Friday, August 23, 2013

What is Vedanta ?

Vedanta stands out as most significant native philosophy of India. It answers both the demands of metaphysics and the requirements of a sound religion. Vedanta is a clear and comprehensive summary of the perennial philosophy and hence it’s enduring value for all humankind. The system of Vedanta derives its doctrines from the ‘prasthana-traya’ which comprises the three great text books, namely the ‘Upanisads’, the ‘Bhagavad-geeta’ and the ‘Brahma-sutras’.

There are six schools of Philosophy and Vedanta belongs to sixth school of yoga. It falls under category; ‘Theistic Theism’. Hinduism does not owe its origin and excellence to any particular personality or book. From time immemorial, in India, spiritual scientists have spent their lives in contemplation and meditation in the divine environment of nature. The valleys and forests of the great Himalayas and the sacred Ganges kindled and stimulated in their hearts a hunger to know the mysteries of the ‘Power’ that enlivens inert matter into sentient beings. The revelations and reflections of these perfect Masters are the scriptures.

Their prophetic declarations, their spiritual discoveries were communicated by word of mouth from the teacher to the taught. Earlier these spiritual discoveries were communicated only through ‘Guru-Sisya parampara’. It was the ancient poet-sage Vyasa who first compiled and codified the entire scriptural literature and teaching into four texts entitled the Rig-veda, Yajur-veda, Sama-veda, and Atharva-veda. The Vedas were not written by any one individual, but they were the inspired declarations of several spiritual scientists (Seers) over many generations, given from the height of their intuitive experience. Absorbed in transcendental experience, they had gone beyond the realm of the egocentric attitudes of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. This is why even the names of such spiritual scientists are not seen appended to these holy texts.

Now Upanishads constitute the concluding portion of the Vedas, which is also called ‘Vedanta. ‘Anta’ means end and ‘veda’ means knowledge.

The bulk of the declarations of the Vedas are found in two distinct portions ‘Purva-mimansa’ and ‘uttara-mimansa’. Vedanta is also called as ‘uttara-mimansa’ part of Vedas. Here ‘uttra’ means lateral and ‘mimansa’ means a ‘sequence of logical thinking’. This lateral portion is non-dualistic in nature. It proclaims the absolute oneness or non-duality of the Truth.

This portion of vedanata; ‘uttaramimansa’ had fallen into obscurity until ‘Shankaracharya’ revived it and gave it prominence as Advaita-Vedanta.

Besides this the final stage in the development of the human intellect was the Age of Contemplation. At this stage human beings began to inquire into the very Cause of the universe and tried to identify the omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient Truth—God. This great search for Reality forms the subject matter of the Upanisads which is also called Vedanta.    

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