Vedanta

Vedanta
Vedantic, adj.Vedantism, n.Vedantist, n.
/vi dahn"teuh, -dan"-/, n.
the chief Hindu philosophy, dealing mainly with the Upanishadic doctrine of the identity of Brahman and Atman, that reached its highest development A.D. c800 through the philosopher Shankara. Cf. Advaita, dvaita (def. 2).
[ < Skt, equiv. to veda VEDA + anta end]

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One of the six orthodox systems (darshans) of Indian philosophy and the one that forms the basis of most modern schools of Hinduism.

Its three fundamental texts are the Upanishads, the Bhagavadgita, and the Brahma Sutras, which are very brief interpretations of the doctrine of the Upanishads. Several schools of Vedanta have developed, differentiated by their conception of the relationship between the self (atman) and the absolute (Brahman). They share beliefs in samsara and the authority of the Vedas as well as the conviction that Brahman is both the material and instrumental cause of the world and that the atman is the agent of its own acts and therefore the recipient of the consequences of action (see karma).

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▪ Hindu philosophy
      one of the six orthodox systems (darshans) of Indian philosophy and the one that forms the basis of most modern schools of Hinduism. The term Vedānta means in Sanskrit the “conclusion” (anta) of the Vedas, the earliest sacred literature of India; it applies to the Upanishads (Upanishad), which were elaborations of the Vedas, and to the school that arose out of the “study” (mimamsa) of the Upanishads. Thus Vedānta is also referred to as Vedānta-Mīmāmṣā (“Reflection on Vedānta”), Uttara-Mīmāṃsā (“Reflection on the Latter Part of the Vedas”), and Brahma-Mīmāṃsā (“Reflection on Brahma”).

      The three fundamental Vedānta texts are: the Upanishads (the most favoured being the longer and older ones such as the Bṛhadāraṇyaka, the Chāndogya, the Taittiriya, and the Kaṭha); the Brahma-sūtras (also called Vedānta-sūtras), which are very brief, even one-word interpretations of the doctrine of the Upanishads; and the famous poetic dialogue, the Bhagavadgītā (Bhagavadgita) (“Song of the Lord”), which, because of its immense popularity, was drawn upon for support of the doctrines found in the Upanishads.

      No single interpretation of the texts emerged, and several schools of Vedānta developed, differentiated by their conceptions of the nature of the relationship and the degree of identity between the individual self (atman) and the absolute (brahma). These range from the nondualism ( Advaita; q.v.) of the 8th-century philosopher Śaṅkara to the theism ( Viśiṣṭādvaita; q.v.) of the 11th–12th-century thinker Rāmānuja and the dualism ( Dvaita; q.v.) of the 13th-century thinker Madhva.

      The Vedānta schools do, however, hold in common a number of beliefs; transmigration of the self (samsara) and the desirability of release from the cycle of rebirths; the authority of the Veda on the means of release; that Brahman is both the material (upādāna) and the instrumental (nimitta) cause of the world; and that the self (atman) is the agent of its own acts (karma) and therefore the recipient of the fruits, or consequences, of action (phala). All the Vedānta schools unanimously reject both the heterodox (nāstika) philosophies of Buddhism and Jainism and the conclusions of the other orthodox (āstika) schools (Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Sāṃkhya, Yoga, and, to some extent, the Pūrva-Mīmāṃsā).

      The influence of Vedānta on Indian thought has been profound, so that it may be said that, in one or another of its forms, Hindu philosophy has become Vedānta. Although the preponderance of texts by Advaita scholastics has in the West given rise to the erroneous impression that Vedānta means Advaita, the nondualistic Advaita is but one of many Vedānta schools.

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Universalium. 2010.

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