Understanding Advaita Vedanta

Explaining Basics | Clearing doubts | Collection of Quotes From Shastras

Current Version Live on Website: v15.1.1 b updated on 19th Apr 2022

PDF version : v15.1.1 b updated on 19th Apr 2022

Understanding Advaita - Home


Current Version Live on Website: v15.1.1.b updated on 19th Apr 2022 - Added PrakaraNa Granthas and Preface (First Update after v14.1.0.b updated 14th Aug 2016)

PDF version : v15.1.1.b updated on 19th Apr 2022 (First Update after v14.1.0.b updated 14th Aug 2016)

Salutations to Jagadguru Sri Adi Shankaracharya ji

The revivalist of vedic dharma

विदिताखिलशास्त्रसुधाजलधे महितोपनिषत् कथितार्थनिधे

हृदये कलये विमलं चरणं भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम् ॥

- तोटकाष्टकं -1


O Thou, The Knower Of All The Milk-Ocean Of Scriptures! The Expounder Of The Topics Of Great Upanisadic Treasure-Trove! On Thy Faultless Feet I Meditate In My Heart. Be Thou My Refuge O preceptor, Sankara. I meditate on Your pure lotus feet in my heart | O Preceptor Shankara, be my refuge.

- toTakAShTaka.m - 1


This Page describes the content of website in brief. Website is divided into Six main parts. Please use TOC to navigate to any section of interest.

Table Of Contents

Updated on 03-Apr-2022 - Added Dedication and Preface


Dedicated to

This article is dedicated to Lotus feet of Guru _/\_ (As it was my guru who introduced this ignorant soul to vedAnta and the great lineage of Adi SankarAcArya)

Dedicated to Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Shri Ramana Maharshi whose teachings have deep impact on Amrut’s life.

I would also like to dedicate this article to the lotus feet of all the acharyas and Gurus who have kept the holy tradition of Guru-Shishya Parampara alive.

All that is useful is my Guru's grace, all errors are mine.


How can Dedication to Brahman, the Supreme Self, substratum of entire universe be forgotten!!!


Preface

The Purpose …

Namaste Divine Atmans,

This site was created for the following reasons

1. To give basic understanding of advaita

2. To give clarity on the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta

3. To examine some of the objections and then refuting them

4. Giving references from Shastras supporting Advaita Vedanta

5. To encourage sincere seekers to take up the study of advaita in a proper way by studying and contemplating on the divine teachings of our shastras.

6. Finally to work on the fourth purushartha – moksha by purifying mind and after attaining sufficient purification, being free from lower emotions like hatred, etc and sincerely begin sAdhanA on OM or practice Neti-Neti under the guidance of a competent guru. This is the ultimate purpose of this site.

After understanding basic concepts of advaita, and clearing doubts and accusations laid by other sampradayas on advaita, one becomes clear in the heart and mind that advaita is genuine siddhanta based on vedanta.

Objective behind refuting objections (most of them are raised by Gaudiyas) is to establish firm faith in advaita and it’s genuineness. After being convinced by the refutation, faith in advaita becomes stronger.

Like all vedantic siddhantas, advaita can definitely be applied in our practical life, without which it would be just a dry philosophy no matter how much appealing it is.

sAdhanA is extremely important in order to progress on any spiritual path. Just getting convinced intellectually is not enough. Hence, after attaining sufficient purification of mind i.e. after satva guNa becomes the predominant guNA, and the extrovert mind becomes introvert, one can then successfully meditate the advaita way on OM or practice nididhyAsana via neti-neti. There is no mukti without sAdhanA. It is the fruit of sAdhanA that the ignorance is removed and mind without any effort merges into Atman which is Brahman. In other words jIva-bhAva is shred by a-sanga shastra, by being a witness, kshetraGYa. The ‘I’ which is so dear and near that it is inseparable from ‘AtmA’ is realised. This ‘I’ or AtmA is Brahman. While jIva-s are many, AtmA or Atman is one. jIva is bhAva, which the collection of mind, 5 bodies, 5 senses and antaHkaraNa. All are connected by Ego. It is the jIva that is trapped in the cycle of birth and death due to sakAma karma. Atman is ever free, omnipresent and immovable unlike jIva which is trapped In space and time and is ignorant of it’s true nature. Atman is Brahman. jIva without the sense of ‘I-ness’ which is attachment, without that which is an-Atman (not atman), is nothing but Atman, ever free from bondage, from attachment, from false sense of ego. In other words, jIva without false identification is Atman or Brahman. In the entire sAdhanA, this ‘I’ is never lost. Only that which binds this ‘I’ with anatman (not-Atman) is detached and disappears from consciousness. This ‘I’ then shines by itself like the Sun shines clear and bright after the clouds disappear.

I humbly pray that may we all attain this blissful state of Atma-GYAna (Self Realisation) in this life itself. This is the ultimate purpose of our life and so the purpose of this work too.

Since one cannot have lower emotions like hatred in the heart for anyone and then expect AtmaGYAna, one has to be free from the the tAmasika and the rAjasika bhAvas and be in satva guNa as this is the only guNa that gives one’s mind, ability to withdraw the senses and make it introvert. Only an introvert mind, which remains undistracted from external objects and impulses and internal images (in the mind), is capable of merging in Atman. Though this process is said to be the merging, it is, in reality, just detachment of consciousness ‘I’ from the mind. A sAdhaka also realises that ‘I’ and mind are different and this ‘I’ is the source of mind’s power. How foolish ‘I’ was to think it otherwise!!!. Nothing ever happened to me (as I am infinite consciousness. Space and time does not exist in me), I am eternally free, was always free. Constant abiding in this blissful state and being in this state of consciousness without any effort leads to jivan mukti. It also leads to the vision and direct experience that this world is also Brahman. Everything else is also Brahman (sarvam khalu-idam Brahma). So from Brahma satya jagad mithyA (experienced in sAdhanA – vivarta vAda) to Brahma satya (nothing else exists, nirvikalpa samadhi and ajAta vAda) to sarvam khalu-idam-brahma (ekatva – eko Brahma, experiencing oneness) – all is experienced by the grace of Guru and Ishvara.

To reiterate, the sole aim is to refute the false objections, clear the doubt and strengthen the faith in advaita. The aim is not to cultivate hatred rather to cultivate the nAhi-nindA-nyAya and be neutral and detached, always looking inwards. Let Peace and Bliss flow continuously through us.

nAhi-nindA nyAya

Paramacharya asks us to adopt Nahi Ninda Nyaya. The purpose of exalting a particular deity over the another is not to depreciate the latter. The underlying idea is that a person who worships his chosen god has unflinching faith in him and becomes totally devoted to him. Such exclusive devotion is called "ananyabhakti". The idea here, however, is not to regard other devatas as inferior to one's own chosen deity- an example of "nahi ninda nyaya".


Introduction to the site’s content


Namaste Fellow Advaitins,


This site is dedicated to fellow Advaitins and aims at giving clear picture of Advaita, Meditative Journey of an Advaita Vedantin, Dispelling Doubts, accusations by other Vedantic schools, Giving References of Shastras that Support Advaita, as taught by GauDapadAchArya, Adi Shankara, his successors and other modern saints following Traditional Advaita.


A special page has been dedicated to understand a unique traditional teaching passed on to and by Shri Gaudapadacharya and Adi Shanakracharya ji. This method was re-discovered by Sri Sacchidanandendra Saraswati Swami of Holenarsipur. It is called adhyAropa apavAda.


Site is divided into 6 main categories:



PART I: Advaita Vedanta




This part is theoretical in nature. It is written in simple and easy to understand language without much use of quoting shastra-s except the last part which clears accusations on advaita. This part is not of polemical nature.


a. Understanding Advaita


  • This section attempts to correctly project Advaita.

  • Explains basic concept of Advaita along with common terminology and definition of basic terms used in advaita, as defined by Adi Shankara in his PrakaraNa grantha-s.

  • It also goes into subtler details, in brief, which can be useful for sincere advaitins who regularly meditate for attaining moksha.

  • Some FAQs are also included


Advaita teaches to go beyond maayaa, beyond attributes and be free from concepts of duality and non-duality, beyond (worldly and scriptural) knowledge and ignorance. Advaita also teaches that everything else that you see is Brahman.


b. PrakaraNa Granthas


PrakaraNa granthas are the basic texts that define and explain the basic concepts of Advaita. A List of few prakaraNa granthas (not exhaustive) is provided with brief explanation.


c. adhyAropa apavAda - A Consistent Traditional Teaching


This part deals with unique Traditional way of teaching as passed on to and by by Shri Gaudapadacharya and Adi Shanakracharya ji. According to Swami Sacchidanandendra Saraswati, it is the only consistent method of teaching.

d. Meditative Journey of an Advaita Vedantin


This part deals with Meditative journey of an Advaita Vedantin. It explains meditation on OM and method of negation i.e. Neti - Neti along with other subtle points.


e. Advaita, Creation and it's practicability


This part explains questions related to theories of creation w.r.t advaita vedanta and practical application of advaita vedanta.


f. Q and A

Simple explanation of basic concepts given in Q and A format




g. Musings - Other Side of Coin


In this page, we have presented musings which represent 'other side of coin' of certain concepts which are generally taken to [obviously] mean a specific thing.


Words like param dhAma, param pada, param gati, bhagavAn, deva, ISvara, paramAtmA all point to one thing - brahman. param dhAma is param jyoti, or consciousness which is GYana


param dhAma is not vaikuntha, but bhagavAn himself


h. viShNu and caturbhuja viShNu


This page explains that it is not necessary that whenever the word 'viShNu' is used, it always means caturbhuja holding with discuss, conch, mace and lotus. viShNu bhagavAn, as deity of preservation is different from paramAtmAn viShNu, which is GYAnasvarUpa or AtmasvarUpa or cidAtmA. When instructions are given to meditate on viShNu as AtmasvarUpa or sUtrAtmA, antaryAmin, cidAtmA or GYAnasvarUpa, it is always nirguNa brahman, pure consciousness and not caturbhuja viShNu i.e. viShNu bhagavAn as a person.


i. Siva-viShNu abheda


As the name suggests, this page is dedicated to explaining Siva-viShNu abheda in SAStra-s.


j. Clearing Accusations & Doubts


This part attempts to clear doubts, accusations and correct misunderstandings.


Advaitins are taught to remain calm and neutral when someone verbally attacks them. Every sincere seeker practices his / her path with full faith and devotion. Personal attack can be ignored, but what if it someone attacks the very faith you are practicing? For new comers this will be quite a shock.


  • Vaishnavas wrongly accuse Adi Shankaracharya being a mayavadi and a hidden Buddhist.

  • They accuse of Advaita being non-vedic.

  • They incorrectly say that Avaita is maayaavaad, though it is brahmavaad (niraakaara and vivarta and ajaata vaad)

  • Some of them even go on to say that Adi Shankara was a demon who walked on earth and anyone following his teachings will be doomed.

  • Some even go further that followers of Shankara as "tyrannical people who burned down monasteries, destroyed cattle and killed women and children" - source Wikipedia article on Advaita Vedanta, refer to Dvaita --> search for 'kill' and you will find the above statement


The purpose of writing this article is that I tried to find the truth and had to spend much time to collect facts that conclude: Advaita, as taught by Adi Shankara is authentic and is consistent with Vedas, upanishads, Puranas and Bhagavad Gita.


Hitting back at accusers is avoided, as we are taught to feel compassion and not hatred. One cannot have lower animal emotions if one wants to progress in spirituality.


I just want to convey the correct understanding to fellow advaitins so that when anyone tries to defame or accuse Advaita or Adi Shankara, they know it’s a strawman. No one correctly practising Advaita, as taught by Adi Shankaracharya and his preceptors and vedic Rishis will be doomed, in fact, he will be freed from the miserable cycle of birth and death and will sit on the pinnacle of truth.



PART II: Advaita in shastras


This part contains quotes from shastras supporting the theory of advaita vedanta.


a. Advaita in Shastras


Shastras are an authority, any path has to be consistent with them. Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita are the pillars of Sanatana Dharma. Hence Reference to advaita teachings in shastras has to be pointed out. References from various smritis (bhagavad Gita, Guru Gita, Uttara Gita, Shiva Gita and other lesser known Gitas) and shrutis (major and minor upanishads) are given. References from Srimad Bhagavatam are also quoted.


This part has been the most difficult, not because it is tough to get details, but it has put me in a fix. I am trying to prove, acknowledge that Advaita is authentic and Adi Shankaracharya is genuine. After collecting references from shastras that teach Advaita, we can say,


'Yes Advaita is authentic, consistent with Vedas and Adi Shankara was one of the greatest proponent of traditional advaita'


This word Yes, gives me pain. It show the acknowledgement. I feel it is an insult to the entire system and the great beloved acharya Shri Adi Shankara, as a ajnani cannot judge a jnani, nor one should try to.


This site is my silent response. It's an attempt to give correct picture and leave it's discretion to the reader. More than a response, I have created this site as I do not want others to waste time collecting references from shastras. After going through this website, questioning and acknowledgement should be replaced by Faith and one should say,


'Advaita is authentic, consistent with Vedas and Adi Shankara was one of the greatest proponent of traditional advaita'


Even if one person would speak the above statement from heart, my humble attempt will be fulfilled.


b. Brahman in Upanishads


This page is a collection of words connected to Brahman in shastras.


c. Concepts of Advaita in Shastras


This page attempts to find advaitic concepts like Brahman, Atman, etc from shastras.


d. Random Quotes and Thoughts


This page is a collection of random but useful quotes from Shastras. It may also have some other useful information other than quotes from shastras.



PART III: Conspiracies against Bhartiyas


a. Conspiracies against Bhartiyas


British East India Company wanted to rule India. In this quest they setup Asiatic Society with 24 + members, like H.H. Wilson, Jones and others to interpret our shasras in a demeaning way. They also hired Max Muller to interpret shastras in a wicked way. they also made attempts to demean our deva bhASa sanskrit and tried to create Pro-Indo-Euro Language as the mother of all languages including Sanskrit. They fabricated a myth called Aryan Invasion theory. Dharm Chakravarty Swami Prakashananda Saraswati had decoded their ways and have presented scientific proofs to support his claims in exposing so-called western scholar, Indologists and Linguists having hidden agenda to destroy our culture and our shastras. These men also corrupted our dharma sAstra-s and grihya sUtra-s and bhavishya purANa. Unfortunately their line of thinking are still followed today.


This page is a must read for all Hindus.



PART IV: Adi Shankara - A Jagadguru


a. Adi Sankara - A Jagadguru


Logical reasoning given as to why Adi Sankara is called as Jagadguru.



PART V: Works of Adi Shankara


This page attempts to support works attributed to Adi Shankara and his preaching of smArta dharma.


a. Questioning Authenticity of works attributed to Adi Shankara


This part attempts to show the reason why some scholars do not consider the works attributed to Adi Shankara are genuinely acharya's creation and finding limitations in their adopted process for critical examination of works.


b. References cited by Adi Shankara in his Bhashya on Vishnu Sahasranama


This part lists references cited by Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavadpada in his Vishnu Sahasranama bhashya.


c. Adi Shankara Preached Smarta Dharma


This part attempts to support the common belief that Adi Shankara preached smArta dharma.



PART VI: Authentic Shastras


a. Authentic Upanishads and Gitas


Traditionally there are 108 upanishads. Some scholars do not accept all 108 upanishads listed in Muktika Upanishad. This part tries to understand the reason behind their claim and the method adopted by them for critical study of any shastra before accepting it as a genuine shruti. It also lists authentic shastras with citations of them in works of traditional acharyas.


b. Authenticity Puranas, Up-Puranas and Shala Puranas


Logical reasoning is provided from advaita POV in support of claim that all purANa-s are authentic. Verses in padma purANa-s classifying purANa-s into sAttvika, rAjasika, tAmasika are refuted by quoting another classification given in padma purANa. Other reasons like comparing purANa-s with mAhAbhArata and vedA-s and vedAnta are given in support of claim.


Lastly, whatever good you find is my Guru's Grace and whatever negative you find is my own.


May this humble attempt bring inner peace to Fellow Advaitins and other sincere spiritual seekers. May we all move beyond the realm of vaad-vivaad is my humble prayer.


|| ॐ तम नमामि गुरूम्‌ परम ||