What is meant by advaita

Advaita Vedanta

Advaita Vedanta (Sanskrit: अद्वैतवेदान्त advaitavedānta m.) a current in the philosophy of Vedanta which assumes that in the realm of the absolute, i.e. as the highest reality, there is only 'non-duality' (advaita) gives. This means the ultimate identity of the individual soul (jiva) and the oversoul (brahman). The most famous exponent of this philosophy, which began in the Upanishads, is Shankara.

Shankaracharya, the teacher of Vedanta

The teachings of Shankara can be summarized in a half verse: "Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya Jivo Brahmaiva Na Aparah" - only Brahman (the Absolute) is real; this world is unreal; and the jiva or soul of the individual is no different from Brahman. "This is the quintessence of his philosophy.

Sukadev on Advaita Vedanta

Transcription of a lecture video (2014) by Sukadev on Advaita Vedanta

Advaita Vedanta is the non-dualistic Vedanta, the non-dualistic end of knowledge. It is the basic philosophy on which Yoga Vidya is based, that is the basic philosophy of Swami Sivananda, that is the basic philosophy of Swami Vivekananda and so many other masters. It can be said that the majority of the currents in India today are Advaita Vedanta, sometimes called Kevala Advaita Vedanta. Kevala means of course. Advaita means non-dual. Vedanta, the end of knowledge. Advaita Vedanta was established as a system of philosophy by Shankaracharya, 788 to 820 AD.

You can find Advaita Vedanta in the Upanishads, of course. You can also find Advaita Vedanta in older parts of the Vedas, e.g. in the Purusha Suktam, that is a Vedantic Sukta, that is a Vedantic chapter in the Rig Veda. Advaita Vedanta is the Vedanta of oneness. Advaita Vedanta can be summarized in three sentences: "Brahma Satyam. Brahman alone exists. Jagan Mithya. The world as we perceive it in its apparent dualities and apparent multiplicity does not exist. Jivo Brahmaiva Na Parah. The individual is nothing but Brahman. " Advaita Vedanta - unity without a second. Vedanta means the end of knowledge.

Veda means knowledge. Vedanta is the end of the Vedas, the end of knowledge. The end of knowledge is always advaita. As long as there is still someone there who recognizes something, something else can also be recognized again, because what is recognized can never be fully recognized. Only when the one who recognizes recognizes that he is the knowable, and when there is only this one knowledge, then full knowledge is there. Sounds complicated, it's not that complicated after all. Advaita Vedanta means: The highest knowledge, the highest knowledge, the ultimate knowledge of Advaita, of unity. "Sarvam Kalvidam Brahman. Everything is truly Brahman." This is how Advaita Vedanta can also be expressed. What you see is Brahman, what you do not see is Brahman. Inside you is Brahman, the world is Brahman, God is Brahman, Brahman everywhere. Advaita Vedanta - Vedanta without a second, the end of knowledge, non-duality, absolute unity. Feel this, experience this, live from Advaita Vedanta.

The Advaita Philosophy of Sri Shankara

(from Swami Sivananda)


The first systematic exponent of Advaita is Gaudapada, the Guru of the Guru of Sri Shankara. Govinda was Gaudapada's disciple. He became Shankara's teacher. Gaudapada gave his main teachings of Advaita Vedanta in the celebrated Mandukya Karikas. But it was Shankara who produced the final, beautiful form of Advaita philosophy and gave it the finishing touches to perfection. Carefully read Sri Shankara's commentaries on the main body of the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, and you will clearly understand the philosophy of Advaita. The commentaries on the Vedanta Sutras of Shankara are known as Sariraka Bhashya.

The advaita taught by Sri Shankara is strict, absolute. According to Sri Shankara, all that is is Brahman. Brahman itself is absolutely homogeneous. All differences and all plurality is an illusion.

Brahman — the one without a second

Atman is evident (Svatah-siddha). It is not based on external evidence. It is not possible to deny Atman because it is the very essence of whoever denies it. Atman is the basis of all kinds of knowledge, assumptions and evidence. The self is in it, the self is without; the self is in front of it; the self is behind it; the self is left and it's right, it's above and below.

Brahman is not an object as it is Adrisya, beyond the reach of the eyes. Hence, the Upanishads proclaim: "Neti Neti - not this, not this, not that. That does not mean that Brahman is a negative concept, or a metaphysical abstraction, or a nothing, or a void. It is not something else. It is full, infinite, immutable, self-existent, self-delighted, self-knowing and self-bliss. It is Svarupa: essence. It is the essence of the knower. It is the seer (Drashta), transcendent (Turiya) and silent witness (sakshi).

Shankara's supreme Brahman is impersonal, nirguna (without gunas or attributes), nirakara (formless), nirvisesha (without special characteristics), unchangeable, eternal and akarta (non-acting). It is above all needs and desires. It is always the observing subject. It can never become an object because it is out of the reach of the senses. Brahman is non-dual, one without a second. It has nothing else next to it, it lacks the difference, both externally and internally. Brahman cannot be described because description implies distinction. Brahman cannot be distinguished from anything other than itself. In Brahman there is no distinction between content and attribute. Sat Chit Ananda represents the basic essence or Svarupa of Brahman and not just its attributes. The Nirguna Brahman of Sankara is impersonal. It becomes a personal god or Saguna Brahman solely in association with Maya.

Saguna Brahman and Nirguna Brahman are not two different Brahmans. Nirguna Brahman is not the contrast, antithesis, or opposite of Saguna Brahman. The same Nirguna Brahman appears as the Saguna Brahman for devotional worship. It is the same truth from two different points of view. Nirguna Brahman is the higher Brahman, the Brahman from the transcendental point of view (Paramarthika); Saguna Brahman is the lower Brahman, the Brahman from the relative point of view (Vyavaharika).

The world - a relative reality

According to Shankara, the world is not an illusion. The world is relatively real (Vyavaharika Satta) while Brahman is absolutely real (Paramarthika Satta). The world is a product of Maya or Avidya. The immutable Brahman appears through Maya as a mutable world. Maya is a mysterious, indescribable force of God that hides the real and manifests itself as the unreal: Maya is not real because it disappears when you gain knowledge of eternity. It is not unreal either, because it exists until the knowledge dawns in you. The superimposition of the world into Brahman occurs through avidya or ignorance.

The nature of the jiva and the means of moksha

For Shankara the jiva or individual soul is only relatively real. Their individuality only lasts as long as they are exposed to the unreal Upadhis or the limiting conditions of Avidya. The jiva identifies with the body, mind and senses when deceived by avidya or ignorance. It thinks, acts, and enjoys through Avidya. In reality it is no different from Brahman or the Absolute. The Upanishads explicitly state: "Tat Tvam Asi - That is you." Just as the bubble becomes one with the ocean when it bursts, just as the ether in the vessel becomes one with the universal ether when the container breaks, so the jiva or empirical self becomes one with Brahman when it has the knowledge of Brahman attained. When knowledge dawns through the abolition of Avidya, it is freed from its individuality and finiteness and realizes its essential nature of Satchidananda. It passes into the ocean of bliss. The flow of life mixes with the ocean of existence. This is the truth. According to Shankara, the liberation from samsara means the absolute absorption of the individual soul in Brahman due to the removal of the erroneous view that the soul is different from Brahman. According to Shankara, karma and bhakti are means of jnana, which is moksha.

Vivarta Vada or the theory of superposition

For Shankara the world is only relatively real (Vyavaharika Satta). He represented Vivarta Vada or the theory of the appearance of superimpositions (Adhyasa). Just as the serpent is superimposed on the rope at dusk, so this world and body are superimposed by Brahman and the Supreme Self. When you gain knowledge of the rope, the illusion of the snake in the rope will disappear. Even if you gain knowledge of Brahman or the Immortal, the illusion of body and world will disappear. In Vivarta Vada, the reason creates the effect without going through a change itself. The snake is just an apparition on the rope. The rope did not turn into a snake the way milk turns into curd. Brahman is unchangeable and eternal. Hence it cannot transform itself into the world. Brahman becomes the foundation of the world through Maya, which is the unfathomable, mysterious power or Shakti.

Once you know it's just a rope, your fear will subside. You don't run away from it. Even if you recognize the eternal, unchangeable Brahman, you are not influenced by this phenomenon or the names and forms of this world. When avidya or the veil of ignorance is destroyed by the knowledge of eternity, when mithya jnana or false knowledge is replaced by real knowledge of immortal or living reality, you will shine in your true, original, divine splendor and glory.

Advaita - A philosophy without parallel

The Advaita Philosophy of Sri Shankaracharya is soaring, sublime and unique. It is a system of bold philosophy and logical sophistication. It's most interesting, inspiring, and uplifting. No other philosophy can stand before her in terms of her boldness, depth and subtle thinking. Shankara's philosophy is complete and perfect. Sri Shankara was a mighty, great genius. He was a master of logic. He was a profound thinker of the first order. He was a sage of the highest knowledge. He was an avatar of Lord Shiva. His philosophy has brought comfort, peace and enlightenment to countless people in the East and West. Western thinkers bow their heads to the lotus feet of Sri Shankara. His philosophy has alleviated the worries and sufferings of the most desperate, bringing hope, joy, wisdom, perfection, freedom and serenity. His philosophical system deserves the admiration of the whole world.

Translation of an article by Swami Sivananda from the Divine Life Society Sivananda Ashram website

English short lecture on Vedanta

Viveka Chudamani - I am the nondual Brahman

- Commentary on Viveka Chudamani verse 515 by Sukadev Bretz -

yat pratyastāśeṣa-māyā-viśeṣaṃ
pratyag-rūpaṃ pratyayāgamyamānam |
satya-jñānānantam ānanda-rūpaṃ
brahmādvaitaṃ yat tadevāham asmi || 515 ||

Truly I am the non-dual Absolute, that in which the infinite / innumerable distinctions of Maya transcend, which is the innermost essence in / of everything that goes beyond the notion of consciousness / mind, which is truth, knowledge and infinite supreme Bliss is - verily, this non-dual Brahman am I.

A master lives from Brahman consciousness

These are beautiful affirmations that you can say over and over again. Of course, for a self-realized master these are not affirmations, but it is the consciousness out of which the master lives. It is its realization, its true nature.

I am also the nondual absolute

With this in mind, keep telling yourself, speak to yourself when your mind tells you that you are not good enough, you can't do it, tell yourself:

“I am indeed the non-dual Absolute.” And when you say that people do not like you and that you are insufficient, that others do not recognize you, then say to yourself: “That, in which the endless / innumerable distinctions of Maya are transcend what is the innermost essence in / of everything that goes beyond the notion of consciousness / mind, which is truth, knowledge and infinite supreme bliss - verily, this non-dual Brahman am I. "

I am Brahman - no matter what the psyche suggests

And if your psyche suggests that you are unhappy, you don't know it, you are angry, then at least tell yourself: satya-jñānānantam ānanda-rūpaṃ - I am Satya (Truth) Jnana (knowledge) ananta (unlimited) ananda-rupa (my true nature is joy). Or the refrain: brahmādvaitaṃ yat tadevāham asmi - I am (asmi) the undivided Brahman, always and everywhere. In the psyche there are all sorts of things that happen. In the depths of my being, brahmadvaitam asmi - I am this undivided Brahman. Nothing can harm my Brahman nature.

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