The Concept of Advaita Vedanta

Advaita Vedanta is a school of Hindu philosophy that is focused on the concept of non-dualism. It is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and is based on the teachings of the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras. Advaita Vedanta is a Sanskrit term that means “non-dualistic end of knowledge,” which suggests that the ultimate goal of life is to attain a state of oneness with the universe.

History of Advaita Vedanta

The origins of Advaita Vedanta can be traced back to the Upanishads, which are a collection of sacred texts that form the basis of Hindu philosophy. The Upanishads are believed to have been written between 800 BCE and 400 BCE and contain the fundamental teachings of Hinduism, including the concept of non-dualism.

The most influential figure in the development of Advaita Vedanta was Adi Shankara, a philosopher and theologian who lived in India during the 8th century CE. Shankara is credited with reviving Hinduism and establishing Advaita Vedanta as a major school of Hindu philosophy. His teachings emphasized the idea that the true nature of the self (atman) is identical with the ultimate reality (Brahman).

Concepts of Advaita Vedanta

The central concept of Advaita Vedanta is non-dualism, which asserts that there is only one ultimate reality, Brahman, and that the individual self (atman) is identical with Brahman. According to this philosophy, the universe is an illusion (maya) and the ultimate reality is beyond the limitations of time, space, and causation.

Advaita Vedanta teaches that the ultimate goal of human life is to attain liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death (samsara) by realizing the true nature of the self and the ultimate reality. This realization is achieved through the practice of self-inquiry (atma vichara) and meditation (dhyana).

Advaita Vedanta also recognizes the importance of karma yoga, bhakti yoga, and jnana yoga in attaining spiritual liberation. Karma yoga emphasizes the importance of performing selfless actions without attachment to the results, bhakti yoga focuses on devotion and love for the ultimate reality, and jnana yoga emphasizes the importance of knowledge and understanding.

Key concepts of Advaita Vedanta include:

Adi Shankaracharya was a prominent Advaita Vedanta philosopher who systematised the teachings and established monastic centres (mathas) to spread Advaita philosophy. Advaita Vedanta’s ideas continue to influence Hindu philosophy, spirituality, and the way of life for many people.

  1. Brahman: The absolute, ultimate reality or existence, typically defined as endless, formless, and beyond qualities. It is regarded as the ultimate cause and basis of the universe.
  2. Atman: The individual soul or self. According to Advaita Vedanta, Atman is identical to Brahman in its essential nature, albeit it may be hidden by ignorance (avidya).
  3. Maya: The cosmic illusion or deceptive power that obscures the true essence of existence, causing the plurality of the world to appear independent from Brahman.
  4. Jiva: Due to ignorance and attachment, the individual soul is subject to the cycle of birth and death (samsara).
  5. Moksha: Enlightenment or liberation attained via self-realization and realising the non-dual nature of Atman and Brahman. It is a state of complete freedom, realization of one’s actual essence, and release from the rebirth cycle.
  6. Avidya:Ignorance or lack of understanding is viewed as the underlying cause of enslavement and misery. The elimination of avidya is emphasised in Advaita Vedanta by spiritual practise and wisdom (Jnana).
  7. Jnana Yoga: The path of knowledge and wisdom that entails realising one’s true essence (Atman) and ultimate truth (Brahman) via study, contemplation, and meditation.
  8. Vedanta: TThe Upanishads are found towards the end of the Vedas. The Upanishads are interpreted by Advaita Vedanta to develop a non-dualistic philosophy.


Advaita Vedanta is a profound and complex philosophy that offers a unique perspective on the nature of reality and the purpose of human life. It teaches that the ultimate reality is non-dual and that the individual self is identical with the ultimate reality. The philosophy emphasizes the importance of self-inquiry, meditation, and the practice of yoga in attaining spiritual liberation. Advaita Vedanta has had a profound impact on Hinduism and has influenced many other spiritual traditions around the world. If you are interested in learning more about Advaita Vedanta, there are many resources available online and in print that can help you deepen your understanding of this fascinating philosophy.

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