Vedanta The End of the Vedas Uttara Mimamsa The Later Exegesis School. Purva Mimamsa Earlier Exegesis School Mimamsa karma-kanda Vedic ritual Uttara Mimamsa Later Exegesis School Vedanta jnana-kanda Upanishads
The End of the Vedas
The Later Exegesis School
Purva Mimamsa Earlier Exegesis School
Mimamsa karma-kanda Vedic ritual
Uttara Mimamsa Later Exegesis School
Moksha through knowledge of Brahman is the aim rather than following Vedic ritual.
There are many Vedantic schools (sampradayas).
The Advaita Vedanta of Shankaracarya is only the most famous and influential as philosophy.
All schools accept the three foundations:
The Brahma Sutra
Brahma Sutra aka Vedanta Sutra or
Shariraka Sutra “ On the Embodied Self”
Put in its final form around 500 CE.
First systematization of the ideas in the Upanishads and summary of interpretations by many earlier authors, including Badarayana, who is traditionally regarded as the author.
The Brahma Sutra is composed of short, cryptic threads of thought that can be interpreted in various and opposed ways.
Four Chapters of the Brahma Sutra
Coherence of Upanishadic teachings on brahman
2. Critique of non-Vedantic views
3. Means (sadhana) of realizing brahman.
4. Fruits of knowledge. Death and destinies of
the sensory faculties dissolve into
the subtle body
The Self passes into the heart
then passes into the sushumna nadi
The Self then travels by a ray of light on two paths:
Those with knowledge of brahman on the Northern path, the Way of the Gods, to the sun, light, and liberation.
Those without knowledge on the Southern path, the Way of the Fathers, to the moon and rebirth.
Subtle bodies, the size of a grain of rice, return to earth through ether, smoke, mist, clouds, and rain.
Ingested by animals or humans, they pass into the blood and are conceived with a physical body
Those unfit for the two paths are reborn as plants, insects, and lesser animal forms.
Badarayana rejects the Sankhya dualism of
prakriti and purusha,
and makes consciousness and matter
two modifications of brahman.
parinama: brahman creates the universe by
transforming into it
The self is a part (amsha) of brahman, not separate but also not identical.
bheda abheda vada different/non-different view
In the Brahma Sutra, brahman is the absolute,
unchanging, divine intelligence, but not a
What is the relation between brahman & creation?
What is the relation between brahman & the self?
Is brahman a personal god
or an impersonal absolute?
The Vedantic schools give different answers.
MAJOR SUB-SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA
Non-duality Abheda non-difference
“non-duality of the qualified”
Brahman is Vishnu
Duality Brahman is Vishnu
Duality/Non-duality Brahman is Krishna
Shaiva Tantrism Shrikantha
Brahman is Shiva
Shuddha Advaita Vallabha
Pure Non-dualism Brahman is Krishna
“Inconceivable Difference and Sameness”
Chaitanya and Baladeva
Brahman is Vishnu the Supreme Personality
Brahmin born in Kerala
8th century CE
Brahma Sutra Bhashya. Commentaries on the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutras, and Gaudapada’s Karikas with its ajativada
(no-birth) doctrine influenced by Mahayana Buddhism.
Shringeri Math in Karnataka
Advaita Non Duality Radical Monism
Atman is Brahman
All change and plurality is an appearance—
an illusion produced by avidya: cognitive error.
Brahman is real.
The universe is unreal.
The universe is Brahman.
prajnanam Brahma Aitareya Upanishad
Brahman is Consciousness.
aham Brahma asmi Brhadaranyaka Up.
I am Brahman.
Tat tvam asi Chandogya Up.
That you are.
Ayam atma Brahma Brhadaranyaka Up.
This self is Brahma.
Avidya: The soul identifies itself with the finite body/mind, forgetting it is really only the Atman.
Satchitananda: Sat Cit Ananda
being consciousness bliss
Shankara rejects Sankhya parinama and prakriti (pradhana), at least from the ultimate point of view.
Parinama: real, material, transformation of Brahman into the world.
Vivarta: Creation is only apparent. Effect is mere appearance.
Satkarya-vada of Sankhya: effect pre-exists in the cause.
Satkarana-vada of Shankara: Only the cause exists.
The Two Levels of Being
Paramarthika: Reality brahman
ultimate pure eternal unchanging
the phenomenal, empirical world of self/object
duality, senses, ordinary persons, and practical
life. Appears real until brahman is realized.
Adhyasa: superimposition, projection upon the
substrate of brahman of previous experiences and
avarana power of veiling vikshepa distortion
Misidentification of the self with its phenomenal
The self confuses itself with its reflection.
Theory of Limitation avaccheda vada
Upadhi: limitation, karmically determined
conditions of body and mind that limit and distort
When free of upadhis, the self shines forth in its
Projecting separation where there is non like the
space in a pot as distinct from Space.
Reflection Theory pratibimba reflection
The individual self is a reflection of the Atman on the mirror of ignorance.
The moon’s reflections on the water seem to be separate and multiple.
Your reflection in a mirror appears as you and separate. It has empirical reality as pure appearance, but is not you.
The Psycho-Physical Jiva (the embodied self)
Gross physical body sthula sharira
Subtle body sukshma sharira
5 sense organs indriyas
5 organs of action karmendriyas (voice, hands,
feet, excretory and
Vital breath prana
Sensory mind manas
Shankara accepts the six pramanas of Mimamsa
but only three are important.
No valid means of knowing at the lower
The Jiva is made of projections rather than material evolutes of prakriti.
The Jiva appears because of the failure to discriminate (viveka) the real self from its non-real appearance.
All Selves are identical to Atman untouched by the apparently separate mind-body complexes.
Maya: the empirical world like a magical is illusory but exists.
Maya is anirvacaniya— inexpressible.
It cannot be said to be real or unreal.
It is the the totality of errors caused by avidya.
Shankara insists that maya does not entail subjective idealism.
Two Sub-Schools of Advaita
Bhamati Mandana Misra, Vacaspati Misra
The self is the locus of ignorance (avidya)
Brahman is untouched by maya
Plurality of jivas with their own ignorance
Brahman is the locus of ignorance.
Jivas are mere reflections of the Atman.
He resolves the contradiction by the two levels of truth.
Subject-object duality is real
on the phenomenal level.
It is sublated (badha) or transcended as unreal on the ultimate level.
We realize it to be an appearance
within the one consciousness.
The Five Koshas of the Self Taittiriya Upanishad
Anna maya kosha body
Prana maya kosha life energy
Mano maya kosha mind
Vijnana maya kosha
Ananda maya kosha bliss
The Self’s Four Levels of Consciousness
A Waking jagarita
U Dreaming svapna
M Deep Sleep sushupti
AUM Transcendental consciousness
Nirguna brahman higher impersonal absolute
Saguna brahman empirical appearance
Ishvara, personal Lord, creator god
on the level of appearance and maya.
Narayana or Vasudeva
prarabdha karma karma in process of manifesting
that cannot be avoided.
samskara latent impression from past lives
vasana habit energy
upasana worship of saguna deity
image worship puja
nidhidhyasa sustained contemplation on the
Supreme Self by samnyasis,
meditation on OM
Ramanuja 11th -12 century CE in his commentary on the Brahma Sutra,
Shri-Bhashya, strongly criticized Advaita.
He rejected the idea of nirgunabrahman.
Brahman is not an impersonal absolute.
Brahman has personal qualities (saguna).
Ramanuja rejected maya.
The world is not an unreal illusion—a Buddhist idea— that diminishes God’s creativity, power, and grace.
Vishnu is Brahman and is the supreme soul.
The world is his body
Brahman is the soul of the world
just as we inhabit our bodies.
“the non-duality of that which is qualified”
The Self is non-different from brahman.
But persons and material things are qualities of brahman like the color red is is a quality of a rose, distinguishable (vishishta) from it, but still interfused with its being.
Individual selves are modes (prakara) of brahman
Brahman is fully present in each part,
but transcends them all.
The best way to know Brahman is the path of devotion (bhakti) and the path of action (karma) rather than the Advaita path of knowledge (jnana)
Upasana Devotional contemplation of the Supreme
Prapatti Liberation is attained by self-surrender to
Ramanuja was a Shri Vaishnava and combines Vaishnava theology and popular worship of Vishnu with Vedanta.
The Lord as saguna brahman undergoes a real transformation of his body, not an illusory one.
from the subtle to the gross level of manifestation of individual souls and the inanimate material world.
His purity and transcendence are untouched by creation.
Thus Ramanuja rejects Shankara’s satkarana but accepts satkaryavada.
In the interludes between world creations and destructions—
pralaya:the cyclic dissolution of the
—souls and the cosmos rest latently in Vishnu in the subtle form.
Brahman is only saguna
Dvaita Vedanta Madhva 13th century CE
Radical Dualism Rejects Advaita monism
Advaitins are deceitful demons.
Uncompromising monotheistic conception of God.
God created the universe (jagat), made of prakriti, and
No Parinama No Vivarta No Maya
God is the efficient, not the material cause of the world.
Selves and the world are fully real, not an illusion.
Souls are eternal but separate and dependent upon God’s grace for their existence and salvation
Souls are plural and God determines their destinies.
The self is not absorbed in Brahman.
Tat tvam asi is not an assertion of identity, but of similarity
Worship is the path to God.
Eternal damnation for the wicked.
Shri Harsha 12th century CE Advaita
Khandanakhandakhadya “ Sweets of Refutation”
Contest between Nyaya and Vedanta as the
fundamental philosophy of Hinduism.
Potter’s “bhaktized Advaita leap philosophy”
Demolishes all the concepts of Mimamsa, Buddhism,
and, especially of Nyaya-Vaisheshika:
Counterattack on Nyaya-Vaisheshika
No pramanas are valid.
All categories are indefinable and so unreal:
Being, Cause, Relation, Universals, Time, Space, Numbers, and Qualities are all self-contradictory
God’s existence cannot be proved
Perceptual realism is indemonstrable.
All conceptual discrimination falls into vicious infinite regress and is refuted lock, stock, and barrel.
Adoption of Nagarjuna’s prasangika method of negative logic to prove a positive thesis:
Self-luminous Brahman is the only intelligible
Counterattack by New Nyaya of Gangesha (1350 CE)
Technical refinement of Nyaya logic to make it immune to attack.
Rigorous logical formalism similar to Logical Positivism in the 20th century.