god

The five philosophies of Vedanta

Given below is an elementary introduction to the five different philosophies of Vedanta [1].

Advaita (by Sri Adi Shankaracharya)

The individual soul and Brahman (God) are of the same material; the universe is unreal. The events of the physical universe are like waves rising from an ocean, symbolizing Brahman. Spiritual knowledge is usually defined as the realization of our oneness with God and causes liberation [2].

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Visistadvaita (by Sri Ramanujacharya)

The individual soul and Brahman (God) are of different material. God resides within each individual being as the antaryami {in-dweller). Spiritual knowledge refers to the realization that our soul is eternally dependent on God, who is the sole reason of our existence. Bhakti of God is the way to liberation.

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Dvaita (by Sri Madhavacharya)

The individual soul and Brahman (God) are of different material. Individual soul is dependent on God. Bhakti gives grace of God and liberation. To take an analogy, the soul and God are like sand and water; just like sand settles at the bottom of water, the individual soul reaches the lotus feet of God.

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Dvaitadvaita (by Sri Nimbarkacharya)

The individual soul and Brahman (God) are simultaneously different and not different. As Dr. S. Radhakrishnan explains in Indian Philosophy (Vol. 2), the individual souls are different from Brahman as their attributes are different; they are not different from Brahman as they are dependent on God.

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Shuddhadvaita (by Sri Vallabhacharya)

The individual soul and Brahman (God) are of the same material in reality. World appears as Brahman to the realized. Bhakti and grace of God are necessary for liberation.

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Notes

[1] Note that there exists a difference between the Vedantic schools and the Vedantic philosophies. When counting the different schools of Vedanta, many recent academic papers often ignore the Ramanandi Vaishnava school, which is the most impactful devotional school of North India. The Ramacharitamansa, written by Goswami Tulasidasa, a member of this school, involves an amalgation of Advaita-Dvaita-Visistadvaita, which I have already talked about in this post. As Saint Kabirdasa of this school puts it, devotion is about the four letters of love, not about philosophies and complex theories.

[2] You can read more about liberation in this blog post.

Changes in my spiritual life

I am sharing my guest post from the White Hindu Blog at Patheos. The article is about my own spiritual life so far. Please check it out!

Changes in the spiritual life of a Hindu blogger

God lives in our hearts and homes as well

Image is from Pixabay

Which is the best place to start our search for God? Because there is no single correct answer, the workable answer depends on our disposition. We can search for God in churches, mosques, and temples — which are all traditional and established places for spiritual connectivity. These places can transfer positive energies as well as blessings from priests and saints who regularly visit them. We can also search for God in our homes. In fact, while we pray, we can request God to meet us in person one day.

Among all beings in the universe, God, the Supreme Being, is the most accessible to all. Because God is omnipresent, we can even remember Him periodically at our workplace and say a word or two to Him whenever we feel like. We can talk to Him while assuming that He lives in our own hearts and always listens.

Some saints believe that the power of God is present not only in every living being but also in every object. In one of his poems, Saint Kabirdasa says that humans often “forget that just like scent, which resides in flowers, it is the Divine who pervades every object and being” [1]. Along these lines, we can start our search for God by appreciating that God is the nourisher of every soul. At the same time, we should remember that God, being transcendental, is beyond every object and living being.

[1] I have mentioned this previously in a blog post.

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