Vedanta (. Sanskrit, m, वेदान्त, Vedānta ) is next to the Samkhya one of today 's most popular directions of Indian philosophy and literally means " end of the Veda " that is, understood as the revelation of early Indian textual tradition ( " Veda " → "Knowledge "). The term was first used in the Mundaka Upanisad 3,2,6 and the Bhagavad -gita, verse 15.15 for standing at the end of the Vedic literature Upanishads. Later, it is the name for one of the six philosophical Hinduism ( Darshanas ) systems. Within the Vedanta there are several directions, one of which Advaita Vedanta is the most important today.


The study of the Vedas and following the rituals were seen as a prerequisite for the study of higher knowledge, of Vedanta. Only those who was so clean and the higher castes belonged, was allowed to study the Vedanta. The prescribed preparatory cleaning of the student through Vedic rituals is now often replaced by elements of bhakti yoga. As early as the Upanishads, the central concepts of Atman crystallize ( innermost being of man) and Brahman ( world soul) out. They are identified in many statements as a whole: " This soul ( Atman ) is Brahman ", " Thou art That " (Tat Tvam Asi ), "I am Brahman ". The nature of Brahman is satya ( "truth" ), jnana ( "knowledge" ), ananta ( "Infinity " ) or ananda ( " bliss "). This raises the question of the relationship of the individual souls, jivatman, for paramatman, ie Brahman, and of the relation of the world of multiplicity become a recent being. Will also emphasizes the unity again in the Upanishads, there are also approaches that ascribe its own, separate from Brahman reality of the world. In the solution of this question led to the various Vedanta systems.

Forms of Vedanta

The article describes five forms of Vedanta: Advaita Vedanta, Vedanta Vishishtadvaita, Achintya Bhedabheda, Shuddhadvaita, Dvaita Vedanta.

Advaita Vedanta

When Advaita Vedanta (Sanskrit, m., अद्वैत वेदान्त, Advaita Vedanta, Advaita = " non-duality " ) is a one-tier system, which returns the world to a single principle. The best-known scholars of Advaita Vedanta was Shankara ( 788-820 AD), the older Upanishads, such as the Katha Upanishad, commented and the Vedanta philosophy of his teacher Gaudapada further developed. Important texts of Vedanta are around the 1st / 2nd Century AD textually fixed Brahmasutras (also called " Vedantasutras "), which commented Shankara as well as the Bhagavad Gita. ' Vivekachudamani ' (badge of distinctiveness ), the ' Atma Bodha ', ' Upadesha Sahasri ' are more central to the Shankara Works attributed the Advaita Vedanta, which explain the philosophy of non-duality and the identity of the soul with Brahman.

The essential characteristic of the Advaita Vedanta is the essential identity of Atman, the individual soul, and Brahman, the world soul, therefore the term Advaita Vedanta, ' Vedanta of non- duality '. Here, the process of realization of man and the way to salvation is to recognize this unit. Duality therefore occurs only where avidya, ignorance prevails. The true knowledge that overcomes this ignorance leads to Advaita experience and thus to liberation, moksha. Shankara's most important contribution is the development of the concept of Brahman without form and attributes ( nirguna ). Therefore, also sat ( pure "being" ), cit (pure "consciousness" ) and ananda (pure " bliss " ) no Brahman qualifying attributes, but they constitute its essence.

The real Atman is considered by Maya, Illusion, and fogged the goal is to recognize the identity of Atman and Brahman. Shankara himself distinguished between a lower knowledge and higher knowledge. As higher knowledge was recognition of the immutable Brahman, for which there is no becoming and no multiplicity. The lower knowledge concerned the emergence of the world from Brahman and the wanderings of Geistmonaden. The study is often equated with the exertion of Jnana Yoga, the classical three- step involves the following phases: study of the scriptures, conceptual analysis of the content of the scriptures and meditation on the subject of the writings, which in the experience of the identity of individual self (atman ) and all the phenomena underlying principle ( brahman ) is to lead.

The classic distinction between lower and higher knowledge is set in the modern version of the Neo - Advaita overridden. Representatives of this modern form refer entirely to the non-dual goal of Advaita and try to convey this in the form of satsangs through direct knowledge.

Vishishtadvaita Vedanta

Vishishtadvaita Vedanta (Sanskrit, n, विशिष्ताद्वैत वेदान्त, Visistadvaita Vedanta Advaita ( " non-duality "), " modified" Vishishta ()) means as much as qualified non-dualism. It says, God exists as Lone, however, would remain the plurality of the world as a real manifestation of God preserved and was not, as in Shankara's Advaita, an illusion.

The most important representative is Ramanuja (1017-1137 AD), who in all the divine Brahman, for him in Vishnu - Narayana sees. All features of creation are real and are under the control of God. This could be in spite of the existence of all the properties one, as they can not exist independently of him. In Ramanuja's system God ( Narayana ) has two inseparable natures, namely, the world and the souls. These behave afterwards to him like body and soul. Matter and souls make the body of God dar. God was their inhabitants, the supervisory matter and souls of child elements properties. Ramanuja represents the concept of a personal Supreme Being, Narayana and the divine love for him is the unifying factor between the Supreme Being and the individual souls. The Vishishtadvaita forms in addition to some related theories an important theoretical basis of Vaishnavism, especially of bhakti yoga, the path of devotion to God.

Achintya Bhedabheda

Or Dvaitadvaita refers to a school that teaches the simultaneous unity and diversity of the truth. Founder of this philosophy is Chaitanya ( 1486-1533 ).

This doctrine states that both the totality of all souls and the whole of the matter ( Prakriti ) are transformations of the energy of the highest truth. As God's energy one hand they are identical with him and at the same time different for ever from him, " bheda - abheda ". This is " Achintya " unimaginable. The truth, the " non-dual unity in diversity", is in the Bhagavata 1.2.11 illustrates: " Those who know the truth describe the eternal truth, the essence of which is non-dual pure knowledge, as Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan, it is heard. "

Followers of this philosophy see in the verse, the concentrated Teaching: The absolute truth is not dual, yet it is called simultaneously with

  • Brahman, the all-pervading and featureless spiritual energy.
  • Paramatma, the Supersoul, which accompanies every Atman and in transcendent figure in all things is present.
  • Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord himself, who dwells beyond the Prakriti manifested in His eternal kingdom of Vaikuntha. "


Shuddhadvaita, the philosophy of pure non-duality, was of Vallabha (1479 - 1531) founded, a contemporary of Chaitanya. He rejects the Mayan teachings of Shankara, according to which the universe and individuality are mere illusion. For him, the whole world is God's energy and real in spite of constant change. Like other Vaishnavite philosopher, he also distinguishes between God, matter and the individual souls.

Vallabha raised the Bhagavata to the position of a highly authoritative Scripture. His systematic work Tattvadipa, which deals with the teachings of the Bhagavata, illustrates his philosophy of Shuddhadvaita: Krishna creates the jivas (souls) created the universe and enjoys everything. The purpose of the existence of God and of souls lies in nothing else than each other to delight and enjoy. Radha is the personified form love of Krishna. The school of Vallabha is known for their worship of Radha and Krishna as the supreme divine couple.

The Vallabha School is today a strong religious movement that is supposed to have, especially in North India millions of followers.

Dvaita Vedanta

Dvaita Vedanta (Sanskrit, m., द्वैत वेदान्त, dvaita Vedanta dvaita = " duality ", " duality " ) was founded by philosopher Madhva ( 1199 -1278 ). The term Dvaita - Vedanta means " Vedanta of duality ." After that, the Atman from Brahman is eternal and not separated as in Advaita Vedanta identical.

Instead, all people are individuals ( jivas ), each of which had its own spirit. Also the equality of God soul on the one hand and the souls of individuals undermines the other hand, the absolute authority of God, who is the Supreme Brahman alone, and by whose grace alone it depends. Worship ( puja ) and the faith-filled submission to a higher being ( Bhakti Yoga) are meaningless if this higher being is identical with the ( own ) soul.

The Dvaita Vedanta was further developed by Jayatirtha (1356-1388) and Vyasaraya ( 1478-1589 ). The followers of the religion taught by Madhva today are most engaged in the Indian state of Karnataka.

Pictures of Vedanta