John Taber

in The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780195328998
Published online September 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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This article provides an introduction to Vedānta. Vedānta refers to the collection of schools of Indian Brahmanical (Hindu) thought devoted to expounding the metaphysical and spiritual teachings of the Upaniṣads. The Upaniṣads, the oldest of which were composed approximately 800 to 500 bce, are said to comprise the end (anta) of the Veda, coming last in the usual arrangement of Vedic texts, hence the term “Vedānta” (veda-anta). In addition to the Upaniṣads, the Bhagavad Gītā and the Brahmasūtra—a collection of about 550 short statements (stras) summarizing the doctrines of the Upaniṣads—are considered the three “foundations” of Vedānta. Much of the literature of each school consists of commentaries and subcommentaries on these texts. The Brahmasūtra, however, which was composed 200 to 400 ce and is ascribed to Bādarāyana, is regarded as the authoritative exposition of the system. Yet the ambiguous nature of the sūtras allows for widely divergent interpretations. Over time quite different Vedānta philosophies evolved, typically distinguished in terms of their positions regarding the relation of the Absolute—Brahman—to the world.

Keywords: Indian philosophy; Absolute; Brahman; Upaniṣads

Article.  5729 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy

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