The present conceptual study attempts to present the concept of happiness from the perspective of Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism), a sub-school of the Hindu philosophy based on Upanishads (scriptures) which are the concluding portions of the Vedas (revealed texts). Refusing to rely. Advaita Vedanta is the dominant and most well-known school of Indian philosophy. In Before taking up a study of the basic principles of Advaita Vedanta it is. Advaita Vedanta for the Absolute Beginner The following introduction is written for an 'absolute beginner' to Advaita Vedanta. Often students in the past have.

Advaita Vedanta Pdf

Language:English, Indonesian, Japanese
Published (Last):27.05.2016
ePub File Size:17.57 MB
PDF File Size:15.68 MB
Distribution:Free* [*Registration Required]
Uploaded by: TISA

Sesha's Bookstore: Advaita Vedanta PDF download - Paper books Electronic books (PDF/EPUB) ecommerce, open source, shop, online shopping. The Upanishads,1 the source of Vedanta,2 say that before this creation was, the self . The words Advaita Vedanta, like the word Hinduism,7 are a misnomer. The following essay is a brief summary of Advaita Vedanta, one of the main The central position of the Advaita Vedanta tradition is that in reality there is no.

Like other pramana, Indian scholars rened Anupalabdi to four types: non-perception of the cause, nonperception of the eect, non-perception of object, and non-perception of contradiction.


Only two schools of Hinduism accepted and developed the concept non-perception as a pramana. Advaita considers this method as valid and useful when the other ve pramanas fail in ones pursuit of knowledge and truth.

It means nonexistence. Some scholars consider Anupalabdi to be same as Abhava,[] while others consider Anupalabdi and Abhava as dierent.

A Padartha is dened as that which is simultaneously Astitva existent , Jneyatva knowable and Abhidheyatva nameable. The schools of Hinduism which consider it epistemically valid suggest 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 directly.

This means of gaining proper knowledge is either spoken or written, but through Sabda words. In Advaita Vedanta, the interest is not in liberation in after life, but in ones current life. Of these, much of the Advaita Vedanta philosophy focuses on the last, gaining liberation in ones current life.

It is union through an onto- logical change.

All three of these types of unity are spoken of in mystical literature describing the ultimate union of the soul with God, although allowance must be made for metaphorical language in many of these descriptions.

Advaita Vedanta clearly and emphatically speaks of the first, unity of identity. This is why it has often been called monism, although this is a misleading term as I have mentioned already. Nevertheless, it is in the differences between these three concepts of mystical union that distinctions are made between Advaita V edlinta and other religious traditions.

On the other hand, there are passages in the and in the Bhagavad Gftii that appear to describe each of these three types of unity, and it is from these differences that various schools of interpretation have arisen.

The Vedanta or qualified nondualism of Ramanuja,1 for instance, is based upon the second type of unity, unity of reciprocity. Arvind Sharma explores some of these differences of interpretation in his comparative study of the Gftii and suggests that on occasions Sailkara' s nondualist interpre- tation b is forced, although he discusses in his conclusion ways in which these diverse interpretations may be reconciled.

If there are different kinds of resolution to dualities, then obviously the appro- priate kind of resolution must be applied to each type of duality, where a resolu- tion is actually possible or necessary.

Here is where we may take issue with the term 'monism' as applied to Sankara's nondualism. Monism is, I suggest, a false resolution of the dualism that Advaita Vedanta is concerned with. To see this as clearly as possible we may discuss the dualities Sailkara is concerned with in terms of three primary dualities.

unity: An interpretation of nondual knowledge

I have called them three primary dualities because they arise out of a threefold division of Reality into brahman, jagat, and iitman-God, universe, and Self.

These dualities do not fall easily into any of the categories discussed above. This is partly because each pair is experienced differently and partly because as a class they may be thought of in quite different ways. In general, however, three different ways of conceiving these pairs may be distinguished: i as entirely separate and autonomous realities in themselves, ir as cause and effect, and iiz as co-relative. It will be useful to examine each of these in turn. Attempts to define beings or entities 'in themselves,' without accounting for their relations with other beings or entities, or the notion of individualism found in certain I Joseph Milne kinds of existentialism in which essence is held to be self-created, are examples.

But notions of the radical transcendence of God, which deny any ontological relation between God and creation, or between God and the soul-God as 'wholly other' -also fall into this class of dualism. Also, the doctrine of iirambha-viida, which holds that the universe is a new creation not contained in its cause, is dualistic in this sense and is refuted by Sailkara in his Brahma Sii. The assumption underlying such a conception shows itself to be extremely radical once it is considered closely.

It attributes absolute autonomy or self- determination to every entity or being, regarding it as originating and termi- nating in and for itself. This implies an absolute non-relation between all entities or beings. Such an absolute non-relation would even exclude, logically speaking, any ontological or epistemological relations between all things.

Even to speak of each possessing 'being' or 'existence' would not strictly be possible since some nominalist explanation of the apparent common properties of being or existence would be required to justify absolute non-relation. Although such monadism seems wholly implausible, it represents, at least conceptually, the most radical form of dualism in the sense that Advaita Vedanta conceives dualism-a duality of separately originating and wholly independent realities.

If it is implausible to conceive every being or entity as self-originating and self-determining, then a theory of commonly derived being may be posited. There are two such theories of causal- ity, the materialist and the theistic.

Materialism posits primal matter as the common substance and cause of all things, while theistic causation posits that the world and the self are created by God. According to Advaita Vedanta, the notion of cause and effect belongs strictly to the empirical world or miiyii, even though brahman is held to be both the material and efficient cause of creation. It is a model of the relations between created things, where everything affects everything else.

In the empirical world, however, what is a cause in one relation is an effect in another. No object or entity can be found that is solely a cause, nor can any object or entity be found that is solely an effect Thus, causality is a relativistic notion. It turns out either to be circular or else an infinite regress. Also, it posits the existence of brahman only by inference, while, according to Sailk:ara a Brahma Sutra Bhiifya 2. To posit God as first cause, so as to break the inflnite regress of causality, may solve the problem in one sense, but it reduces every being to the status of an effect.

Consequently, an insurmountable onto- Advaita Vediinta and typologies of multiplicity and unity I logical discontinuity is placed between the being of God and the being of the universe and the being of the self. If it is said that the world and the self 'have' being, or in some sense 'participate' in being, then being itself becomes dual.

What type of entity 'has' being if the entity itself is not being? Or what type of entity 'participates' in being if it is itself not being? It is clear that to attribute Primal Being to God as first cause and some kind of derived being to the world and to the self reduces Being itself to an attribute of some kind, even though an uncreated attribute of God and a created attribute among created things.

At the opposite pole to monadism, co-relativism conceives that all entities and beings exist only by mutual relation to one another. Nothing exists in or by itself as such, but only over against and by virtue of everything else. For example, 'I' can be posited only in relation to 'Thou. The 'I' is a 'Thou' to another, 'This' is a 'That' to another. Therefore everything is what it is only by virtue of the perspective from which it is known or the context or relation in which it appears.

All things exist only by virtue of these ever mobile perspectives and contexts. To put this in other terms, everything is simply the expression of conditions and is devoid of any real existence in itself. There are no entities or beings, only relations. This conception of reality finds implicit expression in various forms of relativism and deconstruction theory. According to Advaita Vedanta the possibility of interpreting reality in these diverse ways arises out of the fundamentally paradoxical nature of miiyii itself: This miiyii is without the characteristics of Reality or unreality, without beginning and dependent on the Reality that is the Supreme Self.

Since it is neither real nor unreal it cannot be comprehended: All people admit in their experience existence of miiyii. From the logical point of view miiyii is inexplicable. Sruti too declares it to be neither existence nor non-existence. Since the effects of miiyii are undeniably manifest, its existence cannot be denied. Being stultified by knowledge, it cannot really be said to I Joseph Milne exist. Miiyii is by nature manifold. The above types of duality render the world intelligible to high degrees and may be taken as hypotheses that make phenomenal reality explicable and calculable.

For example, many of the findings of modern Western science have been made possible upon the implicit assumption of monadism. The foundational notion of 'pure objectivity,' although now called into question, assumes that the world is composed of discrete objects observable and identi- fiable 'in themselves' independently of the subject who observes them.

So likewise has the notion of causality rendered whole areas of phenomena intelli- gible. And a form of the notion of co-relativism has found recent expression in such theories as holism, chaos, and ecology, in which reality is conceived as a total interconnected process with no individual self-determining entities or beings. There can be no doubt that each of these views of reality produce genuine knowledge about the phenomenal world. It is only when they make a claim to absolute knowledge that they may be called into question, for they yield only relative knowledge and can be in dispute with the claims of one another.

The multiplicity of scientific theories of reality and the consequent disputes over scientific methodologies itself displays, from the nondual perspective, the elusive and multiple nature of the phenomenal world or miiyii. Advaita Vedanta does not propose to replace this field of knowledge with a better or truer version that will render the world more intelligible. It proposes, instead, that another order of knowledge exists which transcends the paradoxical nature of all such knowledge by transcending its dualistic basis which lies in the very structure of cognizance and reason itself, upon which it is founded.

Of itself, however, such knowledge does not lead to libera- tion because it is knowledge of a secondary and relative order.

It is conceptual knowledge, not knowledge as such, which is knowledge of the Self alone. Yet the relative nature of all such knowledge points towards absolute knowledge in so far as the desire for knowledge originates in the Self. It is because nondual knowledge is ultimately sought, and because the mind can intuitively discrimi- nate between relative and absolute, that all such knowledge is known to be Advaita Vedanta and typologies of multiplicity and unity I relative.

Advaita Vedanta

On the other hand, according to Advaita Vedanta, it is only when the nondual nature of reality is known that the ephemeral nature of mayii itself is also truly known. The teaching that the empirical world is unreal does not mean that it is not there, only that it is like a drama in which the actors are real actors but they are not the characters whom they play, in which all sorts of events take place but which do not really happen.

For the actors to play their parts convincingly they need great knowledge of the art of drama, yet for this knowledge to work effec- tively the actors must always know that they only play roles. Thus a drama, by analogy with mayii, is both real and unreal at once. Yet this knowledge of its illusory nature neither impedes the play nor makes its performance pointless. But it preserves both the actors and the audience from projecting the notion of absolute reality upon whatever appears or befalls.

Advaita Vedanta PDF download

Here is where we need to tread rather cautiously. There are many descriptions of nonduality we might cite from the Vedantic literature as the analogy of the 'wave' and the 'ocean,' for instance but, as with the notion of duality, these are easily, and commonly are, misunderstood.

We cannot leap, as it were, immediately from duality to nonduality.

Any ill-considered leap from duality to nonduality is likely to misconceive nonduality in a number of ways and produce what may be called 'naive unities' or monisms. That is to say, either unities conceived merely as at the opposite pole to duality, or else confla- tions of dualities.

The first of these leaps makes a pair of duality and non- duality, and so still belongs to the thought structure of duality. It is because the term 'nonduality' is a negative term that it cannot easily be polarized with an opposite, as the positive term 'monism' can be.

The second leap, in which one pole of a duality is conflated into the other, conceives plurality merely as the 'dispersion' of unity and so attempts to arrive at nonduality by means of an ingathering of the multiple to the one.

This leap is a reduction or conflation based upon the mutually negating conception of duality,. I propose, therefore, to examine a series of false nondualities before coming to a final discussion of what nonduality means in Advaita Vedanta. Here it will be helpful to bear in mind the distinction I have alluded to several times I Joseph Milne between nonduality and monism.

Recalling our three primary dualities, we discover that in attempting to resolve their polarities we are liable, through a false move of reduction, to conflate each of them into six possible naive monisms. These are each worth considering since, in their most radical forms, they produce six views or paradigms of reality, some of which are articulated in received philosophical systems.

Those suggested here, such as materialism, essentialism, and so forth, present themselves in extreme or radical forms and obviously each of them imply quite different conceptions of God, the universe, and the Self. More seriously, for our purposes, they also produce several monisms with which Advaita Vedanta has often been incorrectly identified.

The six false reductions or monisms that emerge from the three primary dualities may be summarized as follows: 1. Reduction of Universe into God Theistic idealism 2.

Advaita Vedanta.pdf

Reduction of God into Universe Pantheism 3. Reduction of God into Self Radical existentialism 4. Reduction of Self into God Radical essentialism 5. Reduction of Self into Universe Materialism 6. Reduction of Universe into Self Solipsism By 'reduction' I mean here a conflation or subsumation of one pole of a duality into the other, and thereby an elimination of the pole that has been conflated into the other, which now alone stands for the 'real.

It may be called a naive monism because the problem of duality has been overcome through a false unification, a unification in which the identity of one pole of a duality has been relativized and surrendered into the identity of the other, which is taken as an absolute or true identity. Dualism has not been authentically overcome but simply short- circuited, discounted, or leapt over.

Yet it is not difficult to understand how these naive monisms can arise, although reflection upon their implications immediately brings them into ques- tion. If it is assumed that reality is in some fundamental sense one or unified, as Advaita Vedanta says it is, then there is an obvious temptation to locate within it some unifying element or principle, some universal factor, to which every- thing may be reduced. Materialism is perhaps the most obvious instance of such a reduction.

If every entity, every process, or every disposition of things always involves a material quantity, conjunction, or action, then matter itself may be taken as the primal reality and the key with which all things may be made explicable. So runs the thought underlying much scientific theorizing. Such a Advaita Vedanta and typologies of multiplicity and unity I predisposition of thought is tempted to discount or bracket out whatever does not fit this view, or else to say that it will eventually be incorporated through the advance of science.

The various names I have given to some of these monisms, such as Theistic idealism, Materialism, Radical essentialism, and so forth, may strike us as curious at ftrst glance.

They are offered only as approximations, but deliberately given in extreme forms. Yet a little consideration of each one throws an interest- ing light upon them, and it is particularly illuminating to consider each position as a monism. Pantheism, for example, is obviously an identification of God with the universe.

As a monism it suggests a particular type of pantheism, of course.

But it is significant here because Advaita Vedanta is occasionally called a form of pantheism, and this shows one way in which nondualism can be, and has been, misinterpreted as a type of monism. Again, the reduction of the Self into God, from an essentialist perspective, produces a certain type of essential- ism. And likewise with each reduction. Each monism conceives of God, the universe, or the Self quite differently.

Other per- mutations are possible but the three principal ones are the most significant here since they represent genuine opposites as well as genuinely irreconcilable schools of thought.

But, again, they are significant because Salikara could be taken to be a 'radical essentialist' or a 'theistic idealist,' as well as a pantheist as we have noted already. It is the danger of misconceiving nondualism in terms of these kinds of monisms that opens the way to false or inadequate comparisons between Advaita Vedanta and other philosophical or religious positions, particularly with 'types' or 'typologies' of mysticism. The fact that one interpreter sees Advaita as 'non- theistic' while another sees it as 'theistic idealism,' or one as 'pantheistic' and another as subjective 'essentialism' shows us, at the very least, that all these terms are inadequate ways of classifying Advaita.

How then may we approach a more adequate way of elucidating, without reduction or distortion, the genuine purport of Satikara' s nondualism-and with- out, of course, assuming that Sankara has not himself adequately elucidated it?

The best approach, which is the one we have followed so far in our discussion, would seem to be to tackle the misunderstandings that are common or most likely to occur. This implies a negative approach rather than a positive one.

But I Joseph Milne it is those attempts at translating Sailkara's thought into positive language that have generally led to misunderstandings. This approach, from which arises the term 'monism,' has tended to leave aside, as we noted at the beginning, the real problem that Sailkara is addressing, which is that of nescience or ignorance of the true nature of reality. However, once you recover from the initial shock, we will try to make Advaita more palatable, as it were, by introducing the following distinction.

Definition 1 Def 1: Definition 2 Def 2: None of these are pure hallucinations. You are not in a dream right now as you struggle to understand Samkara. You are, in short, not a zombie and your best friend is not a zombie either.

And here we encounter that most famous — or notorious — of concepts in classical Indian thought, namely, maya. Reflect on what Samkara is trying to do: The tension — if not contradiction — should be palpable. On the one hand, Brahman as the Real — according to the Upanishads — cannot undergo any change whatsoever, but, on the other hand, Brahman produces — also according to the Upanishads — the world which is subject to various changes.

The Advaita tradition after Samkara invokes maya at this juncture to claim that Real-ly Brahman never produces anything, Real-ly Brahman never undergoes any change, and Real- ly Brahman is never subject to the appearances of the world. However, because of a mysterious principle called maya we human beings who are entrapped in its coils mistakenly think that the eternal Brahman has become transformed into this world of change, decay, and transformation.

This mistake is indeed our ignorance avidya , which keeps us bound to the circle of repeated reincarnations, till we gain spiritual insight vidya into our real identity, namely, that we are non-dual Advaita with Brahman. Take a lump of clay and fashion it into five different pots: Now ask yourself this question: The next question is this: Therefore, if these clay objects were to be broken down to their rudiments, all we would get is clay.

Thus, the term advaita a-dvaita denies that the clay pots are essentially different from or essentially other to the clay. Clay pots Real- ly are clay. A rolled-out carpet Real-ly is the same carpet when it lies unpacked in the basement. What drops of water Real-ly are is water. Rainbows Real-ly are water drops, which Really are water.

What gold necklaces Real-ly are is gold.

1 Moksha liberation through

Tiny droplets on a wavelet Real-ly are wavelets, which Real-ly are waves, which Real-ly are the ocean, which Real-ly is water. While it might be touchingly romantic — or, depending on your sensitivities, intolerably cheesy — to say that you are non-dual advaita with your partner — Samkara uses Advaita, as we have seen, in a carefully defined technical sense.

After all, partners have lives that are also independent of each other, and you do not usually die if your partner goes away. Just as a green pot would endure as a pot if it were repainted as blue, but would dissolve at a trice if the clay, with which it is Advaita, were to be demolished, likewise the world would vanish at once if its underlying support, Brahman, with which it is Advaita, were to be removed.

Answer 2 After you have finished reading a book of, say, pages, you might ask yourself what you have accomplished.A Critical Approach, Delhi: Take a lump of clay and fashion it into five different pots: However, acting in accord with one's dharma is not wish- fulfillment see note 9. Psycho- logically, Brahman may be regarded as the center of the collective uncon- scious, but from the philosophical standpoint the concept of Brahma-n sums up the narure of the universe in irs innermost essence and functions as the ulti- mate basis, not only of the psychological distinction berween the conscious and the unconscious, bur also of the more fundamental distinction between the psychical and the physical or berween the inner and the outer.

A Problem of [] B Matilal , Perception: Only two schools of Hinduism accepted and developed the concept non-perception as a pramana. Maya is the manifestation of the world, whereas Brahman, which supports Maya, is the cause of the world. See Prophets of the Nnv lndiJJ, p. Nicholas F. The second major difference is dreaming's freedom from waking's time, space, and causation rules niyama.