rohit Dalvi state:
fact that the whole discussion is fairly pointless. But if
we try to think our way back into minds of philosophers In any event a close relationship between
whose works we read, there is a very real difference be- the Mahayana schools and Vedanta did exist
tween the antagonists”.[370] Other scholars such as Bel- with the latter borrowing some of the dialec-
valkar, Hiriyanna, Radhakrishnan and Thibaut state that tical techniques, if not the specific doctrines,
Advaita’s and Buddhism’s theories on True Reality and of the former.[388]
Maya are similar,[373] and the influence of Buddhism on
Advaita Vedanta has been significant.[371] Both traditions
hold that “the empirical world is transitory, a show of The influence of Mahayana on Advaita Vedanta, states
appearances”,[373][374] and both admit “degrees of truth Deutsch, goes back at least to Gaudapada, where he
or existence”.[375] Both traditions emphasize the human “clearly draws from Buddhist philosophical sources for
need for spiritual liberation (moksha, nirvana, kaivalya), many of his arguments and distinctions and even for
however with different assumptions.[376][note 33] the forms and imagery in which these arguments are
cast”.[388] Michael Comans states Gaudapada, an early
Frank Whaling states that the similarities between Ad- Vedantin, utilised some arguments and reasoning from
vaita Vedanta and Buddhism are not limited to the ter- Madhyamaka Buddhist texts by quoting them almost ver-
minology and some doctrines, it includes practice. The batim. However, Comans adds there is a fundamental
monastic practices and monk tradition in Advaita are sim- difference between Buddhist thought and that of Gauda-
ilar to those found in Buddhism.[371] pada, in that Buddhism has as its philosophical basis the
doctrine of Dependent Origination according to which
“everything is without an essential nature (nissvabhava),
8.4 Differences from Buddhism and everything is empty of essential nature (svabhava-
sunya)", while Gaudapada does not rely on this prin-
Advaita Vedanta holds the premise, “Soul exists, and ciple at all. Gaudapada’s Ajativada is an outcome of
Soul (or self, Atman) is a self evident truth”. Bud- reasoning applied to an unchanging nondual reality ac-
dhism, in contrast, holds the premise, “Atman does not cording to which “there exists a Reality (sat) that is un-
exist, and An-atman (or Anatta, non-self)[378] is self born (aja)" that has essential nature (svabhava) and this
evident”.[379][380] is the “eternal, fearless, undecaying Self (Atman) and
Buddhists do not believe that at the core of all human be- Brahman”. Thus, Gaudapada differs from Buddhist
ings and living creatures, there is any “eternal, essential scholars such as Nagarjuna, states Comans, by accepting
and absolute something called a soul, self or atman”. [381] the premises and relying on the fundamental teaching of
Buddhists reject the concept and all doctrines associated the Upanishads.
with atman, call atman as illusion (maya), asserting in- Gaudapada, in his Karikas text, uses the leading con-
stead the theory of “no-self” and “no-soul”.[380][382] Bud- cepts and wording of Mahayana Buddhist school but,
dhism, from its earliest days, has denied the existence of states John Plott, he reformulated them to the Upan-
the “self, soul” in its core philosophical and ontological ishadic themes.[362] Mahadevan states, “At the outset it
20 11 NOTES

must be pointed out that, when the critics hurl the charge thesis and antithesis, and a synthesis was attempted by the
of pseudo-Buddhism against Advaita, they use the word Advaitin Shankara”.[395]
Buddhism rather in a vague and general sense. The doc-
trine of unreality of the world, and the theory of non-
recognition are found to be common as between the ide- 9 Scholarly perceptions of Advaita
alistic schools of Buddhism and Advaita. Most critics
believe that these are not Upanishadic doctrines, and so, Vedanta
their conclusion is that Advaita must have borrowed them
from the Mahayana schools. And the earliest teacher who Advaita Vedanta is one of the most studied and most in-
effected this borrowing, in their view, is Gaudapada.”[362] fluential schools of classical Indian thought.[16][17][18] Al-
The influence of Buddhism on Gaudapada, states John ready in medieval times, it came to be regarded as the
Plott, is undeniable and to be expected.[362] He writes, highest of the Indian religious philosophies,[19] a develop-
ment which was reinforced in modern times due to west-
We must emphasize again that generally ern interest in Advaita Vedanta, and the subsequent in-
throughout the Gupta Dynasty, and even more fluence on western perceptions on Indian perceptions of
so after its decline, there developed such a high Hinduism.[20]
degree of syncretism and such toleration of all Advaita Vedanta is most often regarded as an idealist
points of view that Mahayana Buddhism had monism. It was strongly influenced by Buddhist Mad-
been Hinduized almost as much as Hinduism hyamaka and Yogacara,[396] and it further developed “to
had been Buddhaized. its ultimate extreme” monistic ideas already present in
— John Plott, Global History of Philoso- the Upanishads.[21][22][23] According to Dandekar, Gau-
phy, [362] dapada’s Gaudapadakarika aligns Buddhist ideas with
Upanishadic ideas, “creating an irresistible impression”
that those ideas are consistent with each other.[396]
Mahadevan suggests that Gaudapada adopted Buddhist According to Milne, advaita is a negative term, which
terminology and borrowed its doctrines to his Vedantic denotes the “negation of a difference,” between sub-
goals, much like early Buddhism adopted Upanishadic ject and object, or between perceiver and perceived.
terminology and borrowed its doctrines to Buddhist goals; It is, states Milne, misleading to call Advaita Vedanta
both used pre-existing concepts and ideas to convey new “monistic,” since this confuses the “negation of dif-
meanings.[362] ference” with “conflation into one.”[397] Deutsch, in
contrast, states Advaita Vedanta teaches monistic one-
Dasgupta and Mohanta suggest that Buddhism and
ness, however without the multiplicity premise of vari-
Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta represent “different phases
ous monism theories.[398] According to Jacqueline Hirst,
of development of the same non-dualistic meta-
Adi Shankara positively emphasizes “oneness” premise
physics from the Upanishadic period to the time of
in his Brahma-sutra Bhasya 2.1.20, attributing it to
Sankara.”[390][note 34]
all the Upanishads.[399] Nicholson points out that Ad-
vaita Vedanta also contains realistic strands of thought,
both in its oldest origins and in Shankara’s writings.[26]
8.6 Common core thesis The Brahma Sutras take a bedhabheda stance,[396] and
Shankara’s writings also contain realistic elements.[26]
See also: Perennial philosophy

Isaeva states in her analysis of scholarly views, that these 10 See also
have historically and in modern times ranged from “Ad-
vaita and Buddhism are very different”, to “Advaita and
• Cause and effect in Advaita Vedanta
Buddhism absolutely coincide in their main tenets”, to
“after purifying Buddhism and Advaita of accidental or • Kashmir Shaivism
historically conditioned accretions, both systems can be
safely regarded as an expression of one and the same eter- • Pandeism
nal absolute truth”.[393]
• Pantheism
Ninian Smart, a historian of religion, quotes Mudgal view
that “the differences between Shankara and Mahayana
doctrines are largely a matter of emphasis and back-
ground, rather than essence”.[394][note 35] Mudgal addi- 11 Notes
tionally states that the Upanishadic and Buddhist currents
of thought “developed separately and independently, op- [1] IAST Advaita Vedānta; Sanskrit: अद्वैत वेदान्त [əd̪ ʋait̪ə
posed to one another, as the orthodox and heterodox, the ʋeːd̪ ɑːnt̪ə], literally, not-two

[2] Literally: end or the goal of the Vedas. [14] Nevertheless, Balasubramanian argues that since the basic
ideas of the Vedanta systems are derived from the Vedas,
[3] Indian philosophy emphasises that “every acceptable phi- the Vedantic philosophy is as old as the Vedas.[210]
losophy should aid man in realising the Purusarthas, the
chief aims of human life:[39] [15] Bhartŗhari (c.450–500), Upavarsa (c.450–500), Bod-
hāyana (c.500), Tanka (Brahmānandin) (c.500–550),
• Dharma: the right way to life, the “duties and obli- Dravida (c.550), Bhartŗprapañca (c.550), Śabarasvāmin
gations of the individual toward himself and the (c.550), Bhartŗmitra (c.550–600), Śrivatsānka (c.600),
society as well as those of the society toward the Sundarapāndya (c.600), Brahmadatta (c.600–700),
individual";[40] Gaudapada (c.640–690), Govinda (c.670–720), Man-
• Artha: the means to support and sustain one’s life; danamiśra (c.670–750).[201]
• Kāma: pleasure and enjoyment; [16] Nakamura notes that there are contradictions in doctrine
• Mokṣa: liberation, release. between the four chapters.[224]

[4] “Consciousness”,[47][web 3] “intelligence”,[48][49] “wisdom” [17] Sanskrit: श्री संस्थान गौडपदाचायर् मठ, Śrī Sansthāna Gauḍa-
padācārya Maṭha
[5] “the Absolute”,[47][web 3] “infinite”,[web 3] “the Highest
truth”[web 3] [18] According to both Roodurum and Isaeva, Sureśvara stated
that mere knowledge of the identity of Jiva and Brahman
[6] Puligandla: “Any philosophy worthy of its title should not is nor enough for liberation, which requires also prolonged
be a mere intellectual exercise but should have practical meditation on this identity.[268][276]
application in enabling man to live an enlightened life. A
philosophy which makes no difference to the quality and [19] According to Pandey, these Mathas were not established
style of our life is no philosophy, but an empty intellectual by Shankara himself, but were originally ashrams
construction.”[51] established by Vibhāņdaka and his son Ŗșyaśŗnga.[289]
Shankara inherited the ashrams at Dvārakā and
[7] These characteristics and steps are described in various
Sringeri, and shifted the ashram at Śŗngaverapura
Advaita texts, such as by Shankara in Chapter 1.1 of Brah-
to Badarikāśrama, and the ashram at Angadeśa to
masutrabhasya,[58] and in the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 10
Jagannātha Purī.[290]
[8] It is not a philosophy in the western meaning of the word,
[20] “Advaitins are non-sectarian, and they ad-
according to Milne.[85]
vocate worship of Siva and Visnu equally with that of
[9] Bill Clinton: “The buck stops here.” the other deities of Hinduism, like Sakti, Ganapati and
others.”[web 14]
[10] Brahman is also defined as:
[21] Neo-Vedanta seems to be closer to Bhedabheda-Vedanta
• The unchanging, infinite, immanent, and than to Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta, with the acknowl-
transcendent reality which is all matter, energy, edgement of the reality of the world. Nicholas F.
time, space, being, and everything beyond in this Gier: “Ramakrsna, Svami Vivekananda, and Aurobindo
Universe; that is the one supreme, universal spirit (I also include M.K. Gandhi) have been labeled “neo-
without a second.[99][100] Vedantists,” a philosophy that rejects the Advaitins’ claim
• The one supreme, all pervading Spirit that is the ori- that the world is illusory. Aurobindo, in his The Life Di-
gin and support of the phenomenal universe.[101] vine, declares that he has moved from Sankara’s “universal
illusionism” to his own “universal realism” (2005: 432),
• The supreme self. Puligandla states it as “the un- defined as metaphysical realism in the European philo-
changing reality amidst and beyond the world”,[102] sophical sense of the term.”[319]
• The Self-existent, the Absolute and the Imperish-
able. Brahman is indescribable. [22] Marek: “Wobei der Begriff Neo-Advaita darauf hinweist,
dass sich die traditionelle Advaita von dieser Strömung
• The “principle of the world”,[103] the “absolute”,[104] zunehmend distanziert, da sie die Bedeutung der üben-
the “general, universal”,[105] the “cosmic den Vorbereitung nach wie vor als unumgänglich ansieht.
principle”,[106] the “ultimate that is the cause (The term Neo-Advaita indicating that the traditional Ad-
of everything including all gods”,[107] the vaita increasingly distances itself from this movement, as
“knowledge”,[108] the “soul, sense of self of each they regard preparational practicing still as inevitable)[322]
human being that is fearless, luminuous, exalted
and blissful”,[109] the “essence of liberation, of [23] Alan Jacobs: Many firm devotees of Sri Ramana Ma-
spiritual freedom”,[110] the “universe within each harshi now rightly term this western phenomenon as 'Neo-
living being and the universe outside”,[109] the Advaita'. The term is carefully selected because 'neo'
“essence and everything innate in all that exists means 'a new or revived form'. And this new form is
inside, outside and everywhere”.[111] not the Classical Advaita which we understand to have
been taught by both of the Great Self Realised Sages, Adi
[11] Svarupalakshana, qualities, definition based on essence
Shankara and Ramana Maharshi. It can even be termed
[12] It provides the “stuff” from which everything is made 'pseudo' because, by presenting the teaching in a highly
attenuated form, it might be described as purporting to be
[13] It sets everything into working, into existence Advaita, but not in effect actually being so, in the fullest

sense of the word. In this watering down of the essen- but the reverse of all that we know, something altogether
tial truths in a palatable style made acceptable and attrac- different which must be characterized as a nothing in re-
tive to the contemporary western mind, their teaching is lation to the world, but which is experienced as highest
misleading.[323] bliss by those who have attained to it (Anguttara Nikaya,
Navaka-nipata 34). Vedantists and Buddhists have been
[24] See for other examples Conway [web 18] and Swartz[324] fully aware of the gulf between their doctrines, a gulf that
cannot be bridged over. According to Majjhima Nikaya,
[25] Presently Cohen has distanced himself from Poonja,
Sutta 22, a doctrine that proclaims “The same is the world
and calls his teachings “Evolutionary Enlightenment”.[329]
and the self. This I shall be after death; imperishable,
What Is Enlightenment, the magazine published by
permanent, eternal!" (see Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4, 4,
Choen’s organisation, has been critical of neo-Advaita
13), was styled by the Buddha a perfectly foolish doctrine.
several times, as early as 2001. See.[web 19][web 20][web 21]
On the other side, the Katha Upanishad (2, 1, 14) does not
[26] Kalupahana describes how in Buddhism there is also a cur- see a way to deliverance in the Buddhist theory of dhar-
rent which favours substance ontology. Kalupahanan sees mas (impersonal processes): He who supposes a profusion
Madhyamaka and Yogacara as reactions against develop- of particulars gets lost like rain water on a mountain slope;
ments toward substance ontology in Buddhism.[347] the truly wise man, however, must realize that his Atman
is at one with the Universal Atman, and that the former, if
[27] It is often used interchangeably with the term citta-mātra, purified from dross, is being absorbed by the latter, “just
but they have different meanings. The standard transla- as clear water poured into clear water becomes one with
tion of both terms is “consciousness-only” or “mind-only.” it, indistinguishably.”[377]
Several modern researchers object this translation, and
the accompanying label of “absolute idealism” or “ideal- [34] This development did not end with Advaita Vedanta, but
istic monism”.[352] A better translation for vijñapti-mātra continued in Tantrism and various schools of Shaivism.
is representation-only.[353] Non-dual Kashmir Shaivism, for example, was influ-
enced by, and took over doctrines from, several ortho-
[28] 1. Something is. 2. It is not. 3. It both is and is not. 4. It dox and heterodox Indian religious and philosophical
neither is nor is not.[web 24][354] traditions.[391] These include Vedanta, Samkhya, Patanjali
Yoga and Nyayas, and various Buddhist schools, includ-
[29] “An” means “not”, or “non"; “utpāda” means “genesis”, ing Yogacara and Madhyamika,[391] but also Tantra and
“coming forth”, “birth”[web 25] Taken together “anutpāda” the Nath-tradition.[392]
means “having no origin”, “not coming into existence”,
“not taking effect”, “non-production”.[web 26] The Buddhist [35] Ninian Smart is a proponent of the so-called “common
tradition usually uses the term “anutpāda” for the ab- core thesis”, which states that all forms of mysticism share
sence of an origin[355][357] or sunyata.[358] According to a common core. See also [web 27] and [web 28]
D.T Suzuki, “anutpada” is not the opposite of “utpada”,
but transcends opposites. It is the seeing into the true na-
ture of existence,[359] the seeing that “all objects are with-
out self-substance”.[360] 12 References
[30] “A” means “not”, or “non” as in Ahimsa, non-harm; [1] Deutsch 1988, p. 4.
“jāti” means “creation” or “origination;[361] “vāda” means
“doctrine”[361] [2] Nakamura 1950a, p. 112.
[31] The influence of Mahayana Buddhism on other religions [3] kanamura 2004.
and philosophies was not limited to Vedanta. Kalupahana
notes that the Visuddhimagga of Theravada Buddhism [4] Arvind Sharma (2007), Advaita Vedānta: An Introduc-
tradition contains “some metaphysical speculations, such tion, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120820272, page
as those of the Sarvastivadins, the Sautrantikas, and even 4
the Yogacarins".[364]
[5] Andrew Fort (1998), Jivanmukti in Transformation: Em-
[32] Gaudapada’s doctrines are unlike Buddhism, states Murti. bodied Liberation in Advaita and Neo-Vedanta, State
Gaudapada’s influential Advaita Vedanta text consists of University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791439043,
four chapters; Chapter One, Two and Three of which are pages 114-120
entirely Vedantin and founded on the Upanishads, with
little Buddhist flavor.[366] Chapter Four uses Buddhist ter- [6] Arvind Sharma (2007), Advaita Vedānta: An Introduc-
minology and incorporates Buddhist doctrines, state both tion, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120820272, page
Murti and Richard King, but Vedanta scholars who fol- 6
lowed Gaudapada through the 17th century never refer-
enced nor used Chapter Four, they only quote from the [7] Deutsch 1988.
first three.[366][368]
[8] Sangeetha Menon (2012), Advaita Vedanta, IEP
[33] Helmuth von Glasenapp writes: “The Buddhist Nirvana is,
therefore, not the primordial ground, the eternal essence, [9] Arvind Sharma (1995), The Philosophy of Religion and
which is at the basis of everything and form which the Advaita Vedanta, Penn State University Press, ISBN 978-
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[10] Frederic F. Fost (1998), Playful Illusion: The Making of [30] Rambachan 1984.
Worlds in Advaita Vedānta, Philosophy East and West,
Vol. 48, No. 3 (Jul., 1998), pages 387-405 [31] Dalal 2009, p. 22.

[11] Nakamura 1950, pp. 221, 680. [32] Sivananda 1977, p. viii.

[12] Nakamura 1950, p. 691. [33] Dalal 2009, p. 16.

[13] Christian Novetzke (2007), Bhakti and Its Public, Inter- [34] Rambachan 1991, p. 5.
national Journal of Hindu Studies, Vol. 11, No. 3, page
[35] Hirst 2005, p. 68.
[36] Rambachan 1991, p. 1-14.
[14] Dominic Goodall (1996), Hindu Scriptures, University of
California Press, ISBN 978-0520207783, page xli [37] Nikhalananda 1931, p. viii.
[15] Richard Davis (2014), Ritual in an Oscillating Universe: [38] Nikhalananda 1931, p. viii-ix.
Worshipping Siva in Medieval India, Princeton University
Press, ISBN 978-0691603087, pages 13, 167 note 21 [39] Puligandla 1997, p. 8-9.

[16] William Indich (2000), Consciousness in Advaita [40] Puligandla 1997, p. 8.

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page vii [41] Lochtefeld 2002, p. 320.

[17] Jeaneane D Fowler (2002), Perspectives of Reality: An [42] Comans 2000, p. 183.
Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism, Sussex Aca- [43] Potter 2008, p. 6-7.
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[44] Raṅganāthānanda 1991, p. 109.
[18] Michael Brannigan (2009), Striking a Balance: A Primer
in Traditional Asian Values, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN [45] Loy 1997, p. 62.
978-0739138465, page 19, Quote: “Advaita Vedanta
is the most influential philosophical system in Hindu [46] Braue 1984, p. 81.
[47] Grimes 1996, p. 234.
[19] Nicholson 2010.
[48] Sivaraman 1973, p. 146.
[20] King 2002, p. 119-133.
[49] Braue 1984, p. 80.
[21] Sangeetha Menon (2012), Advaita Vedanta, IEP; Quote:
[50] Baue 1984, p. 80.
“The essential philosophy of Advaita is an idealist
monism, and is considered to be presented first in the Up- [51] Puligandla 1997, p. 11.
aniṣads and consolidated in the Brahma Sūtra by this tra-
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Teachings: The Upadeśasāhasrī of Śaṅkara. SUNY
[22] King 1995, p. 65; Quote: “The prevailing monism of the Press. pp. xvi–xvii. ISBN 978-8120827714.
Upanishads was developed by the Advaita Vedanta to its
ultimate extreme”. [53] Śaṅkarācārya; Sengaku Mayeda (2006). A Thousand
Teachings: The Upadeśasāhasrī of Śaṅkara. SUNY
[23] JN Mohanty (1980), Understanding some Ontological Press. pp. xi–xvii, 229. ISBN 978-8120827714.
Differences in Indian Philosophy, Journal of Indian Phi-
losophy, Volume 8, Issue 3, page 205, Quote: “Nyaya- [54] David Carpenter and Ian Whicher (2010), Yoga: The In-
Vaiseshika is realistic; Advaita Vedanta is idealistic. The dian Tradition, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415600200, pages
former is pluralistic, the latter monistic.” 6-7

[24] Deutsch 1988, p. 3. [55] Deutsch 1988, pp. 104-105.

[25] Joseph Milne (1997), Advaita Vedanta and typologies [56] Comans 2000, pp. 125-142.
of multiplicity and unity: An interpretation of nondual
knowledge, International Journal of Hindu Studies, Vol- [57] Puligandla 1997, p. 251-254.
ume 1, Issue 1, pages 165-188
[58] Eliot Deutsch (1980), Advaita Vedanta : A Philosophical
[26] Nicholson 2010, p. 68. Reconstruction, University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-
0824802714, pages 105-108
[27] Isaeva 1993, p. 237.
[59] Adi Shankara, Tattva bodha (1.2)
[28] Dalal 2009, p. 16, 26-27.
[60] George Thibaut, The Sacred Books of the East: The
[29] Śaṅkarācārya; Sengaku Mayeda (2006). A Thousand Vedanta-Sutras, Part 1, p. 12, at Google Books, Oxford
Teachings: The Upadeśasāhasrī of Śaṅkara. SUNY University Press, Editor: Max Muller, page 12 with foot-
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[61] Comans 2000, p. 182. [81] Stephen Phillips (1998), Classical Indian Metaphysics,
Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814899, page 332
[62] Comans 2000, pp. 182-183. note 69
[63] Joel Mlecko (1982), The Guru in Hindu Tradition Numen, [82] A Rambachan (1991), Accomplishing the Accomplished:
Volume 29, Fasc. 1, pages 33-61 Vedas as a Source of Valid Knowledge in Sankara, Uni-
versity of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-1358-1, pages
[64] Śaṅkarācārya; Sengaku Mayeda (2006). A Thousand xii–xiii
Teachings: The Upadeśasāhasrī of Śaṅkara. SUNY
Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-8120827714. [83] Klaus Klostermaier (2007), Hinduism: A Beginner’s
Guide, ISBN 978-1851685387, Chapter 2, page 26
[65] Sanskrit: ￱शष्यस्य ज्ञानग्रहणं च लन्गैबर् द्
ु ध्वा तदग्रहणहेतून-
धमर् लौिककप्रमादिनत्यािनत्य(वस्तु) िववेकिवषयासञ्जात ढपूवर्श्रु- [84] Soken Sanskrit, darzana
तत्व-लोक-￸चन्तावेक्षण-जात्याद्य￱भमानाद स्तत्प्र￸तपक्षैः श्रु￸तस्मृ-
[85] Milne 1997, p. 166.
￸तिविहतैरपनयेदक्रोधािद￱भर हसािद￱भश्च यमैज्ञार्नािव द्धैश्च िनयमैः
॥ ४॥ अमािनत्वािदगुणं च ज्ञानोपायं सम्यग् ग्राहयेत् ॥ ५॥ Source; [86] King 1995, p. 268 with note 2.
English Translation 1: S Jagadananda (Translator,
1949), Upadeshasahasri, Vedanta Press, ISBN 978- [87] Koller 2013, pp. 99-106.
8171200597, pages 3-4; OCLC 218363449
English Translation 2: Śaṅkarācārya; Sengaku Mayeda [88] Koller 2006.
(2006). A Thousand Teachings: The Upadeśasāhasrī of
Śaṅkara. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-8120827714. [89] Koller 2013.

[90] Koller 2013, p. 101.

[66] Karl Potter (2008), Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies
Vol. III, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120803107, [91] Koller 2006, p. xi-xii.
pages 218-219
[92] Puligandla 1997, p. 232.
[67] Koller 2013, p. 100.
[93] Arvind Sharma (1995), The Philosophy of Religion and
[68] Koller 2013, p. 100-101. Advaita Vedanta, Penn State University Press, ISBN 978-
0271028323, pages 176-178 with footnotes
[69] Isaeva 1993, p. 35.
[94] Renard 2010, p. 131.
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[14] Sankara Acarya Biography – Monastic Tradition • Jacqueline G Suthren Hirst (2005), Samkara’s Ad-
vaita Vedanta: A Way of Teaching, Routledge,
[15] “Adi Shankara’s four Amnaya Peethams”. Archived from
ISBN 978-0415406017
the original on 26 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-20.

[16] Wikisource:The Complete Works of Swami Practice

Vivekananda/Volume 2/Jnana-Yoga/The Absolute
and Manifestation
• Comans, Michael (2000), The Method of Early Ad-
[17] Michael Hawley, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888— vaita Vedānta: A Study of Gauḍapāda, Śaṅkara,
1975), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy Sureśvara, and Padmapāda, Delhi: Motilal Banar-
[18] Timothy Conway, Neo-Advaita or Pseudo-Advaita and
Real Advaita-Nonduality • Dubois, Joël André-Michel (2014), The Hidden
Lives of Brahman: Sankara’s Vedanta through His
[19] What is Enlightenment? 1 September 2006
Upanisad Commentaries, in Light of Contemporary
[20] What is Enlightenment? 31 December 2001 Practice, SUNY

[21] What is Enlightenment? 1 December 2005

[22] Undivided Journal, About the Journal
• Potter, Karl H. (1981). Encyclopedia of Indian
[23] Jerry Katz on Nonduality, What is Nonduality? Philosophies, vol. 3: Advaita Vedanta up to Sankara
[24] Anthony Peter Iannini (2001), Nāgārjuna’s Emptiness and and his Pupils. Princeton: Princeton University
Pyrrho’s Skepticism Press.

[25] Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit, Utpāda • Potter, Karl H. (2006). Encyclopedia of Indian
Philosophies vol. 11: Advaita Vedānta from 800 to
[26] Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit, Anutpāda 1200. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.
[27] Stanford Encyclopedia of Mysticism, Mysticism • Isaeva, N.V. (1995). From Early Vedanta to Kash-
[28] Richard King (1999), Orientalism and Religion: Postcolo- mir Shaivism: Gaudapada, Bhartrhari, and Abhi-
nial Theory, India, and 'The Mystic East. navagupta. SUNY Press.

Topical studies
14 Further reading
• Arvind Sharma (1995), The Philosophy of Religion
Primary texts and Advaita Vedanta: A Comparative Study in Re-
ligion and Reason, Pennsylvania State University
• Shankara. A thousand teachings: the
Upadeśasāhasrī of Śaṅkara. Translated by • Satyapal Verma (1992), Role of Reason in Sankara
Sengaku Mayeda. Vedanta, Parimal Publication, Delhi
• Robert Hume, Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Ox- • Sangam Lal Pandey (1989), The Advaita view of
ford University Press God, Darshana Peeth, Allahabad

• Kapil N. Tiwari (1977), Dimensions of renunciation

in Advaita Vedanta, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi
• Leesa Davis (2010), Advaita Vedanta and Zen Bud-
dhism: Deconstructive Modes of Spiritual Inquiry,
Bloomsbury Academic


• Natalia V. Isayeva (1993), Shankara and Indian phi-

losophy, SUNY, New York
• Elayath. K. N. Neelakantan (1990), The Ethics of
Sankara, University of Calicut
• Raghunath D. Karmarkar (1966), Sankara’s Ad-
vaita, Karnatak University, Dharwar
• Paul Deussen (Translated by Charles Johnston), The
System of the Vedanta with Shankara commentaries
at Google Books, Open Court
• Charles Johnston, The Vedanta Philosophy of
Sankaracharya at Google Books, Theosophical So-

Sringeri Sharada Peetham

• Madhava Vidyaranya, Sankara-Digvijaya, translated

by Swami Tapasyananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math,
2002, ISBN 81-7120-434-1.


• Madhukar, The Simplest Way, Editions India, USA

& India 2006, ISBN 81-89658-04-2
• Madhukar, Erwachen in Freiheit, Lüchow Verlag,
German, 2.Edition, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-363-

Indian languages

• Mishra, M., Bhāratīya Darshan (भारतीय दर्शन),

Kalā Prakāshan.
• Sinha, H. P., Bharatiya Darshan ki ruparekha (Fea-
tures of Indian Philosophy), 1993, Motilal Benarasi-
das, Delhi–Varanasi.
• Swāmi Paramānanda Bhārati, Vedānta Prabodha
(in Kannada), Jnānasamvardhini Granthakusuma,

15 External links
• Bibliography of Advaita Vedanta Ancient to 9th-
century literature
• Bibliography of Advaita Vedanta 9th-century to
20th-century literature
• Advaita Vedanta at DMOZ

16 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

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