Case Study

Course module no. 9: Samkara Advaita Vedanta Topic 1: Nature of Brahman

Adi Sankara was an Indian philosopher who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta, the most influential sub-school of Vedanta. His teachings are based on the unity of the soul and Brahman, in which Brahman is viewed as without attributes. Shankara established the doctrine of Advaita (No dualism). . It means that each and every person has a divine existence, which can be identified with the Supreme God. Wise Man, in the greatness of his knowledge and spiritual discrimination, Sees the Self as the only reality and thinks, ‘I am Brahman'. Only Brahman is Real. The Jiva or the individual soul is non-different from Brahman. The world is not an illusion according to Sankara. The world is relatively real (Vyavaharika Satta), while Brahman is absolutely real (Paramarthika Satta). The unchanging Brahman appears as the changing world because of a superimposition of non- Self (objects) on Self (subject - Brahman). This is called Avidya. Now we proceed to do a case study by comparing some of the quotes from Gita which was said to have been spoken by Lord Krishana, an embodiment of Brhahman.

According to Sankara, avidya is the basis of all that we know and do in our empirical life. It is the root cause of our bondage. And so in order to put an end to our bondage and attain liberation, ignorance (avidya) which is the root cause has to be destroyed; and ignorance can be destroyed only by attaining the right knowledge of the Self, discriminating it from the not-Self. In the words of Sankara,"Knowledge is the means by which Brahman realization is desired to be attained. Brahman-realization is the highest end of man since it destroys the root of all evil such as avidya, the seed of the entire samsara."

Sankara's Commentary on Brahma-Sutra, 1-1-1

In Gita, Sri Krishna says: "In the world a two fold path was taught by me, 0 sinless one: that of the Sankhyas by devotion to knowledge, and that of the Yogins by devotion to action."

"The knower of Brahman attains the highest".