What is vedanta?
Vedanta originated in ancient India and bases its teachings on the Upanishads, part of Hindu scriptures. Recognized as one of the six orthodox systems of Hindu philosophy, Vedanta stands as the peak of Hindu tradition. Vedanta” meaning “end of the Vedas,” focuses on essence of Hinduism’s core texts, the Vedas, through the Upanishads.
Vedanta’s teachings concentrate on the reality’s nature, the relationship between the individual self (jiva) and the ultimate reality (Brahman), and the path to liberation (moksha). These teachings aim to enlighten individuals about the ultimate reality and guide them towards attaining liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Goals of Vedanta
Vedanta aims to guide individuals towards liberation (moksha) and to help them realize their true nature as one with the ultimate reality, Brahman. The individual self (jiva) becomes bound to the cycle of birth and death due to ignorance and the illusion of the world (maya). Vedanta strives to eliminate this ignorance and allow the individual self to recognize its true nature as one with Brahman, thereby freeing it from the cycle of birth and death.
Self-reflection, meditation, and other spiritual practices aid in achieving this highest form of knowledge. Upon realizing its true nature, the individual self transcends all limitations and experiences permanent peace and joy.
Therefore, Vedanta provides a path for individuals to recognize their true nature as one with Brahman, overcome ignorance and illusion, and attain liberation. This realization represents the highest form of knowledge and is considered the ultimate goal of human life.
There are three main schools of Vedanta, which are:
Advaita Vedanta: This is the non-dualistic school of Vedanta, which holds that there is only one ultimate reality, Brahman, and that the individual self (jiva) is ultimately one with that reality. This is the most widely known and influential school of Vedanta.
Vishishtadvaita Vedanta: This is the qualified non-dualistic school of Vedanta, which holds that there is only one ultimate reality, Brahman, but that individual souls (jivas) have a unique and distinct nature and are different from Brahman.
Dvaita Vedanta: This is the dualistic school of Vedanta, which holds that there is a fundamental difference between the individual self (jiva) and the ultimate reality (Brahman).
The three schools of Vedanta, representing diverse interpretations of the Upanishadic teachings, offer varying paths to liberation (moksha). Nonetheless, they all concur on the ultimate goal of human life – to attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death and to recognize one’s true nature as one with the ultimate reality.