Advaita Vedanta

It is a school of Hindu philosophy and religious practice, and one of the classical Indian paths to spiritual realization. The term Advaita refers to his idea that the soul (true Self, Atman) is the same as the highest metaphysical Reality (Brahman). Followers of this school are known as Advaita Vedantins, or simply Advaitins, and seek spiritual liberation through the acquisition of vidyā (knowledge) of true identity as Atman and the identity of Atman and Brahman.

Advaita Vedanta traces its roots to the oldest Upanishads. It is based on three textual sources called Prasthanatrayi. It gives “a unifying interpretation of the entire body of the Upanishads,” the Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita. Advaita Vedanta is the oldest extant secondary school of Vedanta, which is one of the six orthodox Hindu philosophies (āstika). Although its roots go back to the first millennium BC, the most prominent exponent of Advaita Vedanta is considered by tradition to be the 8th century scholar Adi Shankara.

Advaita Vedanta emphasizes Jivanmukti, the idea that moksha (freedom, liberation) is attainable in this life in contrast to Indian philosophies that emphasize Videhamukti, or moksha after death. The school uses concepts such as Brahman, Atman, Maya, Avidya, meditation, and others found in major Indian religious traditions, but interprets them in its own way for its moksha theories. Advaita Vedanta is one of the most studied and most influential schools of classical Indian thought. Many scholars describe it as a form of monism, others describe Advaita philosophy as non-dualistic.

Advaita influenced and was influenced by various traditions and texts of Hindu philosophies such as Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, other sub-schools of Vedanta, Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Puranas, Agamas, other sub-schools of Vedanta, as well as social movements such as the Bhakti movement. Beyond Hinduism, Advaita Vedanta interacted and developed with the other traditions of India such as Jainism and Buddhism. Advaita Vedanta texts espouse a spectrum of views from idealism, including wishful thinking, to the realistic or near-realistic positions expressed in Shankara’s early works. In modern times, his views appear in various Neo-Vedanta movements. It has been called as the paradigmatic example of Hindu spirituality.