Article

Vedānta

Vishwa Adluri

in Hinduism

ISBN: 9780195399318
Published online January 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0061
Vedānta

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Indian philosophy (darśana) is traditionally classified into two main groups: orthodox or āstika systems, which accept the authority of the Veda, and heterodox or nāstika schools, which do not. Of the six schools comprising the āstika category, Vedānta, Yoga, and Nyāya survive beyond the 17th century, with Vedānta progressively emerging as a major school of āstika darśana. Etymology allows us to understand Vedānta as the “end of the Veda,” that is, the goal of the Veda, or the final appendices to the Veda. Hence, Vedānta primarily refers to the Upanishads, that is, the final portions of the Veda, although expanded upon through various commentaries on the Upanishads as well as independent works. But as a darśana, Vedānta is one of the six schools of orthodox Indian philosophy, undertaken as a commentary (mimāṃsa) of the Upanishads. Vedānta is hence also called uttara mimāṃsa, to distinguish it from those commentaries that interpret ritual (also called pūrva mimāṃsa). Sectarian texts such as the Puranas espouse some version of Vedānta philosophy, thus continuing and popularizing the tradition. Vedānta remains a living tradition of philosophy within India, with many schools, a system of discipleship and initiation, and a large number of publications. These editions are often of a high standard and available for much less than Western texts, while others are written primarily for a nonacademic audience. Vedānta is classified into several subschools, including Advaita Vedānta, or strict nondualism; Viśiṣṭādvaita, or qualified nondualism; Dvaita Vedānta, or dualism; minor Vedānta schools such as Dvaitādvaita, Śuddhādvaita, Acintya Bhedābheda, Purṇādvaita, etc.; and modern Advaita Vedānta. Although all the schools share a common textual basis (such as the prasthāna trayī), their interpretations thereof differ, with a basic point of doctrinal difference being the conception of the relation of God (īśvara) or being (brahman) to the individual soul (jīvā or ātman); Advaita and Dvaita represent the two extreme poles here. Many Westerners will be familiar with the school of Acintya Bhedābheda philosophy through the work of its major proponent in the West, Śrīla Prabhupāda. However, Advaita or the nondual school of Vedānta mostly dominates the discussion; the literature on Advaita Vedānta easily surpasses that on Viṣiśtadvaita, the next best known, and on Dvaita (one of the smallest).

Article.  12096 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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