An Easy to Understand Gist of Vedanta


 Vedanta is one of the six main philosophical schools of Hinduism,

based on the monistic doctrine of the Upanishads on ultimate reality (Brahman) and the liberation of the soul.


Six Vedantic views on Brahman are categorized here in three categories based on the ease of understanding. These views are not contradictory, but different ways of looking at the Reality.


 1. Shankara (Advaita Vedānta)denied the distinction between God and the living entity. The ocean, the river, the wave, the lake and a drop of water is nothing but water to a Jnāni, but looks different to a child (Ajnāni) only.

Jiva is not exactly identical with Brahman. Jiva has limited power and knowledge and depends on Brahman. Brahman is much more than jiva. Pot is clay, but clay is not (just) pot, but much more than pot. (Brahma Sutra 2.1.22 )

Brahman is different from both sentient and insentient objects. He is called non-different from the world and jiva because of being the cause of all. (Brahma Sutra 2.1.23)

The above two verses from Brahma Sutra clarifiy long standing disputes between the supporters of monoism and dualism theories.

2. Ballava (pure non-dual) in his view, total surrender to the will of God is not a means among many other means for the highest spiritual realization; it is the goal itself. His views are same as Shankara. Advaita is a very broad view, not very easy to understand and comprehend for most people. He emphasizes bhakti as means.


 3. Nimbarka– Dvaitādvaita. Duality and non-duality at the same time, same as Ramanuja’s and Chaitanya’s views.

 4. Ramanuja Vishishta Advaita, Qualified Non-dualism. Ramanuja saw the ocean, the river, the wave, the lake and a tiny drop of water as nothing but the part and parcels of the body of water. Our body parts looks different, but they constitute the body, hence the same as body. Individual (vyashthi, jiva, the tree) constitute the total (samasthi, jagadish, the forest). Thus he harmonized the two schools of thoughts.

5. Chaitanya – Acintya-Bhedābheda-tattva. Simultaneously One and Different. A drop of water and an entire ocean, chemically analyzed, are exactly the same.  But one is small and the other is great. Thus jagat and jagadisha are same but looks different to a common person. The differences are very subtle or inconceivable to ordinary human mind.


6. Madhva (pure dual) emphasized that all (Jagadish, Jiva, and Jagat) are different and eternally distinct from Jagadish. Jagadish is independent and all other forms (Jiva and Jagat) are dependent and distinct from Jagadish. Energy and matter are different from each other to a common man, but to Einstein they are the same. Madhva’s views seem to be a very narrow view that can be easily understood by a common men

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