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Holy scriptures of Hindus, Vedas Hindu philosophy By: Veera Vaishnava

Sacrificer           Veera Vaishnava
Sacrifice code       wfor0264
Sacrifice date       25 march 2009

Holy scriptures of Hindus, Vedas Hindu philosophy

Excellent, very informative

krk4568 <krk4568@yahoo.com> wrote:Vedanta
By: Veera Vaishnava

The Vedas are the oldest scriptures of India as well as the world.
Vedas are not written by anyone, but are revealed/experienced
knowledge. The Rishis or the seers of the Truth visualized the
mantras or the text of the Vedas and stored for the benefit of the
world by oral and later written tradition through the tradition of
Guru and disciples. Vedas are personification of Brahman as words.
Vedas are divided into two portions: Karma-kanda and Jnana-kanda.
While Samhitas, Brahmanas, and Aranyakas form the Karma kanda,
Upanishads form the Jnana Kanda. The essence of the knowledge of the
Vedas is called by the name Vedanta, which comprises the Upanishads.

Hindu philosophy is complex and has gone through similarly complex
developmental phases. The literature of the first period (Vedic) are
the above mentioned texts, while the Epic period saw the indirect
presentation of philosophical doctrines through a medium of
nonsystematic and non-technical literature such as Ramayana and
Mahabharata. This period also gave rise to Buddhism, Jainism,
Saivism and Vaishnavism. Bhagavad-Gita, part of Mahabharata ranks
among the most authoritative texts in Hindu Philosophical
literature. During this period, along with Buddhism and Jainism
other unorthodox philosophies such as skepticism, materialism,
naturalism etc arose along with other heterodox systems. Because of
this later arrival into Hindu philosophical school the earlier
thoughts were labeled orthodox philosophical systems.

The next period is the sutra period -early centuries of Christian
era- where systematical treatises of various schools of thought were
written and preserved. They were preserved in the form of aphorisms,
hence this period can be called Sutra period. The six systems that
are presented in sutra form are: Vaisheshika, Nyaya, Samkhya, Yoga,
Mimamsa, and Vedanta. Rishis Kanada, Gautama, Kapila, Patanjali,
Jaimini, and Vyasa are the earliest exponents of these systems

The fourth period saw the advent of scholars, philosophers and
commentators such as Adi Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Kumarila,
Sridhara, Vacaspati, Udayana, Bhaskara, Jayanta, Vijnanabhikshu and
Raghunatha. The three major forms of Vedanta espoused by Sankara,
Ramanuja and Madhva although are distinct and elaborate systems,
they all stem from "Vedanta Sutra" of Badarayana. This is a
characteristic of Hindu philosophy in which, the exponents while
maintaining respect for the past, and recognizing the authority in
philosophy, carried along free development of thought as their
insight, intuition and reason directed, without breaking the
tradition. This is quite a unique feature in Hindu philosophy.

There are certain common features to these six systems of thought;
first and foremost is that they accept the authority of the Vedas,
distinguishing them from philosophical schools of Buddhism and
Jainism. Second important feature is that, although superficially
these systems seem to have contradictions amongst them, they in fact
represent a progressive development from lower to higher truth. All
the six schools believe in the 'Law of Karma', rebirth, and
attainment of Moksha/Liberation as the highest goal of human
struggle. All the systems are concerned with the nature of true
Self, the realization of which through Yoga and other spiritual
disciplines makes one free.

Nyaya and Samkhya are studied widely for their powerful system of
logic and reasoning. Yoga deals with disciplined meditation. Purva
Mimamsa mostly deals with earlier interpretive investigations of the
Vedas, relating to conduct, while the Uttara mimamsa deals with
later investigations of the Vedas, relating to knowledge, also
called Vedanta, the end of the Vedas. In the context of modern
times, Vaisheshika is not of great importance, while Yoga and
Vedanta have caught the attention of students of religion, scholars,
as well as lay people for their practicality, rationality, and
scientific basis. All Hindus now accept Vedanta as their 'living

Vedanta deals with the world, selves and Brahman. Advaita (Adi
Sankaracharya), Vishistadvaita (Sri Ramanujacharya) and Dvaita (Sri
Madhvacharya) follow different ways in dealing with the relationship
between Brahman, selves and the matter, and how to achieve

Advaita, Vishistadvaita and Dvaita

Upanishads are basically of three types" -Bheda, Abheda and Ghataka
shrutis. Bheda shruti shows the difference between Paramatma and
Jivatma: "I belong to the Brahman and I will not leave him", Abheda
shruthi, the opposite says Brahman and Paramatma are one and the
same: "I am Brahman", Ghataka Shruti describes the relationship
between Paramatma and Jivatma and Body/Soul relationship: Antaryami
(Iswara being the soul of Jivatma and controls from inside) Brahmana
of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Subala Upanishad are examples of
Ghataka Shruti. Ghataka Shruti reconciles and harmonizes the
apparently contradictory passages in the Vedas. Without Ghataka
approach it would be hard to interpret Abheda Shrutis. Ghataka
shruti achieves that by explaining the body and soul relationship.
Taken all together, the basic principle is Brahman or Iswara is the
soul of Jivatma and matter and all its variations. This is the
basis of Vishistadvaita philosophy.

Advaita means "Not Two". The advaitins say that Jivatma and
Paramatma are One and identical. The father of this philosophy is
Shri Adi Sankaracharya. Vishistadvaita means "Not Two - in a special
way" or "Only one - in a special way". It maintains that Jivatma and
paramatma are different, yet not different. They are different as
(based on Bheda Shruti) body and soul are different, but based on
Ghataka's explanation of body/soul relationship, they are not
different - they are one.

Advaitins cannot explain bheda shrutis entirely, and Dvaitins cannot
explain abheda shrutis properly. Vishistadvaita system is the only
one which explains both Bheda and Abheda with the help of Ghataka

Maya and Reality

Advaitins believe everything is "Maya" (Illusion) except Paramatma.
This means even the whole world is an illusion. To explain this,
advaitins have three types of reality. They are

o Apparent Reality (Pratibhasika Sat) - Example: Mistaking rope for a snake.

o Relative Reality (Vyavaharika Sat) - Example: World, Sky, Water, Fire, Earth etc

o Absolute Reality (Paramarthika Sat) - Brahman

Vishistadvaitins believe exactly the opposite. Every object,
Jivatma, and the world are and even dreams very much real. Mistaking
a rope for a snake is just an illusion, but the rope exists and real
and so does the snake. Vishistadvaitins interpret Maya as matter
(prakriti) and not as an illusion. Upanishads explain at great
lengths the creation of cosmos and the coming about of the matter
from Mahat. Upanishads say the Brahman created the world out of
Maya. Some people interpret Maya as an illusion and some as matter.
The reasons given by vishistadvaitins for considering the world is
real are

o Vedas describe Brahman as: Brahman is that, from whom all
these beings are born, by whom all these beings live, in whom all
these beings rest, after death.

o Brahman is the material cause of the world. He therefore
evolves into the world. So, how can the world, which has evolved
from Brahman, be unreal?

o Brahman is also instrumental cause of this world, he creates
the world. So, how can a thing, which has been created by Brahman,
be unreal?

One Brahman or Many Brahmans

There are several passages in Vedas declaring that there is only one
Supreme Lord or Brahman. The advaitins also agree there is only one
Brahman, Parabrahman. However, for the purposes of worship and
rituals, they accept a lower Brahman. This lower Brahman again,
according to advaitins, is not real; as it is only "Vyavaharika

According to Advaitins, Parabrahman has no attributes or qualities
(Nirguna) and has no form (Niravayava Brahman). The lower Brahman
(Apara Brahman) has qualities (Saguna Brahman) and has a form. The
lower Brahman can be worshipped in any form. After worshipping the
lower Brahman, they contend that a person develops maturity of
knowledge (Viveka) which will enable the person to understand the
real Brahman - Para Brahman. With this viveka, the person will also
realize that there is no difference between the lower Brahman and
the Paramatma. Thus the person ultimately realizes that Jivatma and
paramatma are the same.

Vishistadvaitins do not accept two Brahmans. They believe there is
only one Brahman and this Brahman has a form (Vishnu). Further, the
Brahman has Jivatma and matter as his body. Thus Brahman as divine
and auspicious body as well as the entire world, jivatmas and the
matter as his body is what vishistadvaitins believe. Although there
is no question that jivatma is identical to paramatma, jivatma has
paramatma as Soul, and jivatma is the body of the paramatma.

Vedas as several places mentions the Brahman with good qualities and
without any qualities or attributes. While advaitins talk about
Nirguna Brahman, vishistadvaitins interpret this lack of attributes
to lack of sattva, rajas and tamas that is Suddha sattva. Suddha
sattva is outside the three qualities, which is a quality in itself
and a matter of interpretation with respect to qualities of Brahman.

Moksha - Salvation/Liberation

According to Advaita, liberation finally comes when Jivatma realizes
that is identical with Brahman - paramatma. So it is the knowledge
that leads to the salvation. Although upanishads do talk about the
jivatma's journey to ultimate salvation (paramapada) advaitins do
not believe in Paramapada. They call paramapada as Krama mukti which
is partial salvation. For vishistadvaitins, ultimate salvation is to
reach Sri Vaikunta and enjoy being in service to Lord Sriman
Narayana and Sri Lakshmi.

In practice however, a practitioner of Jnana Yoga would experience
Brahman in its non-qualified aspect, while a practitioner of Bhakti
Yoga would perceive the same reality as Brahman with attributes of
love and compassion. But when one attains highest level of Bhakti,
para-bhakti as it is called, then (s)/he also becomes a Jnani.
Similarly a Jnani becomes a Bhakta. Thus Jnana and Bhakti are two
sides of the same coin, as eloquently expressed by Adi Sankara in
Bhaja Govindam.


Most of the beliefs are the same as vishistadvaita except that they
consider Lakshmi as Jivatma and do not subscribe to the concept of
body/soul relationship.


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